Sunday, May 29, 2011

AAAS Symposium on Quantum Retrocausation

I just finished my article for this upcoming symposium. Here's the abstract:

Predicting the Unpredictable: 75 Years of Experimental Evidence

Abstract. From time immemorial, people have reported foreknowledge of future events. To determine whether such experiences are best understood via conventional explanations, or whether a retrocausal phenomenon might be involved in some instances, researchers have conducted hundreds of controlled laboratory experiments over the past 75 years. These studies fall into four general classes, and each class has generated repeatable evidence consistent with retrocausation. The statistical results for a class of forced-choice studies is associated with odds against chance of about 1024; for a class of free-response studies, odds about 1020; for psychophysiological-based studies, odds about 1017; and for implicit decision studies, odds about 1010. Effect sizes observed in the latter three classes are nearly identical, indicating replication of similar underlying effects. These effects are also in close agreement with the average effect size observed across thousands of conventional psychological experiments, suggesting that retrocausal phenomena may not be especially unique, at least not in terms of commonly observed psychological phenomena. Bayesian analyses of the most recent classes of experiments confirm that the evidence is strongly in favor of a genuine effect, with Bayes Factors ranging from 13,669 to 1 for implicit decision experiments, to 2.9 x 1013 to 1 for psychophysiological designs. For the two most recent classes of studies examining retrocausal effects via unconscious physiological or behavioral measures, 73 of 82 studies (89%) reported by 23 different laboratories from the United States, Italy, Spain, Holland, Austria, Sweden, England, Scotland, Iran, Japan, and Australia, have produced results in the direction predicted by a retrocausal effect (odds against chance = 1.5 x 1013, via a sign test). Assessment of the methodologies used in these studies has not identified plausible conventional alternatives for the observed outcomes, suggesting the existence of a genuine retrocausal phenomenon.


Dave Smith said...

Pretty impressive evidence. I was wondering what you think of the idea of experimenter psi effects in these experiments? Do you consider that a plausible scenario? Could some experimenters, by using their own ESP, initiate trials to capitalise on the random sequence of stimuli in such a way as to 'mimic' physiological effects in the participants? As far as I know, Ed May et al. are the only ones to present evidence for that (startle audio presentiment).

Pikemann Urge said...

Bayesian analyses of the most recent classes of experiments confirm that the evidence is strongly in favor of a genuine effect

In some areas it's obvious to see how helpful Bayesian analysis can be. In other areas one can get caught up in circular arguments. E.g. psi is improbable, so it requires a low prior probability, and because of that, new evidence in favour of psi is necessarily weak.

But how do we know that psi is improbable? What determines whether any physical phenomenon is 'probable'? It's like Charlie Brown just wanting to kick that football. And he is never allowed.

I believe that one prominent skeptic has stated that if you allow a 0.01 value for the PP of psi, which he characterized as "generous", then experiments like Bem's recent one show a negligible effect. Of course common sense refutes that tack.

I get the feeling that some skeptics really want to try to force psi to go away any way they can. Even if they have to force it. And as we all know when we take a crap, if you have to push too hard there's something wrong - with you, not the toilet.

Sheldrake said...

I've been interested in psi effects for a long time but never experienced them for myself. Given that there are effects established through studies and lab processes, are there any methods of exploration that a single person could test and examine on their own? Are there exercises in which a non scientist could invest time in order to see personal level effects or any kind of increased effects over time (some kind of skill based development?)

Dean Radin said...

> I believe that one prominent skeptic has stated that if you allow a 0.01 value for the PP of psi, which he characterized as "generous", then experiments like Bem's recent one show a negligible effect.

Prior odds of 100 to 1 is not unreasonable. The Wagenmakers et al paper that appears in the same issue of JPSP as Bem's paper, selects prior odds of 100 trillion to 1 in favor of the null hypothesis.

Dean Radin said...

> experimenter psi effects ...

I have been able to find nearly 100 experiments of the presentiment type so far, which includes psychophysiological designs like I've been doing, and implicit decision designs like Bem and others have been doing. About 90% of them have produced results in the predicted direction. This argues against experimenter psi effects, although we've yet to seen enough studies by people who would prefer that psi doesn't exist, so the jury is still out on that score.

MickyD said...

Highly impressive evidence. Looking forward to reading the full paper.

SRI said...

Hi Radin & Sheldrake

I have 2 ESP thoughts from childhood (Mid 70s) to discuss with a Researchers like you & Others, that have come true (2001-2003 & 2005).I think the narration will almost "entice & astonish" all humans,irrespective of belief status. Interested?

Personally these 2 ESP thoughts have devastated/engulfed "My Entire Life".
But now I see some new insights for the applications, based on the experiences.

I am sorry for not disclosing the "content", as one is Career & Other is "......."

Mark Szlazak said...

