Paranormality by Richard Wiseman

Discussions on UFOs, ghosts, myths etc.

Moderators: Calilasseia, DarthHelmet86, Onyx8

Paranormality by Richard Wiseman

#1  Postby jerome » Feb 26, 2011 3:32 am

Paranormality by Richard Wisemen is disappointing me: nothing anyone with a decades acquaintance with the parapsychological/sceptical lit would find surprising, and bizarrely much on how mediums cheat, but NOTHING on Roy and Robertson (2001;2004) - which is the research that needs addressing. It's very well written and fun, but it ignores the utterly bizarre positive evidence of that series of experiments, and hence is worthless, as the methods we read about again simply do not apply in those double blinded trials. Maybe it gets better later.

However does score marks for first ten words: "'As i gazed deep in to the eyes of Jaytee'... Quite Mills & Boon, but readers of this forum will know who Jaytee was and why that gave me a good laugh, almost certainly intentionally. Wiseman has a fantastic sense of humour and is a great bloke - but this book simply fails to address the stand out research published in the JSPR, despite Wiseman's excellent knowledge of the literature. Why? I have no time for mediumship personally, but Robertson/Roy needs explaining - their PRISM research remains utterly unrepudiated, apart from some discussion of the appropriateness of the binomial distribution used at one point, which does not alter the outcomes significantly? Or have I missed something???

Attack the best not the worst. As I said, reading through references cited in the endnotes make it sound like a pretty interesting book:not the one I was expected; but the first few chapters are marred by the "how to cold/warm read" material rehashed for the umpteenth time. Wiseman is writing by numbers here; who does not recognise a Barnum effect these days?

Still I'd encourage people to read it, despite the annoying little positive testimonial by Prof Dawkins on the back - unlike Wiseman, French, Hyman et al, Dawkins is probably not an authority on the subject so why have him endorse it? Why not ask someone from Anomalous Psych or Parapsychology, a sceptic if you want, or someone like Broughton or Cardena perhaps?

j x
Yours sincerely, Jerome -- a threat to reason & science

I am an Anglican Prejudice declared - My blog: http://jerome23.wordpress.com/
User avatar
jerome
THREAD STARTER
 
Name: CJ
Posts: 2047
Age: 51
Male

Country: UK
Denmark (dk)
Print view this post

Ads by Google


Re: Paranormality by Richard Wiseman

#2  Postby jerome » Feb 26, 2011 10:41 am

Um, I read some more last night. I think my disappointment is this is a popular mass-market book, that fails to therefore excite subject specialists with much new - which is hardly a fair critique. Yet it is also an avowedly ideological (Skeptic) book, which presents a curiously one sided view of the dialogue, while seeming on the surface to offer more - that is disappointing. And sometimes the case is made more by the faintly ridiculous nature of the examples, rather than much more - the chapter on Gef the talking mongoose for example, which while a very succinct and well written precis of some of the main events, fails to give some of the more interesting facts, like the many testimonials from sceptical islanders who heard funny things, or the actual phenomena claimed by Price's investigators as unexplained, or indeed anything much from the "defence" perspective. A much fairer and wider ranging article on Gef was the recent on in the Fortean Times. If you are thinking "but it was a talking mongoose, how can you take that seriously!" then your prejudices suit the book; if instead you are intrigued by what the hell I am on about, then buy the book by all means, then wikipedia is as good a place as any to start - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gef

And of course Gef was ridicolous, but that brinsg us no closer to explaining it, and curiously wiseman does not even seem to make an attempt?

j x
Yours sincerely, Jerome -- a threat to reason & science

I am an Anglican Prejudice declared - My blog: http://jerome23.wordpress.com/
User avatar
jerome
THREAD STARTER
 
Name: CJ
Posts: 2047
Age: 51
Male

Country: UK
Denmark (dk)
Print view this post

Re: Paranormality by Richard Wiseman

#3  Postby z8000783 » Feb 26, 2011 10:45 am

Time to lock the thread in that case I think.

John
I don’t simply believe in miracles - I rely on them
z8000783
 
Name: WTF
Posts: 9333
Age: 67
Male

Country: Greece
Greece (gr)
Print view this post

Re: Paranormality by Richard Wiseman

#4  Postby Crocodile Gandhi » Feb 26, 2011 10:53 am

I'm not sure that the Wikipedia entry on Gef tells us anything, really. All it says is:

- Some family say that a mongoose talked to them.
- This was never experienced by anyone else
- Some investigator thinks they were well-to-do people.
If I believe in heaven I deny myself a death. Dying keeps me conscious of the way I waste my breath - Cosmo Jarvis
User avatar
Crocodile Gandhi
RS Donator
 
Name: Dave
Posts: 4142
Age: 31
Male

Country: Australia
Australia (au)
Print view this post

Re: Paranormality by Richard Wiseman

#5  Postby jerome » Feb 26, 2011 11:00 am

Yes I was thinking more of the links, that may well have been changed. The story in brief - a family fallen on hard times move to try crofting in Cashen's Gap, a remote, cold and rather inhospitable are of the Isle of Man. Voices are heard over many years, that claim to emanate from a talking mongoose. So far all is utterly ridiculous. But then it gets weir, with a succession of distinguished visitors, and then the BBC get involved - well a prominent player in the Beeb, and the case captures the nations attention, and Gef the talking mongoose becomes a national celebrity - while his existence remains doubtful to say the least. It's a really fascinating and bizarre story - but here is an excellent Fortean Times piece -- http://www.forteantimes.com/features/ar ... goose.html Hope amuses CG!

