Friday, March 26, 2010

Controls

A reader emailed me this query:

"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?"


My reply:

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).

53 comments:

Machina Labs said...

One thing that would really help build credibility is a prediction. Einstein's theories of relativity really shook things up in the physics world - but they made testable predictions. Someone has to say, "If psi exists, then X." One would think that just testing that "if psi exists, people would be able to transfer information to each other," would suffice, but that does not give much insight into the mechanism.

Maybe a large, high-profile ARV experiment using a fair amount of money would at least quell the complaint of, "If psychics existed, they'd make a killing on the stock market." I know Targ et al had good success in a small experiment on the matter using silver futures, but subsequent replication by other parties had dodgy results. Though, if I'm not mistaken, isn't exactly this experiment in the works?

Atheistic Mystic said...

If the special subjects are meditation experts and their brainwave activity was closely monitored during experiments, would that prevent cheating?

Dean Radin said...

> Someone has to say, "If psi exists, then X."

One type of prediction we can make is that if the ganzfeld results are true, then because of brain/mind correlations there should also be EEG correlations between isolated people who are keeping each other "in mind." Such studies have been done, and they work.

And yes, for some people making money using psi might be more convincing. See this website for such an example.: http://www.remote-viewing.com/

Dean Radin said...

> If the special subjects are meditation experts and their brainwave activity was closely monitored during experiments, would that prevent cheating?

That would help. I've been working with meditators recently and in some experiments they perform dramatically better than non-meditators.

Tor said...

When studying the fine details of a particular experimental paradigm there is a peculiar mental mechanism that kicks inn: The loss of overview. At least this is the case with me. It is important to take a step back at times and look at the field as a whole. There are intricate connections that exists both withing and between research areas such as psi, consciousness and physics. It seems to me that many skeptics can not reach this kind of overview, and thus get stuck banging their heads against a single possible loophole in an experimental paradigm, that they think (often mistakenly) disproves the whole field. I can understand this, as I recognize the effect in myself, but it boarders on the neurotic.

Tor said...

Book recommendation for readers of Dean's blog

Currently I am reading The Metal Benders by John Hasted. From this books it seems there were done a lot of experiments on pk-metal bending in the 70s. Many labs and scientist were involved. I find it strange that apart from Dean's mention of his bent spoon, no research on this seems to have been done since the late 70s. These kinds of studies do not even need statistics. The effect can be seen directly.

The books throws up some equations at times, but it isn't that hard to grasp if you have some science bakground. That being said, there is no need to understand the equations to follow Hasted's experimental adventures. A good read!

Machina Labs said...

Thanks for the link.

> That would help. I've been working with meditators recently and in some experiments they perform dramatically better than non-meditators.

That's promising. If scientists can continually show that one specific group of people can perform better than others, at a task that is truly random and have zero correlation, then that may hold more validity than overall effect size.

Dr. Radin, do you know of any psi experiments that were done under the guise of biofeedback, so that subjects had no idea they were attempting psi? Putz et al did some interesting stuff with covert Ganzfeld, and I'm wondering if it will translate to micro-PK. I predict that a strong expectation of the target moving (created by being wired up to what looks like a sophisticated biofeedback machine) would be able to evoke unconscious psi to influence REG-controlled target.

Atheistic Mystic said...

>That would help. I've been working with meditators recently and in some experiments they perform dramatically better than non-meditators.

Would group meditation increase performance yet again? What I mean is, if a hundred meditation experts were focused on the same task at the same time, would they perform better than a lone meditator or a group of non-meditators?

David Bailey said...

I remember reading a long time ago about a psi experiment that used error correcting codes to transmit a message without error.

If the brain waves of two people who are thinking of each other are correlated, skeptics probably just mutter about some sort of statistical error in the calculation. However, suppose an actual message could be sent reliably over such a 'channel', maybe people would start to take notice!

Denise said...

I am the person who wrote the post which you elected to copy without attribution and to alter without indicating that alteration (both behaviours infringe on copyright protection). My original post can be seen here.

http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?postid=5723355#post5723355

Dean Radin said...

Sorry Denise, but your comment was emailed to me by a third party who did not cite where the note came from or who wrote it, nor did he inform me that he would forward my reply without my permission. He then emailed me your response, which I will not repeat here. But I will provide a portion of my reply:

"The proposed design is said to be superior to a single target set design because it provides a condition in which information is sent that in some conditions (i.e., the sham set) would not be possible to match the receiver's subjective impressions to the target pool beyond chance levels. With this design the telepathy hypothesis would lead one to predict one condition with a hit rate greater than expected by chance (the real set), and the other condition with a hit rate at chance (the sham set).

Does this extra design element provide a clearer means of control than the existing method? No, it does not. The ganzfeld design already tests for the presence vs. absence of telepathy by employing a real target vs. 3 controls. Over multiple trials if telepathy were absent the hit rate must average 25%, and if telepathy were present it must average over 25%. It doesn't get any simpler than that, and notably, none of the skeptics who have published critiques about the ganzfeld have questioned this design [forums don't count as "published"].

