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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2008 12:14 pm 
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This is a great, but long, article about "Skeptical Psychology". I suggest reading the entire thing.

--------------------

SPR Study Day - The Psychology of the Sceptic
Nov. 2, 2008
http://monkeywah.typepad.com/paranormal ... eptic.html

[This is the text of the talk I gave at the SPR's Study Day on sceptics last week. I'll post a link to the video recording when it gets published in due course, which will include Rupert Sheldrake's and Guy Lyon Playfair's].

When I first got interested in parapsychology I spent quite a lot of time reading debunking books by people like Martin Gardner and James Randi, and my delicate sensitivities were shocked - I wasn't used to scientific controversy, and I'd no idea that serious authors could the way they do about professional scientists and thinkers.

Most of us would probably agree that a lot of paranormal belief is silly and shallow. The gullibility displayed by participants in some of these TV programmes embarrasses us. But it seemed to me that parapsychologists were on the whole serious, conscientious and intelligent - often scientists or university academics. So it puzzled me to see them constantly excoriated as gullible idiots, or peddlers of woo-woo, the insult de jour on Randi's website, their abilities and motivations subjected to such ferocious and unreasonable criticisms.

At the more polite end of the spectrum we find James Alcock, professor of psychology at York University, Toronto, calling them 'mystagogues in search of a soul'. British psychologist David Marks thinks they are 'shamans' or 'medicine men'. In his bluff, straightforward way, James Randi calls them psi-nuts, wide eyed nincompoops who are not rowing with both oars in the water. Not one to hog all the credit, he also remarks: 'Perhaps Dr Börje Löfgren, writing in the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, had it right when he described Eisenbud and other parapsychology enthusiasts as 'decaying minds' with 'thinking defects and disturbed relations to reality'. (Flim-Flam! 227)

Then there's the sort of playground taunting of specific individuals. On his website, Randi tackles Professor Gary Schwartz, known for his research on mediums. Schwartz's experiments have been justly criticised, and more effectively by Ray Hyman and Richard Wiseman. But he's a respected professor and a serious investigator, who carried out experiments in a methodical way. Yet to Randi he's a 'typical ivory tower resident', and his experiments as footling as exploring the reality of Santa Claus. If Schwartz is so sure of his experimental results, Randi says, why doesn't he go in for the million-dollar challenge? Could it be that the professor doesn't trust his medium? Perhaps he's too wealthy to need the money, and just doesn't care about giving it to hungry children or AIDS research.

There is of course a rationale to the jeering, first made explicit, I think, by Martin Gardiner, when he quoted H.L. Mencken's well-known epithet that a horse laugh is worth more than a thousand syllogisms. You can't reason with fools and fakers, so better just to ridicule them. It's right and proper to act like this, because paranormal believers are a threat to our hard-won freedoms. So much of the relative comfort and stability we enjoy, compared to our beknighted ancestors, is thanks to the triumph of reason in our political and social relations, also to the extraordinary feats of science in revealing the truth about the universe, and laying the foundations for technologies. All this is said to be threatened by the tidal wave of superstitious beliefs.

This is a popular theme with scientists. In his book The Demon-Haunted World, the American astronomer Carl Sagan wrote of his foreboding of a time when

Quote:
clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to dinstinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness. (28)

We may not agree with this, but it's a legitimate point of view. And paranormal claims are just flat-out incredible. So skepticism per se is absolutely rational. Indeed, for many people in our secular-leaning society, belief in such things as ESP is a deviation from the social norm. The believer is an odd breed who is willing to believe in things that aren't there, clearly prey to delusions and wishful thinking, unable to think critically, and so on. It's implicit in the titles of the debunking books: The Psychology of the Psychic, The Psychology of the Occult, The Psychology of Anomalous Experience, Why People Believe Weird Things.

But the intensity of dogmatism of many of the critics, their violent responses and seeming inability to connect with our reasoning, makes us suspect that there is such a thing as a skeptical psychology. It's not just the believer who is special - there's an awful lot going in skeptics' heads as well. Where skeptics see their automatic dismissal of paranormal claims, even when made by serious scientists, as a necessary and healthy reaction, we often see it as dogmatic, intolerant, and religious in its intensity, indicating a deep emotional commitment to the mechanist worldview. Some even see it as a rerun of the Reformation in a secular setting - with dissenters beating at the gates of the establishment, and embattled scientists defending orthodoxy against their heresies.

