Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

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Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#1  Postby jerome » Oct 17, 2010 12:54 pm

Something for you to get your teeth stuck in to while we wait for the spooks debate to get going again
http://dbem.ws/FeelingFuture.pdf
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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#2  Postby Mr.Samsa » Oct 19, 2010 5:25 am

I'm confused.. In the first study of approach/avoid, he concludes this:

Across all 100 sessions, participants correctly identified the future position of the erotic
pictures significantly more frequently than the 50% hit rate expected by chance: 53.1%, t(99) =
2.51, p = .01, d = 0.25.3 In contrast, their hit rate on the nonerotic pictures did not differ
significantly from chance: 49.8%, t(99) = -0.15, p = .56. This was true across all types of
nonerotic pictures: neutral pictures, 49.6%; negative pictures, 51.3%; positive pictures, 49.4%;
and romantic but nonerotic pictures, 50.2%. (All t values < 1.)


The problematic part is that if we are assuming that this is a standard, yet unusual, behavioral effect and that erotic pictures aid psi through salience then we are essentially positing the "erotic pictures" as reinforcement - in contrast, as Bem discusses in a later experiment, this means we must see negative valence pictures as punishers. Yet, this is not what he found, and people were just as likely to select the aversive pictures as any of the other nonerotic pictures. Surely this category should differ from chance, in the opposite direction from the erotic pictures?

As such, in his second experiment he would have been better off using a standard signal-detection equation to work out whether subjects really were discriminating between the alternatives or whether it is just some weird statistical effect (because we have to keep in mind that even though statistics might tell us that people should respond equally to both alternatives, we know that people and animals hardly ever do this and they develop biases). The equation he should have used is this one:

(S1) Non-aversive: log Bw/Bx = a . log Rw/Rz + log c + log d

(S2) Aversive: log By/Bz = a . log Rw/Rz + log c - log d

(More information on this here).

In a matrix table which looks like this:

Code: Select all
                                  B1 (Chooses left pic)       |        B2 (Chooses right pic)
                                 _________________________________________________________

S1    (Target on Left) |               Hit (W)                |                 Miss (X)

S2    (Target on Right)|              Miss (Y)                |                 Hit (Z) 


Where "a" refers to sensitivity to reinforcement/consequences (the slope), "c" refers to inherent bias, and "log d" is the measure of discriminability, or stimulus bias. "B" is the behavior of the subject, and "R" represents the reinforcement rate or, in this case, the differences in consequences (aversive versus non-aversive). If the subject cannot discriminate between the two alternatives then d = 1.0, and as the two alternatives become more discriminable d will approach infinity. The advantage of this approach is that it factors in behavioral biases and it doesn't assume equal responding on all alternatives.

Bem mentions that there is some evidence of psi abilities in animals too but only references Radin. Since most of Radin's stuff I've read on animal research is so painfully bad I'd really rather not read any more of him, are you aware of any other (semi-)decent studies on animal psi abilities? They'd be interesting to read over.
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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#3  Postby jerome » Oct 19, 2010 6:48 am

In reply to the non-erotic pictures (the ones juddges as negative) yep I would thought so too! I'm just waking u and have not had my coffeee yet, but I'll look at it as soon as I have woken.

As to the methodology, as far as I can see yes that would be ide. Drop Bem an email - this is his page at Cornell - http://dbem.ws/ - he is very approachable. That may actually help; I have no idea why he did not apply it.

On animal studies, I share your pain. Yes of course, can you drop me an email address? What kind of thing did you have in mind?

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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#4  Postby Mr.Samsa » Oct 19, 2010 7:12 am

jerome wrote:In reply to the non-erotic pictures (the ones juddges as negative) yep I would thought so too! I'm just waking u and have not had my coffeee yet, but I'll look at it as soon as I have woken.


:lol: So it's possible that your agreement with me is part of your morning haze? Good to know!

jerome wrote:As to the methodology, as far as I can see yes that would be ide. Drop Bem an email - this is his page at Cornell - http://dbem.ws/ - he is very approachable. That may actually help; I have no idea why he did not apply it.


