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“. . . but when I'm doing a reading for someone, it's a mix of psychic impressions, using background knowledge (both general and specific to the sitter), making logical deductions based on both the impressions and background knowledge, and using my ability to listen and advise. Among other things. Sometimes it's a lot of psi, and sometimes it's a lot of using common sense.”

Matt, the above statement from you is very revealing. Do you really want to lump all of those things you mentioned into your ‘psi’ ability? Could it be that what you do in terms of mediumship is really nothing more than using your intelligence, experience and knowledge of people generally to make good guesses guided perhaps somewhat by the sitter? A psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker or minister uses those things to help their clients resolve issues but most of them would not think that they were psychic in any way, although perhaps some of them might be.

I usually think of ‘psi’ ability as something more than using common sense and knowledge of a certain demographic as a basis for providing information about a sitter. It could be that what you call your ‘psi’ ability is just your subconscious mind putting things together using the large number of facts and experience you have accumulated over your lifetime. Who knows!

When I watch George Anderson or Christopher Stillar or when I read of the Etta Wriedt séances as published by W. Usborne Moore in “The Voices”, I don’t get the feeling that they are using anything other than information obtained telepathically perhaps from some other source including the consciousness of the living or the deceased. Some of their ‘hits’ are spectacular, seemingly with no way they could have known the information by any other means other than by some supernormal means. It seems---according to Moore--- that in the case of Wriedt, she remains in the background most of the time and the ‘spirits’ do all of the talking. (I think Moore’s account of activities by Mrs. Wriedt is as unbelievable as the recordings of Leslie Flint! It is a ‘must read’ for anyone interested in survival of consciousness.)

Anyhow, keep up the good work Matt. As time goes on and you continue to develop your skills, you may come to trust more and more your ‘psi’ knowledge and less on your knowledge of the human condition. -AOD

Matt Rouge, yes, suck puppets are a plague on learned discourse. :-)

I was an active Wikipedia editor for quite a while and one of the most common complaints from the skeptic editors is that there are no viable theories for paranormal phenomena. That is an honest and accurate complaint, to which I have given much thought.

This is not a forum to promote pet theories, I think, but the question of James Carpenter's First Sight Theory is complex. His excellent book on the subject is thorough but equally complex. It seems useful to discuss it in lay terms.

As an engineer and not a psychologists, I have attempted to integrate his corollaries, along with those of Rupert Sheldrake's Hypothesis of Formative Causation into a model that addresses what we have learned from transcommunication (ITC and mediumship).

The perception part of it, dealing with First Sight is at http://ethericstudies.org/perception/. Here, I will say that the idea of a person, as an etheric personality entangled with a human body, appears to be a viable model for what we experience in both ITC and mediumship. If that is true, then the only difference between mediumship and psi functioning is intention and the nature of the perceived information.

I think this is just an unfortunate coincidence rather than psi but last night I dreamed my pet rats would die and now I found one of them is sick. If psi means things like that happen a lot, I don't want it :(

AOD wrote,

||Matt, the above statement from you is very revealing.||

I think so! It reveals how psychics operate on a daily basis. The ones who don't have anything to prove to paying customers and who are working with friends.

||Do you really want to lump all of those things you mentioned into your ‘psi’ ability?||

Nope, and I didn't. Read the last sentence you quoted again.

||Could it be that what you do in terms of mediumship is really nothing more than using your intelligence, experience and knowledge of people generally to make good guesses guided perhaps somewhat by the sitter?||

No, it could not be. I have of course read for people about whom I know very little.

||A psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker or minister uses those things to help their clients resolve issues but most of them would not think that they were psychic in any way, although perhaps some of them might be.||

But as Bruce said earlier, they *are* using psi, whether they know it or not.

||I usually think of ‘psi’ ability as something more than using common sense and knowledge of a certain demographic as a basis for providing information about a sitter.||

Me too!

||It could be that what you call your ‘psi’ ability is just your subconscious mind putting things together using the large number of facts and experience you have accumulated over your lifetime. Who knows!||

It could not be.

||When I watch George Anderson or Christopher Stillar or when I read of the Etta Wriedt séances as published by W. Usborne Moore in “The Voices”, I don’t get the feeling that they are using anything other than information obtained telepathically perhaps from some other source including the consciousness of the living or the deceased.||

Actually, I would say when it comes to ordinary psi, we are *not* using information from the deceased or from other entities that are in effect telling us things. That would be mediumship or channeling. Of course, one may use both psychic impressions and such material in the same sitting.

||Anyhow, keep up the good work Matt. As time goes on and you continue to develop your skills, you may come to trust more and more your ‘psi’ knowledge and less on your knowledge of the human condition.||

Just FYI, your post was extremely patronizing. I can take it in stride, but a lot of psychics would be offended if you talked to them that way.

AOD,

I was thinking more about your post... and it occurred to me:

1. Even those who are sympathetic to psi can misunderstand "everyday psi" and hew more closely to the aforementioned model that one may infer from Skeptics' words.

I think it's even more complicated than I stated, since we "everyday psychics" *do* try to come up with impressive information and reinforce to each other the reality of psi. It's hard to note in detail every little nuance of how it all works on a social level, and everyone is different, anyway.

2. Could I try to be like a professional and/or media psychic, going in absolutely with knowledge and really trying to "prove psi" to the sitter (that's a big part of what is going on, socially) while providing good advice? Yes. I do read for people I know very little on occasion. I have on such occasions given very dramatic and accurate readings.

But would I be as good as the best psychics, professional or otherwise? No. I'm not top level. I call myself a 6 out of 10. Could I try to do better, both as a psychic in general and as a professional? Yes to both, but I don't want to be a professional, and I'm fairly happy with level on the whole. I'm more interested in general spiritual development. I don't know how the scale on that works (there almost certainly isn't one!), but I'm sure I'm much lower than a 6 out of 10.

3. My model/description of how everyday psi works I think is something that just hasn't been thought about much by others. It's "off-template." Thus, your reaction, "That sounds lame," is understandable in a way. And I think it might be the case that *some* other everyday psychics would hesitate to describe their activities in the same way to avoid such a reaction. Others, however, would probably agree fairly easily with me that that's how things work.

So I hope this greater detail is helpful in understanding how psychics work. Further, my impression is that my psychic friends would on the whole agree with what I wrote, but I'm sure there are other psychics out there who would take issue to a degree with what I said.

BTW, I also appreciated the poem. I had no idea where that Wonka quote came from!

Sorry: going in absolutely *without any* knowledge. Writing tired here!

chel,

I hope your rats are OK! A psi impression is not always fully accurate. For example, you could dream of the death of a rat, but you are only giving yourself a strong impression in order to indicate that it's going to be sick. Sounds precognitive either way, however.

So sorry Matt that you were offended. There was no insult intended. I will not comment to your posts in the future. - AOD

I have enjoyed participating in this blog over the many years but I think it is time for me to sign off. Best wishes to you all. Live long and prosper - AOD

Thank you. Fine article. The other approach is from the top down, which is happening. The possibility of some universal connective consciousness-like field is increasing its scientific 'respectability' gradually. Latest more mainstream article via NBCNews mentions many high profile scientists now, if not assenting, at least feeling this is a valid field of exploration, particularly in light of quantum findings, and the numerous theories still substantially incomplete.
https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/universe-conscious-ncna772956
If such a field is real (I am one of many current and past that posit this) it will not only be psi phenomenon that will have a substantial leg-up in way of theoretical understanding and support.

"What do *you* think about "usual suspects"?"

I think most cases of alleged psi are due to the usual suspects but not all, such as crisis appearances, apparitions of the dead who bring a message, etc.

"Based on what they say, I think Skeptics think this: Psi doesn't exist at all, but from time to time some big coincidence will occur, or a person will have a hallucination, and he or she will attribute that to psi. People who call themselves psychics are either crazy, fraudulent, or both, so their thoughts on the matter don't count."

But why not cover the most reasonable skeptics instead of that caricature. I consider that the most reasonable skeptics do not consider most people who claim to have experienced a psychic phenomenon to be crazy or fraudulent, but result of misinterpretation, sensory leakage, selective memory, that is, parts of ordinary psychology.

"But as Bruce said earlier, they *are* using psi, whether they know it or not."

But how do you know that what happens to you is not entirely due to sensorial experience and luck? Psychics are the first word but not the last word. That's what science is for.

(Update; it definitely wasn't psi - pet rat is fine! Phew.)

Yes Suck Puppet is much better :)

Sock puppy would also work.

Glad your rat is okay, chel! :-)

AOD wrote,

||So sorry Matt that you were offended. There was no insult intended. I will not comment to your posts in the future.||

||I have enjoyed participating in this blog over the many years but I think it is time for me to sign off. Best wishes to you all. Live long and prosper.||

Reason?

