The feeling of being watched...

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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#141  Postby Landrew » May 10, 2012 9:39 pm

tolman wrote:
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.


Whatever the eventual, correct explanation, we'll never get nearer to it by dismissing and ridiculing the evidence, only by allowing science to do its job..
It's the duty of a Scientist to investigate the unexplained; not to explain the uninvestigated.
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#142  Postby Spearthrower » May 10, 2012 11:13 pm

Landrew wrote:
tolman wrote:
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.


Whatever the eventual, correct explanation, we'll never get nearer to it by dismissing and ridiculing the evidence, only by allowing science to do its job..


What evidence would that be, Landrew?

Why is it, in every thread, you continually assert that there is evidence, claim that other people are ignoring it, claim that this spells out their deficiencies, then start whinging when people fire some salvos back?

Nearly every single post you've made on this forum is this parroted attack on these skeptics you refer to. Skeptics who ignore evidence aren't skeptics. Skeptics are people who ask for evidence. As people's requests for evidence to you are invariably met with some kind of handwave or just childish backchat, then let's just say I am skeptical about the credibility of your assertions.

Talk's cheap - cite your sources.
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#143  Postby Landrew » May 11, 2012 1:16 am

Spearthrower wrote:
Landrew wrote:
tolman wrote:
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.


Whatever the eventual, correct explanation, we'll never get nearer to it by dismissing and ridiculing the evidence, only by allowing science to do its job..


What evidence would that be, Landrew?

Why is it, in every thread, you continually assert that there is evidence, claim that other people are ignoring it, claim that this spells out their deficiencies, then start whinging when people fire some salvos back?

Nearly every single post you've made on this forum is this parroted attack on these skeptics you refer to. Skeptics who ignore evidence aren't skeptics. Skeptics are people who ask for evidence. As people's requests for evidence to you are invariably met with some kind of handwave or just childish backchat, then let's just say I am skeptical about the credibility of your assertions.

Talk's cheap - cite your sources.

I suppose all of Rupert Sheldrake's published peer-reviewed research is bogus by default. I knew it.
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#144  Postby Spearthrower » May 11, 2012 6:26 am

Landrew wrote:
Spearthrower wrote:
Landrew wrote:
tolman wrote:
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.


Whatever the eventual, correct explanation, we'll never get nearer to it by dismissing and ridiculing the evidence, only by allowing science to do its job..


What evidence would that be, Landrew?

Why is it, in every thread, you continually assert that there is evidence, claim that other people are ignoring it, claim that this spells out their deficiencies, then start whinging when people fire some salvos back?

Nearly every single post you've made on this forum is this parroted attack on these skeptics you refer to. Skeptics who ignore evidence aren't skeptics. Skeptics are people who ask for evidence. As people's requests for evidence to you are invariably met with some kind of handwave or just childish backchat, then let's just say I am skeptical about the credibility of your assertions.

Talk's cheap - cite your sources.

I suppose all of Rupert Sheldrake's published peer-reviewed research is bogus by default. I knew it.



That's your notion of a citation, is it?

To point to 'published peer-reviewed research' without actually a) pointing to it, b) establishing that it exists, c) explaining where it is published, d) verifying that it's peer-reviewed.

No, instead, we're just obliged to accept your word as fact. Again. This is beyond routine now, Landrew, it's becoming a farce.

Actually, I've read a lot of Sheldrake's work - I expect I've read more than you... in fact, I expect you've never read any of it, but you've read the wiki page on him, or seen some interviews, concluded that it fitted your pre-canned notions, and now use it to batter at your boogeymen skeptics.

Let's take one actual example of Sheldrake's 'published, peer-reviewed research': Morphic Resonance Fields. Now, there's no disputing that Sheldrake is a trained Biologist, but this is 19th century vitalism rehashed. However, as he published it in a book (I presume this is included in your sweeping statement), it's intrinsically correct, and I am close-minded for not simply rolling over and accepting it.

Incidentally, one of those scientific theories that passes your grade of acceptance - i.e. evolution - is contradicted by vitalism, and this teleological view of reality. In fact, Sheldrake's on record saying an awful lot of idiotic bollocks - yet here you are apparently supporting whatever he said. Of course, you'll back down when we actually start talking specifics, and you'll undoubtedly find a way of evading dealing with specifics by reference to some negative aspect of my character.
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#145  Postby tolman » May 11, 2012 5:54 pm

Landrew wrote:
tolman wrote: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.


