[extropy-chat] About ESP, etc.

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Mon Apr 30 19:49:48 UTC 2007

At 02:05 PM 4/30/2007 -0400, gts wrote:

>Yes. An infallible clairvoyant would know the dealer's hole card and the
>next cards in the deck and have a huge advantage, probably on the order of
>something like 30%, whereas the card-counter has an advantage of only
>about 1% to 1.5%, depending on rules and other conditions. The clairvoyant
>would need to lose purposely on a large fraction of hands to avoid
>suspicion of being an out-right cheat.

I blame science fiction for this absurd counterfactual of an 
"infallible clairvoyant." The general notion that skeptics are quick 
to ridicule is of the one-eyed man in the country of the blind. 
Telepaths in THE DEMOLISHED MAN, Alfred Bester's classic ESP novel, 
read each other's thoughts as if listening to speech, but in addition 
detect and weave wonderfully elaborate multi-sensory patterns. There 
is absolutely no known real world basis for this sort of thing.

In ordinary life, and in the lab, as mentioned, probability of 
success is modified by a few bits per 10,000. This can be enough to 
tip the choice between one stray mental option and another, enhancing 
the effectivity of the process, but obviously training and rigorous 
protocols of interpretation will help wring as much as possible from 
this meager trickle.

The notion that a gambler could sit down and make one correct guess 
after another is not only psychologically implausible but too 
ambitious. When Joseph McMoneagle or other trained remote viewers do 
a remote viewing exercise, they usually spend 20 minutes or half an 
hour in a carefully prepared state of watchfulness, annoting various 
elements of their imaginal field: colors, shapes, number, 
relationships, all manner of binary oppositions, and slowly accrete a 
composition. But, of critical importance, it is usually the double 
blind judge who assesses which of the possible targets best matches 
this composite.

The mind has an inescapable tendency to chunk cues and imagined 
elements into a provisional gestalt, and half the process of learning 
remote viewing (I'm informed) is mastering this impulse on premature 
foreclosure. "In the wild" where the dangers are more or less known, 
an excellent psychic soldier might well register the presence of a 
tiger or a Tamil Tiger in time to counter the threat--but I don't 
suppose he'd be especially likely to notice the ten ton safe falling 
out of a passing blimp... until it hit him on the head.

Damien Broderick

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list