...So far no one has presented a persuasive argument for a better method. The proposed method is certainly not any better, and indeed it can be argued that it's actually worse because it requires greater statistical power.

If the correspondent remains unconvinced, then I invite her to conduct the experiment she proposes. Critics rarely believe anything published by parapsychologists anyway."

Dean Radin said...

> Would group meditation increase performance yet again?

Experimental evidence to date suggests that highly coherent groups would produce better results, but creating and maintaining that coherence is non-trivial.

Dean Radin said...

> suppose an actual message could be sent reliably over such a 'channel', maybe people would start to take notice!

I actually conducted such an experiment to see if the physiological correlations we see between people in a DMILS design could be encoded to carry a simple message. To make a long story short, the answer was yes. I talked about this study at a Society for Scientific Exploration conference some years ago. But I'll wait for some future book to explain it all in print.

Energy said...

Re: metalbending.

There was supposedly a lot of that in the 70s. But were the stories true?

In The Awakened Mind by Maxwell Cade he claimed to have mapped via biofeedback the brainwave patters for PK, including metalbending.

In the 70s there were also people who could supposedly do tremendous self-healing like Jack Schwartz and there were also claims of being able to learn languages in record time.

Lots of claims from that era but the closer scientists looked the less they found. I suspect if anyone could hook themselves up to biofeedback and self-heal significantly or bend metal I think it would have been done.

If people are trying to prove psi once and for all in some way beyond the statistics then have it so psi can be used to make a significant positive difference in people's lives.

At some point practical applications will be the next step anyway.

Dean Radin said...

Re: metal bending.

Lots of informal metal bending studies have been conducted, but no systematic research apart from one or two people in the 70s and 80s.

As far as I can tell, the primary reason this topic more or less disappeared is because it was ridiculed so effectively by impassioned skeptics who claimed that all such effects were obvious tricks, and thus anyone suggesting otherwise was foolish. This reaction was so effective that no one wanted to be associated with that area of research any more.

This is a pity, because in some cases metal really did (and does) bend in anomalous ways. I know this to be true first hand based upon my own experience. It only happened once, and I haven't been able to repeat the effect. But how many times do you need to witness the "impossible" to accept that some things are indeed possible. That particular piece of bent metal remains in my possession and I examine it now and then to remind myself that the universe is chock full of many mysteries.

Tor said...

Energy said:

Lots of claims from that era but the closer scientists looked the less they found.

This is actually plain wrong. As is described in the book, quite a lot of scientists did thorough research on this phenomena. Hasted himself went quite far in his exploration, developing a strain gauge apparatus for doing measurements on the metal without anyone touching it. Metal that is deformed, but not deformed beyond it's yield point, will return to it's original shape. But a strain gauge will measure these temporary changes, and Hasted did a lot of studies with children using his strain gauge measurement system. What hasted and colleagues found is that in paranormal metal bending, the elastic component of the metal is largely suppressed, and the stress that is applied to the metal is apparently an internal stress. But it doesn't stop there. In some cases the metal actually hardened without bending. So it seems that what we are dealing with here is not a phenomena that is only about bending metal, but about changing the intrinsic properties of metals.

One of the interesting things to read was how Hasted sometimes tricked the children in the beginning. There was most often a mental barrier to be crossed, where the child didn't think he/she could do it. By increasing the resolution of his strain gauge measurements, he could make the children think the signals that they saw (noise) were produced by them, and surprise surprise, suddenly larger (up to a factor of 1000 larger) signals started to appear on the printout. This is once again a good example of how we can do what we believe we can do. In some of these experiments with strain gauges attached to latch keys, in addition to them giving large strain signals, the latchkeys also ended up with permanent beds. Remember, here no touching had been involved.

Jim said...

Will you please give us your comments on the movies Avatar and Men Who Stare at Goats. I would like to know if you think they will positively affect the general public's view of psi or the concept of entangled universe. (I loved Avatar and was very upset about how ridiculous the other movie was.)

Energy said...

Oh, come on.

As is described in the book, quite a lot of scientists did thorough research on this phenomena.

Sure, lots of scientists looked into these phenomena then and error after error in methodology was discovered.

This is once again a good example of how we can do what we believe we can do.

To think that belief is the determining factor is just plain naive. I've known kids of the 60s generation raised with these beliefs that 'beliefs determine reality', raised to use psi from just past the time they could walk, and it makes no difference at all. They usually end up messed up and certainly non-psychic.

People have believed. And reality re-asserted itself.

People claimed extremely dramatic results through that era just like they did in ancient history. Why is it people don't levitate? Move objects clear as day under controlled conditions? Or better yet under everday conditions?

One scientist who wants it to be so doesn't make it real, nor does a group that have to modify their experimental conditions again and again.

Why is it Uri Gellar failed so spectacularly when he gets on the Johnny Carson show, once Johnny prepped the interview so magic tricks couldn't be used? This is after scientist(s) looked into his abilities. Claiming he had psi at first and then lost it when Carson interviewed him is weak.

I'm no skeptic, but there are significant technical issues to work through. Psi will require breakthroughs in technique and application to turn the tide. That *may* be impossible and psi could be an inherently elusive and weak phenomena. We'll see until proven otherwise.