j x
Yours sincerely, Jerome -- a threat to reason & science

I am an Anglican Prejudice declared - My blog: http://jerome23.wordpress.com/
User avatar
jerome
THREAD STARTER
 
Name: CJ
Posts: 2047
Age: 51
Male

Country: UK
Denmark (dk)
Print view this post

Re: Paranormality by Richard Wiseman

#6  Postby Mr.Samsa » Feb 26, 2011 11:24 am

jerome wrote:Yes I was thinking more of the links, that may well have been changed. The story in brief - a family fallen on hard times move to try crofting in Cashen's Gap, a remote, cold and rather inhospitable are of the Isle of Man. Voices are heard over many years, that claim to emanate from a talking mongoose. So far all is utterly ridiculous. But then it gets weir, with a succession of distinguished visitors, and then the BBC get involved - well a prominent player in the Beeb, and the case captures the nations attention, and Gef the talking mongoose becomes a national celebrity - while his existence remains doubtful to say the least. It's a really fascinating and bizarre story - but here is an excellent Fortean Times piece -- http://www.forteantimes.com/features/ar ... goose.html Hope amuses CG!

j x


That reminds me of the time my dad convinced my older step-brother that black puddings were creatures that lived down in the bottom of the garden. Whenever his friends would come over, they'd all sneak down to the bottom of the garden and come back to tell me tales of the conversations they'd had with these creatures. Whilst tangible evidence against such a claim is hard to come by at this point in time, I like to think that given the lack of evidence in support of such claims, there is enough reasonable doubt and alternative explanations available for me to reject the idea of conscious and loquacious lumps on congealed pig blood.

As commented on by Ben Goldacre (in an interview, I think), the idea of "balanced reporting" is misleading. To be "balanced" is not to give equal weight to both sides of a story, or to present each perspective as if it were just as likely or possible as the other. Instead the "balance" should be aimed at gauging the probability or consensus of the situation. So when there is a story on MMR causing autism, then nearly all of the story should be dedicated to the idea of how ridiculous such a proposed link is, with perhaps a soundbite from an opposing viewpoint, followed by a rebuttal of the first guest who reinforces the idea that such a link is ridiculous.
Image
Mr.Samsa
 
Posts: 11370
Age: 35

Print view this post

Re: Paranormality by Richard Wiseman

#7  Postby jerome » Feb 26, 2011 1:23 pm

Yes I'm familiar with Goldacre's point. However, when dealing with historical issues (as this ultimately is) to only give one side of the account, and to omit pertinent facts is surely not even to the point? On MMR one would expect to hear the claim, then see the reasons why it is nonsense presented - but the claim must be stated for the rebuttal to be understood. In the case of psychics Wiseman gives a very convincing overview of many of their tricks - yet omits reference to the double blind studies which seem to be fatal to the suggestion ALL psychics use these methods. This is curious given a) he cites more recent research from the JSPR, and much much older, and b) that his partner Dr Caroline Watt is head of the Koestler Parapsychology Unit at Edinburgh, Perrott-Warrick Senior Researcher in parapsi, a parapsychologist with over 50 publications including with Irwin the current standard textbook for parapsychology students, and certainly knows Robertson & Roy at Glasgow and c) Wiseman would have been present at their conference presentations. I don't see how this can be an oversight. (It's also worth noting that almost all of the main players in parapsi of that generation studied together at Edinburgh for their PhD's, and know each other well - including Wiseman)

So the utter silence on their research (and Schwarz Veritas stuff, and Windbridge stuff etc, etc ) is a rather striking omission. The fact that anyone who read my RDF debate on the possibility of life after death, or FedupwithFaith and SpaghettiSawUS comments on their reviews of the research in the commentary thread (or the Skeptic Report articles on the research) will realise that it was extremely well conducted and designed and utterly baffling research, and that 6 years on we still have to see any real attempt to come to terms with it from the Skeptic community (i can only wonder if they are waiting for Archie to die) makes this the one thing Wiseman should have addressed - not through balance, but because it seems to invalidate his own argument???

Well Wisemans book is not entirely useless; certainly re-makes the case that many psychics use cold/warm reading (though the central trick for anything other than one on one readings as far as I am concerned is mentioned only in passing in a sentence as I recall, if at all, and Wiseman does not seem to realise that it explains far more than all the phenomena he mentions, is far easier to demonstrate, and renders the whole super-skilled magician/psychologist suggestion to my mind slightly ridiculous -- the way stage psychics work is far simpler) etc, etc, the one thing that the Roy Robertson research seemed to demonstrate unequivocally was that their mediums did not use cold reading....

