Friday, December 19, 2008

The Will to Disbelieve

The Los Angeles Times carried an article recently by Chris Woolston, entitled "Holiday Hokum? The lowdown on 5 supposedly healthy gifts." One of those gifts was Intentional Chocolate, which readers of this blog know that I was involved in testing. That experiment employed a randomized, placebo-controlled double-blind protocol, which is the gold-standard in medical testing, to see whether chocolate exposed to the good intentions of advanced meditators would make a difference in the mood of people who ate that chocolate, as compared to the same chocolate not exposed to such intentions. The study, a pilot test involving 62 participants, showed that it did indeed make a statistically significant difference.

I admit that I was surprised at the outcome of this test, but data are what they are. The whole purpose of conducting an experiment is to ask questions about how the world works, regardless of our prejudices. And the strength of empiricism is that data always trumps preconceived ideas. If this weren't so, then we'd all still be living in damp caves eating grubs for dinner.

I published the results of this experiment in Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, a peer-reviewed medical journal from Elsevier, one of the world's top publishers of scientific journals. Explore focuses on complementary and alternative medicine, therapy, practices and theories.

The LATimes journalist apparently didn't know or care about any of this. Instead he took the cynical party line:

"It would take far more than a small study in an obscure journal to convince Richard P. Sloan, a professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. 'There's nothing in the way that we understand the universe that would explain how a group of people could influence the well-being of others by blessing their chocolate,' he says. 'Besides, he adds, if chocolate could be blessed, it could also be cursed.' Think about that before you bite into your chocolate Santa."


Sloan is well known for his negative opinions about alternative medicine. The problem is that Sloan's opinion on this matter displays a tendency unfortunately common among some scientists -- he can only believe something if he already knows how to explain it. This attitude is unfortunate because cognitive and perceptual psychology has clearly shown that the old saying, "I'll believe it when it see it," is actually backwards. The saying should be, "I'll see it when I believe it," because we are all biased not to see if we don't believe, or at least have a reason to believe based on theory or prior experience.

Scientists have to continually strive to counter this kneejerk tendency to disbelieve, otherwise existing knowledge quickly collapses into dogma. Unfortunately, existing knowledge almost always congeals into comfortable habits, which is what led physicist Max Planck to lament that despite the scientific ideal, in reality knowledge advances by funerals, and not by the appearance of new evidence or theories.

But besides dismissing results of an empirical test, Sloan's remark (assuming he is quoted correctly) might betray an underlying reason why he'd rather avoid the whole topic. It is quite true that if intention can influence something positively, then it undoubtedly can also influence something negatively. And that is indeed a scary thought. But does that mean it isn't true? Do some scientists strongly resist these ideas because they don't like the implications?

To be fair, this was a pilot test, and long-held beliefs probably shouldn't change based on a pilot test. But this is not the only such experiment indicating that intention influences the physical world; there are many others (I refer readers to my books for details). There are two ways to respond to surprising outcomes of pilot tests. One way is to say, hmmm, that's curious, let's try it again. The other way is to say, that can't possibly be true because the universe doesn't allow for such things.

In another article reporting an experiment studying mental influence of a distant person's nervous system, I responded to Sloan's failure of imagination as follows:

Sloan and Ramakrishnan have asserted that “Nothing in our contemporary scientific views of the universe or consciousness can account for how the ‘healing intentions’ or prayers of distant intercessors could possibly influence the [physiology] of patients even nearby let alone at a great distance.” Is it really true that nothing in science suggests the presence of connections between apparently isolated objects? Quantum entanglement, a far from common sense effect predicted by quantum theory and later demonstrated as fact in the laboratory, shows that under certain conditions, elementary particles that were once connected appear to remain connected after they separate, regardless of distance in space or time. If this property is truly as fundamental as it appears to be, then in principle everything in the universe might be entangled.


And from that arises the concept of entangled minds and matter, which I need not go into here.

58 comments:

Neil' said...

"The whole purpose of conducting an experiment is to ask questions about how the world works, regardless of our prejudices. And the strength of empiricism is that data always trumps preconceived ideas."
Sure, but to "skeptics" the power of our theoretical models is so advanced as to provide grounds for being judgmental about stated results. I don't want to bend too far the other way from that, but it's an extreme position and renders us liable to miss important things that just didn't look to be possible - as the intentional chocolate might be (I say might be, since such preliminary results don't look like "proof", and I am making the point about the principle of the thing.)

