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Matt P,

I hope you realize that you have provided what is, in effect, a parody of "skeptical" reasoning. Yet you guys are so oblivious that you surely do not realize it. Chuckles.

Joe McMoneagle will be on Coast to Coast radio tonight (Sunday, 10 PM Pacific):


Remote Viewing & Project Stargate
Sun 02-16
George Knapp welcomes Joseph McMoneagle who is known as the best Operational Remote Viewer in the history of the U.S. Army's Special Project-- Stargate. He'll discuss how he described the interior of a top-secret Soviet manufacturing plant, and accurately predicted a new class of submarine under construction there. McMoneagle will also share how he has continued to demonstrate these abilities on camera for national television in three countries, and in the lab at the Monroe Institute.

I am willing to agree to disagree on what has been discussed previously as we will be going round in circles and talking right past each other. There are many things I would like to say but I won't so I just want to discuss one case that we may be able to agree on?

It's the case that Michael mentions:

"If I recall correctly – it's been some time since I read the book), he speculated that the test subject "could have" climbed up on the roof of the building and peered in through the skylight in order to observe the professor preparing the cards for a card-guessing experiment."

Unfortunately this is your own misunderstanding but the human memory is unreliable especially over long periods so it's understandable :) There is no mention of a roof by Hansel in the Pratt experiment.

Having read Hansel's book, the facts are this. What you are talking about is the famous ESP experiment with Joseph Pratt and Hubert Pearce (a student) that was carried out between late 1933-1934. Hansel visited the actual Duke University where this experiment took place. He noticed two important things, firstly the room where Pratt was positioned was not screened off at all. There was a clear window from the corridor which could give a very clear view of where Pratt was sitting (more on this in a minute).

So that's the first problem with the experiment. If it was truly a scientific experiment to test for ESP then the room should have been screened off as a precaution to rule out trickery but it wasn't.

Ok continuing. Hansel found that above Pratt's table (where he was sitting), there was a trap door with a hole in it directly above him in the ceiling. A bit of a coincidence? This trap door was positioned in the attic above the room and was easily accessible from inside the building.

Here's what Hansel wrote:

"In this room there was, however, a trap door in the ceiling, measuring about 4 feet by 1 and a half feet and situated immediately over the position occupied by the table at which Pratt sat during the experiment. Its cover had a large hole that looked as if had been recently made. There was also a small metal plate on the trap door that could have covered another hole, and this plate looked as if it had been there a long time. The room was on the top classroom floor of the building, and the main staircase went up another flight to a large attic, which extended over the floor beneath it...

It would thus have been possible for an intruder to have positioned himself above the trap door to see the cards on Pratt's table."

There's no mention of any roof. If Pearce or an accomplice was to cheat he could have easily entered the attic which was open and used the hole in the trap-door to spy on Pratt. So the possibility was there and it was never ruled out.

As for your other point, Michael has written:

"Similarly, Hansel suggests that another test subject could have propped up a ladder and peered through the transom above a professor's office door in order to spy on him. This assumes that the test subject would take the risk of being discovered standing on a ladder in the hallway of a building that housed many offices and was used by many professors and students."

This is not another test subject what you are referring to is the same Pratt experiment. There was no ladder and Hansel never mentioned a ladder. There were some chairs in the corridor outside of the window of the room where Pratt was positioned. It's thus possible that all Pearce (or an accomplice) would have to do was stand on the chair and look into the room. Pratt was not facing the window that we are talking about here from the corridor, so he wouldn't of noticed anyone if they were peaking.

As mentioned there was no ladder, it was chairs, but you raise a valid objection Michael. The fact that university students could have been present in the hallway.

