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Random Number Generator That Sees Into the Future 1216

Posted by Zonk
from the could-be-hooey dept.
hackajar writes "Red Nova news has an interesting article about a random number generating black box that may be able to see into the future. From the article: "according to a growing band of top scientists, this box has quite extraordinary powers. It is, they claim, the 'eye' of a machine that appears capable of peering into the future and predicting major world events"."
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Random Number Generator That Sees Into the Future

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  • by patniemeyer (444913) * <pat@pat.net> on Sunday February 13, 2005 @01:51AM (#11657133) Homepage
    If they can demonstrate a link between people thinking and a random number generator in a controlled environment, then they can go claim the Randi prize (randi.org)... It's a million dollars, should be worth their time.

    I doubt they'll be collecting it.

    Pat Niemeyer
  • by Suhas (232056) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @01:52AM (#11657141)
    For the full story and project details, go here Global Consiousness Project [princeton.edu]
  • by badasscat (563442) <basscadet75&yahoo,com> on Sunday February 13, 2005 @02:00AM (#11657194)
    BTW, how in the world is this NOT a "laugh, it's funny" article?

    Because it's pseudo-science that's trying to be serious. Which can be a dangerous thing, although probably isn't in this case.

    I stopped reading when I read this:

    "The laws of chance dictate that the generators should churn out equal numbers of ones and zeros - which would be represented by a nearly flat line on the graph."

    No, the laws of chance do not say any such thing. In fact, the laws of chance say exactly the opposite. If you have two choices chosen at random over a series (a 1 and a 0; or heads and tails on a coin), there is a high probability that one of the choices will be chosen a significantly higher number of times than the other. Over time, the percentage disparity will decrease to near zero, but the total numerical disparity is likely to increase.

    Similarly and extending from that, there is no law of anything that says that if you have a long series of 1's that it's more likely that your next number will be a 0. The "law of averages" is commonly cited here but there's really no such law.

    Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] has a nice little article that explains this, though I highly recommend the book Innumeracy for a lot more detail and an entertaining read to boot (that's a straight Amazon link, not a referral - I don't care where you buy it, just read it.)
  • by badasscat (563442) <basscadet75&yahoo,com> on Sunday February 13, 2005 @02:05AM (#11657235)
    Woops, my link was removed (damn, how many years have I been posting on this site, anyway?). Here's [google.com] a link to the book that should make it through.
  • by BReflection (736785) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @02:09AM (#11657257) Homepage
    Geeks will appreciate that you can download the raw data [princeton.edu] from the Global Consciousness Project and analyze it yourself. They even provide you a head start in your programming with their C++ package. In addition, there is a realtime driven display [princeton.edu] coded in Java, and "data driven music [princeton.edu]."

    The entire premise behind the Global Consciousness Project is that the Noosphere [wikipedia.org] exists, and that, when a large amount of people are focused on the same thing it effects things in ways that are difficult to measure. There are dozens of these eggs (64) all around the world returning truly random data to the princeton server, which is inside a special casing to protect it from any extraneous waves/radiation/youname it. Their data purport, and indeed seem, to show that during times when many people are focused on the same thing, this random data is suddenly "less random". This typically means that when people start hearing about a globally impacting event on the news, the data becomes less random.

    Using current methods it is impossible to prove that this is what they are measuring. But the data goes to show that they are measuring something. If you don't believe me or the news article, download the data and analyze it yourself, and if you're feeling the tingling of those psychic wavelengths, you can even register a prediction [princeton.edu] of your own ;)
  • by angry jimmy (452853) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @02:24AM (#11657335) Homepage
    For more information on REGs, here's a link to Dr. Nelson's website: http://www.princeton.edu/~rdnelson/ [princeton.edu]
  • bullshit... (Score:1, Informative)

    by pair-a-noyd (594371) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @02:26AM (#11657341)
    and yes, I did RTFA.. Bullshit..

  • by Platinum Dragon (34829) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @02:29AM (#11657358) Journal
    ...require extraordinary evidence.

    I'm keeping my mind open (hey, it's a big universe out there), held together by a healthy dose of skepticism and intellectual honesty.

    My first thought, upon reading the RedNova article, was to wonder what the article didn't say. Am I the only one who found it rather credulous?

