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Old 10th September 2009, 12:31 PM   #441
Uncayimmy
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Originally Posted by Cuddles View Post
No, it's not just for the claimant to worry about. Under what circumstances does a 50% chance of success constitute "proper observing conditions"? If the JREF actually administered tests that even people with superpowers are likely to fail, they would be guilty of exactly the kind of rigging they are so often accused of.
I think you missed Steenkh's point. The MDC is not a test; it's a challenge. It's not a cooperative approach to research the paranormal; it's an adeversarial approach that says, "We are so confident that the paranormal won't be proven that we'll give you a million bucks if you can demonstrate it twice under proper conditions."

The tacit stipulation is that anybody wanting to take the Challenge needs to have their ducks in a row. They need to know what they're talking about (well, believe they do at least) and show us what they've got. The Challenge is not about helping people find out if there's something there. That's their problem. If the claimant is not confident enough to state a powerful ability, then come back some other time.

Pavel is a classic example. Assume his research indicates he can get the right answer 60% of the time when 50% is expected. As I said before, that means his ability is probably only working 5% to 10% of the time. If we take that at face value, it means that Pavel has no idea what he's doing. He has no clue which time his ability gives him the answer and which times it's just a guess, and far more often than not, he's just guessing.

If somebody really can do something like he describes just 10% of the time, then take a pass the other 90% of the time. Why should the JREF waste their time when Pavel, by his own admission, spends most of his time just guessing?

What Pavel needs to do is to learn how to distinguish between his "real" ability and guesses. When he can do that, his accuracy will go through the roof. He then needs to learn how to distinguish this ability quickly. Then, and only then, should he reapply for the Challenge. At that point the protocol will be pretty simple.

The same basic premise applies for anybody wanting to take the Challenge. The MDC isn't here to help you discover what your ability is and risk a million dollars in the process. It's not here to try to filter out ability from guessing. This is not a place to conduct research on your ability - that's your job. The MDC is here because you did your homework and are prepared to demonstrate your ability clearly and self-evidently.
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Old 10th September 2009, 04:11 PM   #442
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Originally Posted by UncaYimmy View Post
Pavel is a classic example. Assume his research indicates he can get the right answer 60% of the time when 50% is expected. As I said before, that means his ability is probably only working 5% to 10% of the time.
Which is 5% to 10% of the time more than the JREF thinks is possible.
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Old 10th September 2009, 08:47 PM   #443
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Originally Posted by Rodney View Post
Which is 5% to 10% of the time more than the JREF thinks is possible.
That's not accurate at all, and we've been over all of this before. In fact the JREF probably thinks it's very likely that a person testing himself with a limited number of trials would conclude that he gets 60% right on average.

To recap:

* Such a small effect is not going to be noticed in everyday life.

* In order to be confident that the 5% to %10 is not due to chance, you're going to need to do a lot of trials. Considering the first point, why would you do that?

* Just because something is unlikely not to be due to chance (it still could be chance - rare events are still events) does not mean that it is paranormal.

This last point is one you repeatedly fail to grasp. A small effect that is statistically unlikely is merely something that needs further research. It may be explained by something as simple as a flaw in the randomization process or a failure of the controls to weed out clues or other normal methods of doing whatever "it" is. A small effect is not grounds for a paranormal claim by any stretch of the imagination except for those who desperately want to believe.

Beside, what good is an ability that only works 10% of the time and you never actually know if it's working or not until afterwards? Certainly not $1M.
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Old 10th September 2009, 09:00 PM   #444
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Originally Posted by UncaYimmy View Post
Beside, what good is an ability that only works 10% of the time and you never actually know if it's working or not until afterwards? Certainly not $1M.

I think you seriously underestimate the power of compound interest. Me...10% advantage...Vegas...good times!
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Old 10th September 2009, 09:15 PM   #445
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Originally Posted by jsfisher View Post
I think you seriously underestimate the power of compound interest. Me...10% advantage...Vegas...good times!
And when the casinos kick you out, Forex!
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Old 11th September 2009, 04:41 AM   #446
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Originally Posted by Pup View Post
And when the casinos kick you out, Forex!
At the risk of continuing a derail too far, if you were to stick to parimutuel wagering and games like poker where the house enjoys a fixed percentage regardless of the outcome, you be unlikely to be barred from the casino.
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Old 11th September 2009, 04:46 AM   #447
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EHocking
It would be interesting to see the JREF reaction to this protocol if I was to say, I CANNOT get more than 30 right out of 100 trials.
Mathematically they would have to accept it - but would they be satisfied that this "ability" is paranormal?
Originally Posted by Cuddles View Post
But that ability is identical to the one being claimed, not just mathematically but in practice as well.
While I think we're both agreeing that mathematically it is just as significant to be successful as to fail without the expected bounds of random chance, it is not the same as Pavel's application.

His claim is that he can successfully pick photos better than chance.

A statistically significant fail (i.e. fewer successes than the expected lowest score for a set of trials), while possibly interesting, does not constitute THIS application.

If, on the other hand the application was, say, "My Karma is so bad that I fail to pick the correct photo significantly worse than expected by random chance.", at least then you have a paranormal claim. A weak one, but a claim nonetheless.
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All you have to do is take the test but look at the picture that is not chosen and you've got more than 70 correct.
I think we're saying the same thing here, but to test the claim, you're looking at a success rate that is LESS than the lower bounds of random chance, so, still looking at the chosen photos, but testing for a success rate lower than 30 correct. In your scoring scheme, you are testing what the applicant DIDN'T do, rather than what they DID do (that is, be less successful than expected by random chance).