You also mention building plans that invalidates Hansel's hypothesis of peeking from the corridor, implying Hansel's layout of the corridor was incorrect as Hansel had visited the building in 1960 and by then some of the layout of the corridor had been changed. This objection is mentioned by Dean Radin in his book Entangled Minds on page 89, but Radin supports this claim with no evidence but even if it is true, unfortunately what Radin does not state is that Hansel requested for the plans but he was denied them. Here’s Hansel in his own words:

“I went to the architect's office of the university and asked to see plans of the rooms as they were in 1933. I also asked for details of structural alterations that had been made to the rooms, together with the dates on which they had been made, and the person who had asked for them. These details were to be forwarded to me, but I never received them. I wrote again requesting them, but had no reply."
I find it suspicious that Rhine and his colleagues did not want to send the plans to Hansel. Anyway the fact remains that there’s two possibilities there of cheating that were not ruled out, the trap door in the ceiling and someone peaking through a window. These are serious problems that invalidate the experiment as “conclusive” evidence for psi.

As for the experiment itself, there were many sittings (37). Hansel worked out with statistics that if Pearce was to have cheated he would only have had to done it a few times, five I believe was worked out to be. The overall results were just above chance and if Hansel cheated just on a few of the sittings and rest of the experiments were just chance then it would have explained the results. Unfortunately some parapsychologists have misrepresented Hansel. For example in the book An Introduction to Parapsychology by Caroline Watt on page 64 she says it's an unlikely probability that Pearce would have remained undetected in every one of the 37 sessions cheating but Hansel never suggested that, nobody has. Pearce would only have to have cheated in a handful of the sittings which is consistent with the results.

If you want to get scientific on the statistics then there is a chart in the book Anomalistic Psychology: A Study of Magical Thinking by the psychologists Leonard Zusne and Warren Jones on page 159 showing the distribution of scores which is consistent with Hansel’s hypothesis.

A few other things about the experiment which (hopefully) Michael et al on this blog. There was no observer present during hardly any of the sittings. Only Rhine was present with Pratt for three of the sittings (only 3!), the rest nobody was observing either Pratt or Peace. This is un-scientific. As Hansel established nobody was observing Pearce at all. He could have left the building he was in at any time, Rhine could not be checking the corridor or outside at the same time.

As Hansel also established there’s no evidence in the actual report for the experiment that Rhine actually observed Pearce. Here's what Hansel writes:

“Rhine could not have been watching from the window leading into the corridor to see that no one was looking in while at the same time looking out the window on the opposite wall to see Pearce leave the library and also watching Pratt record the cards."

Which ever way you look at it, the experiment is a mess as the possibility of cheating was widely open, there was no observers present and the controls and layout of the experiment was embarrassing. There needed to be solid controls in place to rule out trickery but there was not. The experiment was never repeated. This is the allegedly one of the most famous experiments for ESP but as Hansel showed it is not scientific evidence for anything. I am sure some of you would even agree the controls were sloppy.

Leaving pearce alone in the library unobserved is not scientific for an experiment that is supposed to demonstrate the paranormal. As for Pearce himself there are other evidences that suggest he actually was a fraud. Pearce was never able to obtain above-chance results when persons other than the experimenter (Rhine) was present during an experiment. When Rhine hired a professional magician to observe Pearce the results dropped to below chance level. I believe Milbourne Christopher mentions this in one of his books, Martin Gardner and others also mention it. There are also cases of Rhine covering up cases of fraud.

I have said all I can on this.
To the other Matt I appreciate your opinions and I know you dislike skeptics or scepticism on these topics but I have just spent two and a half hours typing all this up (the Hansel quotes are not online I have typed them out of the book) so even if you disagree with me at least comment on my points instead of just your thoughts about me. Take care.


Interesting points, Matt P. You're right about the details involving the trapdoor and the transom. I still find it most unlikely that the test subject cheated in these ways - and remember that Rhine and his colleagues carried out decades of experiments, so while this series was important because it was early and well publicized, it is hardly unique.

Incidentally, the test subject in this case went on to become s Methodist minister and was reluctant to discuss ESP in his later years because he thought it might offend his congregation. Whether or not this fact has any bearing on the likelihood that he cheated on the tests is an open question, but if he did have a powerful motivation to cheat, he apparently did not follow up by becoming, say, a professional mentalist.

BTW, another source for the claim that the building's structure ruled out Hansel's suggested method of cheating is J.G. Pratt:

"The reviewer accepts without question Hansel’s statement that Hubert could have peeked to see the cards by hiding in a room across the corridor from the experimenter’s room in the Pearce-Pratt Series. Hansel shows a floor plan of the rooms and corridor that he admits is 'not to scale.' But how is the reader to know that in his plan the positions of the illumination windows have been changed and that a true floor plan would show that the supposed peeking was impossible?"

