[ExI] Alcock on Bem in Skeptical Inquirer.

BillK pharos at gmail.com
Tue Dec 7 16:41:24 UTC 2010

On Tue, Dec 7, 2010 at 4:16 PM, Damien Broderick wrote:
> It might turn out that Bem (or any other psi researcher) has left serious
> holes in his protocol, or used the wrong analytical, evaluative methods,
> etc. Because that's always possible, it's necessary to have strenuous
> criticism. But it's pointless saying, as BillK just did, "Even if you allow
> more extraordinary causes, there is still no reason to make a preference for
> psi, rather than other woo-woo. Any of them 'might' be the cause," unless
> you can make a stab at showing what sorts of errors might yield those
> results in a given experiment.

It is a two-step criticism.

The first step is, as you say, to prove that the statistical oddity
actually exists, is a repeatable finding by unbiased researchers, and
the statistical analysis is believed by most mathematicians.
Step One is still unresolved to most scientists satisfaction.

The second step is to find the cause of the statistical oddity.
Try to prove that psychic powers, and nothing but psychic powers,
causes the oddity.
Step Two will never be resolved until some testable mechanism can be
provided that can detect whether 'psychic powers' are operating or
not. At present, 'psi' relies on after the fact analysis and saying
'Oh look, he must have been psychic in those tests last week'.
This is a totally unsatisfactory misuse of the scientific method.


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