Flipside (and perhaps what you're really saying and I'm missing) is if an applicant's score is SO bad that it is worse than the bottom bounds of random chance, perhaps that is worth investigating as much as a success rate better than the top bounds?

But again, while interesting, if that is not the applicant's claim, it is not a win no matter how statistically interesting or improbable.
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Old 11th September 2009, 05:08 AM   #448
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Originally Posted by EHocking View Post
While I think we're both agreeing that mathematically it is just as significant to be successful as to fail without the expected bounds of random chance, it is not the same as Pavel's application.

His claim is that he can successfully pick photos better than chance.

A statistically significant fail (i.e. fewer successes than the expected lowest score for a set of trials), while possibly interesting, does not constitute THIS application.

If, on the other hand the application was, say, "My Karma is so bad that I fail to pick the correct photo significantly worse than expected by random chance.", at least then you have a paranormal claim. A weak one, but a claim nonetheless.
I think we're saying the same thing here, but to test the claim, you're looking at a success rate that is LESS than the lower bounds of random chance, so, still looking at the chosen photos, but testing for a success rate lower than 30 correct. In your scoring scheme, you are testing what the applicant DIDN'T do, rather than what they DID do (that is, be less successful than expected by random chance).

Flipside (and perhaps what you're really saying and I'm missing) is if an applicant's score is SO bad that it is worse than the bottom bounds of random chance, perhaps that is worth investigating as much as a success rate better than the top bounds?

But again, while interesting, if that is not the applicant's claim, it is not a win no matter how statistically interesting or improbable.
Parapsychologists 'count' the improbable losses as evidence of paranormal abilities. It's called 'psi-missing'. The idea is that people deliberately miss through shyness or fear. Then you have the 'experimenter effect' whereby the belief or lack of belief of the person running the experiment influences the results. A skeptic will get ordinary results from their subjects, while a non-skeptic will get extraordinary results. Except, of course, when they don't. All of these effects are testable and applicable to the MDC. The problem is that none of them can be specified beforehand, but rather show up in the results a posteriori. That is, if your results fall on the extremes of the normal curve (and remember, parapsychologists use an easier standard than is used in other scientific fields, as they usually use one-tailed testing), psi or psi-missing is present. If your results were ordinary and they can't be made to be extraordinary through sub-group analysis (a fairly easy task with enough heterogeneity), then they were performed in the presence of a skeptic. If after all that, they are still unremarkable, then a meta-analysis which includes poor quality studies (quality refers to the likelihood of producing the appearance of an effect when one is not present) so that a bias can be spread out over very large numbers and return p-values which dazzle you into not noticing effect sizes that represent not guessing one time in a hundred or a thousand or ten thousand, is supposed to persuade you that those people who used confirmation bias and informal observation to discover that they have amazing powers were really on to something.

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Old 11th September 2009, 05:37 AM   #449
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Originally Posted by UncaYimmy View Post
I think you missed Steenkh's point.
No, I understood his point perfectly.

Quote:
The MDC is not a test; it's a challenge. It's not a cooperative approach to research the paranormal; it's an adeversarial approach that says, "We are so confident that the paranormal won't be proven that we'll give you a million bucks if you can demonstrate it twice under proper conditions."
I know, I've said exactly the same thing many times. But you are certainly missing the point - the challenge does not exist in isolation, it is merely a tool for the JREF to promote skepticism. If you try to promote skepticism by saying "Look, if we test someone in a way such that they'd fail even if they genuinely have the ability the claim they would fail anyway.", all you do is reinforce all the preconceived notions of unfairness and denial that are generally ascribed to skeptics.

Yes, the challenge as a challenge is not cooperative research, but the challenge as a PR must be absolutely fair. An unfair test is far worse PR than no test at all.

Originally Posted by EHocking View Post
While I think we're both agreeing that mathematically it is just as significant to be successful as to fail without the expected bounds of random chance, it is not the same as Pavel's application.
No, my point is that it's not only identical mathematically, it is identical practically as well.

Quote:
I think we're saying the same thing here, but to test the claim, you're looking at a success rate that is LESS than the lower bounds of random chance, so, still looking at the chosen photos, but testing for a success rate lower than 30 correct. In your scoring scheme, you are testing what the applicant DIDN'T do, rather than what they DID do (that is, be less successful than expected by random chance).
There is no difference between what the applicant didn't do and what they did do. The applicant simply picks one envelope out of two. In one case you open the one he picks, in the other case you open the one he doesn't pick. The result is 70/100 correct both times. It's the same claim.

Of course, you could use a different protocol that would distinguish a low from a high success rate. If you have to pick the correct photo from five envelopes then there is a big difference between getting it correct and knowing it's one of the other four. But that wasn't the original question.
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Old 11th September 2009, 08:58 AM   #450
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Originally Posted by Rodney View Post
Not necessarily, if from the public's perspective, the ability is unspectacularly above what would be expected by chance. Pavel's proposed protocol calls for him to be correct in selecting one of two envelopes two-thirds of the time, when being correct one-half of the time would be expected by chance. If he can achieve that two-thirds percentage over hundreds of controlled trials, that would be overwhelming proof of the paranormal, but would hardly make for an exciting stage show. So, he would need to be able to translate his ability into something practical, such as correctly predicting two-thirds of the time a roulette wheel landing on red or black. However, it could be that his ability is so specialized that it would be difficult to turn it into a big moneymaker.
Unfortunately, this is also a constant refrain heard from woo-mongers the world over, and is sometimes used as an "excuse" for not taking the challenge. If an ability is "so specialized," perhaps it doesn't exist to begin with.


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Old 11th September 2009, 09:05 AM   #451
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Originally Posted by Garrette View Post
As has been mentioned in other threads at other times, this is not representative of the nature of such claims nor of Pavel's initial claim.

Pavel did not come here because he had an ability that was hard to parse from mundane guessing. He came here because--without doing any controlled tests on his own to verify it--he was convinced he had a spectacular ability. Not spectacular in the "stage show" sense, but spectacular in the sense it was obvious.

Yet again we are left picking at the margins because 67% is apparently too difficult. Since that is the case, how on earth did Pavel conclude he had this ability at all?

The MDC is not an investigative mechanism for claimants to discover if they have a claim or what the nature of their alleged abilities are.

It is a challenge for people who know their abilities to demonstrate it.

Pavel doesn't know what his ability is nor how it can be demonstrated. Why on earth, then, did he even apply?

JREF set itself up for a PR nightmare with this by accepting the undefined claim. If they had simply turned it down until Pavel had defined his claim, there would be no issue, but much like anyone who tries to go the extra mile, they got the black eye when they slammed into the brick wall at the end of it.
Totally agree. JREF should cease entertaining these types of challenges -- there's no meat on the bones, and there are far more entertaining science-fantasy, science-fiction, and downright weird claimants to swap words with, both here and in other parts of the net.


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Old 11th September 2009, 09:11 AM   #452
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Originally Posted by pavel_do View Post
Well what can I say.. Its easy for you so to say Bla-bla-bla.. and ask me why on earth I think I have it.. I HAVE it and why on earth u DONT I don't know, and why on earth you stating that i dont have it before proving me wrong??? I said that my results some times were lower... What do you want me to LIE?? Why on earth some one decided that it has to be always 100% hits...??
And re to casino and stage offer.. I explained about casino already many times.. reread posts if some one interested!
What can I say.. you don't believe in my ability.. You WOLCOME to test me, I will pay photos envelopes and tea... until you did not proved me wrong did not witnessed anything... STOP “making me guilty” so to say..

You just comfortable not giving a chance to anyone and yourself to think that world can e different from what you used to believe it is.
I don't have anything more to say, but if you don't believe in my gift.. YOU WELCOME TO DO TEST!
Pavel, it's not about us proving you wrong. It's not about the JREF proving you wrong. It's about you showing you have anything to talk about in the first place.

Your credibility quotient is rapidly approaching VfF's at the rate you're traveling.


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Old 11th September 2009, 02:13 PM   #453
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Originally Posted by Cuddles View Post
No, I understood his point perfectly.
No, you didn't. See below.

Quote:
I know, I've said exactly the same thing many times. But you are certainly missing the point - the challenge does not exist in isolation, it is merely a tool for the JREF to promote skepticism. If you try to promote skepticism by saying "Look, if we test someone in a way such that they'd fail even if they genuinely have the ability the claim they would fail anyway.", all you do is reinforce all the preconceived notions of unfairness and denial that are generally ascribed to skeptics.
See the word in bold? It's not a test. It's a challenge. How can you say you understand the point and then totally ignore it?

The JREF is promoting skepticism by saying, "You psychics, dowsers, clairvoyants and new agers keep telling us that science is wrong and that these beliefs of yours are real and we could see it if we'd only open our eyes. After all, people spend billions of dollars on this stuff. Fine. We'll give you a million bucks. All you have to do is demonstrate under scientific conditions that you can do what you say is so obvious. We're so confident that our eyes are open that we'll risk a million dollars on it."

When the claims shrink to the level of Pavel's claims (like with VFF and countless other woos), the message from the JREF is pretty clear. "You keep telling us that we can't see the elephant in our back yard, but when it comes time to prove this, it turns out we need to look for a striped mouse in a field of tall grass. Sorry, Charlie. Come back to us when you've got something worthy of a challenge. All you have is wishful thinking."

The MDC succeeds in many different ways. The most obvious way is when somebody makes a grand claim and suffers an epic fail. Another obvious way is when the Sylvia Brownes of the world hide from the challenge.

A less obvious form of success, which is what you are missing, is when grand claims wither away to or are exposed to be little or nothing when faced with a strong challenge. This is an important lesson people need to learn. Everything that Pavel has told us (and VFF for that matter), if relayed with 100% truthfulness and accuracy, does not warrant any further investigation. It's not worthy of a challenge.

The message is, "Come back to us when you've got something worthy of a challenge." This is a good thing. Indulging the whims of someone like Pavel is a waste of time and effort once it's been made clear that he's got bupkis. Let him waste the time of paranormal investigators who want to believe there's something there.
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Old 11th September 2009, 03:12 PM   #454
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Originally Posted by UncaYimmy View Post
The message is, "Come back to us when you've got something worthy of a challenge."
UncaYimmy, how do you know what the message is? All I've seen is a cryptic, one-line message from Randi. I have no idea what JREF's objection is.

(I shouldn't be picking on UncaYimmy, I know. he's just stating clearly what a number of others have hinted at. Sorry.)

Pavel submitted a protocol that, over both the preliminary and final test, has a one in a million chance of success absent a paranormal ability. He met the stated requirements for positive evidence of an ability: an academic affidavit and a media presence.

Now I understand that JREF doesn't have a rigid set of rules for what they regard as testable. There are a few things ruled out from the get go--everything else follows the "whatever Randi says" rule. Personally, I think this is the way it should be.

But whatever weaknesses Pavel's claim may have, they haven't changed in a long time. Simple courtesy would suggest that someone at JREF should have told Pavel long ago that his protocol is unlikely to fly because JREF doesn't want to run a test unless the challenger has a likely chance to succeed if the claim is valid, or because they don't want to run a test longer than an hour except for a celebrity, or because JREF finds the claim boring, or whatever...

