Ok skeptics, explain this

November 5, 2010 at 6:28 pm (By Realpc)

Parapsychology has been around a long time, about as long as psychology. Parapsychologists have been claiming to find evidence for paranormal abilities, and mainstream “skeptics” have been refusing to believe it. Parapsychologists are vastly outnumbered by mainstream psychologists, and the mainstream journals seldom publish parapsychology research. I have had many arguments over the years with mainstream materialist “skeptics” who will not even consider the evidence. They just discount it, or ignore it, because, they say, it cannot possibly be true. It would defy the laws of physics.

Oh really? Do we actually have the laws of physics all figured out? Alternative scientists keep pointing out that physics has shown us how weird and incomprehensible our world is. That time can travel backwards, that things can be connected through empty space, for example. But the “skeptics” always respond that the quantum levels have no relevance whatsoever to our level of reality. You have to wonder how these “skeptics” know all that.

But in any case, it will be interesting to see what, if anything, the “skeptics” have to say against a recent article published in a very respectable mainstream journal by a very respectable psychologist at Cornell. The research is summarized in this Psychology Today story: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-social-thinker/201010/have-scientists-finally-discovered-evidence-psychic-phenomena.

I heard about this type of research years ago. I loved it because, unlike most parapsychology research, it doesn’t depend on subjects consciously trying to use their psychic powers. Bern’s experiments do not involve the subjects’ conscious minds.

Ok, so what happens if it turns out this research cannot be discounted or refuted or ignored? Are we beginning to enter a new era, where mainstream scientists are allowed to doubt the materialist dogma? And once that doubt is allowed, where does it stop? If our minds can be influenced by future events, maybe fortune-telling isn’t all nonsense. And if fortune-telling isn’t all nonsense, what else might not be all nonsense?

This kind of research, if it turns out to be impossible to refute, could profoundly affect our society.

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21 Comments

  1. reader_iam said,

    I haven’t read the article you’ve referenced yet. But I will say that I, for one, long ago decided that there really is something to some [at least some types] of paranormal activity, and I certainly do not, as I have not, dismissed the existence of such things out of hand.

  2. wj said,

    It puts me in mind of an incident back when I was in college. I, and a couple of others guys (1 Mechanical Engineering major, 1 Chemistry major, 1 Physics major) were fiddling around with dowsing rods. [Side note: if dowsing rods work for you, among the things that they will react to are wall sockets. Go figure.]

    Another student came along, and was, shall we say, skeptical. Actually, what he said was flat out: “That’s impossible. It’s against the laws of science.” And we looked at him and said: “We’re 3 science and engineering majors, and we don’t think it’s impossible — and you, a poli sci major, say it is?”

    To which he said (and I think this is the crux of the matter): “But it can’t be true. Because if it is, my whole world-view will collapse.”

    One has to wonder what he thought his view of the universe was based on. Because it sure wasn’t real science.

  3. Donna B. said,

    real do love burning her strawman skeptics, eh?

    In her world, every skeptic is a superficial clone of P.Z. Myers. Also in her alternative universe, the explanatory theory apparently comes before the hypothesis and evidence. Questioning her explanatory theory automatically designates the questioner as a materialistic mainstream skeptic. And that’s a really bad thing, doncha know?

    Fortunately Dr. Bem (not Bern) does not live or conduct experiments in that alternative universe. Here’s the journal article: http://dbem.ws/FeelingFuture.pdf

    These studies as well as others along the same line raise many questions, not the least of which is whether “priming” and “stimulus” actually cause the effects attributed to them. It also highlights how our understanding of time is limited by our perception of it as purely linear.

  4. realpc said,

    As usual, Donna, I can’t make any sense out of your comments. I have a suspicion you just don’t like to agree with me regarding alternative science. The skeptics are in no way straw men. I have had many discussions with people like wj mentioned, who refuse to believe their materialist world view could be wrong or incomplete.

    “explanatory theory apparently comes before the hypothesis and evidence”

    I am sure I never said I had any explanatory theory. I said the evidence from parapsychology does not in any way defy the known laws of physics.

    “These studies as well as others along the same line raise many questions, not the least of which is whether “priming” and “stimulus” actually cause the effects attributed to them.”

    Donna, that statement is nonsensical. The whole purpose of doing an experiment is to determine what causes the effects.

  5. realpc said,

    “But it can’t be true. Because if it is, my whole world-view will collapse.”

    They are right, it would. But a world-view that is wrong should collapse. I have explained in other posts why materialists cling to their world-view — they need to feel safe from mysterious powerful forces (by denying they exist), and they need to feel superior to ancient and primitive people who believed in spirits and gods. And modern less educated people, who have not been indoctrinated into materialism.

    Materialism says that mind cannot exist without a brain, because mind is created by the brain. This belief came from the fact that we cannot function in this world without a brain. A brain is a necessary condition for a person to act intelligently in this world. So materialists jump to the conclusion that brain and mind are the same thing, and cannot exist separately.