Now ok, balance may be over rated: but Wiseman is saying the paranormalists are wrong, and making a strong positive claim - basically Randi's "psychic as charlatan", though he later admits "psychic as self-deluded" is more likely for many claimants.Yet he ignores the research that could be fatal to his position -- we only need one white crow (to use William James' famous analogy on mediumship) and I can't see why; he should boldly take it on, or at least mention it's existence - to do otherwise in a popular survey is to perhaps inadvertently mislead.

And of course this is Wiseman who wrote ""I agree that by the standards of any other area of science that remote viewing is proven, but begs the question: do we need higher standards of evidence when we study the paranormal?" later clarified to "“I agree that by the standards of any other area of science that ESP is proven. That begs the question do we need higher standards of evidence when we study the paranormal?”. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence; yet Wiseman still has to explain why Marcello Truzzi's famous epithet is actually true, something many philosophers have failed to achieve - the best defence I saw of its use was an aside on the JREF - "it may not be strictly logically true but it's a useful axiom". This book makes no such allowances so far, and the presentations are fatally one sided.

And I write this as someone who has been criticised (some would say been ticked off) in the the latest JSPR for my sceptical position which is seen by some as going too far in my critiques) by a [[EDit: "Vice President of the SPR no less "-- actually he isn't it seems my mistake]] . Wiseman's academic work is valuable and nuanced; this less so. But this will reach a popular audience, who will often not be willing or able to commit the time to engage with the actual source material, and for the next twenty years will tell me I am a dunderhead. so I can allow myself to be slightly vexed. :)

j x
Yours sincerely, Jerome -- a threat to reason & science

I am an Anglican Prejudice declared - My blog: http://jerome23.wordpress.com/
User avatar
jerome
THREAD STARTER
 
Name: CJ
Posts: 2047
Age: 51
Male

Country: UK
Denmark (dk)
Print view this post

Ads by Google


Re: Paranormality by Richard Wiseman

#8  Postby jerome » Feb 26, 2011 1:34 pm

Oh for those interested in my critique of "anomalous psychology" as a discipline and a discussion of Wiseman's work, Prof Chris French of the APRU is going to be talking at Cheltenham Skeptics in the Pub in March, and will doubtless be surprised to find me in the audience looking forward to a full and frank discussion. :) As one parapsychologist friend of his commented, his decision to come to Cheltenham is "courageous", in the Yes Minister sense. Why does everyone seem to think I am a beady eyed fanatic heckler? ;)

j x
Yours sincerely, Jerome -- a threat to reason & science

I am an Anglican Prejudice declared - My blog: http://jerome23.wordpress.com/
User avatar
jerome
THREAD STARTER
 
Name: CJ
Posts: 2047
Age: 51
Male

Country: UK
Denmark (dk)
Print view this post

Re: Paranormality by Richard Wiseman

#9  Postby jerome » Feb 26, 2011 1:49 pm

And for Mr Samsa - http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/F70554?thread=279680 have a quick read, may surprise. :)

Image

A talking black pudding from the Final Fantasy games I think

:)

See they exist!
j x
Yours sincerely, Jerome -- a threat to reason & science

I am an Anglican Prejudice declared - My blog: http://jerome23.wordpress.com/
User avatar
jerome
THREAD STARTER
 
Name: CJ
Posts: 2047
Age: 51
Male

Country: UK
Denmark (dk)
Print view this post

Re: Paranormality by Richard Wiseman

#10  Postby chairman bill » Feb 26, 2011 2:01 pm

One of my problems with the paranormal is the failure to offer adequate explanatory mechanisms to underpin claimed PSI abilities - how would it work? What mechanism in the natural world would allow for such a thing to occur?
“There is a rumour going around that I have found God. I think this is unlikely because I have enough difficulty finding my keys, and there is empirical evidence that they exist.” Terry Pratchett
User avatar
chairman bill
RS Donator
 
Posts: 28319
Male

Country: UK: fucked since 2010
United Kingdom (uk)
Print view this post

Re: Paranormality by Richard Wiseman

#11  Postby Mr.Samsa » Feb 26, 2011 2:03 pm

jerome wrote:Yes I'm familiar with Goldacre's point. However, when dealing with historical issues (as this ultimately is) to only give one side of the account, and to omit pertinent facts is surely not even to the point? On MMR one would expect to hear the claim, then see the reasons why it is nonsense presented - but the claim must be stated for the rebuttal to be understood. In the case of psychics Wiseman gives a very convincing overview of many of their tricks - yet omits reference to the double blind studies which seem to be fatal to the suggestion ALL psychics use these methods. This is curious given a) he cites more recent research from the JSPR, and much much older, and b) that his partner Dr Caroline Watt is head of the Koestler Parapsychology Unit at Edinburgh, Perrott-Warrick Senior Researcher in parapsi, a parapsychologist with over 50 publications including with Irwin the current standard textbook for parapsychology students, and certainly knows Robertson & Roy at Glasgow and c) Wiseman would have been present at their conference presentations. I don't see how this can be an oversight. (It's also worth noting that almost all of the main players in parapsi of that generation studied together at Edinburgh for their PhD's, and know each other well - including Wiseman)


