Why Psi is Pseudoscience

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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#61  Postby amok » Apr 11, 2013 6:56 pm

How were the experiments double-blinded? Was there a group of subjects asked to pick the video who didn't have anyone in the other room, after all, sending these psychic vibes?
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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#62  Postby jerome » Apr 11, 2013 7:52 pm

Three experimenters, one with each subject, and scoring and target selection is automated.
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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#63  Postby jerome » Apr 11, 2013 7:53 pm

CdesignProponentsist wrote:Psi = The science of finding random and non-duplicateable patterns in data and assigning a significance without providing a mechanism.


You find a non-random and seemingly duplicatable pattern though? :D
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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#64  Postby lobawad » Apr 11, 2013 9:25 pm

Vinncent wrote:
"That's an enormous leap to the side. I am not referring to that at all, I am simply pointing out that people should not conflate phenomena (or alleged phenomena) with testing for or of that phenomena."


In what way is that an "enormous leap?" They have controlled for literally everything that is not conscious influence. If you want to claim that there is an alternative mechanism which would explain the results, unrelated to conscious intention, I would love to hear it... as such an explanation would simplify physics to a great extent, without having to require conscious phenomena to be taken into account.

Like the last posts... the ball is entirely in your court. You are making the claim that there is an alternative explanation that does not rely on remote conscious interference (telepathy) between individuals. All known physical mechanisms of information transfer have been accounted for. The only loose variable is the "sender" "telepathically" sending information to the target. By whatever mechanism this takes place, which causes an unexpected hit rate to occur... this is PSI. A type of information exchange which we are still trying to figure out.

You must provide an alternative explanation, which relies on known methods of information transfer, in accordance with the experimental parameters, if you are to claim that there is an alternative method of information transfer which is well understood by science.

If there is not, it deserves further exploration, and is the nature of scientific progress, the necessity to change our scientific models in light of new evidence about reality. Like it or not, this is science; the method of modeling and predicting reality based on experimental evidence, regardless of your own personal biases.

edit: simply=simplify.


I am making no such claims- why do you keep going off on tangents?

The most obvious problem with the Ganzfeld experiment is that it cannot produce a negative or falsifying result.

Think about it from the viewpoint of someone who is convinced telepathy is real and that the Ganzfeld apparatus does indeed make the reciever more receptive.

In any anecedotes of (apparent) telepathy from everyday life (I have some myself), was the reciever in an isolated environment, wearing headphones feeding white noise, with halves of ping-pong balls strapped to their peepers?

As immediately pointed out by my nine-year-old son, if telepathy were a real phenomenon and you rendered a telepathic reciever yet more sensitive, they would surely be overwhelmed with information. The chances of recieving a clear message in such a din would be lessened, not increased.

The Ganzfeld experiments could conceivably demonstrate that telepathy might be a real phenomenon, but you can always think of a reason why their failure to do so fails to rule out the reasonable possibility of telepathy.

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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#65  Postby CdesignProponentsist » Apr 11, 2013 11:33 pm

jerome wrote:
CdesignProponentsist wrote:Psi = The science of finding random and non-duplicateable patterns in data and assigning a significance without providing a mechanism.


You find a non-random and seemingly duplicatable pattern though? :D


Duplicatable by whom? It has to be an independent lab and from a disinterested party. I'm guessing at least one of these does not apply.
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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#66  Postby Shrunk » Apr 11, 2013 11:33 pm

jerome wrote:Three experimenters, one with each subject, and scoring and target selection is automated.


What does the third experimenter do?
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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#67  Postby jerome » Apr 12, 2013 11:22 am

Sets up the target pool and collates the results. Hey, just found this unrelated to psi but interesting in some ways -- http://bps-research-digest.blogspot.co. ... ntire.html
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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#68  Postby Vinncent » Apr 12, 2013 11:27 pm

As I keep saying, it is consistently claimed that no ordinary sense is involved. It is supposed to be extra-sensory.
How do they know that it is not explicable within currently understood physics.


Because no one has come up with a way to explain how the information transfer is able to take place within currently understood physics. Are you able to explain the results within currently understood physics?

