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"The most rigorously refined experiment to date."
September 14, 2006 11:17 AM   Subscribe


 
One thing's for sure--a Google image search for "ganzfeld" will get you a lot of weird pictures. Plenty of fodder there for progressive rock album art.
posted by Iridic at 11:18 AM on September 14, 2006


Is it evidence for the existence of psi abilities?

No.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:26 AM on September 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


There are plenty of interesting and rigorous experiments that get ignored because they don't fit in with currently dominant scientific ideas. That said, I'm with the skeptic on this one:

"Even if we take the data at face value, we know that no matter how statistically significant the results are, the actual size of this psi effect is so small that we can’t detect it in a single person in any obvious way. We have to deduce it from guessing experiments. What hope do we have of isolating, harnessing, or expanding this power if a person who has it can’t even directly recognize its presence?"
posted by vorfeed at 11:34 AM on September 14, 2006


Ok Metafilter, I am currently projecting an image to eveyone. Think hard, catch my wavelength and tell me what it was. It might be fuzzier for those far away, the amplitude of my proje cted brain waves decrease like 1/r.

Begin.
posted by ozomatli at 11:35 AM on September 14, 2006


Ozo, it's pancakes, right?
posted by Quietgal at 11:36 AM on September 14, 2006


OZO'S THINKING ABOUT BALLS
posted by Greg Nog at 11:39 AM on September 14, 2006


Weird, I was sure ozomatli was thinking about pancakes on balls. I must be getting feed back from Quietgal and Mr. Nog.

Turn your damn brains down so I can focus here people! Jeeze.
posted by quin at 11:43 AM on September 14, 2006


I'm just getting a lot of static.

Oh, wait. That's my brain.
posted by lekvar at 11:45 AM on September 14, 2006


perhaps it's Oolong!


posted by clevershark at 11:49 AM on September 14, 2006


No.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:26 AM PST on September 14


Let me expand on this: the fact that the results of this experiment contradict literally everything we know about both physics and biology mean that rational people are going to need a lot more compelling data than this to even consider buying the conclusion that psychic abilities exist.

This is like someone proposing that electrons actually have a mass of 18kg and we just didn't notice it all this time.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:01 PM on September 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


godammit, ozomatli, stop thinking about goatse!
posted by lord_wolf at 12:01 PM on September 14, 2006


I'm sensing a Giraffe, don't know why, it just popped into my head. Do I win?
posted by winks007 at 12:04 PM on September 14, 2006


It's always worth remembering this little bon mot:

They laughed at Columbus.
They laughed at Fulton
They laughed at the Wright brothers.
But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.
-- Carl Sagan, BHA.
posted by meehawl at 12:05 PM on September 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


They laughed at Columbus.

I would like to point out that they laughed at Columbus for a reason: he was damn wrong.
posted by ozomatli at 12:14 PM on September 14, 2006


If you've really, really got evidence of psi powers or ESP, this man has $1 million for you.

Wait, why aren't you signing up...?
posted by frogan at 12:15 PM on September 14, 2006


Cock. That's what I was thinking about. Made of stone. Waves don't have mass, they just follow the path of least resistance. I really need to know what you were thinking about. It was phallic statuary wasn't it? If you or anyone else alive at this time is thinking about giant stone cocks it is because of my power. You dare ask for proof! Well let it be known that thoughts of cocks with the power of stone juggernauts fill my day. QED. I am now contemplating goatse for some reason. And You Are Lovin It [tm].
posted by econous at 12:16 PM on September 14, 2006


Do they control for ether thickness or the influence of god?
posted by srboisvert at 12:16 PM on September 14, 2006


"Mild sensory deprivation"? Either your senses are completely deprived in an isolation tank or they are not, it seems like there wouldn't be a lot of functional middle ground in this control method to allow for such massive gradation in a serious study. I'd call it pointless conjecture based on that fact alone.
posted by prostyle at 12:26 PM on September 14, 2006


he was damn wrong

I personally think Columbus deliberately fudged the data as much as possible in order to get the results he wanted. He knew, as did anyone interested in funding his project, that his dinky little ships didn't stand a chance of making it all the way to Asia using the consensus value for the Earth's circumference. Furthermore, he knew from Portugeuse explorations of the Indian Ocean and Spanish data out to the Azores that the typical size of a trade wind loop was nowhere near enough to bring his ships across and back such a huge distance. Finally, from his trade runs through Ireland and Iceland, he knew that Vinland and the Grand Banks ("http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacalao") lay not that far west, way in the north Atlantic just a few days sail west of Greenland. I think he hoped that Vinland indicated the existence of an archipelago or island group, and gambled that he could find them with his ships and that they might extend all the way to "Asia" in a way that would enable him to island hop his way there on subsequent voyages.