That's fair enough - my comment above was more in reference to the Gef example you gave, in which I think the only "evidence" that he omitted was a few anecdotal claims made by random people. It might have made an interesting side note, but presumably the book is aimed at people interested in the science behind parapsychology, so such reports are obviously useless as anything but somewhat interesting comments.

jerome wrote:So the utter silence on their research (and Schwarz Veritas stuff, and Windbridge stuff etc, etc is a rather striking omission). The fact that anyone who read my RDF debate on the possibility of life after death, or FedupwithFaith and SpaghettiSawUS comments on their reviews of the research in the commentary thread (or the Skeptic Report articles on the research) will realise that it was extremely well conducted and designed and utterly baffling research, and that 6 years on we still have to see any real attempt top come to terms with it from the Skeptic community (i can only wonder if they are waiting for Archie to die) makes this the one thing Wiseman should have addressed - not through balance, but because it seems to invalidate his own argument???


I'd be interested in reading more about this. If you had time, maybe you could start a thread on it? As to why Wiseman left it out, I couldn't even begin to hazard a guess given how little I know about it, but if it's as relevant as you suggest then it would have been good practice for him to include it.

jerome wrote:Well Wisemans book is not entirely useless; certainly re-makes the case that many psychics use cold/warm reading (though the central trick for anything other than one on one readings as far as I am concerned is mentioned only in passing in a sentence as I recall, if at all, and Wiseman does not seem to realise that it explains far more than all the phenomena he mentions, is far easier to demonstrate, and renders the whole super-skilled magician/psychologist suggestion to my mind slightly ridiculous -- the way stage psychics work is far simpler) etc, etc, the one thing that the Roy Robertson research seemed to demonstrate unequivocally was that their mediums did not use cold reading....


Interesting. I'll have to try to get my hands on the paper, is it: "Results of the application of the Robertson-Roy protocol to a series of experiments with mediums and participants"? Generally I find that whilst parapsychologists can have decent experimental controls for a standard scientific experiment, they tend to fail at accounting for psychological factors of an experiment. This isn't an attack on parapsychologists exactly, as many scientists outside of the social sciences make similar mistakes when trying to assess the validity of these kinds of experiments, but I'm pretty sure that when I read through the paper I'll find something that makes me question the validity of the results.

There was a psychics experiment I read about recently where the name of the deceased person was given to the psychic, and the experimenters found that over the telephone (with no clues from the person on the other end) they were able to make accurate predictions about this person. Obviously the massive confound in that experiment was that the person's name tells them a lot about a person so cold reading is not necessary. I think that Alex Skeptic guy was discussing it on JREF after he had a big hissy fit on his forum.

jerome wrote:Now ok, balance may be over rated: but Wiseman is saying the paranormalists are wrong, and making a strong positive claim - basically Randi's "psychic as charlatan", though he later admits "psychic as self-deluded" is more likely for many claimants.Yet he ignores the research that could be fatal to his position -- we only need one white crow (to use William James' famous analogy on mediumship) and I can't see why; he should boldly take it on, or at least mention it's existence - to do otherwise in a popular survey is to perhaps inadvertently mislead.


That sounds reasonable to me, assuming that the results are relevant and important.

jerome wrote:And of course this is Wiseman who wrote ""I agree that by the standards of any other area of science that remote viewing is proven, but begs the question: do we need higher standards of evidence when we study the paranormal?" later clarified to "“I agree that by the standards of any other area of science that ESP is proven. That begs the question do we need higher standards of evidence when we study the paranormal?”. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence; yet Wiseman still has to explain why Marcello Truzzi's famous epithet is actually true, something many philosophers have failed to achieve - the best defence I saw of its use was an aside on the JREF - "it may not be strictly logically true but it's a useful axiom". This book makes no such allowances so far, and the presentations are fatally one sided.


I've always understood the "extraordinary evidence" claim as being a simple restatement of Bayesian probabilities, which most of science is implicitly built on?

jerome wrote:And I write this as someone who has been criticised (some would say been ticked off) in the the latest JSPR for my sceptical position which is seen by some as going too far in my critiques) by a Vice President of the SPR no less. Wiseman's academic work is valuable and nuanced; this less so. But this will reach a popular audience, who will often not be willing or able to commit the time to engage with the actual source material, and for the next twenty years will tell me I am a dunderhead. so I can allow myself to be slightly vexed. :)


:lol: I understand your frustration, popular science books have the same effect on me too. I suppose the problem lies less in Wiseman's approach, but more in the fact that he's presenting a popular science book which is necessarily limited in breadth of information and detail of analysis.

jerome wrote:And for Mr Samsa - http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/F70554?thread=279680 have a quick read, may surprise. :)

A talking black pudding from the Final Fantasy games I think

:)

See they exist!
j x


:lol: And all these years I thought my dad was just pulling our legs! Now I have to question everything I thought I knew.

He also used to tell me that the ice cream vans only played their music when they ran out of ice cream - next you'll be telling me that that isn't true!
Image
Mr.Samsa
 
Posts: 11370
Age: 35

Print view this post

Re: Paranormality by Richard Wiseman

#12  Postby Mr.Samsa » Feb 26, 2011 2:05 pm

chairman bill wrote:One of my problems with the paranormal is the failure to offer adequate explanatory mechanisms to underpin claimed PSI abilities - how would it work? What mechanism in the natural world would allow for such a thing to occur?


