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Well, to actually read the works on his taboo-science bookshelf would give credence to the material through the very act of endowing the books with his attention.

To write a thoughtful, well-informed rebuttal of the parapsychological material would, in itself, be casting the material in a positive, non-denigrating perspective where a respected neuroscientist takes the subject seriously enough to actually research it.

And if people take it seriously, it would lend support to the "rising tide of irrationality" that the skeptics vow to fight.

Or something like that.

Michael, your wit is exceeded only by your insight. Well said, sir.

Too much information? That's priceless.

I didn't find that review very impressive, but where did he say that he hadn't read Human Personality and the other books on his "pseudoscience shelf"?

I find that the human mind is very adept at keeping its cherished beliefs under lock and key in spite of the evidence available.

What I find most interesting about these people if you were to ask them if they thought they had an open mind; my opinion is they would state almost to a person they indeed felt they had an open mind. Or they might state they felt they had a more open mind than most.

I think the lessons we can glean from these types of responses is to ask how are our own cherished beliefs, confirmation bias, opinions, and paradigms may be effecting our own ability to have an open mind when new information comes into our consciousness.

It seems to me that potential lessons are coming into our consciousness on an almost a moment-by-moment basis. I also suspect we fail to recognize 99.99 per cent of the information or experiences we receive on a daily basis as lessons for our edification.

I have felt for some time that the universe is a lot more intelligent than we give it credit for. Then we have the atheists or ultra skeptics that believe the universe is not intelligent?

Larry Boy:

I think MP has inferred this from the phrase "I confess that until now I never differentiated it from other pompous and boring compendia of weird anecdotes, ghost stories and wacky theories from the turn of the century." (as if he had read it surely he would have been able to differentiate it from the others).

In case you're just looking for the reference, it's in the last paragraph of page 1.

"I think MP has inferred this ..."

Right. Also, note that the reviewer was surprised to learn that Myers wrote about the unconscious. If he had read "Human Personality," he would surely have known this already, since the book is filled with discussions of the unconscious (which Myers called the subliminal self).

HP should have its title amended to "Human Personality" - cut the rest. At least one version should be released with this name by an academic publisher.

Oh, and without a flying man on the front...

It depends which market you're aiming for. But as IM states, Myers didn't even give the book its present name.

Irreducible Mind is one of my favorite books and I like reading about it anytime-
thank-you.

William wrote: "I find that the human mind is very adept at keeping its cherished beliefs under lock and key in spite of the evidence available.

"What I find most interesting about these people if you were to ask them if they thought they had an open mind; my opinion is they would state almost to a person they indeed felt they had an open mind. Or they might state they felt they had a more open mind than most."

Lewis Wolpert Ph.D. is Professor of Biology as Applied to Medicine at University College, London. He served for five years as Chairman of COPUS, the Committee for the Public Understanding of Science. He has been a faithful standby for the media for more than 20 years as a denouncer of ideas that he suspects are tainted with mysticism or the paranormal.

Wolpert's most memorable aphorism was "Open minds are empty minds".

“Wolpert's most memorable aphorism was "Open minds are empty minds".”

The Buddha may agree with Wolpert as an empty mind has room for some new discoveries or realizations. His mind appears to be very full of cherished beliefs and paradigms.

A professor of biology would indeed often have difficulty with anything paranormal. When I see a newborn baby or a child I often smile to myself and think to myself there are people that believe that this baby was created by chance and random variation and natural selection. Of course there are other people that believe that Adam and Eve were the first people on earth and did not have a belly button.

I think the day will come in the far future when children will visit a museum and visit a display and inside that display will be “dummy” men in white coats in a university research setting and when a child pushes a button then these robot dummies will be activated and they will be discussing 20th century beliefs as fact that matter creates consciousness and humans were created by chance, natural selection, and random variation.

And of course the children will laugh and think to themselves we could never be that stupid. Like we laugh and smile when we visit museums and see archaic past beliefs of humans and think to ourselves we could never be that dumb and make those kinds of mistakes.

I also have only the vaguest idea of who Myers was.

I've read a lot of books on paranormal topics, but I don't recall if he was the author of any of them.

What can I say? I'm bad with names.

“I've read a lot of books on paranormal topics, but I don't recall if he was the author of any of them.”

I think you would remember this man and his contribution to paranormal research not only in his life on earth but also in his after life. Some have suggested that he needed to receive more fame than Freud for his contribution to paranormal research and the organization he started that did research into the paranormal.

He also was able to communicate after he crossed over using a cross correspondence method by partial communication through many mediums at different locations which is very good evidence that he survived death and was able to communicate from the other side.

If my memory serves me right Michael P just had a post on Myers book and work. Very interesting reading. Highly recommended reading from my point of view.

Here is a quote from chapter four of Myers book on reincarnation that dovetails nicely with something Art just posted yesterday.

