Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#21  Postby jerome » Oct 20, 2010 3:01 pm

tnjrp wrote:At least by their own account Wiseman et al. did consider Sheldrake's critiques of their studies and modified the tests accordingly, so I'll reserve the right to find it odd if it's Sheldrake who still thinks they made massive and biased errors on that particular case.



As life is short and we are in danger of forgetting about presentiment, here ya go -- http://www.rationalskepticism.org/paran ... 14297.html :)

On psychic parrots, absolutely, Mr Samsa is correct (as usual) as far as I can see

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Re: Scientists find first real evidence you CAN see the futu

#22  Postby jerome » Oct 20, 2010 3:14 pm

;)
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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#23  Postby VK-machine » Oct 20, 2010 7:12 pm

This study is very bad news for parapsychology. Believers who celebrate it show a certain degree of delusion.
Think about it. What if this doesn't get ignored?
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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#24  Postby jerome » Oct 20, 2010 7:17 pm

Why?
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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#25  Postby VK-machine » Oct 20, 2010 7:48 pm

jerome wrote:Why?

What if mainstream science takes an interest in these claims? What do you think is going to happen?
Parapsychology may be a laughing stock already but it still has shreds of respectability to lose. For example the membership of the american PA in the AAAS.
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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#26  Postby Mr.Samsa » Oct 20, 2010 8:19 pm

VK-machine wrote:
jerome wrote:Why?

What if mainstream science takes an interest in these claims? What do you think is going to happen?
Parapsychology may be a laughing stock already but it still has shreds of respectability to lose. For example the membership of the american PA in the AAAS.


Well since (good) parapsychologists don't really care what the truth is, and they just want to find out what it is, then I imagine mainstream science taking an interest in it would be a welcomed event - even if it means their conclusions are disproved.

Anyway, Jerome, I had a few more questions:

- Why is it assumed that everyone has psi abilities? If some people are better at it than others, then it's possible that they could achieve much higher rates of success if they weeded out the people who weren't good at it and just tested the ones that were.

- If psi is just a regular behavioral event, then why don't they train people to be better at it? Using Bem's procedure above it should be relatively simple to use a rewarded discrimination task to improve their scores. And even if they simply had feedback on whether they were right or wrong we should see a steady increase in accuracy from the first block of trials and the last block.

- If everyone has psi abilities, then why study large groups of people? Single-subject designs would give us a much more accurate view of whether people actually do have psi abilities or not, in my opinion. If people you test consistently get non-significant results then you could chalk up the large scale designs as some kind of statistical anomaly, or you could rule out the "everyone has psi" assumption.

I think the real problem I have with Bem's study is that it took massive amounts of trials and averaging across numerous participants just to demonstrate a result that is just 1% or so above chance. Now, I know that the absolute difference is irrelevant as long as it's significant, but you have to ask what the point of it is..
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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#27  Postby VK-machine » Oct 20, 2010 8:46 pm

Mr.Samsa wrote:
VK-machine wrote:
jerome wrote:Why?

What if mainstream science takes an interest in these claims? What do you think is going to happen?
Parapsychology may be a laughing stock already but it still has shreds of respectability to lose. For example the membership of the american PA in the AAAS.


Well since (good) parapsychologists don't really care what the truth is, and they just want to find out what it is, then I imagine mainstream science taking an interest in it would be a welcomed event - even if it means their conclusions are disproved.

Definitely.
It's just that I fear that all these good parapsychologists, along with all true scotsman and a 900 pound gorilla, can fit in a single phonebooth.
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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#28  Postby jerome » Oct 20, 2010 9:24 pm

VK-machine wrote:
Mr.Samsa wrote:
VK-machine wrote:
What if mainstream science takes an interest in these claims? What do you think is going to happen?
Parapsychology may be a laughing stock already but it still has shreds of respectability to lose. For example the membership of the american PA in the AAAS.


Well since (good) parapsychologists don't really care what the truth is, and they just want to find out what it is, then I imagine mainstream science taking an interest in it would be a welcomed event - even if it means their conclusions are disproved.

Definitely.
It's just that I fear that all these good parapsychologists, along with all true scotsman and a 900 pound gorilla, can fit in a single phonebooth.


I doubt it. I'm quite well built, and I think you dind it hard for me to fit me and my girlfreind (also a parapsychologist - well she is the real deal, I 'm just an enthusiast* really as no phd in it) in one :)

j x

* I publish in the journals, and take part in peer review, so maybe i count after all?
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Re: Scientists find first real evidence you CAN see the futu

#29  Postby michael^3 » Oct 20, 2010 10:01 pm

Mononoke wrote:What the fuck is this shit. It looks seriously dodgy.