Well, such a line of thought would be interesting and perhaps necessary if we could establish that there is a psi effect, but it's not really that important. We currently have no understanding of how anaesthetics work, and nor do we know how a multitude of drugs (particularly psychoactive drugs) work. The important thing is to show that there's a real effect, and once we've done that then we can start hypothesising possible pathways.
Image
Mr.Samsa
 
Posts: 11370
Age: 35

Print view this post

Re: Paranormality by Richard Wiseman

#13  Postby jerome » Feb 26, 2011 2:06 pm

chairman bill wrote:One of my problems with the paranormal is the failure to offer adequate explanatory mechanisms to underpin claimed PSI abilities - how would it work? What mechanism in the natural world would allow for such a thing to occur?



Well, I have this to hand - there is a part two I think - a useful overview of the proposed physical systems for psi from 1993 from the Koestler Parapsychological Unit - bit heavy going in places, but useful nonetheless ---

Theories on the Physical Basis of Psi


The following are summaries of some of the attempts to look for theories which might help explain how psi operates. These are written for a non-technical audience. Interested parties should look at the references provided for a better idea of the specifics.


1 - Teleological Model (TM) of Psi


Helmudt Schmidt proposed a teleological (goal-seeking) model that postulated psi as representing a modification of the probabilities for different world histories. That is, the psi agent need concentrate only on the desired outcome of an event. Psi would act to skew the probability of that event happening or having happened in the case of retrospective psychokinesis (retro-PK).


As such, this theory was not a theory of a psi mechanism but rather one which looked at the way psi was experienced by the psi agent. It was one of the first parapsychological theories to include a unified psi. PK, ESP, precognition -- all were aspects of one common psi principle wherein reality was altered to match expectation. This theory also meant that psi would be independent of space and time as when-and-where in the world history psi occurred would be irrelevant. And that psi is independent of task complexity as the psi agent aims only for the desired end-point.


As most human actions are essentially teleological (i.e., when we want to pick something up, we do not consider in detail which muscles we wish to move, and so on), this brought psi more into the realms of human experience. Feedback was considered to be vital. The psi agent can have an effect only if it is coupled to its environment in such a way that it may receive a stimulus.


There was also what was called a "divergence problem". That is, all Future psi agents could so have an effect on the Present world history. In effect, this meant that for any experiment, the psi agent was not only the experimental participant but also all Future readers of the experimental paper!


● Schmidt, H. (1975). "Towards a Mathematical Theory of Psi". The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research 69(4): 301-320




2 - Quantum Mechanical Theory of Psi (QMTP)


Evan Harris Walker identified consciousness with quantum-mechanical hidden variables. In Quantum Theory, any system may be described in terms of a wave-function. It is a complex superposition of waves, the squared amplitude of each being related to the probability of an individual event occurring. The complete wave-function describes all possible outcomes of that system. Thus the wave-function of a coin-toss will describe the outcomes of heads-or-tails, with the amplitude of each being equal to the square-root of the 50% probability of getting a head or a tail.


The problem is that this wave-function describes all the outcomes at once, whereas conscious experience tells us that we will observe only one outcome. This naturally led to the idea that conscious observation somehow affects the system, causing the wave-function to "collapse" (decohere) into one specific state (i.e., the one we experience. If this is indeed the case, then perhaps the consciousness can actually choose (to some extent) which outcome actually occurs -- a process which sounds very much like the concept of psychokinesis.


Walker developed this theory by pointing out that the brain itself is also a physical system. And so it too develops probabilistically into a number of superposed potential states. That is, the collapse doesn’t take place due to the physical act of observation but is linked to an act of mind (consciousness taking on the role of a "hidden variable" of the wave-function which describes the physical system). Schmidt also explicitly stated that PK was related to the collapse of the wave-function in an extension to his original teleological model.


An important feature of this theory is the unity of psi. PK, ESP, and precognition are all aspects of the observation process. In fact, the basic process may be seen as similar to the idea of retro-psychokinesis in that the observation of the system would appear to affect the outcome of the system, no matter at what time that outcome would be said to have been determined in a classical sense. For example, the collection of random number data at time t=0 could be "affected" at any subsequent time as long as it was not observed at t=0. ESP then becomes the selection of the system to correspond to the prediction.


Psi is also seen as being independent of space and time. A requirement of hidden variables is that they must (according to a well-known tenet of Quantum theory called Bell's Theorem) be non-local in nature. In real-terms, this would mean that the space-time location of the system to be affected is not important -- only the feedback to the observer is.


Psi is also independent of task complexity. Again, the important feature is the act of observation, so it is only the feedback which is important. This does mean that some form of true feedback to the observer is vital. However, this again brings up the divergence problem. Although in this model, while Future psi agents can also have an effect, it is argued that they can act only to increase the variance of experimental results rather than change what has already been observed.