I'm not sure why he wouldn't use it, I guess it depends on how much reading he's done in psychophysics but I'm pretty sure that model would be much more suitable for his purposes. The only problem would be that it would be hard to quantify the positive and negative outcomes, but I'm sure they could just be represented by nominal figures like "10" and "-10" or something. I probably won't bother emailing him, it'd be more effort than I'm willing to expend :tongue:

jerome wrote:On animal studies, I share your pain. Yes of course, can you drop me an email address? What kind of thing did you have in mind?

j x


I'll PM you my email address now. I was just hoping to find some experiments similar to the set up of the ones Bem has described in his article. It's pretty easy to set them up so I'm sure somebody has done it, and if so I'd be interested in knowing what the results are. If we find results comparable to the ones above, would we conclude that the findings are simply a statistical issue produced by biological organisms operating in a signal detection procedure, or would we conclude that they must have psi ability too? But really I'd be interested in anything that is more rigorous than Radin's stuff.
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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#5  Postby tnjrp » Oct 19, 2010 7:14 am

Hey, not fair getting a room and exchanging brown envelopes clandestinely this early into a discussion! :pissed:

The public (read: me) needs to be told, especially about animal PSI studies.
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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#6  Postby Mr.Samsa » Oct 19, 2010 7:18 am

tnjrp wrote:Hey, not fair getting a room and exchanging brown envelopes clandestinely this early into a discussion! :pissed:

The public (read: me) needs to be told, especially about animal PSI studies.


If you concentrate really hard, I'm sure you could read Jerome's mind to find out what articles he thinks would be suitable... :levi:
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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#7  Postby tnjrp » Oct 19, 2010 7:21 am

Nah, won't work. I'm definitely one of the goats, me...

And no horny jokes, please. This is a serious issue :naughty:
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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#8  Postby CookieJon » Oct 19, 2010 7:24 am

tnjrp wrote:Nah, won't work. I'm definitely one of the goats, me...

And no horny jokes, please. This is a serious issue :naughty:


You're kidding, right?
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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#9  Postby tnjrp » Oct 19, 2010 7:32 am

About being a goat in the parapsychological terminology? Most certainly not. Albeit it's just based on the assumption that most skeptics are, I must admit.
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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#10  Postby jerome » Oct 19, 2010 11:09 am

I'm just having a look:of course Sheldrake does most of this stuff --
http://www.sheldrake.org/Articles&Paper ... s/animals/
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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#11  Postby tnjrp » Oct 19, 2010 11:37 am

I for one am not exceedingly convinced by Sheldrake's studies. Those unpleasantly skeptical people Wiseman, Smith and Milton for example rained rather heavily on his parade about Jaytee, the psychic dog. Not sure if either Mr. Wiseman or Mr. Smith sported a goatee at the time of their studies on the said canine.
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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#12  Postby jerome » Oct 19, 2010 1:00 pm

tnjrp wrote:I for one am not exceedingly convinced by Sheldrake's studies. Those unpleasantly skeptical people Wiseman, Smith and Milton for example rained rather heavily on his parade about Jaytee, the psychic dog. Not sure if either Mr. Wiseman or Mr. Smith sported a goatee at the time of their studies on the said canine.



Wiseman's arguments on Jaytee were however completely spurious- a fact discussed in an article by a third party in the latest JSPR. I'll text Matthew now and ask him his opinion of the Jaytee affair, and if he still holds his and Wiseman's critique was correct. Matthew did not have a goatee back then as far as I know - he must have been barely out of short trousers, but I think Richard did have. :grin:

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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#13  Postby jerome » Oct 19, 2010 4:21 pm

In line with the well known anti-psi tendencies of facial hair, I am pleased to report Matthew's recollection that Wiseman MAY have had a beard. He however, certainly did not.

Now seeing as being rude about Richard Wisseman is something of a necessity in British parapsychology (and if you are brave being equally critical of Rupert Sheldrake - I am brave or stupid or both, but have never been rude about Wiseman - http://jerome23.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/1187/ is the closest I get) I don't know how well the critique of his critique of the Jaytee experiments holds up (I would cry a pox upon both your houses!) but I feel a new thread coming on with a discussion as Wiseman is accused of henous duplicity and probably unnatural relations with goats (ok I made that bit up) in said article.

