Thursday, June 11, 2009

They still do parapsychology research?

As I've already talked about, I enjoy participating in paid research experiments on campus. I've always loved signing up for stuff when I can. When I came across a study entitled, "Anomalous Cognition", I signed up. I never really pay attention to study names because the professors try to reveal as little about the study's purpose as possible and because I sign up for all that I can, the names start to blur together after awhile.

So I showed up and was directed to a computer in a small room where I answered a few questions about how sleepy/alert I felt. On the computer monitor, there was a dark see-through plastic extension with two circles made of faint light dots, not unlike a modern electronic stove look. I was told this was an eye-tracking device and after allowing it to align to my eyes I was told my task. There was a 4x4 row of colored squares that reminded me of the game "Memory" where you flip over two cards at once and look for pairs. I was told that one of the squares would randomly turn into a pot of gold or a lump of coal. I was supposed to look towards the pot of gold and away from the lump of coal. Randomly images would flash on the screen that we were instructed to ignore. The images flashed rather quickly, and I couldn't identify a lot of them but I was able to make out a shark, a huge spider on a shoulder, and what I think was a scary tree. I figured the study was about how well we would do on our search task after a distraction, and perhaps looking for a difference if that distraction was positive or negative.

While my last post was about how researchers have been terrible at deception, this study's true purpose blew me out of the water.

Here is the text of the debriefing form I was handed:

"Thank you for participating in this experiment. This experiment is part of a larger research study aimed at advancing our scientific grasp of what has been termed "transcendent cognition," or consciousness that may transcend currently understood physical laws. In particular this experiment involved novel tests of precognition; the idea that you can have access to information about some event before it actually occurs. In one experiment we were interested in whether correctly guessing the identity of an image will influence the time to respond to happy vs. angry faces. Another experiment was testing whether you were faster at responding to circles on the left or right side of the screen depending on whether or not the subsequent negative image appeared on the left or right side. The last experiment tested whether future practice responding to a particular shape, differentially influenced performance on a task when you are responding to that particular shape compared to a shape that you are not going to have practice with."

I was confused because everything in the first half screamed, "pseudoscience!" but then the explanations of the experiments seemed normal at first glance. After reading it over again, I decided to send the professor in change an email:

"It states, "this experiment is part of a larger research study aimed at advancing our scientific grasp of what has been termed "transcendent cognition," or consciousness that may transcend currently understood physical laws", and that you are testing precognition, "the idea that you can have access to information about some event before it actually occurs". And why do you think that precognition exists? Where would we be getting this information from?

It sounds like this is a parapsychology study about psychic premonitions. Is this an accurate assessment, or am I misreading the debriefing? If it is accurate, I am curious what sorts of mechanism you think it works on (that is, how humans would detect future events). I am also unclear how the study I participated in would figure into demonstrating paranormal activity. I participated in the visual seeking experiment that involved target points, opposite side target points and flashed negative images. What result would you think demonstrate psychic results? The debrief said, "testing whether you were faster at responding to circles on the left or right side of the screen, depending on whether or not the subsequent negative image appeared on the left or right side." This was where I was confused because I did not see the parapsychology angle here; it seems to just be testing if a negative image will cause you to avert your eyes or be distracted from seeking the target. I don't see the connection to parapsychology/precognition.

Thank you in advance for your answers, and I appreciate you making yourself available for questions. I am always curious!
"

(As you can see, somehow the word "subsequent" had not sunk in yet.) I tried to be as polite as possible, after all, a UCSB professor couldn't really be studying this, could he? I really didn't want to make assumptions, but I also wanted to point out the improbability of para phenomena.

Here was the reply he sent:

"I'm happy to field your questions. So, yeah this research would be considered to be in the domain of parapsychology. We really don't have an idea as to the mechanism by which precognition could occur. However, one hypothesis is that it doesn't require any extra senses per se, but is more of function of time not being linear and flowing forward (which actually is not an assumption of modern physics).

The particular experiment you participated in was an eye-tracking experiment in which we are interested in knowing whether you move your eyes towards or away from negative vs. neutral stimuli BEFORE they actually appear. If so, this would be an example of precognition because you should have no way of knowing when these pictures appear, and whether the picture is negative or neutral, or whether it is on the left or right side because this is randomly determined. If you are interested in reading more about similar experiments i would recommend dean radin's book "the conscious universe".

Anyway, I hope that answers some of your questions. Feel free to let me know if you have any more question."


So the experiment was testing if I would look away from the bad images before they would happen.

After reading this, I just felt sad, and sorry for him. It seems like he really wants to believe in this and that he really believes that there is psychic phenomena. He believe it so much that he has no idea how it might work, no idea why it might work, and no good data to back it up - just a hope and a book of bad science that preys on the hopefulness of others.

Also I realized that his experiment had a great potential for manipulative abuse. There were questions about my alertness at the beginning. Students who were too sleepy and uninterested could be thrown out - without any evidence that alertness would influence paranormal signals. Or he could even throw out those whose attention was too focused - those who were not in touch enough with their subconscious cues. Then of course there is the variability to what degree people look away from the negative images. The criteria for what counts as looking away could easily be altered until a random, expected anomaly was found at a specific distance, say 5.5 centimeters.

Parapsychology researchers in the past have often manipulated their data thus because they believe it is justified because the phenomena exists and they are just tweaking their results, but other people have had results too, so it has to be true. It's not unlike a Ouija board, where everyone makes small movements and tweaks to spell out what they want to be true, and despite knowing that they themselves are cheating just a little, believe everyone else is getting genuine results so the phenomena is true. The most dangerous parapsychology researchers are those ones who truly believe and are desperate for evidence because they will vastly lower their standards and then what they end up with is not science.

Even for those who do not cheat and get null results, they still continue to believe. There is no amount of null results that will convince them that the phenomena is not real, and that is not scientific either. A lot of dumbasses have been spouting a link between autism and vaccine shots. The original study this is based on was performed sloppily, and the conclusions were disagreeable. Multiple studies since this original have show no connection, a null result, between autism and vaccines. And yet for those who truly believe vaccines are linked to autism, no amount of null evidence will persuade them. They will ignore real scientific research that says nothing is there, and they will trust any shoddy "research" or rational that confirms their faith. Parapsychology research is about the same.

Another thing to look for is the poor rational for how these things would work. This professor claims that perhaps time is not linear and we are conscious of things before they happen. I am an amateur when it comes to understanding physics, but I am rather certain non-linear time, if it exists, would require extremes that are not even possible for us to experience. As wikipedia did not have an article on non-linear time, and the pages I could find on the subject looked like the typical crackpot layout, I am going to assume it is another psuedoscience pipedream, unless someone can point out how it would work. The big question is, indeed if it time does hop around why do we experience a linear flow, and if we experience a linear flow then it doesn't matter if time hops around because that is imperceptible to us, so how could we be conscious of it enough to experience precognition? Why can we only faintly pick up signals from the future?

But even assuming that time was not linear... how would that help us see into the future? How would this psychic phenomena manifest? Would photons of non-linear time-light hit our eyes and send us flashes of the future? How could we determine how far into the future these were from? If it was non-linear, we'd be getting photons from all different times in the future, and the "message" would become garbled (imagine clips from a song being played together at the same time). Our eyes have noise signals being fired all the time, just being part of the random nature of being a biological system, and these noise signals are weeded out by the brain. Even if we were getting extra bits of information from the future, it would be ignored as trash information, and rightfully so, or else our perception would be filled with noise (imagine random light/dark splotches appearing and disappearing, shapes wobbling).

I would imagine most monistic believers in psychic phenomena believe that there is some system in the brain that picks up on stuff about to happen in the future, but that is even sillier. Even if signals were coming in from the future, there's no way a patch in our brain could interpret it. We have these eyes, ears, noses, skin because the brain needs some way to access this information and pre-interpret it before further processing. There's no way that sound waves or photons or pressure signals would mean anything to neurons in the brain. They need an interpreter. It's not really any different from asking a person to listen to radio signals without a radio to receive them.

The only real hope, of course, is for something in soul-land to be whispering to you what is going to happen in the future. While anything impossible is always made to be probable in soul-land, I have to say this is stretching it far past what can be considered rational, and just grasping for straws. While this is possible, it's also possible to test and see if psychic phenomena manifests. It doesn't. At least, not with any scientific study that eliminates the possibilities of cheating. So soul-land can't even save precognition because it doesn't happen.

And what of this book he referred me to? The top google result for "the conscious universe review" was this on SkepticReport. It seems this guy is claiming that scientists know that psychic phenomena exists but that there's some sort of conspiracy to hush up anything that doesn't agree with the norm. It reminds me of arguments for creationism. Then of course there's the slew of misquotes, the promotion of people who have been demonstrable frauds, the cherrypicking of the few anomalous studies that have somehow never been reproduced, and a general slandering of the scientific community and process, according to this SkepticReport review.

The whole experience reminded me of these scenes from Ghostbusters (3:45 - 6:03), with my professor being played by the true-believing Dan Aykroyd, only my professor seems to be gambling with his reputation instead of his house. Gullible Aykroid is buying into the business promises of a manipulative jerk who has just been exposed as an unscientific fraud by proper professionals, and who doesn't care about science but just wants to make money. Of course Ghostbusters worked out because it's a movie. In real life, Aykroyd would be out of a house.

I sent him an email back, and while this email was probably much harsher, it is nowhere near as harsh as his peers would be if he tried to publish.

"That certainly sounds like a very thorough criteria for tracking precognition, I applaud such an honest and rigorous method. All too often I am used to seeing lax standards when it comes to qualifying "paranormal" activities, and even research practices amplifying noise (cutting participants, dismissing skeptics with negative energies, changing the parameters, etc etc). It seems many psi researchers so desperately want to find a result that they will loosen their standards and cheat just a little, just this time, because besides everyone else is getting that same sort of result. I have seen the dismissal and of null results, logical explanations, the lack of searching for contradictory or negative explanations, all in the desperation for something they hope, they want to be there. I look forward to seeing the results, and what, if any, deviation from the null there was. (Assuming a significant and repeatable result, have you heard of the JREF million dollar prize? It's been around for decades now, and I've heard that they're going to stop offering it to free up funds, but according to their criteria if your results were replicable for the JREF, you'd qualify.)

While I would love to read more about this sort of thing, I am not a fan of books by single authors. Books, I feel, lack a certain scientific standard as the author has the freedom to quote mine, ignore data problems, promote shady research. Whenever I've read a book on a subject I have actually studied in depth (which, given my youth, have been very few) I seem to always pick out a few errors, which has frightened me away from trusting books on subjects I have not studied in depth. I much prefer reading research reports or summaries about scientific topics, things that have been peer-reviewed and have had may objectionable standards ironed out. Do you have any of these sources, scientific journal articles? I am sure that you have some already, as part of normal preliminary research (although I admit I've often put off that research myself till later, so no biggie if you don't yet!).
"

I am still waiting on a response, and I will let it be known if one does arise. While I feel mostly pity, I am also upset. This man has power over students, he is in a position of authority. Who knows what he is teaching in his classes? Furthermore, he is using what I would guess to be university funding to test for something that has been disproven for decades. I would rather the funds go to something that would better humanity or expand our knowledge. The purpose of science, if it has one, is to expand our knowledge. It does not serve us to keep re-testing things that have been reliably shown to not exist. He might as well be looking for leprechaun bones, or spending time calculating if the sun revolves around the earth or vice versa.

Edit: He sent me an email response literally minutes after I posted this. Here is his response, and it just makes me feel worse for the guy. The disdain for mainstream scientists, the belief that somehow he will find results where others have failed for decades, the belief that gut feelings and personal experiences are more important than studies, and no research into text that might contradict the book's conclusions. It's an odd feeling, being sorry for a professor, someone obviously my superior. I hope he doesn't lose his reputation and his life on this dream. Here was his response:

"Yeah, i've heard of the JREF prize, but you are correct in that it actually expires at the end of 2009. We are really committed to approaching this in as rigorous a way as possible, and the plan is to have any result scrutinized and replicated in other mainstream psychology labs by well respected scientists before publishing anything. So likely, we won't have any conclusive results by the end of the year...

I agree w/your thoughts regarding books...any one book will be biased but if it's well written there should at least be references to the actual studies so that you can take a look for yourself. I attached a few articles that will give you a feel for some of the studies out there. Unfortunately since mainstream psychology journals don't publish any of these findings, the review process isn't quite as rigorous. So, even though i believe in the possibility of these phenomena enough to be studying them -- it is based more on my reading of the entire literature and findings from studies i've run, rather than any one particular article.
"

165 comments:

  1. Wow. You unwittingly helped the field of pseudoscience that makes real science look stupid.

    I will say this. What would be interesting to know is if the "bad" images occurred in a pattern, known or maybe even unknown to the researchers. I have a tremendous facility for picking out patterns (and for recognizing nonpatterns), and I would have potentially looked "precognitive" to him.

    hmmm . . .

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  2. no f'ing way- my captcha was "shaman"!

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  3. I think parapsychology should exist, after all, someone has to debunk the the bullshit. I mean, sure, lots of it its true believers trying to prove what they already know. But then there are people like Richard Wiseman www.richardwiseman.wordpress.com/ who do legitmate research into the field.

    Oh, and with the JREF million dollar prize, you should have pointed out that it's been going for 40 years, and hasn't managed to get anybody past the preliminaries. Oh, and you have every right to withdraw your results from the study.

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  4. I don't want to withdraw my results from the study, because assuming he is honest he should find a null result, and the more data he has the more likely he is to get the result that's most accurate.

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  5. So, you admit that you haven't read many of the psi papers (otherwise why would you be asking for examples?) and yet you're so convinced that psi is wrong. You're a very condescending woman, and you clearly don't know enough to be making such strong proclamations. Just like religious faith, except on the other side of the fence.

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  6. You might want to... ya know... read up on psi experiments of the past and recent times and read up on the history of parapsychology in depth before you label it as pseudoscience.

    You speak so forcefully for being so incredibly wrong. So much for being 'rational'.

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  7. Mark, at least we both seem to agree that religious faith is a bad thing. You must be an atheist for someone to speak so disparagingly of religion. We seem to agree that rationality and a methodical system should be implemented to examine claims. That system is called science.

    And to Mark and Anonymous... if psi research is so scientifically demonstrable, what sorts of things would we expect?

    1. Publication in credible, scientific journals. Ever wonder why parapsychology needs it's own journal, when its topics cover what should be neurological phenomena (and therefore in brain research papers). Because they aren't strong enough for real scrutiny, just like creationists.

    2. Everyone would know about it. It would be the most flippin amazing thing since the discovery of vaccines. Imagine: the ability to fundamentally alter reality with no regard to physics. We'd be flipping out and devoting everything to the most amazing discovery of the century.

    3. Exploitation. Knowledge of the future? Being able to read minds? Can you imagine how many cardsharks there would be? Or scam artists who could just read your mind to steal your identity?

    4. Someone would have passed the JREF test over the past 40 years and claimed the million dollar prize. The reason nobody has is because it doesn't exist. Wouldn't repeatable, demonstrable psi phenomena researchers be jumping for joy to steal the money of this hardened skeptic?

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  8. 1. Real scrutiny? How much do you know about the journals that this material is published in? I'll bet you've never looked at them in any sort of detail. You took it uncritically that these journals are lax.

    2. This assumption comes from a naivette of human behavior. We like our ideas and when new ideas are entertained by others that threaten the current status quo, they are often met with resistance. Surely you know about paradigms? Have you ever heard the phrase that 'physics changes funeral by funeral'? Why do you think that is if the data is always acknowledge and followed immediately?

    3. You have no idea how psi even operates nor the knowledge of the limitations of it. To make a wild guess that something 'should be' the case based on a priori thoughts of how the mechanics should work is poor critical thinking.

    4. Read up on James Randi. Read the fine print on the prize. Read the required odds to do so. You do realize that this is an open ended test right? Do you realize the problem of that? There are even parapsychologists that have still applied to try for this test and are met with silence. The entire test is a publicity stunt and anyone who has done any sort of research on that would know so. Randi himself has been caught in numerous lies and distortions about recent research especially in regards to Rupert Sheldrake's material. But you take that uncritically, as you have many things, because you already believed that psi had no data to back it up and it confirmed your prior beliefs.

    Do the research. And don't claim rational thought until you've done so in depth.

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  9. Two subjects, vaccination first, and how precognition can work further down:

    I've read that there are no cases of autism in some unvaccinated communities in the United States, communities that reject vaccination for traditional or religious reasons, such as some Amish communities, and groups of people who lean toward alternative medicine and have a conventional doctor who is aware they don't vaccinate. I've read about that in a number of places including from reporters and doctors who are seemingly at least as credible as strongly pro-vaccination reporters and doctors. Some of those mentioning this alleged phenomenon were interested in scientifically studying if there's any truth to it and to exactly what extent and why, because it would be very important if it is true. However, some complain it's difficult to fund or organize such studies, because it goes against the prevailing belief. It might even be seen as a dangerous casting of doubt on the value of vaccines, which might cost lives, if a mainstream institution were to look into the subject and publicize it.

    I'm not saying I believe this. I'm a true skeptic. I don't believe anything. I just thought you might be interested in pondering the question for yourself, not to answer to me: How much evidence would it take of not vaccinating leading to not having certain diseases, to make you reconsider your position? How much null evidence of a non-effect does it take to prove something to you? Is it paranormal for something that the manufacturers provide with copious warnings of potential harm and reaction syndromes, and for which there's plenty of history of conventionally admitted adverse reactions including severe fevers and conventionally expected dangers involving quality control, to cause severe adverse reactions in some cases?

    I guess if some people reject vaccination for religious or pseudoscientific reasons, and they have excuses that turn out to be wrong explanations of what the danger is, such as the idea the problem was mercury, disproved by studies comparing vaccines with and without mercury, then from that point on, supporters of science must always support vaccination, because it's the other side. There are two sides, anti-science on one side and science on the other. No matter how dangerous vaccines become, no matter how much the quality control deteriorates, no matter how many new vaccines are introduced into the schedule for under 5 year-olds, tens or hundreds of doses, (strangely none of which are necessary for adults,) vaccination must be supported absolutely. The other side must have their children injected with the truth. They're not allowed to keep their children protected from your truth. That's what it's all about for hard-core vaccination supporters, I think.

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  10. On precognition or reverse causality: When you talk about time hopping around, that's a metaphor that introduces a second layer of time and space. Once that's allowed, I started thinking of it like this: Imagine events in space as painted in to a four-dimensional painting, space-time. Most people would assume the painting goes in the order of causality, if not as strictly as nanosecond by nanosecond of time order across the universe. Most people assume the order of causality is the same as time order, always in one direction, forward in time. What if it's not?

    Most of physics is time-symmetric. Particle physicists consider anti-particles equivalent to other particles moving backward in time. They interpret particle tracks that way routinely. What if some sections of the macro world, or the world on the human scale, not to be anthropocentric and call our scale macro, allow causality in both directions really? What if the picture is painted in starting from results in the future sometimes, backtracking to painting in your past actions and thoughts necessary as the causes? If the time scale involved is on the edge of conscious perception, such that we're not usually aware of it, psychological tests that measure reaction times might capture some clues that it's going on.