    Maybe this is legit, but I won't be rushing out to buy a random number generator to go along with my astrology charts and I Ching anytime soon.;)
  • by Jesus 2.0 (701858) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @02:51AM (#11657463)
    Seriously, they can't. Randi needs a totally controlled environment. The project uses a random generator and world events, both of which I don't think you can get into a controlled envrionment that would satisfy all.

    That's not entirely true. The article mentioned and quoted several independent people - scientists, apparently - who claim that merely asking people to think about affecting the numbers generated by random number generators does, in fact, affect the numbers generated by random number generators.

    That can easily be tested in a controlled environment. In fact, it's what these scientists in the article claim to have already done.
  • by radar2k2 (632371) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @03:00AM (#11657512)
    It took me all of 5 seconds to find this article which pretty much debunks the entire project:
    http://www.skepticreport.com/print/radin2002-p.htm [skepticreport.com]
  • by mollymoo (202721) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @03:11AM (#11657549) Journal
    Perhaps you should consider that the way this machine supposedly predicts the future is entierly subjective. What is the cutoff point for when randomness becomes non-randomness? What is the cutoff point for what is a significant world event? What happens when the detecor goes off and nothing takes place? What predictions do the scientists make about what the machne will do before and during a significant world event, however they may define that? Most importanly however, why did the article fail to mention any of this? Perhaps you should consider the article for 5 minutes before accusing others of unfounded skepticism.

    Perhaps if you read the website about the project [princeton.edu], which was linked from the article, you would find all of your questions answered. Perhaps you should actually try to understand what they've been doing before dismissing it. All the data is there. Analyze it yourself. Do the experiment yourself, it doesn't require any expensive or exotic hardware. Till you've done at least some of the above you can have no valid scientific opinion, only prejudice.

    It seems pretty far-fetched to me, but I'm working my way through the Princeton site now and I've not seen any glaring errors in their methodology yet.

  • by vena (318873) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @03:16AM (#11657571)
    Princeton has had an "alternative" sciences department for decades: PEAR [princeton.edu], most often cited for their research into remote viewing. They consistantly veer on the side of quackery, preferring to dismiss any elements of their "science" that categorically refute their findings in favour of a more popular conclusion, albeit confused and absurd.
  • by Jesus 2.0 (701858) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @03:51AM (#11657698)
    It took me all of 5 seconds to find this article which pretty much debunks the entire project:

    The article you link to debunks nothing.

    Basically, the argument of the article is this:

    (1) He showed me that, coincidentally with such-and-such an event, the RNGs strayed significantly from 50/50.

    (2) I showed him that they also did the day before.

    (3) I asked him what happened the day before.

    (4) He said he didn't know.

    (5) Ergo, what a load.

    While that argument is seemingly cogent from a simplistic point of view, a little thought reveals that it's basically irrelevant. Specifically, the argument merely debunks a claim that is not being made in the first place.

    These spikes happen all the time. No one denies that. Pointing out that - which is all the supposed "debunking" article does - is neither here nor there.

    The claim being made is that the spikes happen more frequently than predicted by random chance when "major" events happen. This supposed "debunking" article does not address that claim at all. At all.
  • by Sir Runcible Spoon (143210) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @03:54AM (#11657709)
    Ah ha. Look at the source at the bottom.

    Source: Daily Mail; London (UK)

    It may be that Red Nova is a valid news site, but they should really check the status of their sources. The Mail will run just about any sensational piece of b*ll*cks doing the rounds. They are not the sort of organ that would want to cloud the reader's faith in the paranormal with any of that cynical questioning. Please insert the phrase 'Top scientists believe ...' at the begining of the piece to make it more credible.

    Click here [dailymail.co.uk] and search for "Crop Circles", "MI6" or "UFO".
  • by Creepy Crawler (680178) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @04:05AM (#11657747)
    On the Princeton site (which now is down) they had 2 sections. One was "Scientific data" and the other was "Artistic and feeling".

    The scientific side had a page mentioning the RNG capturing devices. All use a quantum-based RNG. They have a multitude of devices from either made themselves and company-prefab 'for the laboratory' RNG's.

    The key here is they all use quantum-based randomness generators.

    So yes. This experiment does as you say.
  • by oskillator (670034) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @04:33AM (#11657877)
    Red Nova has lost a lot of credibility with this article, in my book.

    Here's [skepticreport.com] what the Skeptic Report has to say about the "Global Consciousness Project".

  • by physicsphairy (720718) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @04:45AM (#11657922) Homepage
    Postulating God to explain complex events inserts an equally complex entity into the explanation.