“I am quite clear that those human beings who live almost wholly in the physical sense while on earth, must be reborn in order that they may experience an intellectual and higher form of emotional life. In other words, those human beings I have described as "Animal-man" almost invariably reincarnate.
Some of the individuals I have designated by the term, "Soul-man," also choose to live again on earth”

Now what Myers would call “animal man” I would call a soul with a very low level of development.

Regarding renowned sceptic, Wolpert:

In 1994, as a member of the BBC Science Consultative Committee, he tried to stop BBC Television from making a six part series on scientific “heretics”, as he revealed in the Sunday Times (July 3, 1994). "This is an absurd series. The whole way these programmes are being presented just fills me with rage. It's a grotesque distortion. It's disgusting. It's just sensational anti-science, and anti-science is the rationalization for ignorance".

Regarding Dieguez, Wolpert, and their ilk: history is replete with such people, scientific history included. Clinging to the security blanket which is the "certainty" of their faith, they grasp at the cherished theories developed during their (blessedly short) tenure, dismissing summmarily all experimental results and observations which demonstrate the inadequacy of the theories themselves. The list of such scientists, some of whom would be rightly considered as luminaries, is far too long to even begin a cursory recounting here. Suffice it to say that we can add at least two more to that accounting. Max Planck was right about the advance of knowledge ("...one funeral at a time."), and Arthur C. Clarke's three Laws show no sign of contradiction.

Good post, Michael. Dieguez in sometimes seems like a child, specially when he complains that the book "contains no figures". I think he has a shelf only with Spider Man's comic strips. :-)

SKEPTIC Magazine has always been about arguing for their preconceived notions of reality. I subscribed for a couple of years because I enjoyed a couple of writers, but I gave up as I started getting physically nauseated at the constant, insistent lack of science and objectivity.

Frederic William Henry Myers: "Human Personality and its Survival of Bodily Death"
http://www.archive.org/search.php?query=title%3A%28human%20personality%29%20AND%20creator%3A%28myers%29

"... when he complains that the book 'contains no figures'. I think he has a shelf only with Spider Man's comic strips."

By "figures," he means mathematical figures, i.e., numerical tables. Of course there are plenty of books on psi that are chock-full of figures. Rhine's ESP experiments were purely statistical.

What struck me about this complaint is that it's sort of thing one could mention after merely flipping through the book. I wonder if the reviewer actually read more than a few pages - perhaps parts of the opening and closing chapters, and little in between. I could be wrong, but I suspect he spent very little time with the book because he already "knew" it was all nonsense.

On a more positive note, if this the best the skeptics can do, then it should be relatively clear sailing for us pro-psi folks from now on!

Whenever I debated the paranormal with sceptics on TV the standard reply was usually: "I don't doubt your experiences but I have never experienced anything like that" etc and then quickly moved on to something or someone else that could be easily ridiculed.

Sadly there were plenty of the latter.

On a more positive note, if this the best the skeptics can do, then it should be relatively clear sailing for us pro-psi folks from now on! - Michael Prescott
-------------------------------------------

I take some comfort from the thought that there is a high degree of probability there will be some very surprised skeptics when it comes their turn to cross over! I wish that I could be there to watch it! I suspicion it would be highly amusing. I'd also like to be there to say (over and over again) "I told you so!" {grin!}

I think many skeptics who haven't done any research tend to read other skeptics like Joe Nickell to see what's "really" going on.

Joe, as we all know, has spent centuries investigating all sorts of paranormal claims without EVER finding ANY evidence to support any of them.

Which reminds me of a Saturday Night Live skit I once saw with Jon Lovitz playing a doctor who for some odd reason has never delivered a baby boy. He delivers a newborn to its mother in the waiting room and announces that there was some extraneous flesh between the baby’s legs, but that he removed it all without incident, and that the baby girl should be fine now.

To which the mother replies that her baby IS a boy, not a girl!

Suddenly, the reason why the doctor “never delivered” a baby boy becomes clear.

It’s much the same with skeptics who never “find” evidence of the paranormal despite “seriously” looking for it.

Zerdini's comments re Lewis Wolpert brought to mind something I read in John Horgan's interesting book, The Undiscovered Mind (1999). The reference is to Horgan's treatment of neuroscience in his earlier work, The End of Science (1996). (Horgan was a senior writer for Scientific American).
As Horgan put it:

Lewis Wolpert, a pillar of British biology, was particularly offended by my handling of neuroscience. When I was introduced to him at a scientific gathering in London in 1997, Wolpert became so apoplectic that for a thrilling instant I thought he was going to strike me. The chapter on neuroscience in The End of Science, he shouted, his face reddening, was “appalling! Absolutely appalling! It focused for the most part not on real neuroscientists but on latecomers like Gerald Edelman, an immunologist, and Francis Crick, who was originally a physicist! And how could I possibly say that neuroscience was ending when it was obviously just beginning! Wolpert stalked off before I could respond.

So much for Dr. Wolpert's version of detached, rational exchange of ideas.

