Friday, April 06, 2007

More lunacy. Not.

In the most recent issue of the Journal of Scientific Exploration, Peter Sturrock and James Spottiswoode report another confirmation of a lunar phase relationship with psi perception performance. Their paper is entitled "Time-series power spectrum analysis of performance in free response anomalous cognition experiments." Their analysis was based on 3,325 free response trials.

The reason I mention this finding and the one recently published by Eckhard Etzold is because over 10 years ago I published two articles on this topic, both finding lunar phase relationships with psi performance, one based on casino payout data. At the time no one paid much attention to those reports (except for a few skeptics, who felt that mixing lunar effects with psi in the casino was further justification for simply dismissing this realm of research). So it is gratifying to see that independent analyses are now finding the same result.

25 comments:

Dave said...

I have always thought that the lunar connection is the closest we have come so far to a scientific cause/effect explanation of PSI. The idea is that the moon shields us from some sort of static emitted from the sun, and the static somehow interferes with PSI reception. Is the phase correct? In other words, is PSI enhanced at a new moon as opposed to a full moon? If so, does the earth also act as a shield?

Dean Radin said...

These studies show that psi effects are increased around the time of the full moon, and not the new moon. When full, the moon is in the tail of the Earth's magnetosphere, and that might interfere in some way with geomagnetic fluctuations experienced on Earth. GMF flux seems to correlate with psi performance based on past studies, and perhaps that's the link.

julio cesar said...

From Julio Siqueira
juliocbsiqueira@terra.com.br

Dear Dean Radin,

I am writing to you due to a rather delicate issue that came up during my stay at Victor Stenger's internet forum Avoid-L (Atoms and the Void List). You may remember that I made a review of your book "Entangled Minds" some time ago (that you commented under the title "Constructive Criticism"). My primary goal there (I may remain there for some months) is to criticize Stenger's newest book, "God, the Failed Hypothesis" (2007). As a by-subject, the quality of psi research was discussed there, and also the controversy between you and I. J. Good due to the review published in Nature about your previous book "The Conscious Universe" (1996).

I was very surprised (almost shocked actually) to see that many people there see your works (i.e. your scientific papers and academic psi research) as of questionable quality. Also, and IMO more troubling, some people raised serious doubts about your reply to Good's review. Good understood that the p-value should be around 10^-21 or 10^-24, and you claimed that the actual value (that you calculated, as I understood it, from what is reported in Pratt et al 1966) is around 10^-2000. The suspicion can be thus summarized: "Radin threw one number. And after it was exposed as statistically weak, he threw in another."

I replied with a simple question to the list: is it so difficult to ask Radin how he came up with this number? (i.e. p-value of 10^-2000 derived from just one book, which, to me, seems to make the task of questioning the validity of your calculations much easier). The answers they gave me seemed unconvincing. Nevertheless, the suspicions remained...

My question thus is this one: is it possible for you to demonstrate how you came up with this p-value of about 10^-2000 for the 186 experiments listed in Pratt et all? I appended below an extract from your letter to Nature, as it appears on the website of Professor Brian Josephson. I am also sending a copy of this email to Professor Brian Josephson, who I have had the honor and the pleasure to colaborate with in a "fight" against CSICOP's misconducts in the Natasha Demkina's (the Girl with X-Ray Eyes) affair, linked to my site from Josephson's url below:
http://www.tcm.phy.cam.ac.uk/~bdj10/propaganda/

I would like to add that this Avoid-L list seems to be of very good quality (though not perfect), and it seems that many of its members are respectable academics whose viewpoints and questionings in this matter cannot, IMO, be easily dismissed.