Whatever the eventual, correct explanation, we'll never get nearer to it by dismissing and ridiculing the evidence, only by allowing science to do its job..

I wasn't 'dismissing' anything.

At the very least, it's quite clear from the facts of what happened that I was not in a normal state of mind, since it is not normal behaviour to 'see' an unexpected full-sized wispily-dressed attractive female figure in the mist and then proceed to happily stand in front of it wearing only a pair of pants while urinating on the grass and then wander off to bed without a second thought.
At least, it isn't for me, or the people I know.
Obviously, I can't speak for you.
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#146  Postby tolman » May 11, 2012 6:03 pm

Landrew wrote:I suppose all of Rupert Sheldrake's published peer-reviewed research is bogus by default. I knew it.

Have you actually tried to understand what I wrote earlier regarding 'peer review' and it's significant limitations?

Either you haven't, (in which case you're not even trying to take the thread seriously), or you have and don't understand it, (in which case you're not competent to post here), or you have and you do understand it, (in which case your references to 'peer review' as if it is some kind of great seal of approval for data quality is simply dishonest).

It's not about what Sheldrake does being 'bogus by default'.
It's about there being sufficient dispute about his methods that his results are of debatable significance unless confirmed elsewhere.
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#147  Postby Oldskeptic » May 12, 2012 6:35 pm

http://www.sheldrake.org/Articles&Paper ... /Nolan.pdf

It's a short read so go ahead.

I have some problems with this paper. First of all it is misleading when it says that 850 trials being conducted because it doesn't mean that there were that many separate tests, it is that many phone calls.

Next is that this paper was published in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research A somewhat partisan publication with a peer review system that might not be as skeptical as it should be.

I wondered if they had a statistician/probability expert look at the results? I don't think so.

looking at this example of the Nolan sisters a different way than Sheldrake does the percentages are not at all surprising if you look at it as an either or situation.

The phone rings it's either Anne or it's not, 50/50 probability. With Anne the hit rate was 1out of 4, 1/2 of the probability.

With Denise it was 2 out of four, the expected hit rate.

With Linda it was 2 out of 2, something not to be unexpected in only two instances.

With Maureen it was 1 out of 2, again the expected probability.

So looking at it this way there is nothing odd going on here. We have one test below expected probability, one above expected probability, and two that are the expected probability.

Something else that I noticed is that one test did not stop at 12 calls it went on to 17 and I ask myself why all tests were not conducted the exact same way? Could it be that Sheldrake continued on for five more calls until he got the results he needed?

There are some surprising and not so surprising things about statistics and probabilities. Not so surprising is that they are easily manipulated. The surprising thing is that they sometimes confound all logic and intuition.

One example is how many people would have to be in the same room with you to have something close to 100% probability that one of them has your same birth date, month and day? Logic and common sense says 365, but it turns out that there is a 99% probability at only 57 people. In a room of 23 people there is a 50% probability that someone will have your same birth date.
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#148  Postby jerome » May 12, 2012 6:50 pm

Oldskeptic wrote:http://www.sheldrake.org/Articles&Papers/papers/telepathy/pdf/Nolan.pdf

It's a short read so go ahead.


Cheers Old Skeptic, I will! :)

Oldskeptic wrote:
I have some problems with this paper. First of all it is misleading when it says that 850 trials being conducted because it doesn't mean that there were that many separate tests, it is that many phone calls.


Yes: but each separate trial is a hit/miss: so long as the total length of the trial sequence was specified first, that is fine. (if not you can simply stop a sequence when you are ahead - a common fo4m of malpractice in trials) A trial is just an individual run within the experiment as he uses it here, which is I think common terminology, but not how I'd phrase it.

Oldskeptic wrote:
Next is that this paper was published in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research A somewhat partisan publication with a peer review system that might not be as skeptical as it should be.