    And from whence, exactly, have you devised the "complexity" of God?

    Contemporary science could not even answer what the "complexity" is of the origination of natural laws on their own, or universes on their own, or any such thing, so I would be most interested to know how you are going about making a comparison between these respective complexities?

    You might be interested to know, by the way, that when you use Occam's razor in science you are borrowing a theological tool [wikipedia.org]. Occam's razor is not part of science, as you seem to think (". . . the scientific view would favor atheism"). The tool of science is the scientific method. The use of Occam's razor in scientific analysis is based on the completely unwarranted assumption that the universe should behave simply. And, partly, because it is simply more pragmatic to not have to deal with arbitrarily many redundant theories explaining the same thing.

    But there is no empirical (i.e., scientific) reason for Occam's razor to be true.

  • by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @04:45AM (#11657924)
    I'd like to see how many "special" sequences they had which were NOT followed by an event they deemed special.

    Probably lots. Their numbers are apparently downloadable, but you can always derive ex post facto "predictions" from random crap.

  • by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @04:50AM (#11657941)
    Any stream of random numbers will work. If a *special* stream is required, then it's not random...

    Say they have a random sequence r_1, r_2, r_3... which has subsequences {s_1}, {s_2}, {s_3}, {s_4} (mapping to portions of the r sequence) that are determined to be predictive of human-world events H_1, H_2, H_3...

    I can then construct a modified sequence (call it "t", i.e. t_1, t_2, t_3...) where all the sequences have been removed (or have been exchanged by chunks of the r sequence that are way further down). The t sequence is a perfectly random sequence, just like r, and it predicts none of the events in the H series. Therefore, even if a random sequence exists with these properties, other random sequences exist that will not work, and the statement any stream of random numbers will work is false. QED.
  • by nick_davison (217681) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @06:01AM (#11658160)
    The UK runs New Year science lectures every year. One I've always remembered went like this.

    "There are just over a thousand of you in this room. Everyone on the left, think heads. Everyone on the right, think tails."

    A coin was tossed. Heads.

    "OK, everyone on the right, you're out. Now, of those who remain, everyone in the front, think heads, everyone in the back think tails."

    The same coin was tossed. Tails.

    And so it was repeated, ten times. Amazingly, one truly psychic individual in that room was so in tune with the coin that they managed to influence it (or it influenced them) ten times in a row. Irrefutable proof that some people are psychic and such phenominons exist.

    Or pure, basic statistics - proving that humans are god awful at guessing standard probabilities and totally normal deviations from them.

    Another classic example is the Birthday Problem. How many people do you have to have in a room before the odds are in favor of two people having the same birthday? Most people guess 182ish (half of 365 days in a year). The real figure's 23. p=365! / (365^n(365-n)!) Again, people really have no clue when it comes to basic probability.
  • by Angostura (703910) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @06:10AM (#11658189)
    Quite a few, according to this interesting, skeptical report [skepticreport.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 13, 2005 @06:15AM (#11658200)
    http://www.random.org/stats/11september.html
  • by chazwurth (664949) <cdstuart&umich,edu> on Sunday February 13, 2005 @07:09AM (#11658320)
    I'm doubtful that this is any kind of hoax. Do a little 'net research on the people involved in the project. They've been pouring effort into this and other things like it for decades. If it is a hoax, it's one hell of a long-term hoax. Also, if they're studying the gullibility of other scientists, you'd think they would have finished by now, since they've been criticized for about as long as they've been making claims.

    In my opinion, it is likely that this is an example of good scientists who've fallen 'victim' to their own desire to believe in the paranormal. They're observing(creating) patterns that they want to see, because when they see something that catches their imaginations, they lose their ability to think critically about the data. I admit that my opinion is largely uninformed -- I haven't looked carefully at everything they've published. But a couple hours of studying their methods and hypotheses leads me to believe I'm right.
  • by ponos (122721) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @07:48AM (#11658412)

    For those of you that have not spent some time reading Knuth's Vol.2, there is an extensive analysis of what "randomness" is and how to get it. Clearly, a deterministic machine (=chip) cannot produce really random sequences. I did not bother to check the actual working details of those machines, but I would say that the only truly random phenomena are quantum phenomena and only these would be acceptable in a serious scientific study. Sure, modern chips get away by generating random-like sequences that are good enough to simulate true randomness for most purposes. This applies to HW random generators in most PCs. However, they are not, in principle, acceptable as real random number generators (even if they are equally well suited for applications).