Zerdini's comments re Lewis Wolpert brought to mind something I read in John Horgan's interesting book, The Undiscovered Mind (1999). The reference is to Horgan's treatment of neuroscience in his earlier work, The End of Science (1996). (Horgan was a senior writer for Scientific American).
As Horgan put it:

Lewis Wolpert, a pillar of British biology, was particularly offended by my handling of neuroscience. When I was introduced to him at a scientific gathering in London in 1997, Wolpert became so apoplectic that for a thrilling instant I thought he was going to strike me. The chapter on neuroscience in The End of Science, he shouted, his face reddening, was “appalling! Absolutely appalling! It focused for the most part not on real neuroscientists but on latecomers like Gerald Edelman, an immunologist, and Francis Crick, who was originally a physicist! And how could I possibly say that neuroscience was ending when it was obviously just beginning! Wolpert stalked off before I could respond.

So much for Dr. Wolpert's version of detached, rational exchange of ideas.

Great post Michael!

I take some comfort from the thought that there is a high degree of probability there will be some very surprised skeptics when it comes their turn to cross over! I wish that I could be there to watch it!

Art, I know you are just joking, but that isn’t very nice! I’ve seen ghosts that are like that. They can’t see other ghosts or guides that could actually help them. They just stare at this world and can’t understand why no one can see them or help them. They become isolated and really stuck sometimes. I don’t understand how someone could be dead and not believe in survival of consciousness, but it happens.

Art, I know you are just joking, but that isn’t very nice! - Sandy
--------------------------------------------

Oh, I think the Creator of the Universe has to have a sense of humor! And my God is a whole lot smarter than that! I'm sure He/She is capable of creating a system where those who don't believe learn what they are supposed to learn regardless of who they are, or where they live, or what they believe! It's called "holistic" learning by the way. What it means is that the lessons are embedded in our everyday lives and the soul is "imprinted" with what it needs to learn whether we want it to be or not.
--------------------------------------------
excerpt from Alex Paterson's NDE:
"There is a delicious irony in all this. Most people perceive 'death' as one of the worst evils they could experience in their lives (whether it be their own death or that of loved ones) yet if the experiences of Near Death had by so many are anywhere near the 'truth', then the most beautiful experience a human being is ever going to have in this life is his or her own death. The irony of the perceived worst being the best highlights the cosmic humour which seems to underlie the 'Game' associated with experience in this realm." http://www.esolibris.com/articles/death_afterlife/near_death_experience.php

Michael,

A very interesting post about one of my favorite people. Did you know that Myers now has a My Space page? See
http://www.myspace.com/fred_myers

Some good humor and photos, at least.

Report from Nature 22nd January 2004
Telepathy debate hits London
Audience charmed by the paranormal.

Many people believe there is evidence of the power of the mind.
Scientists tend to steer clear of public debates with advocates of the paranormal. And judging from the response of a London audience to a rare example of such a head-to-head conflict last week, they are wise to do so.

Lewis Wolpert, a developmental biologist at University College London, made the case against the existence of telepathy at a debate at the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) in London on 15 January.

Rupert Sheldrake, a former biochemist and plant physiologist at the University of Cambridge who has taken up parapsychology, argued in its favour. And most of the 200-strong audience seemed to agree with him.

Wolpert is one of Britain's best-known public spokesmen for science. But few members of the audience seemed to be swayed by his arguments.

Sheldrake, who moved beyond the scientific pale in the early 1980s by claiming that ideas and forms can spread by a mysterious force he called morphic resonance, kicked off the debate.

He presented the results of tests of extrasensory perception, together with his own research on whether people know who is going to phone or e-mail them, on whether dogs know when their owners are coming home, and on the allegedly telepathic bond between a New York woman and her parrot. "Billions of perfectly rational people believe that they have had these experiences," he said.

An open mind is a very bad thing - everything falls out - Lewis Wolpert, University College London

Wolpert countered that telepathy was "pathological science", based on tiny, unrepeatable effects backed up by fantastic theories and an ad hoc response to criticism. "The blunt fact is that there's no persuasive evidence for it," he said.

For Ann Blaber, who works in children's music and was undecided on the subject, Sheldrake was the more convincing. "You can't just dismiss all the evidence for telepathy out of hand," she said. Her view was reflected by many in the audience, who variously accused Wolpert of "not knowing the evidence" and being "unscientific".

I’ve seen ghosts that are like that. They can’t see other ghosts or guides that could actually help them. They just stare at this world and can’t understand why no one can see them or help them."

This is why it is a waste of time trying to convince a skeptic of the afterlife. If being dead won't convince them, how can anything that happens while they are alive do it?

Rather than wringing our hands about people like Wolpert, we should be trying to convince members of Congress who control the funding for scientific research.

“This is why it is a waste of time trying to convince a skeptic of the afterlife. If being dead won't convince them, how can anything that happens while they are alive do it?”

We cannot convince anyone that has already made up his or her mind. But I suspect a emotional experience like a NDE or an out of body experience may do just that.

