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For Stephen Jones & Materialists

Dear Stephen,

Here is a very short example of what I was trying to say about quantum mechanics and consciousness:

http://physicsweb.org/article/world/13/5/8/1

The Real PC
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Real PC -

The fundamental issue here is found in the 3rd paragraph of the linked article, "Positive results [...] are rarely repeatable." One of the fundamental tenets of the scientific method is that experiments be repeatable so the results may be independently verified. Without that, all you have is an article rummaging through a giant bag of unverified hypotheses. If one wants to convince someone else of the veracity of a position, she must -- in the parlance of our times -- put up or shut up.

The only reason that field of paranormal research is generally held in lower esteem than others is its failure to produce results which can be confirmed by multiple independent researchers.

If you want to convince skeptics, you must give them an experiment they can run for themselves to verify your results.

Devil's Advocate
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Of course, if you can manage to repeat it, JREF has a nice $1M grant available to finance further research.

Danil
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

There are probably many repeatable experiments, but most skeptics aren't motivated to try them.
I admit that parapsychology is difficult and so far there have not been the kind of results that would convince skeptics. One reason is the lack of funding for parapsychology, another is that the skeptic organizations are highly emotional and close-minded. Another is the sheer difficulty of investigating psi, which is inherently strange and unpredictable.

No one questioned the results of the remote viewing research conducted by the CIA at SRI, as far as I know. Why weren't skeptics convinced by that, and why was the funding discontinued?

In my opinion, the best way to get repeatable experiments is to use non-human animals. When people try consciously to use paranormal abilities, the conscious mind interferes. I have not heard of any big research projects with animal subjects, unfortunately.

The engineering anomalies research at Princeton gets highly significant results, but skeptics won't buy it because of the small effect size. But the whole point of this kind of research is to detect small effects. I'm sure there are many types of physics research where the effect size is small.

But anyway, parapsychology is a complicated subject and I'm not an expert.

People in all times and places have interacted with the supernatural. Millions still do, and the majority of people have religious/mystical beliefs, in spite of the skeptics' crusade.

Theoretical physics becomes stranger every day, and more supportive of extra-dimensional realities.
Bell's theorem says that under certain conditions particles can influence each other no matter how great the distance between them. As far as I know, this has been verified by experiments.

It is getting harder for organizations like CSICOP to maintain their strict materialist stance.

But we'll see. I don't think it will be too long before I get to say "I told you so" to a lot of people.

The Real PC
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Danil's already mentioned the JREF prize - $1 million to anyone who can perform paranormal feats under controlled conditions: http://www.randi.org/

Lots of people try for it and fail; more make excuses.

The archive of weekly articles is well worth reading, by the way.  It'll give you more information than you ever wanted on the problems with remote viewing, for example.

JP
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

IIRC, the experiments performed by the CIA resulted in nothing better than random chance.

I'm not sure about mind-reading/clairvoyance/etc, but I do know of one sure-fire experiment for determining if there's life after death. It'll absolutely convince anyone who wants an answer.

Unfortunately, it's not repeatable...

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

[the experiments performed by the CIA resulted in nothing better than random chance.]

Where did you read that? Everything I read about it said the research, which continued over a period of 20 years, was successful. The CIA decided remote viewing would not be useful for the military, and supposedly that's why they discontinued it.
I never saw any claim that SRI did not get any significant results. Can you imagine continuing a research project for 20 years with no significant results!!? No one does that.

The Real PC
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

"Can you imagine continuing a research project for 20 years with no significant results!!? No one does that. "

You obviously haven't worked for a place that does research with government money. They'll continue doing the research as long at the government pays for it (and the government will pay for it as long as they write good grant proposals).

Also, the CIA was interested in funding the research because the Soviets were doing paranormal research. The CIA would continue funding it as long as they did, just in case.

The CIA *wouldn't* be interested in 'military' applications (there's a big rivalry there), but in intelligence applications. If it was *any* use for gathering intelligence, the CIA would be using it - and since they aren't we can probably conclude that the CIA didn;t get positive reproducable results.

Anyone who says "They're doing it, and they *must* know what they are doing" probably doesn't understand why "they" do things (insert your favorite noun for "they").

RocketJeff
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Real PC -

[There are probably many repeatable experiments, but most skeptics aren't motivated to try them.]

I am not aware of any of these. Please post a URL where I may find out more.

[Another is the sheer difficulty of investigating psi, which is inherently strange and unpredictable.]