I think it has a pretty solid skeptical peer review selection. I don't know who the reviewers were, but I can guess who at least one of the two peer reviewers was, and think you would recognize the name as a famous UK sceptic. Mistakes happen, and dodgy papers do get published occasionally, and one can disagree with the editorial decisions - but I would say the JSPR has tougher skeptical oversight of submissions than almost any journal, simply because so many well known sceptics are members and contributors? Prof Chris French says a bit about this in his book Anomalous Psychology (2012) - methodological standards in parapsi are generally higher than in other disciplines (for instance psychology!) Anyway I have published in the JSPR and the peer review is harsh :)

Image

from http://www.clinicalpsychology.net/bad-science/

Oldskeptic wrote:
I wondered if they had a statistician/probability expert look at the results? I don't think so.


I would think it highly likely. :)

Oldskeptic wrote:
looking at this example of the Nolan sisters a different way than Sheldrake does the percentages are not at all surprising if you look at it as an either or situation.

The phone rings it's either Anne or it's not, 50/50 probability. With Anne the hit rate was 1out of 4, 1/2 of the probability.

With Denise it was 2 out of four, the expected hit rate.

With Linda it was 2 out of 2, something not to be unexpected in only two instances.

With Maureen it was 1 out of 2, again the expected probability.

So looking at it this way there is nothing odd going on here. We have one test below expected probability, one above expected probability, and two that are the expected probability.


I'll have a look :)

Oldskeptic wrote:
Something else that I noticed is that one test did not stop at 12 calls it went on to 17 and I ask myself why all tests were not conducted the exact same way? Could it be that Sheldrake continued on for five more calls until he got the results he needed?


Possibly. That would constitute gross malpractice as I noted above. If you arbitrarily select a stopping point its easy to manipulate your data. Of course I have no evidence either way, but if there are reasons to suspect it that is worrying.

I'll have a look at the paper. Sheldrake did a formal set of experiments with the sceptic Prof Chris French as a co-experimenter on telephone telepathy, but I have never seen the paper. It will be published somewhere so I will go have a look.

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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#149  Postby Oldskeptic » May 12, 2012 7:08 pm

http://www.sheldrake.org/Articles&Paper ... video.html

Analysis of videotapes and tabulation of data
The videotapes were analyzed "blind" by Jane Turney and/or Dr Amanda Jacks, who did not know when PS set off to come home or other details of the experiments. Starting from the beginning of the tape, they recorded the exact times (to the nearest second) when Jaytee was in the target area near the window, and made notes on his activities there: for example that he was barking at a passing cat, sleeping in the sunor sitting looking out of the window for no apparent reason. In cases where the same tape was scored blind by both people, the agreement between their records was excellent, showing occasional differences of only a second or so. (Although the scoring was carried out blind, when the end of the tape was reached and PS was seen entering the room, the judges then knew at what time she had arrived, and hence were no longer blind. But by this time the data had all been recorded and were not subsequently altered.) Some of the videotapes were also scored independently by PS and RS to see how well their records corresponded to each other and to the blind scores by Jane Turney of Amanda Jacks. Again the agreement was excellent, with occasional differences of only a second or two.

For the tabulation of the data, two methods were used. First, all the visits of Jaytee to the window were included, even if he was there for reasons that seemed to be unconnected with his anticipatory behavior, for example if he was simply sleeping in the sun, barking at passing cats or watching people unloading cars. In this way any selective use of data was avoided, although the data were "noisy" because they included irrelevant visits to the window that had nothing to do with PS's returns. Second, these visits to the window that seemed to have nothing to do with Jaytee's anticipatory behavior were excluded. This set of data was "cleaner" but more dependent on subjective assessments. However, since these assessments were done "blind" they should not have involved any systematic bias.


You can see here confirmation bias and manipulation of data in Sheldrake's own paper. I've said it before that he ignores how many times and how often the dog went to the window when the owner wasn't coming home. According to Sheldrake if the owner was not on her way home these other instances of the dog going to the window had nothing to do with the experiment and they were excluded. Only hits were included in this "experiment" misses did not count.
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#150  Postby jerome » May 12, 2012 7:19 pm

I know Matthew Smith who was with Wiseman on the infamous replication -- I'll try and get him to comment on Jaytee, but I think that is covered well in the other thread. You have mail btw. :)

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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#151  Postby GrahamH » May 12, 2012 7:31 pm

Oldskeptic wrote:There are some surprising and not so surprising things about statistics and probabilities. Not so surprising is that they are easily manipulated. The surprising thing is that they sometimes confound all logic and intuition.