The universe is not set up for someone to remain as atheist forever. In this life or the next life they will see that they are eternal.

“Rather than wringing our hands about people like Wolpert, we should be trying to convince members of Congress who control the funding for scientific research.”

Convince congress of anything that should be interesting to watch. How much pac money do you have to influence congress.

Dear Michael,
Sebastian Dieguez here. Long rant follows.
Thank you for an energic review of my review! Well I guess I ought to explain a few things. The big issue here seems to be that I’m incompetent to review a book on parapsychology because, by my own admission, I don’t know the first thing about Myers.
Well my first answer is that IM is presented has a textbook for students, so I’m sure previous knowledge of Myers, or any other pioneer of psychical research, is not a prerequisite to read it or review it. IM was explicitly made as a stand-alone textbook.
By the way, do you know the difference between Mozart and Myers? One of the two is still remembered.
That being said, I need to confess. I sort of lied. The “abridged version on my pseudoscience shelf” was a rhetorical device to ridicule the import of Myers, and to anger precisely those that see so much in him. It worked.
The thing is, I actually know too much about Myers for my own good. It is true that none of my colleagues in psychology and cognitive neuroscience have ever heard about him, but somehow I’ve nourished a secret and guilty passion for the man and the era since many years now. So there, I set my own trap in my review, I wrote that Myers was almost unknown to me to clearly illustrate the lack of importance of the man in current cognitive science, I tried to be funny, and then I added that despite a few interesting and bold insights from Myers the problem were the GHOST STORIES. (This is perhaps why psychological science has forgotten about Myers, right?) But then by doing so, I inadvertently paid the price that I would de facto look incompetent and ignorant in the eyes of readers too serious to read between the lines of what was merely a sarcastic remark about the place of Myers in my shelf, and in my heart.
You see, I’m not impressed by Myers. I think he was a very naïve, gullible and sad man. And sorry, he was no Mozart at all. Sorry for the lèse-majesté but I cannot take Myers seriously, nor the authors of IM. This has nothing to do with my competence or lack thereof on psychical matters. The thing is that my review would probably have been less negative, or would not have been written at all, had I known LESS about the topic. How many “mainstream” cognitive neuroscientists do you think have read this book, or even know about it? Well, I’ve read it, and I saw that the book that presents itself as a tribute to Frederic Myers doesn’t say a word about the experiments on “thought-transference” with Smith & Blackburn and the Creery sisters fiasco, and generally isn’t too fond on discussing the possibilities of fraud, error of observation, misreporting, and exaggeration for any of the topics presented. This is especially true of the chapter on NDEs, where bad faith and question begging abound. But the book certainly says a lot about things like the limits of brain imaging, as if neuroscientists are so stupid that they’re not aware of them, and so forth.

So what else is there to address here? Little things, each in turn:
- I was not “hired”. I simply sent my review to the editor and he took it.
- A request: Please describe exactly the kind of person who would be qualified to fairly review IM (i.e. would it be enough to have read the authors you have listed in this post, or is it safer to just go ahead and read the entire collection of the JSPR and the Proceedings?).
- You write: “Its entire purpose [IM], as stated by the authors, is to confront, challenge, and overturn the assumptions of mainstream neuroscience.”
So why is a simple neuroscientist not qualified to review this book? They are the ones who should know that their end is near, right? Oh, and please stop saying “mainstream” neuroscience, there is no “mainstream” neuroscience. There’s GHOST STORIES, and there’s neuroscience.
- You write: “the reviewer needs to be familiar with the evidence that is cited - that is, with the work of parapsychologists over the past century or more.”
This answers my second point just above here. “Just read EVERYTHING to the last footnote”, and then you would be qualified to form an opinion. That’s a nice argument. But I have better: “Just keep reading the obscurest literature until you BELIEVE it, and then please feel free to open your mouth.”
- “The problem with Irreducible Mind is that it contains too much information.”
Well yeah, when your sticks are really really bad, you need a lot of them to make a bundle! But seriously, this is not controversial. I have read the book, and it says in numerous places that QUANTITY is an argument for them. The problem is that because everything in the book is, by the authors’ own admission, still controversial, or “rogue”, then the “bundle” is really more like a house of cards, a super weak house of cards, in fact a PILE of cards. Well, compare this to the science of evolution, or neuroscience, where most things just stand right. Look at the current state of the “bundle” (i.e. the contents of IM): does it look that good evidence? Does it explain things better than what we have right now? Is it used by scientists? Is it helpful at all? The reality is that for the moment, it is parapsychology that failed, and badly, not the “current” “mainstream” “materialistic” "paradigm". The problem for parapsychology, of course, is that “materialism” works, and keeps working. Materialism has not been destroyed by the cross-correspondences or by NDEs, because materialism is simply unaffected by the multiplication of GHOST STORIES.