Seems like some fairly minor friction to me, followed up by fairly civilized discourse.

Just with regards to your thesis, I was a little confused on some of the content of your post. You say that skeptics won't accept psi because of the difficult statistics that can be argued about, but then in your post you seem to say that there's not anything unreasonable about that, maybe that was intentional. To be more exact, is it fair to say 'won't accept psi because of the difficult statistics that can be legitimately argued about'? Eric's excellent comments doesn't seem to point out where skeptics are being unfair in this analysis. Since it's part of your thesis, are you arguing that these statistics should be given some credence?

As far as dismissing anecdotes, yes I think you're accurate as far as the reaction from both capital-S and lowercase-s skeptics. I know what you mean by 'exceptional', but a truly exceptional individual case of psi would pretty much be undeniable. For me that's the rub, and it's kinda odd to see Eric mention the further testing of apparently exceptional individuals, it seems like that should have occurred to someone by now. If psi is real and there is someone who is gifted at it, it's almost effortless to demonstrate; afaik, we're still missing that Jimi Hendrix of psi.

Good and very interesting subject, thanks for putting this together with the relevant links, including to a skeptic.

DL,
I will try to answer some of what you ask. Not speaking for Matt, but just my own perspective.

First, as Matt mentions in his post, in my profession I am responsible for the analysis of large amounts of data for business purposes. In the course of earning my masters degree (many years ago now) I studied a variety of advanced statistical methodologies and applications. I would not call myself an expert statistician. However, I would be comfortable saying that I am a fluent frequent user of statistical methodologies.

If all I had to go on were the results of the psi studies, I would not be 100% convinced of the real existence of psi. I wouldn't reject psi as easily as the skeptics do because I think that a lot of their criticism of the studies is flawed; often obviously - and dare I say, ridiculously - so. I'd probably hold out on position like, "Some real effect may exist, but there is more studying to do before it's settled". BTW, I am 100% in psi and other paranormal phenomena because I have personally experienced a fairly wide spectrum of the various phenomena and I have assessed my experience rigorously enough to conclude that some of it is well beyond coincidence, cold reading, delusions, etc, etc.

I brought up the military intelligence application of psi arising in gifted subjects (e.g. Stargate) to suggest that psi has been both proven to be real and practical enough in certain circumstances that lives and valuable assets have been trusted to its deployment, albeit usually as a last resort.

I engaged in an email conversation once with Dean Radin and wherein I asked him why he didn't focus on gifted subjects only (the Jimi Hendrixes of psi) so as to finally "prove" the thing and be done with it. His answer (this is from memory so if I misrepresent apologies to Dr. Radin) was that as far as he was concerned, psi was proven, he wasn't interested in satisfying every last skeptic (basically making Matt's points) and that his primary focus was how psi works in typical individuals on an every day basis. I am ambivalent about that answer, but I understand his points.

Getting back to the arguments over statistics and experimental design/control and your emphasis on the qualifier "legitimately"; IMO, the arguments over metadata/meta-analysis are legitimate from an academic perspective.

In my work with a major US insurance carrier, we don't have the luxury of time and resources to quibble over whether or not a small P value is truly meaningful. I don't even think it would add any value if we did. We are needing to make decisions that impact millions of covered lives and a multi-$billion business. Given demographics X + network structure Y + industry sector z + emerging market trend C + emerging physician practice B + economic conditions H, what premium price should we set for this new (to us) employer group that is entertaining purchasing their coverage through us? Too low and they will purchase and we will lose money. Too high and they may decide to go with a competitor. What is the sweet spot? We are constantly refining our models, but the metric of success isn't that we made it through a peer review process. It's did we expand into a new market and did we make a profit in doing do. I would probably be bored to tears in an academic setting. I couldn't handle the plodding pace and the low stakes.

Or perhaps more germane to this topic, Given a certain demographic and a certain diagnosis which clinical treatment approach A, B or C results in the best outcomes at the best price? Which will be covered and which will be denied as a matter of company medical policy? Here we would perform a statistical analysis of our massive amounts of relevant data or, where our data is not as robust (e.g. an unusual but expensive condition/treatment issue) we may include a meta-analysis of available studies, especially for pharmaceutical interventions.

We are making business decisions, which is somewhat different than purely scientific decisions. These decisions have to be defensible - perhaps even in court - but the defense would be based more on common sense, like what a jury would hear, than on erudite technical arguments over arcane methodologies. Mostly, these decisions are defended by the quality of care enjoyed by our members and our financial bottom line.

The above might explain my statements. I am not a "scientist" though I use the same tools. I think this is an important distinction to make. Stargate was ultimately a military intelligence application of psi, though scientists were involved in designing it. Again, different from, say, the Ganzfeld experiments, which were pure scientific explorations and subject to purely scientific critique.

Clear as mud?

errata and addendum:

"BTW, I am 100% in psi and other paranormal phenomena because I have personally experienced " should have "a believer in" placed between "100%" and "in psi".

What I never actually said, but meant to, is that if I look at the psi studies from a purely academic perspective, then I would not be convinced that psi has been proven. If I looked at the studies from the business perspective that employ on a daily basis, then I would say that there is something to psi.

Sounds like "beyond reasonable doubt" versus "on the balance of probabilities" Eric.

PSI IS PROVEN!

The American Institute of Physics (AIP) published in the Retrocausation Symposium Volume, Quantum Retrocausation III, Theory and Experiments, May 2017, the article "Perceiving the future news: Evidence for retrocausation", by Dale E. Graff and Patricia S. Cyrus. This article gives extraordinary evidence that precognition is real:

http://aip.scitation.org/doi/pdf/10.1063/1.4982772

And this article is a replication of a previous article:

https://www.scientificexploration.org/docs/21/jse_21_4_graff.pdf

Hi Eric,

Ha, pretty clear actually, any mud is only because some of the statistics is over my head. Thanks for the explanation. I'm more of a lower case s skeptic I think, but I am interested in some of the best cases for psi or anything paranormal for that matter. I've heard of Stargate and I thought it hadn't really found any results but I may have just misread.

Probably the thing I most disagree with is Radin's statement; I'm not ambivalent about it, it unfortunately just reads as a cop-out and excuse to me. Characterizing it as convincing every last skeptic seems a little dishonest, convince a mere 25% of scientists in a related field that psi is proven and we'd have something exciting. Psi, even in it's most limited definition, would be pretty close to the greatest discovery in history and using it's more inclusive definitions seriously upends science if not rationality itself. I'm most familiar with the ESP tests with the 4 shapes on the cards, obviously not an expensive test to reproduce, and I assume that if we could find someone who could consistently guess the shape just 50% of the time, statistically I think, that would be a huge deal. We don't need a Jimi Hendrix of psi, even a Bieber of psi would do. Unfortunately Radin, an expert if there is one, just makes me further question how far we really are away from 'proving' psi with his pretty evasive response. There really is no reason I could think of to absolutely pounce on studying someone who demonstrates psi consistently, which makes me suspect that there is no such person yet.

The most difficult thing to dismiss is of course the anecdotes and personal experiences, I can't say that psi and other paranormal experiences didn't manifest themselves to you. Not looking to debate them, but if you don't mind I have some more macro questions. I think you'd agree that there are legitimate reasons why we look at scientific studies like psi studies from an academic (I think you are using this as synonymous with 'scientific') perspective and not typically from a business perspective. Do you think that without your personal experiences with psi, with what you just know about the studies and including however you feel anecdotes should be treated, that you'd believe in psi? Do you think people, not just Skeptics, are being irrational in some way for dismissing its existence right now, that they are ignorant of some strong overall case for its existence? For that matter, do you think there really is any paranormal phenomenon that for the most part doesn't require one to experience it?

Even more macro, of all the phenomenon that is considered paranormal or derisively as 'woo', which do you think has the strongest case for its existence? What single event (things like UFOs count too) do you think is the best evidenced? Sorry in advance if those questions are too off-topic, just looking for something more to google related to these subjects.

Just in case anyone hasn't come across this yet. New evidence that shows their is no two independent consciousnesses in the brain when you split it. If their was two independent consciousness when you split the Corpus Callosum that would provide powerful evidence against an afterlife. However, a new study has found this isn't the case.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170125093823.htm

DL,

Great questions! I basically agree with Eric's primo response, but adding to that...

||To be more exact, is it fair to say 'won't accept psi because of the difficult statistics that can be legitimately argued about'? Eric's excellent comments doesn't seem to point out where skeptics are being unfair in this analysis. Since it's part of your thesis, are you arguing that these statistics should be given some credence?||

Basically, yes, their arguments are legitimate. No single study, unless it's *huge* and iron-clad in terms of design and execution, can prove all that much, and meta-analysis can be argued about legitimately in the same way that *anything* complex can be argued about legitimately.

