Saturday, June 24, 2006

AAAS Symposium on Retrocausation

I gave a talk at a AAAS regional conference at the University of San Diego earlier this week; part of a symposium on retrocausation. About half the attendees were mainstream physicists hailing from the US, Europe and Israel. The linked newspaper item discusses it a bit.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

This page shows that mainstream science is slowly beggining to take psi seriously, but in the proceedings of last years parapsychology studies i noticed that when skeptics and beleivers collaberated for a study they found no evidence of psi. im talking about the joint study between the ions and the two UK universities. How do you explain this lack of evidence in this study?

Anonymous said...

sorry no need to answer this comment dr Radin upon consulting your book, entangled minds i have read that the collaberation did not have the dramatic results of the PEAR experiments, but did show a similar trend [ odds of 20-1] and that may have been due to methodolgy changes and settings for experiments. sorry to bother you in the first place

T.B. said...

In addition, Schlitz (believer) and Wiseman (skeptic) have jointly performed three remote staring studies, two of which had significant results.

Anonymous said...

What is the response to this decidely skeptical page? http://www.scienceagogo.com/news/paranormal.shtml

is the state of parapsychology research really this flawed?

Interested

Dean Radin said...

The PEAR lab over the years has published responses to critiques such as those in the cited webpage. Having witnessed data collection and analysis firsthand in the PEAR lab for several years (when I was at Princeton, not part of the PEAR lab staff), it is my opinion that that lab has produced genuine anomalies. In addition, readers may assume that just because someone offers a criticism that that is proof enough that the research is fatally flawed. But of course this is not the case. Critiques can be mistaken or misleading, and when analyses are corrected based on valid critiques they oftentimes have little to no effect on the overall results. I believe this is the case for the PEAR lab results.

Anonymous said...

What percentage of scientist, beleive in or at least think the idea of psi is possible? is it growing, you adress this in
"the concious universe" but that was back in 1997, how are things looking almost 10 years later?
Robin

Anonymous said...

man
i just read a "critique" on james rhandis site of the PEAR experiments by some guy and its a bit rubbish.
He claims that they just threw together a load of data and looked for patterns. this isnt right at all. secondly he claimed that they found no statistical significance in there results, wasnt that the whole of their claim? they found not only anomalies but patterns as well and they guys only response is "anyone can fins patterns if they change the data enough" we are talking about a lab that has been going for 25 years!! these are just the first problems heres a link http://www.randi.org/jr/2006-04/042806boots.html#i2 and anyone who finds other problems please post here, and if you could also dr radin that would be good.
Robin

Dean Radin said...

Robin asks: "What percentage of scientist, beleive in or at least think the idea of psi is possible? is it growing"

For decades surveys have consistently shown that a majority of the population, including scientists, believes that some forms of psi are either possible or certain. I don't think the percentages have moved much because the beliefs are based mainly on personal experiences, and not due to an extensive knowledge of the experimental data. If belief was based on both experience and an appreciation of the accumulating scientific data, then beliefs would probably be increasing.

Dean Radin said...

Robin asks" i just read a 'critique' on james rhandis site of the PEAR experiments by some guy and its a bit rubbish..."

People who accuse others of massaging data to fit their preconceived notions fail to appreciate that such accusations cut both ways. I.e., biased assessments can just as easily confirm or deny the true situation. So when it comes to assessing the validity of one person's opinion vs. 25 years of laboratory data, the data is going to win that argument.

M.C. said...

I would have to agree with you Dr. Radin.

Having personal experiences with psi phenomena really trumps all the noise of the Michael Shermer and James Randi crowd. But some people would prefer to believe that millions of normal, credible people are running around having hallucinations, false memories or are liars than that their mental model of reality might need some updating.

Anonymous said...

but hes got a huge thing wrong, he said they got data together with "NO STATISTICAL SIGNIFICANCE" did he even look at the data, the whole point of the PEAR experiments is that there was statistical significance, a large one in fact. I also looked at the "skeptics dictionary" entry on PEAR they claim that DR Jahn wanted to study PK before PEAR but when you look at the history he was railroaded into his first study by a student, and was impressed by the data.