BTW, in the mid 90s I heard a talk at "Jefferson Lab" (then "CEBAF") from IIRC a Director at NIH or FDA or some such about tests of the principle behind homeopathic medicine. She showed plenty of slides about studies of super-diluted substances and their effects on cell function, etc. I sure would like to find her name again, the references to the studies etc. Anyone have a clue? tx

qraal said...

Did the experimenters inform the subjects that it had been 'blessed'? How does one objectively measure good effects? Placebo and expectation effects would explain a lot of the data if the experimenters told the subjects too much.

Of course "explaining" the Placebo effect in materialist terms isn't easy either, is it?

Dean Radin said...

> Did the experimenters inform the subjects that it had been 'blessed'?

As the paper describes, everyone knew the purpose of the experiment, but a double-blind placebo-controlled design means that neither the participants or the experimenters knew who got the intentional chocolate. So the results cannot be explained as an expectation or placebo effect.

> How does one objectively measure good effects?

There are many standardized questionnaires used in clinical studies to assess mood, health, well-being, etc. We used a measure for mood called the Profile of Mood States. I don't recall exactly how many journal articles report using this profile, but it numbers in the hundreds to thousands. I.e., it's a very well accepted scale. In fact the entire design of this study was completely standard. Only the underlying question it asked was a bit unusual.

Dave Smith said...

"There are two ways to respond to surprising outcomes of pilot tests. One way is to say, hmmm, that's curious, let's try it again. The other way is to say, that can't possibly be true because the universe doesn't allow for such things."

It always surprises me how many scientists take the second option. IMO, the most exciting situation for a scientist to be in is when you're confronted with something that shouldn't happen according to what we think we know about the world. Perhaps the quotes in the article are an expression of Sloan's public opinion rather than his private opinion?

Alan said...

At one time scientists believed the earth was flat and that disease was caused by evil spirits. Only 100 years ago doctors were prescribing mercury and other heavy metals to patients. It's amazing how wrong state-of-the-art science can be in hindsight.

Complementary and alternative treatments have been safe and effective for decades, hundreds and even thousands of years. Just because "science" doesn't understand it today doesn't mean it won't help.

wanderinglion said...

That Sloan says, " ... 'There's nothing in the way that we understand the universe that would explain how a group of people could influence the well-being of others by blessing their chocolate,' ... "speaks directly, though probably unintentionally, to our shortfall in understanding the universe.

David Bailey said...

Without trying to be unkind to Graal, his comment:

"Did the experimenters inform the subjects that it had been 'blessed'? How does one objectively measure good effects? Placebo and expectation effects would explain a lot of the data if the experimenters told the subjects too much."

seems typical of much criticism of psi experiments.

Someone sits down without reading the actual paper, and asks a question assuming that the experiment has been performed in the most naive way possible! Half the time (maybe not here) others read such remarks and nod their heads knowingly.

Dean Radin said...

> Someone sits down without reading the actual paper, and asks a question assuming that the experiment has been performed in the most naive way possible!

Yes, such comments are of the "maybe you used dirty test tubes" form. While annoying, I usually assume that the questioner isn't being dense, but rather he or she isn't familiar with how experiments are performed. I get this sort of question a lot when I lecture to students.

Dean Radin said...

> ... speaks directly, though probably unintentionally, to our shortfall in understanding the universe.

Yes, and if that were all it meant I'd agree. But those statements go beyond a simple admission of poor understanding. They are also used to block inquiry.

The fact is that we've hardly begun to understand the universe. We are so quick to fall in love with existing theories that we begin to believe that those theories, or very minor tweaks, will stand forever. This illusion is sustained only through hubris, as history shows time and again.

Sandy said...

“Perhaps the quotes in the article are an expression of Sloan's public opinion rather than his private opinion?”

It always amazes me how different a scientist’s public statements may be from what they are willing to admit in private. Sit down with a few scientists over a pitcher of beer, and even taboo topics don’t seem so out of bounds anymore. But once you get back in a public forum, everything changes.

Maybe paradigm shifts require scientists to let down their guard and drink more beer?

wanderinglion said...