This is simply a conjecture. No one has proven anything of the sort.

[No one questioned the results of the remote viewing research conducted by the CIA at SRI, as far as I know. Why weren't skeptics convinced by that, and why was the funding discontinued?]

Well, Philo questioned them. I do not know enough about them as this is the first I have heard of them. Where may I find out more?

[When people try consciously to use paranormal abilities, the conscious mind interferes.]

This again is purely conjecture. However, it is widely accepted that the conscious mind as we know it is surpressed during periods of sleep and hypnosis. Why not test subjects in these conditions to validate your conjecture?

[People in all times and places have interacted with the supernatural.]

This again is conjecture. I only know people here and now. None that I know have seen ghosts, read minds, or bent spoons telekinetically.

[Millions still do, and the majority of people have religious/mystical beliefs, in spite of the skeptics' crusade.]

Beliefs do not a fact make. Most people believe they will never be hit by lightning. Every year a few dozen are wrong.

[Theoretical physics becomes stranger every day, and more supportive of extra-dimensional realities.]

Extra dimensionality is, AFAIK still an unproven conjecture.

[It is getting harder for organizations like CSICOP to maintain their strict materialist stance.]

I don't know who CSICOP are, but this again is a conjecture.

[But we'll see. I don't think it will be too long before I get to say "I told you so" to a lot of people.]

Conjecture.

In all honesty Real, it seems to me that you have latched on to a couple of theories and conjectures which you do not fully understand and are using that confusion as a evidence for your own unproven conjectures.

Here's an idea. If you believe that you have a only 1% chance of exhibiting some observable paranormal phenomenon (say, spoon bending) while asleep (so your conscious mind does not interfere), place a spoon near your bed every night for a year. You will have about a 99% chance that on at least one night during that year, your chosen spoon will bend.

I will say, that in my experience, none of my cutlery has ever been so affected, sleeping or not.

Devil's Advocate
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

"Can you imagine continuing a research project for 20 years with no significant results!!? No one does that."

So, how's that whole SETI thing going?

Just wondering...

Plutarck
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

It is worth distingushing between the ascientific and the anti-scientific.

There are two main ways of something being accepted as scientific fact. The most common, which is what concerns us here is that something can be proven false. Note, I don't say it can be proven false, not can be proven true. If you can devise an experiment that would prove a theory false if sucessful then you only need one ocurrence of the false result.

How do you prove that Ghosts don't exist. The answer is you can't, and therefore the argument is outside the realms of science, or a-scientific.

Now when you claim that a person can bend spoons using his mind, then you are entering the fields of science. People can announce they will bend the spoon, and it will either happen or not. And it never happens when you have an experienced conjurer among those checking on validity of the experiment, as opposed to having one carry out the experiment to confuse the gullible.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Then again, maybe SETI is just volunteer now. I'll have to fall back on one of the other massive government expenditures that never did much amount to anything...

Plutarck
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

I don't believe we can properly define consciousness.  We sort of know what it is (by the fact we all think we have it), but in scientific terms?

It seems to me consciousness may largely be the ability to subvocalize. Try thinking of a concept or idea without subvocalizing and it's next to impossible.

Type 1 and Type 2 from the article, I think you can easily dismiss, as if there is another explanation which does not require new physical laws, it would seem preferable

Type 3, of course you have to dismiss the ones where alternative explanations are available.  Then you get into statistics.

Let's say you want to see what causes cancer. You look at Cancer cases, and measure 20 different variables (e.g. sign of zodiac, geographical location, whether you like Science Fiction, etc).  If you 95% confidence test, it means than 19 times out of 20, a correlation would not be by chance.  So measure 20 variables, and 1 ot the 20 should end-up correlated in a particular study.  Don't mention the other 19, and you now have a variable which correlates with cancer (SciFi causes Cancer, shock horror).  Of course, becauses it's a chance coincidence, it WILL NOT BE REPEATABLE by other studies. 

The same principle applies to thinks like card guess.  Oh they didn't get the suit, let's look at the number, let's look at the color, let's look at the guess vs 1 card ahead with it's face/number/suit/color, 2 cards ahead, etc etc.  Before you know it you have a whole bunch of variables and by standard statistical tests, you'd expect some chance correlations to appear in the results.

Furthermore, as discussed previously on this board, people's intuition, including mine, on statistics is generally wrong, often very wrong.  We've discussed this previously on the board.  Remember the discussion about getting people to draw "random" dots (where people draw them, they generally more or less evenly distribute them, whereas truly random would involve clustering).  I think this second issue could be the explanation for things like "cancer clusters" where no cause has been found, or even clustering in the results of paranormal experiments (Joe got the suit, 2 cards ahead in 1st trial, then Joe got the color, 1 card ahead in 2nd trial, etc..... conclusion: Joe must be psychic).

S. Tanna
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Philo shows some class by quoting Daffy Duck.

www.MarkTAW.com
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

When I was 8 years old I did some catsitting for a summer and earned $20 + a crate full of board games, including "Kreskin's ESP" which sat in my closet for years. The idea of the game was that you put up a screen and you pulled out cards with vay lines and stars and stuff and stared at them. Your friend on the other side of the screen would then try to pick up on your brain wave vibes and guess the card.

In sixth grade I brought the game in for science class and tested every one in class for ESP. Got varying results. Some did 'better than chance' on one round, but not on the next. Just clustering. Not duplicable.

But one guy, a friend of mine, got every single card right. So I tested him again. And again and again. He kept getting them all right. No one else did this well, not even close. The rest of the class wasn't all that interested, but I understood probability and the scientific method well at that age and was not as blasé as the other kids.

I talked to my friend about it and he invited me to come over that evening and bring a deck of my own playing cards. So I did. I brought some ordinary unmarked cards, a Bicycle Poker deck, and laid them out on the floor face down. He pointed at each one and told me what the suit and rank of each was. I turned them over and he got every single one of them correct. And then he repeated the feat. He said "I am showing you this so you see that it is not about reading minds since you didn't know what these cards were. It's more like I look at them and I can see right thtough htem and see what is on the other side. Not literally see, but see in my mind."

His mom laughed and told me tales of his 'special abilities' exasperating his family and friends growing up.

I told him he could beat the tables in Las Vegas, or he could astound the scientific community, proving that ESP wals real. He said, "Yeah I could, but why would I want to?"

X. J. Scott
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

X.J. -

That's an interesting anecdote. Were your friend's abilities limited to card reading, or could he, say, tell a woman on the street how much money was in her wallet?

Devil's Advocate
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

>I told him he could beat the tables in Las Vegas, or he could astound the scientific community, proving that ESP wals real. He said, "Yeah I could, but why would I want to?

If I was smart enough to realize the danger in having powers like that, I would shut up.

But the truth is, that I like to buy things, and so can your buddy win about 13k, so I can buy this shiny horn?

(The bottom one on this page http://www.corno.de/schmid/deu-eng/bulletin.htm )

Thanks.

--
ee

eclectic_echidna
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Real PC:

Skeptics are highly motivated to repeat paranormal experiments. Indeed, there are articles in nearly every Skeptical Inquirer and Skeptic magazines about failed attempts at reproducing or otherwise documenting paranormal claims.

You have a skewed view of skepticism. Skeptics do not actively NOT want to believe. They just don't believe that something is true merely because someone else claims it is. Without repeatable, controlled experiments, there can be no proof.

An excellent example is SETI. This is an organization that believes that we may not be alone in the universe, but has NEVER claimed that there ARE aliens. They're just checking to see if there are or not. There are many prominent skeptics that support the SETI program (and many unknown skeptics, like myself, that run SETI@Home).

It's not that I don't believe in the possibility of aliens, god(s), ghosts, time travel, magic(k), faeries, the boogey man, Intelligent Design, telekenisis, telepathy, astral projection or the Raleon clone. I'm just skeptical, and would love to see some proof. It's too bad the claimants aren't able to provide any.

Tim Sullivan
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

I haven't seen or heard from him in decades. I just googled him and I see that he has made a name for himself as an artist with bronze and wood sculptures that represent 'visions of things which can not be seen,' or similar words to that effect (degoogling the quote there). So I'd say he's put his talents to great use, also consistent with what I know about great artists in general and vis a vis.

If you want the big dough (or more likely the life satisfaction you are seeking when you think you want the big dough), you can come up with your own vision and the courage to pursue it without relenting. That's the secret. Not some big win in Vegas. Fortunately, you don't need psychic abilities to have vision. Just tap into that old creative energy.

X. J. Scott
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

The writing of James Randi makes for some interesting and educational reading.  It can be quite amazing some of the strange things that people will believe.  His investigations of faith healers are a bit disturbing though.  Many of these people are blatant charlatans employing various tricks to defraud sick people of their money.

mackinac
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Believers in the paranormal always seem to have to come up with excuses for the lack of experimental results.