    Even if something profound is going on about reverse causality, I don't think anyone is going to find evidence of it, at least not in public science. People are just too stupid and dull to deal with it, in the technical aspects of measuring it and having a theory about it, or in the philosophical implications, or in being able to talk about it. I think any suggestion of scientific experimental evidence that such a thing is going on would most likely be self-deluded pseudoscience or postmodern culture performance art.

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  11. Yeah, I'm an atheist. Or agnostic, depending on which term you like to use. Some would disparagingly call me a weak atheist. I don't believe in any god or gods, but I won't rule out the possibility. I mean, especially if it's a god that is an idiot or just doesn't give a damn about any of us. So anyway, you make way too many unquestioned assumptions, skeptic. No, not everyone would necessarily know if psi is real. Most psi proponents believe that psi is too weak in most people in order to be easily demonstrable most of the time. No, it is not necessarily the case that the Randi test would have been won by now if psi is real. Randi himself said it would be absurd to say such a thing. No, psi does not necessarily give one "the ability to fundamentally alter reality with no regard to physics." The laws that we think of right now as being the laws of physics could be, and probably are, wrong. (it's happened many times before, and probably will continue to happen for a while until we truly reach a final theory) Perhaps the real laws of physics will allow for psi. Somebody who is truly a critical thinker would have caught the problems in your reasoning. But that's not what the skeptic movement is really about. It's about beating back beliefs and ideas that you people are offended by. (and perhaps sometimes even afraid of) Your anger and condescension towards the parapsychologists are telling - and they show what the skeptics are really about. You did not even give the slightest inkling in this entire post that there is even a tiny chance that you could be wrong about psi. Your certainty in yourself and your beliefs is disgusting. It is every bit as bad as the religious fundamentalists. This is simply not how a real critial thinker acts.

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  12. Hi,

    Which Professor? The research sounds interesting. I'd like to email them.

    Thanks

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  13. Atheism is sickness of the soul. I'm sorry for your pain.

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  14. Sonny,

    I've read that there are no cases of autism in some unvaccinated communities in the United States, communities that reject vaccination for traditional or religious reasons, such as some Amish communities, and groups of people who lean toward alternative medicine and have a conventional doctor who is aware they don't vaccinate.

    As someone who describes himself as a skeptic, I'm sure you've already understood the fact that "I think I read something about it somewhere" is an extremely bad way to begin an argument.

    Because if you had actually been skeptical and tried to look up the verification of this claim, you probably would have come across this:

    The case rests on twin assumptions: that the Amish don’t vaccinate, and that they don’t have autism. But Olmsted never visited the cryptically-named Clinic for Special Children in Strasburg, where doctors treat dozens of children who exhibit autistic behavior. It’s not even necessary to visit the clinic. A simple phone call to a staff physician, such as the one I made recently, is enough to debunk “the Amish anomaly”, as Olmsted calls it.

    “The idea that the Amish do not vaccinate their children is untrue,” says Dr. Kevin Strauss, MD, a pediatrician at the CSC. “We run a weekly vaccination clinic and it’s very busy.” He says Amish vaccinations rates are lower than the general population’s, but younger Amish are more likely to be vaccinated than older generations.

    Strauss also sees plenty of Amish children showing symptoms of autism. “Autism isn’t a diagnosis - it’s a description of behavior. We see autistic behaviors along with seizure disorders or mental retardation or a genetic disorder, where the autism is part of a more complicated clinical spectrum.” Fragile X syndrome and Retts is also common among the clinic’s patients.


    So, let's see, you claimed that Amish kids (1) don't get vaccinated and (2) don't ever get autism. Apart from the fact that (1) they do, and (2) they do, that claim sounds perfectly well investigated to me.

    I've read about that in a number of places including from reporters and doctors who are seemingly at least as credible as strongly pro-vaccination reporters and doctors.

    What what? When I tried to look into your claim, all the stories I found seemed to trace back to this one story by anti-vaccine crusader Dan Olmsted. If you know some scientific studies that backed it up more forcefully, then you should probably share them.

    I'm not saying I believe this. I'm a true skeptic. I don't believe anything.

    WTF? This sounds like a religious person's caricature of a skeptic. It has nothing whatsoever to do with real skepticism. Skeptics believe things that are based on evidence. Someone who doesn't believe anything is not a skeptic, it would be some kind of weird postmodernist notion.

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  15. Dang! You beat me to the Ghostbusters reference. The FIRST thing that popped into my head when you started describing the experiment was this clip here.

    And what's with all the cowardly "Anonymous" griefers of your blog? Seriously, if you come on here and disagree with the blog owner, I seriously doubt she's going to hunt you down or anything. Just put up a name or something, it really helps us feel like you're not just some troll. Of course...I may have just answered my own question there.

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  16. Hmmm! This blog entry was deemed interesting enough to be blogged on Woo-meister Dean Radin's Blog the very next day (http://deanradin.blogspot.com/). I'm not sure what I find funnier a)That Dr Radin begins his post with a self-congratulation on having got over the self-righteous arrogance of his youth (*sure* you have Dean- and when self-awareness finally arrives please let us know that too wotncha'?)or b)That he probably found your blog in the first place by googling himself and his book "Conscious Universe"....

    The irony. It burns!

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  17. I think this might warrant a comment on his blog from EverythingElseAtheist. He's basically dismissing you as a young, arrogant .... scientism-ist.

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  18. When you're wrong, you deserved to be called out as such.

    And you are young. And you are arrogant. And you very evidently practice scientism by the very words of your post.

    Truth hurts, huh?

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  19. Instead of saying that psychic phenomena "sometimes happens in weak amounts by the few people who are psychic", let's call it what it is: no better than chance. And when psychic phenomena happens no more often than chance, why should we jump to the conclusion that it's real? Until there is a mechanism, or even evidence that it's real, we should not accept a claim. It's the same thing with me claiming sugar will make you super-strong (for some people, some of the time) or anything else. The stance is not to remain neutral (well, perhaps the queen is really an alien) but one of doubt (I really doubt that the queen is an alien) when it comes to outlandish, unevidenced claims.

    The time to believe in something is when there's evidence for it. Psychic phenomena has repeatedly dodged providing evidence and consistently does no better than chance. People who believe in this stuff are just engaging in a fantasy, and a curious one at that. Why do you so desperately want this to be true?

    Many of you have defended how the "physics" of this could work, with guesses boiling down to nothing more than tachyon receptors in our brain. I feel that physics is so often abused by pseudoscience because it is so difficult for even science buffs to understand, so it's easy to just throw out crazy guesses that sound plausible. Many of you have said perhaps times works this way, or that. Care to cite any evidence, formula or experts who have studied this in depth who believe it? I'm actually really surprised nobody has mentioned the standby "quantum", through which everything in pseudoscience becomes possible.

    Even if some particles moved backward in time, our brains do not work that way. I've studied the brain in depth, it is just a processing center. Try sending signals to your computer without a mouse, keyboard, button, or any sort of input device. It won't work. So even if these scifi guesses turn out to be true, that is not how the brain works. I notice that none of you really tackled this biological aspect of my criticism because it's the harder one that actually requires detailed knowledge of something concrete enough for the majority of people to see through a pleasant guess.

    None of you also tackled the problem of how far into the future these tachyon messages come from and how we can identify when it is going to happen and not get the signals muddied up from messages of other future times or places. You would be constantly getting signals; nothing would ever make sense. So feel vindicated as you tout a made-up physics, but even allowing that you've ignored half the problem.

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  20. But it is better than chance. Something can be a weak effect and still be greater than chance. That's the whole point of these experiments - to find a real effect that is better than chance. The Ganzfeld tests have consistently shown a 30%-35% hit rate when chance predicts 25%. Oh, and a Ganzfeld meta-analysis was printed in the Psychological Bulletin - a prestigious journal.

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  21. It is statistically significant. Its repeatable. And has been independently replicated. Many times.

    But of course you wouldn't know this. Because you haven't looked. Still.

    You're repeating a mistaken fallacy. Why do you so desperately want it to not be true?

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  22. For information regarding the physics-
    Some of the physicists who proposed that electro-magnetic radiation has to be time symmetric (that is it occurs both forward and backward in time) include
    Einstein, Wheeler, and Feynman. The notion comes from the known to work equations of Maxwell.

    For an introduction to Feynman and Wheeler’s work try-
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheeler%E2%80%93Feynman_absorber_theory

    A good book to read is “About Time” by Paul Davies.

    Another interesting hypothesis regarding time can be found in Cramer’s “transactional interpretation” of physics. (I believe Cramer’s hypothesis has a growing minority of PhD physicists who prefer it to other interpretations)
    http://www.npl.washington.edu/ti/

    ReplyDelete
  23. About publication in credible, scientific journals, it's amazing that you don't know any of them. There is a lot, including Nature and neuroscientific journals.

    01. Identification of Concealed Objects through Acquired Response Habits of Stimulus and Word Association. Nature, vol. 220, 5 october 1968, pp. 89-91. J. G. Pratt, Ian Stevenson, W. G. Roll, J. G. Blom, G. L. Meinsma, H. H. J. Keil, N. Jacobson

    02.Identification of Concealed Randomized Objects. Nature, vol. 221, 8 february 1969, p. 586 J. G. Pratt, I. Stevenson

    03.Identification of Concealed Randomized Objects Nature, vol. 225, 24 january 1970, pp. 384 I. Stevenson, J. G. Pratt.

    04. Three New Cases of the Reincarnation Type in Sri Lanka with Written Records Made before Verification (1988) Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 176:741. Ian Stevenson & Godwin Samararatne

    05. The Neuropsychiatry of Paranormal Experiences Journal of Neuropsychiatry & Clinical Neurosciences 13:515-524, November 2001 Michael A. Persinger

    06.“Neurobehavioral and Neurometabolic (SPECT) Correlates of Paranormal Information: Involvement of the Right Hemisphere and its Sensitivity to Weak Complex Magnetic Fields” International Journal of Neuroscience, Vol 112, No. 2, Feb. 2002, pp. 197-224. Dr. Roll, Dr. Persinger, Dr. Webster, Tiller, Cook.

    07. Remote viewing with the artist Ingo Swann: neuropsychological profile, electroencephalographic correlates, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and possible mechanisms. Percept Mot Skills. 2002 Jun; 94(3 Pt 1):927-49.Persinger MA, Roll WG, Tiller SG, Koren SA, Cook CM.

    08. Disruption of "remote viewing" by complex magnetic fields generated through Windows but not DOS Software around a stimulus site: a pilot study. (2002) Percept Mot Skills. 2002; 95: 989-998 PERSINGER, M. A., & KOREN, S. A.

    09. Reports of Past-Life Memories: A Review
    Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing July 2008 (Vol. 4, Issue 4, Pages 244-248) Jim B. Tucker

    Are you happy now?

    ReplyDelete
  24. You do know how to search for dissenting opinions, right?

    here is an example, at nature itself: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v221/n5181/abs/221687a0.html

    The rest are a mishmash of other sorts of phenomena, magnetic fields, really? Why don't our brains flip out when we get MRI's done in brain scans? The likes of reincarnation I have written about earlier. Will you really believe just anything? I have got some business proposals for you too, if that is the case.

    All you guys have are poorly regulated, poorly performed, or mathematically manipulated (Ganzfeld) research reports. These sorts of things get published because the papers assume that no cheating or relaxation on experimental standards have been made. For all your grandstanding around, NONE of you can provide a mechanism in the brain for how this would work. There is not even a hint of a mechanism because there is no way it could even work.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Anonymous wrote:

    You might want to... ya know... read up on psi experiments of the past and recent times and read up on the history of parapsychology in depth before you label it as pseudoscience.

    You might want to read "Elusive Quarry" by Ray Hyman. It's a summary of all the useless psi experiments that failed and/or were fraudulent, how psi experiments only start to show results after controls are loosened. (In other words, the opposite of real science.)

    That's a pretty heavy book - not an easy read. I wrote a light hearted summary here:

    http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/2006/06/pretty_soon.html

    ReplyDelete
  26. The Everything Else Atheist, you should read the articles that I show to you. You could also look to the date of the articles. Anthony Robertson & Stephen Fienberg wrote in 15 February 1969. There is a response to them by Stevenson and Pratt in 24 january 1970:

    Identification of Concealed Randomized Objects Nature, vol. 225, 24 january 1970, pp. 384 I. Stevenson, J. G. Pratt.

    You can read Stevenson and Pratt's response here:

    http://www.4shared.com/file/111589924/8e7cb795/07_-_24_january_1970.html

    Another article is online:

    http://neuro.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/13/4/515

    We have measured two individuals who have been considered the best examples of psychics. The first, Sean Harribance, is a middle-aged man who sustained at least two brain traumas as a child and adolescent. Several neuropsychological assessments have indicated he displays deficits for tasks that typically involve the right parietal and occipital regions. Mr. Harribance states that he perceives quick images, usually in the upper left visual field, about the person with whom he is speaking or the picture that he is touching. The pictures are touched face down. The information, which he reports spontaneously, contains extremely detailed as well as general statements that far exceed a cold reading.

    In one study we asked 3 different people to supply 10 photographs, each, of single individuals of their family. Mr. Harribance generated narratives while holding each of these pictures, face down. The narratives were then typed and given to the person who supplied the pictures. Under double-blind conditions, the person read each narrative and indicated who he or she thought it might be. Whereas chance expectancy would be 1 out of 10, the participants accurately identified between 6 and 8 of the 10 narratives as the specific people.


    And...

    The second individual with special abilities we have examined was Ingo Swann, a middle-aged artist who developed the process of remote viewing. The procedure was very simple. Pictures from magazines were placed in envelopes and stored in another room. One envelope per trial was selected by a person not involved with the experiment and placed on a table in this room. While Mr. Swann was sitting with another experimenter in an acoustic chamber and drawing his images about the hidden stimulus, electroencephalographic activity was recorded. In our experiments over several days, more than 20 stimuli were employed.

    Blind rankings by other researchers indicated significant congruence between the stimulus and Mr. Swann's drawings and comments.


    Finally, about reincarnation there are many scientific articles and books that can answer your questions. You should read them. You can read the book "Life Before Life", by Jim Tucker. Ok? Are you happy now?

    ReplyDelete
  27. Any reply on which professor was doing this research?

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  28. Ray Hyman has long since been caught flat out lying about Dean Radin's research as well as misunderstanding statistics. Ray Hyman even admitted after the tests with Honorton, that 'something interesting was going on' though it was too big of a crush to his ego to call it psi.

    If you want a real opinion ask Jessica Utts (a world renowned methodologist and statistician) about the results for psi and methods being used.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Skeptico, after reading that blog post, all I have to say is that you have a real nasty habit of taking the skeptic's word for it and then not delving any deeper. The moment someone comes up with any premise that they may have cheated or been sloppy, you'll swallow it up whole apparently.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Ray Hyman has long since been caught flat out lying about Dean Radin's research as well as misunderstanding statistics.

    Citation please that shows his detailed expose of psi research is flawed.

    Skeptico, after reading that blog post, all I have to say is that you have a real nasty habit of taking the skeptic's word for it and then not delving any deeper

    Then you'll have to problem rebutting the sources I cited? Also you'll share the details of the successes that have come from psi research - psi communications devices, accurate predictions of the future, military uses - to compare to those if real science. I'll wait.

    ReplyDelete
  31. If you'd actually done more than one google of ganzfeld you'd know it wasn't poorly performed, poorly regulated, or mathematically manipulated.

    If you're going to accuse them of cheating than why not do so for all research? Oh wait, its just the ones you don't like I guess. Care to provide any factual evidence of cheating on ganzfeld tests?

    Being unable to provide a mechanism hardly matters. If there is an anomalous effect, that effect still exists regardless of whether we can already explain or connect it to the current scientific paradigm. I don't recommend we look for our car keys only where the streetlight has shined its light.

    No one of any intellect would say that it can't work. Nothing in our current understanding of the world from a scientific perspective prohibits psi.

    But you'll never look. You're so far into this 'skeptical/rational' atheism movement that you can no longer see the ridiculousness of your actions. Does it bother you that you are making claims on research you haven't looked at? Do you like it when creationists do that? You seem all too willing to label anything as psuedoscience. Its easy afterall, you're preaching to the fellow choir. But there is a great irony in the 'logic, reason, and rational thought' atheist movement. The irony is that you lack all three qualities. You're more concerned with being perceived that way than actually being so.

    And thats the problem and the reason that these debates get nowhere. If I ask you to read the data you don't need to because [insert preconceived notion here], and your outspoken behavior against this type of material contributes to your inability to reexamine your own frame of thought.

    When something enters the mainstream you'll accept it. Because you're a follower. Everything on the outside is unfounded (because you've looked right?...) and scientists always follow the data (cuz scientists aren't subject to the same groupthink and mindsets that any other groups of human beings are, right?).

    Dean Radin is exactly right in his post. You're arrogant, you're ignorant, and you're so damn sure that you're right. Hopefully, you grow out of it one day.

    ReplyDelete
  32. For skeptico:

    http://www.amazon.com/Parapsychology-Skeptics-Scientific-Argument-Existence/dp/1585011088

    (This book will have much detail on the types of arguments you commonly see hashed out on forums like these.)

    http://www.amazon.com/Irreducible-Mind-hard-find-contemporary/dp/0742547922/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1244914903&sr=1-1

    (This book has over 600 pages and over 100 pages of references for you to go off on tangent research. This is a must read if you can get a hold of it. Its about a lot more than just psi as well.)

    http://www.amazon.com/ESP-Enigma-Scientific-Psychic-Phenomena/dp/0802716067/ref=pd_cp_b_2

    (This book had plenty of numbers lined up for you to digest as well.)

    ReplyDelete
  33. ...How is this hard people

    We have identified all the ways the brain gets sensory information, while how exactly it processes it is being studied we know all the mechanisms of input. There is no sensory organ for quanta or tackion detection. There's no way the human mind can even detect that sort of thing. A mechanism is needed for Psy to be explained since so far it seems physiologically impossible. You might as well be sugesting that humans can fly, despite lacking any wings, or breath water, despite lacking any organs to do so.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Btw, here is Jessica Utts conclusions regarding remote viewing:

    http://anson.ucdavis.edu/~utts/air2.html

    "I believe that it would be wasteful of valuable resources to continue to look for proof. No one who has examined all of the data across laboratories, taken as a collective whole, has been able to suggest methodological or statistical problems to explain the ever-increasing and consistent results to date. Resources should be directed to the pertinent questions about how this ability works."

    ReplyDelete
  35. Ing, do as eastern sciences do.

    Don't assume that the mind is an epiphenomenon of the brain.