The same type of doubts can literally be applied to anything. Applying the same species of doubt, you can look at the effectiveness of say, antidepressants, and say that they are worthless. You can look at just about any psych research and call it worthless. You can look at just about *anything* outside of the three lab sciences of physics, chemistry, and biology, and say that the thesis hasn't been proved.

One can also choose to look at psi studies *in the aggregate* and apply one's own personal judgment and perception to that picture and come to the conclusion that psi has been proved in the lab. I think it's pretty darn clear that this is the case and requires a fairly close-minded person to think otherwise. But it's how these experiments dovetail with one's personal experience with psi and exceptional cases that really seals the deal for me--and I think would also for most people who have seen the action of psi in the world.

||I know what you mean by 'exceptional', but a truly exceptional individual case of psi would pretty much be undeniable. [...]If psi is real and there is someone who is gifted at it, it's almost effortless to demonstrate; afaik, we're still missing that Jimi Hendrix of psi.||

There have been many such "Jimis," and they have been researched thoroughly. Yes, what the experts have said about them *is* undeniable. Eusapia Palladino levitated a table or mediated such forces that did so, and four men had their hands on her two hands and two feet and were watching this in broad daylight in a room to which she'd had no access to prep (not that a trick would be possible anyway under such circumstances). It happened, it's documented. And there are many, many such cases.

It doesn't matter. Skeptics simply accuse whoever is doing the investigation of falling for trickery. End of story.

Thanks for the kind words!

Hi Eric

I think your email exchange with Dean Radin might have had more of an impact than you thought, as he published “Supernormal” in 2013 which very much does concern those with extraordinary powers, rather than just the day to day norm:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Supernormal-Science-Evidence-Extraordinary-Abilities-ebook/dp/B00B3GMOIQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498197670&sr=8-1&keywords=dean+radin+supernormal

While I’m here:

1. Great post Matt and an interesting follow up discussion.

2. I too endorse the approach to Psi, and where it fits into the wider picture re perception, set out in James Carpenter’s “First Sight”. It is not, however, an easy read – a view I recall Michael expressing when he reviewed it here a while back.

Simon

Hi Simon,

I had that conversation with Radin, via email, back when his blog used to be very active. I'm thinking it must have been maybe ten years ago. I really can't remember. Apparently Radin re-thought his position. I'm sure that there were other influences on his decision other than 'lil ol me.

DL,
"Do you think that without your personal experiences with psi, with what you just know about the studies and including however you feel anecdotes should be treated, that you'd believe in psi? Do you think people, not just Skeptics, are being irrational in some way for dismissing its existence right now..."

I am sure skeptics come in different flavors. Therefore it is not possible to make sweeping statements about what motivates 'them'.

My own journey into interest in the field of the paranormal went like this;
1. Had some pronounced undeniable paranormal experiences.
2. Wanted to confirm that these things really happen to people and I wasn't on the brink of suffering from a form of mental illness, delusional thinking, brain tumor, etc
4. Went to the library (this was way back in pre-internet days) to research; something I've always done with any topic of interest.
Found literature that was pro paranormal and some that was anti-paranormal (this was a mishmash that included everything from the Gazfeld experiments to Ian Stevenson to spiritualism/mediumship investigations.
5. Some of what I read, that was pro-paranormal, resonated with me. "That's pretty much exactly what I experienced!". Some of the skeptic writings sounded reasonable and were also pretty convincing assuming they were accurately representing the studies, experiments, etc.
6. Digging in more, I found that skeptics were often NOT accurately representing the material. Flip side, some believers seemed to open to accepting.
7. Settle in on a personal journey of open minded skeptical inquiry and avoid the politics of the believers versus skeptics.

I was young and single and had time to explore these matters. Most people do not have time to chase down every lead, double check sources, etc. So the skeptics can negatively misrepresent the science and convince people that psi is bunk.. That's what they often do. Or, more in line with Matt's post, they just raise doubts that seem reasonable on face value if one is poorly informed, and keep a smoke screen around the whole topic. It politics, my friend. The politics of what reality we will live.


Rod L. wrote,

||The other approach is from the top down, which is happening. The possibility of some universal connective consciousness-like field is increasing its scientific 'respectability' gradually.||

Thanks for your kind words. Yes, I think you'll get a lot of agreement from commenters here about the existence of Universal Consciousness, including from me. I like to call it "bottom-up top-down," however, as I think that while Universal Consciousness creates us, we also create Universal Consciousness.

||Latest more mainstream article via NBCNews mentions many high profile scientists now, if not assenting, at least feeling this is a valid field of exploration, particularly in light of quantum findings, and the numerous theories still substantially incomplete.
https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/universe-conscious-ncna772956||

Great article! I had not known about Parengo's Discontinuity--very interesting. Yes, this is a BIG step in the right direction: scientists being able to believe in these kinds of things without being mocked and shamed, and even being able to team up and support each other.

||If such a field is real (I am one of many current and past that posit this) it will not only be psi phenomenon that will have a substantial leg-up in way of theoretical understanding and support.||

Indeed.

Juan wrote,

||I think most cases of alleged psi are due to the usual suspects but not all, such as crisis appearances, apparitions of the dead who bring a message, etc.||

And this is totally different from what I think, which is that we use low-level psi constantly. It's an integral part of our cognition.

||But why not cover the most reasonable skeptics instead of that caricature. I consider that the most reasonable skeptics do not consider most people who claim to have experienced a psychic phenomenon to be crazy or fraudulent, but result of misinterpretation, sensory leakage, selective memory, that is, parts of ordinary psychology.||

Oh, I think they "go there" pretty easily. Don't forget the quote in my very post, about Bem having gone to "crazytown." Sure, they will cite as a cause whatever is convenient in the moment, and some will use "nicer" rhetoric based on the audience, etc. In any case, the potential causes you cite cannot explain dramatic cases of psi, and Skeptics are forced to go for higher-caliber ammunition.

||But how do you know that what happens to you is not entirely due to sensorial experience and luck? Psychics are the first word but not the last word. That's what science is for.||

Because I regularly come up with information that I could not otherwise know. It's that simple.

DL,

Responding to your responses to Eric. :)

||I've heard of Stargate and I thought it hadn't really found any results but I may have just misread.||

It's hard to know what's what, since Skeptics will say anything and everything has been "debunked," regardless of the quality.

||Probably the thing I most disagree with is Radin's statement; I'm not ambivalent about it, it unfortunately just reads as a cop-out and excuse to me. Characterizing it as convincing every last skeptic seems a little dishonest, convince a mere 25% of scientists in a related field that psi is proven and we'd have something exciting.||

I would probably express it in a different way, but I think Radin is basically correct. If you are a scientist and come out for psi, you will be called a fool and your reputation will be trashed. I think a lot of scientists already believe but feel they can't say so. Those who do say so are ignored in the standard media narrative. But this may slowly be changing, per Rod L.'s linked article.

||Psi, even in it's most limited definition, would be pretty close to the greatest discovery in history||

Perhaps the greatest *re*discovery in history. I have to reiterate the fact that most societies believe in what we would call psi until quite recently. Indeed, they considered a truism.

||and using it's more inclusive definitions seriously upends science if not rationality itself.||

Skeptics often take this stance ("It would upend 500 years of SCIENCE!!!"), any they are wrong on many levels. First, scientists who were atheists and didn't believe in what we would call psi and/or magic were rare until the 1700s and really the 1800s. Kepler drew up horoscopes. Newton made most of his big discoveries well before he turned 30 and spent the rest of his life looking for Bible codes and things that really do seem kinda nuts. Many of the big physicists of the 20th century were far from atheists. And so on. The idea that any scientist since 1600 was on the Skeptical side is pure propaganda.

Second, Relativity and Quantum Mechanics have already blown our minds, and they've been integrated into the modern scientific worldview. I don't see how psi changes any of the laws of physics; it seems fully compatible with them, actually. But I do think it vastly widens the scope of the work we must do to understand How Things Work. I think Science as it currently stands is a small four-room house sitting in some fields with nothing around. The owner wakes up one day and finds the house in a vast city of buildings, advanced transportation, people, puppies--you name it. That would be rather intimidating, right? So I think a lot of the pushback comes down to inertia and laziness.

||I'm most familiar with the ESP tests with the 4 shapes on the cards, obviously not an expensive test to reproduce, and I assume that if we could find someone who could consistently guess the shape just 50% of the time, statistically I think, that would be a huge deal. We don't need a Jimi Hendrix of psi, even a Bieber of psi would do.||

But people *have* in the past scored that high in experiments. Higher. Gotten 100%. I'm actually surprised people have done that well, as typically psi follows the path of meaning and emotional connection. Arbitrary stuff like symbols on a card or lottery numbers is *hard* to get! So that fact that these effects are as big as they are is an even bigger deal that most people without personal experience may suspect.

