[ExI] Sigh

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Mon Jul 5 16:42:01 UTC 2010

On 7/5/2010 10:14 AM, Ben Zaiboc wrote:

> I don't understand the jargon, don't know how a lottery works, and am a bit dim when it comes to maths and especially statistics.
> To be honest, I haven't a clue what you're talking about.

That's delightfully honest!

It seems pretty straightforward to me, but I spent a bit of time 
thinking about it.

> I feel sure there must be more straightforward, less confusing ways of testing the existence or not of psychic powers?

Please suggest some.

> I expect they've been tried, though.

Yes, and they all work, but weakly.

> I should think the 'atheist test' applies here:  Ask the psi-positives (i.e. the people who are positive that there is such a thing) what it would take to convince them otherwise.  Compare this with the answers of the psi-atheists* to the inverse question.

It might be like asking physicists what it would take to convince them 
that dark matter doen't exist. Nobody yet knows what dark matter is; 
it's a placeholder to explain various anomalous observations that have 
been made for decades. A new theory might show that the anomalies are 
not really surprising, because (for example) quantum gravity works in a 
weird unexpected way, so dark matter doesn't actually exist--but the 
*observations* are still valid.

Even observations can be made to go away. Relativity got rid of the 
planet Vulcan, and also showed that the apparent observations of that 
supposed planet must have been mistaken as well. N-rays went away. But 
to my knowledge, nobody has yet explained the anomalies that 
parapsychologists find when they try to influence or perceive the world 
by unmediated mental effort. (Except by claiming that they are all lying 
or careless or stupid or driven into error by wishful thinking; in my 
experience, only the latter could possibly be right, and applies just as 
easily to those who deny the anomalies.)

Damien Broderick

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