Strictly speaking, this isn't skepticism at all, at least in its original sense. Where skepsis, in the original Greek, means rational doubt and probing, the word skeptic has increasingly come to mean defensive and doctrinaire, and a skeptic as someone who identifies with a position and defends it to the bitter end, often striving to downplay, misrepresent or simply ignore the evidence. This is by not necessarily a fair or universal definition, but it's nevertheless one that is increasingly made.

It's important to stress that not all critics think that outright abuse is such a great idea. The point was made explicit by American psychologist and CSICOP member Ray Hyman in the mid 1980s. When confronted with extraordinary claims, he suggested, if would be better for critics, instead of accusing parapsychologists of fraud and charlatanism, to respond with 'rationality, objectivity, fair play, integrity - in short, with accepted scientific principles.'

Unfortunately, he went on,

Quote:
scientists are not trained or given models about how to behave under such circumstances. The reactions, understandably if regrettably, are typically confused, ambivalent, erratic, and emotional [...] If there is truly 'pathology' in these cases, the pathology seems to be exhibited as much in the reaction of the scientific community as in the claims of the offending scientist. The gut reaction of the scientific orthodoxy is to discredit the offending claim by any means possible - ad hominem attacks, censorship, innuendo, misrepresentation, etc.

Full Text ...


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2008 12:57 pm 
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I happen to agree with Randi's methodology. There seems to be a sense that someone making paranormal claims should be treated with fragility & be given the benefit of the doubt. The simple fact is they are the ones making extraordinary claims & are the ones that need to prove themselves, not be assumed real until debunked.

The fact that Randi's prize has gone unclaimed speaks volumes. If there were anything at all to all of the claims people make, someone would have won the prize already.

On the other side of the spectrum the charlatans and psychics are filled with vile and disgusting people that prey on the emotions and beliefs of others. Convincing someone their dead child has a message for them and asking for a fee is far worse than someone calling them out as a quack. These people deserve ridicule and the skepticism that comes with their claims.

If an actual psychic were to come along, they could prove themselves, claim the prize and be praised. They would be immune to ridicule if they could actually do what they claim they could.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2008 2:15 pm 
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vadersp wrote:
I happen to agree with Randi's methodology. There seems to be a sense that someone making paranormal claims should be treated with fragility & be given the benefit of the doubt. The simple fact is they are the ones making extraordinary claims & are the ones that need to prove themselves, not be assumed real until debunked.

Honestly, I'm not sure what you mean by "methodology". I mean, my impression of the article is that it consists of several critiques of "skeptical psychology". One being how Randi (and others) are overly critical (to put it mildly, at times) - some are "subjected to such ferocious and unreasonable criticisms" - to the point where he belittles, calls names, insults, etc... "[...] calls them psi-nuts, wide eyed nincompoops who are not rowing with both oars in the water. [...] 'decaying minds' with 'thinking defects and disturbed relations to reality'."

So Randi's "methodology" when it comes to actually doing his thing is separate from his "methodology" when it comes to actually presenting that.

It's one thing to assume 'guilty until proven innocent,' so to speak, and even to be a bit cold and confrontational, but it's quite another to straight up belittle, name call, insult, etc. as Randi (and others) does. That, as my impression of the article goes, is one indication of a "skeptical psychology" (perhaps even pathology).

Quote:
The fact that Randi's prize has gone unclaimed speaks volumes. If there were anything at all to all of the claims people make, someone would have won the prize already.

I have to disagree.

Science is not and has nothing to do with a one-time "challenge" of this sort. It's a slow process, one that takes repeatability - test after test after test. Passing a "challenge," no matter how rigorous and even if no one could ever argue against its rigorousness, means absolutely nothing. Even if someone were to pass it with flying colors, what's the next thing science would want... to put her/him back into that rigor to do it over and over and over again. To put it frankly, it's merely a publicity stunt... It has no scientific value. It doesn't speak even one volume, as far as I'm concerned. Randi, especially considering he's not a scientist, (or his "challenge") is not the arbiter, defender, standard or anything else of (good) science... no single person is or ever will be.

Not only that, but there can be all kinds of reasons why people wouldn't take the challenge. I, for example, if I claimed to have some ability or whatever, would never take it merely because of the legal aspects of Randi's rules. There may be people who have some kind of ability or whatever but don't want any attention, there may be people who have an ability but are afraid of it, etc.