Let me say a little bit more. Before mine, all the reviews that I know of IM were positive reviews. I link to them in my post about this issue, on my blog (http://phantomologist.blogspot.com/2009/06/irreducible-mind-fills-much-needed-gap.html). So yes, I did a negative review, with a sarcastic tone. But that’s only fair, as IM is a direct attack not on my “worldview”, but on my JOB. As a cognitive neuroscientist, you have to try to imagine, reading IM is a painful experience. There are many really long, useless and aggressive tirades in IM about such and such author, such and such theory, with extremely confused arguments, lots of repetitions too, distracting and superfluous footnotes, all intermixed with quotes from the 19th century. It’s tiring, really. When you’re used to read clearcut scientific reports, you know, with a clear point, roundly defined hypotheses, methods sections, tables and graphs, and so forth, IM is just horrible. It’s a painful read, and the authors of IM are just saying that I’m an impostor and that I’m not doing my job the way I should. They know that they know better. Like Tart, they know that the end of materialism is near, inevitable, it’s coming, a new era is about to begin! Myers would be proud, he too was quite enthusiastic about the prospects of his “science”, he wrote: “The consciousness that the hour at last had come; that the world-old secret was opening out of mortal view; that the first carrier pigeon had swooped into this fastness of beleagurred men”. Yes, he was an optimistic person. Well, that was about 125 years ago, and still the hour has not come and the world retains his “world-old secret”. How is that?
I also will answer here to one comment from Michael.
You write:
“By "figures," he means mathematical figures, i.e., numerical tables. Of course there are plenty of books on psi that are chock-full of figures. Rhine's ESP experiments were purely statistical. What struck me about this complaint is that it's sort of thing one could mention after merely flipping through the book…“
Unfortunately, I did read the entire book. The book is primarily aimed at students, this is clear from the preface and the introduction. There are no figures and no tables, but lots of rambling and repetition. It cruelly fails on the didactic part, it definitely is useless to students of any field.
Then you add:
“On a more positive note, if this the best the skeptics can do, then it should be relatively clear sailing for us pro-psi folks from now on!”
That’s fair enough, since I felt exactly the same way when reading IM. That book’s surely the best parapsychologists can do. I’m sure IM contains only the very best cases, so from now on we can work on IM as the ultimate best evidence available for the paranormal (but they don’t say a word about Ted Serios, what a shame). Then the old saw that skeptics only attack the weaker cases cannot operate. But this is all in vain, since IM, 800 pages long, is still not enough: the reader is constantly urged to go read not only the original material described in the text, but also tons of other books and reports and papers. So the skeptic always loses. The only possible explanations for skepticism are i) ignorance and ii) prejudice. And this is what one gets merely for not believing in ghosts and psychic superpowers!

Sebastian,

Thanks for taking the time - quite a lot of time, it would appear - to respond to my review of your review.

It's safe to say that when the comment is longer than the main post, a nerve has been struck.

Most of your comment can be summed up in three points. First, you know a lot about Myers but pretended not to for dramatic (or sarcastic) effect. This is called being hoist with one's own petard.

Second, no one remembers Myers and no one cares about him or about parapsychology. But actually, some of us do remember him and do care.

Third, parapsychology can't be of any value because it hasn't been accepted by mainstream science. I think Thomas Kuhn might have something to say about this. (And yes, there is such a thing as "mainstream" science.)

The test of an idea is not whether the majority accepts it. The majority is often wrong. The test is whether the idea is supported by the evidence. In my opinion, the evidence for many kinds of paranormal phenomena is exceedingly good, and is rejected by mainstream science only because it poses a challenge to the materialist paradigm.

But if you insist on characterizing all this evidence as "ghost stories" (in ALL CAPS, for some reason), then I'm afraid you aren't going to see it.

By the way, I've updated my post to point readers to Sebastian's comment.

Also, I would ask other commenters to go easy on Sebastian even if they disagree with him, as I know many will. One of the dismaying things about some blogs is that whenever a contrarian opinion is uttered, it is immediately shouted down. It takes courage to post a comment on a "hostile" blog, and people who do so in a spirit of good faith should be treated with courtesy and friendliness. But you already knew that.

"Materialism has not been destroyed by the cross-correspondences or by NDEs, because materialism is simply unaffected by the multiplication of GHOST STORIES." - Sebastian Dieguez
--------------------------------------------

Materialism has been destroyed by quantum physics. When I was a kid my mom used to always say "truth is stranger than fiction." At that time I didn't believe her and I thought I knew everything. It took me a really long time to find out she was right.

"Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real." - Niels Bohr, quantum physicist

"The universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine." - Sir James Jeans, physicist

from Mysterious Light by Dr. Peter Russell, PhD Mathematician,
"For two thousand years it was believed that atoms were tiny balls of solid matter-a model clearly drawn from everyday experience. Then, as physicists discovered that atoms were composed of more elementary, subatomic, |particles (electrons, protons, neutrons, and suchlike), the model shifted to one of a central nucleus surrounded by orbiting electrons-again a model based on experience.

