[ExI] Psi (no need to read this post you already knowwhatitsays)

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Fri Jan 8 17:06:31 UTC 2010

On 1/8/2010 2:40 AM, Max More wrote:

> It maybe that my resistance to claims of psi phenomena are just sour
> grapes, since in my own life I've never observed the slightest hint of
> psychic events or abilities.

Good post, Max. thanks. I have seen very little evidence myself *in my 
own life*--but I seem to be pretty much the contrary of the type of 
temperament that seems to function "psychically". I can't see very well 
either, but that doesn't make me disbelieve in sight.

> However, past experience makes me extremely reluctant to devote
> significant time to looking at new evidence (esp. when so much previous
> new evidence ended up looking bad).

I'm not sure that's true if one sticks to rigorous tests of fairly 
minimal claims. I hope it's obvious that I'm not all puppy dog excited 
about solar astrology, dowsing, Rosicrucian secrets from Atlantis, 
ghosts that clank in the night, "psychotronic weapons", Mayan 2012 
apocalyptic prophecies, and lots of other inane topics that fill the 
Coast-to-Coat airwaves.

> I would like your book on the topic, Damien. But, given my past
> experience and the apparently minor nature of claimed results, it's just
> not likely that it's going to be a top priority. I know that's annoying
> and frustrating, but I hope you can understand why I see it that way
> (and, I suspect, quite a few other people on this list).

I do understand that, of course, but what offends yet also grimly amuses 
me is the conditioned reflex scorn--the sort of thing our friend John 
Clark specializes in--that complacently dismisses years of careful work 
without knowing the first thing about it.

As you say, you read a lot on this topic when you were a kid, tried some 
magick, etc, so obviously you don't fall into this category--or not 
quite, because I suspect you're still a victim of premature closure. I 
know how that works, because I was in the same boat for years. I was 
enthusiastic about psi claims as a young adolescent, mostly from reading 
sf editorials about Rhine etc, then stopped taking it seriously as a 
university student. I read all the pop-critical books whacking away at 
the loonies, the Scientologists, etc, with great relish.

Then when I was nearing 30 I got interested again after reading a paper 
about a university study that had worked, and came up with some 
approaches that seemed promising. (Years later I found out that the same 
ideas were being explored at the same time, or a bit later, by the 
well-funded CIA and military researchers in what was eventually known as 
Star Gate.) Curious, but unable to afford massive research, I went back 
to old published data and saw that when some elementary information 
theory was applied to it, out popped rather startling indications that 
psi was real after all. This was especially impressive when it showed up 
in data from experiments that had apparently failed. (If suppressing 
"negative results" had been the rule, I'd never have seen this data; 
luckily, parapsychologists in the 1930s and 1950s were often prepared to 
publish what looked like failed experiments.) Subsequently, no-one was 
more surprised that I to discover that serious "remote viewing" 
claims--Joe McMoneagle's and Stephan Schwartz's, say--were often 
corroborated (despite the encrustation of bogosity from scammers now 
claiming falsely to have been big wheels in Star Gate).

So why aren't psychics rich? Why is Osama still running free? (Gee, who 
would gain from that?) Why do we bother with cars instead of levitating? 
Good questions, but then if there are antibiotics why do people still 
get sick, and if there's dark matter why isn't there a really good 
theory to explain it, and on and on.

Damien Broderick

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