Just because no one has passed even the preliminary part of it, does not negate the fact that if a paranormal phenomenon exists, it still exists. I'll use myself as an example... I had an experience that I'm willing to consider to be a "psychic knowing" of some sort. I had not spoken to a cousin of mine in a few years and knew nothing about her present situation. But somehow I once "knew" a lot of details about her. So I called her up and verified them (generally speaking). It was a completely spontaneous experience and it only happened that once. I had NO way of knowing these details, but somehow I did. Did it happen? Absolutely. Do I claim to be able to repeat it and to have some ability or whatever... to the point where I'd take Randi's challenge? Absolutely not, far from it.

Quote:
On the other side of the spectrum the charlatans and psychics are filled with vile and disgusting people that prey on the emotions and beliefs of others. Convincing someone their dead child has a message for them and asking for a fee is far worse than someone calling them out as a quack. These people deserve ridicule and the skepticism that comes with their claims.

I don't disagree. But these people are rare, they're the minority... as with any demographic, field, aspect of society in life, etc.

Quote:
If an actual psychic were to come along, they could prove themselves, claim the prize and be praised. They would be immune to ridicule if they could actually do what they claim they could.

Well, you'll have to ask an actual psychic, assuming one exists, why s/he doesn't want to do it. That would be a personal decision.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2008 3:58 pm 
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vadersp wrote:
I happen to agree with Randi's methodology. There seems to be a sense that someone making paranormal claims should be treated with fragility & be given the benefit of the doubt. The simple fact is they are the ones making extraordinary claims & are the ones that need to prove themselves, not be assumed real until debunked.



There's the problem. "Debunked".

Skepticism, real skepticism, not the Evangelical disbelief of guys like Randi and Michael Shermer, entails investigation and deducation using the scientific method. Randi, Shermer, and their ilk don't do that. They pay lip service to it, but at the end of the day they don't really engage in scientific investigation. They engage in media battles and have cults of personality.

The fact that Randi's prize is unclaimed, honestly, means nothing to me. He has no intention of awarding the prize money to anyone andnever did. It was a stunt to get him attention and, now that it's filled that role, he's announced he's discontinuing it. Because, much like those that belief for the sake of belieivng, Randi disbelives for the sake of disbeliving. Same thing with Shermer. These guys aren't neutral investigators approaching these things and attempting to determine whether they're real or not. They're blowhards sitting behind desks and screaming "IT ISN"T SCIENCE!" Well, I've got a question. What the fuck does Randi even know about scientific investigation, anyway? He's a goddamn stage magician that dropped out of high school to work in carnivals. I don't need an untrained layperson talking about what is and isn't science, thanks. That further muddles an already terrible discourse.

If he wants to prove people as charlatans and expose them as liars, that's fine. I actually like that. But I don't like him sitting on his high horse and pretending he's something he isn't. He isn't a scientific investigator, he's a debunker that thinks too highly of himself and approachs things from a standpoint of "Any explanation is better than no explanation at all." He isn't out to answer big questions, he's out to bicker and feud and mock.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2008 10:08 pm 
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vadersp wrote:
I happen to agree with Randi's methodology. There seems to be a sense that someone making paranormal claims should be treated with fragility & be given the benefit of the doubt. The simple fact is they are the ones making extraordinary claims & are the ones that need to prove themselves, not be assumed real until debunked.


yay! vader and me agree on something! yay!
it is them that needs to prove their claims. it is not our job to prove why we don't believe; it is their job to prove what they're saying is true. it seems to be the other way around. if we don't believe it we are the bad guys.

however you can tell a fraud coming a mile away. then there are cases that boggle the mind with genuine credibility. travis walton is such a case. i have read everything available on that case. i remember it when i was a child and it has fascinated me ever since.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2008 10:57 pm 
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Wonder how Egdar Cayce would of stacked up with Randi?

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2008 10:59 pm 
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Orpheus wrote:
There's the problem. "Debunked".


If something contains no bunk, it can't be DE-bunked.

So again, if anyone could prove their claims, they'd be praised and be a million dollars richer. It's not like there are all these gifted psychics running around & Randi is calling them names or making up lies about them. None have followed procedure or produced results.

Or better yet, screw Randi, win the lottery! Find a kidnapped child! Catch a serial killer! Do any good for humanity at all!