My point about the earlier books, and I've read lots of them, is that claims of extreme results in the 70s have not been corroborated, nor have they been built upon even by the people who did the research and made the dramatic claims. If they were we would be levitating by now.

I've known people who are neuroscientists today who wanted to believe and they looked and looked and researched the supposedly talented and concluded there was either nothing there or very little.

I was reading about psi 25 years ago and I can tell you for all intents and purposes things are basically the same: A small group of researches claim psi is proved, skeptics say otherwise, some skeptics convert to belief and some believers become skeptics.

In the meantime there has been no practical application that can resolve the debate for the average person beyond doing mental exercises that lead to questionable results that require some very subtle statistical parsing to even come to a conclusion.

As it did then the field seems to show there is something there but it is very subtle.

Arguing for psi just because you want it to be so, especially from the notion that just belief is what holds us back, is plain foolish. If anything that impedes any kind of progress at all.

Machina Labs said...

@Energy, I think everyone argues their point of view, even to a small extent, because they want it to be so. That's human nature. Psi-proponents and many skeptics want people to have psychic abilities; it would be so cool. But I think many skeptics are very troubled deep down inside by the vastness of the universe and lack of knowledge about it, that the existence of psi would imply, and they are comforted by a reductionist world in which everything can be figured out and everything plays by the rules.

Both over-zealously looking for evidence of psi in every little thing, and shrugging off every little anomaly, is counterproductive. It's a yin/yang thing; the best approach is balance.

Dean Radin said...

> ... beyond doing mental exercises that lead to questionable results that require some very subtle statistical parsing to even come to a conclusion....

This is not quite correct. The ganzfeld experiment is evaluated using a completely transparent analytical method and very simple statistics. This simplicity of design was intentional, and the results are unambiguous.

In my view the reason the evidence is viewed as subtle, or difficult to understand, or difficult to replicate (none of which is true), is primarily due to assumptions underlying our understanding of mind and matter. Most people who go through (Western-oriented) college today have adopted a classical physics model of reality combined with the assumption that brain = mind. Within these assumptions, psi appears to be impossible, thus no evidence to the contrary can ever be sufficiently persuasive.

But if history has taught us anything, it's that our assumptions about mind and matter (and everything else) evolve. The way I see the direction that science is headed is that it's becoming increasingly compatible with the idea of psi as a natural reflection of the holistic fabric of reality. Others disagree. I believe they are wrong, but time will tell.

Machina Labs said...

> ... beyond doing mental exercises that lead to questionable results that require some very subtle statistical parsing to even come to a conclusion....

You also have to remember that these results are elicited in highly controlled laboratory conditions. Ask any psychologist, people act different when they know they are being tested, vs when they think no one is looking.

Outside of the lab, I've seen people knock over 5lb dumbbells with psychokinesis, piles of magazines fall over for no reason, I have a report witnessed by hundreds of people of a chandelier spinning wildly, I've seen people drop the temperature of water two degrees C. It's a very hard to isolate effect, but when it occurs, it can be well beyond subtle.

Tor said...

Sure, lots of scientists looked into these phenomena then and error after error in methodology was discovered.

It would be nice to have a reference to this claim. If you are thinking about Uri Geller, then I agree. He didn't easily submit to proper protocol when it came to metal bending, and the guy is shrouded in mystery. Probably the way he likes it.

About belief, please do not misunderstand me. I am not talking about a naive version of "believe it and it happens" here. My point was that if you believe you can do something, then it is easier to do it, if what ever it is you are supposed to perform is part of human functioning. This is true for most of what we humans do.

What Hasted describes in his books seems sound. The methodology seems good. His equipment as described seems robust. He closely observed when experiments were performed. He sometimes invited other scientists to observe that everything was done in a proper controlled way.

If someone at the time tried to replicate his findings they would have to use the same subjects, as the phenomena seemed to be a skill not present to a large degree in all. Some of the subjects were tested by several of his colleagues which replicated the findings.

To dismiss his and his colleagues results I we would have to label them all as incompetent. I won't do that. However, I would not be surprised to find metal bending hard to replicate in an atmosphere of scepticism and mistrust. A common feel I get when I see critique of psi research is that being an open minded researcher is implied to mean you are a gullible and easily fooled researcher, and all of your experimenting must be full of methodological faults. Sometimes this may be the case, but in my reading of the literature it generally is not.

A strong suggestion I do think emerges from psi research, is that a necessary condition for successful results is that the scientists involved keep and open mind. Overly sceptical attitudes seems to be non conductive to psi. This is not surprising if we think about what this research tells us. We are not isolated creatures. Mental attitudes, wishes, "atmosphere" etc (maybe even the people reading the article afterwards), all of it can affect the outcome.

I agree with Dean. Physics is already tearing down the boarders between mind and matter. The mental effecting the material will be seen as more and more plausible as our science progresses. As psi becomes less ridiculous to our scientific based culture, it will be easier for people to let these things happen. I still think it will be necessary to practice some appropriate method that stabilises the mind in order for the effects to be repeatable at demand (should this really be a requirement of any human functioning?), but once the negative attitude of the mainstream scientific establishment fades, and the fear of ridicule fades with it, psi will become much easier to replicate.