"Maybe paradigm shifts require scientists to let down their guard and drink more beer?"
Good point Sandy ... a definite need to break away from the herd is evident. Beer could be a key element!

rpsloan said...

before invoking quantum entaglement as an explanation for distant healing effects, I'd be careful to make sure you understood it.

jaguarsky said...

Now, you see, I am a skeptic; a hard headed one at that. I am also a believer. It really sucks at times. But, over the years I have come to some conclusions, based entirely on personal observations. Not very scientific, I know, but here is what I have learned: our entire reality is based upon intent. With our thoughts, expectations and actions we take the implicate nature of energy and make it into reality. That's all, so simple. I can't explain it, nor do I believe that it will ever be. It just is. That is why I was not at all surprised at the Mr. Radins's findings.

Dean Radin said...

> before invoking quantum entaglement as an explanation for distant healing effects, I'd be careful to make sure you understood it.

I believe I do, at least as anyone can claim to understand the stranger aspects of quantum theory.

jeri said...

The comments tie right in with the mob mentality. Scientists are unable to express opinions or even accept evidence that disagrees with the mainstream.

This is nowhere more clear then the current discussions on Global Warming. The political class and those that control the media would have you believe that it has been proven that Global Warming is a man-made phenomenon. Many scientists that question this opinion will not speak out because the grants and funding they need to survive are denied to those that don't tow-the-line.

I am surprised by the recent large numbers of scientists that have spoken out that this isn't settled.

Now this is something very traditional in science. Imagine how hard it is for some scientist to claim ESP, Remote Viewing, Prayer or other "pseudo-science" topics might have some legitimacy.

Joel said...

Sloan's remarks point to (at least) two all too common failings in the current practice of science. First, his pivotal statement, "There's nothing in the way that we understand the universe that would explain...," reveals to what extent erstwhile scientists relief on consensus rather than actual proof. What he's saying is either we already know everything we need to know to understand the evidence and result, or we won't admit that we don't know what we don't know, therefore we must make a determination solely on what we do know. Sloan's result -- i.e., dismissal by proclamation -- is an unsupported conclusion, and therefore purely speculative and (drum-roll please) a product of a belief system. I'm sorry, but that provides a decidedly unscientific conundrum.

The second failing is all too common: giving up as soon as you reach what I call the interesting question. If it doesn't fit "the way that we understand the universe," then doesn't that beg a much larger inquiry? I guess not, when outright rejection of the results is so much more convenient.

Brian Coblentz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian Coblentz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jiva said...

Mr. Radin is right on. And Lawrence LeShawn, a psychologist wrote an interesting book, "The Medium, the Mystic and the Physicist" that I read back in the late 80's. He pointed out that the medical profession and the sciences would cook up the most totally improbable explanations for new finding that were outside the box of their scientific thinking. Clearly the same thing is still going on today and has the effect of slowing progress because the establishment refuses to look at things that "don't fit their pictures".

Dean Radin said...

Brian Coblentz said...

>You only used 62 people in your experiment. It's pretty hard to find anything statistically significant ... with such a small sample.

May I suggest that you learn something about statistics before offering such opinions?

>And you probably don't understand quantum entanglement. Have you studied physics at a university level?

Of course.

Note: I normally don't post such silly comments. But this one I allowed because it so nicely illustrates the topic of this post: The will to disbelieve leads some to assume that others are wrong, rather than imagine that they might not understand as much as they think they do.

Day R. said...

Dean, I think there is indeed a will to disbelieve, but I think you underestimate the role of egoism in that will. In other words, I cannot be wrong, and therefore you cannot be right.

Sandy said...

“over the years I have come to some conclusions, based entirely on personal observations.”

I actually think that puts you way ahead of the many people out there who have chosen to ignore such personal observations! The will to disbelieve can be such a powerful thing. I’ve had personal experiences that should make it very easy for me to accept the sorts of work discussed in this Blog. And yet I still struggle with wanting to disbelieve… because the world seems somehow safer and more secure that way. I have to remind myself how silly that is.

Rob said...

These scoffing scientists are ridiculous. It is possible, EVEN under current scientifically held views, that there is an influence on the chocolate. Water is a polar molecule and is influenced by magnetism and the brain generates electric fields.

There is no hocus pocus required, yet there is a world of effects that can happen just in the two known facts I mention above.

Zetetic_chick said...

The problem is that Sloan's opinion on this matter displays a tendency unfortunately common among some scientists -- he can only believe something if he already knows how to explain it

Very true. A common "skeptical" criticism I see against anomalous facts or findings is "there is not known mechanisms to explain it".

People who thinks like that seems to believe that a fact can be believed or accepted only if you know how it was caused or produced. History of science refutes that conservative belief.

In many cases, facts were discoveried and accepted even if scientists couldn't explain them in the moment (or even in the present):

-Spontaneous remission of human cancer is an accepted (exceptional) clinical fact in medicine, even if the exact mechanism for it are unknown.

As far I know, oncology doesn't have a testable and reproducible scientific theory to explain spontaneous remission of cancer in human beings. Is it an valid excuse to reject evidence for spontaneous remissions of human cancers?

-Meteorites were accepted as a fact, even when the causal mechanism for them were unknown (in fact, in that moment some "skeptics" claimed that meteorites cannot exist because there is not stones in the sky)

-Consciousness is accepted as a fact by many scientists even if the mechanisms regarding its origin are unknown by them.

In many cases, facts are discoveried first, and possible explanations and mechanisms for them are posed and formulated later.

If you have to wait for an explanation of a fact before it can be accepted, then you're limiting the scope of scientific discoveries and research.

insomniac said...

Howdy Dean,

"And the strength of empiricism is that data always trumps preconceived ideas."

Eventually. =-)

"If this weren't so, then we'd all still be living in damp caves eating grubs for dinner."

True enough, and we may get back to the caves, yet. =-)

The "will to disbelieve" used to be a problem for me. I used to take it personally when confronted with the evangelical skeptic. My dad was the first one, but that's another story.

Now i see it as an important part of the system. Everywhere i look in systems, there is a bias towards established behavior. That tendency makes for stability. That makes new ideas face some tests to prove themselves against what's been successful in the past.

Old ideas have a built in "sundown clause" that erases them as the proponents die off.

As soon as i got passed taking disbelief personally, i found it to be my best stimulation. It became a part of my investigation instead of a barrier to my communication. The very fact that beliefs are so emotionally charged becomes a clue as to how we process information. We have neurons that become agitated by novelty.

Anyway, nice to read your stuff.

cheers,
jim
http://lifeos.wordpress.com/

David Bailey said...

Responding to Insomniac,

It is certainly true that disbelief plays an important role - and we all use it. For example, I dismiss many ideas, such as flat earth theory, out of hand - I don't look at the evidence, and if asked, I probably reply with a scornful laugh.

However, I don't appear on TV shows or conferences posing as an 'expert' on the subject. If for some reason I was asked to do so, I know I would have to read the literature (whatever that might be!).

It is disbelievers that pretend to have studied a subject, but haven't, that really irritate me.

There is also another type of disbeliever - typified by Wiseman - who seem to fail to acknowledge that if you try hard enough, just about any experimental result in any field can be explained away with some tortuous combination of assumptions.

E.g. magnet dropped through coil deflects voltmeter needle.

No - perhaps the magnet hits the table, and the needle gets jolted.

Yes, but why then is it that if I turn the coil over, the deflection happens in the other direction?

Well, you almost certainly knocked the meter while you were reversing the coil, and anyway, you didn't report enough measurements of the 'effect' to exclude chance, and you were on your own, so you might have unconsciously cheated.....

Bharat said...

This is as relevant as anyone who reads it wants it to be, but here is an article in 1998 by the legendary Richard Lewontin on Carl Sagan, the High Priest of "skepticism" though many so-called skeptics leave out that he thought Ganzfeld, REG influence and reincarnation deserved serious study.

Lewontin takes a lot of the book apart and critiques skeptics very well, particular this pearl of wisdom: "Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door."

This pretty much sums it up:

http://www.drjbloom.com/Public%20files/Lewontin_Review.htm

Merry Christmas Dean, Tor, David Bailey, Sandy, Zetetic_Chick, Neil and everyone else!

Patrick said...

Dean, how do you manage to put up with this?? I used to be able to, but now I get so pissed off at dogmatic skeptics (as opposed to genuine and open minded skeptics). For example, look at the dogmatic skeptics on youtube trashing your "google talk" video. It is so infuriating!

So how do you do it??

- Pat

Zetetic_chick said...

It is so infuriating!

