Posted: Aug 29, 2013 11:29 pm
by tolman
I can see with things like medical trials, there are a series of things where for the most part, each individual effectively only does things once.
For example, someone with heart disease has a particular form of surgery or takes a particular drug, and an outcome is measured, but they can't really go back and then try taking the drug, or having a different kind of surgery.

Because we don't have the ability to 'test' the same person over and over, and because we can often only approximately assess their level of initial disease and approximately measure any improvement, we have to look at lots of people to get results which are significant.

With parapsychology, subjects do do things over and over again.
If it was to actually mean anything, parapsychologists really should be able to produce some individuals who, after testing, they are confident can produce some particular effect at better than chance levels in a series of future trials.

If they can't, we'd have to conclude that even they think that while there is (they claim) some subtle effect if enough people are observed, there is no such thing as a person with psi powers, and everyone is pretty much equal in having very weak and unpredictable powers in the long run, which are therefore of little (if any) practical value, and rare enough that they probably aren't even amenable to much study by real scientists and medics (without likely wasting money which could be better spent doing something else).

Pissing about doing meta-analyses at all effectively seem like a serious admission of failure for all the hopes they must have had when they started out.

If I was hoping to prove people could fly, and instead I ended up doing meta-analyses of people falling off buildings, trying to show that on average, if you looked at enough studies done reported by people who also wanted to show that people could fly, people seemed on average to land fractionally further away from buildings they fell off than similar-sized dummies did, I hope I'd recognise that I hadn't really succeeded, or that even if I had, I had effectively redefined what 'flying' meant in order to claim success.