An atom may be small, a mere billionth of an inch across, but these subatomic particles are a hundred-thousand times smaller still. Imagine the nucleus of an atom magnified to the size of a grain of rice. The whole atom would then be the size of a football stadium, and the electrons would be other grains of rice flying round the stands. As the early twentieth-century British physicist Sir Arthur Eddington put it, "matter is mostly ghostly empty space"-99.9999999 percent empty space, to be a little more precise.

With the advent of quantum theory, it was found that even these minute subatomic particles were themselves far from solid. In fact, they are not much like matter at all-at least nothing like matter as we know it. They can't be pinned down and measured precisely. They are more like fuzzy clouds of potential existence, with no definite location. Much of the time they seem more like waves than particles. Whatever matter is, it has little, if any, substance to it."
http://twm.co.nz/prussell_bio.html

"The universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine." - James Jeans

A New Theory of the Universe By Robert Lanza, The American Scholar
http://www.theamericanscholar.org/a-new-theory-of-the-universe/

And as far as near death experiences goes, there is a connection between NDE's and the holographic paradigm and quantum physics that is not easily explained away. People come back after their experiences and describe them in terms that can only be described as "holographic."

Near Death Experience: A Holographic Explanation by Oswald G., Ph.d. Harding

http://www.amazon.com/Near-Death-Experience-Holographic-Explanation/dp/9768202092/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1248962376&sr=1-1

Has he gone? Who was that guy ?....scary !

Now where's my copy of 'Irreducible Mind'.....

"That being said, I need to confess. I sort of lied."

"So yes, I did a negative review, with a sarcastic tone. But that’s only fair, as IM is a direct attack not on my “worldview”, but on my JOB."

Remarkable admissions of the sort that would have testimony thrown out of court.

"Wolpert is one of Britain's best-known public spokesmen for science. But few members of the audience seemed to be swayed by his arguments."

If I recall correctly, this was the debate in which Wolpert refused to even turn his head to look at a video of Sheldrake's experiments. He sat with his back to the screen and his head down.

Sheldrake compared it to the churchmen who refused to look through Galileo's telescope.

I've just done a quick google on 'images.'
Sebastian describes himself as a fellow internet infidel with Keith Augustine. Have a look, it's quite revealing.

"Also, I would ask other commenters to go easy on Sebastian even if they disagree with him, as I know many will. One of the dismaying things about some blogs is that whenever a contrarian opinion is uttered, it is immediately shouted down. It takes courage to post a comment on a "hostile" blog, and people who do so in a spirit of good faith should be treated with courtesy and friendliness. But you already knew that."

I appreciate the spirit of this request, Michael. However, since Dieguez wrote the following I don't think he deserves it...

"I admire your efforts at explaining and your willingness to convince, but frankly my approach is simply to mock these people and their "theories", as I don't think this is an honest intelectual debate at all."

Folks, just move along...there's nothing to see here. The guy by his own admission lied and used derision rather than argument because he was protecting his "job". He clearly stated that he had an opinion about Myers before reading the book and did the review to provide a negative review to counter the positive ones he's seen. He lies about his prior knowledge of Meyers to further his agenda. He contradicts himself as needed (re: Meyers "I think he was a very naïve, gullible and sad man" and "he was an optimistic person". Which was he, sad or optimistic?) and worse, he seems to think that typing "ghost stories" in capital letters makes some sort of point. (Oh, GHOST STORIES! Well, why didn't you say so! We're sorry to have bothered you!)

There is nothing here - no argument, no discourse, just ranting, repetition and derision, with an occasional flaunting of credentials. Let's just nod, smile and move along.

This from Sebastian's blog...the Phantomologist.
There is much more to say about I M and it's authors, but for the moment try to grab a copy of the current issue of skeptic and read my nasty review. If you don't have access to that excellent magazine,ask me for a reprint.

Not biased, then. No.

"However, since Dieguez wrote the following ..."

Interesting. Yes, he did say that:

http://snipurl.com/ob2kj

The relevant words appear in Sebastian's reply to Keith Augustine.

But perhaps he was just having a bad day. I wouldn't want to be held to account for every offhand remark I've made online.

Perhaps, though I doubt it.

In any event, I agree with Tony M.

MP wrote:

"Second, no one remembers Myers and no one cares about him or about parapsychology. But actually, some of us do remember him and do care."

I think what the perturbed Mr. Dieguez means is that no people whose opinions actually matter remember Myers or care about parapsychology.

And when Dieguez writes:

"That being said, I need to confess. I sort of lied. The 'abridged version on my pseudoscience shelf' was a rhetorical device to ridicule the import of Myers, and to anger precisely those that see so much in him. It worked."

Why bother with the man afterwards? By his own words he INTENDS to make people angry, like a frustrated child lashing out at things he doesn't like.

Why reward that behavior?

Myers and the Creery sisters:

NOTE RELATING TO SOME OF THE PUBLISHED EXPERIMENTS IN THOUGHT-TRANSFERENCE.