    From a theoretical standpoint a truly random quantum system is immune to interference, while HW random number generators use an external (to the system) source of randomness, accepted to represent noise. This is the actual approach used in the kernel's /dev/random that draws data from various external events. It has been shown, under some circumstances to be less than reliable, because the event is external wrt to the kernel but still inside our frame of reference (e.g. we control the keyboard and the ethernet port and, potentially, the power fluctuations etc etc).

    Another significant point to consider is this: a truly random sequence is by definition infinite and it contains all possible subsequences of finite length. In an infinite series of coin tosses we MUST get all finitely long sequences of heads-only or tails-only. This means that given a long enough random subsequence (like the one that is produced by this machine), we will always be able to choose parts of it that are highly unlikely and statistically significantly different. Given that (a) every day something "important" happens somewhere and (b) we can always choose non-random "looking" parts of the sequence the credibility of this experiment is quite doubtful.

    A proper experimental design would not associate (chosen!) events with (chosen!) subsequences, but would instead prove that the source itself is systematically non-random due to an unknown cause of interference. When all reasonable measures have been taken to reduce traditional sources of interference, we would be open to creative speculation about its source.

    Another way to approach this is to make "a priori" (very important!) choices of "trigger" events and then assign very specific, "a priori" defined, time limits to the analysis. E.g. violent death of more than 1000 people in less than 1 hour is accepted as a trigger and we only correlate this to a contiguous 2h of data surrounding and including the event. The prior choice of experimental trigger conditions and rules makes a world of difference to the reliability of the test.

    P.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 13, 2005 @07:51AM (#11658416)
    You might be interested in the independent analysis of the Sept. 11 claims posted here:
    http://noosphere.princeton.edu/papers/Sep1101.pdf [princeton.edu]

    The bottom line:
    The "prediction" was a complete coincidence.
  • Re:Atoms (Score:5, Informative)

    by KontinMonet (737319) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @07:53AM (#11658421) Homepage Journal
    And there's plenty of stuff that people believed in, or still believe in, that are still wrong. Ether, the heart being the centre of emotion, the world being flat.

    I haven't seen any convincing data, the people running this project pick and choose 'world' events as they decide it.
    For example: [skepticreport.com]
    "Radin gave several examples of how GCP had detected 'global consciousness'. One was the day O.J. Simpson was acquitted of double-murder. We were shown a graph where - no doubt about that - the data formed a nice ascending curve in the minutes after the pre-show started, with cameras basically waiting for the verdict to be read.
    And yes, there was a nice, ascending curve in the minutes after the verdict was read.
    However, about half an hour before the verdict, there was a similar curve ascending for no apparent reason. Radin's quick explanation before moving on to the next slide?
    'I don't know what happened there.'
    It was not to be the last time we heard that answer."

    And if upward curves start before the 'world' event taking place? It's collective pre-cognition folks! And how much before the event counts as pre-cognition? As much (or as little) as these 'experimeters' require.

    Look, even the director of the project himself says: "...this idea is really an aesthetic speculation. I don't think we have real grounds to claim that the statistics and graphs representing the data prove the existence of a global consciousness. On the other hand, we do have strong evidence of anomalous structure in what should be random data..."

    That's the real telling point: "...should be random data...". I bet some in-depth tests might show the 'eggs' are simply not entirely random.
  • by danila (69889) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @09:06AM (#11658613) Homepage
    Well, their machine only works when run by specially trained Princeton scientists. And you also need special skills to interpret the results. Any attempt to repeat the test by the skeptic introduces interference, which messes up the predictions. And there are also hundreds of other explanations for those cases when the machine is wrong.

    Seriously people, get a grip.
    Scientist A was trying to do X when he claimed to have discovered Y. Dozens of other scientists confirmed the existence of Y in their own laboratories. However, Y doesn't exist. How could so many scientists be wrong? They deceived themselves into thinking they were seeing something when in fact they were not. They saw what they wanted to see with their instruments, not what was actually there (or, in this case, what was not there).
    Blondlot and N-rays [skepdic.com] story is repeating again and again. Someone, please, hit those Princeton morons with a clue stick.
  • Re:Mysterious Future (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 13, 2005 @10:13AM (#11658854)
    I think you have misunderstood that part...

    It's true that the page says: "[The eggs] work with measurements of "white noise" like the random static between radio stations."