Ken Euler said...

Hi Dr. Radin

I am curious about some of the studies that demonstrate EEG correlations between individuals participating in telepathy (or other) types of ESP experiments.

I am currently writing a paper on it for university (examining telepathy experiments) and am having a hard time tracking them down (I know they exist because I have heard you talk about them!)

Thanks!
Ken

Sandy said...

In a couple of weeks, I'm going into a lab to have some testing done that has to do with pk. I'm a bit afraid of what I may find out about myself. I'd be happy if it turned out I was normal. I don't really want pk to be real. I sure don't want anyone to think I could possibly do such a thing, even if the effects are very small.

So why go? Because my fear of psi/pk is outweighed by the need to know the truth. But only just barely.

Machina Labs said...

@ Sandy - I'm really intrigued, because I think fear plays a large role in the existence of CSI(COP).

Why are you afraid of psychokinesis/psi?

Sandy said...

@Machina Labs

Why am I afraid of psi/pk?

BECAUSE IT'S REALLY SCARY!!!!!

I know that it is irrational, silly, unscientific, childish, illogical and a lot of other things that I'm not proud of... But my fear of psi/pk is REAL. I try to cope. I'm participating in research. I'm doing what I can to be rational in my approach to these things. But I'm still afraid.

Machina Labs said...

Nah, you're not irrational, silly, unscientific, childish, or illogical at all (and in fact you are the opposite of all of those). If you could pick something to be freaked by, this sort of stuff is a good choice. It's invisible, we don't know how it works, and it has all sorts of strange implications. You are completely normal for being scared of this.

Energy said...

@Sandy,

I had that experience of fear when I got results from doing psi exercises in my early teens. I would have a psychic experience and feel a rush of fear in the days that followed.

I don't really know why. I don't believe it was just preconceptions about reality being potentially shattered.

Psi, in my experience, is real.

The fear may come more from you being able to do it and what that means.

Energy said...

This is an offer and a challenge regarding psi in the real world.

Given that psi is argued here and elsewhere to provide a statistically significant edge I want to see whether this can be proven in a real-world test that psychics can benefit from financially.

For those of you are familiar with the odds in gambling you will know that both blackjack and trading currencies or futures have relatively small edges in favor of the house/broker.

If you have read Keith Harary's work (a supposedly psychic wunderkind who has since renounced belief in psi) you know he once argued that the edge in psi applied to the odds in blackjack present a winning combination if you play with a fairly easy-to-learn strategy for maximizing your odds.

This is also true in trading markets where you are basically only playing against the broker.

Recently Dean has linked to someone supposedly using remote viewing for trading commodities. The remove viewer had acquired a grand total of $100,000. Not to knock this amount of money but anyone who knows trading knows that even starting with what you can borrow on a credit card - 5 to 10 k - can be rapidly expanding to 1-2 million dollars in less than a year IF you have a rock solid statistical edge.

So my challenge is if you can find me a small number of people who have shown statistically significant abilities in precognition/clairvoyance (to the extent this can be determined) I will help acquaint them with the money management and other facts involved in using their edge in the real world, in the world of trading.

I am not convinced the claims of a reliable statistical edge exist nor that psi can be applied consistently in the real world, so consider this a blend of a friendly offer and a throwing down of the gauntlet in challenge to anyone reading this.

-Show me you have a track record (mandatory).
-Show me you have an edge.
-Commit to a relatively short period of trading, less than one year.

If you can do it you will get from this:

1. Enough money to retire
2. Enough money to fund parapsychology research
3. Real world proof that will definitely have the world's attention

I predict that for some mysterious reason no one will be interested despite our economic downturn and the promise of financial freedom; or that also for some mysterious reason will be unable to show they have an edge; or be unable to complete using their supposed edge in a real-world environment despite huge benefits; or that some other rationalization will be made to prevent this from going forward.

Dean, I welcome you or anyone you know of in the community to pass this along to any people who have shown psychic talent.

I will post this challenge on my blog. I welcome any refinement of protocol, but obviously the great thing about this is the results will speak for themselves.

Markets and gambling offer beautiful, indeed ideal, places to test a supposed edge.

Let's bypass Randi and experiments and create something. If these claims about psi and an edge are true you could fund endless psi tests via the psychics applying their skills to the markets.

To my knowledge every attempt to do something along these lines fails. Paul Allen, partner of Bill Gates, and Sony Corporation funded psi and then both shut down their respective research due to lack of results.

Similarly Keith Harary had a group of psychics work on predicting the silver markets and again mysteriously stopped with assorted rationalizations when they acquired an amount of money that was frankly negligible in the world of commodity trading.

That's my challenge. If you can present psychics then this can go to real world application. I'll help people learn what to do and can even manage the account.

I don't think it will happen and as per usual there is really no good reason why not but this is my offer regardless.

My blog:

EnergyBodyWaysPsychicChallenge

Dean Radin said...