● Walker, E. H. (1975). "Foundations of Paraphysical and Parapsychological Phenomena". In L. Oteri (Ed.) Quantum Physics and Parapsychology, Parapsychology Foundation

● Walker, E. H. (1984). "A Review of Criticisms of the Quantum Mechanical Theory of Psi Phenomena", Journal of Parapsychology 48: 277-332

● Schmidt, H. (1984). "Comparison of a Teleological Model with a Quantum Collapse Model of Psi", Journal of Parapsychology 48(4): 261-276

Thermal Fluctuation Model


Richard Mattuck presents an interesting variation of the QMTP based on the idea that the mind somehow utilizes the thermal energy of molecules to alter the outcome of an event.


It is well known that there is an degree of uncertainty associated with any measurement with the actual measured values showing small fluctuations around a mean value. These fluctuations are partially due to the agitation of the measured system by the random thermal energies of particles in the system (Remember that an atom at a given temperature is equivalent to that atom having a certain kinetic energy in a random direction. The hotter the material, the more its atoms are "jiggling" about). They have been shown to be related to the Uncertainty Principle in Quantum Theory.


Mattuck relates a PK effect to the processing of information at a certain rate. He offers a detailed analysis of the rate of information change associated with a theoretical PK effect on various components of an example target system.


● Mattuck, R. D (1982). "Some Possible Thermal Quantum Fluctuation Models for Psychokinetic Influence on Light". Psychoenergetics 4: 211-225.




The Model of Pragmatic Information (MPI)


Walter von Lucadou utilizes a system-theoretic approach to psi rather than a quantum-level approach. It does, however, assume that the description of any system will have a similar form to the axioms of Quantum Theory.


Von Lucadou formulates a basic descriptive equation for the "pragmatic information" (I) contained within a system, denoting the information which is meaningful to the observing organism such that I = R*A = B*E = n*i . The first term states that the pragmatic information will be determined by the reliability R of the system (a change in the structure of the system) coupled with the autonomy A (a change in the function of the system). The second term states that the pragmatic information will also be determined by the novelty E of the information in the system coupled with the confirmatory value B of that information. The final term puts forward the idea that there is a minimum amount of pragmatic information i (analogous to the idea of quanta in Quantum Theory). He then goes on to show how quantum theory axioms may -- by analogy -- be used to show the dynamics of interrelationships between these concepts.


Von Lucadou also uses the system-theoretic concept of organizational closure, an organizationally closed system defined as being one which dynamically defines its boundaries by the interaction of its constituent parts. Such a system will also be seen as a unified body when viewed from outside the system. A physical example would be an atom which exists only through the interaction between a nucleus and its electron, but which has properties that exist only because of this interaction. A psychological example would be a social group whose membership share some common belief structure that is an amalgam of the individual beliefs. These individual beliefs are also being influenced by the group belief.


In a psi experiment, organizational closure is related to the interaction between the psi agent and the target system and is described by the internal pragmatic information of the system. The experimenter is outside of this closure, but wants to get external pragmatic information in the form of experimental results. A psi effect is then defined as a meaningful correlation between the psi agent and the target system, although this correlation is non-local (i.e., a property where the properties of one system are dependent on that of another distant system, but where there is assumed to be no causal connection).


● Lucadou, W.V. (1987). "The Model of Pragmatic Information", Proceedings of the 30th Parapsychological Association Convention: 236-254

● Lucadou, W.V. (1994). "The Endo- Exo- Perspective - Heaven and Hell of Parapsychology, Proceedings of the 37th. Parapsychological Association Convention: 242-252




4 - Psi Mediated Instrumental Response (PMIR) and Conformance Behavior Model



Another use of the systems theory approach to psi phenomena is that of Rex Stanford who proposed a general model wherein an organism uses psi -- as well as sensory means -- to scan its environment for information related to its needs. This is often (but need not necessarily be) an unconscious process. In this model, cybernetic PK is viewed as being an instrumental response to this scanning. As the model is seen as an active scanning process by the organism, the use of psi would governed by a variety of factors -- both situational and psychological.


In this approach, PK and ESP are seen as being separate processes, although telepathy can be seen as involving both extrasensory scanning for information about another organism and mental/behavioral influence of that organism by PK. Psi events occur in relation to the needs of the organism and depend on the closeness in time of the relevant object or event.


One of the most interesting aspects of this model is that psi can occur without the need for conscious perception of the need-relevant circumstance, making this one of the few theories that does not explicitly imply a link between consciousness and psi. It also allows that explicit feedback is not necessary as ESP provides relevant information. Although the author only states that this role is fulfilled by ESP, it at least allows for the more subtle forms of feedback due to the extended interaction between the target system and its environment mentioned earlier.


Stanford later modified the theory into one of conformational behavior, removing the scanning component and saying that the organism merely reacted to relevant psi-mediated stimuli in its environment. That is, conformance behavior deals with "changes in the ordering of a relatively unordered system in relationship to a relatively ordered system", which allowed simpler organisms (who would not normally be thought of as being capable of scanning their environment) to utilize psi.