Under the circumstances, JREF should offer a serious, public explanation of their problem with Pavel's protocol.
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Old 11th September 2009, 03:50 PM   #455
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Originally Posted by Startz View Post
UncaYimmy, how do you know what the message is? All I've seen is a cryptic, one-line message from Randi. I have no idea what JREF's objection is.

(I shouldn't be picking on UncaYimmy, I know. he's just stating clearly what a number of others have hinted at. Sorry.)
No apology required. I didn't take it personally. I'd say the meta-message comes from the fact that there was a take it or leave suggestion that would only be accepted by somebody who believed they had a powerful ability.

Quote:
Pavel submitted a protocol that, over both the preliminary and final test, has a one in a million chance of success absent a paranormal ability. He met the stated requirements for positive evidence of an ability: an academic affidavit and a media presence.
That protocol is more complicated than a government procurement contract! Pavel was warned a long time ago that the protocol was becoming too complex. I'm surprised they even entertained it for as long as they did.

Quote:
Under the circumstances, JREF should offer a serious, public explanation of their problem with Pavel's protocol.
Randi said, "Suggest that he merely identify for us which of two photos are in an envelope, 20 times. We cannot satisfy each and every whim, and it's too expensive."

To me that's a classic "put up or shut up" response to someone who is claiming in effect, "As best as I can tell my ability only works maybe 10% of the time, but 100% of the time I have no idea if it's working or not."

What Pavel needs to do (are you paying attention, Rodney?) is to figure out when he actually knows that he's right. That's how science works. If there's an ability there, I would say there's gotta be something different going on compared to when he's wrong. If he can learn to distinguish this, then he could ace 20 trials without a problem. That's what Pavel should take away from this experience.

I do wish that Pavel would post here what the university said that he demonstrated.
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Old 11th September 2009, 06:29 PM   #456
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Originally Posted by UncaYimmy View Post
What Pavel needs to do (are you paying attention, Rodney?) is to figure out when he actually knows that he's right. That's how science works. If there's an ability there, I would say there's gotta be something different going on compared to when he's wrong. If he can learn to distinguish this, then he could ace 20 trials without a problem. That's what Pavel should take away from this experience.
What you're saying contradicts everything we know about human performance. A golfer may make a hole-in-one and then spend the rest of his/her life trying to replicate that feat without ever making another.
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Old 11th September 2009, 07:10 PM   #457
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Originally Posted by Rodney View Post
What you're saying contradicts everything we know about human performance. A golfer may make a hole-in-one and then spend the rest of his/her life trying to replicate that feat without ever making another.

That you'd equate Pavel's claimed ability to getting a hole in one in golf fascinates me.
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Old 11th September 2009, 09:39 PM   #458
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Originally Posted by Rodney View Post
What you're saying contradicts everything we know about human performance. A golfer may make a hole-in-one and then spend the rest of his/her life trying to replicate that feat without ever making another.
What a bunch of nonsense. Seriously, that's just ridiculous.

What I described is exactly what humans do from the time they are babies. A baby does something and something else happens. Lather, rinse, repeat. That's how they figure out how the world works. Take a little kid swinging a golf club for the first time. He has little idea of where the ball is going to end up. When it ends up where he wants it to go, he tries to figure out what he did to get it there. When it doesn't go where he wants it to go, he tries to figure out why it did. Lather, rinse, repeat and you're Tiger Woods.

Hell, even rats figure out after a while that the cheese doesn't just magically appear at random. The rat needs to do something specific to make the cheese appear. After a while he knows that if pushes the blue lever he gets fed. Sure, his physical coordination may prevent him from properly pushing the lever 100% of the time, but you can rest assured that the rat is not the least bit surprised that if it only pushes it down halfway, no cheese comes out.

The hole in one analogy is pathetic on so many levels I really don't even want to address it.

Last edited by Uncayimmy; 11th September 2009 at 11:18 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 12th September 2009, 08:53 AM   #459
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Originally Posted by Rodney View Post
What you're saying contradicts everything we know about human performance. A golfer may make a hole-in-one and then spend the rest of his/her life trying to replicate that feat without ever making another.

Is the golfer claiming a paranormal ability?


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Old 12th September 2009, 11:48 AM   #460
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Originally Posted by UncaYimmy View Post
Lather, rinse, repeat and you're Tiger Woods.
Is Tiger Woods' performance the same from day to day or does it vary?
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Old 12th September 2009, 12:13 PM   #461
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Originally Posted by Rodney View Post
Is Tiger Woods' performance the same from day to day or does it vary?
Certainly it varies, but it is consistently abouve random. To prove he has an ability at golf he should be tested against a standard which represents random. I humbly volunteer for this post. I've tried golf (once) and my performance can be accurately described as random.

Robert
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Old 13th September 2009, 04:04 AM   #462
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Originally Posted by Rodney View Post
Is Tiger Woods' performance the same from day to day or does it vary?
Are you claiming that Pavel's abilities are as rare as Tiger Woods making a hole-in-one?

Curiously, we think you are right: Pavel probably can only manage to get his 64% right as often as Tiger Woods can manage a hole-in-one. This is consistent with the view that Pavel does not have any special abilities.
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Old 13th September 2009, 05:50 AM   #463
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Originally Posted by steenkh View Post
Are you claiming that Pavel's abilities are as rare as Tiger Woods making a hole-in-one?