    Alternative science, in general, says that intelligence (consciousness) is everywhere, in everything. Everything is made out of information — in other words, everything is made out of intelligence, consciousness.

    Alternative science is compatible with many ancient and primitive beliefs, and with many religious and philosophical traditions. Materialism is NOT compatible with any of those. Materialism sets itself apart from and above all other world-views.

    The evidence from parapsychology — and there is a lot of it — contradicts materialism and supports alternative science.

  6. Donna B. said,

    “As usual, Donna, I can’t make any sense out of your comments.” Your reading comprehension problems are a problem for you, along with your inability to write clearly. I can’t help you there.

    No explanatory theory? Oh, please. Go read what you’ve written before in this forum.

    “The whole purpose of doing an experiment is to determine what causes the effects.” Really? And how did Dr. Bern’s experiments determine what caused which effects? They didn’t and he’s not stupid enough to assert any such thing.

    Dr. Bern would likely be appalled that you made the fantastical leap from his research to fortune-telling. That is a declaration on your part that you simply do not understand what he did.

    If you had actually followed the crumb trail to his article, you would have discovered that outside psychology, only 2% of scientists are dismissively skeptical of psi. At least according to Dr. Bern’s surveys. You would also discover that among the 36% of psychologists who do not “believe” in psi that their main objection is the poor quality of studies and lack of replication.

    Dr. Bern has taken care to make his work available and and possible to replicate.

    As for not liking to agree with you concerning alternative science — so be it. I think the entire idea of alternative science is silly. If it isn’t science, what is it? I can completely agree with you that there are some crazy loudmouths who have a grudge against religion, but unlike you, I don’t think they represent a “mainstream” anything.

    They are — like you — nuts with an ax to grind.

  7. Donna B. said,

    Good grief. You’ve just posted your explanatory theory again:

    “Alternative science, in general, says that intelligence (consciousness) is everywhere, in everything. Everything is made out of information — in other words, everything is made out of intelligence, consciousness.

    Alternative science is compatible with many ancient and primitive beliefs, and with many religious and philosophical traditions. Materialism is NOT compatible with any of those. Materialism sets itself apart from and above all other world-views.”

    That’s the strawman of materialism that you consistently set up and try to burn.

  8. realpc said,

    “Dr. Bern would likely be appalled that you made the fantastical leap from his research to fortune-telling. ”

    I said that the results of his experiments suggest that fortune-telling might not be all nonsense.

  9. realpc920 said,

    “And how did Dr. Bern’s experiments determine what caused which effects? They didn’t and he’s not stupid enough to assert any such thing.”

    You obviously don’t know the first thing about scientific research and what an experiment is. And I have no desire to teach you.

  10. realpc920 said,

    Donna,

    I have no interest in having an insult contest with you. You can call me whatever you want to call me, and I won’t respond. I won’t waste time saying what I think of you. I don’t think enough of you to bother. I think absolutely nothing of you. So you don’t have to waste your time insulting me, calling me a nut, or insulting my writing. Because it won’t get me upset or cause me to get into a stupid fight with you. You are either a very angry person, or very stupid. I can’t tell which. Maybe it’s both.

  11. Donna B. said,

    “I have no interest in having an insult contest with you. … You are either a very angry person, or very stupid. I can’t tell which. Maybe it’s both.”

    It’s neither – I’m dismayed… appalled… puzzled, even. You have completely misrepresented Dr. Bern’s research.

    ———————–

    ” “Dr. Bern would likely be appalled that you made the fantastical leap from his research to fortune-telling. ”

    I said that the results of his experiments suggest that fortune-telling might not be all nonsense.”

    And that’s exactly what I said you said. Here’s his email: d.bem@cornell.edu — write him and ask him if anything he has researched suggests anything about fortune-telling.

    ————————

    ““And how did Dr. Bern’s experiments determine what caused which effects? They didn’t and he’s not stupid enough to assert any such thing.”

    You obviously don’t know the first thing about scientific research and what an experiment is. And I have no desire to teach you.”

    Perhaps you could teach Dr. Bern then.

  12. Icepick said,

    “But it can’t be true. Because if it is, my whole world-view will collapse.”

    They are right, it would. But a world-view that is wrong should collapse.

    Question: Could any evidence convince you that your world-view is wrong?

    The evidence from parapsychology — and there is a lot of it — contradicts materialism and supports alternative science.

    Let’s seem some results. If all that alternative science is correct how come they haven’t produced anything that actually uses that science for everyday use? What you call “materialist” science has produced everything from radio to computers to microwave ovens. Where’s my telephone line to the dead? How about a transport device that uses “higher dimensions” to teleport me around town without having to deal with rush hour traffic?

  13. Icepick said,

    I have explained in other posts why materialists cling to their world-view — they need to feel safe from mysterious powerful forces (by denying they exist), and they need to feel superior to ancient and primitive people who believed in spirits and gods.