Since Pratt worked at the U. of Virginia, where the tests took place, he presumably can be trusted on this point. Martin Gardner,however, doesn't trust him, and replies that the Rhine Institute's inability to supply the original blueprints is suspicious. It seems to me that the decades-old plans could easily have been lost. I ran into just this problem when trying to obtain 30-year-old blueprints for my condominium complex.

Gardner also supports the standing-on-a-chair-and-looking-through-the-transom theory as an alternative to the looking-across-the-hall-from-another-office theory.

So we have the supposed cheater looking across the hall, or maybe peering through a transom, to see into one office, and looking through a hole in the ceiling to see into another office. Presumably we must assume that similar efforts were made by many other subjects to affect the outcome of other successful experiments conducted in Rhine's labs over decades of operation. (Note that Rhine chose students as his subjects precisely to avoid the criticism that he was being fooled by skilled mentalists, a criticism always lodged against successful tests of well-known psychics.)

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1966/jul/28/was-he-peeking-2/?pagination=false

Yes good research Michael. Regarding the building plans it is a bit suspicious maybe but I don't see any conspiracy theory in it. These experiments took place just before the war so it's likely they would of been lost especially over a period of 30 years.

In the review by Gardner you cite it ends by claiming:

"However, the exact floor plan is now seen to be amusingly irrelevant. Even if it had not been possible for Pearce to stand across the corridor, in another office, and peek through a transom into Pratt’s room, there was nothing in Pratt’s clumsy experimental design to prevent Pearce or a collaborator, had he wished to do so, from standing on a chair in the corridor and peeking directly through Pratt’s own transom."

In my long previous post I did not cover the office hypothesis that you did touch on. I think Hansel's other hypotheses of the chair in the corridor and the trap door in the ceiling are valid, I am willing to agree with you the office hypothesis can not be considered due to the building plan concerns. The building plans probably do invalidate the office hypothesis of cheating. Unfortunately in his book Radin only focuses on Hansel's office hypothesis. The trap door has never received much attention, and the chair in the corridor has usually been laughed at, but it would have entirely easy. Type:

trap door "pratt" hansel

into Google books, only a handful of books mention it. But I have just noticed you can get free access to Hansel's paper on the Pratt experiment. It's been re-printed in the book Extra Sensory Perception by Gertrude Schmeidler see from page 55. It's online and most of it can be read for free. It will save buying the book because Hansel's book (the 1989 version) is expensive.

Now people on the blog and other paranormal believers will probably continue to believe Pearce and Pratt demonstrated ESP but I have shown as did Hansel a naturalistic explanation regarding the chair and the trap door. Unlike other skeptics like Ersby or Chris French I am not claiming to be neutral. Similar to Hansel I start with the assumption psi is impossible and then look for a naturalistic explanation.

As for Ersby despite some differences in agreement over his debating tactics, I respect his work he's got a blog that covers the fraud of Samuel Soal and errors in remote viewing experiments.

Back to the Pratt experiment it has to be admitted if Pearce really did use a secret accomplice or sneak into the attic himself a few times and peak through the little hole then this explanation is much more interesting than psi. It's beyond ingenious actually so it's actually worth reading about the subject from a skeptic's point of view. I find the possibility of trickery much more interesting than the alleged explanation of psi.

"Presumably we must assume that similar efforts were made by many other subjects to affect the outcome of other successful experiments conducted in Rhine's labs over decades of operation."