These "conclusions" aren't worth the paper they are written on. It's a matter of low sample size and multiple analyses.
Read this:
http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/inf ... ed.0020124


I read that exact article a few days ago. It's a criticism against the entire scientific field in general... not simply PSI research. I agree with his points, but simply namedropping the article is saying that psi is fake because science in general is fake. If you think science in general is fake... we don't have anything more to talk about in discussing scientific research.

As far as low samples... meta analyses contain thousands of runs in total, so it's not a matter of low sample size. One problem might be analyses... but these would depend on the analyses in question. There doesn't seem to be any question of the statistical significance in the more recent "autoganzfeld" experiments, no matter how they're analyzed.


As I said, actions speak louder than words. Claiming that the ganzfeld is somehow the key to some amazing scientific break-through is cheap. Not actually contributing anything to make that break-through is revealing.


What does it reveal to you? Actually, just to skip to the punchline: that these two researchers have not personally run trials of the ganzfeld experiment says absolutely nothing about the rest of the literature on the subject, either in support or against it.


How do they, or you, know that psi is connected to consciousness?
If it is by definition, then please explain how you know that the ganzfeld is connected to psi.


These types of questions simply indicate that you know nothing about psi, or the ganzfeld experiments. I'm just going to copy and paste things, since you should really have some idea of the background behind the concepts you try to claim are "pseudoscience".

1. "psi provides a neutral substitute for terms like extra sensory perception (ESP), psychokinesis (PK), or even the survival of bodily death. Since the term is purely descriptive, it neither implies that such anomalous phenomena are paranormal nor connotes anything about their underlying mechanisms."
2. http://skepdic.com/ganzfeld.html

Ahh! But they didn't control for gremlins!
You say that gremlins aren't real? Now you're onto something.
If you show that conscious intent can have a tangible effect on the world without the mediation of nerves and muscles, then you will have an argument. Once you have established that, it becomes reasonable to think that with all other potential mechanisms controlled for, the intent mechanism is responsible for an effect.


Germlins aren't a well understood physical mechanism which would explain their results.

The ganzfeld experiments aren't a good indicator of conscious to material influence, as it revolves around conscious to conscious influence. I was trying to stick with the ganzfeld experiments for simplicity's sake, but this paper is more interesting:

Radin, D. I., Michel, L., Galdamez, K., Wendland, P. Rickenbach, R., Delorme, A. (2012). Consciousness and the double-slit interference pattern: Six experiments. Physics Essays, 25, 2, 157-171.


I didn't just assume that. Please read more carefully.


But that's exactly what you're doing. You're clearly completely unfamiliar with the field that you're claiming is pseudoscience... not because "you don't agree with it", but because your criticisms don't make any sense in terms of any of the literature about the subject, either supporting or opposing psi phenomena.

I would really read up on it a bit more before responding.
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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#69  Postby Vinncent » Apr 12, 2013 11:49 pm


As I've said in another thread on this topic, by that reasoning we do not need to use a double blind model when conducting a drug trial. You just make sure that, even though the investigators know which subjects are receiving active treatment and which are receiving placebos, they don't let this affect their measurement and interpretation of the results. And when you read the publication of the study, you just assume that the investigators were able to do so successfully.


That doesn't follow from what I said. Any psi related research worth reading utilizes at least double blinds.

The problem with the Ganzfeld, as I see it, is that it based on the assumption that it is possible to carry out the procedure so perfectly that, if some sort of psychic power does not exist, you would get a perfectly consistent 25% hit rate. But that assumption has not been, and cannot be, tested, unless there is some means of ensuring that these "psychic powers", or whatever is felt to cause the varation above 25%, could be identified and eliminated from the procedure. As it is, we don't know if the -1 to +7% range of variation from the expected 25% you describe is just a measurement of the frequency with which people fuck up an experimental procedure. In a double blind study, this does not matter because those errors will tend to even out over both groups. The Ganzfeld does not have this advantage.