    Yes, they deny mysterious and powerful forces – except (for example) dark energy. And there’s the whole issue of dark matter. And everything from the many-worlds hypothesis, to the idea that the entire universe is either a hologram or isomorphic to a hologram (I saw recently that someone may be able to falsify this one soon – or possibly prove that it’s true), to my personal favorite – the idea that our entire universe is most probably a virtual reality simulation. (That last one is a bit of a joke. And the physicists all like to laugh at that one … but I swear I detect a bit of unease in their laughter. The logic behind the argument is disturbing for its simplicity.)

    I have yet to hear of a parapsychologist who has dreamed up anything so fantasitcal as any of those. Not to mention the now more “mundane” ideas that underlie quantum field theory or Einsteinian Relativity (Special or General). Hellfire, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle might be the single most disturbing idea ever conceived. So which group lacks imagination?

    Your gripes about “materialists” migt be a bit more believable if “they” didn’t (a) already believe in six impossible things before breakfast every day, and (b) weren’t excited by the idea of even more impossible stuff. The best thing any scientist can ever discover is something that contradicts what they thought they knew – it means there’s even more to discover. If you don’t believe in child-like wonder, believe in ego and self-interest – the unknown offers a chance for research grants and scientific immortality.

  14. Icepick said,

    Finally, the worst thing about your (RealPC’s) interpretation of main-stream scientists is that you assume they have one world-view that they consider correct. But consequential differences about reality exist even in the physics community, which is the best-tested scientific field. After over 80 years of argument and experimentation they still haven’t come to agrrement on whether the Copenhagen interpretation is correct, or the more/less disurbing many-worlds hypothesis is actually true. Those are two of many possible interpretations. This lack of agreement displays wildly diverging opinions about what reality actualy is. Those who deal with such questions are NOT people looking for a comfortable world-view.

  15. realpc920 said,

    ” the idea that our entire universe is most probably a virtual reality simulation.”

    There is nothing ridiculous about that idea. We have no reason to think the universe is made of little bits of “matter.” We do have reasons to think matter is made out of information — relationships, in other words. And what is “information?” It is what intelligence is made of. So, according to this very reasonable theory, the universe is made out of intelligence, consciousness. And that is exactly what I, and millions of others, believe.

    That view of the universe is compatible with most traditional world views, and also with alternative science.

    Mainstream science is becoming increasingly incompatible with the materialist philosophy. Materialism says the universe is definitely NOT conscious, and that intelligence is created by brains. That is still the consensus view in psychology and neuroscience.

  16. realpc920 said,

    Icepick, I am aware that scientists disagree on many things. How could I not know that? But the mainstream consensus does NOT (yet) believe that the universe is conscious. Parapsychologists, such as Dean Radin DO believe that.

  17. realpc920 said,

    And the mainstream consensus in biology is that evolution is unguided. I am sure you know about the Intelligent Design controversy. The mainstream came down forcefully against ID.

    So what the heck are you talking about??

  18. realpc920 said,

    [What you call “materialist” science has produced everything from radio to computers to microwave ovens. ]

    That is a total misconception. Materialism is a philosophy, or ideology. The scientific method and technology are responsible for those inventions, NOT materialism.

  19. realpc said,

    Icepick,

    The real question is, do you believe Mind creates matter, or that Matter creates mind? Given how strange and incomprehensible the world now seems to be, in the light of modern physics, do you have any basis for claiming the universe is NOT conscious? Do you have any basic for claiming that life originated and evolved by a long series of accidents?

    As research in physics and parapsychology increasingly suggests that the old mechanistic view is outdated and wrong, people still find ways to cling to it.

  20. Icepick said,

    There is nothing ridiculous about that idea. We have no reason to think the universe is made of little bits of “matter.”

    Yes, that was my point. And it was the mainstream scientists, whom you constantly decry as nothing but materialist shills scared of new ideas, that came up with those ideas.

    The rest of that comment, about information, intelligence and the make-up of the universe, is complete jibberish unrelated to any informed scientific opinion. It’s wishy-washy abuse of language, which isn’t that hard to do outside of the realm of mathematics.

    As for the mechanistic view in science – if you actually knew any physics past 1924 you would know idea had been dying for nearly a century – at the smallest layers of reality. (And at the largest – at least that’s been the dream.) Mechanistic interpretations of larger phenomena are quit reasonable for every day purposes. You sure as hell don’t want to get on a plane that has to be designed using Schrodinger’s equations for everything.

    The real question is do you have any evidence that everything that happens is because some intelligence wills it? If so, you are refuting Heisenberg and almost all modern physics. You can’t have it both ways, although you certainly try.

  21. realpc said,

    Icepick, you always miss by point by several miles. I never said all scientists are materialists. I never said or implied that I know nothing of current physics. I know that the materialist view of the world is obsolete. What I don’t know is why you constantly deny that intelligence can exist without a brain.

    I never said everything happens because some intelligent being wills it. I never said any of what you accuse me of saying, or implying. You are battling someone else, not me. You don’t seem to take in anything I actually say.

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