There simply has never been anyone that can stand up to scrutiny or prove any ability at all. If someone does, I'd be the first to cheer for them.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2008 1:48 pm 
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theorist wrote:
vadersp wrote:
I happen to agree with Randi's methodology. There seems to be a sense that someone making paranormal claims should be treated with fragility & be given the benefit of the doubt. The simple fact is they are the ones making extraordinary claims & are the ones that need to prove themselves, not be assumed real until debunked.


yay! vader and me agree on something! yay!
it is them that needs to prove their claims. it is not our job to prove why we don't believe; it is their job to prove what they're saying is true. it seems to be the other way around. if we don't believe it we are the bad guys.

Generally speaking, I can definitely agree with that. The burden of proof is on the claimant.


vadersp wrote:
Orpheus wrote:
There's the problem. "Debunked".


If something contains no bunk, it can't be DE-bunked.

Sure it can... at least in people's minds. And I'd wager that that's a lot of what the article is about, this "skeptical psychology".

Quote:
So again, if anyone could prove their claims, they'd be praised and be a million dollars richer. It's not like there are all these gifted psychics running around & Randi is calling them names or making up lies about them. None have followed procedure or produced results.

Or better yet, screw Randi, win the lottery! Find a kidnapped child! Catch a serial killer! Do any good for humanity at all!

There simply has never been anyone that can stand up to scrutiny or prove any ability at all. If someone does, I'd be the first to cheer for them.

But none of this means anything in regards of whether a paranormal phenomenon is real or not.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2008 3:11 pm 
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prander wrote:
But none of this means anything in regards of whether a paranormal phenomenon is real or not.


Sure it does.
If someone claims to be psychic, it is testable & verifiable

If someone claims to talk to the dead, in most cases this is testable & verifiable as well. You just need help from someone that knew the dead person & had info known only to the two of them

If someone claims to speak to aliens, have the aliens speak to the interviewer, or show themselves, or preform a tech demo that proves they are alien

If someone claims to speak with god, that's even easier. Have a miracle performed in front of the interviewer.


The problem with most paranormal claims is that they magically only work in a non-verifiable way. The psychic claims they can't use their power for personal gain, god want's us to believe on faith, we're not ready for the aliens, etc. So it comes down to someone making a ridiculous claim and no proof whatsoever. Should I be given respect if I go around telling people I have an invisible fairy living in my garden that leaves no evidence & only I can hear & see it? Should people assume I'm telling the truth because after all, only I can see the fairy so how can I prove it to anyone? No, I would deserve to be called full of crap.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2008 4:13 pm 
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vadersp wrote:
prander wrote:
But none of this means anything in regards of whether a paranormal phenomenon is real or not.


Sure it does.

No, it doesn't.

I gave you my example already, but I'll emphasis it. I guess you didn't read it or didn't understand what I was trying to point out with it, so I'll clarify here.... It was a completely spontaneous experience, one that only happened once for me. But it happened, and other family members can attest to that. Do I expect you or anyone else to just believe it; either the experience, my conclusion / interpretation or anything else? No, but that doesn't negate the fact that it did happen.

In other words, so-called paranormal phenomena can, do and will continue to happen regardless of whether or not "science" even begins to broach them. They can, and I would wager they do, by and large, happen spontaneously more than not. "Spontaneous" is not testable, repeatable, verifiable or anything else that science can use. If something is real, it's real regardless of whether "science" says so or not.

And considering neither Randi, his challenge or any other skeptics are "science"...

Quote:
The problem with most paranormal claims is that they magically only work in a non-verifiable way. The psychic claims they can't use their power for personal gain, god want's us to believe on faith, we're not ready for the aliens, etc. So it comes down to someone making a ridiculous claim and no proof whatsoever. Should I be given respect if I go around telling people I have an invisible fairy living in my garden that leaves no evidence & only I can hear & see it? Should people assume I'm telling the truth because after all, only I can see the fairy so how can I prove it to anyone? No, I would deserve to be called full of crap.

Don't get me wrong, if someone makes a claim and agrees to some kind of testing protocol and whatnot, then they need to put up or shut up. But their failure means nothing in regards to the supposed phenomenon.

The article mentioned a bit about the Wright brothers and their attempts to fly with craft. How many times did they fail before they got it right... and proved the skeptics (not true skeptics; but cynics, debunkers, true disbelievers, etc.) wrong, who said it was impossible.