This argument worried me untill i looked at the data, and the actual sources. It just goes to show how easy it is to sway someone with rhetoric and hyper-skepticism. im glad i kept digging though.

Robin

Anonymous said...

also once again i htink your book has come to the rescue Dr Radin, at least i think it has, tell me if i am right here . But if we assume that the PEAR researchers got no statistical evidence and are just looking for patterns then surely others would not find the same patterns working independantly from them, even if they are beleivers, and skeptics looking would certainly not find anything. But as you state in your book "entangled minds" some skeptics such as stanly jeffers find proof of micro-pk. so this cannot be the case then because if it was they would be the only ones finding the patterns

Robin

Anonymous said...

there has not been an anwer concerning my last post, or was there some confusion. feed back on my last comment would be much appreciated. thanks for your time
Robin

Taede Smedes said...

This is an interesting article which, however, says very little about either the symposium itself, nor about the official position of the AAAS on these matters (if there is one).

It suggests that many scientists dismiss data that has withstood statistical analysis but that does not fit their paradigm, as non-evidence. It also suggests that because of these prejudices as to 'parapsychological' phenomena, many initiatives, such as the Princeton-initiative, have only a short-lived existence because they eventually run out of funding. And yet, as one anonymous comment states, this article also "shows that mainstream science is slowly beginning to take psi seriously". These signals are somehow paradoxical.

I am really interested in hearing more on Dean Radin's views about the AAAS symposium. Were the scientists present there prejucided, open, neutral, etc? Did they laugh at retrocausation or indeed, did they cite evidence for it? And what about philosophers of time? Were there some present (as there should be)? And what about psychologists? What about the difference between our subjective experience of time and physical time? There are many questions the article does not deal with but which I would like to hear more about...

Dean Radin said...

Taede Smedes writes:

"It also suggests that because of these prejudices as to 'parapsychological' phenomena, many initiatives, such as the Princeton-initiative, have only a short-lived existence because they eventually run out of funding."

> The PEAR lab was active for 25 years, and "retired" when the lab's founding professor retired, not due to lack of funds.

"And yet, as one anonymous comment states, this article also 'shows that mainstream science is slowly beginning to take psi seriously'. These signals are somehow paradoxical."

> Not really. Some scientists are prejudiced, but fortunately many are more open-minded and willing to look at the data. Because that data has improved over time, and because physical theories have evolved in ways that are increasingly compatible with psi, a growing number of scientists are becoming more open to the possibility of psi.

"I am really interested in hearing more on Dean Radin's views about the AAAS symposium. Were the scientists present there prejucided, open, neutral, etc? Did they laugh at retrocausation or indeed, did they cite evidence for it? And what about philosophers of time? Were there some present (as there should be)? And what about psychologists? What about the difference between our subjective experience of time and physical time?"

> There were about 50 attendees, about equal numbers of physicists and psychologists. After the first session we moved to a bigger room because the audience was larger than expected. I'm not sure if there were any philosophers present. Most of the papers either addressed evidence for retrocausation from parapsychology, or discussed theoretical issues and predictions about retrocausation from a quantum perspective. I would say that everyone was attentive and openminded throughout, and that at this least group of scientists took the issue of retrocausation seriously.

R. H. Séguin said...

Hello Dr Radin,

This is Robert H. Séguin, writing from Montreal, Canada.

Just heard some excerpts of a radio interview, hosted by
a Mr Bell, of Sunday last, July 23rd, 2006.

I must admit, the discussed subject is quite rarely heard,
in this world... We were of the belief that this knowledge
was quite securely 'hidden' in the Vedic compendium...

In any event, some years ago we developed certain research
protocols, in the attempt in proving that consciousness may
exist, survive outside/apart from the body.

If you would like to discuss these possibilities further,
you may contact us at your leisure.

Hoping this meets you and yours most well.


In the interim, I shall remain yours, truly;


Prof. R. H. Séguin

Anonymous said...