I'd like everyone here to read through this. It's rather dry, but will stop the same types of criticisms from coming up, which I've answered repeatedly.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statistical_significance

This depends on the number of trials. I don't particularly feel like working out the explicit math, but nothing about the experiment implies that any results or metastudies of the results, that are not %25.0000000.... imply "psychic functioning". It's the fact that these experiments are statistically significant, aka, not due to chance, that implies "psychic functioning", when all other potential explanations of information transfer are properly accounted for.

In regards to having a double blind and proper randomization of control groups... these were further improved upon with the "autoganzfeld" experiments, further removing any potential biases from researchers, while still achieving the same statistically significant results with hundreds of trials:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ganzfeld_e ... niqu.C3.A9
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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#70  Postby Onyx8 » Apr 13, 2013 12:13 am

Vinncent, have you responded to this comment? Perhaps I missed it.

The point I am interested in is that there can be no control group. So the data observed is meaningless.
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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#71  Postby Vinncent » Apr 13, 2013 12:27 am


The most obvious problem with the Ganzfeld experiment is that it cannot produce a negative or falsifying result.


But it can, and sometimes does. Which leads to the interesting question, "Why do these experiments get results far above chance, when these other ones don't?" On both sides, there have been researchers who did not follow proper protocol, but on each side, those who have, with different results. It seems as though there must be at least some aspect that both groups aren't taking into account.

Think about it from the viewpoint of someone who is convinced telepathy is real and that the Ganzfeld apparatus does indeed make the reciever more receptive.

In any anecedotes of (apparent) telepathy from everyday life (I have some myself), was the reciever in an isolated environment, wearing headphones feeding white noise, with halves of ping-pong balls strapped to their peepers?


I'm not really concerned with personal anecdotes... those don't really help to establish psi phenomena, even if they might lead people to researching it.

As immediately pointed out by my nine-year-old son, if telepathy were a real phenomenon and you rendered a telepathic reciever yet more sensitive, they would surely be overwhelmed with information. The chances of recieving a clear message in such a din would be lessened, not increased.


That's making a great deal of assumptions about how these things work. I'm not immediately familiar with any ESP research that didn't utilize sensory deprivation, so can't say whether or not sitting in a noisy color room somehow impacts ESP performance... but the experimental results suggest that they're not overwhelmed with information, and produce results unexplainable by chance.

The Ganzfeld experiments could conceivably demonstrate that telepathy might be a real phenomenon, but you can always think of a reason why their failure to do so fails to rule out the reasonable possibility of telepathy.


Ad hoc hypothesis are important, even if they don't support the original hypothesis, for the reasons I covered in the first part. "Why do these experiments get results far above chance, when these other ones don't?" We're not dealing with a single failed experiment or two... we're dealing with dozens of them, many which produce statistically significant results, and some which don't. Clearly, this is a problem. Being able to identify the differences in successful and failed reproduced experiments is fundamentally important to overcoming this paradox.
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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#72  Postby Vinncent » Apr 13, 2013 12:36 am

Onyx8 wrote:Vinncent, have you responded to this comment? Perhaps I missed it.

The point I am interested in is that there can be no control group. So the data observed is meaningless.


I can probably get to it more later, but only slightly answered it in a previous post.

By utilizing a computer control program to select image/video clips, its easy to make a control group. Just put one person under sensory deprivation, have no "sender", have no one whatsoever even know what image/video clip the computer randomly chose, and ask the person to pick one of four choices.

Unless computers are also somehow psychic.

It seems a valid assumption that given four random choices, there's a 25% chance of picking the correct one. Whether they ran that control group anyway, I'm not sure, I'll have to look into the autoganzfeld experiments specifically. Right now I'm off to do stupid social Friday stuff, though.
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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#73  Postby VK-machine » Apr 13, 2013 8:39 am

Vinncent wrote:
As I keep saying, it is consistently claimed that no ordinary sense is involved. It is supposed to be extra-sensory.
How do they know that it is not explicable within currently understood physics.


Because no one has come up with a way to explain how the information transfer is able to take place within currently understood physics. Are you able to explain the results within currently understood physics?

There are a number of unsolved crimes. Should we assume that those are not explainable within currently understood physics?