Dr. Radin can you enlighten me some more by explaining all the relevant criticisms of Bem et al's recent precognition paper. I'm either 1)at a loss to see any fatal flaw in Bem et als statistics that would automatically cause one to disregard that experimental series completely, or 2) just don't understand that a grave statistical analysis error has occurred. What are the core issues in this controversy as you see them?

Thank you.

Dean Radin said...

There are no flaws or errors. The paper was not accepted in a well regarded journal without rigorous vetting by experts. The "controversy" is, to put it bluntly, just a reflection of entrenched prejudices.

Pikemann Urge said...

Prior odds of 100 to 1 is not unreasonable.

In that case, I wonder how one person can get no statistical significance with prior odds of 0.01, but another can get statistical significance with prior odds set much lower.

It's no doubt a simplistic question but I am just a beginner at statistics. If someone can put it in layman's terms, I'd appreciate it!

Mark Szlazak said...

There are no flaws or errors. The paper was not accepted in a well regarded journal without rigorous vetting by experts. The "controversy" is, to put it bluntly, just a reflection of entrenched prejudices.

Is there a point, (pseudo) counter-point summary you could provide in plain English? Something like, Bem's initial study did this, Wagenmaker (or who ever) countered with this. Bem et al then a replied, etc.

The papers are rather dense and others commenting them would help keep me from not fully or specifically appreciating what's going on in these exchanges.

Thank you.

marty said...

Don't you think/feel it is time to move the emphasis to applied precognition? There have been many successful short-term applications in financial markets and sports wagering. What is needed, IMO, are many long-term practical precognitive applications.

Helen said...

To I (presume) Rupert's question,I asked someone else the same question for dream precognition on my own and was suggested using the next day's news on a specific paper on a specific page as a target. Not ideal but it worked OK - well enough to give me some confidence before talking about it to friends etc. Not sure if that's the sort of thing you were after.

By way of caution, I would say that it is one thing to conceptualise it, but another to experience it. Precognition is the wrong word for it really as (in my experience anyway) it is not a "knowing" the future, but it is nonetheless very disorientating for a classically educated person. And given the crazy things we dream about it can on occasion be distressing. It is also incredibly fascinating and tantalising difficult to explain!!

francisco.j.93 said...

Can precognition be just feeling the future?
And what happened with the anecdotal evidence about people seeing exact images of future events?

Dave Smith said...

Can precognition be just feeling the future?

I guess so. Precognition implies that the person is aware of some aspect of the future event. In other words, the paranormally acquired infomation manages to penetrate their consciousness. This could result in gut feelings or intuitive impressions about the future etc.

But sometimes, that information is processed unconsciously, like in presentiment experiments.

And what happened with the anecdotal evidence about people seeing exact images of future events?

I was speaking to a friend who has waking visions (about every month or so). One day, she was due to meet someone at their office - lets call him John. In the morning before the meeting she saw, in her minds eye, John in hospital after having had a car crash. When she arrived at John's office, his secretary answered the door and told her John had not come in to work that day (she also had a vision about that!). Later on it transpired that John had indeed been involved in a car crash and had to go to hospital. So yes, there was lots of detail in that one.

tbennett said...

Quick off topic question to Dean Radin:

I was wondering if you could talk about the results of the intention double-slit experiments. I think this would be a nice counter to the geomagnetic fields explaining psi phenomenon.

Thank you very much and have fun at the SSE conference!!

Alexi said...

The existence of psi is, to me, so self-evident that trying to disprove it seems as absurd as trying to disprove the existence of the moon. The fact that it isn't "visible" at all times doesn't mean it isn't real. I believe that everyone has psychic abilities; we just express them to varying degrees. In my experience (and that of others I know who accept such abilities as natural), it generally does not work the best "on command." Sometimes I can tune into something and pick up useful information, but the most profound connections occur more spontaneously. I have seen exact images of future events, several times, but this is of course anecdotal and would be dismissed by scientists.

The communications often come in signs, symbols, feelings, and connections that tend to be subtle. These may not be easy to interpret correctly, especially when the rational mind gets involved. I've also had many impressions that were quite literal and specific, but they did not always make sense to me at first. The more relaxed and "open" I can be, the better. Given that lab-testing conditions would not be conducive to relaxation and (energetic) openness, it's impressive that controlled experiments have yielded such conclusive results.

Telepathy seems to be the easiest, at least presently. If I decide to contact someone but don't follow through, it's almost a given that they will contact me, generally in the next few hours but sometimes almost immediately. This occurs even with people I rarely hear from. Recently I was reading something on the Internet and had a strong impulse to thank the man for sharing the information, but knew only his first name and the country he lived in, so I had no idea how to get in touch with him. About 10 days later, on a message board I belong to (which was not where I'd read the information, although it did involve the same subject matter), I received a private message from this man! It turns out that he was a "lurker" and was contacting me about something I'd posted. I've received only a few PMs on that board, ever, and don't often post there, so this was quite a "coincidence."

