Why Psi is Pseudoscience

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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#141  Postby Cito di Pense » May 05, 2013 5:44 pm

VK-machine wrote:
theropod wrote:VK-machine,

You wrote wrote:(here)... "You're either a troll or part of some entirely different conversation taking place in your mind only.


Careful there, those comments could be seen as overly personal and adding nothing to the discussion. Some could even interpret those as personal attacks, or intentionally inflammatory. Cito di Pense certainly isn't a troll, IMO, as a glance at his post count suggest otherwise. Trolls are rooted out pretty quickly around these parts, both by the membership and the moderators.

Sure. I'll go with the other option then.


I'm evidently having a conversation with somebody who wants to tell me what Superman (and by extension, psi) is or is not 'about':

Cito di Pense wrote:
VK-machine wrote:
Scar wrote:If there were such a thing as psi, then you should very much be able to do science with it.

And if there was such a thing as Superman you would be able to do science on him, but that is not what Superman is about.


Perhaps so, but treating psi as some sort of metanarrative by means of which its proponents are striving for self-validation is itself some sort of metanarrative by means of which a certain sort of rational skeptic is striving for self-validation.

The relentless whining that simply dismissing bullshit as bullshit is not appropriately rational is that of somebody who doesn't have all that much clarity to spare. That said, we should each ponder in our own way why a thread entitled "why psi is pseudoscience' is pseudorationality at its internet-forum best.


The uncharitable view of psi 'research' that has been put forward in this and other threads is that its promotion is the work of charlatans rather than of post-romantics, post-theists, or whatever you'd want to call them. You can write whatever sort of commentary you like on the psi community (if there is such a thing), but there is a very real possibility that a vast majority of psi 'researchers' are nowhere with science, and (as epepke pointed out) think that pretending to do science will give them a pleasant shine, at least among the completely woo-addled. Not exactly the same as a cargo cult, but you see the similarity.

VK-machine wrote:At this point psi becomes simply pseudoscience. There is no possible way in which psi can be shown to be inexistant and at the same time there is no reason to believe it exists.


That's from your rambling opening post to this thread. I don't know what bits of the philosophy of science are involved in contemplation of our incapacity to show psi (or any other imaginary shit) to be 'inexistant' [sic]. The fact of the matter is that everything from gods to ESP are concepts inherited from pre-scientific ignoramuses. Pseudoscience today looks like another maudlin side effect of physics envy. You can spin it as a post-theistic substitute faith in a scientific age, but that burns up too many brain cells on doing something other than science.
Хлопнут без некролога. -- Серге́й Па́влович Королёв

Translation by Elbert Hubbard: Do not take life too seriously. You're not going to get out of it alive.
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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#142  Postby VK-machine » May 06, 2013 4:21 pm

Cito di Pense wrote:
VK-machine wrote:
theropod wrote:VK-machine,

You wrote wrote:(here)... "You're either a troll or part of some entirely different conversation taking place in your mind only.


Careful there, those comments could be seen as overly personal and adding nothing to the discussion. Some could even interpret those as personal attacks, or intentionally inflammatory. Cito di Pense certainly isn't a troll, IMO, as a glance at his post count suggest otherwise. Trolls are rooted out pretty quickly around these parts, both by the membership and the moderators.

Sure. I'll go with the other option then.


I'm evidently having a conversation with somebody who wants to tell me what Superman (and by extension, psi) is or is not 'about':

More precisely, you are having a conversation with someone who is arguing that psi is an unsalvageable, non-scientific concept with which only pseudo-science can be done.

The uncharitable view of psi 'research' that has been put forward in this and other threads is that its promotion is the work of charlatans rather than of post-romantics, post-theists, or whatever you'd want to call them. You can write whatever sort of commentary you like on the psi community (if there is such a thing), but there is a very real possibility that a vast majority of psi 'researchers' are nowhere with science, and (as epepke pointed out) think that pretending to do science will give them a pleasant shine, at least among the completely woo-addled. Not exactly the same as a cargo cult, but you see the similarity.

