Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Announcement for grant 2010
The Helene Reeder Fund is pleased to announce the availability of grants for small and medium sized scientific research projects concerning the issue of Life after Death.
Grants will be awarded in the range of EUR 500 – 5000 maximum.
The topic Research into Life after Death should constitute the main objective of the project.
Applications in English to be submitted by email to the HRF c/o firstname.lastname@example.org should include:
- detailed description of the project, including the objectives of the project,
- cost budget,
- plans to publish the results in some scientific journals,
- CV of the applicant,
- how the applicant plans to report back to the HRF about progress and result,
- any other financing than from HRF.
Applications should be received not later than 30th of October 2010. It is the intention of the HRF to evaluate the applications and to make decision regarding the grants before the end of December. Applicants will be notified by email after the decision and the grants will be payable during December.
Monday, March 29, 2010
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4. Grinberg-Zylberbaum, J., Delaflor, M., Attie, L. & Goswami, L. (1994). The Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox in the brain: The transferred potential. Physics Essays, 7,422–428
5. Hasson U., Nir Y., LevyI., Fuhrmann G., & Malach R. (2004). Intersubject synchronization of cortical activity during natural vision. Science 303, 1634– 1640.
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7. Hearne K. Visually evoked responses and ESP: Failure to replicate previous findings. J Society for Psychical Research 1981, 51, 145-147.
8. Kalitzin S. & Suffczynski P. (2003). Comments on “Correlations between brain electrical activities of two spatially separated human subjects”. Neuroscience Letters 350, 193–194.
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Friday, March 26, 2010
"This is an idea that a skeptic gave:
"In ganzfeld studies, instead of 4 pictures, you start with 2 paired sets (formed randomly) of 4 pictures (8 pictures altogether) - each picture in one set is paired with a picture in the other set. One picture from one set is randomly selected as a target (both the target and set selection are random) for the sender. You go through all of the usual procedure. At the end, the receiver is randomly shown one set of 4 pictures - either the set which contained the target or the set which did not. The receiver then judges which picture was the target, as per the usual procedure. No feedback is given. It is a 'hit' if either picture in a pair was the target. Then you compare the number of hits when the same set of pictures was used for the sender and receiver vs. the number of hits when different sets of pictures were used for the sender and receiver. Everyone remains blind as to the condition throughout the entire experimental series. This design requires very little change in the procedure, yet all of a sudden it contains the most powerful tool we have in research design - a control group. In one fell swoop, it would eliminate any of the bickering and nitpicking between believers and skeptics as to what the results mean.
I am truly curious about this though. Does anyone have any inside knowledge into why control groups were never really built into the design? It seems so obvious that their absence is weird.
What do you think about the design? And why the ganzfeld studies have not controls groups?"
The suggested method does not test for the presence of telepathy any better than the existing method. The ganzfeld technique is already controlled by protocol. That means that as long as the targets are selected at random, there is no way that any response bias can systematically guess the right target. So comparing the observed hit rate vs. the chance expected hit rate over the long run is a perfectly suitable method for inferring the presence of telepathy. The adequacy of this approach has been confirmed many times by statisticians.
What the proposed idea does is test whether a "sender" is necessary to perceive information from a distance. Such tests have been done, both within the ganzfeld paradigm and in remote viewing designs. The answer is no -- which raises an epistemological question about how one would test for "pure" telepathy. So far, no one has a good answer to that question, although the closest we've come to date are studies using physiological methods, including EEG, to look for correlations in bodily responses between isolated people. Those studies suggest some form of connectivity between people, which is in alignment with the general idea of telepathy.
I've found that confusion about experimental methods often reflects a lack of familiarity with the relevant literature. This is true in any scientific discipline. In the present case, these issues have been discussed in detail for many decades by those working in the field. In addition, a statement like "In one fell swoop, it would eliminate any of the bickering and nitpicking between believers and skeptics as to what the results mean" is admirably enthusiastic, but it's also naive. The existing evidence is already persuasive to stupendously high degrees of statistical certainty. Another new experimental design is not going to change the nature of the debate, which is focused on theoretical and ideological complaints, and not on a dispassionate evaluation of the empirical data."
I would just add to this that should an easily repeatable experiment appear, without the requirement of special subjects, then that might well overwhelm prevailing skepticism. Use of special subjects is appealing and makes much sense, but the skeptic can always reply that those people are cheating, or that they cannot be easily found so independent replications cannot be performed.
That said, participants selected on the basis of some talent will almost always do better in experiments, so if you're interested in learning something rather than in convincing skeptics, it's better to go with selection, provided you have the resources to actually do that (it's a non-trivial problem).
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
At the University of Allahabad, where I presented two talks at the Centre of Behavioural and Cognitive Sciences. I also gave an interview for the Times of India newspaper. This Centre is engaged in world class cognitive science research. Impressive facilities, faculty, and research programs.
Here I am after receiving a bouquet of flowers prior to giving the annual National Visiting Professor talk at the Indian Council of Philosophical Research in Lucknow, India. I gave a second talk the following day. Both presentations were followed by many good questions and comments.
Monday, March 08, 2010
This was a pleasant coincidence. About 30 km outside of Bangalore I gave a talk on testing the siddhis, as described in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, in Patanjali Hall at SVYASA (Swami Vivekananda Yoga College). This is one of the world's leading yoga research institutions, supported by the Indian government.