As for your fairy... I would be and stay skeptical. Until there's evidence or proof of something that would make me give pause, I remain skeptical. And a lot of it is personal (and subjective)... What you find to be ridiculous may not be (as) ridiculous to others. Personally, I can respect people if they respect me back... My degree of respect is, generally speaking, not contingent upon their lack of what I personally perceive as "non-sense," "irrational," "superstitious," "woo," etc. beliefs or how little their beliefs diverge from mine.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2008 10:07 pm 
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[quote="vadersp If someone claims to speak with god, that's even easier. Have a miracle performed in front of the interviewer.


.[/quote]
No miracle will happen because it's all bullshit.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2008 10:03 pm 
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You might want to look at some of the posts at http://michaelprescott.typepad.com/mich ... otts_blog/ for a rational discussion of communication with the dead and some of what appears to me to be pretty good evidence. Of course, I don't see why that's such a big deal, the dead communicate by voting in every election I've seen. :roll:

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2008 10:13 pm 
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Suprised that dead people don't have their own blog.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2008 9:24 pm 
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I want to suggest that those interested in this go to blog's main page and read some of the following entries, in which the author replies to comments that were made to this.

I found this one to be particularly interesting...

--------------------

Among many issues that came out of my last entry, I was asked to provide evidence for certain claims I made about skeptics' behaviour. Here they are:

1) refusing to engage with parapsychological investigations on any level as being of no interest, undoubtedly fraudulent, obviously nonsense, etc.

It's surely not uncontroversial to say that this is true of many scientists, as most might proudly agree. Richard Dawkins, Peter Atkins and Lewis Wolpert have all been fairly explicit about their lack of interest - to name only three. If you want a specific example, try Lewis Wolpert's attitude during a public debate with Rupert Sheldrake on telepathy - notably his refusal even to watch a relevant clip that Sheldrake was showing to support his case.

Another example is the public exchange between Sheldrake and Atkins, in which Atkins candidly admitted he hadn't read any of the evidence of telepathy that he had dismissed as a 'charlatan's fantasy'.

2) engaging with [psychical investigations], but explaining them away with all kinds of implausible scenarios which in any other context no one would entertain for a moment

One could fill a book with examples. One that comes to mind at once is psychologist C.E.M. Hansel's 'explanation' for a successful experiment reported by J.B. Rhine at Duke University in the 1930s. Rhine's colleague Gaither Pratt tested a theology student named Hubert Pearce for ESP in card experiments. In four series involving a total of 74 runs, where 5 was the mean, Pearce scored averages of 9.9, 6.7, 7.3, and 9.3 - the odds of that happening by chance are a hundred thousand billion billion to one. In one of the experiments Pearce was guessing cards at pre-arranged intervals while Pratt was turning over the cards in another part of the building. (Rhine, J B and J G Pratt (1954), 'A Review of the Pearce-Pratt Distance Series of ESP Tests', Journal of Parapsychology, 18, 3, pp. 165-77.)

Hansel discovered that the office had a glass window opening onto the corridor, and proposed that, unknown to Pratt, Pearce had simply nipped upstairs and peeked through. When a different office was used, Hansel noted a trapdoor immediately above the table where the experimenter had sat; obviously Pearce had got above the ceiling somehow and looked through it to catch a glimpse of the cards.

The effectiveness of this explanation is that it provides a theoretical loophole. But it's not remotely plausible in practice. Even if Pratt had been conveniently sitting just in front of the window with his back to it, Pearce would have constantly courted discovery, lurking in the corridor. As for getting into the ceiling and looking through a trap door... (ESP and Parapsychology: A Critical Re-evaluation, (Buffalo: Prometheus, 1980), pp. 111-23.

Another example might be Richard Wiseman's attempt to debunk the Feilding Report, a minutely detailed description of sittings with the séance medium Eusapia Palladino in 1908, which concluded in a firm endorsement of paranormal effects. The sittings were held in a hotel suite, in a room (B) that could only be entered via the corridor and then through another room (A). Wiseman argued that once the sitting had started an accomplice effected entry into room A, removed a false panel from the wall separating it from room B (which had somehow been constructed prior to the sittings), clambered through, where he/she remained hidden from the investigators by the curtain which separated a corner of the room behind Palladino (this was where much of the phenomena originated, eg the appearance of hands and faces, instruments playing themselves, the curtain billowing outwards, etc). The accomplice, Wiseman maintained, faked all these things and then effected his/her escape prior to the end of the session.