    - but that 'like' means 'it is white noise as you may hear it between radio stations' - not that they actually *get* their data from radio waves.

    The actual source is quantum events in diodes or other components.
  • by StressGuy (472374) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @10:26AM (#11658901)
    I learned it under the axiom, "chance has no memory". Legions of would be lottery millionares are stung by this every day.

  • Truth about this... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Nelps45 (581480) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @10:32AM (#11658929)
    http://www.skepticreport.com/print/radin2002-p.htm
    After reading this, the Global Conscious Project does not seem to be too true.
  • by Everybody (59419) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @10:44AM (#11658986)
    See also
    for an independent and critical analysis of the original data of the Global Consciousness Project.
  • by ElephanTS (624421) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @11:38AM (#11659285)
    I studied under Prof. Chris French mentioned in the article during 93-95 (I'm a Psych/Comp BSc) and we looked at some of the earlier experiments that lead to the 'eggs'. Chris French at that time firmly disbelieved the claims being put forward and tried to show the results were influenced by the experimenter. However the experiments were re-made to eliminate any confounding design problems and still the positive results persisted. It was very strange. In the light of these new results and others it gradually became impossible to explain them other than the 'future effect' was happening somehow. I am amazed that Chris French (the most hardened sceptic there is - a friend of James Randi too) now accepts these results. It is as I thought 10 years ago, when it couldn't be explained away either, - there is something to this. A similar line of research using the internet as a source of liguistic data has revealed prediction abilities too. These results are so good and seemingly accurate there are now for sale at $250 per monthly run from www.halfpasthuman.com. This isn't spam on my part - the offer is now closed but was open nearly all of 2004. Free nuggets can be found from George Ure at UrbanSurvival.com as and when runs are complete. Personally, I have some small knowledge of the weird results of the quantum world and also have been influenced by Jung's work with 'synchronicity'. I've formed these things into some kind of half-baked theory - at least allowing my rational mind to accept these results may have basis in physical reality, but one that we do not understand at all well right now. This was my first post on /. - I never felt qualified before!
  • by Arkaein (264614) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @11:57AM (#11659416) Homepage
    The flat line they are talking about is likely a rolling average. With a rolling average when the results are trully random the display will be flat. However when the results break away from randomness the average will tend away from the midline.

    This would be the easiest way to graph deviations from true randomness.
  • Skeptical Questions (Score:4, Informative)

    by handy_vandal (606174) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @12:40PM (#11659715) Homepage Journal
    What they claim: When lots of people think the same thing it makes "random event generators" give "less random" output.

    When pressed about evidence working against his theories (e.g. assigning meaning to some data spies, but not others), global conciousness proponent Dan Radin replied: "I don't know what happened there."

    This is the scientific thing to say -- if you don't know, say you don't know.

    However, assigning meaning to some spikes, but not others, tends to erode one's confidence in the assignment of causality.

    See Skeptic Report [skepticreport.com] for critical analysis.

    -kgj
  • by Long-EZ (755920) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @01:16PM (#11660039)
    The significance of the death of Princess Diana, the destruction of the World Trade Center towers, and the Asian tsunami is not to be found in the number of people who died. In this application, it is significant in the emotional attention or disturbance it caused in the world. The death of Princess Diana was not personally significant to me, but a lot of people were very upset by it, albeit not many Slashdotters.

    There is another very bizarre phenomenon being studied at Princeton that is related and apparently shares a lot of the same hardware. The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research [princeton.edu] project was started to study the human machine interface, and quickly determined that humans, individually and collectively, can have a small influence on truly random events. The effect doesn't extend to pseudorandom events such as a PC's "random" number generator, which is actually deterministic. The magnitude of the effect varies with the individual(s) involved, but is on the order of one in ten thousand. However, this small result is statistically proved beyond any reasonable doubt. The experiments have been widely replicated by different researchers using different random events (Johnson noise in resistors, balls falling through a long sequence of pegs ala pachinko, etc.) Even more bizarre is the way the effect is not limited by time or space. People from the other side of the world have influenced random events, and if my memory is correct, random events in sealed experiments have been altered by human efforts in the future and the past.

    I think this seems to be too widespread to be a hoax. There is apparently too much independent verification to dismiss it, regardless of how little correlation it has with our belief about how the universe works. The effect may be small, but any significantly valid effect is a huge step in advancing our understanding of the universe and consciousness. I think we'll need a better understanding of quantum physics to fully appreciate what is really happening. My personal favorite crackpot theory is that our brains operate at different levels, all the way down to quantum effects at the lowest levels.