More to the point, parapsychologists believed that even before they conducted the experiments. Why?

I read that exact article a few days ago. It's a criticism against the entire scientific field in general... not simply PSI research. I agree with his points, but simply namedropping the article is saying that psi is fake because science in general is fake. If you think science in general is fake... we don't have anything more to talk about in discussing scientific research.

Be more careful, please. I did not say that this invalidates psi research. I said that this means that supposed conclusions about correlates are rubbish.


How do they, or you, know that psi is connected to consciousness?
If it is by definition, then please explain how you know that the ganzfeld is connected to psi.


These types of questions simply indicate that you know nothing about psi, or the ganzfeld experiments. I'm just going to copy and paste things, since you should really have some idea of the background behind the concepts you try to claim are "pseudoscience".

You have not answered the question.


Ahh! But they didn't control for gremlins!
You say that gremlins aren't real? Now you're onto something.
If you show that conscious intent can have a tangible effect on the world without the mediation of nerves and muscles, then you will have an argument. Once you have established that, it becomes reasonable to think that with all other potential mechanisms controlled for, the intent mechanism is responsible for an effect.


Germlins aren't a well understood physical mechanism which would explain their results.

Alright, so gremlins aren't real. That's cool.

How do you know that consciousness is involved?
Maybe read this?
http://barenormality.wordpress.com/2013 ... riments-i/

The ganzfeld experiments aren't a good indicator of conscious to material influence, as it revolves around conscious to conscious influence. I was trying to stick with the ganzfeld experiments for simplicity's sake, but this paper is more interesting:

Radin, D. I., Michel, L., Galdamez, K., Wendland, P. Rickenbach, R., Delorme, A. (2012). Consciousness and the double-slit interference pattern: Six experiments. Physics Essays, 25, 2, 157-171.

If you're interested to know more about this, I suggest this rather lenghty piece:
http://barenormality.wordpress.com/2012 ... uble-slit/
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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#74  Postby lobawad » Apr 13, 2013 8:45 am

Vinncent wrote:

The most obvious problem with the Ganzfeld experiment is that it cannot produce a negative or falsifying result.


But it can, and sometimes does.


Can you explain how? Remember that the failure to produce a positive is not necessarily the same as a negative.
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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#75  Postby Shrunk » Apr 13, 2013 11:17 am

jerome wrote:Sets up the target pool and collates the results.


Here's the thing that I don't get: There are five people involved in this experiment, all interacting in complex ways, as human interactions tend to be. And the hypothesis being tested is that information can be transmitted directly from the mind of the sender to that of the receiver. The claim that this hypothesis has been confirmed is based on the observation that the information seems to have arrived in the mind of the receiver, even though there has been no physical interaction of any sort between him and the sender.

However, there have been physical interactions involving both of them and the three investigators. So the confirmation of the hypothesis is based on there being no possibility of the information having been conveyed thru any of these interactions. And, even if on paper there should not be any direct train of communication between all five individuals (I haven't been able to find a specific enough description of the procedure to determine whether that is the case), in practice I doubt it is possible to ensure that this protocol could have followed with such fidelity that it could not have produced a result of such a small magnitude as has been found in these studies.

IOW, those who say the Ganzfeld provides definitive evidence of psi are saying in effect: "There is no possible way that the information could have 'leaked' thru the investigators to the receiver, not even thru inadvertent unconscious cues. Therefore, the information must have been directly transmitted thru some as yet unknown process." However, it is equally plausible to say "There is no way information can be transmitted between two people who have absolutely no contact with each other. Therefore, the information must have been leaked by the investigators thru mechanisms that cannnot be identified at the time, but which nonetheless are the result of commonplace, direct, interpersonal interactions."

Hey, just found this unrelated to psi but interesting in some ways -- http://bps-research-digest.blogspot.co. ... ntire.html


Interesting, for sure. And quite relevant to psi, I would say.
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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#76  Postby Vinncent » Apr 17, 2013 2:50 am

lobawad wrote:
Vinncent wrote:

The most obvious problem with the Ganzfeld experiment is that it cannot produce a negative or falsifying result.