It will be remembered that the earliest experiments in Thought-transference described in the Society's Proceedings were made with some sisters of the name of Creery. The important experiments were, of course, those in which the " agency " was confined to one or more of the investigating Committee. (See the Table in Phantasms of the Living, Vol. I., p. 25.) But though stress was never laid on any trials where a chance of collusion was afforded by one or more of the sisters sharing in the "agency," nevertheless some results contained under such conditions were included in the records. It is necessary, therefore, to state that in a series of experiments with cards, recently made at Cambridge, two of the sisters, acting as "agent" and "percipient," were detected in the use of a code of signals; and a third has confessed to a certain amount of signalling in the earlier series to which reference has been made.

The code was as follows:—When the two sisters were in sight of one another, the signals used were a slight upward look for hearts, downwards for diamonds, to the right for spades, and to the left for clubs. Further, the right hand put up to the face meant king, the left hand to the face meant queen, and knave was indicated by crossing the arms. It is doubtful whether there were any signs for other cards. We failed to make any out clearly. A table showing the degree of success in guessing each card suggests that there were signs for 10 and ace, but that they were either only used occasionally or used with poor success.

In experiments in which a screen was placed between the two sisters, so that they could not see each other, auditory signs were used to indicate suits. A scraping with the feet on the carpet meant hearts, and sighing, coughing, sneezing or yawning meant diamonds. If there were signs to distinguish between the black suits they were— like the signs for 10 and ace in the visual code—sparingly used or often unsuccessful.

The sisters are naturally very restless, which made the move ments above described less obvious than they would otherwise have been. As soon as some clue to the code used had been obtained, Mr. Gurney and Mrs. Sidgwick, and sometimes Professor Sidgwick, set themselves to guess the card (which they took care should be unknown to them) from the signals, secretly recording their guesses. Their success afforded a complete proof of the use of the signals.

The use of the visual code was very gratuitous on the part of the sisters, since it had been explained to them that we did not attach any scientific value to the experiments in which they acted as agent and percipient in sight of each other, the possibility of success under these conditions having been abundantly proved. The object of our experiments at Cambridge on this occasion was, if possible, to strengthen the evidence for Thought-transference (1) when no members of the family were aware of the thing to be guessed, and (2) when the sister acting as agent was in a different room from the one acting as percipient. The experiments in which the codes were used were intended merely as amusement and encouragement with a view to increase the chance of success in the more difficult ones—which were all complete failures.

The account which was given as to the earlier experiments, conducted under similar conditions, is that signals were very rarely used; and not on specially successful occasions, but on occasions of failure, when it was feared that visitors would be disappointed. But of course the recent detection must throw discredit on the results of all previous trials in which one or more of the sisters shared in the agency. How far the proved willingness to deceive can be held to affect the experiments on which we relied, where collusion was excluded, must of course depend on the degree of stringency of the precautions taken against trickery of other sorts—as to which every reader will form his own opinion.

E. G.

Proceedings of the SPR, Vol. V, pgs. 269-270.

It's a shame that somene who can't see GHOSTS thinks they are funny, while someone who sees them all the time (Sandy on this blog) regards them as anything but funny. If I were a neuroscientist, I'd want to investigate the brain of someone who sees ghosts directly. That would be an interesting chalenge.

The Blackburn-Smith fiasco:

http://www.survivalafterdeath.org.uk/articles/price/esp.htm#fiasco

Another thought-reading investigation which ended in a fiasco was the Blackburn-Smith partnership. These two young Brighton men, Douglas Blackburn and G. A. Smith, semi-professional 'telepathists,' submitted their powers to a number of psychical researchers, including Myers and Gurney. They worked together, just as the Zancigs, the Trees, the Zomahs, and other vaudeville thought-readers did in later years. Smith, blindfolded, would seat himself at a table, while Blackburn, outside the room, would be shown some geometrical design drawn on a sheet of paper. Blackburn would then enter the room and stand behind Smith, who proceeded to trace on a piece of paper the 'impressions' of the drawing which, he said, he received from Blackburn's mind(9). When the control conditions were really tightened up (as for example in an experiment described by Sir James Crichton-Browne)(10) the 'telepathists' failed. Blackburn finally confessed(11) that the good results were obtained by codes and other trickery. He writes: 'I am the sole survivor of that group of experimenters and no harm can be done to anyone... I, with mingled feelings of regret and satisfaction, now declare that the whole of the alleged experiments were bogus, and originated in the honest desire of two youths to show how easily men of scientific mind and training could be deceived when seeking for evidence in support of a theory they were wishful to establish.' A full description of all the tricks and codes was given. Smith denied Blackburn's allegations. He could hardly do otherwise considering that during the interval between the original experiments and the 'confession' Smith had closely collaborated with the SPR as hypnotist in some telepathic experiments(12) conducted by the Sidgwicks, using various subjects. In these experiments at guessing numbers, and visualizing scenes, the subjects were, apparently, very successful. But Mr. S. G. Soal, in a brilliant analysis(13) of this case, proves that it would have been as easy for Smith to have used a code during the Sidgwick experiments as it was for Blackburn when he deceived Myers and Gurney. Here we have two professional entertainers, one of whom eventually revealed his complete bag of tricks. His partner continues in the business. Is it not reasonable to suppose that his 'miracles,' too, can also be explained in terms of normality? I doubt if any of those who experimented with Blackburn and Smith knew that as early as 1884 the former showman had written an illuminating work(14) on 'thought reading.'

