Friday, March 26, 2010

Quote of the month and associated observation

Quote of the month from, the home of ad hominem.

Skeptic Robert T. Carroll on RNG experiments in reply to Radin's conclusions: "He's probably right except for the bit about it being unlikely that the experimental results are due to chance or to only a few individuals."

Someone should do a psychology thesis on this guy, topic: how to not look at the data, yet make conclusions about the data. This guy is truly amazing. I can't believe there's entire 'societies' that look up to him and cite him.

The associated observation is this: the parapsychology community has been placed into a curious position. You have skeptics on the outside who claim to be skeptics, except should more rightly be categorised as deniers. This follows easily given their demonstratable lack of acknowledgement of the data. Then on the inside you have the parapsychology community engaging in the research, hypothesising and skeptical functions. By definition, the parapsychologists have fulfilled the skeptical function infinitely better than the self-labelled skeptics. For a comedic juxtaposition, consider D. Biermen (2000) "On the nature of anomalous phenomena" and Ray Hyman's (2008) disgusting misappropriation of Bierman's analysis (among others) "Anomalous Cognition? A second perspective."


  1. Hmmm. I have no idea the exact nature of the convention, so I can't say for the accuracy of his statements about it. But it seems like while he's got a lot of solid points, he's looking at the forest from half a foot away from a tree. I don't think the parapsych community is saying "Oh, psi is real. You gotta trust us." specifically.

    I think the gestalt is, "Look at the big picture. Something is going on here, beyond errors and mistakes. There is definitely evidence for the existence of psi. With that said, when you try to look too close, from experiment to experiment, the effect is variable, because sometimes it shows up and sometimes it doesn't."

    That's what they are saying, not the ambiguous, Psi is only there when you really believe and you're looking in the other direction," which is one of the main ways skeptics lampoon parapsychologists.

    Having worked with psi from a young age and coming from the more 'spiritual' explanation rather than quantum, I think the tribal hypothesis is very apt. Psi is shy. It's like the girl with the phenomenal voice, but can only sing in the shower, and clams up if she tries to sing in front of her peers.

    I think the next wave of psi experiments will involve "tricking" psi, and experiments have already started doing this. I just hope it continues and doesn't flake out before good solid conclusion is made. I think that is also a real possibility (it really does seem like Psi "knows" that if enough evidence is collected, a large paradigm shift will occur, and so it shies away and remains tantalizing to prevent this from happening).

    I think widespread acceptance of psi is something that needs to be introduced to the world slowly.

  2. Yes, all your points are very valid. But it doesn't deride from the observed fact that Carrol has made an absolutely retarded proposition - coming from a philosophy professor mind you - that RNG experiments, which have endured increasing ES post-1975 (when the PA started introducing compulsory negative results submission and publication rules) and extreme significance, with a rosenthal file drawer of N = 1500 - 10,000 (depending on what your exclusion criteria is), are due to chance aberrations or because of a few participants. He's a fucking loony!

  3. Hmm you say "it seems like while he's got a lot of solid points". I'd like to hear one of his that are legitimate to refuting the database in any way.

    His entire discourse revolves around picking on one single experiment that is in the database of hundreds of experiments: that in this single experiment it was one user that seemed to be a psychic superstar.

    He then concludes for the whole database of hundreds of experiments that it's probably star users contributing to the chance deviation, just because this was a correlation in ONE experiment. I have one statement from Logic 101: