The feeling of being watched...

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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#121  Postby Landrew » May 08, 2012 11:46 pm

jerome wrote:Sheldrake has in fact done a load of work with other ""psychic mutts" since Jaytee -- it forms the basis for his book :
Sheldrake, R. (1999b) Dogs that Know When Their Owners are Coming Home. London: Hutchinson. I have never read it. The thread on Jaytee and the psychic dog thing is here - http://www.rationalskepticism.org/paran ... 14297.html I happen to be friends with Dr Matthew Smith, who with Prof Richard Wiseman were the sceptics who conducted the original critique and experimental rebuttal - I think I cited what Matthew says now in that thread, but if not i can find it as he was kind enough to give me some thoughts on it all.

Sheldrake is not actually the only person to find the Remote Staring effect. There is a fairly massive literatuire, and I think I cited some of the papers earlier in the thread. I'm not a big fan of Rupert Sheldrake, but I don't think we can poison the well by ad hominems against him on the issue. I will happily have a proper look and write an assessment of the evidence if anyone really cares, but as I have possibly mentioned I find it all incredibly dull :yuk: :yuk:

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It still amazes me that so much misinformation, misrepresentation, logical fallacies and unfair characterizations still gain so much traction in the world of skeptics. It's as though any means to an end is justified, so long as it points to the "right verdict."
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#122  Postby Nostalgia » May 09, 2012 12:36 am

And I'm amazed how people can continuously say something without ever saying anything.
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#123  Postby Spearthrower » May 09, 2012 2:08 pm

Landrew wrote:
It still amazes me that so much misinformation, misrepresentation, logical fallacies and unfair characterizations still gain so much traction in the world of skeptics. It's as though any means to an end is justified, so long as it points to the "right verdict."



What's truly amazing is how you can turn any thread round to grind your credulous and ill-informed axe.
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#124  Postby Aern Rakesh » May 09, 2012 2:18 pm

I have to confess that I haven't read this entire thread. But surely there is actually a phenomenon—a type of feeling experience—where people 'feel' they are being watched, just as the phenomenon of shivers or hairs standing on the back of your neck that people react to by saying "someone just walked over my grave". Which is not to say that it's a psychic phenomenon...i.e. quite likely no-one is actually staring at them.

What I'm trying to say is that whereas there is no evidence that people can sense other people staring at them, you can't actually say people don't have that feeling?
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#125  Postby GrahamH » May 09, 2012 2:19 pm

Nora_Leonard wrote:I have to confess that I haven't read this entire thread. But surely there is actually a phenomenon—a type of feeling experience—where people 'feel' they are being watched, just as the phenomenon of shivers or hairs standing on the back of your neck that people react to by saying "someone just walked over my grave". Which is not to say that it's a psychic phenomenon...i.e. quite likely no-one is actually staring at them.

What I'm trying to say is that whereas there is no evidence that people can sense other people staring at them, you can't actually say people don't have that feeling?


Do you have that feeling?
Why do you think that?
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#126  Postby Aern Rakesh » May 09, 2012 2:30 pm

GrahamH wrote:
Nora_Leonard wrote:I have to confess that I haven't read this entire thread. But surely there is actually a phenomenon—a type of feeling experience—where people 'feel' they are being watched, just as the phenomenon of shivers or hairs standing on the back of your neck that people react to by saying "someone just walked over my grave". Which is not to say that it's a psychic phenomenon...i.e. quite likely no-one is actually staring at them.

What I'm trying to say is that whereas there is no evidence that people can sense other people staring at them, you can't actually say people don't have that feeling?


Do you have that feeling?


I think I may have in the past.

I have seen a ghost... Which is to say that I've had the experience of seeing a ghost. Not that I believe in ghosts. So I know that there are lots of strange feelings and experiences people have.

All I'm saying is that I don't think it helps to discount the experience as a fabrication, say. As regards the feeling of being watched, I think it would be fruitful to ask the person why—or who—they think is watching them.

There are lots of experiences that can probably be explained in terms of dissociative phenomena, i.e. actual psychological phenomena. Kind of like the deja vu experience. We don't tend to say that experience doesn't happen, rather there's probably a psychological--i.e. brain---mechanism responsible for it.
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#127  Postby Spearthrower » May 09, 2012 2:36 pm

Nora_Leonard wrote:I have to confess that I haven't read this entire thread. But surely there is actually a phenomenon—a type of feeling experience—where people 'feel' they are being watched, just as the phenomenon of shivers or hairs standing on the back of your neck that people react to by saying "someone just walked over my grave". Which is not to say that it's a psychic phenomenon...i.e. quite likely no-one is actually staring at them.

What I'm trying to say is that whereas there is no evidence that people can sense other people staring at them, you can't actually say people don't have that feeling?




All I'm saying is that I don't think it helps to discount the experience as a fabrication, say. As regards the feeling of being watched, I think it would be fruitful to ask the person why—or who—they think is watching them.



Perhaps you should read the thread, Nora? ;)
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#128  Postby Aern Rakesh » May 09, 2012 3:43 pm

I probably should, spearthrower. At least I confessed that I hadn't!
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#129  Postby GrahamH » May 09, 2012 4:13 pm

Nora_Leonard wrote:
GrahamH wrote:
Nora_Leonard wrote:I have to confess that I haven't read this entire thread. But surely there is actually a phenomenon—a type of feeling experience—where people 'feel' they are being watched, just as the phenomenon of shivers or hairs standing on the back of your neck that people react to by saying "someone just walked over my grave". Which is not to say that it's a psychic phenomenon...i.e. quite likely no-one is actually staring at them.

What I'm trying to say is that whereas there is no evidence that people can sense other people staring at them, you can't actually say people don't have that feeling?


Do you have that feeling?


I think I may have in the past.

I have seen a ghost... Which is to say that I've had the experience of seeing a ghost. Not that I believe in ghosts. So I know that there are lots of strange feelings and experiences people have.

All I'm saying is that I don't think it helps to discount the experience as a fabrication, say. As regards the feeling of being watched, I think it would be fruitful to ask the person why—or who—they think is watching them.

There are lots of experiences that can probably be explained in terms of dissociative phenomena, i.e. actual psychological phenomena. Kind of like the deja vu experience. We don't tend to say that experience doesn't happen, rather there's probably a psychological--i.e. brain---mechanism responsible for it.


I don;t discount that some people may have this "strange feeling of being watched". Interestingly you are the only person in this thread to say they (may) have had this experience.

I have had the feeling that somebody is nearby but unseen, but I think this is because of hearing noises similar to those a person in motion might make, or seeing motion of trees in the dark, etc. So I don't count these as "feeling of being watched".

I have had deja vu several times (in mundane circumstances).

I would like to get some reports from people with clear and recent recollections of "a feeling of being watched" to get a better idea of what we are talking about.
Why do you think that?
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#130  Postby Aern Rakesh » May 09, 2012 4:47 pm

@GrahamH I say I 'may' have had the experience as I've had so many weird experiences (e.g. seeing a 'ghost', experiencing 'alien abductions') it wouldn't surprise me. None of which I interpreted literally, although most managed to scare the bejessus out of me at the time. So having the feeling of being watched would be quite tame in comparison to my other experiences :-)
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#131  Postby Fallible » May 09, 2012 9:21 pm

Nora_Leonard wrote:

I have seen a ghost... Which is to say that I've had the experience of seeing a ghost. Not that I believe in ghosts. So I know that there are lots of strange feelings and experiences people have.


Y'see, now I want to know what happened. I don't believe in ghosts either, but I can't get enough of good ghost stories.
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#132  Postby Aern Rakesh » May 10, 2012 6:37 am

Fallible wrote:
Nora_Leonard wrote:

I have seen a ghost... Which is to say that I've had the experience of seeing a ghost. Not that I believe in ghosts. So I know that there are lots of strange feelings and experiences people have.