Hopefully i will see Matthew Smith next week, and can ask his opnion, as he was present. And while he had no beard, James Randi who later claimed to have seen issues in the footage of the experiment, and then was forced to admit he has never seen the footage, and could not have done so (a simple error of memory one assumes but looked bad and undid his claims on the matter) has a fine beard.

It suuddenly strikes me i KNOW TOO MUCH ABOUT PSYCHIC DOGS, AND MY KNOWLEDGE OF TALKING MONGOOSES is altogether greater. :(

Incidentally Matthew's latest project can be seen at http://milliondollarpsychicblog.blogspot.com

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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#14  Postby Mr.Samsa » Oct 20, 2010 3:16 am

jerome wrote:I'm just having a look:of course Sheldrake does most of this stuff --
http://www.sheldrake.org/Articles&Paper ... s/animals/


Bah, I hate Sheldrake...

I don't know if I have the time to point out all the problems in his papers, but I was just browsing over his psychic parrot one where he claims that N'kisi scored a significant amount of hits in a telepathy experiment. This sounds impressive until you look at the amount of target pictures used on different topics - for example, 17 trials contained an image of "flower", whilst the next greatest number of presentations was "water" with 10 trials, and then there were a few with 7.

Firstly, we have to wonder why he didn't take a baseline across days and times to assess the probability that N'Kisi will say these words without any kind of "psychic" prompting, and we also have to wonder why he used pictures that contained a couple of possible "hit" words. Out of 71 trials, 16 of them contained between 2-4 possible "hit" words! His owner claims he has a vocabulary of 500 words, but given that one of the most studied parrots (Alex) only had a vocabulary of 100 I am a little skeptical. But even if we accept that he has a vocabulary of 500 words, we would only realistically expect him to use 100 words regularly (as a generous estimate). From these 100, some would be far more probable to occur, where 90% of his time would probably be spent repeating a set of 20 words, with the other 80 making an appearance in the remaining 10%.

One of the biggest problems here is that one of N'Kisi's favourite words appears to quite clearly be "flower" and, incidentally, this trial is the one that appeared the most. This represents a similar mistake made by Bem in the paper above (although Bem's is nowhere near as fatal as Sheldrake's as a result of Bem's sample size), in that he has assumed equal responding when such a thing does not exist in the real world. People and animals always develop biases, so if your parrot says the word "flower" 56 times over 71 trials then you might have a problem with your assumption of equal responding...

A far better test could be devised here:

- Monitor N'Kisi over various days of the week and at different times of the day, recording what words were said, the frequency, and the times that they occurred. (The different days and times help rule out any predictable fluctuations, for example, he might say "food" as it approaches lunch time but not at any other time of day).
- Make a list of his common vocabulary (ignoring what the owner says because pet owners like to brag and misinterpret their animal's behavior).
- Sort out which of these words can be clearly identified by a picture (e.g. "running" is not easily represented in a still photograph, but "apple" is).
- Take the 20-30 least probable of these words to use in the trials.
- Ensure that the pictures only contain one possible key word (i.e. don't use a bowl of fruits which could be a hit for "apple", "banana", "pear", etc..)
- Set it up the rest of the experiment the way Sheldrake did.

If the parrot is psychic, and we have evidence that they can use these least probable words, then we should see a clear increase in their probability during the trials where the target image appears and the near-absence of them at other times. This not only makes it easier to count hits and misses, but it would also allow us to use standard conditional probability calculations in order to demonstrate a causal relationship, rather than being tricked by excessive correlation.

