Monday, June 05, 2006

Doesn't like the bent spoon

Review of Entangled Minds by "Glass hand" on Amazon.com. My comments in blue.

"This book is utter nonsense. Spoon bending? The author, Dean Radin, fell for spoon bending??? (see endnote 1 on page 331). Sorry, but given that, his credibility is zero or less. Just as bad, Radin can only offer lame excuses (page 290) for not pursuing some of the many prizes that are being offered for a valid, definitive demonstration of psi. (If the evidence is as strong as Radin claims, he should have already walked home with several of these prizes.)"

It's always interesting to see what pushes each individual over the edge. For this fellow, it's bent spoons.

The spoon in question can be seen here. The fact is, as I say in the cited footnote, that I bent this spoon. So I know that the bend did not occur by ordinary force. I have spoons of the same type and have had to work hard to bend the bowl with the assistance of two industrial strength pliers. And then the resulting bent portion looks discolored and fractured around the bend, quite different from the smooth, shiny surface of the one I bent without force. As I wrote in the book, I was very skeptical of claims of this type of phenomenon before it happened to me. Afterwards to deny that it happened given that I still have the spoon, and it's still quite bent, would be dishonest. I sympathize with others' skepticism, but that doesn't change the observable facts.

As for the prizes for such claims, master skeptic Ray Hyman agreed that no scientist would ever accept a single demonstration as evidence for psi. Such prizes might be good for skeptical PR, but they are not science and not what my colleagues and I do. I mention in the book that even should someone try to win the prize, it would realistically cost over a million dollars to produce sufficiently strong statistical evidence (of the type discussed in the book) under conditions that would satisfy any skeptic, and thus the prizes are literally not worth the effort.

11 comments:

Dean Radin said...

Damien Broderick writes:

Fascinating story linked from your blog, Dean, and good pictures. Questions arise:

Whose spoon [was it]? One you took with you? ... I'd only be satisfied if it was my own metal and hadn't been out of my custody.

And--have you been able to do it since, in private? Do you think that even if this is genuinely anomalous, it might require (for most people) the social/collective setting to function?

My reply:

I got the spoon from the PK party. People have previously asked if it might have been a trick spoon. I don't think so. If it were setup to become soft after reaching skin temperature, then it would immediately fall apart or bend or melt when stuck in boiling water. It doesn't. If it was previously stressed in some way to cause a weak spot, then the sudden stress of repeatedly going from cold to hot (in ice to boiling water) would presumably cause the thing to fall apart at the stressed location. It doesn't.

I understand the doubts. I held the same skepticism, no matter how many times people showed me pieces of bent metal, or their insistence in how it became bent. Before you experience it, it's difficult to believe.

No, I haven't been able to do this in private. I've tried a number of times and only managed to bend it a tiny bit, and even then with some force. I think it is genuinely anomalous and yes, the social setting seemed to trigger something.

buzz said...

1. What term should be used to describe the type of spoon bending (SB) you performed? Anomalous SB? Non Brute Force SB? Psychic SB? Mental Metal SB?

Having experienced this phenomenon myself -- still amazed by it 20 years after the SB workshop I attended -- I've wanted a word to describe it to others.

2. How could an experiment to study this phenomenon be devised? Have such experiments been done?

3. What do you make of the fact that your event happened while you were observing another person?

In my case, the 'bend window' happened while the workshop attendees watched a video of another workshop.

I was suddenly able to wrap and twist the spoons as if their rigidity had decreased by 50% or more.

Dean Radin said...

1. What term should be used ...

I don't know. I tend to describe it rather than label it.

2. How could an experiment to study this phenomenon be devised? Have such experiments been done?

The best book I know on this was by John Hasted, entitled "The Metal Benders." Hasted conducted many experiments on this phenomenon, using metal strips inside sealed glass containers, among other things.

3. What do you make of the fact that your event happened while you were observing another person?

The "release of effort" effect has often been noted in PK. This deflection of awareness may be important because when you are consciously trying to do something that your mind believes to be impossible, then you can't do it. But the unconscious is not as threatened by supposedly impossible things, and apparently if the intention is strong enough, it goes ahead and does it.

Anonymous said...

Could you clarify a bit about forward causation as compared to retrocausation? I just read an abstract from the 2005 PA Convention. There you suggest that MMI are best described as a retrocausal effect. What does this mean? If I want to influence a REG (or a spoon, or some living system for that matter) at this moment, how does this have anything to do with the future? If there is some influence from the future, what is the source of this influence?

From "Entangled Minds" I got the impression that we actually influence systems forward in time (as in MMI and specially DMILS). I want to influence something and then a change happens... The other way around I just don't understand.

-Tor

Anonymous said...

Regarding my last post:

I understand that the "Delayed choice quantum eraser" experiment provides a way for retrocausal effects to occur, but when it comes to DMILS and MMI I find it really hard to picture how this could happen (and also why it should be preferred to an "ordinary" causal effect).

But then again, quantum mechanics is know to make most physicists mentally unstable :)

-Tor

Dean Radin said...

> There you suggest that MMI are best described as a retrocausal effect. What does this mean?

MMI will probably not be adequately understood in terms of ordinary forces because it appears to work as well locally as from a distance, and it even transcends time. These peculiarities will require radically different concepts than our usual way of explaining things based on causal, mechanistic terms.

When it comes to micro-PK on RNGs, one model I've tested is whether the "effect" is based on Aristotle's final cause, i.e. that the result is due to a goal that is "intentionally placed" in the future, and then the present winds its way towards that goal. This can also be viewed as a retrocausal effect that pulls the present into the future goal. This might sound strange, but in many ways this is the essence of the principle of least action (also known as Hamilton's Principle and a few other names), which underlies most of physics.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarifying comment!
I have never thought about Hamiltonian mechanics as actually pointing to a real retrocausal effect. But the way you explained it now makes sense to me.

The concept of intentionally placed goals in the future is quite facinating. I think this quote from the scifi tv-series Babylon5 is fitting:
"Put victory in your heart and the universe will follow"

-Tor

zerosumthing said...

Re: this point about prizes, check out the web site for Randi's prize, and read the entry comments. It will strike you as quite clear that they don't intend to award that prize to anyone, if they can help it.

kat black said...

You might be surpised that the show-grabbing Mr James Randi actually admitted publicly that he agrees that spoonbending is a real phenomenon, and that he teaches it to kids himself. I finally put a link to his 2001 comment on my site:

http://fork-you.com/forkfaq1.htm

It amuses me how Randi claims at one section of his "Challenge" that it must be scientifically proven - but then the next minute, writes off any scientific experiment whose results he doesn't like as being potentially wrong regardless of their rigor.

kat black said...

PS I notice that your and James Randi's surnames are anagrams of each other. Coincidence? Perhaps it's the universe's desire for all things to be in balance - a thoughful, quiet and reflective antidote to the ranting, illogical showman Randi :)

Solar (Wikipedia User) said...

Dear Dean,
Sadly, the spoon bending information in your book is now commonly being used as an argument against your credibility. I am an active user on Wikipedia and am constantly trying to defend the psi angle against the endless attacks from the 'sceptic' camp. For example see this resent discussion which shows the level of childish and unfair attacks that are common in the Wikipedia community. This site definitely needs more input from well-read and rational psi supporters to keep the sites policy of neutrality. I believe that Wikipedia holds a huge potential for the exchange of knowledge that must not be hijacked by prejudice. I have read both your books and feel that you have done an excellent job of presenting the case for psi. I commend you for your strength in not backing down to the McCarthyist approach of many so-called ‘sceptics’.

Best wishes

Solar