● Stanford, R. G. (1990). "An Experimentally Testable Model for Spontaneous Psi Events". In Krippner, S. (Ed.), Advances in Parapsychological Research 6, McFarland and Co: 54-167

● Stanford, R.G., Zenhausern, Z., Taylor, A. and Dwyer, M. (1975). "Psychokinesis as Psi Mediated Instrumental Response". Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research 69(2): 127-134





5 - Decision Augmentation Theory (DAT)


In an approach diametrically opposed to the OTs, this theory (which developed out of the Intuitive Data Sorting theory) posits that humans may have the ability to make decisions based on information gained precognitively. Thus, rather than causing the desired outcome, they take advantage of natural fluctuations in the target system, selecting times and situations that will produce an outcome close to that which was desired.


For example, in a "score high" PK protocol, the Random Event Generator (REG) might produce a binary data-stream of:

01010010001011101011011010011010100011010110101110010100


If the data collection for a 10-bit sample was as for the first bold block (A), then the PK score would be 0.7 (seven 1s and three 0s). For the second bold block (B), it would be 0.5 (five 1s and five 0s). Sample A would then have given an above chance PK score whereas sample B would be at chance-level.


DAT says that the psi agent could have received some sort of precognitive cue that would have enabled them to start data-collection at the point where A begins rather than where B begins. If this biased selection process were continued, then we might conclude that the psi agent had influenced the data stream to be non random when in fact it was still completely random overall. A further result of this process is that the final PK score will be inversely related to the sample length and to the number of decision points available to the psi agent.


This model -- being precognition-based -- requires psi to be time-independent to some extent, although there is some debate as to whether it is an actual Future which is precognitively "perceived" or just a probabilistic Future associated with a specific desired outcome. The main advantage of this approach according to the authors is that it removes the need to explain the 2 disparate active (PK) and passive (ESP) psi processes. It also allows for a PK effect in pseudo-random (and therefore deterministic) data, which would be difficult to explain by a causal influence model.


● May, E.C, Utts, J.M. and Spottiswoode, S.J.P. (1995). "Decision Augmentation Theory: Towards a Model of Anomalous Phenomena". Journal of Parapsychology 59(3): 195-220

● May, E.C., Spottiswoode, S.J.P., Utts, J.M., and James, C.L. (1995). "Applications of Decision Augmentation Theory". Journal of Parapsychology 59(3): 221-250

● Dobyns, Y.H. (1993). "Selection Versus Influence in Remote REG Anomalies". Journal of Scientific Exploration 7(3): 259-269

● Dobyns, Y.H. (1996). "Selection Versus Influence Revisited: New Methods and Conclusions". Journal of Scientific Exploration 10(2): 253-268

6 - Electromagnetic Theories


The main electromagnetic-based theories tend to be split into 2 categories.


The first is that there is a psi signal which is electromagnetic in nature (similar in nature to a radio signal). Advantages to this idea are that (a) we know that organisms use electrical signals as part of their normal physiology; (b) we do indeed emit electromagnetic radiation which relates to physiological activity; and (c) we understand the principles by which information may be encoded onto electromagnetic waves (this principle -- called "modulation" -- is how audio and video signals are transmitted by radio waves).


The second category is that originally advocated by Michael Persinger. He proposed that psi involves the naturally occurring radiation that makes up the Earth's electromagnetic field. He proposed a simple synchronization effect wherein the conditions of this field affected two people simultaneously, causing both to have similar experience. When the two later compared notes, they might conclude that they had experienced a case of psi, erroneously supposing the experience was due to the transfer of a signal between them. This approach is essentially a classical case of a "hidden variable". While this could possibly explain some simple experiences, it could not account for more complex experiences, or those were there did indeed appear to be a transfer of information. For such cases, Persinger goes on to propose that the naturally-occurring wave might be used as a carrier wave in the same way as with the mental radio model, with the weak electromagnetic field of the psi agent imposing the desired information onto this stronger wave.


● Becker, R.O. (1992). "Electromagnetism and Psi Phenomena". Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research 86(1): 1-17

● Persinger, M.A. (1989). "Psi Phenomena and Temporal Lobe Activity: the Geomagnetic Factor". Research in Parapsychology, The Scarecrow Press: 121-156.

● Persinger, M.A. and Krippner, S. (1989). "Dream ESP Experiences and Geomagnetic Activity". Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research 83: 101-116
Yours sincerely, Jerome -- a threat to reason & science

I am an Anglican Prejudice declared - My blog: http://jerome23.wordpress.com/
User avatar
jerome
THREAD STARTER
 
Name: CJ
Posts: 2047
Age: 51
Male

Country: UK
Denmark (dk)
Print view this post

Re: Paranormality by Richard Wiseman

#14  Postby jerome » Feb 26, 2011 2:37 pm

Um, I paid £13 for this form Waterstones. £6.49 on Amazon! http://www.amazon.co.uk/Paranormality-W ... 0230752985
Yours sincerely, Jerome -- a threat to reason & science

I am an Anglican Prejudice declared - My blog: http://jerome23.wordpress.com/
User avatar
jerome
THREAD STARTER
 
Name: CJ
Posts: 2047
Age: 51
Male

Country: UK
Denmark (dk)
Print view this post

Re: Paranormality by Richard Wiseman

#15  Postby chairman bill » Feb 26, 2011 2:48 pm

Jerome - thanks for that long post.Interesting stuff. Of course, much of this undermines the idea that certain people are psychic or have psychic abilities; if it is observer-effect of quantum states, presumably any observer will do.
“There is a rumour going around that I have found God. I think this is unlikely because I have enough difficulty finding my keys, and there is empirical evidence that they exist.” Terry Pratchett
User avatar
chairman bill
RS Donator
 
Posts: 28319
Male

Country: UK: fucked since 2010
United Kingdom (uk)
Print view this post

Ads by Google


Re: Paranormality by Richard Wiseman

#16  Postby jerome » Feb 26, 2011 3:10 pm

chairman bill wrote:Jerome - thanks for that long post.Interesting stuff. Of course, much of this undermines the idea that certain people are psychic or have psychic abilities; if it is observer-effect of quantum states, presumably any observer will do.