Many experiments that confirm the predictions of electromagnetic theory can easily be done in a home lab by amateur scientists.  Even some experiments demonstrating quantum effects are not difficult.

So why do we hear excuses about how paranormal experimenters can't get funding?  Most of the phenomena described as paranormal would only require very simple equipment.  To be credible they would require understanding of statistics and double-blind experimental methodolgy.  Why not go do a few experiments yourself?

../
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Many parapsychologists claim they have already proven it beyond doubt.

I am a skeptic myself and need reasons for believing things. I have a very simple idea for a research project that should settle the question for skeptics: Get a lot of rats (or mice, or whatever), give them a choice of which button to press to get something they really want (food, sex, company, whatever). Do this many times with lots of different rats.

Since animals aren't trying to impress anyone with their special powers, their egos and conscious minds are not going to block  telepathy and precognition. If they can't guess at significantly above chance (assuming they are extremely hungry, lonely, horny, whatever) then I would be surprised.

I have mentioned the problem to a parapsychologist (that the conscious mind can interfere win humans) but they didn't seem to care. The problem with parapsychologists, it seems to me, is they are already completely convinced psi is real, so they feel kind of silly trying to prove it. Instead they concentrate on the subtleties of how it works. They should be doing simple straightforward experiments that can be done in any psychology lab. They should focus on convincing the skeptics and mainstream science, so they can become part of the universities and get plenty of funding, and then get back to investigating the subtleties.

Believe me, I don't get along any better with believers than with non-believers. Probably worse, because I can't stand it when people believe whatever makes them feel good, without regard for evidence or logic.

Yet, I am definitely a believer. I have investigated these questions for much longer than most people, and no longer have any doubts. But I want to see it proven in a simple way that can be easily understood and replicated.

The Real PC
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

[His investigations of faith healers are a bit disturbing though. Many of these people are blatant charlatans employing various tricks to defraud sick people of their money.]

It's very easy to find examples of con artists who make money by pretending to have special powers. (There are also lots of people who con themselves into thinking they have powers, because it gives them a sense of importance.)
But you can see that going on in every corner of human life. Deception, trickery, victimization; all are part of the human and natural world.

People who are against supernatural beliefs can easily find examples of fakes and their gullible victims. It's like being against free enterprise because there are crooked businessmen.

The Real PC
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Go to the pet store, get a few gerbils, and try the experiment yourself.

Is there something about science education today that makes people think that science can only be done in big university or government labs with PhD scientists working on big grants and using millions of dollars worth of lab equipment? 

../
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

I've frequently thought that it doesn't matter if extra senses existed since they are so frequently not available that they isn't worth having.

Given the choice between seeing my way to cross the road, or even using a stick, and thinking my way across it; guess which I'd choose.

Its called evolution.

Simon Lucy
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

'they isn't worth having' 

Don't write at 3am.

they aren't worth having.

Simon Lucy
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Simon, Dey Ain't Werth Mekkin Phun Ov.

www.MarkTAW.com
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

"People who are against supernatural beliefs can easily find examples of fakes and their gullible victims. It's like being against free enterprise because there are crooked businessmen."

The problem is that they CAN'T find examples of non-fakes. No one can do it for an independant researcher under controled circumstances. Until that changes, there is no proof.

Man, it would be nice if people really could see the future, or move things with their minds, but not a single person who claims to be able to do this can do it in front of cameras while watched by non-believers.

I also have a hard time believing that everyone who is psychic is morally above breaking the bank at Vegas. :-)

Tim Sullivan
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Stephen Jones & Materialists -- is that a new band?

     
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Some of us aren't above it.

The problem is that the families that own the casinos don't care if the reason you are doing so well is because you are psychic or because you are cheating. All they know is you don't fit their big picture. Your facial characteristics go into the database and you are politely asked to leave within seconds of approaching the door of any casino worldwide. Amazing technology they've got too -- I tried to go back after twenty years away and with a rebuilt nose, some minor plastic surgery, and two sheep dips. No matter, they addressed me by my old name immediately.

formerly rich psychic
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

So gambling necessitates walking into a Casino?

B#
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

FRP: You'd think that you'd have known that before trying.

Tim Sullivan
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

I have to be in proximity to the cards or it doesn't work. You're thinking of 'remote viewing', which the research shows to be a hoax.

formerly rich psychic
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Tim,

I'm using psychic in the vernacular sense of 'someone with strange abilities'. I didn't say that I can see the future. I can't and I've not met anyone who could either and I've known lots of Smiths.

formerly rich psychic
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Right. Proximity to cards.