One example is how many people would have to be in the same room with you to have something close to 100% probability that one of them has your same birth date, month and day? Logic and common sense says 365, but it turns out that there is a 99% probability at only 57 people. In a room of 23 people there is a 50% probability that someone will have your same birth date.


I think that is the probability that at least two people will share a birthday, not that someone will share your birthday (or any specific individual). See here.
Why do you think that?
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#152  Postby Oldskeptic » May 12, 2012 8:00 pm

jerome wrote:
Oldskeptic wrote:http://www.sheldrake.org/Articles&Papers/papers/telepathy/pdf/Nolan.pdf

It's a short read so go ahead.


Cheers Old Skeptic, I will! :)

Oldskeptic wrote:
I have some problems with this paper. First of all it is misleading when it says that 850 trials being conducted because it doesn't mean that there were that many separate tests, it is that many phone calls.


Yes: but each separate trial is a hit/miss: so long as the total length of the trial sequence was specified first, that is fine. (if not you can simply stop a sequence when you are ahead - a common fo4m of malpractice in trials) A trial is just an individual run within the experiment as he uses it here, which is I think common terminology, but not how I'd phrase it.


But apparently that is not what Sheldrake does. In at least one test he admits to it being longer than others.

Oldskeptic wrote:
Next is that this paper was published in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research A somewhat partisan publication with a peer review system that might not be as skeptical as it should be.

Jerome wrote:
I think it has a pretty solid skeptical peer review selection. I don't know who the reviewers were, but I can guess who at least one of the two peer reviewers was, and think you would recognize the name as a famous UK sceptic. Mistakes happen, and dodgy papers do get published occasionally, and one can disagree with the editorial decisions - but I would say the JSPR has tougher skeptical oversight of submissions than almost any journal, simply because so many well known sceptics are members and contributors? Prof Chris French says a bit about this in his book Anomalous Psychology (2012) - methodological standards in parapsi are generally higher than in other disciplines (for instance psychology!) Anyway I have published in the JSPR and the peer review is harsh :)


Yet to my mind Sheldrake was given something of a pass.

Oldskeptic wrote:
I wondered if they had a statistician/probability expert look at the results? I don't think so.

Jerome wrote:
I would think it highly likely. :)


Why? It's Rupert Sheldrake. Why would they question him? They even have his Science Delusion book for sale on the home page.

Oldskeptic wrote:
looking at this example of the Nolan sisters a different way than Sheldrake does the percentages are not at all surprising if you look at it as an either or situation.

The phone rings it's either Anne or it's not, 50/50 probability. With Anne the hit rate was 1out of 4, 1/2 of the probability.

With Denise it was 2 out of four, the expected hit rate.

With Linda it was 2 out of 2, something not to be unexpected in only two instances.

With Maureen it was 1 out of 2, again the expected probability.

So looking at it this way there is nothing odd going on here. We have one test below expected probability, one above expected probability, and two that are the expected probability.

Jerome wrote:
I'll have a look :)


You should.

Oldskeptic wrote:
Something else that I noticed is that one test did not stop at 12 calls it went on to 17 and I ask myself why all tests were not conducted the exact same way? Could it be that Sheldrake continued on for five more calls until he got the results he needed?

Jerome wrote:
Possibly. That would constitute gross malpractice as I noted above. If you arbitrarily select a stopping point its easy to manipulate your data. Of course I have no evidence either way, but if there are reasons to suspect it that is worrying.


No it does constitute cooking the books if this is how he operates, and from my reading of his experiments that is what he does.

Jerome wrote:
I'll have a look at the paper. Sheldrake did a formal set of experiments with the sceptic Prof Chris French as a co-experimenter on telephone telepathy, but I have never seen the paper. It will be published somewhere so I will go have a look.

j x


[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TWwjBFYRhc[/youtube]

French doesn't seem to be convinced, and even goes so far as to give an opinion that when his experiments are reproduced by others Sheldrake accepts any that tend to confirm his position and dismiss those that do not.
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#153  Postby Oldskeptic » May 12, 2012 8:15 pm

GrahamH wrote:
Oldskeptic wrote:There are some surprising and not so surprising things about statistics and probabilities. Not so surprising is that they are easily manipulated. The surprising thing is that they sometimes confound all logic and intuition.