Yes: the notion any person has psychic abilities is difficult, well far more complex than it looks, even if such a thing was possible in the first place. Curiously one of Wiseman's best books deals with this, kind of. Back in the 1990's there was a lot of discussion of "if psi exists, how did evolve, and how does it provide adaptive advantage?" This led to a question of what psi distributed through a population would look like, if it existed - and luck/intuition came out as the leading candidates, particularly in some writings by Richard Broughton. Wiseman rose to the challenge, and wrote The Luck Factor, which like all his popular books looks like a nauseating self-help book but is actually something very interesting and worthwhile - definitely worth picking up -- http://www.richardwiseman.com/resources ... Factor.pdf (Article on his book by Wiseman from from CSICOP mag The Skeptical Inquirer)
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Luck-Factor-Sci ... 0099443244 (tyhe book itself)
Yours sincerely, Jerome -- a threat to reason & science

I am an Anglican Prejudice declared - My blog: http://jerome23.wordpress.com/
User avatar
jerome
THREAD STARTER
 
Name: CJ
Posts: 2047
Age: 51
Male

Country: UK
Denmark (dk)
Print view this post

Re: Paranormality by Richard Wiseman

#17  Postby chairman bill » Feb 26, 2011 3:19 pm

I remember those 1990's discussions - my interest was the evolutionary process that might give rise to PSI. But the quantum issue in many ways makes the evolutionary angle a red herring. In relation to something such as precognition it stops being about PSI ability & more about the experience of non-linear time. The lack of commonplace PSI experiences suggest either some mechanism in the brain that limits perception (for what might be very sound evolutionary reasons), or that it's all bollocks :smile:
“There is a rumour going around that I have found God. I think this is unlikely because I have enough difficulty finding my keys, and there is empirical evidence that they exist.” Terry Pratchett
User avatar
chairman bill
RS Donator
 
Posts: 28319
Male

Country: UK: fucked since 2010
United Kingdom (uk)
Print view this post

Re: Paranormality by Richard Wiseman

#18  Postby jerome » Feb 26, 2011 6:16 pm

Talking of Chris French, the superb APRU invited speaker podcasts which combine scepticism with the highest standards of research can be found here http://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/anom ... d394249539

Recommended!
j x
Yours sincerely, Jerome -- a threat to reason & science

I am an Anglican Prejudice declared - My blog: http://jerome23.wordpress.com/
User avatar
jerome
THREAD STARTER
 
Name: CJ
Posts: 2047
Age: 51
Male

Country: UK
Denmark (dk)
Print view this post

Re: Paranormality by Richard Wiseman

#19  Postby iamthereforeithink » Feb 26, 2011 7:04 pm

No, sorry. I didn't get it. How exactly does the quantum thingy explain psi?

For example, the collection of random number data at time t=0 could be "affected" at any subsequent time as long as it was not observed at t=0. ESP then becomes the selection of the system to correspond to the prediction.


Let me try to understand this. Let's say I have a precognitive dream that the neighbor's car got stolen. Now according to this, my brain (a quantum state thereof) then selects outcomes that are consistent with the dream, thereby showing that I had advance knowledge of the event? That strikes me as being completely weird and without any basis in science. How about "remote viewing"? What quantum thing happens there?
“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
User avatar
iamthereforeithink
 
Posts: 3332
Age: 11
Male

Country: USA/ EU
European Union (eur)
Print view this post

Re: Paranormality by Richard Wiseman

#20  Postby jerome » Feb 26, 2011 8:47 pm

iamthereforeithink wrote:No, sorry. I didn't get it. How exactly does the quantum thingy explain psi?


I don't think it does personally, but if you want to look at QM models of psi (shudder) I'd recommend Dean Radin's book Entangled Minds. (I wrote a fairly negative review on the RDF, but that is nothing unusual for me. I'm very hard to please apparently! ). Or have a look at this - http://www.neuroquantology.com/journal/ ... nt/showToc

It's really not my thing, but if you find something of interest do share :)

j x
Yours sincerely, Jerome -- a threat to reason & science

I am an Anglican Prejudice declared - My blog: http://jerome23.wordpress.com/
User avatar
jerome
THREAD STARTER
 
Name: CJ
Posts: 2047
Age: 51
Male

Country: UK
Denmark (dk)
Print view this post

Next

Return to Paranormal & Supernatural

Who is online

Users viewing this topic: No registered users and 1 guest