[ExI] Meta was Psi in a major science journal

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Thu Oct 21 17:40:27 UTC 2010

On 10/21/2010 10:34 AM, Richard Loosemore wrote:
> Keith Henson wrote:

>> The meta question is why people are so attracted to this subject.

>> The answer, of course, has roots in our evolutionary past, but the
>> connection is not clear to me.

and Richard made one obvious rejoinder:

> ... and yet you (superstitiously?) cling to the belief that it does have
> roots in our evolutionary past.

> The next meta question is why people are so attracted to the idea that
> everything has roots in our evolutionary past.

> The answer, of course, has roots in computational cognitive psychology,
> but the exact locus of the effect is not clear to me.

but leaving aside the mutual (friendly and amusing) jibes, the other 
meta question is why people on the extropian list and other places where 
INTJ types congregate are so quick to dismiss and deride this subject, 
against the available evidence.

A parapsychologist makes this point:

<There are now six protocols that across many laboratories produce six 
sigma or better results. Six sigma is  1 in a billion. And there are six 
of these:

Bem Protocol

That means that although the individual effect is small, in aggregate 
ordinary people are routinely obtaining objectively verifiable 
information that they could not know through space-time sense perception.>

His point about small individual effect size is crucial to understanding 
why psi doesn't make parapsychologists instantly wealthy, and he's right 
that in aggregate this small anomalous effect becomes highly visible. 
But it takes a lot of effort to gather this data and ensure that it's 
not contaminated, is appropriately analyzed, etc.

So if Isabelle's claim to have found a fatal flaw in Bem is correct, 
let's hear it--*after* reading the existing protocol details in Bem's 
paper, and showing why they fail. Asserting that the result might be due 
to psychokinesis and not presentiment is uneconomical in this case, but 
plainly it just shifts the explanation from one "paranormal" realm to 

Damien Broderick

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