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

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Mon Jan 11 19:48:28 UTC 2010

On 1/11/2010 3:29 AM, Samantha Atkins wrote:

> Well, I have read bit of Sheldrake.  The man rolled up something powerfully

mind altering in his diplomas and smoked it as far as I can tell. 

fields and 100th monkey syndrome indeed.  If this passes for science 
then I don't

know why we think science can get us of the "demon haunted world".<

I agree. Hence my comparison with Newton's alchemy etc. But do try to 
decouple the zany attempts to explain from the careful (or sloppy, if 
that's demonstrably the case) experiments.

> His reports are not expressed as science,<

What do you object to in the phone experiments I cited? They seem very 
clear, clean, objective. Unless he and all the participants were just 
making it up.

> are not verified by repeatable experiment,<

Of course they are, and have been.

> and do not fit well with existing knowledge or better explain

most of what the existing knowledge has had good success explaining

and making testable predictions about.<

Yes, that's the real problem, in my view. But now you've slipped back to 
invoking his half-baked hypotheses rather than the empirical evidence of 
his experiments (and those of others replicating them, or which he's 
replicating). Many skeptics are delighted to hear that Randi has totally 
debunked the claims that some dogs have a significantly higher than 
chance likelihood of knowing when their humans are coming home, even 
when those arrivals are scheduled randomly. Randi declared that his own 
experiments had shown this was BULLSHIT, and that Sheldrake's were 
bogus. Well, he did until it was demonstrated (and he finally admitted) 
that he actually *hadn't* ever done such trials himself, and he was 
wrong about Sheldrake's.

I don't have a strong opinion about the claim one way or the other, but 
I'm always amused and astonished by the way professional doubters like 
Randi just *make stuff up* and get away with it. It's precisely what 
John Clark asserts about the psi claimants--such people can talk and 
type, and that's it. The locus classicus was the sTARBABY debacle (it's 
easy to look it up), where again the substantive issue is irrelevant; 
what's salient is the way CSICOPS scrambled to deny and hide their own 
confirmatory findings.

Strong opinions on both sides often lead to wild bogosity; it's not just 
the Sheldrakes who need to be tested for probity.

Damien Broderick

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