I'd love to test you on that some time. Email me and we can arrange it.

I'm not holding my breath.

Tim Sullivan
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

The Amazing Randy has 10 million if you can prove it?  I'll drive!

B#
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Help me out here, what's my motivation?

Let's say we prove it to the world. Then what? Would my brain be dissected? Or would I be placed in a cage for the rest of my life? Surely certain elements would be threatened by my mere existence. What would they do? Others would see me as their plaything to perform for them at their pleasure. Still others would see me as their ticket to the big time. Would international terrorists see me as the quickest way to get the cash they need to finance their nuclear shenanigans? How would none of this happen? Shoot, you could become rich beyond your wildest dreams just by delivering my sorry ass to any of a number of international terrorists organizations.

So... what's my motivation?

To "prove" that one paranormal phenomenon is real? Well, I already know the answer to that one.

To amuse you and your friends? I don't see the point.

To earn some money as a pet or as a research subject? Not only does that not interest me, but no amount could compensate for the danger I would then face.

formerly rich psychic
Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Self fullfiling delusion comes to mind or Troll... either way

B#
Wednesday, June 11, 2003

$1 Million, not $10 Million.  Claimants describe what they can do, a protocol is negotiated, consistent with claimants abilities but controlled to prevent cheating.  A dry run is made, to assure that the powers are working, then the controls are put in place.  If this first test is passed, a thorough protocol is worked out.

That's the theory; to date, no one has managed to pass their own test.

Danil
Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Real PC Wrote:

[One reason is the lack of funding for parapsychology, another is that the skeptic organizations are highly emotional and close-minded.]

It always amazes me that people who believe in things like parapsychology consider sceptics to be "close-minded". In fact the exact opposite is true. People who believe in this stuff have closed minds because in order to believe without proof you have to close your mind to the possibility that you are wrong or that there is some other explanation.

On the other hand, sceptics have open minds. They consider all possibilities and tend to go with explanations that fit available facts. They know that they may be wrong and and entertain other explanations (albiet with lower probabilities of likelihood) and will change their minds as more facts become known - very unlike "believers".

A Sceptic (but I may be wrong)
Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Hi Real PC,

>> One reason is the lack of funding for parapsychology, another is that the skeptic organizations are highly emotional and close-minded.  <<

I have an open mind, but not so open that my brain falls out.

My worldview involves repeatable experiments validated by a skeptical community. Yours doesn't <shrug>.  Until one of us comes around to the other's viewpoint on how to validate stuff, it's pointless to discuss details.

Regards,

Mark
---
Author of "Comprehensive VB .NET Debugging"
http://www.apress.com/book/bookDisplay.html?bID=128

Mark Pearce
Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Heres a very interesting link regarding Randi's prize and Homeopathy:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/horizon/2002/homeopathy.shtml

The interesting thing here is that I know so many people who swear by Homeopathy.  As I was googling the link my friend looked over my shoulder and started to tell me about his positive experience.

I have allergy problems myself, and conventional medicene isn't working, so I'm going to try Homeopathy even though it has failed the Rani test.  If I find my allergies improved then that will proof enough for me.

If it all turns out to be Headology, I won't care.  As long as it works.

Ged Byrne
Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Ged:

Just give yourself a few months before deciding that it works. With just about any treatment, there is a placebo effect, but it'll wear off.

Good luck! I know alergies can be... disruptive.

Tim Sullivan
Wednesday, June 11, 2003

frp -

You remind me of a 'Zippy the Pinhead' comic I have on the wall of my cube. The last thing Zippy says is: "That way my delusions of grandeur will be held constantly in check by my baseless paranoia."

Devil's Advocate
Wednesday, June 11, 2003

""no significant results!!? No one does that."

So, how's that whole SETI thing going"

Last I heard the seti@home project had discovered a number of "possibles" - things which need to be investigated more closely. That was some months ago, however.


Thursday, June 12, 2003

Yes, they found about 100 locations that were good cantidates for a closer look. They've had 3 8-hour stints to do some high-sample recording in some of these locations, and they're updating the seti@home client to handle them.

It'll be interesting to see what is found.

Tim Sullivan
Thursday, June 12, 2003

Wherever it is they had better find it quick because the amount of global warming all the extra energy consumption of Seti@home is causing is going to make this planet uninhabitable.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, June 12, 2003

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