Best Regards,
Julio Siqueira
juliocbsiqueira@terra.com.br

_________________________________

http://www.tcm.phy.cam.ac.uk/~bdj10/psi/doubtsregood.html

In his review (Oct. 23rd, p.806) of my book The Conscious Universe (1997, HarperEdge), I.J. Good suggests, based on certain misunderstandings on his part, that something "must be" wrong with my statistical arguments in favor of the reality of psychic phenomena. His inability to reproduce my estimate that 3,300 unpublished, unsuccessful experiments would be required for each published ESP card experiment (to nullify the cumulative outcome) follows from his incorrect assumption that my words "more than", used in connection with the cumulative odds against chance for the 186 experiments listed in Pratt et al (1966, "ESP after 60 years", as noted in my book), could safely be replaced by "approximately equal to." The actual p-value is approximately 10-2000, to which application of standard methods (Rosenthal, 1991, "Meta-analytic procedures for social research") gives my reported figure.

Extra-Sensory Perception after Sixty Years. By J. B. Rhine, J. G. Pratt, C. E. Stuart, B. M. Smith, and J. A. Greenwood, New York, Henry Holt & Co., 1940. Pp. xiv, 463.

Dean Radin said...

The book Extra-sensory perception after sixty years lists all known ESP card tests conducted from about 1880 to the publication of that book in 1940. An unweighted Stouffer Z score of the studies provided there results in z = 96.5. (A z weighted by the number of trials per study is z = 165.0.) I asked a mathematician friend to estimate the actual p pvalue associated with z = 96 and his response was less than 10e-2000. Not knowing the words associated with an odds value associated with that p value, I simply wrote "more than a billion trillion to one," not thinking that anyone would be so rash as to convert that into an exact figure.

I find it disappointing, but not especially surprising, that skeptics find my or my colleagues' studies suspicious. The suspicion arises because they haven't read the actual experimental reports. One of the reasons I wrote The Conscious Universe and Entangled Minds is to help inform scientists that what they think they know about this discipline is, in most cases, demonstrably incorrect.

That people can be highly opinionated without benefit of knowledge is not new, but one hopes that scientists aspire to overcome such unfortunate biases.

I challenge any scientist used to working in conventional areas to seriously investigate an unorthodox topic. If you obtain results that run counter to convention and publish your results, watch what happens to your perceived credibility. It's not a pretty picture.

julio cesar said...

Dear Dean Radin,

Thank you enormously for your reply.

I'd like to ask you two further questions. What do you think of this database from 1880 to 1940 in terms of "the possibility of fraud" and "the possibility of methodological errors?"

I. J. Good quotes you in his review as follows: "Consider the following typical example. Radin points out that there were 186 publications on ESP card tests worldwide from 1882 to 1939. 'The combined results of this four-million trial database [taken at face value],' he says, 'translate into tremendous odds against chance--more than a billion trillion to one.' "

If I understood it correctly, then it was you and not Good that used the expression "[taken at face value]". Right?

The second question is a more delicate one, and I would like to stress that I ask it in good faith. You said "all known ESP card tests conducted from about 1880 to the publication of that book in 1940. An unweighted Stouffer Z score of the studies provided there results in z = 96.5. (A z weighted by the number of trials per study is z = 165.0.)". Could you detail how you came to this figure? That is, could you report the studies (i.e. their results) that served as input for the calculations and also report the actual calculations that you performed?

I hope you understand my position.

Very Best Regards,
Julio Siqueira
__________

Dean Radin said...

julio cesar said... What do you think of this database from 1880 to 1940 in terms of "the possibility of fraud" and "the possibility of methodological errors?"

These topics are discussed at length in the book. The authors solicited all known critiques of their studies and answered them all in the book. Rather than repeat them here, as that chapter was extensive, I'd suggest that anyone who is really interested in this controversy as it was seen in the 1940s consult the book itself. Most good academic libraries should have a copy.

From my reading of the literature, my opinion is that very few of these studies were fraudulent. There is strong suspicion that one may have been fraudulent based on peculiar statistical properties of the data, but fraud was never conclusively proven. On the possibility of methodological flaws the studies did improve in quality over time in response to critiques. But when the latter studies that had taken into account all known potential design flaws were regarded as a group, I call this the "high-security" subset of experiments, they still provided very strong evidence of an effect.