Patrick, I've had the same feeling when I read ridiculous and misinformed comments by pseudo-skeptics on serious research on psi.

It's part of life, the best method to deal with that is to ignore them, and deal only with the methods of organized (professional) pseudo-skepticism (as done by Shaldrake in his talk).

Most agressive online pseudo-skeptics are not researchers or scientists but ignorant, prejudiced and dogmatic people, who doesn't have serious scientific or philosophical training, knowledge nor interest in these topics, except to critize them to protect their prejudices or rationalize their cognitive dissonance. It's a waste of time to try to argue with ignorant and prejudiced people.

In other topic, see this paper entitled "New Insights into the Links between ESP and Geomagnetic Activity"

http://www.greyheron1.plus.com/newinsights.pdf

It was recently published in the Journal of Scientific Exploration.

Happy New Year 2009!

Sandy said...

Patrick,

I don’t know how Dean puts up with a lot of things either, but I’m so grateful that he does. His books, this blog, the video of his talk on YouTube… all of these things have given me a tremendous amount of comfort and helped me find alternatives to a world view that made no sense in light of my own personal experience.

After I read Entangled Minds, I sent an email to Dean and he was kind enough to send a reply. What he didn’t know is that for me an email provides a unique perspective on other people. I’ve seen colored lights around people for a long time, and sometimes I can see just as much in a personal communication as I can see looking at someone in person.

Dean has awesome colors. There are these pretty silver threads that weave in and out of all the other lights. For the longest time I wasn’t sure what the meaning of such threads was. I had only seen it on a few other people, two of who were psychic… but I didn’t think it had anything to do with that. I finally figured out that it refers to the ability to find the silver lining in adversity. Dean is able to take difficult situations and turn them around. There is so much courage evident here.

If you think I’m nuts for seeing colors, that’s OK. I would never admit it in person anyway. (Dean, I apologize if you feel uncomfortable about this. I’ll understand if you feel the need to edit my comment.)

Sandy

Dean Radin said...

How do I put up with it? The same could be asked of progressive politicians or artists of any stripe. It's par for the course when you push against orthodoxy.

I value the constructive criticism. The rest is meaningless noise.

I checked on the stats for my Google talk today. It is now the #1 most discussed video among the 1,001 Google TechTalks so far. It's ranked even higher than the talk on "Sex on the internet."

Internet based discussions about controversial topics invariably evoke more heat than light. But it's a start.

Dean Radin said...

I also see that the Google talk given by Rupert Sheldrake a few months ago is now ranked #8 on the "most discussed" list. Go Rupert!

anonymous said...

The biggest problem of pseudo-skepticism is the neglect of psi research funding by governments. Maybe a lobbying orginization is needed more than a public debate.

I think it would also help if a "Thomas Edison" of psi would appear. Applied research leading to a successful product using psi or a technology or technique that enhanced personal psi would be hard to dispute. Profits could also be fed back into more research.

Dean, Is there any renewed interest in the psi switch?

Thanks,

Dean Radin said...

A number of people are interested in psi-based technologies. I'm working on one. But we're all still very much like Franklin flying a kite. We know we can produce sparks -- the question is how to reliably turn those sparks into viable uses.

anonymous said...

I'd like to see a "toy" made with a random number generator and a row of, say, twenty led lights. The user would try to concentrate (meditate) and as he decreased the randomness of the rng, more lights go on. In two player mode you start with the middle light on and each player tries to get it to go in a different direction, left or right. One player tries to increases random events, the other tries to decrease them. Or one player tries to increase order while the other tries to prevent increased order.

I'm certain I would buy something like this if it wasn't too expensive. (I know there are internet based psi tests very similar to this).

Imagine if there were millions of these gadgets sold. The money could pay for more research, for more products, and the best players could demonstrate psi and supply subjects for research.

Dean Radin said...

Psyleron (www.psyleron.com) is making such devices and toys. See e.g. their fun new "mind lamp."

Atheistic Mystic said...

Those Psyleron products look very neat. I think I'll pick up an Alerter. Could be useful at work.

Dean have you had the opportunity to try any of their products first-hand?

Dean Radin said...

I've seen Psyleron's RNG research systems in action, but I haven't seen the other apps yet. I plan to get one of each for my lab, and to beta test other things they are working on.

anonymous said...