    It's probably too early to use this effect in any meaningful engineering devices, but I can't help myself. I want to buy some commercial time on a TV station that is broadcast at the same time as the live lotto drawing that's broadcast on a competing station. Then, I'd run a commercial that flashes "LOTTO" and a sequencial string of my lottery numbers, in high contrast, with each appearing for a tenth of a second. It'd look weird enough that people would watch to see what the heck it is, and the 100 ms strobing numbers would feed straight into their subconscious minds. Maybe I'd take a tip from subliminal advertisers and mix in words like "DEATH" or "SEX", or graphic images, to pump up the emotional level.

  • by Linzer (753270) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @01:24PM (#11660111)
    There is a short description here, with links:
    http://noosphere.princeton.edu/reg.html

    Briefly, they are based on electronic fluctuations that get amplified and sampled. The algorithms themselves look quite basic, they just have to ensure that the statistical distribution of the outcome has the desired properties. For instance, XORing the data from two similar generators looks like a good way to get ones and zeroes with equal probability.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 13, 2005 @04:43PM (#11661763)
    It's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 13, 2005 @06:21PM (#11662409)
    PEAR's statistical methodology has been criticized. I'd need to do some searching, but I do remember an exchange between Bill Jefferys and one of the PEAR researchers on this matter. I think it concerned the well-known effect of p-values overinflating the statistical significance of rare events. There have been other criticisms.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 13, 2005 @09:32PM (#11663852)
    Here is Jefferys' side of the exchange [utexas.edu], criticizing the PEAR team's incorrect use of p-values.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 13, 2005 @09:38PM (#11663888)
    Another, more detailed discussion by Jefferys [utexas.edu] on the PEAR experiments.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 13, 2005 @09:44PM (#11663933)
    And a more detailed analysis by Jefferys [utexas.edu].
  • by triffidsting (594096) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @10:57PM (#11664364)
    Err, you mean Oak Ridge Natl Lab, I think?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 14, 2005 @01:56AM (#11665279)
    This is in NOT mainstream Princeton Research ....
    "PEAR" is not a department of Princeton University, it is Bob Jahn's own "research group" he has got funding for from "non-traditional" sources.

    Bob Jahn is a former engineering school Dean with (IMHO) Wacko ESP ideas he has been going on about for years.

    It's his priviledge of Academic Freedom to study this stuff, and he has funding for his PEAR institute from (IMHO) Wacko private Foundations with money from rich individuals who like such stuff (spiritualism, telepathy, new age, etc , etc)

    As a "real" Princeton scientist, I am embarrassed by this stuff. I hate to see the prestige of this generally high-powered academic institution used by the "PEAR" people to try to give credibility to such BS.

    But its a little privately-financed eccentricity of one individual, nothing to do with what our students are exposed to.

    Disclaimer: this is my personal opinion: I dont want to get legal Slander/Libel threats as I understand some colleagues who criticized the PEAR operation have got in the past.

    From Jahn's web page:
    (begin quote)
    Engineering Anomalies Research
    Investigators: R.G. Jahn and B.J. Dunne
    Support: Several philanthropic organizations and individuals

    The interaction of human operators with sensitive information processing devices and systems is studied by combining appropriate engineering facilities and techniques with a selection of protocols and insights drawn from modern cognitive science. In this work, premium is placed on extraordinarily precise yet robust instrumentation, tight environmental and quality control, multiply redundant on-line data collection and processing, rapid accumulation of large data bases, and sensitive analytical measures to facilitate extraction of small systematic trends from high levels of background noise, while rejecting spurious artifacts. Under these rigorous conditions, certain aspects of these human/machine interactions are found to yield anomalous effects currently inexplicable on the basis of established physical concepts and statistical theory.

    Over its 25-year history, the program has produced immense databases generated under highly controlled laboratory conditions, indicating the existence of small but replicable and statistically significant correlations between operator intention and the output characteristics of a variety of random digital and analogue processors. Current experiments involve several microelectronic, mechanical, fluid dynamical, acoustical, and optical devices, and a complementary program of remote perception research, from which a number of technical, psychological, and environmental correlates have been identified. Complementary analytical studies and theoretical models have been developed to facilitate the extraction of the most salient correlations from the empirical data, and to help explicate the basic phenomena in fundamental terms.
    (end quote)

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