When scientists discover new things, it's supposed to be good news, not bad news.

And the quantum mechanics part is miserably wrong
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Re: Scientists find first real evidence you CAN see the futu

#30  Postby klazmon » Oct 20, 2010 10:39 pm

michael^3 wrote:
Mononoke wrote:What the fuck is this shit. It looks seriously dodgy.


When scientists discover new things, it's supposed to be good news, not bad news.

And the quantum mechanics part is miserably wrong


The fact a psychologist starts wibbling nonsense about quantum mechanics does tend to downgrade the credibility.
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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#31  Postby Mr.Samsa » Oct 20, 2010 11:07 pm

VK-machine wrote:
Mr.Samsa wrote:Well since (good) parapsychologists don't really care what the truth is, and they just want to find out what it is, then I imagine mainstream science taking an interest in it would be a welcomed event - even if it means their conclusions are disproved.

Definitely.
It's just that I fear that all these good parapsychologists, along with all true scotsman and a 900 pound gorilla, can fit in a single phonebooth.


Well I know a lot of scientists are quite prideful so it's possible that, if disproved, there would be a large number of them which would be unhappy. But then there would also be a large number that are happy - some because it's always fun in science to demonstrate something conclusively, and some because they think psi is nonsense that they're happy to put it at rest. (Because remember that not every parapsychologist believes psi exists).

And even the ones that desperately try to validate their beliefs in psi will ultimately be happy if it was disproved, I imagine, since they wouldn't be wasting their time in a dead end research path and they could use their qualifications to pursue other areas of interest.
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Re: Scientists find first real evidence you CAN see the futu

#32  Postby Mr.Samsa » Oct 20, 2010 11:48 pm

klazmon wrote:The fact a psychologist starts wibbling nonsense about quantum mechanics does tend to downgrade the credibility.


To be fair, his paper only contained 4 paragraphs on quantum mechanics and that was to summarise how other parapsychologists have attempted to discuss psi phenomena in terms of quantum mechanics. He dedicates the 4th paragraph to mentioning how explanations involving quantum mechanics generally only serve as metaphors rather than models, and that those with greater knowledge of physics are understandably more skeptical of the claims made by people who try to use them as models.
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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#33  Postby jerome » Oct 21, 2010 12:12 am

Right back now, time to answer Mr Samsa's questions. Firstly though one for him - what do you make of Bem's http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-perception_theory , which was how I first came to know of him? It always fascinated me, and makes more sense than Festinger to me. (NOTE: This is nothing at all to do with parapsychology, but I thought Mr S and I who bth share an interest in Behaviourism might discuss it. If it's a derail we will start a new thread on it).

j x
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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#34  Postby jerome » Oct 21, 2010 12:38 am

Mr.Samsa wrote:

Anyway, Jerome, I had a few more questions:

- Why is it assumed that everyone has psi abilities? If some people are better at it than others, then it's possible that they could achieve much higher rates of success if they weeded out the people who weren't good at it and just tested the ones that were.


Yeah, but the whole psi concept strikes me as meaningless. I'm on recod for nearly twenty years now saying so. Psi is a wonderfully useless category, hard to define and philosophically difficult. I'm not sure it's useful. I prefer to deal with actual behaviours, actual claims, and specifics. I see no reason to assume an ability ot ay influence dice telekinetically would be linked to say success at card guessing tasks (PK versus ESP -- in fact some research suggest people good at one are poor at the other, and vice versa.) Still let's run with an unknown naturalistic psi function as a concept...

Yes, that is exactly what they do - I mention it in my response to Wiseman's CSI article on my blog (http://jerome23.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/1187/) They try to find "star subjects" and work with them. However, let's pause for a moment and question the assumptions.

If psi exists, what is it? What purpose does it serve? Well it would have to be teleological, goal seeking activity, designed to bring about outcomes - probably survival and reproduction of the orgnaism. So we would expect people with high psi scores to be adaptively advantaged (there are loads of papers on psi andnatural selection as you can imagine). Richard Broughton back in 1993 or 94 posed the question, could psi just be what we see as luck? Richard Wiseman wrote an excellent book length examnation of that (and dids some seriously good papers on National Lotter winners as i recall too) -- http://www.amazon.co.uk/Luck-Factor-Sci ... 0099443244 - and he concluded "luck" is actually down to personality factors. I ought to re-read that book.

(As an aside, Wiseman's new book looks interesting..)