Y'see, now I want to know what happened. I don't believe in ghosts either, but I can't get enough of good ghost stories.


It was when I was a student at St Andrews, Fall. I was living in digs, in this frigid old house, back in the day before most places had central heating. I shared a room with another American student. We would get so cold at night we used to sleep under a pile of heavy drapes (that we'd found in our closet). I'm amazed neither of us suffocated!

Anyway the landlady's mother, who also lived in the house, was quite ill, and in fact not far from death. One night I woke up and found this ghost standing at the foot of my bed. It wasn't very distinct, just this ethereal form, but I was almost paralysed with fear. It just faded away and I was terrified of falling back to sleep in case it came back.

Now, of course, I couldn't have said whether I had actually woken up at all, or whether it was just one of those incredibly realistic dreams. (I mean realistic in the sense that it felt like I was awake and in my bed and in my room.) That old woman did die shortly after, and I did wonder for a while whether it was about that, but since I went on to have lots of death dreams around that time I'm pretty sure it was about something in me dying...specifically my creativity. In other words I was haunting myself!
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#133  Postby Fallible » May 10, 2012 9:03 am

That's deep, man.

I had a disappearing person and a disappearing car, although there was probably some explanation that I haven't thought of yet.
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#134  Postby jerome » May 10, 2012 9:21 am

Do share Fallible!
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#135  Postby Fallible » May 10, 2012 9:43 am

I will when I have time. Just wolfing some food down now before work. :cheers:
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#136  Postby Spearthrower » May 10, 2012 11:22 am

I saw an incredible alien vessel flying over the night-time sea in Australia. It appeared to have large, square wings that slowly flapped up and down.

I sat and watched it slowly moving into land for a good 20 mins, and then the sun started to rise and I lost sight of it.

Just as I was about to turn away, I heard a distant noise of quacking, and looked back up until I found the alien craft.... it turned out to be some kind of white-bellied geese flying in formation - their white underbellies had reflected the lights from the city, and my brain had drawn lines between the points, and as the geese shifted in formation, my brain resolved it by making the 'spaceship' flap its wings.

A stark lesson in credulity. Had I left just a moment earlier, I would probably still be convinced to this day that I had seen an alien vessel.
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#137  Postby Aern Rakesh » May 10, 2012 2:34 pm

Spearthrower wrote:I saw an incredible alien vessel flying over the night-time sea in Australia. It appeared to have large, square wings that slowly flapped up and down.

<snip>

A stark lesson in credulity. Had I left just a moment earlier, I would probably still be convinced to this day that I had seen an alien vessel.


I doubt that, because surely you would have become suspicious after there were no other reports of it?
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#138  Postby Spearthrower » May 10, 2012 7:52 pm

Nora_Leonard wrote:
Spearthrower wrote:I saw an incredible alien vessel flying over the night-time sea in Australia. It appeared to have large, square wings that slowly flapped up and down.

<snip>

A stark lesson in credulity. Had I left just a moment earlier, I would probably still be convinced to this day that I had seen an alien vessel.


I doubt that, because surely you would have become suspicious after there were no other reports of it?



I was backpacking around, and I left the very same day to go further up the coast. I think this is how a lot of 'spooky stories' start. Someone encounters something inexplicable, then the story passes on to others, complete with possible explanations, these diffuse out into a pool of anecdotal evidence. This pool of evidence is passed around as tales, and nowadays in film etc, and plants the idea somewhere in the subconscious of more people; some of who then also connect that idea to an inexplicable encounter. It's interesting how the types of inexplicable encounters have evolved with the culture - no one really claims to see pixies, fairies and the like anymore, but alien space ship also never seem to be mentioned in pre-modern historical records - and in fact, different cultures have quite distinct mysterious encounters. Thais have this particular ghost/spirit woman with her lower torso missing - and people report seeing this all over the place. Ghosts, i think, are always going to be 'in fashion' considering they're basically just people, deaded.