I don't think the Bieber of psi is likely to get 50% consistently over time, especially in the anti-psi conditions of the lab. I also think there is a strong yang/yin effect, where the process of doing something new and interesting (being in an experiment) potentiates psi at the beginning, which subsequently fades. I *do* think, however, per Eric's suggestion that a super-cohort could be put together that scores higher than the average person.

||Unfortunately Radin, an expert if there is one, just makes me further question how far we really are away from 'proving' psi with his pretty evasive response.||

I think you have causality incorrect here. Radin knows how many great laboratory experiments have *already* been performed and understandably thinks that, "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead" (Luke 16:31).

||There really is no reason I could think of to absolutely pounce on studying someone who demonstrates psi consistently, which makes me suspect that there is no such person yet.||

Those individuals have been pounced on many, many times. The results are invariably dismissed by Skeptics and don't become part of the media narrative. So then people like you understandably think, "Why haven't such people been studied, and do they even exist?"

||I think you'd agree that there are legitimate reasons why we look at scientific studies like psi studies from an academic (I think you are using this as synonymous with 'scientific') perspective and not typically from a business perspective. Do you think that without your personal experiences with psi, with what you just know about the studies and including however you feel anecdotes should be treated, that you'd believe in psi?||

I became an atheist at age 13, read atheist/Skeptical apologetics and firmly believed in it all. It's a very simple and coherent philosophy, so it's appeal to smart people who appreciate order is undeniable. But within a year, my psychic abilities really started busting out in a way I couldn't deny, so there was no way I could go back to that. Had I never had that personal experience or had spiritual inclinations, I can see myself still being in that very neat and orderly Skeptical worldview.

||Do you think people, not just Skeptics, are being irrational in some way for dismissing its existence right now, that they are ignorant of some strong overall case for its existence?||

Sure, they are denying 100% proven phenomena. Lots and lots of different things. They are trying to preserve their worldview in the face of contrary evidence. That's not rational.

||For that matter, do you think there really is any paranormal phenomenon that for the most part doesn't require one to experience it?||

Well, basically the major things that get talked about are proven. I've never seen anything I knew was absolutely a UFO, such as a craft or a big object, etc. (though I did see a very bright flash in the sky with a friend last summer that was inexplicable). But I'm open to all phenomena, and it's very, very clear that people are not "hallucinating" their UFO sightings (without even getting into the radar/photographic/video evidence). So I consider that proven *as a phenomenon.* Do I think there are nuts-and-bolts craft visiting earth? Not ones driven by aliens dumb enough to be seen *just so*, no. So the phenomenon remains unexplained, but I don't deny its existence.

||Even more macro, of all the phenomenon that is considered paranormal or derisively as 'woo', which do you think has the strongest case for its existence? What single event (things like UFOs count too) do you think is the best evidenced?||

My answer may surprise you. I think the Patterson film of Bigfoot is the best single in-your-face piece of paranormal evidence:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEJBk7kje-w&t=14s

Note that I have no opinion on Bigfoot and haven't integrated this into my worldview, but I also don't deny that this video shows something that can't be a human.

The "obvious" answer is that it's a man in a monkey suit. And any Skeptic will say that and be done with it. An obvious answer, yet totally wrong. Clearly wrong:

1. The men who who took the film were unsophisticated California sportsmen. That is not to say they were stupid or ignorant; they knew their environment and outdoor skills very well. But they were not savvy businessmen or the type that make good con artists. That's a matter of opinion, of course, but the idea that they could have made an incredible costume of the sort that is purported to be used in the film is ludicrous.

2. The year was 1967. The film could not have been faked with CGI or any type of special effects beyond a costume.

3. The "costume" is amazing. It's never been replicated and Hollywood effects people have said that they couldn't do so. You see working muscle bulges and extremely detailed anatomy. It looks real in every aspect. That's because it is a real animal, not a costume.

4. More importantly, the location of the joints of the animal do not match the location of joints on a person. There's a lot about this on YouTube. This is a huge limitation, in fact, with what can be done with costumes in Hollywood. So you have all kinds of aliens (Klingons, etc.) who have the same body proportions as humans, whose femurs are always within a certain tight ratio lengthwise with the lower leg bones. This is *not* true of the animal in the video.

5. The behavior of the "actor" in the "costume" is extremely subtle and in no way seems like a human playing a role.

6. The animal in the video has breasts! It's female. So... these unsophisticated guys decided to make a *more* complicated costume despite the fact that Bigfoot is usually imagined as male. Why would they do that? We'd have to assume they were thinking so "meta" that they would anticipate people making this very point AND that the reverse psychology would work in their favor AND that this detail would not make the costume look worse. I have strong doubts about that.

Now, a lot of people are going to read the above and think, "Ah, Matt, he believes in a lot of dumb stuff, and this thing is *obviously* fake, and that makes him even dumber!" Fine, I accept that. I am simply trying to show how I process phenomena in an open and discerning way. Do I believe every account about anything? No. Do I believe that every phenomena that can possibly be named exists? No. Do I try to understand each phenomena that truly seems worth looking at and determine whether it exists or not? Yes.

||And this is totally different from what I think, which is that we use low-level psi constantly. It's an integral part of our cognition.||

You may be right, but how do we know? If you have written that professionals who think they have never had psi experiences use psi all the time, either those weak psychic instances might not be psychic but because of usual suspects.

||Because I regularly come up with information that I could not otherwise know.||

But no scientist would accept that because if you comment an error systematically, you could not realize, only someone from outside could know. Scientific knowledge needs community and intersubjectivity; you can not lock yourself in and establish that you are right.

||I think the Patterson film of Bigfoot is the best single in-your-face piece of paranormal evidence||

I do not consider the Big foot to be paranormal at all; whether it is an unknown hominid, it is not a paranormal phenomenon. The paranormal is what challenges our conception of the world and a new species does not challenge our conception of the world.

"I don't see how psi changes any of the laws of physics; it seems fully compatible with them, actually." - Matt.

Agree concerning psi. However, telekinesis/PK would disrupt physics as currently understood by the typical materialist.

I think the best lab evidence for any of this stuff is difficult to select. There's so much good lab work across the paranormal spectrum. Julie Beischel's studies of mediumship are pretty conclusive that some people claiming to be mediums are truly either mediums or at least psychic.

I also think that Stargate yielded some powerful results. BTW, it's worth repeating, Skeptic dogma has it that some whacko scientists (Targ, et al) and some military re-treads were goofing around trying to prove that a) there is such a thing as psi and b) it could be operationalized for military intelligence and they convinced themselves that they had. Unfortunately, they were lost in their wacky ideas to understand the world clearly, like Skeptics do. Ray Hyman reviewed the studies and found all kinds of issues with them and then submitted a report that explained how the designer and participants were sloppy at best and poor statisticians and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) killed the program as a result. Case closed! Thank you Dr. Hyman. ......except that just isn't the truth. Yes, after Hyman's review the DIA ceased involvement with the program. However, the CIA picked it up and it's been with them ever since (though no longer code named 'Stargate'). This is a fact and the record shows it. So, the CIA doesn't think that Hyman's critical review killed the program. The DIA dropping participation had little or nothing to do with Hyman's review and was more about organizational structure, culture, mission, vision, etc.

That’s an interesting post by Matt Rouge, but I think it is overly optimistic, and rather misleading. For example, Matt says, with regard to Palladino and Home, “These phenomena cannot conceivably be dismissed as “tricks”; the observers could not possibly have been fooled. Either what they say happened actually happened, or they were lying.”

How is it not possible for the observers to have been fooled? Anyone can be fooled (think of Project Alpha, when a couple of young magicians fooled scientists who were expecting to – and thought they had – proved psi to be real).

And there is no need to infer that the people Matt was referring to might have been lying; they were probably sincere in their report, but just wrong – a possibility that Matt seems not to consider.

Regarding Palladino, the Fielding Report itself noted at the time that she was repeatedly caught cheating, but the investigators still pronounced her to be the real deal because at other times when she appeared to be producing psychic phenomena, they didn’t work out how she pulled the wool over their eyes. (Or did she? We might never know.)

I also can’t go along with Matt’s assertion that “Skeptics have the classic strategy of deny, deny, deny.” As a sceptic myself, I can say that I am not a denialist, I just ask questions for which believers cannot offer any satisfactory answers. What is “psychic energy,” for example, and how is it measured objectively? Apparently, it is “immaterial,” but cannot be demonstrated; nor can it be explained how it is that an allegedly immaterial substance can affect the material universe we live in. Whichever way you look at it, it’s a matter of faith, not science; and although the believers seem to hate science because it does not accept psi as having any reality, there can surely be nothing they would welcome more than proper scientific validation. The burden of proof is on those who say that anything paranormal is real.