I think most of them were, but it was not all conscious trickery. Hansel dedicates a chapter to Rhine and possibilities of sensory leakage as have other skeptics. For example the famous Zener cards were poorly designed so the subject could read the symbols from the back of the card or in the reflection of the experimenter's glasses or note breathing or facial expressions from the experimenter etc. There was also evidence for poor shuffling and card manipulation. This is discussed by Martin Gardner in his book Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science, as well as Hansel (1989) and Milbourne Christopher's book ESP, Seers & Psychics. The list goes on. Apart from Hansel I read these books twenty years ago so can't remember all the exact details. There's not anything else I can say about this. I was trying to find something you and your blog posters and the skeptics' can agree on. If we disagree on everything then we all disagree lol. Thanks for letting me post on your blog. Sorry to move off the ganzfeld, I find ganzfeld boring to be honest with you.. the possibility of someone hiding in an attic is much more interesting in my opinion. Perhaps others can weigh in on this and offer their opinions. Thanks.

"Similar to Hansel I start with the assumption psi is impossible and then look for a naturalistic explanation."

Matt P, I appreciate your honesty, and find you to be one of the more intelligent and candid skeptics to post here.

"I find ganzfeld boring to be honest with you.. the possibility of someone hiding in an attic is much more interesting in my opinion."

"it's actually worth reading about the subject from a skeptic's point of view. I find the possibility of trickery much more interesting than the alleged explanation of psi."

Are you saying that you find a universe containing lies and deceit to be a more appealing proposition than one that includes telepathy, and maybe even immortality? I know you see psi as impossible, but why is hypocrisy "much more interesting"?

Could you help me to understand what you're getting at with those two quotes?

Matt P, here's a second question relating to the one I just asked. Skeptics often say that proponents are victims of wishful thinking. But since you're making a point of emphasizing that you find trickery more interesting than psi, isn't it possible that you too are seeing what you want to see?

Boy, it does take me a while to get my thoughts straight! Let me change that last question to:

"But since you're making a point of emphasizing your fascination with dishonesty, isn't it possible that you too are seeing what you want to see?"

Because when you say this:

"I find ganzfeld boring to be honest with you.. the possibility of someone hiding in an attic is much more interesting in my opinion."

You do seem to be saying that psi is not only impossible, but just plain boring (even as a possibility) -- much less interesting than someone trying to deceive others.

So again -- why the fascination with deceit, and haven't you opened the door wide to the possibility of bias?

Well Matt P, a frequent commenter here, Roger Knights, had a good idea to test the depth of skeptics' belief in a purely material world populated by biological robots and dismissals of psi evidence with, quite frankly, outrageous and baseless conjecture, and I think I'd be interested to see your response to a proposal based on it*.

We (the so called "believers") will identify a group of four psi gifted individuals (not that the gifted qualifier should matter to you). We will set up an experiment replicating Rhine's in the most minute detail. In fact, we will even emulated the floor plan of the section of the building involved in the original experiment, the staffing levels, the trap door, the transom, etc.

You will be a subject as well. Bring along ersby, james Randi; whomever you wish; up to a team of four members. You may attempt to use any materialist approach you wish; to include crawling around up in the ceiling. However, you are limited to cheating technology that was available at the time. No earwigs or other modern transmitting/receiving devices (the room will be swept for these), no fiber optic cables, etc.

This is psi versus skeptics.

Buy in will be $100,000 USD.

If the psi talented group scores only at the level of chance and skeptics score only at the level of chance, skeptics get all of the $s.

If both skeptics and psi talented score above the level of chance, the group with the most significant results gets the $s.

If skeptics score above chance and psi talented are only at chance, then skeptics get the $s.

If either party is caught cheating (e.g. crawling in the ceiling, sending fiber optics through holes in the wall and so on and so forth), then that party is disqualified and sacrifices their $s to the other party. If the cheating involves technology that was not present in Rhine's era, then not only is the $100,000 sacrificed, but a bond secured additional $500,000 is also sacrificed to the experimenters.

If both parties are caught cheating, the experiment is considered a draw and the experimenter gets the $s.

Each individual participant will be involved a statistically meaningful number of trials.

By your belief system, you have nothing to loose and everything to gain. I think the amount of $s on the line is sufficient to motivate and not so large that most people couldn't come up with it - especially the skeptics for whom victory is assured.

In all seriousness, I'd be willing to get involved in sponsoring such a thing as a reality type show. How about you, Matt P? How can you refuse?

*Hope you don't mind, Roger, that I saw an opportunity and borrowed your very good idea.