    ReplyDelete
  36. From The Wiki on Jessica Utts on the so called study you sited. Way to IGNORE the evidence contrary

    Investigation of remote viewing

    In 1995, the American Institutes for Research (AIR) appointed a panel consisting primarily of Utts and Dr. Ray Hyman to evaluate a project investigating remote viewing for espionage applications, the Stargate Project, which was funded by the Central Intelligence Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency, and carried out initially by Stanford Research Institute and subsequently by SAIC.

    The two reports opposed each other, with the Utts' report saying "a small to medium psychic functioning was being exhibited" and that "future research should focus understanding how this phenomena works, and how to make it as useful as possible. For instance, it doesn't appear that a sender is needed. Precognition in which the answer is not known until a future time, appears to work quite well".[1] Hyman's report stated that Utts' conclusion that ESP had been proven to exist, "especially precognition, is premature and that present findings have yet to be independently replicated".[2] Funding for the project was stopped after these reports were issued. Jessica Utts also co-authored papers with Edwin May, who took over Stargate in 1985.[3]


    Again nice of you to IGNORE THE STUFF THAT CONTRADICTED YOUR BELIEF.

    "Ing, do as eastern sciences do.

    Don't assume that the mind is an epiphenomenon of the brain."

    So you want me to believe things proven to be impossible? That is stupid. The mind is a function of the brain this is fucking proven beyond any doubt.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Show me the proof than Ing. I might have to lecture you on correlation versus causation.

    And Hyman isn't a statistician and methodologist let alone world renowned. He's also a known liar.

    But go ahead and believe Hyman. Your ignorance is already showing.

    ReplyDelete
  38. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qw_O9Qiwqew

    Here is Dean Radin's talk at google. He even touches on Hyman and Utts.

    And the other ten statisticians that disagree with Hyman.

    Have fun with that too.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Still waiting for the details of the successes that have come from psi research - psi communications devices, accurate predictions of the future, military uses - to compare to those if real science.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Thats funny, I could have sworn there were links that would show you psi data across many avenues of what psi is capable of and documented ad nauseum in a few books that you could buy.

    I wonder why you conveniently skipped over that.

    Hmm.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Funny, but I can't link directly to those books. (The first one is even out of print.) I wonder why you conveniently skipped over that.


    But you don't need to refer to a book that we can't all review on line. You can just list the psi successes. Like I did with some of the successes of real science:

    - radio communications
    - television
    - space travel / info from Saturn's moon
    - night vision
    - flight

    Please list the equvalent successes from the last 125 + years of psi research. Come on - you must know some.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Every single one of those books can be right off that website at amazon. Both used and new.

    Skeptico: Where is the research?
    Dogmatic: Its right here. *links*
    Skeptico: But I don't want to read that!
    Dogmatic: ....

    Psi has been successful in remote viewing (at sri, and in archeaology) if you're looking at pragmatic uses.

    I'm not sure why you're trying to prop up 'real science' as if its something competing with psi. Science is a tool, a method, not a list of achievements.

    You should see your way out of the conversation if you're not willing to do the research in depth. And if you won't even buy a few books, then don't bother responding to this type of material. I wouldn't approach a quantum physicist and debate him on his material if I hadn't at the very least read the literature in depth.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Skeptico: Where is the research?
    Dogmatic: Its right here. *links*
    Skeptico: But I don't want to read that!
    Dogmatic: ....

    Straw man - that's not what I said at all. I've read plenty on this subject - I just can't respond to your links right now.

    Where can I buy psi communications devices? Where are the actual successes, the practical applications of this research. Come on - 125 years and no use for it yet?

    ReplyDelete
  44. If you've read plenty on this subject than you'd know the actual successes and practical applications.

    Again, I've given it to you in the form of those links which lead to books which carefully document all that they say and provide notes for you to further research the sources.

    You keep asking the same question of where the successes are, I point it out, and you won't read it. Its way too much material to dig up and put all in one blog when you can buy a used copy of a book that does it in more depth and allows you to find the sources all in one place.

    You're a broken record at this point.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Yeah, Dogmatic, he's the one who's a broken record. Good job you win. Now see how many dozens of times more you can accuse people of not doing their research. *unsubscribed*

    ReplyDelete
  46. When any of you have actually done the research than I won't have to point out that you haven't.

    Fair enough?

    ReplyDelete
  47. If you've read plenty on this subject than you'd know the actual successes and practical applications.


    So you can't name one thing then? Not one application of psi after 125 years of research. Not one thing. Not one link. Just "read this book"? That's it?

    ReplyDelete
  48. I already did? Remote viewing was used extensively in stargate and has been used extensively in archaeology. Read up on Stephan Schwartz's Secret Vaults of Time.

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0595201830/skepticalinve-20/

    And I'm not sure why you're looking exclusively for applications. Not having pragmatic use doesn't mean something isn't real. You're trying to prop up science as something apart from this material which is a false dichotomy.

    Again, read.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Please list the equvalent successes from the last 125 + years of psi research. Come on - you must know some.

    Well, I know:

    - EEG was created by Hans Berger to study telepathy. I think you know the importance of the EEG to Neuroscience. EEG is still used to studt telepathy with good and replicated results.

    01. DUANE, T. D. & BEHRENDT, T. Extrasensory electroencephalographic induction between identical twins. Science, v. 150, p. 367, 1965;

    02. WALLACE, R. K. & UNDRITH, G. S. Intersubject EEG coherence: is consciousness a field? International Journal of Neuroscience, v. 16, p. 203-209, 1982

    03. REBERT, C. S. & TURNER, A. EEG spectrum analysis techniques applied to the problem of psi phenomena. Behavioral Neuropsychiatry, v. 6, p. 18-24, 1974;

    04. TARG. R. & PUTHOFF, H. Information transmission under conditions of sensory shielding. Nature, v. 251, p. 602-607, 1974.

    05. GRINBERG-ZYLBERBAUM, J. & RAMOS, J. Patterns of interhemispheric correlation during human communication. International Journal of Neuroscience, v. 36, p. 41-53, 1987.

    06. GRINBERG-ZYLBERBAUM, J.; DELAFLOR, M.; SANCHEZ, M. E. & GUEVARA, M. A. Human communication and the electrophysiological activity of the brain. Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine, v. 3, p. 25-43, 1993;

    07. GRINBERG-ZYLBERBAUM, J.; DELAFLOR, M.; ATTIE, L. & GOSWAMI, L. The Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox in the brain: the transferred potential. Physics Essays, v. 7, p. 422-428, 1994;

    08. RICHARDS, T. & KOZAK, L. Evidence of correlated functional MRI signals between distant human brains. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, v. 9, p. 122-128, 2003

    09. WACKERMANN, J.; SEITER, C.; KEIBEL, H. & WALLACH, H. Correlations between brain electrical activities of two spatially separated human subjects. Neuroscience Letters, v. 336, p. 60-64, 2003.

    10. STANDISH, L. J.; KOZAK, I.; JOHNSON, L. C. & RICHARDS, T. Electroencephalographic evidence of correlated event-related signals between the brains of spatially and sensory isolated human subjects. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, v. 10, p. 307-314, 2004;

    11. RADIN, D. L Event-related EEG correlation between isolated human subjects. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, v. 10, p. 315-324, 2004.

    12. STANDISH, L. J.; KOZAK, I.; JOHNSON, L. C. & RICHARDS, T. Replicable Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Evidence of Correlated Brain Signals Between Physically and Sensory Isolated Subjects The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Dec 2005, Vol. 11, No. 6: 955-963

    Parapsychology has many other contributions, in psychology, statistics and other fields.

    ReplyDelete
  50. EEG was created by Hans Berger to study telepathy. I think you know the importance of the EEG to Neuroscience. EEG is still used to studt telepathy with good and replicated results.

    Don't be silly. EEG isn't a product of psi research.You say yourself it was created "to study" psi - not created as a result of psi experiments.

    Epic FAIL.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Remote viewing was used extensively in stargate...

    Ah yes, stargate, the $20M gvt psi project that was abandoned because psi doesn't work.

    And I'm not sure why you're looking exclusively for applications. Not having pragmatic use doesn't mean something isn't real.

    It makes it rather unlikely that it's real. Are you kidding? If psi was real, you really don't think that by now we'd have some real use for it. All we get is statistical "anomalies" in large databases.

    Still, I'll tell you what, Dogmatic, you've listed several books now. No links that I can easily check, just books. Well OK, tell me which one, of the books you're listed, that you think is the best. Which one gives the best case for psi? Tell me and I'll read it and get back to you. (If it's good I'll think about the others.)

    I say this despite the number of other times I have done this, and found the books concerned were no good - as I wrote in "Why I won’t read your book":

    http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/2006/06/why_i_wont_read.html

    But I'll try this one time. So, which one - give me your best shot.

    ReplyDelete
  52. If you'll honestly read it then I'd recommend 'Irreducible Mind' by Ed and Emily Kelly.

    And stargate wasn't abandoned because it didn't work. Here is a video of Hal Puthoff talking about his time doing it:

    http://www.arlingtoninstitute.org/tai-presents-dr-harold-hal-puthoff

    ReplyDelete
  53. "Show me the proof than Ing. I might have to lecture you on correlation versus causation."

    You are shitting me. You honestly demand proof that the brain causes the mind? Ok here's one. Have a fucking talk with your chair. Oh wait...How about you go talk to Terri Shiavo, who was in perfect health SAVE FOR LACKING A WORKING BRAIN AND THUS SHE FUCKING HAD NO MIND.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Good lord, Ing. No one denies the strong correlation between brain and mind. But it is in no way proven that the mind is an epiphenomenon of the brain.

    This is the entire premise of the mind-body connection and problem.

    ReplyDelete
  55. You say yourself it was created "to study" psi - not created as a result of psi experiments.

    Ok, no problem! Annie Beasent and Charles Leadbeat described the meta-neon before Francis Aston in a clairvoyant experiment:

    http://www.cwlworld.info/pw_article_sept03.pdf

    In 1912 Aston found a monster of his own when he introduced neon into the tube. Rare gases like neon were still relatively novel, difficult to obtain and poorly understood. Although neon’s atomic weight had then recently been determined to be 20.2, its properties were still a puzzle. When Aston analysed neon in the positive-ray spectrograph, he saw not only the expected parabola corresponding to an atomic mass of about 20 but also a persistent “shadow” parabola corresponding to an atomic mass of 22. Aston thought that he had discovered a new element closely associated with neon – perhaps a new rare gas or a new feature of the rare gases. He named this new element “metaneon”. It is here that Aston’s links with the occult first surface. In a footnote to the paper announcing his discovery to the annual meeting of the British Association (BA) in 1913 in Birmingham, Aston referred to a 1908 publication by Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater called Occult Chemistry: A Series of Clairvoyant Observations on the Chemical Elements.

    “By theosophic methods entirely unintelligible to the mere student of physics,” noted Aston, “[the authors] claimed to have determined the atomic weights of all the elements known, and several unknown at the time. Among the latter occurs one to which they ascribe an atomic weight of 22.33 (H=1) and which they call ‘Meta Neon’. As this name seems to suit as well as any other,what little we know of the properties of the new gas, I
    have used it in this paper.”


    Are you happy now?

    ReplyDelete
  56. "Good lord, Ing. No one denies the strong correlation between brain and mind. But it is in no way proven that the mind is an epiphenomenon of the brain.

    This is the entire premise of the mind-body connection and problem."

    Except that there is. You damage teh brain you damage the mind. We have mapped out a good chunk of the brain concerning it's impact on the mind, we know what takes care of memory, autonomic functions, language, vision etc. The brain==the mind there is no debate. You're arguing that just because people who die of AIDS are also HIV positive does not mean that HIV causes AIDS.

    ReplyDelete
  57. Except that those occultists did not 'discover' anything. They made a guess...and yeah the idea that there were undiscovered elements wasn't a bad fucking guess since there were blanks on the peroidic table. I note also that..

    "Leadbeater and Besant linked
    their discoveries to the recent claims of
    the scientist William Crookes that all
    atoms might consist of the “protyle” –
    the elementary unit of matter that had
    been suggested by the chemist William
    Prout a century earlier. (Prout had assumed
    that the protyle was the hydrogen
    atom, although Crookes suggested
    that it might be Thomson’s electron.)"

    So their 'visions' consisted with a contemporary atomic theory....notably one that didn't realize hydrogen was the atomic standard. So for having supernatural revelation they sure were DEAD FUCKING WRONG.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Skeptiko,

    my comments about what you wrote about Stevenson's research in http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/2006/06/why_i_wont_read.html:

    01. This guy said I should read the works of Ian Stevenson – a doctor who had documented cases that were very strong evidence for reincarnation, and I shouldn’t criticize it until I had read some of his work. So, I bought one of Stevenson’s books and I found it to be very unconvincing. His work is merely a collection of anecdotes: all the “past life behavior” had been witnessed before the author met any of the “reincarnated” children and so the veracity of the stories was hard to determine. In addition, in the later chapters Stevenson made several statements and drew conclusions that cast doubt on his ability to evaluate these kinds of claims critically. I thought this book was so bad that I wrote a review of Stevenson’s "Children Who Remember Previous Lives” and a general overview of Stevenson’s credulous outlook. I have since read skeptical reviews of Stevenson’s other work in Skeptic magazine and elsewhere, that mirrored my thoughts.

    The problem is that you made a review of a book that was NOT to academic public, and worst: the cases and the methodology are not entirely described. So, this make much more easy the attacks. You should read the books which the cases and methodology are entirely described.

    The academics who read Stevenson's academic books made very good reviews. Examples:

    a) http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/162/4/823

    The present book provides an introduction to an exciting range of such phenomena and furnishes an inspiring example of application of a painstaking protocol to sift facts from fancy.

    b)Lester S. King, the Book Review Editor of JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, wrote that "in regard to reincarnation [Stevenson] has painstakingly and unemotionally collected a detailed series of cases from India, cases in which the evidence is difficult to explain on any other grounds." He also added, "He has placed on record a large amount of data that cannot be ignored."

    c) In 1977, the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease devoted most of one issue to Dr. Stevenson's reincarnation work. It included a paper by Dr. Stevenson and commentaries on it from several others. Dr. Harold Lief, a well-respected figure in the field of psychiatry, wrote one of the commentaries. He described Dr. Stevenson as "a methodical, careful, even cautious, investigator, whose personality is on the obsessive side." He also wrote, "Either he is making a colossal mistake, or he will be known . . . as 'the Galileo of the twentieth century.' "

    ReplyDelete
  59. http://www.unc.edu/~ujanel/Du.htm

    You can read up on dualism or mental monism or transmission theory or just the mind-body problem in general. It is no way a settled debate.

    But hey, you can keep claiming that we already know something so that you can feel comfortable burying your head in the sand to ignore psi and other contrary evidence.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Ok, no problem! Annie Beasent and Charles Leadbeat described the meta-neon before Francis Aston in a clairvoyant experiment:

    You're easily fooled. You need to read what some real scientists think about this. From here:

    http://www.chem.yale.edu/~chem125/125/history99/8Occult/OccultAtoms.html

    No one else has reported successfully repeating the clairvoyant atomic observations of Besant and Leadbeater. Despite Besant's assertion that "many should ... be able to test our observations", even Jinarajadasa, who collaborated on this research for 38 years, claimed only to be a recorder and supplier of samples, never an observer. On the contrary, atomic structures determined and confirmed by conventional science look nothing like what the Occult Chemists claimed to see.

    The Occult Chemists did make unambiguous predictions of previously undiscovered elements. Occultum, at. wt. 3; Metargon, 42; Kalon, 169.66, and Meta-Kalon, 172) have not been verified by experiment, despite Crookes's suggestion that "their work would be useful at least in suggesting to scientists the kind of elements they might still discover in the as yet unfinished periodic table." [N2 p. 52] [3] Supporters have claimed unimpeachable proof of the reliability of the Occult Chemists from the fact that, before isotopes had been reported by conventional chemists, they reported Meta-Neon, 22.33, the second most abundant isotope of Neon.[P2c p. 14][3a] But the All condition is hardly satisfied, because the two Xenons they reported are the least abundant of the 7 natural Xenon isotopes between masses 128 and 136. Although their Meta-Krypton, 83.66, is the most abundant of the 5 natural Krypton isotopes between 80 and 86, their original Krypton, 81.3, does not exist.

    As science Occult Chemistry fails both crucial tests.


    As usual, the real progress was made by the actual scientist, doing science, not the person using psi.

    I rest my case.

    ReplyDelete
  61. The problem is that you made a review of a book that was NOT to academic public, and worst: the cases and the methodology are not entirely described. So, this make much more easy the attacks. You should read the books which the cases and methodology are entirely described.

    No. I shouldn't.

    This is typical of psi supporters, every time. I read the book that the psi believer recommended, and when I find that unconvincing I am told "that isn't the right book". Sorry, bullshit. The book was in enough detail for me to determine the flaws. Now, if you want to describe exactly why my review is wrong then please do so, but "read another book" or "read these favorable reviews" will not cut it. Been there.

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  62. To everyone who knows that psi is real: there is nothing for you to fight against. There is no point in this conflict. When you allow yourself to get angered and enter into conflict with these people, you are lowering yourself to the same level of vitriol and rhetoric that they employ. Let them go.

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  63. Skeptico,

    I already knew the site. The site confirms that the Occult Chemists made others predictions that were confirmed:

    a) All condition is hardly satisfied, because the two Xenons they reported are the least abundant of the 7 natural Xenon isotopes between masses 128 and 136.

    So what? They are real. It doensn't matter if they are the less abundant. It's a replication.

    b) Although their Meta-Krypton, 83.66, is the most abundant of the 5 natural Krypton isotopes between 80 and 86, their original Krypton, 81.3, does not exist.

    So what? The site confirms that Meta-Krypton 83.66 is real. It's another replication.

    It's very funny how skeptics like to turn something that is a 'hit' in a 'miss'.

    And I never claimed that the Occult Chemists were right in 100% of the time. No psychic has this percentual of hit. But the fact is, like Jeff Hughes says in his article, theosophy had a small, but significant, impact in physics, as well as in other areas such as art,music and philosophy.

    ReplyDelete
  64. Now, if you want to describe exactly why my review is wrong then please do so, but "read another book" or "read these favorable reviews" will not cut it.

    Don't be a fool. Anyone knows that a book to the academic public it's a entirely different book to the non-academic public. If a case is described in 20 pages in a book and you review a book which the case is described in only 5, it is obvious that this turns much easy the attack. And the worst is that you say you made 'a general overview of Stevenson’s credulous outlook' without have read one - 1!!! - of his academic books.

    There are many skeptics' mistakes in review Stevenson's work. You can find an excelent article about this here:

    http://www.criticandokardec.com.br/imad_elawar_revisited.html

    ReplyDelete
  65. But the fact is, like Jeff Hughes says in his article, But the fact is, like Jeff Hughes says in his article, theosophy had a small, but significant, impact in physics, as well as in other areas such as art,music and philosophy.
    a small, but significant, impact in physics, as well as in other areas such as art,music and philosophy.


    LMAO, No, the fact is, as the actual scientists confirmed, theosophy had no impact in physics. They made a few guesses. Some might have been accurate. Most were not. Nothing they did was of any use, and it was the real scientist who made the actual discoveries.