Few people I know have a consistent enough "edge" to make this type of effort feasible, but I do know people who are giving it a try.

The challenge seems reasonable, but it's like saying to Ben Franklin that your kite-flying experiment is interesting, but we needn't pay much attention to it unless we can make those sparks do something useful. Or to Marie Curie, your "hot rocks" are an interesting lab curiosity, but what are they good for?

Sometimes we can know a thing is real, but we don't know enough yet to turn it into a reliable technology. In our pragmatically-oriented world, many people only value ideas if they can be turned into money. Fortunately, other people are motivated enough by sheer curiosity to study sparks, hot rocks, and psi.

> Paul Allen, partner of Bill Gates, and Sony Corporation funded psi and then both shut down their respective research due to lack of results.

I'm sorry, but this is incorrect. In both cases the lab closings had absolutely nothing to do with results from psi experiments, because they were successful in both cases. In the first case I know this because I was there (in fact, in charge of the program), and in the second case I know something about the research that was conducted and its results.

Energy said...

Dean, the main difference with the analogy with the kite-flying is that aspect has been proven, at least to non-skeptics, for some time.

The combination of personal experience, anecdote, and the reading of psi literature even 25 years ago pretty much showed some results, although hard to control ones. I remember at that time people just like you, Keith Harary, Charles Tart, Russel Targ, even Arthur C. Clarke (who also later claimed much of what he earlier believed he no longer believed; 99% of psi was bunk) all saying the same about science and psi.

Of course pure inquiry is useful and may pay off. That's also something I thought for 20+ years. But at some point there has to be a push for bigger results.

The real question I am posing is is it an innate quality of psi to be a relatively weak phenomena that resists practical application on a larger scale? I currently believe it is innate to the realm of psi to resist consistency and the kind of real-world experiment I propose.

The odds in trading, for example, do not require a large edge but they would require a consistent one.

As for Paul Allen and Sony Corp can you say what led to their closure? Was it lack of a way to translate what was found into business?

Dean Radin said...

> Dean, the main difference with the analogy with the kite-flying is that aspect has been proven, at least to non-skeptics, for some time.

Of course, but at the time no one would invest in kite flying because the effect was capricious, weak, and no one could imagine any use for it. Psi is a far more difficult problem than electricity because it involves consciousness in some way, and no one understands how subjectivity can arise in presumably non-conscious hunks of tissue.

We are so used today to seeing scientific advances made in terms of weeks rather than years, that when faced with a super-complex problem like consciousness, some assume there's no progress. Well, there is progress, it's just exceedingly slow because very few people are seriously engaged in psi research, and the problem itself might be so far beyond our current understanding that we're still at the stage where we're asking the wrong questions.

Psi is not the only difficult question out there. People are still dying of cancer even after trillions of research dollars have been spent. Why? Because the problem is more complex than we can presently understand. There are plenty of similar problems.

> As for Paul Allen and Sony Corp can you say what led to their closure? Was it lack of a way to translate what was found into business?

In the first case psi research was a tiny, inconsequential portion of the research portfolio. That lab was designed as a 10-year experiment. It closed after 10 years. In the second case, the founder of Sony, who was the champion of the project, died, and his successors were interested in other things.

Tor said...

There is one curious issue about science. It has made success by excluding the very instrument it uses to create itself: The Mind.

I feel this is a kind of "Emperors new clothes" situation. By first excluding subjectivity from the universe, and then developing increasingly sophisticated theories based on the idea of objectivity, the western world has effectively fooled it self into thinking that objective materialistic theories are reality. But without our minds and all it encompass, no such theories would be possible in the first place... It doesn't take too much to figure this out, although a university education can do wonders to suppress the obvious.

It is no wonder then that paradoxes arise when we start to poke at what we think is the fabric of reality. Quantum physicists discussed these issues in the early 20th century, and now it has become increasingly clear that our fault lies in the basic assumption of objectivity. There is no objective world apart from us.

Anyone interested can have a look at what Anton Zeilinger has to say about the issue. Here is his lecture and interview from when he received the Isaac Newton medal in June 2008:

http://www.iop.org/activity/awards/International%20Award/page_31978.html

Energy said...

Unlike electricity you have to be fantastically unimaginative to not see the potential uses for psi.

The issue with psi is that very fact: It is so useful as well as so subject to so-called bootstrapping. If you get a little bit of it you've likely got it all.

For example, if someone were truly clairvoyant they would get the answer for how to be more psychic. The same goes for PK - you could use it to modify your own psychic abilities.

Also as I point out with my Psychic Challenge anyone with a reasonable edge could use it not only to have a tremendous lifestyle but also be able to fund continuing psi or other research to their heart's content. Strangely that does not happen.

Psi is insanely useful so what is stopping it is definitely the puzzle of its nature, not whether it can be used.

As for Paul Allen and Sony Corp I notice as a long-time watcher of psi research how quintessentially perfect it all is: Here we have supposed businessmen using their money to fund small amounts of psi research and you say they did get results and yet there is no follow-up by either them or their successors?