"Back to the Pratt experiment it has to be admitted if Pearce really did use a secret accomplice or sneak into the attic himself a few times and peak through the little hole then this explanation is much more interesting than psi."

In writing up my preceding comment it occurred to me, just how (purely out of curiosity on my part), would the secret accomplice in the attic transmit information to Pearce?

You know, Matt P, these wild speculations by materialists skeptics are just that because, if skeptics were truly serious, they would, you know, do the science that they're always giving lip service to, and demonstrate that under the conditions that existed, the materialist theory of how it was done actually works. Someone crawling around the attic, looking through a hole and transmitting what is on a card back to the subject without being detected? Show me. Show me repeatedly.

"just how would the secret accomplice in the attic transmit information to Pearce?"

Actually, in this experiment, transmitting the information would not be necessary. The test subject and the experimenter were in two different locations. If the test subject could see the cards by looking through a peephole or whatever, then he could write down the order of the cards that the experimenter had turned over, and then present the written list to the experimenter as if he had obtained it psychically.

One weakness of the experimental protocol was that nobody was assigned to watch the test subject during the period when the experiment was taking place. They had to take his word for it that he remained in the library during the appropriate time frame. Conceivably he could have left the library and spied on the experimenter. Or he could have had an accomplice do it.

I'm not saying that this happened. I think it's exceedingly unlikely and is little more than a "logical possibility." But even the most remote "logical possibility" is preferable to a flat impossibility. So if, like Hansel, one regards ESP as impossible, then any alternative, no matter how far-fetched, is to be preferred.

Guys,

Matt P said he's not open to the evidence of psi, so isn't debating him ipso facto pointless? I can understand Michael responding to him so as to disabuse lurkers of the notion that Matt P is saying anything of value, but I don't see the point in going beyond that. YMMV though! :)

"Are you saying that you find a universe containing lies and deceit to be a more appealing proposition than one that includes telepathy, and maybe even immortality? I know you see psi as impossible, but why is hypocrisy "much more interesting"?"

Bruce I have conned people out of their money, fooled countless gullible people over the years, I used to work in a casino (not saying anymore lol). I am a fraud myself so I know how frauds think. I began to realise twenty odd years ago all psychic stuff was trickery and deceit (Uri Geller, Ted Serios, Tina Resch, Borley Rectory, Doris Stokes, Sylvia Browne etc etc) I could list many more.

Over the years I have collected hundreds of books on charlatans, imposters, frauds and con-artists etc. I have become to admire some of them. Have you heard of Ferdinand Demara? My interests probably wouldn't go down very well with people on this blog. Where believers see psi, I see fraud or a natural explanation. The fact remains there has never been a psi experiment that has been replicated by neutral scientists or in scientific conditions without possibilities of sensory leakage. If psi was real it would be all around the world in scientific publications and bring about a revolution in science but it hasn't because there's no evidence it exists. Parapsychologists like Russell Targ have been easily duped over the years by charlatans.

Despite charlatans out there, there's also those who do not cheat:

If people can swallow swords, pull buses with their ears or tongues, have cannon balls shot at their stomachs, balance a car with their heads, break bricks with one finger, run 135 miles (217 km) nonstop in temperatures reaching 120 degrees or survive being struck by lightning seven times then I don't need to believe in psi. All those things have been done by the way plus plenty of other crazy things but none involved psi. Have a look in the Guinness World Records. They are more fascinating than whatever psi is meant to be.

No One I wish your challenge would become a reality, I wish believers and skeptics would actually perform an experiment to solve the psi experiment once and for all on TV for millions to see but they never do.

To be honest (and the truth isn't always what we want to hear) there really is no debate from where science is standing as psi has not been demonstrated in over 130 years. If you want that to change you guys need to pull together and set up some serious experiments with decent controls, experiments that can be replicated by neutral scientists outside of parapsychological institutions.

As for betting, I am not a betting man it is a fools game... I have seen countless people lose their money. In the past I have asked people to place their bets and I knew they had no chance of winning :)

Good luck with your debate and thanks for having me but I will be opting out from any future discussion. I will let the other skeptics take over if there are any still about. Regards.

Matt P says: "No One I wish your challenge would become a reality, I wish believers and skeptics would actually perform an experiment to solve the psi experiment once and for all on TV for millions to see . . . "
Two months ago I proposed this in detail on this site in the following thread: http://michaelprescott.typepad.com/michael_prescotts_blog/2013/12/i-double-dog-dare-ya.html

I dearly hope someone on the parapsychological field will recall Einstein’s definition of insanity and pay heed to my words!

BTW, regarding my dowsing test: There was a guy in the buildings and maintenance dept. at Harvard in decades past who always used dowsing to located pipes when digging was done, because the old blueprints weren’t always reliable. There was a story about him in an issue of the Harvard alumni magazine, which drew an outraged protest from one of its readers, which lead to further documentation of his abilities in the magazine’s reply. Maybe that fellow, or some similar fellow at another college, could be one of the contestants in my dowsing-dare contest. He’d have some prima facie credibility.


". . . but they never do."
Not according to this:
"On Sunday's show [of Coast to Coast AM, which I posted a heads-up about upthread], George Knapp welcomed Joseph McMoneagle who is known as the best Operational Remote Viewer in the history of the U.S. Army's Special Project-- Stargate. While in the project, one of his most remarkable RV sessions was when he provided details about a top-secret Soviet manufacturing plant, and accurately predicted that a new class of submarine with twin hulls was under construction there. He also produced crucial location information that assisted in the rescue of General James Dozier after he was kidnapped in Italy in 1981. In terms of helping locate missing people, he said he's done 15 two-hour specials for Japanese TV, demonstrating remote viewing live on camera, and finding at least half of the people he was asked to look for."
US TV is too chicken to give McMoneagle a chance to do his stuff here, apparently. The one time they did, the results were disconcerting to the broadcaster. He was able to accurately draw pictures of the locales to which the TV station had sent targets for him to locate.

"Bruce I have conned people out of their money, fooled countless gullible people over the years, I used to work in a casino (not saying anymore lol). I am a fraud myself so I know how frauds think."

Again, I really appreciate your honesty, Matt. It makes for an interesting discussion! I'm sure you have no reason to lie to us about your fraudulent behavior, which you seem to be saying continues today.

To be frank, I never expected such a candid response.

I have to say, though, that your reply does tend to support what many of us proponents suspect -- that people who don't act in good faith, tend to see the same motivation and behavior in others, whether or not it's actually present. It's called projection -- you're probably familiar with the concept.

If you're spending so much of your time reading those hundreds of books on charlatans and impostors, isn't it possible you've become the hammer that sees everything as a nail?

Or do you really think your books capture the fundamental truth about all of us?

Matt P, I just realized that I may have misunderstood your comment. It seems to me now that you were calling yourself a fraud because you worked in a casino, rather than for behavior that's literally criminal. If so, I apologize.

But the gist of my remarks remains the same -- you obviously *feel* like a fraud, and perhaps that makes it tempting to see fraud everywhere you turn (including within the community of psi researchers).

The fact remains there has never been a psi experiment that has been replicated by neutral scientists or in scientific conditions without possibilities of sensory leakage.

I already wrote that this atomistic approach is a mistake, because if we take a holistic approach, we notice patterns in psi studies would not exist if psi did not exist, but it seems no one has noticed this.

If people can swallow swords, pull buses with their ears or tongues, have cannon balls shot at their stomachs, balance a car with their heads, break bricks with one finger, run 135 miles (217 km) nonstop in temperatures reaching 120 degrees or survive being struck by lightning seven times then I don't need to believe in psi. All those things have been done by the way plus plenty of other crazy things but none involved psi. Have a look in the Guinness World Records. They are more fascinating than whatever psi is meant to be.

This is just your opinion. THe fact is that these records are just anecdotes that do not pose any challenge to our western beliefs, and for me it do not seem interesting. I seem psi and especially the afterlife unlimitedly much more interesting.

To be honest (and the truth isn't always what we want to hear) there really is no debate from where science is standing as psi has not been demonstrated in over 130 years.

Look, rigorous philosophers like Braude and Ducasse came to the conclusion that psychic research allowed only two reasonable possibilities: psi and afterlife or super-psi, so you realize how this discursion is impossible.

"I am a fraud myself so I know how frauds think. I began to realise twenty odd years ago all psychic stuff was trickery and deceit (Uri Geller, Ted Serios, Tina Resch, Borley Rectory, Doris Stokes, Sylvia Browne etc etc) I could list many more."

Frankly, this all sounds like an attempt to sooth one's own corrupt conscience.At any rate, the logic doesn't follow; some people claiming psi are con artists, therefore all people claiming psi are con artists.

I am in the race horse business and I have met all kinds of crooks, liars and con artists that have all kinds of ways of fixing races (or at least underhandedly improving their horse's chance of winning). That said, there are plenty of horses that go out there and win simply on talent, training and good riding by the jockey. I know because I have won races without all of that. Still some jaded participants, usually the biggest cheaters, will tell you, "it's all rigged".


"The fact remains there has never been a psi experiment that has been replicated by neutral scientists or in scientific conditions without possibilities of sensory leakage."

That is merely your opinion. Plenty of highly qualified, highly capable, highly intelligent people disagree with you.

Matt Rouge is correct. What's the point?

"If the test subject could see the cards by looking through a peephole or whatever, then he could write down the order of the cards that the experimenter had turned over, and then present the written list to the experimenter as if he had obtained it psychically."

Hmmm.....then why not, if one is cheating by peeping through holes, be a super "psychic" and make 100% hits?

But there are so many variables......would it make easily detectable noise if the cheater was crawling around in the attic? Is visual acuity such that one could see the information on the cards from the distance of the peep hole? Were the subjects given a preview of the experimental setting such that could devise their nefarious schemes or did, spur of the moment, they decided to go crawling around in the attic on the off chance that they might find their way to a location above the cards which also provided a viable way to look down on the cards and clearly see what was on them? All successful subjects came up with the same scheme? What motivated them?

I still think this gets back to the basic common cognitive dissonance decreasing human psychology of "I'm a con, but it's ok because everyone is a con".

I guess I need to read the critiques and responses.

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1966/sep/22/was-he-peeking-contd/?pagination=false

"Since Professor Hansel acknowledges in his book that I helped him in every possible way, why did he not duplicate Hubert Pearce’s results with me in my old experimental room and working under the same conditions that existed for the Pearce-Pratt Series? Why did he need instead to choose an entirely different room and to take as the intended victim of his effort at deception a staff member who had never completed an experiment and published a scientific report? "

enough said

>> The fact remains there has never been a psi experiment that has been replicated by neutral scientists or in scientific conditions without possibilities of sensory leakage.<<

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

But there are quite simple examples of psi which per a skeptic would be impossible. For example, Sandy who comments on this blog demonstrates PK through a closed glass container.

This could be demonstrated to anyone who was prepared to look at it. The problem is, in order to remain loyal to their belief system, skeptics turn their heads away and say either, "It is never demonstrated" or "It must be fraud." They never actually observe such a demonstration with an open mind. So as you say, there's no point in arguing the toss.

"Matt Rouge is correct. What's the point?"

Speaking for myself, I haven't been debating Matt P so much as trying to understand him.

I think it's pretty interesting that he sees fraud and its opposite -- a vulnerability to being duped or misled -- as accounting for all positive psi results.

And then he virtually present himself to us as, above all, a fraud. And says that he admires con artists and others who cheat, and has hundreds of books about them.

Am I the only one here who thinks there might be some insight to be gained through Matt P's unusually candid remarks about himself?

(Matt P, if you're still here, sorry to talk about you in the third person. But I'm only reiterating what I've said directly to you earlier, asking for your thoughts.)


Another thought about my exchange with Matt P: I think we get so focused, at times, on arguing the micro-mechanics of these experiments (like who might be standing on what chair peeking through what window) that we ignore the deeper issue of what goes on in the hearts and minds of skeptics to make them see things the way they do.

(And what goes on in the hearts and minds of proponents, too, by the way.)

Like the priests that condemned Galileo without never actually looking at his telescope.