Julio's second question: could you report the studies (i.e. their results) that served as input for the calculations and also report the actual calculations that you performed?.

I'm not going to list all the results here because the entire table, reporting trials, hits, z score, citation per study, etc., is provided in detail in the book. All I did was enter the results of those studies into a spreadsheet and calculate a standard Stouffer Z score from the z scores reported in the book. This is done by taking the sum of reported z's and dividing by the square root of the number of studies, one z per study.

On this issue: If I understood it correctly, then it was you and not Good that used the expression "[taken at face value]". Right?

The bracketed phrase was Good's, not mine. I might note here that Good ignored all the other meta-analyses I reported in The Conscious Universe, most of which involved much more recent studies than Rhine's tests, and he overlooked the subset of successful high-security ESP card tests that were replicated by nearly two dozen investigators.

I've found that if one hasn't read these original reports and relies instead solely on skeptical dismissals of all of Rhine's work, then of course one will be suspicious about these outcomes. But the fact is that Rhine and his colleagues were very well aware of the controversial nature of their work, they were not naive about experimental design or analysis, they progressively refined their experiments to address all known loopholes, they were meticulous about how they collected and analzyed data, and ultimately they answered to many academics' satisfaction that their results were sound.

The fact that much of this has dissolved in the mists of history does not erase their achievements, except perhaps for those who've made up their minds without benefit of actually studying the relevant materials.

I might also add that I have great sympathy for skeptics who cannot believe any of this. When I started doing this research nearly 30 years ago I was a freshly minted PhD with traditional academic training in engineering and science, and I had no reason to believe that any of it could possibly be true. But I was intrigued, I read the literature, I met the key researchers and attended a few conferences, and then I started to do my own experiments. It took years of running experiments at Bell Labs (on my own initiative) to convince me that some of these claims might actually be true. It took even longer to fully appreciate that a great deal of what passes for serious scientific skepticism is actually irrational pseudo-skepticism. But that's another topic ...

julio cesar said...

As far as I can see, you have fully detailed your sources and your methods regarding this database that is commented on by Good. Anyone who has the book (Pratt et al) can, thus, easily reproduce your procedure. I myself will try to do it, if the snail skeptics don't do it first (good thing that my chair is a confortable one, for the waiting may be very very long indeed...).

Again, thank you a lot, and maybe I will contact you in the near future with new questions/info. Surely I will give you some feedback regarding this controversy on Stenger's Avoid-L.

By the way, sometime ago I thought of writing to you to ask you if you know that rather recently it has been shown (or suggested, etc...) that enzymes operate by quantum tunneling. If that is true, then it might be a promissing area for DMILS studies. Maybe, at least...

Best Regards,
Julio Siqueira
juliocbsiqueira@terra.com.br
______________________

Mark Szlazak said...

Maybe "More lunacy. Not Not".

Dean have you heard the recent interview, Parapsychology Research Lacks Good Data, with Dr. James Alcock over at Skeptiko? He makes some good points. Criticizes psi research in a general way and then gives examples of this problem with SRI remote viewing studies and Prof. Jahn's PK work at PEAR. What do you think of Alcock's criticism. Seems fair and reasonable.

Dean Radin said...

Alcock is more informed than most skeptics, so I devote a portion of one chapter in Entangled Minds to discussing his criticisms as presented in e.g. the "Psi Wars" issue of the Journal of Consciousness Studies. My opinion is (as I've written in some detail) that each criticism can easily be countered.

Dean Radin said...

After listening to the Skeptiko interview, it reconfirms how I responded to Alcock's assertions in Entangled Minds (because his arguments in the interview are basically the same as those I wrote about in the book).

Each critique can be answered with, I believe, a reasonable counterargument. I won't bother to repeat them here.