Curiously, we think you are right: Pavel probably can only manage to get his 64% right as often as Tiger Woods can manage a hole-in-one. This is consistent with the view that Pavel does not have any special abilities.
You've missed the point in spectacular fashion. UncaYimmy stated: "What Pavel needs to do (are you paying attention, Rodney?) is to figure out when he actually knows that he's right. That's how science works. If there's an ability there, I would say there's gotta be something different going on compared to when he's wrong. If he can learn to distinguish this, then he could ace 20 trials without a problem . . . Take a little kid swinging a golf club for the first time. He has little idea of where the ball is going to end up. When it ends up where he wants it to go, he tries to figure out what he did to get it there. When it doesn't go where he wants it to go, he tries to figure out why it did. Lather, rinse, repeat and you're Tiger Woods . . . "

The problem is that, even now, after devoting his life to perfecting his golf game, Woods' performance varies dramatically from hole-to-hole. So why should we expect that Pavel "could ace 20 trials without a problem"?
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Old 13th September 2009, 06:04 AM   #464
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Originally Posted by Rodney View Post
You've missed the point in spectacular fashion. UncaYimmy stated: "What Pavel needs to do (are you paying attention, Rodney?) is to figure out when he actually knows that he's right. That's how science works. If there's an ability there, I would say there's gotta be something different going on compared to when he's wrong. If he can learn to distinguish this, then he could ace 20 trials without a problem . . . Take a little kid swinging a golf club for the first time. He has little idea of where the ball is going to end up. When it ends up where he wants it to go, he tries to figure out what he did to get it there. When it doesn't go where he wants it to go, he tries to figure out why it did. Lather, rinse, repeat and you're Tiger Woods . . . "

The problem is that, even now, after devoting his life to perfecting his golf game, Woods' performance varies dramatically from hole-to-hole. So why should we expect that Pavel "could ace 20 trials without a problem"?
We're not asking Pavel to play a game. That would be like asking him to go win money at a casino. We're setting up an artificial situation designed to make it as easy as possible for him to demonstrate his abilities by removing a lot of extraneous factors which could influence the results even though they have nothing to do with his ability. And we have reduced his claim to something very simple If we were doing the same for Tiger Woods, we would ask him to hit the same tee shot over and over and over again on the driving range in order to demonstrate that on average he could hit it much, much (much, much, much) further than I could. There is simply no question that regardless of even abnormal variation in his performance, he would be able to demonstrate his claim.

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Old 13th September 2009, 08:41 AM   #465
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Originally Posted by Rodney View Post
...
So why should we expect that Pavel "could ace 20 trials without a problem"?
We should expect that Pavel does what he tells us he can do. Once he gets around to actually do it.
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Old 14th September 2009, 12:05 AM   #466
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It looks to me like Pavel's superpower might be getting otherwise fairly reasonable skeptics to believe that he's not just yanking their chains. I remember well, two odd years ago, when Pavel posted his first message to all of us, his confidence in his ability to consistently, repeatedly predict some kind of stuff that normal people shouldn't be able to predict, his claims to have amazed and brought joy to innumerable masses the world over through his wonderous powers... Heady days, those.

Now, here we are two years later, and I keep seeing folks I typically regard as reasonable sticking up for this freaking, no-test-taking, no-suprepower-having loser, telling me how sincere and cuddly and earnest he is. Sweet love-crapping baby Jesus, two plus years of daily posting, and the dude's English hasn't even gotten appreciably better! (Though in all fairness, his English seems to be better than Edge's.)
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Old 14th September 2009, 06:30 AM   #467
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Originally Posted by UncaYimmy View Post
See the word in bold? It's not a test. It's a challenge. How can you say you understand the point and then totally ignore it?
Yeesh, you'd think someone with such poor understanding would spend less time trying to tell others they don't understand. Of course the challenge is a test. The challenge is "Pass this test that we both agree would require a paranormal ability to pass.". If there was no test, you'd really have to wonder why we spend so much time in this section discussing test protocols, and why the JREF spends even more time doing so with applicants.

If you can manage to get your head around that very simple concept, then perhaps you can then understand what my point actually was - trying to use a test that cannot show someone does not have paranormal abilities is a really, really stupid way of trying to show that that person does not have paranormal abilities. It is therefore extremely important for the JREF to ensure that a test is fair to an applicant by ensuring that there is a high probability of success should they actually possess the claimed ability.
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Old 14th September 2009, 06:35 AM   #468
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I realize that there is almost no interest in holding Randi and the MDC to the standards that they claim for themselves. I've always been in a ridiculed minority when I make these suggestions. It is clear that the Challenge is not about allowing people to demonstrate their claims, but rather about providing examples for our ridicule - partly for education, partly for group-bonding (my guesses). I am in the process of moving on from the idea of trying to persuade anyone to care to that of trying to get the JREF and Randi to be more upfront about this instead, in order to thwart criticism. I fully realize that this will be a futile effort as well. I also continue to tell people to quit smoking. The taciturn farmer who 10 years ago hugged me and told me I changed his life is what keeps me trying.

Linda
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Old 14th September 2009, 07:26 AM   #469
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Originally Posted by fls View Post
I realize that there is almost no interest in holding Randi and the MDC to the standards that they claim for themselves. I've always been in a ridiculed minority when I make these suggestions. It is clear that the Challenge is not about allowing people to demonstrate their claims, but rather about providing examples for our ridicule - partly for education, partly for group-bonding (my guesses). I am in the process of moving on from the idea of trying to persuade anyone to care to that of trying to get the JREF and Randi to be more upfront about this instead, in order to thwart criticism. I fully realize that this will be a futile effort as well. I also continue to tell people to quit smoking. The taciturn farmer who 10 years ago hugged me and told me I changed his life is what keeps me trying.