"Richard Wiseman’s Supernormality, a book just sold to Macmillan in the UK in a “big” six-figure deal. Supernormality deals with the way that scientific research into the apparent fringes of psychology—mediums, lucid dreami...ng and telepathy—has led to serious breakthroughs which can be applied to everyday life...."


So anyway, if psi does exist, then it may be that certain people ARE better at it than others - and those people might be more lucky, charismatic, or many other things - who knows? What si the case is that parapsychologists have experimented with screening for star subjects, a classic example being the Robertson-Roy "mediumship" (actually anomalous transfer of information - as the authors point out one need not invoke "spirits") experiments i spent so much time on on the Life after Death debate on the old RD.net forum. In those experiments only those ho passed a sort of intial screening process got to participate - the PRISM experiemts stands for Psychical Research Involving Selected mediums as i recall)

The Maimonides Dream Lab experiements also threw up "star subjects" - and so on. Most of the time however experiments are conducted with whoever we can get, usuallly studenst hoping for credits for participating in a research project or required to by the terms of some agreement in their psych classes!

I am not sure whether psi would be evenly distributed - I don't even know what psi is. In folklore of course, the idea of star subject and psychicism in the Celtic/Romany/Seventh son/romanticised indigenous peoples etc, etc is very stong, but that is almost certainly pat leats partly social sterotyping nd the allure of the mysterious "other" if we can slip in to cultural studies mode a moment.

I'll take a break here and make a coffee :)

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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#35  Postby jerome » Oct 21, 2010 12:47 am

Mr.Samsa wrote:
I think the real problem I have with Bem's study is that it took massive amounts of trials and averaging across numerous participants just to demonstrate a result that is just 1% or so above chance. Now, I know that the absolute difference is irrelevant as long as it's significant, but you have to ask what the point of it is..


I have to go to bed now - irate girlfriend looking for me - but that does appear consistent with a lot of psi experiments - incredibly tiny effect size, only noticiebale in huuge populations. I think that in itself is interesting - more in the morning!
:)
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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#36  Postby Mr.Samsa » Oct 21, 2010 1:45 am

jerome wrote:Right back now, time to answer Mr Samsa's questions. Firstly though one for him - what do you make of Bem's http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-perception_theory , which was how I first came to know of him? It always fascinated me, and makes more sense than Festinger to me. (NOTE: This is nothing at all to do with parapsychology, but I thought Mr S and I who bth share an interest in Behaviourism might discuss it. If it's a derail we will start a new thread on it).

j x


Hmm I haven't heard a whole lot about it and it's straying a bit into social psychology which I disowned a long time ago. On the surface it appears to make sense to me, in behaviorist terms he's basically saying that our "attitudes" are really a category of behaviors which are produced by differential exposure to discriminative stimuli (our behaviours/actions). The problem, I imagine, is that it would be difficult to rule out any feedback effect - that is, the behavior forming attitudes, then the attitudes affect behavior, which in turns affects attitudes, etc.

The wikipedia page claims that it's viewed as a rival to cognitive dissonance but I'm not too sure why.. On the surface the two seem incompatible (because if attitudes are the product of behavior then they can't cause an internal conflict), but this assumes that people are perfect observers of their own behavior and they aren't. So cognitive dissonance, under this paradigm, would be where the perceived behavior conflicts with the actual behavior (with both being associated with different attitude sets).

If you want I can split off this bit to the Psychology and Neuroscience section? Lazar will probably have a lot more to say on this than I do.
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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#37  Postby Mr.Samsa » Oct 21, 2010 3:40 am

jerome wrote:Yeah, but the whole psi concept strikes me as meaningless. I'm on recod for nearly twenty years now saying so. Psi is a wonderfully useless category, hard to define and philosophically difficult. I'm not sure it's useful. I prefer to deal with actual behaviours, actual claims, and specifics. I see no reason to assume an ability ot ay influence dice telekinetically would be linked to say success at card guessing tasks (PK versus ESP -- in fact some research suggest people good at one are poor at the other, and vice versa.)


Indeed.. it seems to me as if they're basing their conclusions of what this "psi" is on their own ideas of how it's presented in folklore or books, rather than coming to conclusions based on whatever data they can collect.

jerome wrote:Still let's run with an unknown naturalistic psi function as a concept...

Yes, that is exactly what they do - I mention it in my response to Wiseman's CSI article on my blog (http://jerome23.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/1187/) They try to find "star subjects" and work with them.


Thanks for the info :cheers:

I figured they would but I don't understand why Bem didn't. It's a bit unfortunate really since his experiments do seem to be fairly decently designed, so it would have been interesting to see what kind of results his "stars" got. (Obviously by re-testing them - not by taking their data and pooling it together, as that would give you a false effect).

jerome wrote:However, let's pause for a moment and question the assumptions.

