[ExI] Fwd: [Exl] Psi and EP

udend05 at aol.com udend05 at aol.com
Sat Jul 3 22:24:26 UTC 2010

Picking up on Keith's point about psi phenomena and evolutionary psychology - are there other instances of behaviours/traits/abilities developed throughout our history that are as shadowy as so-called paranormal phenomena? I for one cannot think of any. I am not for one instant saying that because we can't see something, it necessarily isn't there (it does not amount to evidence, in that sense), but I am suggesting that if psychic abilities were a part of our evolutionary development, given their obvious selective benefits, why are they not more apparent? Let's face it: if, before setting out to hunt we just knew that a predator lay in wait for us around the next corner, we would know thereby not to go round that next corner. The benefits in this sense are quite clear. Indeed, developing such an ability would, according to the tenets of evolutionary theory, guarantee that the people in the know in this psychic way would be those more likely to survive the travails of life, thus ensuring the survival of the psychic gene for future generations, and thereby its proliferation. Yet instead what we see are debatable phenomena and shadowy statistics.

As to the last, I admit I am by no means a statistician or mathematician, so a lot of what Damien in particular has been saying has gone right over my head, but isn't it more likely for a number superstitiously held on to and thus repeatedly used to come up more often in terms of lottery or casino wins? I mean in the sense that if you keep using the same number it is bound to get drawn at some point - more so than if you kept changing the numbers randomly?

My own belief is that in our pre-history we developed a sense of 'imitative' magic (as in cave-painting images of spears stuck in animals and so on) and from there we have developed a belief in our ability to affect events through the force of our 'will' (I don't mean this word in any specialist sense). Intuition, too, can often be right, and that must reinforce this belief. But I don't believe that when we 'hit it', when we get something right, we are being psychic. It's like the old claim: 'I was thinking about my granny when lo and behold she rang me up.' You're bound to see this as special because the link (oh our pattern-dependent minds!) seems so patently obvious. But think of all the highly unremarkable times you were thinking about your granny and she didn't ring. Being so unremarkable, you forgot those episodes. In the same way, what look like oddities in lottery draws and casino wins are little more than the vagaries of randomness, of the chaos inherent in all these things, of coincidence at work. Anything else would need a great deal more in the way of evidence ('nine out of every ten times I think about my granny, she rings'). Didn't Robert Anton Wilson espouse the magical properties of a certain number? He claimed that once this number was embedded in your consciousness, you would become a part of its magic. It would spring out at you in the unlikeliest places. You would be walking down the street and look up and there it would be - the number of a particular house - the magical number that was beginning to creep into your life. But as the same author pointed out, there is no magic here - only recognition. You would see lots of other numbers, too, but they would not have this magical property, so you wouldn't notice them. But this number, being so magical, you notice all the time. It is nothing more than our brain's way of working.

Evolution has given us many gifts. Those that work are around and evidenced all the time and clearly. Psi itself (an instance of wishful thinking which generates useful positivity) would not seem to be one of those gifts.

Damian U.
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