With no knowledge of the resources of the New World, there was no way Spain was going to sign on for a multi-decade project to reach Asia. Columbus had to sell it as a quick "there-and-back" voyage.

He cherry picked the data to justify an expensive, dangerous project, hiding his true intentions under an acceptable public mask. In many ways, Columbus was the Cheney of the 15th century.
posted by meehawl at 12:28 PM on September 14, 2006


Turn your damn brains down so I can focus here people! Jeeze.

Do what I do, quin: wear a tinfoil hat.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:30 PM on September 14, 2006


Were you thinking about boxes and boxes of hot pants?
posted by Bageena at 12:54 PM on September 14, 2006


I like to experiment with my ganzfeld - if you know what I mean.
Heh heh heh.
No, really, ’cause if you do, you’re probably psychic.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:56 PM on September 14, 2006


Let me expand on this: the fact that the results of this experiment contradict literally everything we know about both physics and biology mean that rational people are going to need a lot more compelling data than this to even consider buying the conclusion that psychic abilities exist.

It also would not the the first time that people might realize that they don't really know all that much. Relativity and Quantum theory come to mind...
posted by c13 at 1:02 PM on September 14, 2006


Neither relativity nor quantum theory overturned the whole of physics. Newtonian models still offer sufficent accuracy for getting probes to Saturn. The analogy fails.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:20 PM on September 14, 2006


Is it "plate," "shrimp" or "plate of shrimp"?
posted by pax digita at 1:24 PM on September 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


It also would not the the first time that people might realize that they don't really know all that much. Relativity and Quantum theory come to mind...

Right. And what's more, as Bateman points out in another article, the scientific community is not always consistent in its treatment of revolutionary concepts that don't actually have that much concrete evidence going for them.
posted by Iridic at 1:25 PM on September 14, 2006


c13 writes "Relativity and Quantum theory come to mind..."

Both of which were necessitated by strong experimental results (the ultraviolet catastrophe, the Michelson-Morley experiment, etc.) that did not conform to existing theories.

These results are neither strong nor particularly convincing. I'd call them "curious", and maybe even "interesting". If someone came up with a "psi" theory that could explain the results well, that would be interesting, too. As it stands though, in a complete vacuum of theory, it's tough to draw any conclusions from these weak results.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:30 PM on September 14, 2006


Right. And what's more, as Bateman points out in another article, the scientific community is not always consistent in its treatment of revolutionary concepts that don't actually have that much concrete evidence going for them.

Yeah, totally, except that memetics has already died a quick death. But other than that it's exactly the same!!!!!

Secondly, your wishful thinking here has clouded your judgment. There are thousands of experiments that indicate that psychic abilities do not exist, and a few shittily-done ones where you sorta kinda maybe get some tiny movements away from pure chance for unknown reasons. Yeah, no, this sounds like something I can get behind.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:34 PM on September 14, 2006


Iridic writes "And what's more, as Bateman points out in another article, the scientific community is not always consistent in its treatment of revolutionary concepts that don't actually have that much concrete evidence going for them."

I think that the current issue of the Journal of Memetics summarizes quite succinctly the level of mainstream acceptance the field has received. Lorem ipsum dolor, indeed.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:40 PM on September 14, 2006


I am currently projecting an image to eveyone.

Is it monju_bosatsu? (NSFW)
posted by homunculus at 1:42 PM on September 14, 2006


Wow--five exclamation points, Optimus. I'm flattered.

Anyway, no, I don't really think ESP powers exist. I made the post because, like Roboto, I found the experiment kooky and "interesting"--its results, if true and consistent (very unlikely, though the experiment has resisted multiple attempts to explain the data away), would have cool ramifications. Plus the experiment involves taping ping-pong balls over peoples' eyes. What's not to like?

The more serious part of the post came because I thought that Bateman brought up some excellent points about the process of science--ideally, shouldn't we treat statistically meaningful experimental results seriously and with respect regardless of whether or not the implications of those results "contradict literally everything we know about both physics and biology?" Calling "bullshit" on something that violates custom and collective knowledge is perfectly fine for 99% of everyday living, but I'd like to think that science should be held to a higher standard. Otherwise, we'd never have gotten past "heavier things always fall later than lighter things."
posted by Iridic at 1:55 PM on September 14, 2006


the fact that the results of this experiment contradict literally everything we know about both physics and biology

Heh. Literally everything? And "the fact?"