Dean,

Are there any other companies that you know of which are trying to sell psi products and using the proceeds to do more research into psi? (A ganzfeld helmet maybe)?

Thanks

Dean Radin said...

There are plenty of people selling training programs for remote viewing, but I'm not aware of anyone who is earning enough to direct the profits back into serious research.

David Bailey said...

"Psyleron (www.psyleron.com) is making such devices and toys."

The nicest thing would be to be able to plug a suitable RNG into my computer and simply write a display in software. Obviously the built-in pseudo random number generator would not be suitable. I wonder if there is an internet source of suitable RNG generated numbers that could be tapped?

Dean Radin said...

See www.random.org.

I've used numbers served from that site in online experiments, and they are nicely random.

anonymous said...

"I wonder if there is an internet source of suitable RNG generated numbers that could be tapped?"

Hi David,

There are online pk testing interfaces here:

http://www.fourmilab.ch/rpkp/experiments/bellcurve/

You can download the source code or templates to use to make your own interface to their rng. The download link is near the bottom of this web page:

http://www.fourmilab.ch/rpkp/experiments/contents.html

I tried it last June, if I remember correctly, the code is mostly for a java applet, but I think you also need to set up a web server because it requires cgi perl programs to, for example, display the results of the trial. There is also some statistical stuff in C. Probably the only code you'd extensively modify if you were making your own ui would be the java code.

The problem I have with it is that the experiments are retro pk. For example you get a random series of bits before you start a 30 second trial. All your pk efforts that you make during that trial are already implied in that random number. I know experiments show it makes no difference but, but, but, I don't like it!

I don't know if internet performance is good enough to do a "live" pk experiment, looking for events live during the trial. Certainly my slow dialup connection isn't. This is why I like the psyleron gadgets (I assume they are not retro).

anonymous said...

"...cognitive and perceptual psychology has clearly shown that the old saying, "I'll believe it when it see it," is actually backwards. The saying should be, "I'll see it when I believe it,"..."

Dean,

When people can't see something because they don't believe in it, how would one use the principles of psychology to get them to believe or see it?

David Bailey said...

Anonymous,

I went to the website you suggested:

http://www.fourmilab.ch/rpkp/experiments/bellcurve/

If I ran the bell curve experiment in 'practice' mode (i.e. using real random numbers), the line moved many sigma to the right over the space of about 1 minute!

Presumably this site - which seems to be about 10 years old - has developed some sort of fault:( I didn't try sampling the raw random numbers.

David

anonymous said...

Hi David,

How many times did you try it? You are aware of beginners luck and the decline effect right? Or are you just a typical skeptic who assumes all evidence for psi is either incompetence or fraud (just kidding :).

I just tried it again and it seems to be behaving correctly. I didn't meditate or concentrate and it didn't go off the edge of the curve.

Maybe you should try it a few more times and see what happens.

You also might be able to accelerate the decline effect by running it in record mode instead of practice mode.

David Bailey said...

Anonymous,

I am neither a skeptic, nor (hopefully) too credulous. I don't think we are talking about a psi effect here - something just seems to be wrong.

I tried it again, and basically (for me) if I switch to practice mode (demo mode just uses local pseudorandom numbers) the display moves off to the right in about a minute without any effort on my part.

anonymous said...

Hi David,

What version of the java plug-in are you using?

On internet explorer you can click on tools->sun java console and a window pops up with the version at the top. On my system it says "Java Plug-in 1.6.0_04"

If you have an older version of java you might try to get a newer one.

I'm running windows xp and I've used the bell curve applet with the opera browser too.

I don't know what else to say, maybe you can find contact info on the web site and ask for support. You might also try asking someone else you know if they can try it and see how it works for them.

anonymous said...

"A number of people are interested in psi-based technologies. I'm working on one. But we're all still very much like Franklin flying a kite. We know we can produce sparks -- the question is how to reliably turn those sparks into viable uses."

Hi Dean,

I just came accross this:


http://www.interchangelab.com/

Interchange Laboratories, Inc. has developed a mind-machine interface technology that has the advantage of being non-contact and non-invasive. This technology operates without the need for detecting low fidelity brain waves or nerve signals.