    This is your success for psi? Some lame, shoehorned, disputed claims from 1898? That's it? Another epic FAIL.

    You get one more shot.

    ReplyDelete
  66. I want to thank Skeptico for stepping in and doing a lot of this legwork. It is very easy for psi believers to claim this this and this happened, now TRUST ME that it did, and it takes a long time to go through why each one of those is not true. I've been largely absent because I went to my graduation ceremony to get my BS in Biopsychology (so if anyone knows about mind-brain functions, that'd be me). Thank you skeptico, again for shouldering the ignorance, sometimes it truly is overwhelming and such a pile of shit to try and climb over.

    And I'm not going to reveal the name of the researcher because I don't want him inundated with emails or a tarnished reputation (although that might be too late). I will send him links to the 3 blogs posts - mine, Radin's and Russell Glasser's and allow him to make his own decisions about coming out/replying.

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  67. Don't be a fool. Anyone knows that a book to the academic public it's a entirely different book to the non-academic public. If a case is described in 20 pages in a book and you review a book which the case is described in only 5, it is obvious that this turns much easy the attack.

    Again, bullshit. The book was 335 pages. Quite detiled. The cases were described in enough detail for me to determine the flaws. That I note, you still haven't refuted. Why can't you do that? Should be easy if you've read the academic papers you keep referring to. What do they reveal that I missed? You must be able to tell us. Assuming you've read them. And you must have read them or you wouldn't know, right? So what did I miss?

    And the worst is that you say you made 'a general overview of Stevenson’s credulous outlook' without have read one - 1!!! - of his academic books.

    WTF are you babbling about? I read the whole book.

    There are many skeptics' mistakes in review Stevenson's work. You can find an excelent article about this here:

    http://www.criticandokardec.com.br/imad_elawar_revisited.html


    Fascinating, except that wasn't a rebuttal of my paper. I didn't even write about Imad Elawar.

    Do you have any actual thoughts on what I actually wrote?

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  68. This is your success for psi? Some lame, shoehorned, disputed claims from 1898? That's it? Another epic FAIL.

    No, it is not. How can you say something like that? I show MANY articles with replicatons in reincarnation, telepathy, very, very recents. I really could show many others.

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  69. And stargate wasn't abandoned because it didn't work.

    If Project Stargate worked, why aren't we using remote viewers to, say, find Osama bin Laden?

    This is what is meant when skeptics ask, "Where are the practical applications of 'psi' if this stuff is actually real?" For the aptly named Dogmatic to insist there wouldn't necessarily have to be any is silly. Every time in history a legitimate discovery has been made, it has been exploited for a practical application. Internal combustion, radar, hydraulics...the list is endless. And yet for "psi," we're supposed to accept that it's real, and that it has no need to be practically applied.

    Feh. Thanks, but I'll be impressed when I see real results. Get a fucking remote viewer to pinpoint bin Laden's exact location using his magic woo powers, or STFU.

    As for the usual Randi smears, I remain amused. Everything about the $1 Million Challenge, including the "small print" and the bank statement confirming the funds exist (a common claim of paranormalists is that Randi doesn't have the money and never has had it), is online and completely open for examination. Naturally, paranormalists cannot meet the Challenge, and so they respond, typically, with ad hominems and falsehoods. Kind of like Radin smearing AAE. You're hearing the hysterical defensiveness and projection of the True Believer, not the intellectual rigor and professional emotional detachment of the scientist, whenever they try defending themselves.

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  70. "If Project Stargate worked, why aren't we using remote viewers to, say, find Osama bin Laden?"

    Clearly he has Magneto's helmet hidden under his turban.

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  71. 01.Again, bullshit. The book was 335 pages.Quite detiled. The cases were described in enough detail for me to determine the flaws.

    Do you really think that? Stevenson's book 'Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects Volume 1: Birthmarks ' has 1192 pages. This is just Volume 1. Volume 2 - Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects Volume 2: Birth Defects and Other Anomalies - has 1120 pages. Stevenson wrote a shorter version with only 348 pages. Do you really think that nothing was lost?

    02. That I note, you still haven't refuted. Why can't you do that? Should be easy if you've read the academic papers you keep referring to. What do they reveal that I missed? You must be able to tell us. Assuming you've read them. And you must have read them or you wouldn't know, right? So what did I miss?

    You wrote:

    Stevenson wrote this book, detailing 14 cases, with the aim of presenting an account of his research, and so it seems reasonable to assume that the evidence presented is at least representative of the whole.

    No, it is not reasonable. You missed typical cases with written records made before verification by Stevenson's himself. The case of Imad Elawar is one of them. And you missed also sucessful experiments in reincarnation, like the case of Gnanatilleka Baddewithana and the case of Ma Choe Hnin Htet. The best cases are not in "Children Who Remember Past Lives".

    2. WTF are you babbling about? I read the whole book.

    But you don't read ALL Stevenson's work. You don't read even the half!!! Stevenson wrote many articles, many other books, much more detailed, to the academic public. You never read them and you think you can judge ALL Stevenson's work. Ridiculous.

    03.Fascinating, except that wasn't a rebuttal of my paper. I didn't even write about Imad Elawar.

    Yes, and that is a problem. Imad Elawar is one of the strongest cases. And there are other cases much more stronger than Elawar's case.

    04. you have any actual thoughts on what I actually wrote?

    See above.

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  72. But you don't read ALL Stevenson's work. You don't read even the half!!! Stevenson wrote many articles, many other books, much more detailed, to the academic public. You never read them and you think you can judge ALL Stevenson's work. Ridiculous.

    So...what you are you saying here? Are you conceding that Skeptico's critique of the Stevenson he did read is in fact valid, but hey, there's all this other stuff Stevenson wrote, so until you read that, you can't criticize him?

    Critics of Stevenson really have to read 100% of his output before having valid criticisms of him? Or is it the case that, somewhere in Stevenson's writing, we'll find the one example of valid psi research, and that will mitigate all the invalid research?

    This is the usual mantra of the True Believer. If you read something they recommend and you end up having criticisms of it, they reply with, "No, you haven't read it ALL! Read MORE! Read everything! You can't criticize him otherwise!"

    I'd explain why that's jacked up, but I'm not sure there'd be any point.

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  73. It all comes down to reading the required literature.

    This argument can't get anywhere until the 'skeptical' side actually has something to contribute to the argument rather than ignorant statements.

    This is extraordinarily similar to debating creationists. It can't be therefore the evidence for psi is not there. The belief is so strong and their commitment so great that they dig a whole too deep.

    There are links provided so far that have an abundant amount of evidence. I hope you take the time to read into it honestly.

    Good day sirs.

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  74. No, it is not. How can you say something like that? I show MANY articles with replicatons in reincarnation, telepathy, very, very recents. I really could show many others.

    Funny, because I thought that was your best shot. Actually, second best, since the first missed too.

    So you "really could show many others" but just really won't. Sure. We're all convinced.

    Two shots. Nothing useful ever came from psi. That you will tell us about.

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  75. Do you really think that? Stevenson's book 'Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects Volume 1: Birthmarks ' has 1192 pages. This is just Volume 1...


    So what? Yours is bigger than mine? 1192 pages of crap will just be 842 additional pages of crap. What's wrong with what I wrote? Can you tell me or not?

    No, it is not reasonable. You missed typical cases with written records made before verification by Stevenson's himself. The case of Imad Elawar is one of them. And you missed also sucessful experiments in reincarnation, like the case of Gnanatilleka Baddewithana and the case of Ma Choe Hnin Htet. The best cases are not in "Children Who Remember Past Lives".

    I disagree. The book I read showed Stevenson to be a credulous fool whose methods are deeply flawed. Why would I waste more time on his crap?

    But you don't read ALL Stevenson's work. You don't read even the half!!! Stevenson wrote many articles

    To repeat, I've read enough to know he was a fool.

    Thanks for confirming no one can find fault with anything I actually wrote.

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  76. Anonymous wrote:

    To everyone who knows that psi is real: there is nothing for you to fight against. There is no point in this conflict. When you allow yourself to get angered and enter into conflict with these people, you are lowering yourself to the same level of vitriol and rhetoric that they employ. Let them go.

    And there you have the mindset of the closed-minded believer. He just "knows" psi is real. No more debate necessary.

    It all comes down to reading the required literature. (I've linked several. More on my blog) Also my review of Stevenson that no one can rebut.)

    This argument can't get anywhere until the 'believer' side actually has something to contribute to the argument rather than ignorant statements.

    This is extraordinarily similar to debating creationists. We can't explain something fully therefore it must be psi (designer). The belief is so strong and their commitment so great that they dig a hole too deep.

    There are links provided so far that have an abundant amount of evidence. I hope you take the time to read into it honestly.

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  77. Martin,

    my comments:

    01. So...what you are you saying here? Are you conceding that Skeptico's critique of the Stevenson he did read is in fact valid, but hey, there's all this other stuff Stevenson wrote, so until you read that, you can't criticize him?

    What I am saying is that I think it's a waste of time to read popular books. If Skeptiko really wants to analyse the evidence, he should read academic books.

    02. Critics of Stevenson really have to read 100% of his output before having valid criticisms of him?

    If they want criticize only a very small part of Stevenson's work, I'm ok with that. But if they want to judge ALL his work... one book is just not enough. Specially a popular book.

    ReplyDelete
  78. 01. Two shots. Nothing useful ever came from psi. That you will tell us about.

    Wrong. Here you will find MANY contributions: http://www.4shared.com/file/111624757/6ce4ef30/Contribuicao_da_Parapsicologia_ao_Conhecimento.html

    ReplyDelete
  79. What the hell was that site Enfant Terrible? Nothing there. No practical applications of psi, as I asked. That's epic FAIL three times now - and you're out.

    Of course, no surprise. We know no practical uses have come from psi. Do you really think (as Martin hinted) that the military wouldn't be using psi to find bin Laden by now if it worked? If psi was real the military would have known about 9/11 in advance. They cancelled stargate because it didn't work, and the insistence by people here that it did is just confirmation of your refusal to face reality. A 1898 book that (supposedly) showed someone remote viewed atoms - even if true - this is all there has been since 1898? You clearly will just jump on anything you find that supports your fantasy belief. But we know it was just a guess - like most psi, one guess fitted retroactively to what actually happened, ignoring the things that they guessed wrong.

    Nothing useful from psi in 125 years. Entirely consistent with the idea that psi does not exist.

    ReplyDelete
  80. 01. So what? Yours is bigger than mine? 1192 pages of crap will just be 842 additional pages of crap. What's wrong with what I wrote? Can you tell me or not?

    I already said. Again, and for the last time:

    a) Stevenson wrote this book, detailing 14 cases, with the aim of presenting an account of his research, and so it seems reasonable to assume that the evidence presented is at least representative of the whole.

    Wrong. It's not. No one of the strongest cases are in this book. So, the book is NOT representative of the whole.

    b) I believe it is valid to examine this quality if the evidence presented in this book, and draw conclusions from it about the rest of Stevenson's research.

    Ridiculous. It's the same mistake above.

    c)The 14 cases he cites rely on nothing more than anecdotes: all the "past life behavior" had been witnessed before the author met any of the players and so the veracity of the stories is hard to determine

    See, this is the problem. Stevenson found many cases wich were witnessed by him (Imad Elawar, Thusitha Silva, Iranga Jayakody, Subashini Gunasekera). So, you can' t draw conclusions about the rest of Stevenson's research.

    d) I am aware that Stevenson has published much more work than this, but I believe the cases and comments in this book are representative of his work.

    And this is your mistake (again).

    e)as I discovered, the author had got involved in none of these cases until some considerable time after the children were reported as remembering their prior lives. Thus they were all just anecdotes, although well documented and cross referenced. It was less than I had expected.

    The cases that I mentioned above to you are not of this kind. The author got involved in the cases in the same time the children were reported as remembering their prior lives.And even these cases of the book are not anedoctes. They are case studies. An anedoct is almost an urban legend.

    2. I disagree. The book I read showed Stevenson to be a credulous fool whose methods are deeply flawed. Why would I waste more time on his crap?

    Because Stevenson's methods become better with time. Many others replicate his findings with very positive results. Strong cases were found in recent years.

    d) To repeat, I've read enough to know he was a fool.

    You are justing fooling yourself repeating this.

    e) Thanks for confirming no one can find fault with anything I actually wrote.,

    Your review has so many flaws that is unbeliable that you wrote this.

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  81. What the hell was that site Enfant Terrible? Nothing there.

    You have to download the article!

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  82. A quick point to those who were referencing the meta-analysis as good evidence - metaanalysis is very questionable, and was mainly used to overcome a difficulty in achieving sufficiently large samples, which has since become easier. The problem is that when you take expected variations and add them up, its is not outlandish that this could result in statistically significant results. moreover, only articles that are significant or close, or are leading to something new, are likely to be published. if a large number of studies were conducted now showing psychic ability to have no measurable distinction from random, how many do you think would get published? not many, because it's not that important. so what you get is mostly near-hits that are published, and the misses that werent even close are largely ignored once the general concensus moves past the idea. then you add up the almosts to get a hit. its simply not reliable by itself.

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  83. I find it interesting that people who do not believe in PSi who experiment on it reach negative conclusions while those who believe receive positive conclusions, SOMETIMES. If the science was good there shouldn't be this discrepancy.

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  84. If the science was good there shouldn't be this discrepancy.

    Wrong.

    In the twentieth century, Alfred Wegener's idea of continental drift was initially ridiculed, despite considerable evidence to support it, because as one geologist put it, "If we are to believe Wegener's hypothesis, we must forget everything which has been learned in the last seventy years and start all over again." His theory languished for decades before it became the premise for the currently accepted idea of plate tectonics.

    There are many other examples.

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  85. Yeah sure...that's EXACTLY the same *eye roll*

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  86. The difference is that psi has been tested for a very long period of time, and there have been many people who would like for it to be true. Unfortunately, it just doesn't work in any verifiable and reliable manner. I'm sure the gov't would love to be able to make use of it, which is why they invested so much money into it for a while. But when you dont see returns on an investment, you don't keep on investing more.

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  87. Wrong again.

    Psi is both verifiable and reliable. The various experiments have been independently replicated several times and statistically significant.

    The problem is how psi works. Has nothing to do with whether its real or not. Anyone who has delved into this would consider that a dead issue at this point except for people (like yourselves) that very obviously don't want it to be therefore its not.

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  88. Psi is both verifiable and reliable. The various experiments have been independently replicated several times and statistically significant.

    Correct. One example of this are the 'entangled minds' experiments. Many replications, with publications in Science and Nature:

    01. DUANE, T. D. & BEHRENDT, T. Extrasensory electroencephalographic induction between identical twins. Science, v. 150, p. 367, 1965;

    02. WALLACE, R. K. & UNDRITH, G. S. Intersubject EEG coherence: is consciousness a field? International Journal of Neuroscience, v. 16, p. 203-209, 1982

    03. REBERT, C. S. & TURNER, A. EEG spectrum analysis techniques applied to the problem of psi phenomena. Behavioral Neuropsychiatry, v. 6, p. 18-24, 1974;

    04. TARG. R. & PUTHOFF, H. Information transmission under conditions of sensory shielding. Nature, v. 251, p. 602-607, 1974.

    05. GRINBERG-ZYLBERBAUM, J. & RAMOS, J. Patterns of interhemispheric correlation during human communication. International Journal of Neuroscience, v. 36, p. 41-53, 1987.

    06. GRINBERG-ZYLBERBAUM, J.; DELAFLOR, M.; SANCHEZ, M. E. & GUEVARA, M. A. Human communication and the electrophysiological activity of the brain. Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine, v. 3, p. 25-43, 1993;

    07. GRINBERG-ZYLBERBAUM, J.; DELAFLOR, M.; ATTIE, L. & GOSWAMI, L. The Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox in the brain: the transferred potential. Physics Essays, v. 7, p. 422-428, 1994;

    08. RICHARDS, T. & KOZAK, L. Evidence of correlated functional MRI signals between distant human brains. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, v. 9, p. 122-128, 2003

    09. WACKERMANN, J.; SEITER, C.; KEIBEL, H. & WALLACH, H. Correlations between brain electrical activities of two spatially separated human subjects. Neuroscience Letters, v. 336, p. 60-64, 2003.

    10. STANDISH, L. J.; KOZAK, I.; JOHNSON, L. C. & RICHARDS, T. Electroencephalographic evidence of correlated event-related signals between the brains of spatially and sensory isolated human subjects. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, v. 10, p. 307-314, 2004;

    11. RADIN, D. L Event-related EEG correlation between isolated human subjects. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, v. 10, p. 315-324, 2004.

    12. STANDISH, L. J.; KOZAK, I.; JOHNSON, L. C. & RICHARDS, T. Replicable Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Evidence of Correlated Brain Signals Between Physically and Sensory Isolated Subjects The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Dec 2005, Vol. 11, No. 6: 955-963

    ReplyDelete
  89. More Skeptiko's mistakes:

    f) For me, the "unsolved" cases are worthless. The child could be fantasizing, repeating what he has heard on the TV or radio, or there could be other explanations that don’t involve reincarnation.

    Yes, can be other explanations to the "unsolved" cases, and Stevenson always said this, but this don't mean that "unsolved" cases are worthless. It is very important to compare unsolved cases x solved cases and see the similarities and differences between them. The differences makes the solved cases stronger.

    Psychological tests were administered to 30 children in Sri Lanka, aged 7 to 13, who at an earlier age had claimed to remember a previous life, and a control group of equal size. Children claiming previous-life memories show a higher level of cognitive functioning; perform much better in school, have a larger vocabulary, obtain higher scores on the Raven Progressive Matrices (brief test of intelligence), have better memory, and are not more suggestible than their peers.

    (...)

    The children of this study all reported memories of a previous life during the typical age range of around 3 to 5 years. When they were given psychological tests at the ages of 7 to 13, they were found to differ in many respects from other children. They were different both in cognitive development and in behavior. Their greater verbal skills were particularly distinctive. They had a larger vocabulary and a greater command of language than their matched peers. They performed excellently at school. The evidence for this comes both from their grades and their teachers, who found them to work harder, learn more readily, and behave better than other children. Children claiming memories of a previous life tend more than other children to think they must be perfect; such perfectionism could well contribute to their excellent performance in school. These findings were somewhat unexpected and away from earlier conjectures about what would predispose a child to claim memories of a previous life. One of these suggests that the children are unusually prone to fantasies. The present study included no entirely satisfactory measure of this trait; nevertheless, the number of items added during free recall of the story given in the Gudjonsson Suggestibility Scale provided an indication of confabulation. The children who claimed past-life memories had a slightly lower score on this measure, although the difference was not statistically significant. We must note, however, that children who have a tendency to fantasize and who also have good memories and reasoning powers may not add details to a verbal test of memory.One subsidiary finding relevant to the question of suggestibility deserves noting. Our sample included 16 children whose cases are “unsolved”, which means that no person has identified the events of whose life corresponded to the child’s statements; in the other 14 cases such a person was identified and
    their cases are considered “solved”. The total suggestibility scores of the solved cases were significantly lower than the scores for the unsolved cases (t= 2.27, n= 30, p= .03). See details in Table 4. This finding indicates that children who make verified statements about a previous life are less suggestible than other children, who may be narrating fantasies. The latter group of children are about as suggestible as children in general. Cook et (1983a; 1983b) have already shown that these two groups - of solved and unsolved cases - have other important differences. It follows that we should distinguish the two groups of cases in future studies. Such future studies should, however, investigate larger samples.