One example is how many people would have to be in the same room with you to have something close to 100% probability that one of them has your same birth date, month and day? Logic and common sense says 365, but it turns out that there is a 99% probability at only 57 people. In a room of 23 people there is a 50% probability that someone will have your same birth date.


I think that is the probability that at least two people will share a birthday, not that someone will share your birthday (or any specific individual). See here.


Yes I've seen that. The thing is that it can be tested, and it has been.
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#154  Postby tolman » May 12, 2012 8:29 pm

Oldskeptic wrote:http://www.sheldrake.org/Articles&Papers/papers/telepathy/pdf/Nolan.pdf

It's a short read so go ahead.

I have some problems with this paper. First of all it is misleading when it says that 850 trials being conducted because it doesn't mean that there were that many separate tests, it is that many phone calls.

Next is that this paper was published in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research A somewhat partisan publication with a peer review system that might not be as skeptical as it should be.

I wondered if they had a statistician/probability expert look at the results? I don't think so.

looking at this example of the Nolan sisters a different way than Sheldrake does the percentages are not at all surprising if you look at it as an either or situation.

The phone rings it's either Anne or it's not, 50/50 probability. With Anne the hit rate was 1out of 4, 1/2 of the probability.

With Denise it was 2 out of four, the expected hit rate.

With Linda it was 2 out of 2, something not to be unexpected in only two instances.

With Maureen it was 1 out of 2, again the expected probability.

So looking at it this way there is nothing odd going on here. We have one test below expected probability, one above expected probability, and two that are the expected probability.

I don't think that's a correct way to look at it.
For any 'guess' made by the recipient, it has a 25% chance of being correct, since a randomly-selected one of four people could be calling. It's not a 50/50 situation simply because there are two possible outcomes.

The main failing to me in this case seems to be the tiny size of the experiment.
Only having 12 calls does mean that 'statistical significance' seems a tricky concept to apply.

Also, to me, looking at the guesses, they do look rather like someone trying at least in part, and quite possibly subconsciously to work by the 'law of averages'.
The second correct guess (#4) was a name which hadn't occurred in either the guesses or the callers
The third one (#6) was a name which was yet to occur in the callers.
The fourth (#9) was one which had yet to be guessed.
The fifth (#10) was one which at that point only been one out of the previous nine callers.
The sixth (#12) was one which was, at that point, the joint-least-guessed name.
Of the incorrect guesses, many of the Maureens seem to come when there has been a distinct lack of Maureens in the recent callers.
Now, a lot of that could certainly be put down to me looking for patterns in the data, but I wonder how many of the choices might be being made for the 'wrong' reasons.

Having a rather longer trial would seem better not merely from a statistical point of view, but also because it might make it less likely that people play by averages once well into the trial, when they would have heard all the names multiple times - something which, in the case where there were some actual effect, could end up with people failing to listen to their inner voice when they really should - a short experiment actually seems like it could mask effects if effects actually existed, with the human temptation to choose as if there were patterns in random data.
In fact, bearing that in mind, if I was designing an experiment like this, I think I would, unknown to both the recipient and the callers, set things up so that on some calls (maybe 1 in 5 or so) the callers were *not* randomly-selected, but were selected to even out the sequence locally and make it seem more 'human-random', those calls then being excluded when analyzing the data.

Oldskeptic wrote:There are some surprising and not so surprising things about statistics and probabilities. Not so surprising is that they are easily manipulated. The surprising thing is that they sometimes confound all logic and intuition.

One example is how many people would have to be in the same room with you to have something close to 100% probability that one of them has your same birth date, month and day? Logic and common sense says 365, but it turns out that there is a 99% probability at only 57 people. In a room of 23 people there is a 50% probability that someone will have your same birth date.

Leaving aside the 'small group shared birthday thing, as already mentioned, I'm not sure how often common sense would say '365' for the number of people needed to definitely match my birthday, though I think that it would be more likely to find 'common sense ' suggesting something like 183 people needed to have a 50% chance of a match, even though that is also incorrect.

Ignoring Feb 29, and assuming an even spread of births through the year, to have a 50% probability that someone in a group has a specific birthday would take a significantly larger group - I make it 253 people, assuming I have my maths correct.
To be 99% sure someone shares my birthday, I make it 1679 people needed.