I'd expect a fair share of successfu, vocal psi researchers to be frauds but I doubt that the majority of psi researchers is. There are too many who do that on the side without apparent benefit.
There is indeed such a thing as a psi community, for example in the form of the parapsychological association, which, for some reason, is an affiliate of the AAAS.
Epepke pointed out no such thing.

That's from your rambling opening post to this thread. I don't know what bits of the philosophy of science are involved in contemplation of our incapacity to show psi (or any other imaginary shit) to be 'inexistant' [sic]. The fact of the matter is that everything from gods to ESP are concepts inherited from pre-scientific ignoramuses. Pseudoscience today looks like another maudlin side effect of physics envy. You can spin it as a post-theistic substitute faith in a scientific age, but that burns up too many brain cells on doing something other than science.

ESP is not a concept inherited from "pre-scientific ignoramuses". It was developed in the first half of the twentieth century.
I am not spinning this as a post-theistic substitute faith.

If you are worried about your brain cells, why participate in this thread?
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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#143  Postby Cito di Pense » May 06, 2013 4:28 pm

VK-machine wrote:ESP is not a concept inherited from "pre-scientific ignoramuses". It was developed in the first half of the twentieth century.


Really? You're an expert on this stuff? As opposed to what?

VK-machine wrote:I'd expect a fair share of successfu, vocal psi researchers to be frauds but I doubt that the majority of psi researchers is. There are too many who do that on the side without apparent benefit.


Sure, if you only define a 'fraud' as someone who's making a living off it. Then there are those who aim to make a living off commenting on pseudoscience, about which I have no complaint. That's entertainment, or 'journalism', depending.
Хлопнут без некролога. -- Серге́й Па́влович Королёв

Translation by Elbert Hubbard: Do not take life too seriously. You're not going to get out of it alive.
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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#144  Postby VK-machine » May 06, 2013 4:46 pm

Cito di Pense wrote:
VK-machine wrote:ESP is not a concept inherited from "pre-scientific ignoramuses". It was developed in the first half of the twentieth century.


Really? You're an expert on this stuff? As opposed to what?

It's a hobby.
As opposed to a concept not inherited by "pre-scientific ignoramuses". You could look up the origin of the term ESP on wikipedia, if you like.

Cito di Pense wrote:
VK-machine wrote:I'd expect a fair share of successfu, vocal psi researchers to be frauds but I doubt that the majority of psi researchers is. There are too many who do that on the side without apparent benefit.


Sure, if you only define a 'fraud' as someone who's making a living off it. Then there are those who aim to make a living off commenting on pseudoscience, about which I have no complaint. That's entertainment, or 'journalism', depending.

I define a fraud as someone who believes the facts to be different from what he or she presents them as.
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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#145  Postby iamthereforeithink » May 06, 2013 5:47 pm

Ok, so it appears that the current argument in this thread is between someone who is skeptical of Psi and someone who is hyperskeptical of everything, including people who are skeptical of Psi. I suppose I will have to super duper hyper skeptical to make any kind of impression at all. :coffee:
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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#146  Postby iamthereforeithink » May 06, 2013 6:18 pm

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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#147  Postby jerome » May 07, 2013 1:40 pm

VK-machine wrote:[
As opposed to a concept not inherited by "pre-scientific ignoramuses". You could look up the origin of the term ESP on wikipedia, if you like.


VK is completely correct. The term is often attributed to Rhine (including incorrectly on Wikipedia), but is first used by Rudolf Tischner in off the top of my head 1920, in German. I can certainly look up the reference if anyone is interested. Actually I'm pretty sure he coined the phrase in Über Telepathie und Hellsehen, Experimentaltheoretische Untersuchungen. The older telepathy i sonly coined by Ferederic Myers in I think 1892, in the PSPR - may be slightly later. "Thought Transference" ws the previous term employed from the 1860's. I am unaware of any strong folkloric tradition of telepathy at least before that date, and clairvoyance (another neologism) was used for spirit sight or seer sight before that date. VK and I frequently disagree, but on the facts we can concur.