Matt’s post is rather lengthy, and I won’t nit-pick every point he makes, but I will agree with what he alludes to in his conclusion, namely that sceptics will be convinced of the reality of psi when its proponents produce “a process, product, or service that consistently works and that people want.” I’ve been saying that for a long time, and it is true for me, too. If Matt really believes 100% that psi is real, then all we need is for psychics (including himself, perhaps) to produce the goods, as it were. It wouldn’t need statistical analysis to prove the point if remote viewers were routinely present at various natural disasters (earthquakes, say) and pointing out where survivors are buried in the rubble, rather than rescuers using thermal cameras, microphones and sniffer dogs to find anyone who might still be alive. (It would also be helpful if psychics who claim to have predicted a disaster could let us know before the event rather than telling us after the event that they did so.)

But it just doesn’t happen, does it? How many dowsers are busy clearing minefields right now? And – as cliched as it might sound – how many psychics win the lottery nowadays? I think I know what the believers’ response to those objections will be, as usual: “It doesn’t work like that.” No, it never does. And, I might ask, if psychics really solve crimes, as many claim, why do police forces around the world not have a psychic branch? Pseudo documentaries on TV that purport to show psychics solving crimes for the cops can be safely relegated to the category of what we in the UK would call “cobblers.” But I don’t mind if you can prove me wrong.

Psi is an unproven concept that has absolutely no scientific plausibility. Wishful thinking is not a substitute for reality. As Matt says, or at least implies, it is up to the proponents of psi to prove their case. Which is what sceptics like me have been saying for years. Prove it and I will believe.

Yes, I’m a sceptic, but I have no objection to anyone proving that the paranormal is a real phenomenon. It would open up a new branch of science, there are Nobel Prizes waiting to be handed out, and I am all for it. But I take a scientific view here: Matt is one hundred percent sure that psi is real, but as a sceptic I am only 99.99% confident that it is not. I have doubt, but Matt, apparently, has none. My mind can be changed, and I admit it. But that is the difference between a sceptic like me and the typical believers. I might be wrong, but how many believers, including Matt, will make a similar concession? If they won’t admit the possibility that they could be wrong, then I will thank them if they stop accusing me and other sceptics of being closed-minded.

One further observation: Eric Newhill, who helped Matt with the statistical aspects of his post, has added his own comments, and I think they are insightful:

“What I never actually said, but meant to, is that if I look at the psi studies from a purely academic perspective, then I would not be convinced that psi has been proven. If I looked at the studies from the business perspective that employ on a daily basis, then I would say that there is something to psi.”

Therein lies a problem that has been thrust at me by several believers, who suggest that although we all have the same evidence, it’s just that there are different ways the evidence can be interpreted. The problem with that, is that such a statement implies that all interpretations are equally valid. Surely not?

Eric has pinpointed a basic problem with the statistical analysis of just about anything, not just paranormal claims. He is not convinced of the paranormal in academic (scientific?) terms, but he might (perhaps) accept it if it could make a profit in monetary (business) terms (as Matt said). It looks like a believer’s view depends on which outcome is already preferred.

I don’t think it’s fair for Matt to say that sceptics will never change their minds; clear and unambiguous evidence would do it, but that’s the very thing that the believers are unable to provide. Matt claims that the reality of psi is proven. No, it is not; were it otherwise, then this debate would not even be happening, in the same way that no-one is still arguing about whether powered flight is real – even if “they” laughed at the Wright brothers over a hundred years ago.

Swiftsure,

Better comments than most Skeptics would provide, so thank you. Responses:

||How is it not possible for the observers to have been fooled? Anyone can be fooled (think of Project Alpha, when a couple of young magicians fooled scientists who were expecting to – and thought they had – proved psi to be real).||

I don't agree that anyone could be fooled in *any* situation. If Palladio had her hands and feet grasped by multiple observers and a table is levitating in front of them, then she wasn't using a trick to levitate the table, and she wasn't fooling them. The table was really being levitated.

||And there is no need to infer that the people Matt was referring to might have been lying; they were probably sincere in their report, but just wrong – a possibility that Matt seems not to consider.||

I do consider it: the possibility is that they were fooled. In order to be wrong about what they observed, then they would would have had to be foolled by some type of stage magic-like trick.

||Regarding Palladino, the Fielding Report itself noted at the time that she was repeatedly caught cheating, but the investigators still pronounced her to be the real deal because at other times when she appeared to be producing psychic phenomena, they didn’t work out how she pulled the wool over their eyes.||

The matter of Palladino "cheating" is not itself black and white. For example, it was noted that sometimes she would try to execute some maneuver with her own hands while in trance, in plain sight of everyone. This was not a sincere attempt to "fool" anyone, as there was no trick to it and she was instantly caught; rather, she was simply in effect trying to do what the spirit intended to do by herself instead of just letting the spirit do it. Now, this might not be the only cause of "cheating," and there may be some instances in which she was genuinely trying to cheat (I don't have full knowledge of all the accusations), but Skeptics also don't detail such accusations and merely say she was caught and thus all she did was debunked! Nope. Total crap non-analysis. Again, it's the fallacy of the glancing blow. Show one thing she actually did wrong or, barring that, just say that there are accusations. Debunked! No. Garbage.

||(Or did she? We might never know.)||

Right, just let the past swallow it up. It's as if it never happened at all! So easy!

||I also can’t go along with Matt’s assertion that “Skeptics have the classic strategy of deny, deny, deny.” As a sceptic myself, I can say that I am not a denialist, I just ask questions for which believers cannot offer any satisfactory answers.||

That's the myth that Skeptics tell themselves.

||What is “psychic energy,” for example, and how is it measured objectively? Apparently, it is “immaterial,” but cannot be demonstrated; nor can it be explained how it is that an allegedly immaterial substance can affect the material universe we live in.||

Right. We need to explain these things *because* we observe phenomena that can't be explained. Science needs to be expanded to include the new phenomena. According to your logic, we would never both to explain things we don't understand but instead dismiss them as impossible.

Which isn't to say there aren't theories of how these things work. There are. You have your work cut out for you. Get on it.

||Whichever way you look at it, it’s a matter of faith, not science;||

Observing phenomenon and doing one's best to explain them *is* science. Ignoring them or denying them because they don't fit your worldview *is* faith, religion, dogma.

||and although the believers seem to hate science because it does not accept psi as having any reality,||

You Skeptics don't own science. You in fact are enemies of science now. Do you *really* think we hate physics and chemistry and biology and all the science that does so much good for the world? Do you *really* think we're any different that you are? It's a ludicrous and gratuitous assertion based on your own untenable self-image.

||there can surely be nothing they would welcome more than proper scientific validation.||

That validation has already occurred. The time now is for those who say they respect and defend science to recognize phenomena that have been proven to exist.

||The burden of proof is on those who say that anything paranormal is real.||

Yes, and proof is already in place.


||but I will agree with what he alludes to in his conclusion, namely that sceptics will be convinced of the reality of psi when its proponents produce “a process, product, or service that consistently works and that people want.”||

Then we agree on something, excellent.

||If Matt really believes 100% that psi is real, then all we need is for psychics (including himself, perhaps) to produce the goods, as it were.||

Then you have all you need.

||I think I know what the believers’ response to those objections will be, as usual: “It doesn’t work like that.”||

Actually, I think it works like that. And it has worked like that in the past. The Romans, for example, used oracles and augurers all the time, just in the way you suggest that we would do if psi were real. The Chinese used astrologers and diviners. So does that sway you, the fact that the two major global powers of the time did so? Of course not. You will just say that it was superstition and BS. And if society today did the same, you would say, "What's with all this superstition and BS?"

The fact is that people at every level of society right now are consulting psychics for all types of advice, under the radar and on the down low. Both atheism and Christianity deny the validity of and condemn the use of paranormal powers, so there is very little opportunity for psychics to do what they do and have the results recognized.

As far as the specific "applications" you mention, they would have to be established and developed. Police have certainly used psychics in the past, often to good effect, but it's true that no organized and systematic use of psychics based on best practices as proven over time is yet in place. The same goes for seismology or anything else.

||Pseudo documentaries on TV that purport to show psychics solving crimes for the cops can be safely relegated to the category of what we in the UK would call “cobblers.” But I don’t mind if you can prove me wrong.||

Right, so any reported successes are automatically dismissed. How like a Skeptic!

||Psi is an unproven concept that has absolutely no scientific plausibility.||

This is merely a failure of imagination and understanding on your part. Hardly anything to be proud of.

||Matt is one hundred percent sure that psi is real, but as a sceptic I am only 99.99% confident that it is not. I have doubt, but Matt, apparently, has none. My mind can be changed, and I admit it. But that is the difference between a sceptic like me and the typical believers. I might be wrong, but how many believers, including Matt, will make a similar concession? If they won’t admit the possibility that they could be wrong, then I will thank them if they stop accusing me and other sceptics of being closed-minded.||

This is dumb. Do you belive that hydrogen has one proton and one electron? Right, so do I. Do you belive that this is 100% proven? Right, so do I. There are plenty of things that are 100% proven and not subject to doubt.