Declaring our own statements to be "fact" makes us feel good, and irrational people find it very tempting to employ such a tactic. But it has nothing to do with proper argument, and rational people avoid such things. Apparently you need this advice: if you want to convince anyone, you need to support your statements with at least a scrap of evidence, and not just apply labels such as "fact" to them. In fact, it would be best to avoid any emotional labels at all. You really need to read this paper: Clinical attitude toward argument
posted by billb at 1:59 PM on September 14, 2006


Meehaul Rocks, I completely agee that historical experiments can't factor in the other imperatives that probabaly gave them origin.

However, I wish Anne McCaffery's Rowan Trilogy were proven by this!

man, would the world be a better place in the Federation!
posted by Wilder at 2:01 PM on September 14, 2006


"later?" Faster.
posted by Iridic at 2:02 PM on September 14, 2006


Neither relativity nor quantum theory overturned the whole of physics. Newtonian models still offer sufficent accuracy for getting probes to Saturn. The analogy fails.

Really? That's interesting because pretty much every physics textbook I ever read said it did. Just because something is useful, does not mean it has any validity. Ptolemaic geocentric system was able to predict the movements of planets pretty damn accurately. So then the heliocentric model didn't really overturn the whole astronomy, right?
By the way, there is that whole thing with quantum entanglement and Bell inequality violation...

Mr_roboto, I'm not comparing the strengths of Einstein's explanations of photoelectric effect to to psi theory or anything like that. I'm just pointing out that we really don't know all that much, and there have been plenty of rather embarrasing examples of people being a little premature stating the opposite.
posted by c13 at 2:04 PM on September 14, 2006


The Afshar experiment is an interesting experiment in quantum mechanics that's a topic of hot debate at the moment because it might allow us to violate the complementarity principle (an important epistemological principle of some versions of quantum mechanics).
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 2:07 PM on September 14, 2006


Mr. Roboto, the Wikipedia article on Memetics explains that the Journal has closed its doors until the science matures a little. Apparently the other prominent memeticists have moved on as well--Richard Brodie, for example, is now "climbing the world professional poker rankings."
posted by Iridic at 2:10 PM on September 14, 2006



They laughed at Columbus.
They laughed at Fulton
They laughed at the Wright brothers.
But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.


The above includes a logical fallacy, since it employs two different meanings of "laughed." There's a big a difference between amused laughter at clowns, versus hostile sneering laughter used as a form of ridicule.

Of course the intent of the quote is clear: being ridiculed doesn't make you right. Too bad a flawed statement is used to point out the logic flaws in the arguments of others.

Personally, every time I see someone use the above quote to support logic and rationality ...I have to :)
posted by billb at 2:23 PM on September 14, 2006


c13 writes "I'm not comparing the strengths of Einstein's explanations of photoelectric effect to to psi theory or anything like that. I'm just pointing out that we really don't know all that much, and there have been plenty of rather embarrasing examples of people being a little premature stating the opposite."

And I'm pointing out that we know a hell of a lot, and that the weak results of these experiments, while curious, aren't sufficient to convince me of a "psi effect", particularly in the absence of any theory explaining the nature or mechanism of such effects.

Iridic writes "Mr. Roboto, the Wikipedia article on Memetics explains that the Journal has closed its doors until the science matures a little. Apparently the other prominent memeticists have moved on as well--Richard Brodie, for example, is now 'climbing the world professional poker rankings.'"

All of which is pretty strong evidence that, counter to what you initially seemed to be claiming, memetics failed to find a strong foothold among mainstream scientists. Take a look at this article from the last issue: "The revealed poverty of the gene-meme analogy –why memetics per se has failed to produce substantive results". To quote the conclusion:

The fact is that the closer work has been to the core of memetics, the less successful it has been. The central core, the meme-gene analogy, has not been a wellspring of models and studies which have provided "explanatory leverage" upon observed phenomena. Rather, it has been a short-lived fad whose effect has been to obscure more than it has been to enlighten. I am afraid that memetics, as an identifiable discipline, will not be widely missed.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:28 PM on September 14, 2006


Neither relativity nor quantum theory overturned the whole of physics

They overturned Classical physics, the contemporary physics of their time. And verified telepathy phenomenon would overturn the contemporary physics of today: converting it into a special case of an expanded version of future physics.