But it can, and sometimes does.


Can you explain how? Remember that the failure to produce a positive is not necessarily the same as a negative.


That would depend on their hypothesis.

A lot of the earlier experiments were plagued with bad controls... a falsifying result would be an experiment which took any flaws in the controls into account, reran the experiment, and found only chance expectation.

If you're talking about the later experiments (or any experiment, really)... a falsifying result would involve finding a flaw in their controls, and rerunning it again taking that flaw into account, and seeing whether or not they still obtained statistically significant results (or not). Without identifying any new flaw in the controls, for an experiment that has gotten a number of successful replications (and a number of unsuccessful replications), you are left with either:

A. One "side" of the researchers are lying. This is particularly complicated, when taking account successful replications from skeptics, and unsuccessful replications from those who primarily study anomalous phenomena.
B. There are still unidentified factors which influence how well a person is able to "send" and how well the other person is able to "receive", that no one is taking into account.
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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#77  Postby Vinncent » Apr 17, 2013 3:09 am

Shrunk wrote:
jerome wrote:Sets up the target pool and collates the results.


Here's the thing that I don't get: There are five people involved in this experiment, all interacting in complex ways, as human interactions tend to be. And the hypothesis being tested is that information can be transmitted directly from the mind of the sender to that of the receiver. The claim that this hypothesis has been confirmed is based on the observation that the information seems to have arrived in the mind of the receiver, even though there has been no physical interaction of any sort between him and the sender.

However, there have been physical interactions involving both of them and the three investigators. So the confirmation of the hypothesis is based on there being no possibility of the information having been conveyed thru any of these interactions. And, even if on paper there should not be any direct train of communication between all five individuals (I haven't been able to find a specific enough description of the procedure to determine whether that is the case), in practice I doubt it is possible to ensure that this protocol could have followed with such fidelity that it could not have produced a result of such a small magnitude as has been found in these studies.

IOW, those who say the Ganzfeld provides definitive evidence of psi are saying in effect: "There is no possible way that the information could have 'leaked' thru the investigators to the receiver, not even thru inadvertent unconscious cues. Therefore, the information must have been directly transmitted thru some as yet unknown process." However, it is equally plausible to say "There is no way information can be transmitted between two people who have absolutely no contact with each other. Therefore, the information must have been leaked by the investigators thru mechanisms that cannnot be identified at the time, but which nonetheless are the result of commonplace, direct, interpersonal interactions."

Hey, just found this unrelated to psi but interesting in some ways -- http://bps-research-digest.blogspot.co. ... ntire.html


Interesting, for sure. And quite relevant to psi, I would say.


If I'm summarizing correctly, you're saying, "There's a problem with their blinds, because the researchers already know the answer to "which one of the four pictures/video clips is the correct answer, and are probably either overtly, or subconsciously through micro-expressions, pushing the "receiver" towards the correct answer."

This is basically saying that there was no blind at all. Although I've read about one of the earlier experiments being blatantly falsified by one of the lead researchers (who would have known the answers using that protocol) entering the room of the "receiver" and interacting with them in some way, which is ruining the blind, and therefore the experiment. However, it's standard that those who administer the choices have no knowledge of which one is correct, to prevent this sort of thing.

This is also made impossible with the later "autoganzfeld" experiments... where both the target choice, and the three other "incorrect" choices, are randomly chosen by a computer program. In this case, none of the researchers themselves even know which choice is the correct one (or even what the choices are), removing that problem.
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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#78  Postby VK-machine » Apr 17, 2013 12:41 pm

Vinncent wrote:
lobawad wrote:
Vinncent wrote:

The most obvious problem with the Ganzfeld experiment is that it cannot produce a negative or falsifying result.


But it can, and sometimes does.


Can you explain how? Remember that the failure to produce a positive is not necessarily the same as a negative.


That would depend on their hypothesis.

A lot of the earlier experiments were plagued with bad controls... a falsifying result would be an experiment which took any flaws in the controls into account, reran the experiment, and found only chance expectation.