(9) For details and drawings, see Proc., SPR, Vol. I, 1883, pp. 161-215.
(10) In the Westminster Gazette, January 29, 1908.
(11) John Bull, December 5 to January 9, 1909; Daily News, September 1, 1911; 'Confessions of a "Telepathist",' Journal, SPR, Vol. XV, pp. 115-32.
(12) 'Experiments in Thought Transference' by Prof. and Mrs. H. Sidgwick, and Mr. G. A. Smith, Proc., SPR, Vol. VI, pp. 128-70.
(13) Experimental Telepathy and Clairvoyance in England, 1881-1933, London, 1933, in the 'Harry Price Library' in the University of London.
(14) Thought Reading; or, Modern Mysteries Explained. Being Chapters on Thought-Reading, Occultism, Mesmerism, etc.; forming a key to the Psychological Puzzles of the Day, by Douglas Blackburn, London [1884].

The pages of the SPR publications are full of papers on telepathy - theoretical, experimental, spontaneous. Convenient lists of the principal papers have been published(15). Some of the experimental tests appear - on the surface - to be impressive, but few will bear scientific analysis (as for example the Guthrie series(16)) and not one is capable of being duplicated successfully in a laboratory under properly controlled conditions. There is much food for thought in this fact when we consider that the SPR has been functioning for more than fifty years.

(15) Proc., SPR, Vol. XLI, pp. 40-3.
(16) Proc., SPR, Vol. I, pp. 263-83.

http://www.skepdic.com/telepath.html

The term 'telepathy' was coined by psychical investigator Frederick W. H. Myers (1843-1901) in an 1882 article in the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research. Myers was a classics scholar and one of the founders of modern psychology.

In 1882, Sir William Fletcher Barrett, a professor of physics at the Royal College of Science in Dublin, and a few friends, including the Cambridge philosopher Henry Sidgwick, formed the still-existing Society for Psychical Research (SPR). The goal of the society, in part, according to Sidgwick was to

drive the objector into the position of being forced either to admit the phenomena as inexplicable, at least by him, or to accuse the investigators either of lying or cheating or of a blindness or forgetfulness incompatible with any intellectual condition except absolute idiocy.

SPR’s first scientific study would have Sidgwick eating those words.

Barrett led SPR’s first study (1882-1888). It involved a clergyman’s four teenage daughters and a servant girl who claimed they could communicate telepathically. Barrett introduced a method for testing telepathy that was popular for more than a century, though it is rarely used anymore by scientific investigators: card guessing. He did a number of guessing experiments (of cards or names of persons or household objects) with the girls and came away declaring that the odds of their being able to guess correctly in one experiment “were over a million to one.” The odds of their guessing correctly five cards in row were “over 142 million to one” and guessing correctly eight consecutive names in a row were “incalculably greater” (Christopher 1970: 10). More men of integrity with high degrees were brought in to witness the telepathic powers of the Creery girls and Jane Dean, their servant. All the scientists agreed that there was no trickery involved. How did they know? They had looked very carefully for signs of it and couldn’t find any!

A skeptic might ask: What are the odds that children can fool some very intelligent scientists for six years? The answer is: the odds are very good. Almost immediately the scientists were criticized for being taken in by tricks amateurs could perform. It took six years for these rather intelligent men of the SPR to catch the girls cheating—using a verbal code—and discover their trickery. But that’s not all. While one group of scientists was validating the Creery group, another from SPR was validating the amazing telepathic feats of a 19-year-old entertainer named George A. Smith and his partner in deception, Douglas Blackburn. Smith eventually became secretary of the SRP (Christopher 1970). Had Blackburn not eventually published a series of articles explaining how they fooled the scientists, the world might never have known the details of the trickery (Gardner 1992). The early scientific studies demonstrate the naïveté of the experimenters and the need for experts in non-verbal communication and deception, namely, conjurors or gamblers, to help them set up protocols to prevent cheating.

It took some time to sink in but eventually the experimenters realized that for some reason human beings like to deceive each other. They use all kinds of non-verbal signals to communicate, which can give the appearance of psychic transmission of information. They use glances (up, down, right, left for the four suits of a deck of cards, for example), coughs, sighs, yawns, and noises with their shoes. Other cheaters use Morse code with coins and various other tricks known to conjurers. Sometimes gestures to various parts of the body have a prearranged meaning.

Creery-girl and Smith-Blackburn stories are frequent in the literature on psi research.

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