So either businessmen don't want to make money or psi again resists further application. I doubt in either case results were adequate to be applied in either case; or there is some other agent at work preventing the obvious, their own psi research!, from being applied.

This is such a constant and inexplicable aspect of psi research: Claims of success yet always not quite enough success or some deflection of attention when you would expect people to grab onto it with both hands!

Dean Radin said...

> Unlike electricity you have to be fantastically unimaginative to not see the potential uses for psi.

For reliable, unambiguously clear psi, yes. But that's not where we are. Today's understanding of psi is like Ben Franklin's sparks. We know the phenomenon exists through controlled experiments. We just don't know enough yet to create the high reliability effects that can underlie the kinds of products or services you have in mind.

I've provided a link to someone who decided to put what we do know to the test, and even with our uncertain knowledge he did make money. Is $100K not enough of a demonstration? Is there a magical dollar amount where suddenly psi becomes real?

> This is such a constant and inexplicable aspect of psi research ...

Only inexplicable if you believe that people make decisions rationally when it comes to issues like money and power, which is how the business mind usually regards potential uses of psi. In addition, the very concept of psi as really real, and not some sort of SciFi fantasy, freaks out lots of people. So this realm of experience carries its own peculiar baggage.

Energy said...

Is there a magical dollar amount? In a way: Yes. Great question and that's exactly what I am willing to tackle this with my Psychic Challenge if someone can provide a talented psychic or three for a trading edge.

I did follow your link and unless he reveals more information there is a significant problem with $100K profit.

First, what is the amount of starting capital? If he had 2 million dollars making 100K is nothing; pure chance.

Second, what was the leverage? Randomness alone can account for short-term gains on a high leverage account.

His data makes no sense from a commodity trading perspective. It's highly unlikely that he traded over 3000 times in a 7 year period and made money yet that >3000 trials is what he uses as data.

So what is the source of his data on his supposed predictive accuracy if not the markets? He is filling in data in some way; those aren't all trades.

He is clearly conflating his overall tests with his claims on the market!

As I say above, I have an open, real-world offer on exactly this subject.

With a simple system for compounding interest, a few basics of trading, and applied psi if it can provide a statistical edge I can show anyone who is psychic the route to multi-millions.

So what's the magic number? What I said in my offer: Start with 5-10 K and make 1 million dollars.

If the project starts to bear fruit you will have people lining up around the world to put their money into the fund which will reduce the compounding needed to hit 1 million in profit.

As I mentioned elsewhere I acknowledge some rich people may be psychic. However they often don't know they are and I can't say for sure whether it's that or something else.

That remote viewing link, for someone who knows the markets, is full of unanswered questions. His profits do not reflect what he describes in terms of # of trades and without further details it could easily be chance.

Oddly he stops at 100K which is around where Keith Harary stopped with his team, and of course Keith has abandoned psi as an explanation. Which means randomness is more likely as the explanation.

Send me some psychics who can maintain an edge and I'll swap currency market knowledge for their ability and we can literally change the world, no exaggeration. There must be psychics who have consistently tested well. Are they all rich and retired?

All this pre-supposes psi can be made into something more at all, which is what I doubt and I why I pose the challenge.

I understand it is not now nor has it been in anyone's lifetime reliable. What I'm saying is I'm highly skeptical it ever will be. No one can prove either way, but drawing analogies to electricity only go so far when the analogies are imperfect and this amount of time in studying psi has passed.

Not every phenomena can be extrapolated to larger things.

Psi has retreated from the dramatic tales of the past, levitating yogis, public spoon bending, etc, all in exact tandem with increased scrutiny. Is that really what, just a coincidence?

So this is a clear numerical answer to what would establish psi. If we apply it to finance I'm just scratching the surface in terms of potential earnings.

And that financial potential is why I am also so puzzled/skeptical about Mr Allen and Sonys retreat from further study or application.

Something is obviously just not right with where things stand with psi; it does not make sense.

Machina Labs said...

Almost everything business model reflects consumer mentality, in which people want their stuff NOW, and the bottom line is profit. Everything we know about psi flies in the face of that. The state of mind conducive to psi requires patience, quiescence, dedication. And psi abilities are free, you don't need to buy anything to use them.

I think as more and more people realize we're all connected, and we're all stuck on the same big ball with limited resources and a fragile life support system, psi will become more of an inevitable realization.

Despite all that, as soon as someone announces producing a Psi Switch, I'm pre-ordering a dozen ;) *wink wink*

Energy said...

Almost everything business model reflects consumer mentality, in which people want their stuff NOW, and the bottom line is profit. Everything we know about psi flies in the face of that.

That is a false dichotomy and another convenient excuse.

The business model is actually about investments in the future, not wanting your stuff now. Consumers want their stuff now, businessmen invest to hopefully in the future gain results from consumers.

Also, Keith Harary and whoever is behind the remoteviewing.com link Dean provided have claimed that psi was used for their results; they used psi to make money, supposedly.

Now it is true that Harary has abandoned his claim that psi works, and the remoteviewing.com person is clearly misrepresenting his data and claims in multiple ways.