    Source: A Psychological Comparison Between Ordinary Children and Those Who Claim Previous-Life Memories.

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  90. g) Both occur in communities that believe in reincarnation, and where critical thinking is (shall we say), not thought of as a primary skill. The scope for self-delusion is high.

    Wrong.

    The role of suggestion has especially been favored by persons who point out that the cultures in which these cases are most readily found have strong beliefs in reincarnation. Those who put forward this undoubted fact as a sufficient explanation of the cases overlook the evidence that parents often try to suppress the children and that the children for their part may vehemently oppose attempts at suppression. A good example of a child’s persistence against parental opposition occurred in the case of Dilupa Nanayakkara, whose Roman Catholic parents tried to suppress her talk of a previous life (Haraldsson, 1991). Stevenson and Chadha (1990) and Mills (1989) have also sometimes observed how these children (in India) withstand considerable pressure from their parents to stop talking about their apparent memories. Some of the children are scolded and a few even beaten for talking about a previous life. Many of them tell their mothers that they are not their real mothers, something the mothers do not like to hear and that often makes them afraid they may lose the child. It must, however, be added that in many cases the children’s claims receive support and even encouragement from the parents, especially in solved cases. Nevertheless, it seems doubtful that the solved cases at least can be attributed solely to suggestions from the cultures in which they occur.

    I think it's enough.

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  91. Hi EEA. I have to do this in three parts because it's a bit of a long post, sorry.

    (PART 1)

    As someone who is actually conducting some research into precognition (I’m not the professor mentioned in the original blog post), I was compelled to comment here, having read Dean Radin's blog also.

    I don't want to comment on previous research findings as others have provided enough references already. I do strongly suggest reading them though. However, I did want to comment on the motivation and reasoning behind doing research into precognition in the first place, which you touched upon, and also on some comments you made about the experiment you participated in.

    First point. You wrote,

    “So the experiment was testing if I would look away from the bad images before they would happen.

    After reading this, I just felt sad, and sorry for him. It seems like he really wants to believe in this and that he really believes that there is psychic phenomena. He believe it so much that he has no idea how it might work, no idea why it might work, and no good data to back it up - just a hope and a book of bad science that preys on the hopefulness of others. “


    Science works by inference, not belief. Parapsychologists infer the existence of anomalous phenomena from the results of controlled experiments. I suspect that framing this Professor’s position in terms of a belief and a desire to believe is grossly misrepresenting his true position.

    “Also I realized that his experiment had a great potential for manipulative abuse. There were questions about my alertness at the beginning. Students who were too sleepy and uninterested could be thrown out - without any evidence that alertness would influence paranormal signals. Or he could even throw out those whose attention was too focused - those who were not in touch enough with their subconscious cues”.

    When psychologists collect secondary variables such as levels of alertness or other personality variables, the purpose is usually to look for correlations between these factors and other variables in the experiment. Some of these correlations would be planned and part of the formal hypotheses. Others may be post-hoc, which is common practice in psychology especially when the experiment is exploring unchartered territory. In fact, a type of statistical analysis called ‘exploratory factor analysis’ is designed to do just that. You just have to always acknowledge that a certain analysis is post-hoc and peers can take that into account.

    “Then of course there is the variability to what degree people look away from the negative images. The criteria for what counts as looking away could easily be altered until a random, expected anomaly was found at a specific distance, say 5.5 centimeters.”

    Again, of course criteria could be altered after seeing the results. This is true of any experiment in science yet we rarely read this kind of objection applied to mainstream research. Your objection seems to be driven by the belief that a scientist is of low professional integrity simply because they are doing research in parapsychology.

    “Parapsychology researchers in the past have often manipulated their data thus because they believe it is justified because the phenomena exists and they are just tweaking their results, but other people have had results too, so it has to be true.”

    Which researchers are you referring to, which data and what kind of manipulations? Without that information, it’s very difficult to assess the accuracy of your comments. If, by ‘manipulating data’, you simply mean post-hoc analysis then that kind of thing goes on all the time in psychology and is perfectly legitimate. Richard Wiseman has just posted some results of an informal online study into remote viewing where he does some interesting post-hoc analysis. The key, of course, is replicating the findings of post-hoc analyses with new planned analyses.

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  92. (PART 2)

    “Even for those who do not cheat and get null results, they still continue to believe. There is no amount of null results that will convince them that the phenomena is not real, and that is not scientific either.”

    I can’t speak personally on this as I have only just started my research, but there are certainly some parapsychologists who have obtained null results and have become highly sceptical of the existence of psi because of that. Susan Blackmore and Louie Savva are notable examples. There are probably a few others that try a small number of parapsychology experiments, obtain null results, and leave the field without any fuss as ‘disbelievers’. We probably just don’t hear about them. Apparently Samuel Moulton, who was first author of a study into psi using fMRI that found null results (Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience) no longer thinks parapsychology is worthwhile studying.

    That aside, the reason why there exists a community of parapsychologists who are not swayed by the existing
    null results is because enough positive results also exist! It’s important to look at the findings of the field as a whole. Personally, I would be convinced that psi definitely does not exist if, time after time, well conducted experiments produced null results. But the reality is that they don’t. Lots of well conducted experiments get positive results. There are of course experiments that get negative results but that is expected especially in a field where we don’t know a great deal about what is going on.

    “Another thing to look for is the poor rational for how these things would work.”

    You do not have to provide a mechanism for how the brain obtains information about the future if you want to learn something about how the brain uses that information in the present. The latter is what most parapsychologists are working on including myself. Take Darwin’s theory of natural selection for comparison. Darwin did not need to know how characteristics were inherited in order for his theory to be testable. This is because the point of the theory, in its original form, was not to explain how biological information was transmitted from generation to generation, but rather how this information was subsequently used by the forces of natural selection. The inheritance of characteristics was taken as an given observation. Similarly, some theories of psi functioning (such as Stanford’s Psi Mediated Instrumental Response model) are not meant to provide a mechanism as to how the brain acquires information from the future. That is most likely a problem for physics although psychological research may give some clues. Rather, these models propose how precognitive information is used by the mind once it is acquired. They are psychological models of precognitive functioning.

    However, you did ask the Professor about possible mechanisms behind how the brain acquires information from the future in the first place and I guess he/she did his/her best to provide some information for you to follow up on. I’m not a physicist so I’m not qualified to comment on his response, although I note that you comment on this issue yourself in spite of your own admittance of ignorance about complex physics.

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  93. “Our eyes have noise signals being fired all the time, just being part of the random nature of being a biological system, and these noise signals are weeded out by the brain. Even if we were getting extra bits of information from the future, it would be ignored as trash information, and rightfully so, or else our perception would be filled with noise”.

    This comment is a bit of a straw man. Experimental studies suggest that precognitive information is used so there must be some mechanism that constrains the amount of information acquired about future events. In addition, the brain is remarkably good at discriminating useful from irrelevant information once the information is in there. There is no good reason to assume that the case should be different for precognitive information. In other words, if the information is useful then we should expect it to be used during both unconscious and conscious processes, just like information acquired by normal means. Experiments are being done to test this idea.

    “I would imagine most monistic believers in psychic phenomena believe that there is some system in the brain that picks up on stuff about to happen in the future, but that is even sillier. Even if signals were coming in from the future, there's no way a patch in our brain could interpret it. We have these eyes, ears, noses, skin because the brain needs some way to access this information and pre-interpret it before further processing. There's no way that sound waves or photons or pressure signals would mean anything to neurons in the brain. They need an interpreter. It's not really any different from asking a person to listen to radio signals without a radio to receive them.”

    Most parapsychologists are working on the idea that precognition acquires information about the state of the mind in the future, not the external environment. So the information in the future has already undergone this interpretation process.

    “While I feel mostly pity, I am also upset. This man has power over students, he is in a position of authority. Who knows what he is teaching in his classes? Furthermore, he is using what I would guess to be university funding to test for something that has been disproven for decades. I would rather the funds go to something that would better humanity or expand our knowledge. The purpose of science, if it has one, is to expand our knowledge. It does not serve us to keep re-testing things that have been reliably shown to not exist. He might as well be looking for leprechaun bones, or spending time calculating if the sun revolves around the earth or vice versa.”

    Like I said, I’m not going to comment on previous research and why I think you are wrong when you say that psi has been disproven for decades. This is mainly because you haven’t made any specific arguments to any particular experimental paradigms. I suspect that you actually hadn’t read much previous research at all when you wrote this blog entry, evidenced by the fact that you didn’t know what “Anomalous Cognition” referred to. Anyone who had seriously looked into parapsychology would know that anomalous cognition is another term for ESP. The term has been around for years.

    If you really feel upset that parapsychology is being conducted at your university, I suggest you write a critical review of contemporary research and submit it to a parapsychology journal for peer review. You’ll be surprised how many critical papers get published in these journals. I recommend the Journal of Parapsychology or the European Journal of Parapsychology.

    Cheers
    Dave

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  94. Why do so many of you keep asserting that we don't buy into psi because of "not wanting it to be"? Do you really think we have some emotional investment in there not being psi? I really don't care if there is or not, I care about knowing what the truth is, and if psi is real, I'd want to know. It simply hasn't measured up to my standards of proof, and so I consider it unverified. So stop acting like there's some emotional investment in there not being psi, that doesn't make any sense.

    Also, to the anon who said it was both verifiable and reliably replicable - if something is reliably replicable, then practical use could be made of it, yet it hasn't been practically applied.

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  95. It simply hasn't measured up to the standards of proof of people that don't know anything about the data?

    And judging by the obviously heated reaction and the incredibly condescending main blog post here, I think its very safe to say that there is a heavy emotional investment into this stuff not being real.

    Hell, read EEA's small blurb about herself:\

    "I... fight... paranormal claims".

    Thats funny. Someone is fighting something they know nothing about.

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  96. Enfant Terrible wrote:

    Your review has so many flaws that is unbeliable that you wrote this.

    And yet you can't name one flaw.

    In the twentieth century, Alfred Wegener's idea of continental drift was initially ridiculed, despite considerable evidence to support it, because as one geologist put it, "If we are to believe Wegener's hypothesis, we must forget everything which has been learned in the last seventy years and start all over again." His theory languished for decades before it became the premise for the currently accepted idea of plate tectonics.

    Yes, but why do we now accept plate tectonics? It's because supporters of the hypothesis went and got the evidence. As you wrote, this was first hypothesized in the twentieth century. And it was accepted, when? In the 1960s, I think. So from 1920 to 1960 the evidence was developed. Compare that with psi - 1882 to 2009 - a much longer period - and where are we? Well, from this post we know a professor is STILL trying to see if some people can predict (with a greater probability than chance) what image a computer is going to show. We're still in the "let's see if there is an effect" stage, with nothing (as we ascertained yesterday) useful to show for it. Your comparison with plate tectonoics - real science - shows more clearly than anything I could have written, the problems with psi research.

    A lot of ideas are ridiculed. But it is not enough that your idea is ridiculed - it also has to be right.

    More Skeptiko's mistakes

    More? You haven't listed any so far.

    Oh I see, you have just thought of two things.

    Yes, can be other explanations to the "unsolved" cases, and Stevenson always said this, but this don't mean that "unsolved" cases are worthless.

    There is no way to check them to see if they are real, so they could just be a child's imagination. So yes, they are worthless to a real scientist. Not to someone with a pre conceived belief in reincarnation, no matter what the evidence. And that is your mistake.

    Both occur in communities that believe in reincarnation, and where critical thinking is (shall we say), not thought of as a primary skill. The scope for self-delusion is high.

    Wrong.


    No, right. Just because some people in these communities tried to supress the children's stories, that doesn't mean that overall the scope for self-delusion is not high.

    So that's it? After a day of thinking about it those two things are all you can think of to criticize? I'll take that as my case proven then.

    OK, I'm out of here. You've all had your best shot and I have other things to do today than rebut the same tired arguments and logical fallacies again and again. Good luck. I'll read some of those papers you cited and may write about them on my blog at sometime in the future.

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  97. David, I'm going to address your discussion of a mechanism. You claim that precognition would not work by future objects sending messages to the sensory organs in the past through some sort of tachyon or whatever. I would ask how you know this to be true. I have admitted that I haven't studied physics enough to say with confidence that time is linear, why would only the brain send signals back in time but the rest of the universe not? You propose that future mental states are sent back in time, but mental states are just physical. Mental states are a collection of neuron chemical firings, alignment, and order. They are just physical features, and as physics works the same inside the brain as out, I am confused why the brain can send messages back and objects can't, (unless you invoke a soul, which opens a whole new can of worms). It doesn't really matter what sends the messages back, you are still dealing with the problem of lacking a mechanism to read those messages. There are no sensory organs in the brain. The brain can't even sense pain, which is why brain tumors go undetected until they are large enough to press on the tissue covering the brain. We are at a great advantage over Darwin in that we have studied the brain in such huge detail, we know general brain function regions; there is no mystery region. It would be as if Darwin was studying evolution in a time where DNA was already known and mapped (or more accurately, Darwin's opponents for the psi researchers). There is not only no mechanism for precognition, there is no hope for a mechanism because we know how the brain works so well for both individual neurons and aggregate functioning.

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  98. To touch on a point made by someone earlier, "physics advances funeral to funeral", is a very important point (and I think it was a parapsychology supporter that said it). These types of steps are made by complete paradigm shifts - much of what we think must be overturned. Here's the thing: for the stuff being proposed in parapsychology like this, there has to be some mechanism for it to happen. in the current standard of physics and neuroscience, no such mechanism can be had. In order for this to be possible, there must be a complete paradigm shift that can allow for some mechanism, and until/unless this happens, this stuff won't work. So my advice to those who support parapsychology is to work on making that paradigm shift happen so that parapsychology can be considered viable.

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  99. Parapsychologists and a number of other fields are working on that paradigm shift. The point of this thread and the reaction to her points are because it relates to the data for parapsychology. She is listing purely materialistic reasons why psi can't happen without even making the attempt to see what the data actually points to.

    Had she been honest and said she didn't know much about parapsychology than you wouldn't see people recommending she read the literature before spouting off.

    But I agree wholeheartedly that a paradigm shift is in order. If we can show something to be real and it doesn't fit than we need a change and imo, its coming, slowly but surely.

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  100. Here are a few refs for start. I will give many more refs upon request. Here are refs on EEG correlations. Please read the studies before commenting on them (nothing worse than criticizing something that one has never read...)

    a) Goswami et al. The Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox in the brain: The transferred potential. Physics Essays, 7, 422-428 (Take note of the journal this study was published in)

    b) Radin, D. Event-related EEG correlations between isolated human subjects. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, volume 10, 315-324, 2004. (note: the journal that published this study is accepted by the NIH)

    c) Standish et al. Electroencephaolographic evidence of correlated event-related signals between the brains of spatially and sensory isolated human subjects. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, volume 10, 307-314

    Studies demonstrating statistically significant psi effects have been replicated and published in mainstream journals. To suggest otherwise reveals a massive degree of ignorance about the topic.

    More refs available upon request

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  101. ah, I see that Enfant Terrible beat me to the punch with some refs. Good for him/her.

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  102. Skeptiko,

    01. And yet you can't name one flaw.

    The worst blind man is the one who doesn't want to see.

    02. Yes, but why do we now accept plate tectonics? It's because supporters of the hypothesis went and got the evidence.

    Wrong. The evidence was already there. The skeptics did not accept just because they did not know the mechanism. Even the skeptic V.S. Ramachandran accept this.

    Alfred Wegener noticed that the outlines of the facing coasts of the continents fit together nearly perfectly, and based on that, he posited that the continents as we know them now must have split off and drifted apart from a single, ancient supercontinent. He also noticed that the rock strata on the west coast of Africa perfectly matched those of the east coast of South America. Finally, he pointed out that fossils of an order of Permian freshwater lizards, mesosaurs, are found in only two places on earth--you guessed it, West Africa and the eastern coast of Brazil. And the fossilized remains of identical species of dinosaurs were found on the Atlantic coasts of the two continents. Yet the experts--the skeptics--ignored the evidence that was staring them in the face. They did so because it didn't fulfill their criteria: it didn't fit the contemporary big picture of geology ("terra firma" and all that), and they couldn't think of a mechanism for continental drift--plate tectonics had not yet been discovered. So the skeptics argued, believe it or not, that there had been a long, narrow (now submerged) land bridge connecting the Atlantic coasts of South America and Africa, across which all the dinosaurs had migrated and died! One wonders what it would have taken to convince these people: two halves of the same dinosaur skeleton, each on a different side of the Atlantic?

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  103. So what tarkana and Anonymous seem to be advocating, is not a scientific examination of a phenomena they think, hope and believe to be true. Not research into the mechanism, but instead a PR campaign to sway the minds of the public. Are you guys just cribbing notes from the Creation/ID movement?

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  104. 03. There is no way to check them to see if they are real, so they could just be a child's imagination. So yes, they are worthless to a real scientist.

    A real scientist would never agree with you. The unsolved cases, from an anthropological, psychological, behavioral and even in a biological point of view, they can be of an incredible value. And even if we consider the paranormal point of view, they are not worthless. There are cases which the child give informations of another country that are difficult to know how the child could know them.

    04. No, right. Just because some people in these communities tried to supress the children's stories, that doesn't mean that overall the scope for self-delusion is not high.

    Wrong, wrong, and wrong.

    For most of his life. Abu Qasim was deeply skeptical about reincarnation. He prefaced stories about reincarnation with two complementary points. He made it clear that he was respectful of the Druze doctrine with which he was raised, but this did not mean he blindly accepted every tenet with which the Druze were associated. For most of his life, Abu Qasim had largely discounted the notion of
    reincarnation because he felt it could not be explained scientifically. To him it represented a superstitious folk belief. Indeed many Druze want to not be identified as unquestioning believers of reincarnation. Amal, for example, explained that her family’s initial hesitation to investigate rumors of her mother’s reincarnation was because they were educated people. A tension exists between
    ideas people have of the incompatibility between religion and being modern or scientific minded. A tendency toward defensiveness when reincarnation is the
    topic at hand should be understood as an effort in image management by a community that is no stranger to stigmatization and marginality.