One thing I disagree with that Alcock claims to strongly believe is that if parapsychology could provide clear evidence of a psi effect, then academic psychologists would trample each other to try to replicate these effects. And yet after Bem and Honorton's 1994 Psychological Bulletin article provided such evidence to the psychological mainstream, the response by academic psychologists was deafeningly silent.

So Alcock's view of how academia would respond to intriguing data is almost dead wrong.

I say "almost" because a recent study published in The Humanistic Psychologist does report a series of ganzfeld telepathy experiments by psychologists at Notre Dame. The article was "Finding and Correcting Flawed Research Literatures” by Delgado-Romero and Howard (2005, 33 (4), 293–303)."

Briefly, they conducted a series of eight new ganzfeld experiments. Their experiments resulted in a significantly positive overall hit rate of 32%, which is exactly the same hit rate found in a meta-analysis of 88 experiments consisting of 3,145 ganzfeld trials conducted from 1974 to 2004, as I report in EM.

Then amazingly, they explained their own successful results away by conducting a single follow-up experiment based on an ad hoc "psychic theory" they came up with, which resulted in a significantly negative hit rate!

So while psychologists weren't trampling each other to try to repeat the ganzfeld studies, there was at least one admittedly skeptical group at Notre Dame who did publish a replication, and it was successful. Somehow no one (including Alcock) paid attention to this.

I know of at least one other mainstream academic group that also tried to replicate the ganzfeld experiment, and it too was successful. But they've not yet published their results.

Mark Szlazak said...

First off let me say that I do believe there is a psi phenomena to be studied. At this point I believe psi exists and appreciate that the ganzfeld studies were replicated at Notre Dame and another lab. However, I'm assuming from Alcock's interview that these new studies would also not move Alcock from his current position. He said that the existence of psi is inferred by the non-existence of other things in these various parapsychology experiments. In addition, he said that this inference hasn't been stable. Psi is initially implied by exclusion but later on, sometimes years later, some non-psi reason is found for the results, this pattern repeats, and is related to his point about psi being inferred by what it is not. I believe the technical term for this is eliminative induction and it's what Sherlock Holmes teaches Watson in "The Sign of Fours." "How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?" As Alcock points out, the problem with this approach is that one doesn't have assurance of the presence of all elements needed to make it succeed. He is not under Holmes illusion that induction can be turned into deduction from the evidence. Could it be then that what stops people from studying psi is the lack of a good fruitful theory of psi?

Dean Radin said...

these new studies would also not move Alcock from his current position

Correct. If one's starting position is p(psi) ~ 0, it will take an awful lot of in-your-face evidence to force a reconsideration of that prior position.

...but later on, sometimes years later, some non-psi reason is found for the results, this pattern repeats...

This is a popular skeptical mantra. The more frequently it's repeated the more it seems plausible. Unfortunately, it's not true. This is not to say that there aren't occasional flaws or loopholes found in experiments. But when this happens the next round of studies fixes the problems and the same or similar results are still obtained.

I am not aware of any class of psi experiments where earlier observed effects have disappeared. There are certainly fads in which some experiments become more or less popular, but this has more to do with (the handful of) researchers following current fashions rather than previous effects going away.

That said, researchers frequently report a decline effect in these studies. I've seen this in my own studies. I suspect that most of the declines (at least the declines that I've seen) are due to psychological factors, such as boredom and/or anxiety. But as I point out in EM, decline effects can be found in all sorts of experimental disciplines, not just psi.

Could it be then that what stops people from studying psi is the lack of a good fruitful theory of psi?

Yes, is a big part of it. But there are also plenty of people who are seriously frightened of the possibilities presented by genuine psi, and they really don't want anyone to study the issue. This includes otherwise calm, rational scientists who begin to foam at the mouth at the mere mention of this topic.

Mark Szlazak said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tor said...

Mark Szlazak said:
He maybe just holding out for a theory of psi with testable consequences instead.