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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#148  Postby Cito di Pense » May 07, 2013 1:42 pm

jerome wrote:The term is often attributed to Rhine (including incorrectly on Wikipedia), but is first used by Rudolf Tischner in off the top of my head 1920, in German.


Yes, and the words 'new and different' on a box of washing powder is the only thing new and different about it. Yes, people get credit for coining phrases and terminology. Other people get credit for making scientific discoveries.
Хлопнут без некролога. -- Серге́й Па́влович Королёв

Translation by Elbert Hubbard: Do not take life too seriously. You're not going to get out of it alive.
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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#149  Postby lobawad » May 07, 2013 1:51 pm

jerome wrote:
VK-machine wrote:[
As opposed to a concept not inherited by "pre-scientific ignoramuses". You could look up the origin of the term ESP on wikipedia, if you like.


VK is completely correct. The term is often attributed to Rhine (including incorrectly on Wikipedia), but is first used by Rudolf Tischner in off the top of my head 1920, in German. I can certainly look up the reference if anyone is interested. Actually I'm pretty sure he coined the phrase in Über Telepathie und Hellsehen, Experimentaltheoretische Untersuchungen. The older telepathy i sonly coined by Ferederic Myers in I think 1892, in the PSPR - may be slightly later. "Thought Transference" ws the previous term employed from the 1860's. I am unaware of any strong folkloric tradition of telepathy at least before that date, and clairvoyance (another neologism) was used for spirit sight or seer sight before that date. VK and I frequently disagree, but on the facts we can concur.

j x


If it is the case that "telepathy" as we think of it today was first described around 1920, the fact that such a marvelous human ability escaped notice until after the telegraph, telephone, and wireless telegraphy (now called radio) were invented should not escape our notice.
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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#150  Postby jerome » May 07, 2013 1:52 pm

Cito di Pense wrote:
jerome wrote:The term is often attributed to Rhine (including incorrectly on Wikipedia), but is first used by Rudolf Tischner in off the top of my head 1920, in German.


Yes, and the words 'new and different' on a box of washing powder is the only thing new and different about it. Yes, people get credit for coining phrases and terminology. Other people get credit for making scientific discoveries.


Can you demonstrate any examples of the concept of telepathy (here defined as mind to mind direct transmission of info) before say 1850? I'm just trying to think of any. I actually find this quite interesting...

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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#151  Postby jerome » May 07, 2013 1:54 pm

lobawad wrote:

If it is the case that "telepathy" as we think of it today was first described around 1920, the fact that such a marvelous human ability escaped notice until after the telegraph, telephone, and wireless telegraphy (now called radio) were invented should not escape our notice.



Exactly. The term "ESP" is 1920 I think -- telepathy 30 years earlier, psi later than both. I can't think of any examples of "thought transference" from before the 1850's. People had "paranormal" type experiences back then, but I'm struggling to think of direct analogies. I may have to work on this, because the implications are fascinating, to me at least...

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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#152  Postby Cito di Pense » May 07, 2013 1:57 pm

jerome wrote:
lobawad wrote:

If it is the case that "telepathy" as we think of it today was first described around 1920, the fact that such a marvelous human ability escaped notice until after the telegraph, telephone, and wireless telegraphy (now called radio) were invented should not escape our notice.



Exactly. The term "ESP" is 1920 I think -- telepathy 30 years earlier, psi later than both. I can't think of any examples of "thought transference" from before the 1850's. People had "paranormal" type experiences back then, but I'm struggling to think of direct analogies. I may have to work on this, because the implications are fascinating, to me at least...

j x


Maybe psi is a project that depends on changing ideas in philosophy, such that people start pretending psychology traffics in the science of the 'mental'. By all means, jerome, tell us about what fascinates you.
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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#153  Postby lobawad » May 07, 2013 2:01 pm

jerome wrote:
lobawad wrote:

If it is the case that "telepathy" as we think of it today was first described around 1920, the fact that such a marvelous human ability escaped notice until after the telegraph, telephone, and wireless telegraphy (now called radio) were invented should not escape our notice.



