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Tony Hollick (
Tue, 12 May 98 23:31 BST-1

I found this an amusing and thought-provoking 'read.'

I hope (some of) you do, too.


>From: (Garrison Hilliard)
>Newsgroups: alt.misc.forteana
>Subject: FPP
>A Study of Imagination Deficiency in Ten Cases of Skepticism
>by David Quinne
>In 1983 Barbara & Walters identified a group of skeptical people who
>differed significantly from the population at large. Their subjects,
>culled from various Internet discussion groups were self-identified
>``skeptics.'' These skeptics showed an interest in science and
>technology, and were not shy about sharing their views. Within this
>group Barbara & Walters identified a subgroup of 28 people who showed a
>series of intense skepticism including rejection of traditional social
>structures, references to a common set of arguments, and an inability to
>bring a line of argument to an end.
>These 28 were given a battery of tests to determine their ability to
>image, visualize, make abstractions, and socialize. Of the 28, 27
>showed a strong cluster around a set of traits. What stood out as
>unusual, was that this group of 27 really seemed to ``believe in
>rationality'' above all else, and could not understand why anybody would
>disagree. For this reason, Barbara & Walters dubbed the cluster
>Imagination Deficient Personality (IDP)
>Black & Decker (1991) reviewed the Internet postings of 136 skeptics
>undergoing treatment for high blood pressure. In this group, they found
>that 111 scored positive on at least one of Barbara & Walter's criterion
>for IDP. They recommend that IDP should be added to the list of
>criterion examined, when seeking a psychogenic cause of high blood
>pressure, ulcers and other physical illnesses.
>In 1993, Brothers divided 74 skeptical volunteers into two groups. The
>first group consisted of 50 incidental skeptics (e.g., have read an SI
>or argued with their mother about the evils of religion) and 24
>lifestyle skeptics (e.g., written skeptical books, been on more than one
>talk show or moved to Buffalo, NY). Interestingly, Brothers found IDP
>was no more common in either group than in a control group, but the
>lifestyle skeptics had a more intensive and vivid skeptical experience.
>This included a marked elevation of physiological measures including
>blood pressure, voice stress and skin conductivity.
>In this study, the written works of ten well know skeptics are compared
>to seven criterion from Barbara & Walters (1883) Imagination Deficient
>Personality (IDP) scale. In eight cases the skeptics scored seven out
>of seven and the remaining two skeptics scored six out of seven for
>these traits. The traits selected from Barbara & Walters are:
>1. Lack of meta-awareness: Imagination Deficient people show a lack of
>awareness of the motivation or value systems of others. Often they will
>make assumptions regarding ``right thinking'' which fail to take into
>account the unique circumstances or social structure in which other
>people live. For example, they may argue with people about religion or
>other unprovable metaphysical beliefs. Low meta-awareness may also be
>shown by disregard, or in the case of subject 7, hostility towards
>minorities or disfranchised people. Subjects 1, 8 and 9 actually
>organized conferences dedicated to correcting the thinking of non-skeptics.
>2. Curmudgeonality: A person with IDP is often suspicious of or hostile
>towards new social trends. Note, this is not the same as complaining
>about progress (95% of IDP were strongly for progress in Barbara &
>Walter's study), it is instead a sense that values are slipping, or the
>world is suffering from spreading disrespect, irrationality or lowered
>standards. Subjects 1, 7, 8 and 9 frequently made remarks regarding a
>decline in society, all 10 subjects made at least passing reference to
>spreading irrationality.
>3. Transcendental Substitution: The Imagination Deficient person tends
>not to participate in traditional social institutions which promote
>brotherhood, tribal union or spiritual values, so many of them
>substitute non-traditional institutions they find acceptable. For
>example, the IDP may take up an interest in magic, or science, or they
>may join a library. 64% of Barbara & Walter's IDP subjects subscribed
>to three or more science magazines. Again, all 10 subjects were
>positive on this indicator, 2 going so far as to setup temple like
>structures in which to meet.
>4. Hyper-realistic representation: This is a tendency on the part of
>the Imagination Deficient to expect a realistic or rational
>representation in all aspects of life. For example, the IDP may engage
>in nit picking about plot lines in TV programs or books, or complain
>about contemporary linguistic usage which conflicts with a technical
>term. Eight of the 10 subjects scored positive on this measure.
>Subjects 8 and 9 wrote books substantially about correct usage of
>scientific terms.
>5. Fictional miss-identification: Often an IDP will react to fictional
>representations as though they are real. For example, they may complain
>about how a popular fictional TV programs portrays the paranormal, or
>get irate if book they are reading invokes a ghost or spirit, or has a
>character convert to a spiritual outlook. Some write letters of
>complaint to newspapers that, for example, carry an astrology column.
>Once again all subjects were positive on this measure with one (Subject
>5) even refusing to fly on an airline whose travel magazine included an
>astrology column.
>6. Delusions of superiority: In many cases the IDP will believe that
>they have special traits or talents not shared by other people. Usually
>these are confined to a narrow range of human abilities, and tend to
>center around issues of intelligence or education. In the mildly IDP
>this may simply come off as immaturity, arrogance or elitism. Subject
>3, however, consistently referred to others as "Delusional" or made
>references to "Elevator[s] not going to the top floor", and subjects 7,
>8 and 9 dedicated substantial time to denigrating the works of some
>obscure scholars.
>7. Mission directed outlook: The Imagination Deficient frequently
>believe that they serve a higher cause, or that some necessary actions
>must be taken to avoid disaster. All Ten Subjects, for example, make
>reference to a "rising tide of irrationality", and subjects 1, 3 and 5
>invoke this before all public gatherings. In extreme cases this may
>involve actions that resemble attempts at conversion or missionary work.
>The category Imagination Deficient Personality is not offered as a
>mental illness, or scientifically proven personality trait. It is
>instead a category which helps to organize and understand what is
>happening in cases of skepticism. Instead of dividing skeptics into the
>usual two categories of "negative nay-sayers" and "atheists", we can
>instead see that many of them are really just imagination deficient.
>The results of my study show high Imagination Deficiency among 10
>selected skeptics. Whether or not the same results would be obtained
>with additional skeptics remains to be seen. Nevertheless, my study
>does support the earlier opinions of Barbara & Walters that alleged
>rational people tend to be Imagination Deficient Personalities.
>Certainly, that is the evidence from the very best skeptics as
>represented by the popularity of their publications.
>Barbara, Sharon C., and Virgil Y. Walters. 1983. The imagination
>deficient personality: Implications for understanding agnosticism,
>modernism and ordinary phenomena. In Logic, Current Theory, Research and
>Application, ed. by I.M. Souced, New York: Wiley, pp. 340-390.
>Black, Richard E., Flip Decker, 1991. High blood pressure and
>rationality: Psychopathology or imagination deficiency? Professional
>Hematology: Research and Practice 22(.
>Brothers, Goise, 1993. Distant discussion: An examination of the
>skeptical experiences. Journal of Normal Psychology 102 (4): 624-632.
>David Quinne
>David Quinne is a Certified Public Psychic. He is a graduate of
>Maharishi International University where he studied quantum metaphysics
>with a minor in political science. In the past he has worked as an aid
>to police officers, a private investigator and covert operator for
>unnamed government agencies. David's current projects include a book
>about his work as a police psychic, and a line of self-help pamphlets on
>the paranormal. David lives in Lowville, in Upstate New York.