I wonder what kind of theory skeptics are waiting for? If what is expected is a full fledged physical-type theory (like say quantum mechanics or statistical thermodynamics) for psi, I believe that is expecting to much.
A final psi theory must include mind-like qualities, and to expect it to be similar to purely materialistic theories is not realistic.

On the other hand, certain predictions are already in place:

-Creative people should have better psi performances
-The ability to control and calm the mind (and to focus) should give better performance
-Motivation should give better performance etc.

We also know that certain geocosmic factors seem to influence psi performance.

No complete theory is around, but certain important variables are starting to show themselves, and at the present testable predictions can be made. We just shouldn't expect a purely materialistic theory to come out in the end.

Mark Szlazak said...

Dean, I didn't get from Alcock's interview that his prior probability for the existence of psi is zero.

However, I do believe you are correct that it usually is a myth and "skeptic" mantra that psi effects disappear when possible non-psi reasons are found and explored.

But if these effects don't disappear or even decline under further investigation then Alcock still has a point about the eliminativist nature of psi's research program.

According to John Earman, chapter 7: "A Plea for Eliminative Induction" in "Bayes or Bust?", wrongheaded attacks exist against all forms of eliminative induction in philosophy-of-science textbooks. He cites Ronald Giere's 1980's text as one example:

"If the original alternatives are definite enough and few enough, and one can be sure that they are all there, then one stands some chance of being able to eliminate all but one. This is almost never the case when the alternatives are THEORETICAL HYPOTHESES about some complex system. For a complex system there will be infinitely many different possible hypotheses, only one of which is true. Rarely would all the possible hypotheses be so neatly ordered that one could in some way eliminate all but one. Usually, no matter how many possibilities one succeeds in eliminating, there are still infinitely many left. It is impossible to get down to only one.(1984, p.170)"

Earman claims that these criticisms apply mostly to naive Sherlock Holmes type eliminative inductions and opposite to Giere, eliminative inductions cannot succeed with observational generalizations but can with theoretical hypotheses.

According to Earman, criticisms about this method can be overcome or diminished when there is a mature state of general theoretical understanding so that powerful classification schemes can be developed with subcategories that encompass a large number of possible theoretical alternatives. When coupled with eliminative induction, these schemes make it a powerful methodology. He gives two examples from physics, competing gravitational theories to GTR and non-locality in Quantum mechanics.

Maybe parapsychologists are already doing more powerful forms of eliminativism or maybe they are not. In either case, Alcock just doesn't seem to like it and may not like this approach no matter in what field it is applied. He could be just holding out on methodological grounds for a theory of psi with specific testable consequences instead??

Mark Szlazak said...

tor said...

On the other hand, certain predictions are already in place:

-Creative people should have better psi performances
-The ability to control and calm the mind (and to focus) should give better performance
-Motivation should give better performance etc.

We also know that certain geocosmic factors seem to influence psi performance.


If skeptics accepted that all these observations really correlated with something then the theory of that something should imply these and other things. No psi theory implies any of these things.

Tor said...

Mark Szlazak said:
If skeptics accepted that all these observations really correlated with something then the theory of that something should imply these and other things. No psi theory implies any of these things.

The theory of thermonuclear fusion in stars don't predict photosynthesis in plants. You have to study plants to see the connection. Psi could be similar.

I feel that most skeptics have forgotten how science have evolved. First we have correlations, then we make and test hypothesis which lead to theories, which then later can be tested, make predictions and be expanded.
First you discover the correlation. Without the correlation you get nowhere.

If we find a correlation and make sure that this correlation really exist, the next step is to see what influence the correlation. Continuing along this path will expand our knowledge to the point that we get some sort of a theory. But we should not limit ourselves to this paradigm when thinking about psi. If consciousness/mind in some way is fundamental, like mass or energy (or equivalent to mass/energy like Dean have pointed out), then we will never "understand" anything if we keep focusing on the matter/energy side alone.

Phronk said...

