[ExI] Alcock on Bem in Skeptical Inquirer.

John Clark jonkc at bellsouth.net
Tue Dec 7 16:20:51 UTC 2010

On Dec 6, 2010, at 6:30 PM, Stefano Vaj wrote:

> The usual way of doing science is to pick a hypothesis, because you have dreamt of it, or satisfy your aesthetical sense, or simply is yours and nobody ever thought about it, and try to confirm it.

But the hard truth is that good ideas are very rare and your new idea that you love so very much is almost certainly worthless as experiments can prove; they don't usually prove the idea is wrong, it's very hard to prove a negative, but they can prove the idea is silly, that is to say its not worth your time and it could be better spent doing other things. There is no disgrace in having an idea that doesn't work out, all the great scientists have been wrong about something, the disgrace is in not admitting defeat and moving on.

>> But with psi and cold fusion there is such a enormously powerful visceral wish for it to be true that the true believers simply refuse to take "no" as an answer, so they demand that it be tested again, and again, and again, and again. In the case of psi this has been going on for CENTURIES, it's time to stop this ridiculous situation and say enough is enough. 

> This is an interesting sociological remark, but of little epistemological relevance.

At one time it was thought that heavy objects fell faster in a gravitational field than light ones if they were in a vacuum, and even today the intuition of most people tells them that is the case; however it is easy with a few simple experiments to convince them it is not true. The reason it is so easy is that the law of falling bodies caries little emotional baggage, if it had as much as psi then even today  hundreds of years after Galileo people would be insisting that if scientists dropped heavy and light weights one more time off the Leaning Tower of Pisa they would find that this time the heavy one would indeed fall faster than the light. 

 John K Clark    

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