That would be explicable by saying it's like having a 365-sided die, and repeatedly rolling it, and seeing how long it takes to come up with a particular number matching my 'birthday' (for the sake of argument, the number '1')
A single throw has a 364/365 probability of not being '1'
For 'N' multiple throws, the combined probability of none of them being '1' is (364/365) to the power N

It might seem from 'common sense' that roughly 365/2 (182 or 183) 'throws' should be needed to give a ~50% chance of a hit, but a different application of 'common sense' shows that can't be right.
Imagine someone has thrown the die 183 times and written down the results without telling me.
My birthday isn't anything 'special', so if I picked a day at random, what are the odds of it matching any of the numbers written down?
Now, clearly, it is likely that if someone did throw the die many times, they would be virtually certain to get a decent amount of duplication. For example, imagine the throws towards the end of their 183. If by some miracle duplication hadn't already happened, every throw they'd have a close to 50% chance of duplicating a number they'd already got (this is the same effect that kicks in with the 'duplicate birthday in a small group' example)
What that means is that if the die is thrown and written down 183 times, there will almost certainly be quite a few fewer than 183 different numbers thrown, and so a rather less than 50% chance that any randomly-chosen number (ie any particular birthday) will match one of those thrown.
To have 183 different numbers thrown, one needs to throw the die 183 times, and then enough extra throws to make up for any duplications that happen in the entire sequence.
I don't do sarcasm smileys, but someone as bright as you has probably figured that out already.
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#155  Postby GrahamH » May 12, 2012 9:20 pm

Sheldrake claims to have done larger trials on telephone telepathy.

In a total of 571 trials, involving 63 participants, the overall
success rate was 40%, with 95% confidence limits from 36 to 45%. This effect was hugely significant statistically (p = 4 x 10-16).


EXPERIMENTAL TESTS FOR TELEPHONE TELEPATHY
by RUPERT SHELDRAKE AND PAMELA SMART
Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 67, 184-199 (July 2003)

A replication experiment:

DO YOU KNOW WHO IS ON THE PHONE?
Stefan Schmidt, Susanne Müller, & Harald Walach
Department of Evaluation Research in Complementary Medicine
University Hospital Freiburg

Many people report that they know in advance who is on the phone when the telephone is ringing. Such reports
may be explained by selective memory or expectancy effects but there are also examples that resist such
hypotheses. Thus many people believe in an extrasensory communication transfer that may be termed ‘telephone
telepathy’. Surveys show that this kind of belief is widespread and might be one of the most common beliefs
regarding the paranormal.
Rupert Sheldrake conducted several experiments to find out whether this effect is really due to ESP. Subjects
had to determine which one of four possible callers is on the phone while the telephone was still ringing.
Sheldrake reports highly significant hit rates that cannot be explained by conventional theories. He claims
furthermore that callers who are familiar to the person answering the phone are identified at significant better
rates than unfamiliar callers.
We attempted to replicate both of these findings by setting up a replication experiment. Twenty-one
participants were twice invited for a two-hour session in an office-like room and were asked to pre-identify the
callers of 10 phone calls during each session. The caller could be either one of two persons known to the
participant or one of two persons unknown to them. With these four possible callers there is a mean chance
expectation of 25% correct guesses. Participants were asked to complete questionnaires on earlier experiences
with ‘telephone telepathy’, mood, personality and paranormal belief. Then participants spent approximately 100
minutes in the room together with an experimenter while the whole session was recorded on videotape.
Approximately every ten minutes a telephone rang and the participant had to announce his call before the
experimenter lifted the receiver to check who was calling. The sequence of the four possible callers was
determined by a random event generator.
Overall valid responses were obtained on 397 calls and the participants identified 106 calls (26.7%) correctly.
This result is not significant (z = 0.78). However, 67 (63.2 %) of the correct calls were by familiar callers showing
that this group was identified more often than the unknown callers. But this result can be explained by a
response bias in the participants because in all 397 calls they responded 242 times (61.0%) with the name of a
familiar person. This resulted in a non-significant hit rate of 27.7% and also in a non-significant hit rate of 25.2
% (z = 0.05, n.s.) for the unfamiliar callers respectively. The difference between these two hit rates itself is not
significant. Thus, this replication attempt failed to yield any telepathic effect. The possible reasons for the nonsignificant
results are discussed.
Why do you think that?
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#156  Postby jerome » May 12, 2012 10:22 pm