    But sometimes even the staunchest skeptics had to reconcile their stance on reincarnation with experiences they had which were difficult to explain away. In such cases, individuals were always careful to provide incontrovertible proof that someone claiming to be a reincarnated loved one was truly so. Providing proof is an essential part of all Druze reincarnation stories, and usually takes the form of some family knowledge disclosed by an individual claiming to be a reincarnated relative, knowledge known only to one or two family intimates and the deceased family member. As such, the use of reported speech and the language of testimony is central in reincarnation stories. Yet acceptance of such
    testimony is not always immediate. Nor are the reunions that occur necessarily joyous events; more typically, they are occasions fraught with mixed emotions.

    Thus, Druzes have a range of stances on reincarnation: dismissal, skepticism, reluctant belief, and acceptance.


    Source:REINCARNATION, SECT UNITY, AND
    IDENTITY AMONG THE DRUZE by Anne Bennett

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  105. 05. I'll read some of those papers you cited and may write about them on my blog at sometime in the future.

    Good for you. I hope never more see in my life someone judge all academic work of a scientist by reading just one popular book.

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  106. No, Tarkana and anonymous are advocating a campaign to get people to read what is already there (in parapsychology and other areas), and to think differently about the relationship between the brain and mind in a way that encompasses more of the known evidence than we currently are.

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  107. Here are some replications in reincarnation's research:

    01. A Partly Independent Replication of Investigations of Cases Suggestive Of Reincarnation (1979) European Journal of Parapsychology, 3, 51-65 Satwant Pasricha, Ian Stevenson

    02. A Replication Study: Three Cases of Children in Northern India Who Are Said to Remember a Previous Life Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 133-184, 1989 Antonia Mills

    03. New Cases in Burma, Thailand, and Turkey: A Limited Field Study Replication of Some Aspects of Ian Stevenson's Research (1991) Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 27-59 H. H. Jurgen Keil

    04. Replication studies of cases suggestive of reincarnation by three independent investigators Journal of American Society for Psychical Research 88, 207-219 (1994) Antonia Mills, Erlendur Haraldsson, Jurgen Keil

    05.Three Cases of the Reincarnation Type in the Netherlands (2003) Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 17, No. 3, pp. 527-532 Titus Rivas

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  108. actually, eea, while it wasn't explicit, i'm on ur side in that i see no convincing evidence of parapsychology being real. the point i was making was that, as you had stated as well, it would need a mechanism, so its pointless to try to argue it under a model which doesnt allow it. if they want it taken seriously, they would first need a paradigm shift.

    personally, i fail to see shortcoming in our current model's predictive power that would necessitate a paradigm shift. given that, there is currently no place for parapsychology to fit in. that is where i stand. if future research showed our current model insufficient, that would change.

    I know its frustrating dealing with a lot of opposition, but don't get so worked up that you mistake support for opposition. not sure which anonymous you're talking about... hard to keep them straight what with the same name and all.

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  109. To give an example, if all the data we had on biology had led us to a model in which genes were inherited like a continuous spectrum rather than discrete alleles, some resurgence of "recessive" (though that term wouldn't make as much sense in this case) may still be expected to some extent, yet anomalous data may show strong variations from what would be expected. this could be either because a correction is needed to the model, or by expected variation appearing and undergoing strong publication bias.

    My feelings on parapsychology are the same as my feelings on god - it may or may not exist, but there doesn't seem to be any practical value in that answer. As someone had stated, reliable replication is key to pragmatic value. Without that it doesn't really matter. I haven't really read into the research on parapsychology, but that's because I'm really not that concerned with it. There is no means for a mechanism right now, and no means of practical application. That being the case, I'm not that concerned about it.

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  110. Okay, sorry tarkana, glad we agree there is no mechanism!

    And I initially allowed anonymous posting because I was starting out and had few followers and commenter, and wanted to allow posting without signing in. Now that there are so many of you, I am mandating a name so we can keep you all straight, to discourage trolls and to keep the number of posters manageable.

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  111. the point i was making was that, as you had stated as well, it would need a mechanism, so its pointless to try to argue it under a model which doesnt allow it. if they want it taken seriously, they would first need a paradigm shift.!

    From Tucker's book Life Before Life:

    An argument along lines similar to the materialist one is that we should not consider reincarnation as a possibility, because we do not know of a mechanism that could explain it—we do not know how a consciousness might survive without a body, how it could affect a developing fetus, and so on. The weakness of this argument is fairly obvious on the face of it, but even more so when we consider it in other contexts. We are fortunate that the field of medicine has not waited for mechanisms to be uncovered before taking advantage of effective treatments, since physicians have successfully used numerous medications before knowing their mechanisms of action.

    The mechanism of gravity was a complete mystery at the time that Isaac Newton proposed the concept, but people accepted its existence nonetheless. We did not have a mechanism to explain it until Albert Einstein proposed in his general theory of relativity that gravity is the warping of space and time. This case demonstrates that even arguing that no mechanism is conceivable is not enough to reject an idea since the warping of space and time was certainly an inconceivable idea when Newton proposed the concept of gravity. Unless we are willing to say that we know that no mechanism is even possible, we should not dismiss a concept simply because we do not know its mechanism.


    The skeptic V.S. Ramachandran says the same:

    In general, for an anomaly to make it into mainstream science, it has to fulfill three criteria, all of which must be in place. First, it must be true, i.e., reliably repeatable. Second, it has to be explainable it in terms of known principles. Third, it must have broad implications for areas of research beyond that of the researcher. Let's take two examples:

    In the late 1940s, Oswald Avery et al. determined that DNA was the factor that permitted bacterial transformation, a phenomenon in which one strain of a species of bacterium (such as pneumococcus A) transforms into a different species (such as pneumococcus B) when A is incubated with fluid that has been extracted from B. This had been observed by other investigators in prior studies, but no mechanism for the transformation had been isolated. That observation, which was published in the prestigious Journal of Experimental Science, should have sent a tsunami through biology, but it barely made a ripple. In principle, it was a lot like seeing a pig walk into a room and reemerge as a donkey. Yet, it was ignored by skeptics, partly because it challenged one of the basic principles of biology: the immutability of species.

    Avery even hinted that this "transforming principle," the DNA molecule, might carry hereditary information, but his findings were ignored (probably as anomalies) before the replication mechanism of DNA was understood (thanks to Watson and Crick). If someone had seen the significance of those findings earlier, molecular biology might have been born much sooner than it was.

    Why was Avery's "anomaly" ignored initially? Because while it fulfilled the first criterion of being reliably repeatable and the third criterion of having vast implications (challenging the idea of the immutability of species), too many skeptics were not yet willing to accept it as fulfilling the second: providing a conceivable mechanism for bacterial transformation. But that, as we have seen, is not a good reason for ignoring the discovery.

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  112. "In the twentieth century, Alfred Wegener's idea of continental drift was initially ridiculed, despite considerable evidence to support it, because as one geologist put it, "If we are to believe Wegener's hypothesis, we must forget everything which has been learned in the last seventy years and start all over again." His theory languished for decades before it became the premise for the currently accepted idea of plate tectonics."
    -- Terrible Child

    "But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown."
    -- Carl Sagan

    "Alas, to wear the mantle of Galileo it is not enough that you be persecuted by an unkind establishment. You must also be right."
    -- Robert Park

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  113. enfant,

    that first analogy is not a good comparison. medical experiments serve the purpose of showing causation of administering treatment A provides health benefit B. Generally, a mechanism is discovered, but regardless, the only concern is whether or not the treatment provides a health benefit, not how it does it (given that there are not repercussions as well). However, if we look at parapsychology, lets take eea's professor as an example. Let's say his results come up significant, that for some reason some people tend to look away from areas where a negative image is going to appear at a rate greater than chance. Ok, now let's say its been repeated and is well verified/replicable. Now what can we draw from this? Maybe they have precognition? Maybe the computer has become capable of picking out negative images and is emitting signals from the screen to draw people's eyes away from it, and only certain people can detect these signals? who knows?! without a viable mechanism, we can know nothing more than that a relation exists, not how its happening. Keep in mind I never said I was writing off parapsychology as impossible, I just remained unconvinced, and state it has no practical value without a mechanism.

    as for ramachandran's quote, those 3 criteria are good, and parapsychology clearly doesnt meet 2 and 3, while #1 is what everyone is arguing about here. Given that, it is not surprising that avery's discovery didnt evoke a large response until later, because it wasn't et of much use. what his experiment showed was that DNA was the means of carrying on the virus's effects (actually he just confirmed this as it was determined by earlier experiments like griffith's in 1928, and later more confirmed by hershey and chase). I think Ramanchadran goes a little too far in saying that this challenges the immutability of species because 1) the immutability of species was already well on the way out by the 1940's and 2) if you don't know how DNA works, how does that say anything about the mutability of species? Perhaps it didn't cause a big stir because 1)it was actually just confirming earlier experiments and 2) there was really nothing that could be done with that information yet. Ok, DNA seems to be the source of heredity (not settled on until hershey and chase in '52), but we don't know the structure or actions of DNA, so now what? Figure those things out, because its not useful until we do! And experiments like Hershey and Chase were FAR less ambiguous in showing DNA was the source of heredity, than these parapsychology studies do for making precognition a better conclusion than any other conceivable explanatin equally lacking a mechanism.

    The DNA example actually works for me pretty well. You say you have some data that supports your hypothesis, but not a working explanation how it could work? Well, that doesn't serve the purpose of showing that it is parapsychology doing it. If you want to do that, go figure out all the physics behind it and create a model for how it works, then this model should generate testable predictions. So go do that.

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  114. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  115. ^^^that was me, worm is my lab's account. whoops.

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  116. Kazim,

    you quoted Sagan. Well, Sagan wrote a book called The Demon-Haunted World in which he was extremely critical of many New Age or paranormal ideas. In it, he also wrote, "At the time of writing there are three claims in the ESP field which, in my opinion, deserve serious study(1) that by thought alone humans can (barely) affect random number generators in computers; (2) that people under mild sensory deprivation can receive thoughts or images "projected" at them; and (3) that young children sometimes report the details of a previous life, which upon checking turn out to be accurate and which they could not have known about in any other way than reincarnation. I pick these claims not because I think they're likely to be valid (I don't), but as examples of contentions that might be true." They have at least some, although still dubious, experimental support. Of course, I could be wrong."

    He was not saying that he believed in reincarnation, because he did not, but he thought that we should take this work seriously. Do you have any reasons for ignoring that opinion?

    By the way, I really don't think Bozo the Clown had published anything in a scientific journal.

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  117. Worm/Tarkana

    01. Ok, now let's say its been repeated and is well verified/replicable. Now what can we draw from this? Maybe they have precognition? Maybe the computer has become capable of picking out negative images and is emitting signals from the screen to draw people's eyes away from it, and only certain people can detect these signals? who knows?!

    No one knows. But in this case, we choose the most parcimonious hypothesis, and the tests shows that precognition seems to be the most parcimonious hypothesis we have until now. Or at least, some other paranormal ability.

    02. as for ramachandran's quote, those 3 criteria are good, and parapsychology clearly doesnt meet 2 and 3, while #1 is what everyone is arguing about here.

    For me it's clear that parapsychology only doenst meet #2. Or do you think that parapsychology has not vast implications, not challenging many ideas in Physics, Biology?

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  118. 03. And experiments like Hershey and Chase were FAR less ambiguous in showing DNA was the source of heredity, than these parapsychology studies do for making precognition a better conclusion than any other conceivable explanatin equally lacking a mechanism.

    Well, I disagree.

    An individual participant, Malcolm Bessent, with a history of success in laboratory precognitive psi tasks, completed 1,000 trials in a computer-based experiment comparing precognition and real-time target modes. A diode-based electronic random number generator (RNG) served as the target source. Target mode was randomly selected at the outset of each 10-trial run and was unknown to Bessent until the completion of each run. Bessent's task was to identify the actual target from a judging pool of four graphic "card" images presented on a computer graphics display.

    Based on Bessent's prior research history, two formal hypotheses were tested: (a) Bessent would demonstrate statistically significant hitting in the precognitive target mode, and (b) his precognitive performance would be significantly superior to his performance on real-time targets. Series sample size, methods of analysis, and significance criteria were specified in advance. Both hypotheses were confirmed. Bessent's success rate in the precognitive target mode was 30.4% (n = 490, p = .0039). This is reliably above the 25% chance level on an estimate of the 95% confidence level, which gives 27.2% as the approximate lower bound. Real-time performance did not exceed chance expectation (25.9% hits; n = 510, p = .34). The difference between the precognitive and real-time modes was significant (p = .045). Exploratory analyses suggest that performance was related to response mode and latency: Significant hitting occurred when Bessent's responses were based on cognitive impressions but not when they were based on feelings or guesses, and he was more accurate on trials in which he took more time to make his response.

    Extensive randomness tests document the adequacy of the RNG. The tests include global RNG certification runs testing uniform distribution of RNG byte values (n = 6 X 106 bytes) and sequential biases (n = 8 x 106 bits), as well as tests of the actual target sequence. An empirical cross-check control, recently advocated by the critic Ray Hyman, in which Bessent's responses for one run were deliberately mismatched against targets intended for another run, also yielded results close to chance expectation.

    Various rival hypotheses including sensory cues, faulty randomization, data-handling errors, data-selection bias, multiple analysis, and deception are assessed and found to be inadequate. This is the fourth precognition experiment with Bessent, each involving a different methodology and each yielding a statistically significant outcome. The combined result is highly significant (z = 5.47, p = 2.26 x 10 -8). It is concluded that the results provide evidence for a communications anomaly involving noninferential precognition.

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  119. More about the precognition studies:

    Bessent was the percipient in two precognitive dream experiments involving the use of EEG-REM monitoring techniques (Krippner, Ullman, & Honorton, 1971; Krippner, Honorton, & Ullman, 1972). Both studies involved eight precognitive dream sessions in which Bessent attempted to dream about salient aspects of target material that would be randomly selected sometime after the nocturnal dream session by Maimonides staff personnel who were blind to Bessent's dream content.

    In the first study (Krippner et al., 1971), target experiences consisting of multisensory stimuli were created on the basis of a randomly selected word in Hall and Van de Castle's (1966) book, The Content Analysis of Dreams, which contains specific content items and frequencies for 500 male dream reports. The target episode was generated and presented to Bessent upon his final awakening in the morning. Correspondences between dream transcripts for each of the eight nights and the eight target episodes were rated on a blind basis by three independent judges who had no other contact with the study. By chance alone, one would expect that the mean of the judges' ratings would result in one correct target-transcript pairing. The mean of the judges' ratings for the correct target-transcript pairs were higher than those for the incorrect (decoy) ratings for five of the eight nights, a statistically significant result.

    The second precognitive dream study (Krippner et al., 1972) also involved eight precognitive dream sessions. The procedure differed from the first study in the following respects: (a) the targets were predefined audio-visual episodes involving thematically related slides and sound effects (e.g., slides of birds accompanied by an au-diotape of bird calls); (b) a complex randomization procedure was used to select an entry point into a random number table to determine the target episode; (c) the target that served as a precognitive influence on Bessent's dreams on odd-numbered nights served also as a presleep influence on the subsequent even-numbered nights, allowing comparison of precognitive and presleep sensory influences on Bessent's dream content; and (d) the target was selected and presented to Bessent approximately 24 hours after commencement of the precognitive session. The judging procedure was similar to that used in the first study. The mean of the three judges' ratings for the precognitive nights again yielded a significant result with five direct hits. Interestingly, the results for the presleep sensory exposures yielded chance results.

    In a third precognition experiment involving a binary random number generator (Honorton, 1971), Bessent attempted to predict which of two colored lamps would light after he pressed the button associated with his choice. The RNG automatically registered the number of hits in each 16-trial run on a digital counter. In 15,360 trials, Bessent obtained a statistically significant success rate of 51.2%.

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  120. In addition to the precognition studies, Bessent was the percipient in two studies involving contemporaneous ("real-time") ESP. These included a long-distance real-time dream study (Krippner, Honorton, & Ullman, 1973) and a study of "psychic" readings (Stanford 8c Palmer, 1973). In the 1973 Krippner et al. study, Bessent, sleeping in the Maimonides Dream Laboratory, attempted to dream about randomly selected target slides that were projected to audiences at concerts by the rock group "The Grateful Dead," held over a six-night period in Port Chester, NY, approximately 45 miles from the Maimonides Laboratory. The results were statistically significant, with four of the six sessions yielding direct hits.

    In the Stanford and Palmer study, Bessent attempted to provide "psychic" readings for 20 absentee target persons whose hair samples were used as token objects. Blind ratings of the readings intended for each target person were compared with the mean ratings of readings intended for three other target persons. Although an interesting post hoc finding relating to EEG alpha frequency was reported, Bessent's overall success rate was nonsignificant.


    (...)

    Bessent's overall record of achievement is an impressive one: Statistically significant outcomes were obtained in four of the five experiments, and he was more successful in precognitive than in real-time ESP tasks. All three precognition experiments were significant, and they yielded significantly higher overall z scores than did the experiments with contemporaneously existing targets. It is noteworthy that the three precognition experiments used very different procedures and methods. The two precognitive dream studies involved different target situations and randomization methods, and the precognitive guessing experiment was radically different from the dream studies. Across the three experiments, the latency between Bessent's response and the generation of the target ranged from a few hundred milliseconds in the RNG study to over 24 hours in the second dream study. That all three experiments yielded similarly significant outcomes provides converging evidence (Lykken, 1968) that Bessent was demonstrating precognition.

    Reference: PRECOGNITION AND REAL-TIME ESP
    PERFORMANCE IN A COMPUTER TASK
    WITH AN EXCEPTIONAL SUBJECT

    04. The DNA example actually works for me pretty well. You say you have some data that supports your hypothesis, but not a working explanation how it could work? Well, that doesn't serve the purpose of showing that it is parapsychology doing it.

    Again, it is the most parcimonious hypothesis we have until now. If you have a more parcimonious explanation, publishe it in a scientific journal and we will can see if you are right or wrong.

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  121. 05. If you want to do that, go figure out all the physics behind it and create a model for how it works, then this model should generate testable predictions. So go do that.

    Again, to know how it works it is not necessary to we have the phenomena confirmed. But there is an interesting article about Physics and paranormal phenomena:

    http://www.scientificexploration.org/journal/jse_12_2_costadebeauregard.pdf

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  122. you quoted Sagan. Well, Sagan wrote a book called The Demon-Haunted World in which he was extremely critical of many New Age or paranormal ideas. In it, he also wrote, "At the time of writing there are three claims in the ESP field which, in my opinion, deserve serious study(1) that by thought alone humans can (barely) affect random number generators in computers; (2) that people under mild sensory deprivation can receive thoughts or images "projected" at them; and (3) that young children sometimes report the details of a previous life, which upon checking turn out to be accurate and which they could not have known about in any other way than reincarnation. I pick these claims not because I think they're likely to be valid (I don't), but as examples of contentions that might be true." They have at least some, although still dubious, experimental support. Of course, I could be wrong."

    He was not saying that he believed in reincarnation, because he did not, but he thought that we should take this work seriously. Do you have any reasons for ignoring that opinion
    ?

    I agree with Sagan that we should take serious scientific efforts seriously.