Linda
Interesting opinion. [CFLarsen]Evidence?[/CFLarsen]
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Old 14th September 2009, 11:34 AM   #470
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Originally Posted by Klimax View Post
Interesting opinion. [CFLarsen]Evidence?[/CFLarsen]
Fortunately for me, there isn't really evidence for this opinion, which is probably why, deep down, I continue to hope that it isn't true. These are the sorts of things which make it difficult for me to believe that it isn't true:

Randi's non-apologetic dismissal of those who were concerned when it was discovered that he had plagiarized one of the posts on this forum.
The consistent setting of claim standards at a level which would make it unlikely that the claimant would pass, even if they have the ability they claim to have.
Randi's unwillingness to accept an application when a preliminary test performed by a skeptic group returned results with a p-value less than 0.001.
A number of occasions when it seemed that applications were closed prematurely.
I haven't been able to read SWIFT for several years due to the level of derision.

Linda

Last edited by fls; 14th September 2009 at 11:36 AM. Reason: Added last line
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Old 14th September 2009, 05:03 PM   #471
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Originally Posted by fls View Post
I realize that there is almost no interest in holding Randi and the MDC to the standards that they claim for themselves. I've always been in a ridiculed minority when I make these suggestions. It is clear that the Challenge is not about allowing people to demonstrate their claims, but rather about providing examples for our ridicule - partly for education, partly for group-bonding (my guesses). I am in the process of moving on from the idea of trying to persuade anyone to care to that of trying to get the JREF and Randi to be more upfront about this instead, in order to thwart criticism. I fully realize that this will be a futile effort as well. I also continue to tell people to quit smoking. The taciturn farmer who 10 years ago hugged me and told me I changed his life is what keeps me trying.

Linda
I am with you, Linda. I have forgiven many minor breaches by Randi, when the targets basically deserved what they got, but this time I think he stepped over the line. Pavel was involved in negotiation in good faith, but then Randi cut him off at the knees. An organization that purports to espouse a rationalist view should be held to high standards.

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Old 14th September 2009, 09:16 PM   #472
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Originally Posted by fls View Post
Fortunately for me, there isn't really evidence for this opinion, which is probably why, deep down, I continue to hope that it isn't true. These are the sorts of things which make it difficult for me to believe that it isn't true:

Randi's non-apologetic dismissal of those who were concerned when it was discovered that he had plagiarized one of the posts on this forum.
The consistent setting of claim standards at a level which would make it unlikely that the claimant would pass, even if they have the ability they claim to have.
Randi's unwillingness to accept an application when a preliminary test performed by a skeptic group returned results with a p-value less than 0.001.
A number of occasions when it seemed that applications were closed prematurely.
I haven't been able to read SWIFT for several years due to the level of derision.

Linda
Thank you for your honesty, Linda.
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Old 15th September 2009, 12:37 AM   #473
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Originally Posted by Rodney View Post
You've missed the point in spectacular fashion.
Or you have missed my point!

Quote:
The problem is that, even now, after devoting his life to perfecting his golf game, Woods' performance varies dramatically from hole-to-hole. So why should we expect that Pavel "could ace 20 trials without a problem"?
Tiger Woods would not be able to consistently do better than a newbie? Surely, a test of Tiger Woods' abilities would not be based on the claim that he only makes hole-in-ones. And in the same way, a test of Pavel would not demand that he performs at peak efficiency, only that he performs better than average.

For Pavel this is a real problem if his peak efficiency is marginally better than average, because he must either make a claim that is difficult to distinguish from average results, or he must face a test where he has to be at peak performance.

The JREF is obsessed with keeping tests as simple as possible, and he will not get the go for tests that involve hundreds of trials, or which takes hours.
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Old 15th September 2009, 12:56 AM   #474
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Originally Posted by fls View Post
I realize that there is almost no interest in holding Randi and the MDC to the standards that they claim for themselves. I've always been in a ridiculed minority when I make these suggestions.
Really? I find it hard to believe that your opinions are ever ridiculed!

Quote:
It is clear that the Challenge is not about allowing people to demonstrate their claims, but rather about providing examples for our ridicule - partly for education, partly for group-bonding (my guesses).
Has Randi not always been frank about the aims of the MDC? His main interest has always been to expose frauds, and he has often written about his disappointment with the MDC not being the weapon he had hoped for when targeting high profile con artists like Sylvia Browne. He obviously thought that the media would ridicule people like her and Uri Geller for not accepting the Challenge, but instead the media has accepted their silence or their arguments for not taking it (like recently when John Edwards was able to dismiss the Challenge because it was run by a man called "Amazing", and got away with it).

Instead, the MDC has devolved into something that tests the small fry that Randi regards as unimportant. A few years ago, the demand for media presence was added to the Challenge rules, and this was a new attempt to focus on the higher profiled claimants, but the quality of the applicants did not go up, and Randi wanted to close down the MDC.

As we all know, the skeptic community has prodded the JREF to resume the MDC, because the MDC has the qualities that you mention, the serious minded of us use it for educational purpose, some use it to ridicule the applicants, and generally we use it for group-bonding on this forum. But clearly, this was not what Randi had in mind, and I often get the feeling that he just wants to dismiss all the small fry applications that to him is a waste of time.