If psi exists, what is it? What purpose does it serve? Well it would have to be teleological, goal seeking activity, designed to bring about outcomes - probably survival and reproduction of the orgnaism. So we would expect people with high psi scores to be adaptively advantaged (there are loads of papers on psi andnatural selection as you can imagine). Richard Broughton back in 1993 or 94 posed the question, could psi just be what we see as luck? Richard Wiseman wrote an excellent book length examnation of that (and dids some seriously good papers on National Lotter winners as i recall too) -- http://www.amazon.co.uk/Luck-Factor-Sci ... skept01-21 - and he concluded "luck" is actually down to personality factors. I ought to re-read that book.


Hmm.. it could be a result of natural selection, but I think we'd be jumping the gun a bit by looking for a cause of a behavior before we conclusively demonstrate if it exists, understand what it exactly is and what conditions bring it about.

jerome wrote:(As an aside, Wiseman's new book looks interesting..)


"Richard Wiseman’s Supernormality, a book just sold to Macmillan in the UK in a “big” six-figure deal. Supernormality deals with the way that scientific research into the apparent fringes of psychology—mediums, lucid dreami...ng and telepathy—has led to serious breakthroughs which can be applied to everyday life...."


I can't find much information on it, sounds like it could be interesting though..

jerome wrote:So anyway, if psi does exist, then it may be that certain people ARE better at it than others - and those people might be more lucky, charismatic, or many other things - who knows? What si the case is that parapsychologists have experimented with screening for star subjects, a classic example being the Robertson-Roy "mediumship" (actually anomalous transfer of information - as the authors point out one need not invoke "spirits") experiments i spent so much time on on the Life after Death debate on the old RD.net forum. In those experiments only those ho passed a sort of intial screening process got to participate - the PRISM experiemts stands for Psychical Research Involving Selected mediums as i recall)

The Maimonides Dream Lab experiements also threw up "star subjects" - and so on. Most of the time however experiments are conducted with whoever we can get, usuallly studenst hoping for credits for participating in a research project or required to by the terms of some agreement in their psych classes!


Did the results of the star subjects differ from the non-stars?

jerome wrote:I am not sure whether psi would be evenly distributed - I don't even know what psi is. In folklore of course, the idea of star subject and psychicism in the Celtic/Romany/Seventh son/romanticised indigenous peoples etc, etc is very stong, but that is almost certainly pat leats partly social sterotyping nd the allure of the mysterious "other" if we can slip in to cultural studies mode a moment.


I'd imagine that if "psi" (or any of the individual abilities specifically) were simply normal behavioral effects, then we should expect them to fall along a bell curve, with some being better than others.
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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#38  Postby tnjrp » Oct 21, 2010 6:03 am

jerome wrote:As life is short and we are in danger of forgetting about presentiment, here ya go -- http://www.rationalskepticism.org/paran ... 14297.html :)
I faintly recall that thread tho I didn't have energy to participate. For a short answer, are we to conclude that Sheldrake made a shitty study with a result X and Wiseman & al. made a shitty study with an exactly opposite result?
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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#39  Postby Mr.Samsa » Oct 21, 2010 6:16 am

tnjrp wrote:
jerome wrote:As life is short and we are in danger of forgetting about presentiment, here ya go -- http://www.rationalskepticism.org/paran ... 14297.html :)
I faintly recall that thread tho I didn't have energy to participate. For a short answer, are we to conclude that Sheldrake made a shitty study with a result X and Wiseman & al. made a shitty study with an exactly opposite result?
:ask:


Not quite - Sheldrake did a shitty study and Wiseman replicated his findings. The difference comes about as a result of Sheldrake hideously misinterpreting his results, selectively analysing data that agrees with his position but ignoring other data which may not (since he doesn't show it I can't be sure, but he doesn't even state why he chose such a selection criteria), and both their data are consistent with the explanations Wiseman et al. gave. That is, the dog approaches the window more as time increases, sensory leakage, and biased selection of data.

Bottom line is that the dog clearly isn't psychic. At the very least, Sheldrake or Wiseman's experiments give us no reason to think there is any psychic phenomena going on.
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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#40  Postby tnjrp » Oct 21, 2010 6:44 am

Yep, there is always a chance of a "strange attractor" at work isn't there? In this case, Jaytee might be (might have been?) psychic even tho no compelling evidence was found.

And in any case, there's some reason to believe Wiseman indeed did have a goatee at the time :mrgreen:
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