    If Sagan were around to see this thread, he'd be ridiculing these studies right along with me. Contrary to your claim, he wasn't saying that he took the work seriously; he was saying that there's nothing wrong in principle with hoping that a rigorous, well designed study might provide new evidence.

    On the other hand, Sagan had little patience for people who mistook normal skeptical reservation of judgment for approval. He was constantly lamenting the fact that UFO abduction true believers quote mined him for statements that extraterrestrial life is possible and perhaps likely in principle, and then using these statements to bolster their own unsupported claims.

    What you're doing here is no different.

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  123. 01. If Sagan were around to see this thread, he'd be ridiculing these studies right along with me.

    This is a very doubtful hypothesis.

    02. Contrary to your claim, he wasn't saying that he took the work seriously; he was saying that there's nothing wrong in principle with hoping that a rigorous, well designed study might provide new evidence.


    Half-true.

    Principle: "I pick these claims not because I think they're likely to be valid (I don't), but as examples of contentions that might be true."

    But his statement was not only based in principles, and that is very clear when he says:

    They have at least some, although still dubious, experimental support.

    He clearly explain that was the experimental support the main reason that he took the work seriously. In fact, it's you who are misquoting him.

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  124. But even if the phenomena are confirmed, it may support the possibility of parapsychology, but is not sufficient evidence for that over any other explanation. On what grounds can you claim that parapsychology is the more parsimonious conclusion? It may be the more familiar one based on culture, but maybe some people have the souls of their ancestors communicating to them information by some "soul-world" means and they can do it because souls exist in a different means of time. Both would explain the results sufficiently, but both lack a viable mechanism based on our understanding of physics and neuroscience.

    The studies you posted from Bessent I found a little iffy, and the methods could have been described better, but whatever. Thanks for giving an article link that wasn't a pain in the ass to read. Its basically the same stuff we've been over, its throwing out ideas, but this is all based on speculation and fields that we don't even really know much about, so we really can't draw any conclusions from this.

    One more point on the importance of a mechanism for this subject, without knowing how any of this is supposed to work, how can we say what it should and should not predict? Of all the different forms of "psychic powers" that have been come up with over time, which ones should actually be possible and which ones shouldn't, and on what grounds can you make these distinctions? Whose to say that psychokinesis is any more or less plausible than ESP when there's nothing to base that on? If we saw support of evolution but didn't have a mechanism, we may be tempted to state that evolution always drives species toward greater complexity, but this isn't always the case, and we can make such predictions based on the mechanism. So what exactly would "psionic theory" predict, and what would violate it in a way that would make it falsifiable?

    The article you linked also acknowledged the necessity of a paradigm shift. For any of this to have a shot, there must be a new model of physics proposed that would allow for some mechanism of parapsychology, and then this model must make predictions that differ from the current model, and prove to better predict reality in these cases.

    The mechanism is necessary in this case because there is no way to discern the cause of any statistical phenomena that may occur. Again, parapsychology only seems more parsimonious to you because it is an idea you are very familiar with. But that has no bearing on its parsimony nor its veracity. In cases where the current standard of sciences disallows such a concept, parsimony can't even be applied. And any explanation that steps outside of temporal causation essentially tears down our ability to test it sufficiently to draw any conclusions beyond reasonable doubt.

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  125. Hi EEA,

    It's a 2 part reply again, sorry!

    Part1

    You claim that precognition would not work by future objects sending messages to the sensory organs in the past through some sort of tachyon or whatever. I would ask how you know this to be true.

    I didn’t say it would not work that way. If I implied it then that wasn’t my intention at all. I said that most parapsychologists are using the working hypothesis that precognition is a correlation between two mind states (present and future). Of course, other hypotheses may be possible in terms of environment to mind interactions. If the interacting system is composed of two minds at separate points in time then this bypasses the problem of interpretation you mentioned earlier. That was the point I was making.

    I have admitted that I haven't studied physics enough to say with confidence that time is linear, why would only the brain send signals back in time but the rest of the universe not?

    Interesting question to which I don’t know the answer. Perhaps we are dealing with signal transfer back in time, perhaps not. Perhaps the physical processes involved in precognition can only occur in complex systems like the brain and only under certain conditions occurring the brain.

    You propose that future mental states are sent back in time,

    No, I only said that a possible hypothesis is that the components of the system producing precognitive effects are two minds at separate points in time. I didn’t mean to suggest how that would happen or rule out other possibilities. Like I said, I’m not a physicist. I merely mentioned the mind-mind idea because you suggested that the brain couldn’t possibly ‘receive’ precognitive information because the information has yet to be interpreted by sense organs. If the system is composed of two minds then the information, or input if you like, has already been interpreted in the future. Think of this as a hypothesis at the computational level. You are focussing on the level of implementation, which is fine, but computational (e.g., psychological) theories can carry on without specifying how the system implements them at the physical level.

    Mental states are a collection of neuron chemical firings, alignment, and order. They are just physical features, and as physics works the same inside the brain as out, I am confused why the brain can send messages back and objects can't,

    Again, I wouldn’t know the answer and I’m not sure your question is the correct one. But I find it strange why you find it hard to believe that a certain subset of the universe could behave differently than another one. There is no nuclear fusion going on in my brain nor will there ever be (after a heavy night on the town it does feel like it though). The conditions are just not right for that to happen, even though the same fundamental physical laws apply there.

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  126. Part 2

    (unless you invoke a soul, which opens a whole new can of worms). It doesn't really matter what sends the messages back, you are still dealing with the problem of lacking a mechanism to read those messages. There are no sensory organs in the brain. The brain can't even sense pain, which is why brain tumors go undetected until they are large enough to press on the tissue covering the brain. We are at a great advantage over Darwin in that we have studied the brain in such huge detail, we know general brain function regions; there is no mystery region. It would be as if Darwin was studying evolution in a time where DNA was already known and mapped (or more accurately, Darwin's opponents for the psi researchers). There is not only no mechanism for precognition, there is no hope for a mechanism because we know how the brain works so well for both individual neurons and aggregate functioning.

    I expect the majority of neuroscientists and psychologists would disagree with your last sentence. We know a great deal about the brain compared to, say, 40 years ago. But there are so many questions yet to be answered.

    You seem to be fixed on the idea that precognition would require either a sense organ or a dedicated brain region. That is a hypothesis to test but not an argument against the observed phenomenon. No sense organ or dedicated brain region is required for the brain to detect and respond to direct application of an electromagnetic field (TMS wouldn’t work otherwise). That’s not to imply that precognition works via electromagnetism! Perhaps precognition works in an analogous way by modulating or biasing existing cognitive processes in the present.

    To repeat what I said in my previous post, the mechanism responsible for precognition, or how it is implemented in the brain, is most likely a problem for physics. Perhaps it will require physics to be expanded, perhaps not. But that doesn’t stop us from learning something about precognitive functioning, i.e., how precognitive information is used.

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  127. On what grounds can you claim that parapsychology is the more parsimonious conclusion?

    On psychological grounds. I will post the explanation of a parapsychologist from Brazil, Wellington Zangari (my translation, possibly I will make some mistakes in this...)

    PART 1

    The internal effects that were subrepticialy appearing in the researches of psi.

    One of the internal effects, the curve in "U" : the results tendem it be better in the beginning and in the end of the experiments. But it is exactly that that verify in subjects performance studies to several task studied by the Psychology in general (memory, concentration, motivation, perception. ..). Interpretation of the traditional Psychology: the subject is more motivated when I study is initiated, tires to the long one of the study, and return it have interest by know that that "torment" is finishing. But, when in psychological tests of performance we propose task more motivadoras to each moment of the experiment, the effect "U" becomes less sensible! Clear, we are controlling the motivation! And... when it modified itself the tests of packs of cards ESP (tests of choices forced) by tests of free answers, as the ganzfeld, the effect in "U" also itself toned down!!! I give another example: better experimental results with extroverted subjects, that already mentioned of passage. In psychological studies that same effect has been reproduced thousands of times. Psychological interpretation: is clear that for carry out task that require contact interpessoal the extroverts would have better performance.

    The experimental situation itself requires certain social ability on the part of the subject. It is exactly that kind of subjects that, consistly, have better results in psi test.

    A last example, very recent, more complete and... too complex: we know that exists somewhat enough well known in Psychology and Ethology called "effect of the mere exposition". We considered that pleasant stimuli they exist (picture of a beautiful beach, of candies, of pretty bodies. ..) and unpleasant stimuli (a picture of a snake, or of bodies mutilated, dead infants. .). We know for the researches in that area, that how much bigger the exposition to the subject of a smaller, unpleasant stimulus is going to be, to the long one of the time, his aversion facing such stimulus. On the other hand, of we expose the subject to stimuli that are him pleasant, with the time the stimulus loses his a little rank of "pleasingness". Like this we have a same effect, in two opposite directions. We be able to predict, therefore, that facing determined stimulus, which will be the magnitude of the effect and which will be the direction of him. Very well, Daryl Bem knew about that, seen that is a psychologist mainstream. It knows that that is one of the most well known effects and shown of all the Psychology, even basic:

    A meta-analysis of 208 such studies by Bornstein (1989) yielded a combined effect size (r) of .26, with a combined z of 20.80 (p < .0000001).

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  128. Part 2

    What he did? To join that effect, extremely known and expected, to studies psi. I describe, skimpy, the experiment he did (...):

    In the practical one, the experiment occurs like presented it follow. The experimental subject has to his front a computer. The computer chooses, randomly, two images among hundreds of a database. The two images appear side by side in the monitor. The subject simply chooses one of the two images, to of its preference. After choice, the computer is going to choose randomly one of the two images that were presented to the subject. The two images disappear of the monitor and that that was chosen randomly by the computer is, then, presented subliminarmente to the subject (4 times, in breaks of 1 second, in a fraction of second = 17ms). Bem justifies the job of the exposition subliminar on account of the studies of the Effect of the Mere Exposition will show that the effect is boosted when the exposition to the stimulus is deed subliminal. To the all, healthy presented to each experimental subject 48 pair of images to the long one of each experimental series. When the choice of the subject coincides with the choice of the computer considers-itself that had an I set right so that is possible evaluate the results statistically by the comparison between the result obtained with on average expected by the chance (50%).

    Bem (2003) it did two experimental forecasts: (1) given that the images were evaluated previously by independent judges and classified like generators of neutral, negative, and positive stimulation, and were paired as regards that criterion on the occasion of his presentation to the subject, wait itself that the subjects choose correctly (to same image chosen by the computer) in the attempt in that the images presented have been classified like generators of negative stimulation and (2) that the subjects tendam it set right The images were considered generators of positive stimulation. Bem says: "those predictions are consistent with recent demonstrations in that displayed individuals the extremely positive or extremely negative words, subsequently classified such words as less extreme than words to that were not displayed, an effect that was retorted using an implicit measure of preference (Djiksterhuis & Smith, 2002)" (Bem, 2003, p. 4).

    To the moment, around 400 persons participated of 6 experiments of PH, with 9 experimental variations, including a independent replication carried out by a skeptic as regards anomalous trials. Collectively, the studies supplied fortress I lean for the effects predict: significantly above the 50% expected in attempt with the presentation of negative images (52.6%, t (259) = 3,17, p =. 0008) and significantly below the 50% expected us attempt with erotic images (48.0%, t (149) = -1.88, p =. 031). Everybody the 6 studies taken individually, including him carried out by the skeptic, obtiveram significant results and in the predicted direction.

    I find that the examples above present well some of the consistencies between the studies of psi and of other activities or human functions. Such consistencies are for me very expensive. They are for me a lot significant. Since my viewpoint, from my rational evaluation of the studies, it is for me hard to deny that what is being evaluated in tests psi is some psychological function that we still dontt know. It is for me difficult deny the existence of an psychological intencionality (unknown for the subjects) behind the effects found, since the subjects (and even the investigators not-psychologists) neither suspected, (in the beginning of the research) that the effects (in consistency and DIRECTION) would be the SAME presented in other areas of the study of the human behavior.


    Ok?

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  129. no... that didn't really make sense and was rather difficult to make out, sorry. Also, I already said meta-analysis isn't a reliable way of presenting evidence for which the significance is under question.

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  130. Meta-analysis are very important in many fields of Science: Medicine, Pharmacology, Psychology...

    Dean Radin once said:

    Debates over the value, use and interpretation of meta-analysis have been going on for decades. Like other analytical methods it is evolving and will undoubtedly improve with time. In the meantime, we all do the best we can.

    To completely avoid meta-analysis is impossible, because without it we have no way of quantitatively telling whether effects are independently repeatable. And without that, we're not doing science.

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  131. no... that didn't really make sense and was rather difficult to make out, sorry.

    Certainly the problem is my translation. In fact, I detect some erros after I send the message. Well, I can send the message in Portuguese, and if you know someone who undestand Portuguese you can ask a translation.

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  132. not saying meta analysis is worthless, but it shouldn't be a major point as evidence for a hypothesis. unfortunately, I don't know portugese or anyone who does, and I highly doubt any online translators would do a better job, so I can't really comment on that piece, nor get anything out of it myself.

    Did you say you did you did the translation yourself? because if so, then you do know portuguese, and you seem pretty solid in english in all your posts (not sure if one or the other is your native language), so if you could maybe just give the gist of it in the same understandable english you've used for your posts if you're in fact reading it straight from the original portuguese?

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  133. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  134. saying meta analysis is worthless, but it shouldn't be a major point as evidence for a hypothesis.

    But meta analysis it is not a major point as evidence for the hypothesis! The major point is the psychological factor. That is what Zangari was saying.

    See, the parapsychological studies found the same results in psychological studies: the U curve, better experimental results with extroverted subjects, the Effect of Mere Exposition... what all this means is that the parapsychologists found a new and unknown ability of the mind. Meta analysis only can tell us that there is an anomaly, the rigorous control can only tell us that there is not a flaw in experimental design which could explain the anomaly, the massive replication of the experiment can only tell us that coincidence or the file drawer effect are not the responsible for the anomaly, but the psychological factor is telling us that the anomaly is a new ability of the mind. And the experiments with EEG or fmri are a DIRECT EVIDENCE FOR IT!That's what makes parapsychology the more parsimonious conclusion!

    I think now it is more clear what I was trying to say.

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  135. David, physics won't solve anything unless there's a brain mechanism for interpreting the data. There are plenty of real physical phenomena that we are just not able to pick up because we don't have the sensors for them. We cannot pick up/feel the radiation that gives us sun burns, we cannot feel nuclear radiation, we cannot see infrared, X-rays, any many other frequencies (the majority of known frequencies, actually). Theses things physically exist and we can't detect them directly in any way. The only way we do know about them is thanks to scientific instruments that can pick them up. Even granting that time moves backwards (I can see many of my moved-away physics friends gnashing their teeth), just because a physical thing exists, doesn't mean we can pick it up, so without a brain mechanism you are stuck. Seeing as how we are able to create scientific instruments that can detect everything a human can and better, we should even be able to create an instrument that can detect whatever tachyons that are sending future-signals.

    Of course, since you believe that humans can actually detect magnetic fields, I feel this argument is lost on you. Just to point you in the logical direction, if humans can detect magnetic fields then why don't our brains go bonkers and we feel sick when we get MRI scans? I get motion and distortion and light sickness very easily and MRI's do nothing for me (or anyone else, except the claustrophobes), despite being the biggest fucking magnet the majority of us will ever feel. Without a method to detect, again, it's like asking a person to pick up radio waves (a phenomena that demonstrably exists) without a radio.

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  136. Even granting that time moves backwards (I can see many of my moved-away physics friends gnashing their teeth), just because a physical thing exists, doesn't mean we can pick it up, so without a brain mechanism you are stuck.

    "Backwards" and "forwards" are largely arbitrary concepts, because if you're a thing with positive mass (which you are) then time always goes "forward" from your perspective. On the other hand, if you're a tachyon (which you're not) then all the positive-mass things are moving the opposite direction from you.

    Naturally science fiction authors love to apply tachyons to imaginary technology because they offer the tantalizing possibility of time travel, and because, like quantum mechanics, nobody has much understanding of them. So tachyons make terrific raw material for the construction of applied phlebotinum.

    As far as anyone's discovered, though, there's no way to actually use tachyons to actually send either physical objects or even information back in time. Consider, for a start, that even sending a simple message backwards in time instantly drags in all our favorite problems with time travel. For instance if, in 2016, you managed to send a message to your 2014 self saying "Bet all the money you can on the Cubbies in the 2015 world series!!" you would effectively change history. In doing so, you might also change the circumstances which allowed you to send the message in the first place. Then you might start a closed causal loop paradox or, if you're really careless, fire off a grandfather paradox and erase your 2016 self from existence. D'OH!

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  137. Yeah, the whole tachyon particle thing doesn't really work because 1) they are only hypothesized, there is no evidence they even exist, and 2) even in they did, they're not supposed to go back in time in the conventional sense we may think of, it has more to do with imaginary time, which would run "perpendicular" to normal time (yeah, its hard to really make sense of that). Plus, they're not supposed to violate special relativity either, and to go back in time is to move faster than the speed of light, and by special relativity, information cannot be transferred faster than the speed of light (also the problem with the old-school observer-dependent Copenhagen interpretation).

    Enfant, I'm still not entirely sure what you're talking about as you seem to be referring to that portuguese paper. Could you please tell me what the data results were, the raw data without the conclusion you and the author are drawing from it (i.e. X directly correlated with Y at r=? and A inversely correlated with B at r=?)? I'm also not completely sure if I get what you mean by the psychological factor, could you please clarify that? thanks.

    also, while I generally agree with that statement "Meta analysis can only tell us... are not responsible for the anomaly" there is one problem with the file drawer effect in this particular case. When studies first began, there was more of an overall agnostic approach to them, as people were curious of the possibilities, and were mostly far from drawing any definite conclusions. However, as time has passed, it's become more polarized, with the majority of scientists considering it another failed idea, while a minority think there's still something to it. Because of that, those who consider it bunk are unlikely to bother doing experiments with it, so the only people running studies and experiments are those who think its likely real. Given that, they are even more unlikely to publish studies that return a null result, and to push ones that are statistically significant. Due to this, the publishing bias is likely to become worse over time as more papers are published on it. But as you stated, statistics can only show there is some sort of anomaly anyway.

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  138. I find it curious that the possibility of psi, or survival, or any other apparent phenomena incommensurate with the materialist metaphysic, seems to send "skeptics" apoplectic with rage. We even get academics who publish positive psi results receiving loads of hate mail! I find it most interesting.

    Certain characteristic paranormal phenomena -- currently described as psi -- has been experienced throughout human history and across all cultures with the reported experiences bearing striking similarities. This gives a very good prima facie case that it actually exists. And this is before we even begin to consider all the scientific evidence!

    Given all this it seems to me to be foolish to assert that no psi exists. What on earth makes people so certain that their conception of reality is correct despite all evidence to the contrary??

    I think many people are way too enmoured with the materialist metaphysic and the mechanistic conception of reality (including the everything else atheist). Science does not support materialism and it does not entail a mechanistic conception of reality. And it most certainly does not tell us that consciousness is physical.