BTW, here's another excellent paper: The fallacy of one-sidedness
posted by billb at 2:28 PM on September 14, 2006


Optimus Chyme: the results of this experiment contradict literally everything we know about both physics and biology

How so?

I've never figured out why so many people are dismissive of the idea of some kind of telepathy. Why shouldn't it exist? Why assume it doesn't?

The amount of experimental data we have is small and extremely narrowly targeted, so I find it most odd that there exists such willingness to deny the possibility that there are things we have yet to devise a reliable method of measuring.
posted by MetaMonkey at 2:41 PM on September 14, 2006


Sorry, Mr_Roboto, I was unclear. I suppose I was pointing out that memetics was able to exist with some dignity for about twenty years as a "protoscience" while "psi-theory" was constantly debunked and placed in the "pseudo-science category;" it's an inconsistency that always irritated me, as I couldn't really see why memes got a free pass.

James Randi never offered a prize to anyone who prove that memes existed, did he? And people still use memetic terminology today without fear of ridicule on Metafilter, while someone doing the same with psi jargon would be laughed off the blue.
posted by Iridic at 2:41 PM on September 14, 2006


Iridic writes "And people still use memetic terminology today without fear of ridicule on Metafilter..."

Heh. There's always fear of ridicule on Metafilter....
posted by mr_roboto at 2:44 PM on September 14, 2006


Fine, you idiots, waste your time with this nonsense; let me know when you get some real results. Don't forget to collect that million from James Randi first.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:44 PM on September 14, 2006


Mr_roboto, I don't know much about the psi theory. But from the linked articles it appears that the experiment was refined many times to accomodate various critical reviewers. And it withstood all the challenges so far. IF that is indeed the case, I would submit to you that the results are not as weak as you think. And that the absence of a good theory only indicates that there is much work to be done, not that the experiment itself is faulty.
posted by c13 at 2:45 PM on September 14, 2006


Well, Optimus, now that you put it this way I clearly see the error of our ways. Hopefully someone involved with getting the results comes across this post, I'm sure they wish nothing more than to impress you and learn your opinion on the matter.
posted by c13 at 2:48 PM on September 14, 2006


Yeah, you stupid fucking idiots. I hope you all choke to death on ping-pong ball halves.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:57 PM on September 14, 2006


I'm sure they wish nothing more than to impress you and learn your opinion on the matter.
posted by c13 at 2:48 PM PST on September 14


Which Zener card am I thinking of?

hint: not the square
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:10 PM on September 14, 2006 [2 favorites]


“There's a big a difference between amused laughter at clowns, versus hostile sneering laughter used as a form of ridicule.”

*removes clown suit*
*ceases to juggle ping pong ball halves*
posted by Smedleyman at 3:11 PM on September 14, 2006


Well, probably the one that depicts the finger that you've just removed from your ass.

Or would that be your head?
posted by c13 at 3:33 PM on September 14, 2006




You people blathering on about quanutm mechanics have no idea what you are talking about.

There is NO underlying TRUTH in physics, just better and better approximations that accuratley predict and explain natural phenomenon. Quantum mechanics did not invalidate all of classical mechanics and niether did relativity, it simply placed limits as to where they were applicable. You don't need special relativity to solve an inclined plane problem and you don't need quantum mechanics to find the electric field of a point particle in the correct limits.
posted by ozomatli at 3:52 PM on September 14, 2006


amused laughter at clowns

Your categorisation of laughter lacks universality and extension. For me, laughing at clowns is more of a nervous hysteria.
posted by meehawl at 3:55 PM on September 14, 2006


The reason that Sagan had to use Bozo the Clown as an example is simply because nobody remembers who the big failures were.

Only a handful of people would "get" it when I could make the substitution ...

"... but they also laughed at the Time Cube Guy."

Yes, net-folk get it. But a lot more people know of Bozo the Clown.
posted by adipocere at 4:03 PM on September 14, 2006


For those mentioning Randi, you might be interested to know he is a documented liar when it comes to this subject.
posted by Potsy at 4:33 PM on September 14, 2006


There is NO underlying TRUTH in physics, just better and better approximations that accuratley predict and explain natural phenomenon. Quantum mechanics did not invalidate all of classical mechanics and niether did relativity, it simply placed limits as to where they were applicable.