Skeptics love to portray belivers as total idiots with no capability of thought, but I do have a subtle approach to the issue you raise: If I'm wrong about psi, then what would thereby have to be true instead? Namely, that people throughout recorded history must have been fooled in a very consistent and compelling manner across a wide range of phenomena reported worldwide, which itself would be a phenomenon or set of related phenomena demanding an explanation. This itself would indeed be one of the big questions facing science today, but the Skeptics don't recognize this and, like children thinking they have gotten away with to an obvious lie to their parents, think they can dodge this question and say to the masses, "Nothing to see here, move along." It is this politically motivated lack of curiosity that causes me to view Skeptics as completely unserious.

Thus, to give a concrete example, scientific observers in the 19th century observed D.D. Home to cause or mediate *extreme* psychokinetic phenomena that cannot plausibly be attributed to stage magic. So, if we assume that *nothing* paranormal was going on, then either they were lying (not plausible) or they were fooled (remotely plausible). If they were fooled, then interesting question is *how* they were fooled. That in its own right is a BIG question that Skeptics don't want to address, much less answer. Now, if D.D. Home were the only case in recorded history, we might consider it a unique anomaly and scratch our heads and say, "Hmm, dunno"--but, in fact, it's an uncountable number of such cases, related cases, over time that need to be explained. Add to that the laboratory research that dovetails with the individual cases, and you've got a big problem to solve IF you have the cajones to recognize it.

So when I say that psi is 100% proven to me, indeed I think it has, but I also have the luxury of pointing to the horns of a dilemma from which Skeptics cannot escape if they are honest: either psi is real, or there is some cause for the perception of psi over the ages, and explaining *that* itself threatens to rock materialism to its foundation. ||

||Therein lies a problem that has been thrust at me by several believers, who suggest that although we all have the same evidence, it’s just that there are different ways the evidence can be interpreted. The problem with that, is that such a statement implies that all interpretations are equally valid. Surely not?||

It doesn't imply that at all. For example, Muslim tend to recognize the existence of paranormal phenomena, but they simply say, "The jinn are doing it." It's a catch-all I view as a cop-out. I don't view it as a valid interpretation. Nor do I view Skeptics' dismissal of all the evidence as a valid interpretation. But yes, we are all dealing with the same phenomena in different ways based on our worldviews.

||It looks like a believer’s view depends on which outcome is already preferred.||

Sort of! But then again, I am believe because I experienced the phenomena myself. So while it's true I am to a certain degree biased, my bias is based on direct experience that compelled me to become a believer in the first place.

||I don’t think it’s fair for Matt to say that sceptics will never change their minds; clear and unambiguous evidence would do it, but that’s the very thing that the believers are unable to provide.||

Well yeah, that's the fundamental disagreement. We say you are close-minded *because* we feel the evidence is already present and you are denying it. Thus, you are engaging in circular logic of a sort.

||Matt claims that the reality of psi is proven. No, it is not; were it otherwise, then this debate would not even be happening, in the same way that no-one is still arguing about whether powered flight is real – even if “they” laughed at the Wright brothers over a hundred years ago.||

This is where Skeptics have a double standard that is, per my OP, in danger of disappearing. For if you held all "science" to the same standard, you'd summarily execute everything exept the laboratory sciences of physics, chemistry, and biology and the applied sciences that come from these: engineering, etc. And the reason why you haven't done so until now is that you'd piss off a LOT of people who support your side of things, such as psychologists, who are overwhelmingly atheist (based no doubt on the legacy of Freud).

I totally agree: stuff like aeronautics that produces the same result each and every time based *is* awesomely useful stuff. The problem for *you* is huge domains of knowledge that are extremely important to people, such as human behavior and consciousness itself, do not follow such deterministic laws. Thus, you are faced with the horns of another dilemma: dismiss all sciences that attempt to understand these things, or accept laboratory psi research, which already holds itself to a higher standard than these sciences.

I wrote,

"And this is totally different from what I think, which is that we use low-level psi constantly. It's an integral part of our cognition.

And Juan wrote,

||You may be right, but how do we know?||

Like anything else, based on observation and personal experience. Plus, lab experiments back this up (e.g., the experiments that show that people have a precognitive somatic reaction to upcoming unpleasant images; i.e., practical micro-precognition that could be useful in survival).

||If you have written that professionals who think they have never had psi experiences use psi all the time, either those weak psychic instances might not be psychic but because of usual suspects.||

Juan, on a consistent basis I find it hard to tell what *your* position is. Why don't you just state it? It's hard to tell if you are disagreeing or just playing Devil's Advocate.

FWIW, I think it's almost a necessary condition of denying psi that one has weak psi ability. There is a strong selection bias at work: if a person never experiences psi, then that person will find it easier to think that psi doesn't work at all. If one experiences psi, then that person will not go on to deny psi.

I wrote,

"Because I regularly come up with information that I could not otherwise know."

||But no scientist would accept that because if you comment an error systematically, you could not realize, only someone from outside could know.||

Sure, but I was responding to your original question:

||But how do you know that what happens to you is not entirely due to sensorial experience and luck?||

I know what happens to *me* based on my own introspection and the objective results I produce. I agree that no scientist will blithely accept such self-observation, but that wasn't the original question.

||Scientific knowledge needs community and intersubjectivity; you can not lock yourself in and establish that you are right.||

Right, which is why lab psi experiments have been performed--with positive results! Right?! Which side are you on? I can't tell. It's fine if you want to be a Skeptic, but I'm not into the game of ambiguity.


||I do not consider the Big foot to be paranormal at all; whether it is an unknown hominid, it is not a paranormal phenomenon. The paranormal is what challenges our conception of the world and a new species does not challenge our conception of the world.||

Then you don't understand Bigfoot, and you don't understand Skeptics.

Bigfoot clearly cannot be found easily, if it exists at all. As has been correctly observed, we don't have a dead body to prove once and for all that it is real. That's why film evidence for its existence is controversial.

And Skeptics oppose *all manner* of things that in theory do not conflict with their worldview. They are against anything that even *smells faintly* of their enemies. For example, they are typically against any type of alternative medicine, even though the mode of action might be explained by standard chemical and biological principles. Skeptics lash out against any UFO evidence, even though the notion of animals such as ourselves building interstellar craft does not violate Holy Science in any way.

Skeptics are ruled by the nose and by peer pressure. They are the furthest thing from consistent and rational there is.

I misstated something. Skeptics are actually quite consistent in the positions they take: they deny every phenomenon of a certain type. They are simply inconsistent in applying the principles of science to such positions.

Thus, their denying all UFO phenomena is consistent with the principles by which they deny things: they deny *any* phenomena that would be game-changers, that would radically alter the way we view reality. But the ostensible reasons they have for denying UFOs are not consistent with the supposedly scientific reasoning that they apply to, say, psi phenomena.

Swiftsure says: "How many dowsers are busy clearing minefields right now?"
That's something that calls for 100% accuracy over the long term, and death for any failure, so it's non-existent, apparently. (Although perhaps some mine-hunters do use it instinctively.) But less stringent military applications of dowsing do exist, as documented in the book The Divining Hand by Christoper Bird: 1) The successful unofficial use of dowsing to locate enemy tunnels and bunkers by the marines in Vietnam is described on pages 208–14. Higher-ups refused to officially incorporate it into marines' training because it was "not a measurable science" and was “not 100 percent reliable." (page 212) 2) General Patton utilized private-to-captain Ralph Harris to locate 17 big water wells by dowsing in Morocco in 1943. (page 212)

Something with a lower bar for dowsers is locating hidden pipes and cables in advance of digging into the ground with machinery, to avoid breaking them. Bird's book says (p. 314):

"Little known to the public is the fact that L-shaped dowsing rods are regularly found in utility company tool boxes all over the United States and used by company employees to quickly locate underground conduits prior to their evacuation. Corroboration of this fact, known to them, is usually denied by company executives. . . . [Later] these cables [found by a dowser] had . . . been displaced by from their officially-plotted positions by earthquake action."