I just read the Delgado-Romero & Howard article that you mentioned above. I admire the fact that they actually conducted research rather than simply stating their claims, but it's almost funny how poorly they did so. They tested their claim - that telepathy does not exist - and falsified it. Instead of saying "oops, we were wrong, but we sure learned something interesting!", they go on to, quite literally, make something up out of thin air (the P/not-P stuff...which contains no citations whatsoever). Then they claim that a very small follow-up study nullifies the results from the larger and more powerful study preceding it.

Wow. I have a feeling that if they were trying to replicate any mainstream psychological finding, the article would not have been published.

Mark Szlazak said...

tor said ...
The theory of thermonuclear fusion in stars don't predict photosynthesis in plants. You have to study plants to see the connection. Psi could be similar.

It would if light only from stars and not from other sources (light bulbs) was needed for photosynthesis in plants. It isn't so it's not required. Anyway, I don't see the relevance of this remark to our discussion.

I feel that most skeptics have forgotten how science have evolved...

Alcock is questioning whether parapsychologists have forgotten science by making scientifically unwarranted claims about the existence of paranormal phenomena. I don't think he is the one who has forgotten science.

To see what Alcock might be driving at, have a look at the eliminative induction section of the exchange over the Intelligent Design Inference (IDI), between Howard Van Till (Howard Van Till's response (submitted 18 October, 2002) and William Dembski's remarks, "Naturalism's Argument from Invincible Ignorance") and William Dembski (Naturalism's Argument from Invincible Ignorance: A Response to Howard Van Till) (Google Van Till and eliminative induction). It has striking parallels to the Psi Inference (PI). IDI uses eliminative induction with a attempt at a powerful classification scheme like Earman writes about. The scheme has been shown a failure in many articles but not so much in this exchange. However, another point comes across. The "designer" is implied by ID supporters by exclusion but there really is no theory of a designer. An unknown is really implied and Van Till says the ID inference amounts to nothing more than an argument from ignorance. I feel the situation could be very similar same for the Psi Inference (PI). Is PI an argument from ignorance?

First you discover the correlation. Without the correlation you get nowhere.

Again, maybe Alcock would say: "Correlations with what! What is the cause of those correlations. There is no theory/explanation of their cause just the belief by some that it is psi."

Regards. The Devil's Advocate.

Dean Radin said...

Alcock is questioning whether parapsychologists have forgotten science by making scientifically unwarranted claims about the existence of paranormal phenomena.

The gigantic difference between psi research and many other denizens of uncertain frontier realms is that psi effects can be inferred solely based on empirical data collected under conditions that would be considered rigorously acceptable in any other area of science (if the topics didn't involve psi).

That is, one doesn't need a theory to demonstrate that unexpected synchronous correlations can appear in two isolated brains when the owners of those brains are asked to keep each other in mind. The fact that the resulting correlation is suspiciously similar to quantum entanglement in photons, observed under conceptually similar circumstances, gives one at least a working metaphor to play with.

If we had to wait for theory to inform us what is acceptable to observe, we'd all still be living in dank caves and eating grubs for dinner. People who require a satisfactory explanation of empirical data before accepting those data as genuine are not practicing science as I understand it.

In my view, people who are heavily theory-driven tend to resemble those who rely on religious doctrine to determine their beliefs. I am skeptical of theories not only because historically they are often found to be wrong, but because pledging allegience to a theory blinds us to alternatives that are not accounted for by the theory.

Mark Szlazak said...

Dean said ...
If we had to wait for theory to inform us what is acceptable to observe, we'd all still be living in dank caves and eating grubs for dinner. People who require a satisfactory explanation of empirical data before accepting those data as genuine are not practicing science as I understand it.

I didn't get from Alcock's talk that he thought the data wasn't real. Rather it was a matter of what does this data mean.

In my view, people who are heavily theory-driven tend to resemble those who rely on religious doctrine to determine their beliefs. I am skeptical of theories not only because historically they are often found to be wrong, but because pledging allegience to a theory blinds us to alternatives that are not accounted for by the theory.