CM states that, knowing the initial positions and momenta of all particles it is possible to calculate their exact positions and momenta at any future time. QM, on the other hand, states not only that it is not possible, but that it is not possible IN PRINCIPLE because the particle does not HAVE a defined position and momentum. That's not just a better approximation, it's a whole different world view. They did tell that in lectures, did they not?
posted by c13 at 4:56 PM on September 14, 2006


For those mentioning Randi, you might be interested to know he is a documented liar when it comes to this subject.
posted by Potsy at 4:33 PM PST on September 14


Except that in the link you posted he says "I overstated my case for doubting the reality of dog ESP based on the small amount of data I obtained. It was rash and improper of me to do so." Apologzing for being rash and quick to judgment? What a monster!
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:05 PM on September 14, 2006


For those mentioning Randi, you might be interested to know he is a documented liar when it comes to this subject.

As opposed of course, to Sheldrake who keeps claiming his dogs are psychic and refuses to be tested.


..or wait, is that why I keep picturing dog chow for no reason?
posted by lumpenprole at 5:19 PM on September 14, 2006


c13, you're right about the difference between Classical Theory and Quantum Mechanics, but it's still a matter of scale. Classical theory collapses at the subatomic level, but Quantum Mechanics doesn't invalidate Classical theory either. You can't use quantum theory to explain the motions of the planets, let alone the motion of billiard balls, or rain drops. Surely they mentioned THAT in the lectures....
posted by slatternus at 5:27 PM on September 14, 2006


I may have exaggarated the cock thing. If you feel personally abused by my merely moderate member please begin doubting your own existence.
posted by econous at 5:29 PM on September 14, 2006


They did. But when I first mentioned QM and CM or relativity, I did not mean to compare them in the sense of accuracy of calculations. I meant that our whole world view has changed. THAT was what has been overturned, not the calculations of pressure/volume relationships or friction coefficients. And that the people who, at the end of 19th century were saying that physics was pretty much done except for some refinment of the equations got to eat their hats, so to speak.

Similar thins are happening in biology. We thought we've figured out how the information was encoded in DNA and how it was regulated, but now it seems like there is a hell of a lot more going on. Things like histone modifications, for example.
posted by c13 at 6:02 PM on September 14, 2006


For those mentioning Randi, you might be interested to know he is a documented liar when it comes to this subject.
posted by Potsy at 4:33 PM PST on September 14


So, you're saying there really IS extra-dog sensory perception.

Wow. I mean, that's great. There's proof of this? Peer-reviewed tests? Documented, repeatable experiments? More than just one man's account of a series of unreturned emails and a phantom video that shows a dog looking at cars?

Wait, wait ... come back ... why are you running away with your fingers in your ears...?
posted by frogan at 6:17 PM on September 14, 2006


Small points to Randi for (almost) admitting he lied.

It is amazing to me that something could contradict everything we know about physics and biology. It seems.... too efficient.
posted by pointilist at 6:19 PM on September 14, 2006


Wow, I figured with a single sentence post it would be pretty hard for people to misread or misunderstand it, but I guess I overesitmated some folks' reading ability.

Optimus Chyme: Read the rest of that link. Espeically the part where Randi claimed to have seen things on a tape he later admitted he never watched.

frogan: I didn't say anything about whether or not there is dog ESP. Learn to read.
posted by Potsy at 6:28 PM on September 14, 2006



CM states that, knowing the initial positions and momenta of all particles it is possible to calculate their exact positions and momenta at any future time. QM, on the other hand, states not only that it is not possible, but that it is not possible IN PRINCIPLE because the particle does not HAVE a defined position and momentum. That's not just a better approximation, it's a whole different world view. They did tell that in lectures, did they not?
posted by c13 at 6:56 PM CST on September 14 [+] [!]


World view? Such concepts are left to philosophers. Quantum Mechanics describes certain phenomenon extremely well, so it is used. We leave it to the mystics and charlatans to try to pin deeper meaning to these findings. Classical Mechincs IS an approximation to Quantum Mechanics, just as it is an approximation to relativity. The fact that classical mechanics was well described first should not be a suprise. Newton wasn't wrong in the sense you seem to be suggesting. His "laws" were astoundingly succesful, he had no reason or evidence to think they were not. Once evidence was found that could not be explained via CM, a new frame work had to be developed to explain it, but CM was not just thrown out as wrong, because we know it is right under the correct limits.