So was there a representative for PEAR there at the symposium? and also were you the only parapsychologist present at the retrocausation talk? also how seriously are PEARs findings taken by the scientific community. probably more seriously in light of recent parapsycholgy research and retrocausation.
Robin

Anonymous said...

Dr radin
I have just read about a report called
"examining psychokinesis" which claims that the psychokinesis effect could be due to selective publication. Did the proponents of this article not read your books section which absolves this problem? And that thousands of unreported studies would be needed to disprove the effect? I hope that you have heard of this and made a suitable reply, since your work has collected most of the results

Ropbin

Dean Radin said...

> So was there a representative for PEAR there at the symposium?

Yes, two: Roger Nelson and York Dobyns.

> were you the only parapsychologist present at the retrocausation talk?

Six other colleagues engaged in psi research gave presentations; a few more were in the audience.

> How seriously are PEARs findings taken by the scientific community?

Depends on who you mean by the "scientific community." Scientists who know the work in detail usually find it interesting; most others aren't aware of the data and consequently don't think about it much.

> I have just read about a report called "examining psychokinesis" which claims that the psychokinesis effect could be due to selective publication. Did the proponents of this article not read your books section which absolves this problem?

In the same journal issue of Psychological Bulletin, which is where that article appears, Roger Nelson, York Dobyns, Joop Houtkooper and I respond to this claim in some detail. In our judgment the results cannot be plausibly explained by selective reporting practices. Other scientists hold other opinions.

Anonymous said...

strange, the writers of the original report claim that it cannnot be solved either way yet it was reported in the site as proof that mind over matter did not exist and this study proved it.
Robin

Anonymous said...

I have just read and confirmed that in the science news website and magazine they are taking the report claiming it as evidence against psychokinesis and have not used borsh et al s last comment that said that their allegation of publication bias could be wrong. It also never mentions dr radins report that if that was true they would need over 2000 studies non published to bring it back to chance. the game once again, at least in the mainstream magazines, is rigged. however at least the psychological bulletin journal published all the discussion which ended with the original articles author admitting that there was no proof for publication bias, they just claimed that it made more sense. they were obviosly unaware of the study made by Dr Radin. Sorry i have commented on this again but this kind of selective reporting makes me really angry.

Robin

Bill Marshall said...

That skeptics get different results than non-skeptics is not surprising. What does surprise me is our continued belief that there is a single immutable reality that is merely perceived differently by different folks. This, of course, stays the mechanistic line that everything arises frommaterial causes. Reverse that thinking so that perception creates then skeptics and non-skeptics results in PSI testing makes perfect sense. Testing for it, however, is a more difficult matter, as you know. But, once we finally make the connection that there is not THE REALITY that is simply perceived differently by different folks, but rather each link of consciousness is free to create their own reality (within the boundaries of an accepted blueprint blueprint)then some of these findings will begin to make more sense. Keep up your fine work.
Bill Marshall

Anonymous said...

I have sent off a letter of complaint to science news. com but i doubt it will acheive much.
Robin

Anonymous said...

To Dean Radin:

Sorry, I know this is a bit off topic, but I've been looking at the "Journal of International Society of
Life Information Science" wich you are an editor of.
This journal seems to have a lot of articles on qigong research. In 2004, a review of chineese studies meassuring effects of external Qi was published in the journal Alternative Therapies (Chen, Alternative Therapies. July/Aug 2004, VOL. 10. No.4), and in recent years a few studies on external qi have started to surface in western journals.
My point is this:
If you take all the various data accumulated on the paranormal functioning of skilled qigong-practitioners (and practitioners of similar methods) and group them together with the PSI-research described in "The Conscious Universe" and "Entangled Minds", we get an extremely convincing picture of the reality of PSI.

Are there any dialog between these two areas of research? It seems to me that such a dialog would be beneficial to both areas.

-Tor

M.C. said...

I think Bill Marshall is probably correct.