Unfortunately as is common in the world of psi you need specialized knowledge to tease apart the obvious flaws. I have that knowledge in regards to trading commodities but not Ganzfield experiments. Why is it that if you do have the knowledge people's dissembling about psi become so apparent?

Unfortunately for claims of psi the constant excuses - the edge is just not quite stable enough; it doesn't apply to business (?); mysteriously people stop pursuing right at the point where you would expect further progress - tend to wear out most reasonable people's patience.

The more likely prospect is psi is at a kind of interface of consciousness and reality. It does not mean 'All is Mind' and psi will usher in the use of the Force.

It looks much more like the opposite: Psi is extremely subtle, a very minor or tiny part of our reality, and will remain that way.
It will tease people who want a secular religion for the rest of time, at least based on what humanity is now. Perhaps quantum computing and genetic engineering will change that.

I think as more and more people realize we're all connected, and we're all stuck on the same big ball with limited resources and a fragile life support system, psi will become more of an inevitable realization.

How does psi realization connect with "limited resources and ... etc"?

Religious people and apocalyptarians of all stripes also say "diminished resources/hard times will lead to OUR realization".

Psi is by its nature tapped into the infinite.

Do you think that people with strong psychic abilities can't solve so-called limited resources? We come very close to solving them and may in fact solve all of that without psi.

Psi would only lead to complete information and ability to alter reality. How is psi different from a time traveling machine, an infinite knowledge machine, how is PK + clairvoyance different from nanotechnology?

Psi could, if even slightly stronger, be used to find out how to increase or to increase psi and then you can do basically anything.

As is common in the field of psi there is a constant tendency to say "one day it will be different" for various highly questionable reasons.

That is more like religious belief and lot less like science.

Dean Radin said...

Your exasperation is palpable.

Have you considered that some people are already using psi abilities, they are already highly successful in business, the arts, science, politics, etc., and they have no wish or need to "prove" their abilities to others?

They might not even think of their gifts as psi per se, but as periods of strong intuition, accurate gut feelings, flashes of insight, and so on.

I've met dozens of successful people who fit this description, and privately they tell me one psychic story after another. At the upper end of this scale of noetic experiences, people have described to me spontaneous mystical experiences that instantly transformed their lives.

As a scientist I am intrigued about such stories, and it leads me to design experiments that I can run the lab. But I know that those experiments are always going to be pale reflections of real-world, spontaneous effects, and so I am not at all worried that what I see in the lab is relatively weak and not yet stable to win big in the stock market.

> remoteviewing.com person is clearly misrepresenting his data and claims in multiple ways.

Careful. Such accusations are libelous. If you don't believe his results, or have questions about them, then write to him and ask politely. Don't assume.

Machina Labs said...

Energy, if you want to make loads of money so bad, why don't you learn how to do it yourself?

Anyone can learn to harness these abilities, it just takes dedication. It's no different than learning a language, or earning a black belt in a martial art. The only thing different between yourself and a trained remote viewer is practice, practice, practice. And a bit of optimism.

Nothing is stopping you but your own self doubt, and any reason you give not to try it out yourself, is just an excuse.

It's really not that hard. I suggest the website www.psipog.net, it's great for beginners, well-balanced, down to earth (compared to what is out there).

Energy said...

Machina,

The money is not the issue. It just provides a convenient and public test.

And you're missing my point: Psi can't be harnessed for these kinds of things. Nor does positive thinking nor worldview suddenly change that; that's just another convenient rationalization.

If you read what I posted above you'll see I'm already psychic: I predicted that there would be many reasons why it wouldn't happen.

Ok, it's long experience in the field not psi, but I couldn't resist.

Dean Radin said...

> Nor does positive thinking nor worldview suddenly change that; that's just another convenient rationalization.

Not true. Empirical data shows that some of the strongest predictors of psi performance on any given task are prior belief, expectation, and openness. Thus positive thinking does play a role. If you carry a strong belief that psi cannot be used, then for you everything you see will confirm that belief. Including what I've just written.

Energy said...

Have you considered that some people are already using psi abilities

We already discussed that in another thread: Yes, I've considered it. Such notions have been around for 30 years. I acknowledge the possibility but of course it could simply be confusing correlation with causation.

I'm not trying to prove psi. In my view it already exists. I'm making an offer to apply psi.

> remoteviewing.com person is clearly misrepresenting his data and claims in multiple ways.

Careful. Such accusations are libelous


How can it be libelous when he admits in the fine print on his site that he only used a small segment of his data for commodity trading and gives no details for his account?

If you need 100 trials to prove statistical relevance and you end up only using 10 its libelous to point out that 10 doesn't count?

I think not.

He's a marketer and by his own admission he is implying by his data set that RV generated the commodity results but admits only a fragment of his overall data was used for trading.

He's certainly presenting it as RV leads to successful commodity trading - otherwise, Dean, you wouldn't use it as an example - but his explanation does not support that.

If it still libelous then that says a lot about science, progress, and freedom. But I sure won't shy away from the truth.