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  139. Ian,
    Again it's not a matter of saying psi is completely impossible, there is simply insufficient evidence to assert its existence. As we've been over many times here, all the supporting papers are based on statistics, but there is no mechanism which can be proposed, predictions drawn from it, and have these predictions tested. Because of this we cannot determine whether or not psi is the cause. Moreover, the current standard of physics would not allow for psi to exist, so until that changes (paradigm shift), it's meaningless. On top of that, under these circumstances (no viable model) it isn't useful either. Just like the deistic god, it really doesn't matter whether or not it exists, that deosn't make any pragmatic difference.

    Also, the statement "Science does not support materialism" is way off. Science says nothing either way about philosophical materialism, but it only operates under methodological naturalism, as the supernatural can't be reliably tested.

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  140. EEA,

    An MRI scanner doesn’t affect brain functioning because it applies a stable, uniform field. If you were to be subjected to a relatively complex and fluctuating field you would be affected. The latter is the basis of TMS and provides a means to effectively ‘switch off/on’ parts of the brain using electromagnetism. Of course, the brain doesn’t form a representation of the external magnetic field structure, but it does illustrate one way by which our brains respond to environmental factors without the use of intermediary sense organs. There may be other more fundamental physical processes (not necessarily involving transfer of signals back in time) that directly affect ongoing cognitive processing to produce precognitive effects.

    We clearly disagree about whether a physical mechanism for precognition needs to be understood before we can learn something about how we use precognitive information. The fact that we already have hints about the latter is an argument against your view, and I guess that time will tell whether a psychological theory of precognitive functioning will emerge before the physical mechanism behind it has been worked out.

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  141. A quote from Richard Feynman (Six Easy Pieces refering to physics- QED specifically)
    "One might still like to ask: 'How does it work? What is the machinery behind the law?' No one has ever found any machinery behind the law."
    So the demand that the psi researchers come up with a mechanism to explain the phenomena is a demand that physicists would be unable to fulfill regarding basic physics.
    You may be unaware that the universe we live in is filled with phenomena for which no known mechanistic explanation exists.
    Try the 'quantum eraser' for starters.
    Good luck!

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  142. tarkana said,

    As we've been over many times here, all the supporting papers are based on statistics, but there is no mechanism which can be proposed, predictions drawn from it, and have these predictions tested. Because of this we cannot determine whether or not psi is the cause.

    I think that we should be careful about use of terminology. 'Psi' is an observation in need of an explanation, rather than the cause of the observation. If there is no mechanism that has been proposed to account for the observation in controlled experiments, then the observation is truly unexplained. That's what makes it so interesting. Perhaps psi will eventually be explained by principles of nature that we already know about or perhaps our theories will have to be expanded.

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  143. ok, yes I misused the term from its more proper definition because I got tired of typing out parapsychology so many times. So just stick that in where I said 'psi' and work with that, I think you can tell what I meant.

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  144. As we've been over many times here, all the supporting papers are based on statistics, but there is no mechanism which can be proposed, predictions drawn from it, and have these predictions tested. Because of this we cannot determine whether or not psi is the cause.

    I disagree. We have predictions, and these predicitions are tested and confirmed. And there are replications by skeptics. The results shows we have found a new ability of the mind.

    Article 1:
    http://dbem.ws/Precognitive%20Habituation.pdf

    Article 2:
    http://dbem.ws/Precognitive%20Aversion.pdf

    Operationally, participants are predicted to prefer the target-to-be on negative trials and the non-target-to-be on erotic trials. Across several studies, these predictions were confirmed: The hit rate was significantly above 50% on negative trials (52.6%, t(259) = 3.17, p = .0008) and significantly below 50% on erotic trials (48.0%, t(149) = -1.88, p = .031). Unexpectedly, when the number of target exposures exceeded 8, a precognitive boredom effect also occurred on low-arousal, “control” pictures. The current experiment was designed to explore this effect further across a range of low-arousal pictures, both positive and negative (where it is probably more accurate to conceptualize it as precognitive aversion). Two hundred participants, 140 women and 60 men, participated in a 24-trial session that presented 10 supraliminal exposures (750 ms) of the target picture after each preference judgment. Overall, the hit rate did not differ from chance, but participants low in
    arousability or boredom tolerance achieved an overall hit rate of 47.3% (p = .006). Consistent with the reasoning behind the protocol, participants who were low in Arousability displayed significant precognitive aversion on trials with negative targets (46.9%, p = .036) and participants low in Boredom Tolerance displayed precognitive boredom on trials with positive targets (44.4%, p = .005).


    I think now it is very clear what I mean by psychological factor. That is what makes parapsychology a more parcimonious conclusion, and that's why we can say that we discover a new ability of the mind.

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  145. Hi,

    I work with the person you are talking about (he showed me the link), I should clear a few things up. First, he is a postdoc, not a professor. Further, the professor who is the PI for this research does not seek to misinform his students about ESP. In fact, he doesn't teach it in his classes. Further, while university resources are surely being used to run these studies, the funding for these resources comes from outside the university.

    I don't personally find much interest in parapsychology research, but I am open-minded enough to listen to these researchers, ask questions, and not make unfounded criticisms.

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  146. Eat V,

    Thanks for your input on this thread.

    Further, while university resources are surely being used to run these studies, the funding for these resources comes from outside the university.

    I don't personally find much interest in parapsychology research, but I am open-minded enough to listen to these researchers, ask questions, and not make unfounded criticisms.


    To clarify your statement: do you feel that it would have been inappropriate if university funds WERE being used for this study? Why or why not?

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  147. Eat V, if you really are working with this guy, then I'm going to assume you are in some sort of position of authority - either a fellow post doc or a professor or just a fellow researcher. (Although perhaps you are a student.) If you are in a position of academic authority, then you should know how damaging this will be for his reputation and his life. Psi research has consistently shown no data except through sloppy mechanisms, careful data manipulations (even Enfant has unconsciously admitted this in the last post), or in the case of meta-studies, the file drawer effect. Nobody has been able to make psi predictions, repeat consistent results or do anything that is typical of science exposing reality. Nobody has even passed the preliminaries of James Randi's tests.

    We've just been the kids telling him that there's no Santa Clause. That might sting a bit, but it's the truth, and do you really want this guy believing for the rest of his life in a Santa Clause? If you really have respect and friendship or professional admiration for this guy, then why are you letting him waste his life, his career, his reputation on something that has been repeatedly shown non-existent for decades? If you truly know this guy well, you should point this out even if it is uncomfortable for you or difficult. Enemies stab each other in the back, but friend stab each other in the front.

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  148. From a fellow skeptic:
    Psi research is yet another excellent example of how even serious professional scientists can fall down the rabbit hole.

    Discussion of psi research in particular starts at 41:25 (topic begins at 31:00). They are addressing accusations from Alex Tsakiris of the Skeptiko podcast (a pro-psi podcast). Alex is basically an apologist for psi research. Topic ends at 60:00.
    Total length: 19:00 (29:00 for whole topic)

    Here's the subsequent interview with Alex Tsakiris. They really dig into more of the recent psi experiments and literature and what the problems are. It's a long one. Ends at 1:08:15.

    Thank you for the links!

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  149. 01. (even Enfant has unconsciously admitted this in the last post)

    WTF are you saying? I can't even imagine how you will play with the words to justify this.

    02. or in the case of meta-studies, the file drawer effect.

    Wrong. If you have read "Entangled Minds", you would know that the file drawer effect can't explain the results. It's impossible. More than this, Dean Radin just said in his blog:

    Most of the mainstream academics I know who are conducting successful psi studies generally do not publish them, or even talk about them in public, because they are well aware of the taboo and the resulting hate mail they'll receive. So remaining quiet makes a great deal of sense.

    Unfortunately it also creates a reverse filedrawer effect, in which rather than assuming that unpublished studies average to a null or slightly negative effect, we know that some of those studies are actually positive. This reduces the number of estimated "missing" studies from a meta-analysis and thus increases the evidence for psi.


    03. Nobody has been able to make psi predictions, repeat consistent results or do anything that is typical of science exposing reality.

    My posts above clearly show that you are wrong. In fact, assuming that you read my posts, I would say that you are lying now. Show some honesty, please.

    04. Nobody has even passed the preliminaries of James Randi's tests.

    Read this:
    01. http://michaelprescott.typepad.com/michael_prescotts_blog/2006/12/the_challenge.html

    02.
    http://michaelprescott.typepad.com/michael_prescotts_blog/2006/12/the_challenge_p.html

    03.
    http://michaelprescott.typepad.com/michael_prescotts_blog/2006/12/the_challenge_p_1.html

    04.
    http://michaelprescott.typepad.com/michael_prescotts_blog/2006/12/the_challenge_a.html

    05.http://dailygrail.com/features/the-myth-of-james-randis-million-dollar-challenge

    06.http://www.sheldrake.org/controversies/randi.html

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  150. Well, this is showing up on my searches now. This is actually a great discussion, but you know... it's been done. It would be better if you all got your facts together and wrote a good article people could depend on. Both the pro and con of the whole think in one article, with real sources so it could be reliable. Come on over:
    http://wikisynergy.com/~wikisyne/w/index.php?title=WikiSynergy:Academic_parapsychology
    There is a parapsychology project and you could actually put this up there. Who knows, we might be able to contact the professor to comment.

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  151. A Johnny-come-lately is not always welcome, especially after as much heavy lifting as has already been done here, yet I feel I need to say something to the psi folks. Brains broadcasting to brains, brains having special magnetic sensitivity, images of the future arriving in our brains from elsewhere, and time running backward are all fascinating concepts. You have put forth strenuous arguments for their validity, and have cited all manner of authority.

    Here is the problem, and it is the problem with all arguments that appeal to authority or a preponderance of opinion for validity: if I were moved by your arguments and wanted to accept them, I would be stumped. Once accepted (your arguments, that is) the phenomena still would not exist. The things you claim, I cannot do. No other human can do them in an open field in the light of day. They cannot be done.

    When man first dreamed of flight, many said that it couldn't be done. Others said it could be. There were arguments aplenty, of course, yet many took their lives into their own hands and leapt off cliffs and buildings to fly. And to their deaths. They put their money where their mouths were. One day man flew, and the argument settled.

    None of your position has to be proven by argument, nor must conspiracies be overcome, neither should elaborate scientific tests or compeitions be staged. If some or all of you are gifted with these abilities, then you should practice them to the astonishment of your friends and neighbors, get your names in the papers and your faces on the television, and enrich your bank accounts.

    What is preventing this? Even if you are just one person, come forward. Predict the future, communicate telepathically, and astound us. Don't hide like furtive masturbators in darkened college labs, grunting and sweating, trying to produce just one more blip on the oscilloscope. Strut your stuff. Show us what you can do. Be proud.

    Columbus didn't have to prove the world was round--lot's of people believed it already--he just had to sail somewhere without falling off the edge, and do it in spectacular fashion. How many nights do you think he could have spent in Genoa's bars drinking and arguing about whether he could get to India by sailing west? Do you think the world would be better if he had convinced every drunken Genoese sailor he was right? No, he had to go get some boats from the Queen of Spain and sail to flippin' India to prove his point. So do you.

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  152. Mr Fnortner,

    Good post, very well said, except for a little nitpick at the end.

    Columbus didn't have to prove the world was round because all educated people already knew it in his time. He was not trying to prove that it was round; that's an urban legend.

    Instead, Columbus aimed to prove that the circumference of the earth was much smaller than previously believed, and that sailing west was a shortcut to the Indies. People were not concerned that he'd sail off the edge of the earth, but that the distance was much too great and they would run out of supplies long before reaching the east.

    And the kicker is... the critics were RIGHT. If there hadn't been another continent smack in the middle of their path, Columbus and his crew would have never been heard from again.

    Other than that, great post.

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  153. I can accept your nitpicking, but do reread my last paragraph. I indeed say that lots of people believed it already. I suppose I wasn't articulate enough to stress that the major objection was, "You're not going to make it!" or "It can't be done." Arguing till you're blue in the face (or drunk) won't find India--sailing will.

    Yes, Columbus was very lucky. But he was right before he was lucky. Our psi friends do not have that advantage as far as I can tell.

    Thanks for the good words. And thanks for not nitpicking the typos.

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  154. What is preventing this? Even if you are just one person, come forward. Predict the future, communicate telepathically, and astound us.

    Malcolm Bessent predict very well the future under experimental conditions, I already mentioned him.

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  155. One person out of six billion does not speak well for this ability as a general trait of the human species. On that basis alone, I have to say that the results are a fluke, and must be dismissed. This is why statisticians coined the word "outlier."

    Now, millions of humans have any number of oddball abilities not shared by all, from double-jointedness to four-color perception to being idiot savants. We can test their abilities, in public, and we find sufficient numbers of them that the abilities have credence. We don't say, "My friend's cousin's neighbor knows a guy whose sister dated a fellow who's a vampire. She has a picture and everything. Well, he left the country when they found out, but it true. Honest," and expect sane people to believe us.

    If your Mr. Bessent would like to go to the local racetrack and spend the day picking ponies, I'm sure his awesome winnings (before the track steward ejected him) would impress even the most hardened skeptic. The second or third decimal place in a correlation is nothing. In other words, don't tell us about it; do something important with this valuable skill. Put up or shut up!

    I'm reminded of the classic definition of a consultant (I used to work in a corporate office and we were lousy with them): This is a fellow who knows 50 way to make love to a woman, but doesn't have a girlfriend. You psi people need a girlfriend real bad.

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  156. One person out of six billion does not speak well for this ability as a general trait of the human species.

    That's why I have mentioned these articles:

    Article 1:
    http://dbem.ws/Precognitive%20Habituation.pdf

    Article 2:
    http://dbem.ws/Precognitive%20Aversion.pdf

    These articles give strong evidence that precogniton is a general trait of the human species.

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  157. Hello,

    I don't believe in God as the Church is presenting it/him to us and I certainly don't believe in reincarnation but I believe in the "psi" energy because I have experienced it. That I cannot debunk because it is real, at least for me. I cannot explain it but Telekinesis/Psychokinesis and Remote Viewing is something I practice on a regular basis and it's not supernatural to me but something that is very much natural and a part of every human being.

    It's good to be skeptic but it's also vital to keep open mind. History has taught us that many things that have been believed in the past actually turned to be dead wrong.

    I came here by accident looking for reincarnation debunk theories and I won't be coming back to check your reply but I do hope you don't shut yourself down completely because then you're no different that those who blindly believe in God.

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  158. I am so late to this party, I know...

    I almost gave up reading the replies because of the hostility generated. But thanks to Dave Smith's conversation with EEA I actually got something out of it.

    To those of you who are just here for a shouting match: if you're new to the internet that's forgivable, but if you aren't, you're a right bunch of idiots.

    EEA, thanks for the post. However, I do think that you are guilty of at least one of the following:

    1. Mistaken as to the validity of parapsychology

    2. Being mistaken that you pinned this subject down long ago

    3. Not completely understanding what other people are doing and saying

    4. Insisting that if psi is true then we should all have superpowers (positioning the 'goalposts' to suit your views)

    5. Assuming negative motivations of researchers in the field (e.g. hope, bad science, desire to believe)

    6. Assuming that because there is no theory or mechanism (and no researcher, e.g. Dean Radin, pretends otherwise) that the data must ipso facto be worthless

    7. Thinking that you know exactly how the world works

    Also, you say that the researcher had "disdain" for mainstream scientists. I suggest you read a bit much into his reply.

    Your objections to parapsychology are not unfounded. You seem to think that objections per se constitute debunking. I hope that you aren't just a 'duckspeaker' - if you know what I mean.

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  159. I like it how a dude can show up on a stranger's blog, contribute nothing original to the conversation, call everybody idiots, trivially repeat "You're wrong" seven times without even a cursory effort at detailed reasons... and then complain that everyone else is engaging in a shouting match.

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  160. Okay, Kazim, are blogs meant to be read only by those familiar to the blogger? Is not the whole purpose of blogs with open comments to gather as wide an audience as possible? Perhaps EEA may answer 'no' and 'yes' respectively. I'd also be interested in your view on these issues if you have one.

    I claimed to see flaws in EEA's view of parapsychology and challenged her on a number of points.

    Criticism is necessary for any endeavour. Galileo, Newton, Columbus (as you mentioned above) all had their critics. Even critics of Newton were justified despite Newton being right. So even if parapsychology is legitimate - which is my contention at present - none of the skepticism will have been in vain.

    I did not claim to add originality. Nor did I tell her that she was "wrong seven times." I did wonder how she got the impression that the researcher she e-mailed had "disdain" for mainstream scientists. Perhaps she did not quote that part of the e-mail. Perhaps she misunderstood disappointment for disdain.

    Perhaps you and EEA are not paying attention to what is being said, distracted by the perceived character of the people with whom you disagree.

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  161. Okay, Kazim, are blogs meant to be read only by those familiar to the blogger? Is not the whole purpose of blogs with open comments to gather as wide an audience as possible? Perhaps EEA may answer 'no' and 'yes' respectively. I'd also be interested in your view on these issues if you have one.

    Of course you are free, as a stranger, to visit and comment on this or any blog with an open comments section. It's just that if the first words out of your mouth are "You are all a right bunch of idiots" then you can't be pretending to take the moral high ground, lest you come across as a flaming hypocrite.

    Criticism is necessary for any endeavour. Galileo, Newton, Columbus (as you mentioned above) all had their critics. Even critics of Newton were justified despite Newton being right. So even if parapsychology is legitimate - which is my contention at present - none of the skepticism will have been in vain.

    Yes, but as Michael Palin of Monty Python fame said: "An argument is a connected series of statements to establish a definite proposition... it isn't just saying 'No it isn't'!" You didn't make an argument, you just contradicted her seven times. Hence my post.

    I did not claim to add originality. Nor did I tell her that she was "wrong seven times."

    Watch your distribution of quotation marks, dude. To be more precise, I did not say you told her she was "wrong seven times." I said you "told her she was wrong"... seven times. Without making an actual argument, original or otherwise.

    I did wonder how she got the impression that the researcher she e-mailed had "disdain" for mainstream scientists. Perhaps she did not quote that part of the e-mail. Perhaps she misunderstood disappointment for disdain.

    I think you're picking at nits because you don't really want to address the central issue of how this stuff is in any way scientifically justified.

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  162. I think you're picking at nits because you don't really want to address the central issue of how this stuff is in any way scientifically justified.

    That is not trivial. That says a lot to me about how a person perceives what's in front of them. Sometimes you're looking for something and it's right under your nose. And sometimes the opposite happens: you see things where there is nothing.

    That is not a rational mindset. EEA just doesn't like PP. Which is fair enough as far as it goes. But her dislike quite obviously distorts her judgement.

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  163. John Cleese: "No it doesn't!"

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  164. Apparently the first person to quote John Cleese at the appropriate moment wins the thread. It's true. I checked with my high-powered solicitor. Man, the web is an expensive place to hold dialogue.

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