If you're talking about the later experiments (or any experiment, really)... a falsifying result would involve finding a flaw in their controls, and rerunning it again taking that flaw into account, and seeing whether or not they still obtained statistically significant results (or not). Without identifying any new flaw in the controls, for an experiment that has gotten a number of successful replications (and a number of unsuccessful replications), you are left with either:

A. One "side" of the researchers are lying. This is particularly complicated, when taking account successful replications from skeptics, and unsuccessful replications from those who primarily study anomalous phenomena.
B. There are still unidentified factors which influence how well a person is able to "send" and how well the other person is able to "receive", that no one is taking into account.


How would you know that the change in result is due to the removal of the flaw rather some other, inadvertent change?
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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#79  Postby VK-machine » Apr 17, 2013 12:42 pm

Vinncent wrote:
Shrunk wrote:
jerome wrote:Sets up the target pool and collates the results.


Here's the thing that I don't get: There are five people involved in this experiment, all interacting in complex ways, as human interactions tend to be. And the hypothesis being tested is that information can be transmitted directly from the mind of the sender to that of the receiver. The claim that this hypothesis has been confirmed is based on the observation that the information seems to have arrived in the mind of the receiver, even though there has been no physical interaction of any sort between him and the sender.

However, there have been physical interactions involving both of them and the three investigators. So the confirmation of the hypothesis is based on there being no possibility of the information having been conveyed thru any of these interactions. And, even if on paper there should not be any direct train of communication between all five individuals (I haven't been able to find a specific enough description of the procedure to determine whether that is the case), in practice I doubt it is possible to ensure that this protocol could have followed with such fidelity that it could not have produced a result of such a small magnitude as has been found in these studies.

IOW, those who say the Ganzfeld provides definitive evidence of psi are saying in effect: "There is no possible way that the information could have 'leaked' thru the investigators to the receiver, not even thru inadvertent unconscious cues. Therefore, the information must have been directly transmitted thru some as yet unknown process." However, it is equally plausible to say "There is no way information can be transmitted between two people who have absolutely no contact with each other. Therefore, the information must have been leaked by the investigators thru mechanisms that cannnot be identified at the time, but which nonetheless are the result of commonplace, direct, interpersonal interactions."

Hey, just found this unrelated to psi but interesting in some ways -- http://bps-research-digest.blogspot.co. ... ntire.html


Interesting, for sure. And quite relevant to psi, I would say.


If I'm summarizing correctly, you're saying, "There's a problem with their blinds, because the researchers already know the answer to "which one of the four pictures/video clips is the correct answer, and are probably either overtly, or subconsciously through micro-expressions, pushing the "receiver" towards the correct answer."

i don't think that's a correct summary.
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Re: Why Psi is Pseudoscience

#80  Postby Shrunk » Apr 17, 2013 1:28 pm

VK-machine wrote:
Vinncent wrote: If I'm summarizing correctly, you're saying, "There's a problem with their blinds, because the researchers already know the answer to "which one of the four pictures/video clips is the correct answer, and are probably either overtly, or subconsciously through micro-expressions, pushing the "receiver" towards the correct answer."

i don't think that's a correct summary.


No, it's not.

Put simply, some of the advocates of psi are taking the position that if a clear, specific explanation of the finding cannot be demonstrated, then the conclusion must be that psi is the correct explanation. That does not seem to me to be a valid conclusion. (And, to be clear, I am aware that there are many investigators who are not coming to such a conclusion.)

Specifically, in the video excerpt that CharlieM recommended to us, Dean Radin in effect says that psi is real, game over, case closed, and it is only the dogmatic close mindedness of the scientific establishment the prevents this reality from being acknowledged.

If the results of the Ganzfeld were more robust, for instance if what they found was 70% of subjects were able to recount in minute detail the sequence of events in the video viewed by the sender, without being given a multiple choice question to elevate the likelihood of a positive finding, then that would demand an explanation of some sort. As it is, I find the result distinctly underwhelming. The fact that there is a result that exceeds what is expected by chance by a mere 7% or less may indicate nothing more than that it is difficult to perform an experimental procedure that is 100% "clean" in neuropsychological research. Which would hardly be an earth-shattering finding.
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