[One such dowser was] Jim Clogher, an employee of [Harvard] University's Facilities Management Department, [who was used] to locate underground electrical and water lines at the Law School construction site. [An article about him in Harvard's alumni magazine in October 1992] elicited an angry letter from Aron Silverstone. . . . "This type of practice is totally opposed to the principles of science and education. . . . Never has any study proven any accuracy, veracity, or value to dowsing."
To these almost wholly unfounded statements the magazine's editor, John Bothell, off-handedly replied, "No joke. Clogher, who learned his dowsing technique from senior electricians as a union apprentice, has been using it since 1969 because, in his words, 'it actually works.' There are, of course, original plans showing where Harvard's underground pipes are supposed to be. But 'as built' doesn't always coincide with 'as planned.' That's where Clogher comes in. At the Law School he located an old water pipe that wasn't supposed to exist." (Bird, 313)

Uri Geller claims to have made over a million dollars by map-dowsing for oil exploration companies. He's living in a mansion, so he's getting money from something other than his public appearances, which he doesn't do anymore, or not much.

A few years ago I suggested in comments on this site that dowsers should be tested by taking them blindfolded to the site of an abandoned factory (there are lots of them in the Rust Belt) and seeing if they could accurately map the underground piping there. (The sites chosen would have to have records of that piping to enable checking, of course, but there must be thousands of qualifying locations. Or maybe there are now ground-radar devices that could check dowsers’ chalk-marked pipeline-predictions.) A weekly TV series could document each trip. A high hit-rate over many trials, something Skeptics couldn't match using their ordinary five senses, would shift opinion considerably among fence-sitters toward acceptance of dowsing as reliable enough to be helpful on balance. And to be taken seriously by science.

Tom Butler said:

//I was an active Wikipedia editor for quite a while and one of the most common complaints from the skeptic editors is that there are no viable theories for paranormal phenomena. That is an honest and accurate complaint, to which I have given much thought//.

If by paranormal phenomena you mean psi, then this complaint makes no sense. Unless one assumes materialism, then the existence of consciousness currently has no theories or explanations. But psi is an ability or attribute of consciousness. How could one *not* have an explanation for consciousness, but yet have an explanation for abilities or attributes of consciousness such as psi?

If, on the other hand, the skeptic editors are presupposing materialism, then this is to simply beg the question since materialism pretty much rules out psi. This is on top of the fact that materialism (at least as conceived since the birth of modern science in the 17th Century) is simply untenable (see an essay I've written http://ian-wardell.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/neither-modern-materialism-nor-science.html )

Moreover, we also have no explanation or theory as to how consciousness can be causally efficacious, even though it necessarily must be. Again, this is scarcely surprising since we lack an explanation or theory for the very *existence* of consciousness.

So the "complaint" is simply ridiculous.

Swiftsure,
My answer to the bulk of your psi-skeptical comments is, "Stargate". There is an example of a practical application of psi that created significant value.

To your point about not being able to explain the mechanism(s) by which psi operates, that is not entirely true. Many theories have been proposed. The problem for you, is that those theories are outside the accepted boundaries of current science.

I do not see how or why not understanding the mechanism(s) should negate the fact that a phenomena is real and having a real and measurable effect. In fact, your approach seems to get science all kinds of backwards. I would say that we see an effect and then we use science to understand what it is that is causing the effect.

By you stating that, in essence, science knows everything there is to know and that effects are only worth considering if they can be explained by the current body of scientific knowledge means that progress of understanding has now reached a standstill; that we've discovered all there is to discover and that is the material world as we understand it today.

Matt makes another point relevant to the above; which is that no one really cares what materialists like you think. They go about their lives believing in and occasionally leveraging, psi, spirit communication...all sorts of phenomena that you say can't exist. It must be extremely frustrating to you that you can't control the experience of so many stupid foolish people. LOL.

Regarding cheating mediums; I think most people claiming to be mediums are frauds or delusional. I have encountered such types myself. I have also encountered, personally, a medium who is beyond a doubt, the real deal. There are a couple of other people here who have had a sitting with this medium and have also come away saying that she is real. These are smart people who, like me, deployed various controls to disguise their identity, etc. But then at least one person who comments here says he had a bad sitting with this same medium and he felt the medium was employing some cheating. This person had not deployed controls and cheating would have been possible in his case (though not mine). Who knows? We're dealing with humans, not chemicals in a laboratory. Humans are complex and they have a psychology and volition, unlike chemicals. It is entirely conceivable that a real medium would elect to do some cheating on a day when the real ability is weak. Julie Beischel's study resulted in a statistically significant mediumship effect despite intense controls. Why we're still talking about Palladino.

"I don’t think it’s fair for Matt to say that sceptics will never change their minds; clear and unambiguous evidence would do it, but that’s the very thing that the believers are unable to provide. "

This part of Swiftsure's comment deserves its own special response.

This is the most disingenuous bit of reasoning I have seen in a while. It reminds of propaganda nonsense we hear on our media outlets about various matters.

The scientific evidence for psi has for a long time exceeded the scientific evidence for the efficacy of many pharmaceuticals that are approved for human usage to treat medical conditions.

Science also accepts all kinds of impossible nonsense on faith. Examples would be the so called Big Bang Theory. Genetic mutations driving evolution - something that makes no sense from a statistical standpoint, nor from a biological systems standpoint.

Actually, that comment is exactly what Matt is talking about. You reject each and every experiment proving psi, etc, often on ridiculously nit picky grounds, and then state that there is no clear and unambiguous evidence.

We could do that with just about any topic of inquiry. You just choose do single out psi for that treatment because of your inherent biases. Inherent bias is anathema to science. Therefore, you are anti-science.

Swiftsure wrote: "Psi is an unproven concept that has absolutely no scientific plausibility. Wishful thinking is not a substitute for reality. As Matt says, or at least implies, it is up to the proponents of psi to prove their case. Which is what sceptics like me have been saying for years. Prove it and I will believe."

Well, in my previous message I mentioned two articles that shows irrefutable evidence for precognition.

This article gives extraordinary evidence that precognition is real:

http://aip.scitation.org/doi/pdf/10.1063/1.4982772

And this article is a replication of the previous article:

https://www.scientificexploration.org/docs/21/jse_21_4_graff.pdf

Now I will show to you that the scientific mainstream accept these experiments as valid. Read the preface of the Symposium Quantum Retrocausation III, which is the third in a series of international symposia convened at the University of San Diego under the auspices of the Pacific Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS),wrote by Daniel P. Sheehan. He is a scientist of the mainstream. He says:

"Some of the deepest mysteries surrounding human consciousness also concern the nature of time. In particular, precognition (the anomalous but statistically significant foreknowledge of future events) HAS STRONG LABORATORY SUPPORT but lacks a convincing physical mechanism. It is suspected by many that some version of quantum retrocausation might hold the key.

In this spirit, QRC-III was organized. Participants were drawn primarily from the philosophy, theoretical physics and experimental parapsychological communities. It was hoped that each group would illuminate the others since each possessed EVIDENCE, expertise and outlook the others lacked."

So, here is. The mainstream accepts precognition as a phenomen with strong laboratory support. Now, will you change your mind?

Swiftsure wrote:

"Matt claims that the reality of psi is proven. No, it is not; were it otherwise, then this debate would not even be happening, in the same way that no-one is still arguing about whether powered flight is real – even if “they” laughed at the Wright brothers over a hundred years ago."

1 - AAAS accepts that precognition is true, or at least has strong experimental support.

2 - Evolution is true, but still there is a debate with creationists.

3 - The Wright brothers did not invented the airplane, but Alberto Santos Dumont, who performed the first public flight in 1906. The Wright brothers invented the motorised gliders in 1903. Their machine could not take off by its own means until 1909.

Another observation on Swiftsure's point:

||I don’t think it’s fair for Matt to say that sceptics will never change their minds; clear and unambiguous evidence would do it, but that’s the very thing that the believers are unable to provide.||

In general, people don't adjust their positions; rather, they adopt entirely new positions.

Once the media and social narrative embraces psi to such a degree that Skeptics are made to feel like flat-earthers, then there will simply be fewer Skeptics.

Skepticism isn't, as they would have people believe, an epistemological stance, a way of processing claims and facts into knowledge. Instead, it is a belief system and a brand. If this were not the case, then there would be disagreement *within* the Skeptic community about which phenomena are real and which are not. But there is no such disagreement or even the mildest internal debate. Skeptics maintain one of the most rigidly consistent belief systems on the planet today.

The reason why this consistency is possible is that Skeptics have the world's simplest catechism: "All of *that kind of stuff* doesn't exist, and those who believe in any of it are idiots."

*All of that kind of stuff* is remarkably easy to sniff out, it's much simpler in an argument to deny than to defend, and it's fun (for a certain type of person) to mock and shame others. So there you have it: the world's most consistent faith community!

Thinking some more about Swiftsure's comment (apologies for excessive posting of responses).

"It wouldn’t need statistical analysis to prove the point if remote viewers were routinely present at various natural disasters (earthquakes, say) and pointing out where survivors are buried in the rubble, rather than rescuers using thermal cameras, microphones and sniffer dogs to find anyone who might still be alive. (It would also be helpful if psychics who claim to have predicted a disaster could let us know before the event rather than telling us after the event that they did so.)