MickyD said...

Dean, On a slightly different tack, I have to applaud both yourself and the team at IONS for the excellent Teleseminars. I especially enjoyed the interview with Howard Hall on rapid wound healing (yes, I found it mind boggling as well). Also Andrew Newberg's openness to the psi question was really refreshing, especially from such a high profile researcher. At the end of both these interviews further colloboration was alluded to- anything developed from this? Finally, Larissa Cheran a top scientist at Toronto University will be presenting human intentionality studies on cultured brain cells at the SSE meeting. Now that would be a good interview!

Helen said...

Feeling the future - personally I cannot reliably distinguish between what is going to turn out to be accurate psi info and what is not. I just observe some correlations between some of my dreams and future events. It can be a specific and accurate combination of elements that defies coincidence or fitting vague information to specific events as credible explanations.

It could be that probabilities are being generated in my brain, but these would need to include probabilities for events and people that I don't know of. Most of the time the dreams mean very little or nothing to me. All of this has lead me to believe that psi improves guessing to above chance levels, but that its not perfect and prediction is not what its doing. It feels more that my brain is sampling both the past and the future to make up a dream.

It may be perfect for other people I don't know, but if it were they probably keep quiet about it and make a killing on the stock market!!

John said...


Good stuff. The recent evidence seems pretty compelling.

I remember you saying some time ago that your Italian colleagues were in the process of doing a meta-analysis of such recent studies. I'm eager to read the paper when (and where) it's published.

I'm also VERY interested in reading your "double-slit" experiment series which you are presenting at the current SSE annual meeting.

Will you post info about where to read these on your webpage?

Marcus Wellington said...

He does not seem able to explain certain supposed 'advanced'effects. In example, how the outcome of Dopfers experiment in one of the wings (here on Earth) depends on the setting of the (very delayed choice) experiment in the other wing

Marcus T. Anthony said...

Sheldrake, I can only comment from my own experience. For a beginner I would recommend keeping a dream / intuition diary, where you write down dreams and intuitions about things. This will help your "brain" begin to reinforce the neural pathways associated with other ways of knowing. Second, stray making as many decisions as possible using gut feelings- record feelings and results in the diary. Third, just start getting in touch with feelings in general. I believe that there is a kind of synesthesia involved with my own intuitive knowings. You have to start acknowledging a broad range of cognitive processes in the mind, not just the dry rationality of modern science and education. Finally, use light trance states. Relax deeply, and while on the verge of sleep, ask questions and see what answers you get - images, sounds/voices, feelings etc. It also helps to develop mindfulness - bringing the mind fully into presence, in silence. This is what 20 years of work in this area has taught me. I did experience a very obvious opening of the third eye when I first began, but this is not strictly necessary. I have taught others these processes in just a few minutes. Marcus

tobias said...

I wonder if I am right thinking the experimenter effect is not at all as realistic an explanation in those tests where physiological effects are involved, whereas in the type of tests Bem has carried out it is, theoretically, more feasible? Especially thinking that Dr. Radin cuts out 90% percent of the data, leaving only the most dramatic and calmest responses for statistical analysis. Assuming the experimenter produces those most dramatic physiological responses with high statistical significance would mean he/she would have to have some kind of super pk. Ed May's decision augmentation theory doesn't apply here, I suppose, because to my knowledge it tries to show that what seems to be PK is actually ESP. But isn't that impossible in tests where test where the are clear physiological responses in subjects? Just wonder.

Dean Radin said...

I am at this conference now. I'll respond to some of your comments when I return home.

MickyD said...

Dean, how was the SSE conference, any presentations that stick in the mind?
Also, I was looking on the Bial website and noticed that you have submitted your work to mainstream journals (Physics Essays and JCogNeuro). Any news on this, as it would be great to get these results to a wider audience than the usual outlets can reach.

nick herbert said...

One of the conspicuous differences between parapsychology and physics experiments is that physics experiments generally emphasize the "effect size" and usually only report "odds against chance" with the convention of "error bars".

Another big difference between physics and psi is that 5 sigma is the threshold for announcing the discovery of a new particle. Recently a 3 sigma "bump" was observed at CERN but vanished when further data was taken.

It's a refreshing change here that Dean Radin is claiming that the "effect size" of many parapsychology experiments seem to be the same--this constancy suggesting that we are witnessing here a real effect in nature.

The discovery of a new constant in nature is no small accomplishment. Makes me wonder just what is the actual magnitude of this "consistent psi effect"?

For comparison, the magnitude of the violation of CP invariance in weak interactions (which also suggests a breakdown of Time-reversal invariance) was only 2x10^-3 but the accurate determination of this tiny effect won Cronin and Fitch the 1980 Nobel Prize.