Among many objections, critics of Wiseman pointed out that, quite apart from the implausibility of a panel being constructed without anyone knowing, and an accomplice doing tricks a few feet from the investigators without ever being spotted:

* the curtain often billowed up high, revealing the space behind, which would instantly have given the accomplice away
* much of the phenomena occurred in front of the curtain not behind it
* the phenomena continued after the session had finished
* Palladino achieved precisely the same effects in numerous other investigations where an accomplice could not have gained entrance.

(Richard Wiseman, 'The Feilding Report: A Reconsideration', Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 58, 1991-92, pp. 129-52.)

I also think of Susan Blackmore's approach in Dying to Live to explaining away veridical out-of-body perception. This category of experience includes accident victims and hospital patients giving accurate descriptions of objects, scenes and events which they witnessed while they were unconscious, and which they could not normally be expected to have knowledge of.

One idea, which Blackmore puts forward, is that hospital patients are not always knocked out by anaesthetics and may have some residual sense of hearing, from which they can piece together what happened. There is some evidence that anaesthetics are not 100% effective in 100% of cases, so it's a point worth making. But she fills it out with the usual Humean claims about witness unreliability, that people get confused, or forget things, or exaggerate. This doesn't begin to account for the detailed visual descriptions recorded, for instance, by cardiologist Michael Sabom in his Recollections of Death (1982), where one patient commented on the surprising shape of his heart, as the surgical team lifted it out and snipped bits off, and another was surprised to see how deep her spine was within her body - other similar accounts describe incidents that occurred in other parts of the hospital out of range of their hearing.

Blackmore's performance here is spirited and confident, and out of context will convince like-minded sceptics who don't know exactly what it is she is trying to explain away. But if you do understand the context it's utterly lame - the desperate gambit of a clever defence lawyer with a patently guilty client and nothing to lose.

It's very hard to understand how a serious minded, objective person could take these sorts of 'explanations' at all seriously. One is left with the feeling that they are permissible because the alternative is just so flat out impossible that virtually any alternative scenario will do, no matter how implausible.

3) carrying out experiments in order to prove that, when properly conducted, the effect will not appear, getting an effect, and then explaining it away on the grounds of 'experimental flaws'

This happens on the rare occasions when skeptics carry out psi experiments. An example is their attempt to debunk Rupert Sheldrake's experiments in the sense of being stared at. In one experiment, Richard Wiseman used randomization tables to ensure that the subjects didn't start noticing patterns that enabled them to get correct guesses. But he still got significant results, and then decided it was because of the randomization. (R. Wiseman & M. Smith, 'A further look at the detection of unseen gaze' Proceedings of the Parapsychological Association 37th Annual Convention. Parapsychological Association, 1994, pp. 465-78.)

4) carrying out experiments with psychics on television with a very precisely determined pre-agreed protocol, getting highly significant results, and then refusing to accept the results as valid

In 2005 National Geographic made a TV film on remote viewing. The publication has a reputation for skepticism, but Joseph McMoneagle, one of the most successful participants in the US military's Stargate programme, and Edwin May, who ran it, nevertheless both agreed to take part, on condition that the protocols were specified in advance and followed exactly.

The target, a bridge, having been chosen with no means whatever of McMoneagle identifying it from sensory clues or anything else, to the producers' satisfaction, he nevertheless not only proceeded to draw an accurate image of it, but described the route leading to it in surprising detail. The crew and producer expressed astonishment at the exact match, and two policemen who stopped by said McMoneagle's drawing was so detailed that they would have easily recognised the spot from seeing it.

Interviewed at the end of the programme, the experts who had been invited to comment were unimpressed, a) because McMoneagle hadn't named the bridge, and b) because the match could merely have been a coincidence, achieved by guesswork. Why agree to a protocol, only to dismiss it so casually when it is precisely fulfilled?

Damien Broderick, who describes this curious tale in his book Outside the Gates of Science, comments: 'You get the impression a chimpanzee could have done it by reaching into a hat and pulling out a number. The copious valid and surprising details were ignored. Because it couldn't happen, therefore it hadn't happened.' (p. 113).


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2008 7:11 pm 
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CFR Fat Cat

Joined: Sun Jul 08, 2007 1:46 pm
Posts: 428
Location: New York City
The Lavoisier Error. "We know that stones do not fall from the sky because there are no stones in the sky." If you refuse to consider data that may contradict your beliefs then, of course, your beliefs cannot be incorrect.

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