Polemically useful though it is, the Galileo story seems to be more legend than fact:

http://bedejournal.blogspot.com/2006/11/who-refused-to-look-through-galileos.html

MP: Another polemically useful story is the one about "adding epicycles." According to Wikipedia (or some other source with a long write-up on the topic), those epicycles were always there, and none were added to bolster a theory in trouble.

Matt P

"If there's a logical possible natural explanation for a "paranormal" or psi experiment, by default (Occam's razor) the natural explanation is preferred. That is the way science works and it's why psi will never ever been accepted by the scientific community".

A natural explanation in this context meaning an explanation consistent with the physicalist or materialist metaphysic. To suppose science works by presupposing such a metaphysic demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of science and how it works.

It is not a legitimate use of Ockham's razor to prefer highly convoluted explanations; it is doubly not legitimate when such explanations are on the presupposition of the correctness of a metaphysic which is simply inconsistent with the existence of consciousness.

Psi won't be accepted by the scientific community until such a time when we have a scientific theory of the world which doesn't leave out the existence of consciousness. And that will necessarily mean abandoning any materialist metaphysic. Then we can move on and discover what this consciousness is capable of doing and how it meshes in with our understanding of physical reality.

"Psi won't be accepted by the scientific community until such a time when we have a scientific theory of the world which doesn't leave out the existence of consciousness"

Amen Ian. Cheers. Simon

Yes, excellent comment from Ian!

Matt P,

>> If there's a logical possible natural explanation for a "paranormal" or psi experiment, by default (Occam's razor) the natural explanation is preferred. <<

Occam’s razor suggests (but isn’t some metaphysical unquestionable “rule”) that if there are two explanations for something, then the simpler explanation should be preferred. You’re making assumptions as to how that applies to psi:

First of all, the “natural” explanation is NOT always simpler.

Second, simplicity is not the only (or even the most important) criterion, which is why the simpler explanation is frequently just plain wrong; sometimes the truth is complicated. You have make assessments on a case by case basis by looking at the merits of each explanation vs. the other explanations.

Third, your use of “natural” is ideological and constrained by *contemporary* and *evolving* *theoretical* considerations, which ought to take a back seat to empirical testing and observation. Direct observation under careful conditions trumps theoretical objections to the thing being observed. Many people used to dismiss the possibility of meteorites (seriously!) because of their a priori assumption, and so reports were chalked up to fraud, poor observation, poor memory, or hallucination. The idea that psi somehow “violates” our contemporary understanding of the “laws” of physics is wrong, but even IF it were true, observations of psi effects under fraud-resistant conditions would imply that our contemporary understanding needs revision and not the other way around. Btw, your assertion that psi has never been shown under fraud-resistant conditions is outrageously wrong and it’s a talking point that overly-confident skeptics parrot all the time. It reminds me of the way creationists parrot anti-evolution talking points and convince themselves that they’re right. I’m sorry if that offends or hurts anybody’s feelings, but it seems to be the case to me.

Fourth, MANY individuals within the “scientific community” (as if there were one homogenous community...) DO, in fact, regard psi as either established or likely, including dozens of Nobel Laureates. But, in any case, in my experience, the *vast* majority of scientists are just clueless about the actual research. You could line up a thousand randomly-selected physicists, or psychologists, or biologists, or chemists, etc. and I would be willing to bet that at *least* 90% of them would be *unable* to summarize the kakie sittings with Piper (they wouldn’t even know what that means!), or the nuances regarding the Ganzfeld debate, or the EEG and fMRI correlation studies, or the studies in which SKEPTCIS themselves obtained positive results without expecting it, etc.

- Pat

Carter quit?

Carter is probably researching and composing a response. It might take a month, given the level of detail and the span of what he has to reply to.

PS: IOW, Carter is lacing up his shoes.

Any news from Chris on this matter Michael?

No, I haven't heard from him. I'll probably close this thread soon ...

I was thinking about this thread the other day. I was involved in a financial impact study with various key hospitals in the insurance company's (that I work for) network. To understand the overall impact to us (insurance company) I am combining the data from all of the various participating hospitals and then re-analyzing that one meta data set - just as Chris suggested should have been done in the psi studies.

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