A quick search through the database finds that every paper I can find on telephone telepathy in the peer reviewed parapsychology journals (excluding the EJP that I have not had time ot look through ) appears to have Sheldrake as an author. The stats in the first paper that was linked are as OldSkeptic said wrong but not for those reasons (Tolman's maths incidentally appears completely correct to me.) the probability is actually 1 in 17 according to a correspondent in the JSPR (were significance in psychology is normally 1 in 20 chance of occurring at random, and in parapsychology we aim fora magnitude higher.) Sheldrakes earlier 2003 and 2004 papers report a higher level of significance, assuming they are correct. As such the TV trials by normal scientific standards show at best, being generous, marginal significance. It's an interesting subject, but the evidence is hardly overwhelming and as Graham H has found at least one failed replication, and I seem to recall Prof French mentioning one, I'm not excited by this research. :) I did find the response bias in Schmidt et al interesting, and wonder how one could compensate for that in an experimental design? Anyway good stuff, and will keep watchuing the thread.
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#157  Postby Oldskeptic » May 13, 2012 1:20 am

tolman wrote:
Oldskeptic wrote:http://www.sheldrake.org/Articles&Papers/papers/telepathy/pdf/Nolan.pdf

It's a short read so go ahead.

I have some problems with this paper. First of all it is misleading when it says that 850 trials being conducted because it doesn't mean that there were that many separate tests, it is that many phone calls.

Next is that this paper was published in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research A somewhat partisan publication with a peer review system that might not be as skeptical as it should be.

I wondered if they had a statistician/probability expert look at the results? I don't think so.

looking at this example of the Nolan sisters a different way than Sheldrake does the percentages are not at all surprising if you look at it as an either or situation.

The phone rings it's either Anne or it's not, 50/50 probability. With Anne the hit rate was 1out of 4, 1/2 of the probability.

With Denise it was 2 out of four, the expected hit rate.

With Linda it was 2 out of 2, something not to be unexpected in only two instances.

With Maureen it was 1 out of 2, again the expected probability.

So looking at it this way there is nothing odd going on here. We have one test below expected probability, one above expected probability, and two that are the expected probability.


I don't think that's a correct way to look at it.
For any 'guess' made by the recipient, it has a 25% chance of being correct, since a randomly-selected one of four people could be calling. It's not a 50/50 situation simply because there are two possible outcomes.


With such a small group to choose from I think it does become more an either or situation with 50/50 probabilities than a guessing game with 25% probability.


The main failing to me in this case seems to be the tiny size of the experiment.
Only having 12 calls does mean that 'statistical significance' seems a tricky concept to apply.


Exactly! and having five of these tiny experiments doesn't do much for Sheldrake since they don't all seem to follow the same procedures.

Also, to me, looking at the guesses, they do look rather like someone trying at least in part, and quite possibly subconsciously to work by the 'law of averages'.
The second correct guess (#4) was a name which hadn't occurred in either the guesses or the callers
The third one (#6) was a name which was yet to occur in the callers.
The fourth (#9) was one which had yet to be guessed.
The fifth (#10) was one which at that point only been one out of the previous nine callers.
The sixth (#12) was one which was, at that point, the joint-least-guessed name.
Of the incorrect guesses, many of the Maureens seem to come when there has been a distinct lack of Maureens in the recent callers.
Now, a lot of that could certainly be put down to me looking for patterns in the data, but I wonder how many of the choices might be being made for the 'wrong' reasons.


Yes that is another thing that can't be controlled in the experiment.

Having a rather longer trial would seem better not merely from a statistical point of view, but also because it might make it less likely that people play by averages once well into the trial, when they would have heard all the names multiple times - something which, in the case where there were some actual effect, could end up with people failing to listen to their inner voice when they really should - a short experiment actually seems like it could mask effects if effects actually existed, with the human temptation to choose as if there were patterns in random data.
In fact, bearing that in mind, if I was designing an experiment like this, I think I would, unknown to both the recipient and the callers, set things up so that on some calls (maybe 1 in 5 or so) the callers were *not* randomly-selected, but were selected to even out the sequence locally and make it seem more 'human-random', those calls then being excluded when analyzing the data.


