[extropy-chat] Precognition on TV

Jef Allbright jef at jefallbright.net
Thu Mar 15 23:12:16 UTC 2007

On 3/15/07, Damien Broderick <thespike at satx.rr.com> wrote:
> At 02:11 PM 3/15/2007 -0700, Jef Allbright wrote:
> >Rather than "rewrite", it would mean refining or
> >updating, and that is always a *good* thing.
> >That said, I agree with you that there is very
> >little if any evidence for such effects. - Jef
> I asked John Clark a little while back if he'd
> list the major psi experiments that are faulty,
> and the evidence against them. He declined on the
> grounds that he wouldn't waste his time reading
> such rubbish. I now pose the same question to Sondre and Jef.
> (There is no lack of peer-reviewed papers
> available on the web, in the midst of a deluge of
> insane "psychic" and "astrological" crap. And of
> course there was the May/McMoneagle remote
> viewing exercise cited in that TV program,
> repeated tomorrow night according to PJ, which I
> assume nobody here watched because everyone knows
> in advance that it's all MEGA BULLSHIT.)

Well Damien, I believe I've always been open to the possibility, and
in fact eager to learn something new that would update our
understanding of the nature of nature.  That's why I emphasized to
Sondre that it would be a *good* thing.  I haven't spent the time you
have researching anomalous effects, but I've read my share of the
research done by the Soviet and the US government projects, as well as
academic research such as PEAR.  I also watched an impressive video of
McMoneagle (performing in St. Louis, IIRC) about a year or two ago.

On the other hand, I have read extensively in evolutionary psychology,
heuristics and biases, the major skeptic sites and and various
materials having to do with illusion and chicanery, not to mention the
UFO fad, ghost-hunting, and the like. I even visited a "holistics
fair" recently and observed many true believers, even some selling
"tachyon water." (I suspect their employer, however was not such a
true believer, but rather a somewhat unethical business person.)

As I said to Sondre, I seems to me that the evidence for these effects
is little or none, and I weigh that relative to the perceived weight
of evidence for alternate explanations.

I'm quite willing to accept the reality of such psychic phenomena, to
the extent that there is evidence to weigh down that side of my scales
of rationality.  Indeed, I remember writing to you a couple of years
ago that I expect that within increasing computational capability we
will find increasingly subtle effects.  But for now, all the evidence
I have seen is so slight and so uncertain as to be effectively nil.

As for the occasional impressive and inexplicable demonstration, well,
I've been mystified by professional magicians too, and I just can't
get over the suspicion that if psychic powers had some effective
existence, the effects would show up in the stock market, lotteries,
or other areas where a small anomaly should be visible within a such a
large ensemble of event data.

I would be very happy to consider any stronger evidence that you might
care to present.

- Jef

P.S.  As for cold fusion, I consider it a more likely possibility and
have been following the sono version of it fairly closely.

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