I think it's entirely reasonable to suggest that these encounters are actually entirely mundane, and they are just misperceptions; observational errors. I think it's human nature to trust our sometimes fallible senses, and this is compounded by the way our minds add details post-fact. That doesn't mean I think the person is a liar, just mistaken. I've been on both sides of it: one time, an ex- girlfriend was adamant she'd seen a ghost in my room. The next night she woke me in absolute terror, and looking up - I saw it too! It turned out to be just an unusual reflection from the moon hitting the polished desk top. Must have been just the right time of year, just the right atmospheric conditions, etc... added to the softened state of the mind after dreaming, and I think it's only normal that people's brains leap to make patterns; it's what we're good at. But I have to agree that, even if you disbelieve in all spooky things, in the right circumstances they can still give you the creeps!! :grin:
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#139  Postby tolman » May 10, 2012 8:08 pm

Landrew wrote:The problem is actually that the results which score far above probability, have not been plausibly explained by anyone.

Such results clearly need to be replicated before any grand (or even minor) hypothesis is constructed upon them.

A 'plausible' explanation for any results coming from someone seemingly keen to obtain those results is that there was an accidental or deliberate flaw in the experimental design/execution/reporting which can partially or wholly account for the results.
The traditional way to discount that explanation is for replication to be attempted by other people with a sensible application of rational skepticism and for the same results (or in the case of where subjectivity is difficult to avoid, compatible results) to be obtained.

Since replication is the clear next step, if it has been done, then the results from it must be looked at alongside the original results. If it hasn't been done, then there is little to be said apart from stating that it'd be good if it was done.

Landrew wrote:The experimenter has satisfied the burden of proof with evidence; now those who discount the evidence must support their claims.

It doesn't really work like that - if results seem hard to explain from existing knowledge, the first thing to do before leaping to some conclusion that science needs to be rewritten is to make very sure that the results are actually correct.

Making sure that replication happens is not the sole responsibility of the original experimenter, though equally it's not the absolute responsibility of anyone else either.
But that's science for you.

There will be a whole spectrum of responses to various kinds of claims when it comes to the eagerness with which people will expend time and money trying to replicate them, depending on the nature of the claim and its presentation.

Though, of course, if someone had a result they thought was truly world-shattering and in which they had full confidence, if it appeared that many/most people were treating their results as if they didn't entirely trust them, they would presumably try and put some meaningful amount of effort into trying to get their results replicated by people whose results might be taken more seriously.
At least, that's what I'd do.
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#140  Postby tolman » May 10, 2012 8:25 pm

Nora_Leonard wrote:Anyway the landlady's mother, who also lived in the house, was quite ill, and in fact not far from death. One night I woke up and found this ghost standing at the foot of my bed. It wasn't very distinct, just this ethereal form, but I was almost paralysed with fear. It just faded away and I was terrified of falling back to sleep in case it came back.

I saw a 'ghost' once.
After a long drive across Europe, I stopped for the night in a rented caravan on a riverside campsite.
Had to get up in the middle of the night for a call of nature, and wandered outside without my (not very strong) glasses to find it somewhat misty. While answering the call, I looked up and saw a lovely female 'forest spirit' standing in front of me (which the next day could be seen to have materialised where there was, in reality, a gnarled tree trunk.

The weird thing was the emotional ambivalence of the experience.
On the one hand I was genuinely startled to see what I 'saw' and at the time I saw it as being completely 'real'.
On the other hand, seeing it didn't stop me carrying on answering the call of nature in 'full view' of the apparition, and going back to bed without the slightest feeling of concern and without spending a second analysing the experience.

Presumably that combination of apparent 'belief' but complete unseriousness is a result of being half-asleep, as was seeing the thing in the first place.
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