Today, the SPR’s John Poynton asked me an interesting question. Where did the phrase ‘Error Some Place’ (in lieu of ExtraSensory Perception) originate? After a bit of searching, I dug up a 1975 reference to it in a Journal of Communication article by Charles Honorton. Honorton attributed the acronym to a ‘skeptical psychologist’ (the first page of his article is here). But it seems that the phrase has a separate life outside of parapsychology. Walmart founder Sam Walton wrote about his use of the term in his 1992 autobiography Sam Walton: Made in America, as follows:
Nowadays, you hear a lot about fancy accounting methods, like LIFO and FIFO, but back then we were using the ESP method, which really sped things along when it came time to close those books. It’s a pretty basic method: if you can’t make your books balance, you take however much they’re off by and enter it under the heading ESP, which stands for Error Some Place. (p. 68)
But who was that ‘skeptical psychologist’ Honorton mentioned? My money’s on Ray Hyman. What do others think?