In Sheldrake's experiment when a 5 or 6 was rolled they rolled again instead of letting the phone ring with no sister on the line. We will never know from Sheldrake what would have happened if 5 and 6 had been left in.

Oldskeptic wrote:
There are some surprising and not so surprising things about statistics and probabilities. Not so surprising is that they are easily manipulated. The surprising thing is that they sometimes confound all logic and intuition.

One example is how many people would have to be in the same room with you to have something close to 100% probability that one of them has your same birth date, month and day? Logic and common sense says 365, but it turns out that there is a 99% probability at only 57 people. In a room of 23 people there is a 50% probability that someone will have your same birth date.

Tolman wrote:
Leaving aside the 'small group shared birthday thing, as already mentioned, I'm not sure how often common sense would say '365' for the number of people needed to definitely match my birthday, though I think that it would be more likely to find 'common sense ' suggesting something like 183 people needed to have a 50% chance of a match, even though that is also incorrect.

Ignoring Feb 29, and assuming an even spread of births through the year, to have a 50% probability that someone in a group has a specific birthday would take a significantly larger group - I make it 253 people, assuming I have my maths correct.
To be 99% sure someone shares my birthday, I make it 1679 people needed.

That would be explicable by saying it's like having a 365-sided die, and repeatedly rolling it, and seeing how long it takes to come up with a particular number matching my 'birthday' (for the sake of argument, the number '1')
A single throw has a 364/365 probability of not being '1'
For 'N' multiple throws, the combined probability of none of them being '1' is (364/365) to the power N

It might seem from 'common sense' that roughly 365/2 (182 or 183) 'throws' should be needed to give a ~50% chance of a hit, but a different application of 'common sense' shows that can't be right.
Imagine someone has thrown the die 183 times and written down the results without telling me.
My birthday isn't anything 'special', so if I picked a day at random, what are the odds of it matching any of the numbers written down?
Now, clearly, it is likely that if someone did throw the die many times, they would be virtually certain to get a decent amount of duplication. For example, imagine the throws towards the end of their 183. If by some miracle duplication hadn't already happened, every throw they'd have a close to 50% chance of duplicating a number they'd already got (this is the same effect that kicks in with the 'duplicate birthday in a small group' example)
What that means is that if the die is thrown and written down 183 times, there will almost certainly be quite a few fewer than 183 different numbers thrown, and so a rather less than 50% chance that any randomly-chosen number (ie any particular birthday) will match one of those thrown.
To have 183 different numbers thrown, one needs to throw the die 183 times, and then enough extra throws to make up for any duplications that happen in the entire sequence.


Well your math is all fine and good but it has already been done using probability theory showing different results. And I can say, from experience, that the probability matches reality. A professor of statistics/probability of mine 35 years ago, in a lecture hall holding around 100 students, picked the first person in the front row and asked her birth date. He went down the rows of students and before 50 he had a hit.

He did it again with the next student in the first row and had a hit well below 50.

He did it again with the third person in the front row with the same result.

I'll admit that this professor seemed to be something of a mad scientist at the time but he did impress on me that statistics are not always what they seem to be, and that there is always another way to look at them.
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#158  Postby Oldskeptic » May 13, 2012 2:31 am

landrew wrote:
I suppose all of Rupert Sheldrake's published peer-reviewed research is bogus by default. I knew it.


You may have noticed that some of us are discussing Sheldrake's papers, care to join in?
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#159  Postby Oldskeptic » May 13, 2012 2:40 am

What was it again? Oh yes morphic resonance. Something akin to metaphysical Lamarckism. Chicks learn to fear because their mothers learned to fear. Give me a fucking break.
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Re: The feeling of being watched...

#160  Postby Spearthrower » May 13, 2012 8:32 am

Oldskeptic wrote:What was it again? Oh yes morphic resonance. Something akin to metaphysical Lamarckism. Chicks learn to fear because their mothers learned to fear. Give me a fucking break.


Quite. I referred to this earlier when Landrew waved at Sheldrake's 'research'.

If Landrew was here to discuss substance, it would be interesting to see how he'd deal with this particular topic. Does he accept it on his 'open-minded' line of argument, or does he reject it? I'd be interested to hear the reasoning why he'd reject it if he does. I tried this before, but couldn't get anything coherent out of him. One might suspect that there's no actual objective criteria he employs on deciding what he accepts and what he doesn't.
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