But it just doesn’t happen, does it? How many dowsers are busy clearing minefields right now?" - Swiftsure

Remote viewers have successfully done all of those things and more. The problem is that remote viewing, relying on complex human systems and, probably, some aspects of personal energy levels that we do not yet fully understand, all interacting with variables we do not fully understand in the environment at large, is not *reliable*.

As I said somewhere up-thread, just because a methodology is reliable (producing the same results every time is employed) does NOT mean it isn't valid (capable of producing accurate/useful results beyond chance sometimes).

No one doubts that certain musicians can play like virtuosos. Do they play at that level every time they pick up their instrument? No. Even if they are trying really hard? No. There are certain musicians whose playing just blows my mind on some recordings, especially studio recording. But then the same musician can fall flat at a live performance.

The musician is a valid virtuoso, but not a reliable one.

Now, an electronically programmed instrument will be reliable. It will play the same notes at the same tempo every time. However, it isn't a musician. It isn't a virtuoso. It's a robot. The real musician, possessed of human qualities, means variability, means accepting a lack of reliability.

If I had to clear a mine field, I will absolutely choose the mechanical mine sweeping technology. It's reliable and reliability really counts when land mines are involved. That said, if the enemy was using some kind of IED that the mechanical sweeping tools cannot detect, then I would want a remote viewer to assist me. In fact, that is exactly the kind of situation where remote viewers are utilized in military situations (where the reliable mechanical method is not going to work).

IMO, confusing validity with reliability demonstrates the confusion on the skeptics' part as to how the real world, of humans, works.

As an aside, there was a movement in the US intelligence community beginning in the late 80s and finalized in the early 90s to eliminate most ALL human based intelligence gathering (HUMINT) programs. The reliability issue was the driving factor. This includes what is generically known as "spies". Is anyone going to say, with sincerity, that spies don't produce valid results? Many members of the intelligence were against the move to almost sole reliance on technology at the time and many today speak to the ways in which the dismantling of HUMINT programs damaged the intelligence gathering capabilities of the US government.

Skeptics seem to want to reduce the world to robot like reliability and reject all things that do not conform to that model. Ain't gonna happen. Unless, of course, scientific mythology like big bang or mutation driven evolution is on the line. Then statistics and replicability (reliability) go right out the window.

Eric wrote: "Remote viewers have successfully done all of those things and more"

Correct. Here is one example:

https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP96-00787R000200080019-4.pdf

Eric wrote: "I have also encountered, personally, a medium who is beyond a doubt, the real deal. There are a couple of other people here who have had a sitting with this medium and have also come away saying that she is real."

Could you say the name of this medium?

I think people who say the Naples investigators could have been fooled by Palladino are overlooking some important points.

First, the investigators were experienced at exposing fake mediums of the "physical" type. Among them, they had debunked more than 100 before encountering Palladino.

Second, the experiments took place in the hotel room rented by the investigators, so there was no possibility of any large hidden mechanisms. Nor (contrary to Wiseman's groundless speculation) was there any realistic possibility of an accomplice sneaking into the room, especially given the fact that lamps were lit during the seances (the lighting was dim but certainly adequate to reveal a stranger skulking around the premises).

Third, the major phenomena produced by Palladino were simply not reproducible by the stage magic of the day (or even of today, unless carried out in a venue prepared and controlled by the magician). Howard Thurston, one of the leading magicians of that era, attended a Palladino seance and announced publicly that he did not believe the effects could have been faked.

Finally, we have the detailed accounts of the investigators, recorded stenographically during the sessions. Here is a short summary which I quoted in an old post (see link for more). I will put the more striking details in ALL CAPS.

"Levitations of the table, lasting two or three seconds, occurred at every seance. On exceptional occasions the table remained up for over a minute.... This phenomenon often occurred under the most stringent test conditions; while a sitter on either side held the medium's hands and one of them placed his arm across her knees, another got below the table and held her ankles; and sometimes a night-light was placed under the table. The sitters often tried to force the levitated table downwards, but always found that the resistance offered, though stout, was a peculiarly elastic one, similar to what is experienced when a buoyant, floating body is pressed downwards....

"In semi-darkness, EUSAPIA WAS OFTEN LEVITATED, CHAIR AND ALL, ON TO THE TABLE ... And Prof. Poro reports that WHILE SHE, SITTING IN HER CHAIR, WAS RAISED ABOVE THE TABLE TOP, HE AND ANOTHER SITTER PASSED THEIR HANDS UNDER HER AND THE CHAIR. In good light articles of furniture were often seen to advance untouched towards the medium, and A SMALL TABLE SOMETIMES [SEEN TO] CLIMB UP ON TO THE LARGER ONE, ROUND WHICH THE SITTERS SAT ...

"Eusapia used to sit at the table with her back close to the curtains of a cabinet [a curtained-off corner of the room]. Inside, there was a small table, and various musical instruments, a banjo, tambourine, musical-box, bell, etc., and in the darkness THESE WOULD BEGIN TO PLAY OR COME OUT AND PLAY IN DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE ROOM, OR ALL WOULD PLAY TOGETHER IN THE CABINET TO AN ACCOMPANIMENT OF RAPS AND TILTING OF THE TABLE. These noisy demonstrations were frequent. The curtains often bulged outwards, as if blown by a wind, and sometimes they enveloped a sitter's head; there was no wind or other apparent cause of the movements...."

I should add that on more than one occasion, two or more of the men sat or stood on the levitating table in an attempt to force it down by their combined weight, while another man confirmed that all four table legs were high off the floor. The table swayed buoyantly under their weight but remained in the air.

http://michaelprescott.typepad.com/michael_prescotts_blog/2006/07/palladino.html

One more tidbit for the Skeptics...

Matt's response about dowsers finding enemy tunnels in VN jogged my memory. The USMC teaches that you should never attempt to sneak up on, say, an enemy sentry directly from behind while staring at the sentry's back because the sentry will become aware that you are there due to an extra sense that we all have. Rather, you should try to come at the sentry from a slight angle, but most importantly do not stare. Instead shift the gaze about as much as possible. Then the extra sense will not kick in. This is standard training.

When Rupert Sheldrake proved that people have an extra-sense that tells them that they're being stared at, the Skeptics hand waved it away as just more woo woo and deployed their usual tactics for dismissing the experiments. The US Marine Corps is not given to woo woo in the least bit. It adapts what works. And there they are training based on experience which taught the same thing that Sheldrake proved.

"dovetails with" = "consilience"

Conratualtions to all who are capitalizing "Skeptic". Doing so avoids the use of inflammatory terms like sneer-quoted "skeptic" or "pseudo-skeptic," etc., while still differentiating hard-line, "movement" Skeptics from persons who are just ordinarily skeptical.

The head post contained this: "(pace the Skeptics who enjoy portraying as credulous idiots." My mostly Skeptical friend and 2-mile-neighbor, Matt Crowley, coined the clever term "creduloid." (This may have been in response to my coinage, "scoftic.")

"The musician is a valid virtuoso, but not a reliable one."

I think the analogy to psi is being strained though. Even when virtuosos are not 'on' in a specific performance, they are still clearly expert musicians, there is no doubt they have the skill. When psi fails, it is indistinguishable from the psi user having no skills at all. Even Palladino is no Jimi of psi, there seems to be quite a few people, some who did believe she still had powers, who caught her cheating and fiddling with the table with her knees and feet. Doesn't necessarily mean she didn't have powers sometimes, but Jimi could almost always play guitar.

"IMO, confusing validity with reliability demonstrates the confusion on the skeptics' part as to how the real world, of humans, works."

They aren't synonymous but they are heavily tied together for a whole host of topics, if not the majority of them. How else can we differentiate chance from real phenomenon without reliability?

One of the links above had an article about a study where participants drew sketches of a picture that was going to appear in a newspaper in a few days. If that is possible, then why not try to do something that seems much simpler and is more decisive, read the headline, or even the daily 4 digit lottery numbers? There must be a host of objective things in a newspaper. I totally acknowledge that it just might not 'work that way', but isn't it awfully suspicious that it works best when we stay away from something objective, and let people decide how well something matches another?

I had made a comment about upending science, and to be clear that is not for all psi hypotheses. It's possible that we have some extra sense and there's some form of energy or something we haven't discovered that would just be an addition to science. I was thinking more along the lines of people receiving information from the future, that I think has some serious repercussions on our current scientific understanding of time.

Eric wrote, "Matt's response about dowsers finding enemy tunnels in VN jogged my memory."

For the record, that was actually my comment.

Your contribution about the Marines training recruits not to stare at a sentry's back is a valuable contribution. Is Sheldrake aware of this? Do you have a link? Or is someone less lazy than I willing to do some googling?

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