Exactly. The term "ESP" is 1920 I think -- telepathy 30 years earlier, psi later than both. I can't think of any examples of "thought transference" from before the 1850's. People had "paranormal" type experiences back then, but I'm struggling to think of direct analogies. I may have to work on this, because the implications are fascinating, to me at least...

j x


But Occam's Razor surely slices in favor of the older clairvoyance (hellsehen, etc), being jazzed up for the jazz age, in an attempt to compete with the magic of radio, telephones, etc.

When I was a child, we had numerous pre-War and 19th century books, including catalogues. I've seen old advertisements for some of the very same snake-oil gizmos ("energy belts" for example) sold today as using "quantum" technology, the only difference being that back then they claimed to use... electricity!
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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#154  Postby jerome » May 07, 2013 2:07 pm

Cito di Pense wrote:

Maybe psi is a project that depends on changing ideas in philosophy, such that people start pretending psychology traffics in the science of the 'mental'. By all means, jerome, tell us about what fascinates you.


Most psychical research takes its framework from currently prevailing scientific and philosophical fashions. Always has. I'm currently writing a book arguing that a huge amount of modern parapsychological theory is divorced from facts by historical circumstances and scientific attitudes of the 1880's and 90's, and has not yet recovered. It's on polts and apparitions, so not strictly relevant here, but I'm not convinced telepathy has much of a history. I'm probably wrong, but I get the idea that at the time of the later found to be fraudulently McCreery sisters case it was considered very much to be a new faculty, and I suspect the idea originated from stage mind reading acts, not vice versa. I may well be wrong, but I'm certainly willing to work through the sources and try and find out if I am. :) This may actually be directly related to what I am considering in my book actually: events in the 1850s to 1880s.

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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#155  Postby jerome » May 07, 2013 2:12 pm

Found this, which really only takes it back to 1819. Will go check out what the state of play in Mentalism was at that point and report back... http://artificialtelepathy.blogspot.co. ... gy-to.html
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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#156  Postby lobawad » May 07, 2013 2:27 pm

jerome wrote:Found this, which really only takes it back to 1819. Will go check out what the state of play in Mentalism was at that point and report back... http://artificialtelepathy.blogspot.co. ... gy-to.html


...coincidentally the same year Oerstead's experiment experiment established the link between electricity and magnetism. Note that the magician was claiming to use "animal magnetism", 18th century pseudoscience still with us in various ways (since largely replaced with "quantum effects").

I'm curious if you can find telepathy in a modern sense predating semaphore lines (1792).
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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#157  Postby VK-machine » May 07, 2013 2:55 pm

lobawad wrote:I'm curious if you can find telepathy in a modern sense predating semaphore lines (1792).


You can't really have telepathy in any modern sense without science. The whole idea is that telepathy is communicating without using the known senses and that requires a fairly firm grasp of the senses.

Incidentally, the term thought transference describes an actual scientific phenomenon, or rather medical symptom. It is a so-called Schneiderian first rank symptom of schizophrenia. The whole thing is a bit controversial nowadays but you will find this in the diagnostic manual of the WHO under schizophrenia.

Anyways, there's a lot of people out there who feel that they are sharing thoughts with others, or that thoughts are inserted from outside into their minds (perhaps by demons, angels aliens, or the CIA), or taken out of their minds, and so on...

people appear to have a propensity for developing such delusions but why and how is unknown. The precise delusions that people form depends on their cultural background but there seems to be something biological behind it. They feel something happening to their thoughts and create some sort of story around it.
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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#158  Postby tolman » Jun 13, 2013 1:33 am

jerome wrote:Can you demonstrate any examples of the concept of telepathy (here defined as mind to mind direct transmission of info) before say 1850? I'm just trying to think of any. I actually find this quite interesting...

What changed in, say, 1850?

Was there actually any proper evidence of ESP?

To entirely change the subject, roughly when did stage mentalists start to get really good at their acts, or get better publicity, or first fool some gullible rich person with aspirations to academia?
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