I think this is what happened to Pavel, who is simply not important enough in Randi's eyes, and the unfortunately got dismissed after a lengthy negotiation phase that just did not seem to go anywhere, particularly to someone like Randi who has not been following the negotiations closely.
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Old 15th September 2009, 03:25 AM   #475
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Originally Posted by fls View Post
...
Randi's non-apologetic dismissal of those who were concerned when it was discovered that he had plagiarized one of the posts on this forum.
The consistent setting of claim standards at a level which would make it unlikely that the claimant would pass, even if they have the ability they claim to have.
...
Linda
Links? I had to miss it. (I read it for a year and half(with several months gap and last month I didn't again,so I could miss it very easily.)
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Old 15th September 2009, 04:16 AM   #476
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Originally Posted by Klimax View Post
Links? I had to miss it. (I read it for a year and half(with several months gap and last month I didn't again,so I could miss it very easily.)
http://www.internationalskeptics.com...ad.php?t=73944

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Old 15th September 2009, 04:50 AM   #477
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Originally Posted by steenkh View Post
Has Randi not always been frank about the aims of the MDC? His main interest has always been to expose frauds, and he has often written about his disappointment with the MDC not being the weapon he had hoped for when targeting high profile con artists like Sylvia Browne. He obviously thought that the media would ridicule people like her and Uri Geller for not accepting the Challenge, but instead the media has accepted their silence or their arguments for not taking it (like recently when John Edwards was able to dismiss the Challenge because it was run by a man called "Amazing", and got away with it).
I agree. The 'televised to a general public' type of challenges serve a useful purpose along the lines of what Randi intended for the Challenge. You will notice that we aren't involved in those protocol negotiations. We get involved in the endless parade of naive unknowns.

Quote:
Instead, the MDC has devolved into something that tests the small fry that Randi regards as unimportant.
Exactly. And why has Randi allowed that? I'd be happy to buy the excuses that it just sort of happened and that Randi doesn't have sufficient control to form the MDC into what it should be. I just wish that my confidence that this was really the case didn't have to depend solely upon the word of someone who on numerous occasions has given me false information. My skepticism is not something that I can just turn off when faced with my own wishful thinking.

Quote:
A few years ago, the demand for media presence was added to the Challenge rules, and this was a new attempt to focus on the higher profiled claimants, but the quality of the applicants did not go up, and Randi wanted to close down the MDC.

As we all know, the skeptic community has prodded the JREF to resume the MDC, because the MDC has the qualities that you mention, the serious minded of us use it for educational purpose, some use it to ridicule the applicants, and generally we use it for group-bonding on this forum. But clearly, this was not what Randi had in mind, and I often get the feeling that he just wants to dismiss all the small fry applications that to him is a waste of time.
This is the part where a little transparency would go a long way.

Quote:
I think this is what happened to Pavel, who is simply not important enough in Randi's eyes, and the unfortunately got dismissed after a lengthy negotiation phase that just did not seem to go anywhere, particularly to someone like Randi who has not been following the negotiations closely.
Since I said the same thing several pages ago, I must agree.

Linda
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Old 15th September 2009, 04:57 AM   #478
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Originally Posted by fls View Post
Parapsychologists 'count' the improbable losses as evidence of paranormal abilities. It's called 'psi-missing'.
Sorry about the slow response.

I am totally with where you and Cuddels are coming from on the the probability missing being just as important as the probability of succeeding in any sort of trial. And it may well be an interesting follow up study to an MDC failure.

My point is, though, that the MDC is not a parapsychologist's study - it is a Paranormal Challenge. The only thing that is being tested (or should be tested, I should say) is the Applicant's claim. Now if, as in this case, the applicant's claimed success rate cannot be shown to be significantly better than random chance, I don't think that there's much more discussion needed by JREF on the MDC and the Applicant should try to ply his trade with a parapsychologist instead, perhaps.
Quote:
The idea is that people deliberately miss through shyness or fear. Then you have the 'experimenter effect' whereby the belief or lack of belief of the person running the experiment influences the results.
I personally feel that these are just lame excuses by people that know that they cannot demonstrate any paranormal skills despite their brave boasting. I admit that this is a slightly peeving opinion based on observing such boasting for years on usenet and other forums including this one.
Quote:
A skeptic will get ordinary results from their subjects, while a non-skeptic will get extraordinary results. Except, of course, when they don't. All of these effects are testable and applicable to the MDC. The problem is that none of them can be specified beforehand, but rather show up in the results a posteriori.
I disagree here, because this is not the nature of the MDC. While, yes, these *could* be tested by protocols designed for the MDC, the MDC is not a parapsychology study - it is merely a challenge for boasters to put up or shut up.
Quote:
That is, if your results fall on the extremes of the normal curve (and remember, parapsychologists use an easier standard than is used in other scientific fields, as they usually use one-tailed testing), psi or psi-missing is present. If your results were ordinary and they can't be made to be extraordinary through sub-group analysis (a fairly easy task with enough heterogeneity), then they were performed in the presence of a skeptic. If after all that, they are still unremarkable, then a meta-analysis which includes poor quality studies (quality refers to the likelihood of producing the appearance of an effect when one is not present) so that a bias can be spread out over very large numbers and return p-values which dazzle you into not noticing effect sizes that represent not guessing one time in a hundred or a thousand or ten thousand, is supposed to persuade you that those people who used confirmation bias and informal observation to discover that they have amazing powers were really on to something.

Linda
But again, it is not the purpose of the MDC to be a parapsychologist study or metastudy, it is a Challenge only. While the one of the aims of the JREF is to support and conduct research into the paranormal, it is not the aim of the MDC.