Psi phenomena are quirky because the universe itself is itself fundamentally built out of consciousness. It is mindstuff playing the role of "physical reality". Therefore different "stories" or points of view built out of consciousness (we can call them "people" if we like) will observe and create different rules for how the universe works. And these conceptual views will in fact influence what happens in "physical" reality as well as information transfer, etc.

Bill Marshall said...

Dear Dr. Radin,
In your book, The Conscious Universe, you write of biases on the part of both skeptics and psi investigators. We all hold them, as you know, and they shape our individual world views. The problem for most of us is that we hold them as absolutes and when we do so each one of us in their own way will not "see the forest for the trees."

There are a few biases that are of note. The first is that there is a THE REALITY that is simply perceived differently by all of us; some in small ways and others in very big ways. The second is that percetion "takes in" THE REALITY. With these two biases we will always be at odds with each other as each of us assumes our perception to be the truth. They are true for each of us, but paradoxically are not true. Rarely do we find two opposing views or findings agreeing that both sides are correct.

But, what happens when we put a different twist on these two biases. There is no THE REALITY that each of us is thrown into or arises out of, but rather each of us (as part of a conscious universe) creates their own individual reality. Secondly, in order to do that there must be a mechanism with which to do so. That mechanism is perception, which is to say the reverse of our commonly held beliefs. Perception projects rather than receives. So that when those indivduals you wrote about couldn't see the changes in the deck of cards (black diamonds instead of red) It wasn't that they couldn't see them, but rather they had literally created red diamonds instead of black.

So, if perception projects then what is it that influences what is projected? Our beliefs are what drives our perception. You write about transcendental monism and rightly point out that this point of view falls short of explaining the mechanisms through which we create experience. I also see where another bias exists and that lies in our assumption that consciousness and matter are separate. If one defines consciousness as energy, action and movement rather than involving thought or our thinking function as the driving force of consciousness then new insights into research designs can bubble up. Thought is an aspect of human consciousness, but is not consciousness itself.

I write about these mechanisms in my own books and in my blog as a bridge between current beliefs systems and those that seem to be emerging and evolving. If you so desire you can click over to my blog at http://createwhatyouwant.blogspot.com

I love your work and appreciate your bravery in doing it.
Best regards,
Bill Marshall

Anonymous said...

Although I tend to agree with Bill Marshall's general notion that our own consciousness is built into the way the universe is, and that perhaps there is no one reality, I think it is easy to become very vague and uncritical at this point!

We (humans and other creatures) obviously share a lot of our perceptions of the universe - otherwise it would be impossible to discuss anything with anyone - let alone cooperate with them! We clearly can't just create the universe any way we want (unless of course you believe in a solipsist universe, in which any further discussion is pointless). If only we could just eliminate any illness (say) by an act of will! Of course, it is always possible to go down the path of certain religious movements and blame the individual for not believing enough to obtain better results, but that idea seems to go nowhere.

To me, the really interesting question is how consciousness (and perhaps life in general) manages to co-exist with ordinary matter behaving according to the laws of physics. Maybe it is true that everything is built on consciousness, but in that case there must be some 'agreement' between living creatures that the laws of physics are roughly as they seem to be - at least by default. Somehow that agreement must be enforced in some way such that no creature can just arbitrarily change Newton's laws of motion (say) for their convenience!

One of my pet hates is facile definitions of consciousness. Bill's remark "If one defines consciousness as energy, action and movement ..." would (unintentionally) include a racing car, or even a bullet. It reminds me of Donald Michie's definition of consciousness that allows a thermostat to be 'conscious' of a room being too hot or too cold.

We do need to be as rigorous as possible when discussing these matters.

David Bailey

Anonymous said...

Dr. Radin, and guests,

A lot of the discussion here seems to be related to PEAR. I recently posted a question to the contact email address listed on the PEAR website - what I hope was a respectful and reasonable question - and haven't yet gotten a response. Do you or does anybody reading know, is that contact address still valid? I understand that PEAR is in the process of being disassembled (or something similar) but is anybody there still responding to emails?

Thanks sincerely,
Chris