Here's a great quote from over 30 years ago, from 1977 by Montague Ullman:

"In the case of psi phenomena, for example, despite the fact that there is more general scientific agreement now concerning their existence than ever before, there is no agreement even among parapsychologists as to how they fit into the scheme of things."

How things don't change.

My point is there is a meta-pattern about psi, how people's attention shifts away from it, and how people excuse the lack of applicability and that shift of attention.

It is highly repetitive.

Machina Labs said...

Then test it yourself. No one wants to be your test subject. I've never understood why every skeptic that walks in feels entitled for psychics to prove it to THEM.

Clearly, psychic abilities don't lend themselves to publicity stunts. Otherwise it would have happened already. It's fickle. They don't call them "Subtle Energies" for nothing.

Now, I think the comments page of Dean's blog is not the best place for a conversation. If you'd like to know more of why big publicity things like the JREF $1Mil don't work, and why they are not science, feel free to contact me.

Energy said...

Thus positive thinking does play a role.

I knew you were going to say that.

I'm familiar with that research and like much of it it doesn't address people who do believe and still don't get results of that sort.

As I've said I've known children who were raised to believe and do psi from the time they were kids and they were a mess. And not psychic.

If it were just belief the floofy new agers would be levitating.

If belief is so all powerful why do people not fly? Schizophrenics and those on acid believe they can for a time but strangely reality asserts itself.

It's not my belief making it so. It's reality. Otherwise I would get those psychics for trading, or for some similar project, and you would have long ago, too!

Energy said...

Machina,

I'm not a skeptic about psi. I AM psychic (or if you prefer, have had numerous psychic experiences). I'm a skeptic about application and I'm glad you now see my point about that with your comment:

Clearly, psychic abilities don't lend themselves to publicity stunts. Otherwise it would have happened already. It's fickle. They don't call them "Subtle Energies" for nothing.

Yes, exactly, thank you! Even when the "publicity stunts" can benefit many people.

I know about JREF and that's why I proposed my challenge - to get around that.

Thanks for the offer for more info, though.

Dean Radin said...

> How can it be libelous when he admits in the fine print on his site that he only used a small segment of his data for commodity trading and gives no details for his account?

All of the details are provided on that website, including the details you claim you cannot find.

Energy said...

All of the details are provided on that website, including the details you claim you cannot find.

Really? Ok. Would you do me the favor of linking to the part where he indicates his account leverage and size of his account? Those are the key variables that fool people by randomness in trading.

If you mean this page:

http://www.remote-viewing.com/DataSummary05/resultsNotFiltered.htm#Anchor-Result-39122

(And he has another page that is similar)

On both pages it shows he is using a smaller percentage of his number of total trials for trading. But he reports his total percentages, not only the trading reports.

That's exactly what I was saying about the fine print.

So which are the clarifying pages on his site?

Where is his actual trading data? Starting capital? Leverage? Commission?

Just show me the link and I'd be happy to read it.

Dean Radin said...

Another site describing using psi to make money:

http://arv4fun.com/arv4fun/?p=1838

Energy said...

People can claim anything. Especially when it is so easy to believe, and so easy to confuse causation with correlation.

Unfortunately when someone actually knows about the field in question, such as commodity trading, the claims of psi being used to succeed break down upon examination.

Similarly, while I don't know horse racing I can see the horse racing bettor is a computational physicist. That may help with figuring out odds irrespective of real psi. Intuition, sure, but not necessarily psi.

***Why is the only one has actually made money the leader and teacher of it?***

The teacher is the physicist and has a motive for claiming it's psi.

However both of the other two in the 'About Us' say they haven't actually made money!! One says, and I quote, "it hasn’t proven to be a profitable venture".

The other says he "looks forward to ARV boosting his bottom line". 'Looks forward' is not having the results.

This is the norm in psi research, unfortunately. Once you look into it, it dissolves.

One day it may be different, but not with humanity as it is today.

[you can edit this part if you wish: By the way, Dean, the data you claimed was in the remote viewing files was not there. You never did provide a link to what you said was there. The data was as I said: misleading and conflating results]

Dean Radin said...

Alright, let's try this one:

http://www.intuitiontester.com/summary.html

Insufficient details, misleading, conflating, etc. Yes, all such critiques may be true. But I don't think so. My analysis of the preponderance of experimental data shows small, but real, repeatable effects. That those effects can be pragmatically useful despite high variance does not surprise me.

I'm still waiting for a reply to my inquiry on the remote-viewing site's data. I know that the author was planning a human powered voyage across the Pacific Ocean, and that may be under way now.

Denise said...

I realize that this discussion has wandered from the original blog post, but it was suggested to me that a better way to convey the importance of control groups to those coming from an engineering or physics background was to compare it to the measurement of a baseline or to the calibration of your measuring tool. If someone tried to claim that vacuum had a weight, based on the use of a scale which had never been set to zero, it wouldn't come as a surprise to discover that others were skeptical of that claim.

Preverb said...

I had some difficulty getting a firm notion of the proposed alternative method. I was bewildered at the statement that the alternative method demonstrates that a sender is not necessary. Could this be explained in a simpler way (it is very intriguing)?

Thanks