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Science

Psychic Ability Claim Doesn't Hold Up In New Scientific Experiments 315

Posted by timothy
from the pre-imagining-the-counterevidence dept.
cold fjord writes with some stunning news from the world of science, excerpting: "A new study has failed to find evidence that psychic ability is real. Skeptics may scoff at the finding as obvious, but the research is important because it refutes a study published in a psychological journal last year that claimed to find evidence of extrasensory perception. That research, conducted by Daryl Bem of Cornell University, triggered outrage in the psychological community when the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology announced in 2010 that the paper had been accepted for publication." Here's a link to the academic paper.
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Psychic Ability Claim Doesn't Hold Up In New Scientific Experiments

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  • by Qbertino (265505) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @08:36AM (#39388253)

    The peer review was not a double-blind study.
    Ergo: No scientific evidence, any finite conclusion is worthless.
    You fail. Thank you very much.
    End of discussion. ...
    Then again, as far as I can read out of the article, the initial experiment wasn't a double blind test either.

    However, the experiments setup looks interesting and - in a fully controlled environment - could statistically prove the existence of clairvoyance.

    Bottom line:
    We're just as smart as before.

  • Not really Psychic (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wisnoskij (1206448) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @08:43AM (#39388279) Homepage

    "retroactive facilitation of recall’, which examines whether performance on a memory test can be influenced by a post-test exercise."

    All they are testing is pre-cognition, aka time travel of the mind, and really the least likely psychic power to exist. The ability to do this would pretty much break science.

  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Saturday March 17, 2012 @08:50AM (#39388319) Homepage

    This is the really interesting (and shocking) bit of the story. One has to wonder how much real understanding of the scientific method the editors of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology really have. If they don't understand the value of independent replication - then what are they publishing ? Interesting anecdotes ?

  • by UnknownSoldier (67820) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @10:30AM (#39388943)

    > they turn all pseudo-skeptic and quote James Randi chapter and verse
    FTFY. James Randi is a pseudo-skeptic -- he can't apply his skepticism towards his own skepticism.
    See: http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/Page30.htm#RealSkeptics [debunkingskeptics.com]

    > there's no such thing as spirits, ghosts, gods, reincarnation or afterlife?
    WRT the afterlife, the only people you should talk to IMHO are people who have been declared clinically dead, and yet "awoke" 30 mins, 1 hr later. etc. Because unless you have been dead, you have _zero_ experience. Who would you rather learn from? Somebody who went through an "interesting experience" or someone who has no frame of reference or knowledge about a topic yet pretends to?

    WRT reincarnation, the evidence is still controversial (i.e. as in, it goes against my belief system so I can't accept it.) It would be best to read the evidence for yourself and make your own mind up, instead of letting other people dictate what they _think_ is correct.

    http://www.squidoo.com/the-best-reincarnation-books [squidoo.com]
    http://letusponder.hubpages.com/hub/10-books-about-Reincarnation [hubpages.com]

    1. Children's Past Lives: How Past Life Memories Affect Your Child, by Carol Bowman
    2. Many Lives Many Masters, Brian Weiss
    3. You Have Been Here Before: A Psychologist Looks at Past Lives, Dr. Edith Fiore
    4. Children Who Remember, Dr. Ian Stevenson
    5. Past Lives, Future Lives, Dick Sutphen
    6. Reliving Past Lives, Helen Wambach
    7. Edgar Cayce's Story of Karma, Mary Ann Woodward
    8. Mass Dreams of the Future, Chet Snow
    9. Reincarnation, Sylvia Cranston and Carey Williams
    10. Journey of Souls: Case Studies of Life Between Lives, by Michael Duff Newton

    Best of luck in your journey!

  • Re:in my minds eye (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Saturday March 17, 2012 @11:22AM (#39389313) Journal

    All I know is my grandma had precog three times in her life. the first time she begged my mom not to go riding with these other kids as something bad would happen, she and the other kids blew her off and an hour later the car was nearly cut in half when a drunk slammed them into a semi. luckily nobody died but the injuries were severe and they spent a good 6 months in the hospital. 6 years later again she begs them not to go, 3 of them including my mom refuse to go and the car they were supposed to be in blew a tire going around a steep curve, 3 dead and 1 mangled including the driver decapitated and finally the last time it happened she called my cousin's mom and begged her not to let her son out which by that time everyone had heard what happened when she said "don't go" so naturally she told her son he wasn't going anywhere and why but Mike thought she was full of shit and snuck out with his buddies to go on a beer run. They were missing for 4 days before someone finally found the wreck, they had been using a seldom traveled on back road they weren't real familiar with and missed a curve. the driver was cut in half, the guy in the back seat was throw so hard against the ceiling he snapped his neck, the guy in the front passenger had his left arm sliced off below the elbow and had bled to death trying to crawl up the embankment and finally my cousin was thrown through the window and pinned under the front of the car where the pressure against his lower abdomen was so great his kidneys and lower intestines basically died for lack of blood, he lived 3 days before finally succumbing to organ failure.

    So all I know is if one of the females in my family (it was always the females that got "those feelings" never the males) called and said "I have a bad feeling, you shouldn't go out" my ass is staying parked friend.

  • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @01:52PM (#39390223) Journal

    That a single study showing positive results for ESP was flawed in some way, is a natural starting position.

    Ah, but Bem's 2011 paper [dbem.ws] was not flawed at all. He successfully and convincingly demonstrated his lack of understanding [wikipedia.org] of statistical techniques and his ineptitude in application of said techniques. He also illustrated the failings of the peer review process [physicstoday.org] in minor fields. His incompetent attempt [csicop.org] at "validation" of ESP was the most persuasive evidence of all, in fact.

    This overwhelming ignorance of statistics is prevalent throughout the social "sciences" and is almost as widespread in medical fields. Bem is not the first to misunderstand and misuse t-tests or to fail to distinguish exploratory and confirmatory [ejwagenmakers.com] analysis. Those in fundamentally innumerate fields should not play with numbers (especially using packaged statistical software) except under supervision of a qualified adult. They are emphatically not qualified [wikipedia.org] to certify themselves as competent in statistics or any other area outside their specialization.

  • Re:in my minds eye (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JoeMerchant (803320) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @05:41PM (#39391581) Homepage

    "Precog" is what most of your forebrain is doing most of the time, modeling, predicting, mostly guessing. Those of our ancestors who were best able to use their powers of prediction to successfully reproduce have been "genetically selected" against those who weren't as good.

    If there were a mechanism that truly allowed us to know, or guess with better than statistical odds, the outcome of events in the distant (2 seconds or more) future, that would be an awesome advantage which should rapidly spread through any gene pool, unless the established social order burned them as witches or some-such all too believable tragedy.

    Maybe, like life itself, precog is just a very very rare alignment of complex chemical or maybe quantum phenomena... given the billions of years of evolution that have passed without it becoming prominent on Earth, I think the odds of it emerging during my lifetime are.... remote.

Often statistics are used as a drunken man uses lampposts -- for support rather than illumination.

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