The "discovery" of quantum mechanics did not all of a sudden mean planets didn't obey kepler's laws. If these ESP findings are true, then it would be as if Jupiter all of a sudden stopped mid orbit and turned around.
posted by ozomatli at 7:23 PM on September 14, 2006


If these ESP findings are true, then it would be as if Jupiter all of a sudden stopped mid orbit and turned around.

Forgive my ignorance ozomatli, but why is that?
posted by MetaMonkey at 7:32 PM on September 14, 2006


Is it a moosecock?
posted by parki at 8:03 PM on September 14, 2006


Well for starters, what would be the mechanism of transmission? We only have few choices for that: Gravity, Electromagentic, Weak, or Strong forces? Starting with the best choice of electromagnetic waves, if true then it shoud be possible to measure these waves. Too small to measure you say? Ok, but there must be some minimum strength to these waves if they are supposed to be able to interact with the tissues in the brain. We should also be able to measure how close someone has to be in order to get an ESP signal as well, giving us some cut off distance. If it is an EM wave we know ways to shield it or detect it rather well. How are they generated? What part of the brain are they emitted from? We know EM very very well and a EM wave complex and strong enough to emit coherent information over a long distance should be measurable.

Gravity waves? Good luck with that, again you would have problems with interaction strength,

Strong Interaction? Nope short range

Weak? Again short range.

Or?: There is another force we have not detected yet, but is still strong enough to interact with human tissue.

Perhaps you have suggestions as to the mechanism of how EPS would work, but I am fairly sure that supernatural explanations would have to be evoked. Then you have left the realm of science and physics.
posted by ozomatli at 8:03 PM on September 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


Thanks, I had figured something along those lines. So, would I be right in saying that ESP is generally presumed to be non-existant because:

1. no recognisable EM patterns for transmission can be found
2. it is considered very unlikey that there exists forces we cannot detect
posted by MetaMonkey at 8:15 PM on September 14, 2006


Thanks, I had figured something along those lines. So, would I be right in saying that ESP is generally presumed to be non-existant because:

1. no recognisable EM patterns for transmission can be found
2. it is considered very unlikey that there exists forces we cannot detect
posted by MetaMonkey at 10:15 PM CST on September 14 [+] [!]


You have the gist of it. But for number two, the bugaboo is the strength of the interaction, if ESP uses this mysery force then it must be strong enough to interact with human brain tissue. Such a strong long range force surely would have been detected by now.

Physics requires emiprical evidence.
posted by ozomatli at 8:21 PM on September 14, 2006


Without dipping my toes too far into the "Did QM clarify and expand or overthrow and replace CM" it's worth pointing out that both systems of thought are a combination of technologies and methodologies, mathematical theorems and philosophical assumptions, rather than single entities that bang into one another like balls of play-dough. QM probably did overthrow some parts of CM, and it probably did expand and clarify other parts. It would perhaps be more useful to investigate specific cases and determine how or why one or the other (or both, or neither) occurred rather than just go back and forth about the systems as a whole.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 8:23 PM on September 14, 2006


"Serious" investigations into psi abilities rock -- not because they end up with any interesting results but because of the rigour typically applied to the experimental model.

What's that, you say? Your subjects drew a picture that was in a sealed envelope a mile away? But did you know what the picture was? You may have given off body language assisting the subjects (normal enough, let's do double blind). Did anyone know what it was? You may have been reading their mind. This is a distant-seeing experiment, not a mind-reading experiment. Will you ever find out the result? Uh -- future vision becomes a possibility. We are not testing for future vision.

In short, the paranormal researcher has to account for many explanations that we would normally discount. The studies become fascinating for that reason alone.

Ah, and this isn't one of them.
posted by dreamsign at 9:58 PM on September 14, 2006


it is considered very unlikey that there exists forces we cannot detect

It is considered very unlikely that there exists forces we cannot detect that have a significant effect on the world on a local level.

You know, even if some people magical powers they are obviously so unreliable and rare as to be of little use. It seems to me that with six billion people in the world you'd see more impressive demonstrations of psychic abilities than what we have to date.

Intellectually, I can understand why a lot of people want to believe in magic, but on a gut level I just don't get it.
posted by moonbiter at 1:41 AM on September 15, 2006


Plus the experiment involves taping ping-pong balls over peoples' eyes. What's not to like?

It's not as good as taping bacon to a cat.
posted by Foosnark at 10:43 AM on September 15, 2006


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