And if that still gives a psychic result, I will carve "Fancy that" on the side of my cock.
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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#15  Postby tnjrp » Oct 20, 2010 6:16 am

jerome wrote:Now seeing as being rude about Richard Wisseman is something of a necessity in British parapsychology (and if you are brave being equally critical of Rupert Sheldrake - I am brave or stupid or both, but have never been rude about Wiseman - http://jerome23.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/1187/ is the closest I get) I don't know how well the critique of his critique of the Jaytee experiments holds up (I would cry a pox upon both your houses!) but I feel a new thread coming on with a discussion as Wiseman is accused of henous duplicity and probably unnatural relations with goats (ok I made that bit up) in said article
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.
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Scientists find first real evidence you CAN see the future

#16  Postby Mononoke » Oct 20, 2010 9:18 am

Ever think you could predict the future? The good news is, you're not crazy. The better news is—there's now scientific evidence that backs you up.

For most of us, the idea of psychic phenomena is just too science-fictiony. But it's true, according to Dr. Daryl Bem, a social psychologist who conducted nine different experiments on the phenomena.

Have you've ever taken a psychic test with Zener cards (the ones with the plus sign and the wavy lines)? If you have, you'll have averaged one correct answer, or "hit," out of every five cards. Psychology Today says the Zener test and others like it are flawed, because "such studies often fail to meet the threshold of 'scientific investigation.'"

However, Bem's studies are unique in that they represent standard scientific methods and rely on well-established principles in psychology. Essentially, he took effects that are considered valid and reliable in psychology—studying improves memory, priming facilitates response times—and simply reversed their chronological order.
In a test that we wouldn't have believed had it not been documented, 100 Cornell students were shown 48 common nouns and given three seconds to observe and visualize each word. Then they were asked to type out as many words as they could remember. After that, a computer re-displayed half of those words, which the students then retyped.

You don't have to be psychic to know where we're going with this: It turns out that the students more likely recalled the words that they were later asked to retype.

In his original paper, Dr. Bem wrote, "The results show that practicing a set of words after the recall test does, in fact, reach back in time to facilitate the recall of those words."

The reason for this phenomenon can be explained through science (or in this case, SCIENCE!), specifically physics:

Einstein believed that the mere act of observing something here could affect something there, a phenomenon he called "spooky action at a distance."
Similarly, modern quantum physics has demonstrated that light particles seem to know what lies ahead of them and will adjust their behavior accordingly, even though the future event hasn't occurred yet.

The study will be published in an upcoming volume of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. But if you can't wait to read it, the adventurous among you can downloadthe non-edited draft of Bem's paper for yourselves.

We predict you'll be conducting your own psychic experiments with lottery numbers.
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Re: Scientists find first real evidence you CAN see the futu

#17  Postby Mononoke » Oct 20, 2010 9:20 am

What the fuck is this shit. It looks seriously dodgy.

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

#18  Postby tnjrp » Oct 20, 2010 9:28 am

Let me guess, you predicted you'd get that kind of response so you decided to make it a self-fullfilling prediction by posting it yourself? :mrgreen:

Anyway, Jerome's seen the future before you and it's happening here:
http://www.rationalskepticism.org/paran ... 14158.html
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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#19  Postby Mononoke » Oct 20, 2010 10:55 am

So......

Is this stuff bullshit or not
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Re: Daryl Bem's Presentiment Experiments

#20  Postby jerome » Oct 20, 2010 2:40 pm

It appears to be a robust replicable effect, in line with a number of other presentiment studies. I have not had a chance to look at the paper in depth - I did look at a short piece by Bem in http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=nck5 ... th&f=false which I reviewed for the JSPR and it looked sound to me. The best summary of presentiment studies outside the journal literature is in http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=sUM1 ... &q&f=false a book I critically reviewed on the old RD forum - because quantum woo always worries me. It should be noted that Radin is actualy not an amateur however - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dean_Radin and did get a correction published for an incorrect critique of his stats in a Nature review of The Conscious Universe. Josephson's discussion of this affair makes interesting reading http://www.tcm.phy.cam.ac.uk/~bdj10/psi ... #admission

Ignoring my sidetrack in to the politics of psi research and publications, yes it appears by normal scientific standards sound - Mr Samsa has raised the obvious point also made by Ersby on the JREF - http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=188366 - to my mind the obvious thing to do is to attempt to replicate a couple of the experiments. It can't be that hard t set up surely?

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