Alcock hadn't mentioned any theory that was driving him. Instead he was pointing out a methodological problem which was tied to an inference, the psi inference, which looks to be a type of logical fallacy: the argument from ignorance.

That is my take and elaboration of his interview.

Tor said...

Mark Szlazak said:
Again, maybe Alcock would say: "Correlations with what! What is the cause of those correlations. There is no theory/explanation of their cause just the belief by some that it is psi."

Dean Radin said:
If we had to wait for theory to inform us what is acceptable to observe, we'd all still be living in dark caves and eating grubs for dinner. People who require a satisfactory explanation of empirical data before accepting those data as genuine are not practicing science as I understand it.

I agree with Dean on this one.

We would all be deep in our caves arguing about the true nature of shadows if it had not been for the few who dared to go out and look at the sun.

I enjoy sunlight, so I think I'll stay out. There are much more interesting things to look at here.

Dean Radin said...

methodological problem which was tied to an inference, the psi inference, which looks to be a type of logical fallacy: the argument from ignorance

This line of argument overlooks why proof-oriented psi experiments are conducted in the first place. People report experiences suggesting the existence of interconnections through space and time. Experiments are devised to see if those experiences are delusions or genuine. The data from those experiments suggest that in some cases these interconnections are genuine.

How to explain these experiences presents a challenge for theorists. But the fact that they occur is theory-independent.

Imagine if someone had stumbled across photon entanglement in the optics lab before invention of quantum theory. How would those correlations at a distance be regarded by most scientists? Probably as Einstein did: spooky actions at a distance, which everyone knows (based on prior theory) cannot be. and yet they are.

Mark Szlazak said...

Dean said ...
How to explain these experiences presents a challenge for theorists. But the fact that they occur is theory-independent.

Imagine if someone had stumbled across photon entanglement in the optics lab before invention of quantum theory. How would those correlations at a distance be regarded by most scientists? Probably as Einstein did: spooky actions at a distance, which everyone knows (based on prior theory) cannot be. and yet they are.


The spooky action at a distance was implied to Einstein by Quantum theory. Even Bell's Theorem assumes certain things. Before QM people would assume, like Einstein, a common cause to those correlations, if those correlations were not spurious, but the interesting question is what is that common cause and that is a theoretical question.

Anyway, I don't see what QT has to do with experiments in parapsychology!

How are parapsychology experiments theory independent?

What does any of this have to do with the criticisms I posted earlier which were a very general criticism on methodology and logical fallacies.

Topher Cooper said...

I may have been the one to have computed the "greater than 1E-2000 figure for Dean." I remember calculating this figure but don't remember whether it was for Dean or just checking the figure when I read it. For what it is worth, the actual figure is 3.069E-2025.

I have a slightly different perspective on the nature of what we are arguing with the skeptics about.

There is a strong, long assumed, hypothesis in science. That hypothesis is that if physical systems are isolated from each other then no communication can take place between them. To make this a serious hypothesis the terms I just used would have to be defined. This is a very pervasive assumption in science -- virtually every experiment ever done assumes the possibility of having an isolated system to do experiments upon.

Traditionally, this hypothesis is not tested but simply assumed. There have been attempts to falsify this hypothesis, however, and they have been successful -- we call these falsifications "parapsychology".

Ideally, a single contrary observations falsifies a hypothesis. In practice, to be sure that no experimental error took place, you need a few replications. Alcock and other Skeptics are just finding ways to justify leaving their strongly held beliefs as effectively unfalsifiable.

There are two types of scientific hypotheses -- a "positive hypothesis" which is subject to falsification, and a complementary "falsification hypothesis" that links contrary evidence to the hypothesis it falsifies. The critics frequently attempt to apply criteria appropriate to a "positive hypothesis" to the fundamental falsification hypothesis of parapsychology, and that is just inappropriate -- a classic category error.