From the above link, "About the Foundation";
Quote:
To raise public awareness of these issues, the Foundation offers a $1,000,000 prize to any person or persons who can demonstrate any psychic, supernatural or paranormal ability of any kind under mutually agreed upon scientific conditions.
It's pretty unequivocal as far as I can see. I don't believe that I'm entering into semantics or attempting to split hairs, I just don't see anywhere that the MDC purports to be anything but a Challenge. IF an applicant was sufficiently educated to propose in an Application the conditions, results and conclusions you outline above, I agree that the MDC *could* and should test such a claim, but the fact is that no one has opted for this approach as they inevitably boast only of great and significant successes, then backpedal when challenged with excuses about the skill not being consistent, often with the "excuses" you outlined above.

I put together a spreadsheet of all the claims to date (ok a year out of date) in an attempt to statistically analyse the types of applications and their relative success in getting tested. If I can find some time it may prove interesting to review those 8 or so tests to see if there are any failures that fall into the lower end of probability that we're talking about.

ETA: Cuddles, I hope the above addresses your last response to my post as well? I'm sure you'll point it out if it does not.
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Old 15th September 2009, 05:33 AM   #479
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I'm sorry. The satirical component to my post was more subtle than I realized so that you didn't realize that we were in agreement. My answers below are intended to clarify this.

Originally Posted by EHocking View Post
Sorry about the slow response.

I am totally with where you and Cuddels are coming from on the the probability missing being just as important as the probability of succeeding in any sort of trial. And it may well be an interesting follow up study to an MDC failure.

My point is, though, that the MDC is not a parapsychologist's study - it is a Paranormal Challenge. The only thing that is being tested (or should be tested, I should say) is the Applicant's claim. Now if, as in this case, the applicant's claimed success rate cannot be shown to be significantly better than random chance, I don't think that there's much more discussion needed by JREF on the MDC and the Applicant should try to ply his trade with a parapsychologist instead, perhaps.

I personally feel that these are just lame excuses by people that know that they cannot demonstrate any paranormal skills despite their brave boasting. I admit that this is a slightly peeving opinion based on observing such boasting for years on usenet and other forums including this one.
Yes. In a normal field of study, a researcher who tried to claim that any and all results - positive, negative, and indifferent - provided support for their idea would be ridiculed. In parapsychology, it seems to be SOP.

Quote:
I disagree here, because this is not the nature of the MDC. While, yes, these *could* be tested by protocols designed for the MDC, the MDC is not a parapsychology study - it is merely a challenge for boasters to put up or shut up. But again, it is not the purpose of the MDC to be a parapsychologist study or metastudy, it is a Challenge only. While the one of the aims of the JREF is to support and conduct research into the paranormal, it is not the aim of the MDC.
I agree. My point was only that all of these *could* be tested by protocols designed for the MDC - nothing precludes them from the MDC a priori.

Quote:
From the above link, "About the Foundation";
It's pretty unequivocal as far as I can see. I don't believe that I'm entering into semantics or attempting to split hairs, I just don't see anywhere that the MDC purports to be anything but a Challenge. IF an applicant was sufficiently educated to propose in an Application the conditions, results and conclusions you outline above, I agree that the MDC *could* and should test such a claim, but the fact is that no one has opted for this approach as they inevitably boast only of great and significant successes, then backpedal when challenged with excuses about the skill not being consistent, often with the "excuses" you outlined above.
I agree - it was more of a rant about the believer's approach to systematic study generally than it was about the believer's approach to systematic study for the MDC.

Quote:
I put together a spreadsheet of all the claims to date (ok a year out of date) in an attempt to statistically analyse the types of applications and their relative success in getting tested. If I can find some time it may prove interesting to review those 8 or so tests to see if there are any failures that fall into the lower end of probability that we're talking about.
Going on my own recollection, we haven't seen anyone come close here. If there was a pattern whereby people were coming close, but just missing, that would be a very different discussion. I wouldn't be here, for one, because that would be sufficient evidence for me to realize that the JREF's actions were intentional and I would be too disgusted to stay.

Linda
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Old 15th September 2009, 06:19 AM   #480
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Originally Posted by fls View Post
I'm sorry. The satirical component to my post was more subtle than I realized so that you didn't realize that we were in agreement. My answers below are intended to clarify this.
Waaayyy to subtle, obviously!
Quote:
...Going on my own recollection, we haven't seen anyone come close here. If there was a pattern whereby people were coming close, but just missing, that would be a very different discussion. I wouldn't be here, for one, because that would be sufficient evidence for me to realize that the JREF's actions were intentional and I would be too disgusted to stay.

Linda
A quick list of those tested that may be interesting to chase up and check the results (I may be missing one or two in the 12 months before Connie Sonne, I haven't updated my spreadsheet for a year).

I can't recall anyone here objecting violently to the targets set, and most of them have so few "trials" in the test, that I don't think the lower, "expected failure" probability actually comes in to play, regardless of results. Numbers in brackets are number of trials proposed for their test.

ACHAU NGUYEN, Hawaiian Psychic (20)
Hans Peter Borer, Celfon + Pendulum = $1,000,000 (13)
DEJA GATEWARD & THE GSIC fiasco (binary)
ANGELA PATEL, UK Dowser of Lost Persons (3)
CAMERON JOHNSON, Carolina Moonshot (10)
YELLOW BAMBOO & "A.G. Donovan" (binary)
JIM DUNN, Hospital Angel (binary)
JAMES BLUNT, metal visionary (3)
CONNIE SONNE, dowser (3)

ETA: So on the subject of our discussion, Pavel's test could fall under this "failure" analysis if he only did 15 trials. A zero, would fall outside the laws of probability if the benchmark was 1:10,000 and (probably) only 0-1 correct if the benchmark was 1:1,000.
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Last edited by EHocking; 15th September 2009 at 06:24 AM.
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