The MMIP technology is based on interactions at the subatomic level where the distinction between mind and matter disappears and effects become instantaneous over any distance

Research conducted at Princeton University’s PEAR Laboratory (Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research) has shown that non-contact mind-machine influence is a quantifiable phenomenon unconstrained by time and space, (non-local phenomenon).

Are you familiar with this company? It sounds like they are fairly well advanced. According to their web site they're looking to hire people to learn to use the technology.

Dean Radin said...

Yes, I've been closely following their progress and have been testing their system. It looks promising.

anonymous said...

"Yes, I've been closely following their progress and have been testing their system. It looks promising."

I have a hard time understanding how it is arranged that the right mind influences right machine.

Does it just work by intention?

Is there any way to prevent someone else from mentally influencing the unit you are working on?

I saw the link mentioned on The Daily Grail. If there is a lot of publicity and people start thinking about the machines, could that create mental noise that would interfere with their operation?

Dean Radin said...

> Does it just work by intention?

Yes.

> Is there any way to prevent someone else from mentally influencing the unit you are working on?

No, except by controlling who knows what about the system.

> If there is a lot of publicity ... could that create mental noise that would interfere with their operation?

Probably. Intentional effects are like soap bubbles. They are quite real, have structure and "solidity," but they are also fragile. The bubble is created by coherent intentions, but a single "oh no you don't" intention can puncture the bubble like a pin. So controlling who knows what in an intentional experiment is crucial.

anonymous said...

"Does it just work by intention?"

I read the pdf file on the web site.

It seems like everyone who influences the virtual interface has to influence the mmip in the same way. Is that right?

One thing it made me think of is that they could ask the subject to try to mentally influence the virtual interface and have the computer watch how that effects the mmip. Then software could analyze what happens and in that way a computer can learn how the individual subject influences the mmip under different conditions/intentions.

Once the computer is trained, the subject would influence the mmip in some individual way and the computer whch has learned how to translate the changes in the mmip to user intentions would control the device according to its interpretation of the users intentions.

The computer might be able to recognize different users because of characteristic ways they would influence the mmip. This could provide security. The computer would recognize individual users by their characteristic patterns of influence on the mmip and would only allow recognized authorized users to control devices.

Dean Radin said...

There might be person-specific intentional signatures, something like a "mindprint."

I published evidence for this here http://www.scientificexploration.org/journal/jse_03_2_radin.pdf and here http://www.scientificexploration.org/journal/jse_07_4_radin.pdf and several other places.

anonymous said...

"Intentional effects are like soap bubbles. They are quite real, have structure and "solidity," but they are also fragile. The bubble is created by coherent intentions, but a single "oh no you don't" intention can puncture the bubble like a pin. So controlling who knows what in an intentional experiment is crucial."


Is this why it is so hard to get a large effect size in published parapsychology experiments? Any experiment that will be described publicly is subject to retro-causal psychic interference.

Maybe there really is something intrinsic about psi that makes it difficult to demonstrate scientifically to the public, even though many people have significant psi experiences privately?

Could this explain declining effect sizes?

More trials = greater statistical significance = more notable experimental results = greater retro-causal psychic interference = smaller effect size.

Dean Radin said...

Does it explain it? I think partially. There is the rare person who can create super-strong, long-lasting soap bubbles. But for most people, most of the time, the bubbles are weak and prone to pop not only when needled externally, but also spontaneously because of internal conflicts.

anonymous said...

"Does it explain it? I think partially."


It could also explain why a psychic like John Edward might give very good readings to a hall filled with believers but have problems during a live broadcast on The Larry King Show.

It is also consistent with the fact that the best military remote viewing cases remain classified.

" There is the rare person who can create super-strong, long-lasting soap bubbles."


Many parapsychologists choose to use statistics to detect small effects working with ordinary people. But in light of indications that outside interference may be significant, wouldn't it be better to use strong psychics in experiments intended to demonstrate psi is real and in experiments intended to understand how psi works?

Dean Radin said...

> wouldn't it be better to use strong psychics in experiments ...

Yes and no. Yes for getting larger, more reliable, but idiosyncratic effects. No if you want to see what's true in general. The former is useful for diving deep into the phenomena. The latter is useful for seeing the phenomena in a broader context, and for understanding whether we're dealing with "cosmic hiccups," as Ray Hyman puts it, or with an inherent aspect of the fabric of reality.

That said, if I had sufficient funding, I would personally focus solely on people with exceptional talent.