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Old 12th October 2010, 09:04 AM   #1
Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
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Bem's latest experiments / Researcher says we can see the future

I thought folks might be interested in Daryl Bem's recent experiments, to be published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

http://dbem.ws/FeelingFuture.pdf

~~ Paul
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Old 12th October 2010, 08:58 PM   #2
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"The term psi denotes anomalous processes of information or energy transfer that are currently unexplained in terms of known physical or biological mechanisms. The term is purely descriptive; it neither implies that such phenomena are paranormal nor connotes anything about their underlying mechanisms."

I've predicted the future, nothing extraordinary about that! No need to discuss the hated word paranormal. It's not magic, it's a perfectly ordinary occurrence!!!

This guy has been taking obfuscation lessons from Rramjet. Apparently he was valedictorian in Rramjet's Obfuscation for Dummies Workshop.

Edit: Ahahaha, he takes an oblique potshot at ECREE on the bottom of page 2.
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Old 13th October 2010, 04:05 PM   #3
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"The term psi denotes anomalous processes of information or energy transfer that are currently unexplained in terms of known physical or biological mechanisms. The term is purely descriptive; it neither implies that such phenomena are paranormal nor connotes anything about their underlying mechanisms."

This is actually a fairly good definition of psi that doesn't beg the question.

The interesting thing about Bem's paper is that all the experiments are based on the same hypothesis: time-reversed information flow.

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Old 13th October 2010, 05:39 PM   #4
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Cannot ... resist ... posting ... this:

http://www.intuitiontester.com/Summary.html

~~ Paul
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Old 14th October 2010, 12:45 AM   #5
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Bem's work is impressive, and this looks to be a more solid demonstration of psi than the ganzfeld. But I do wonder about the lack of a control group. I know this is an old criticism but in a couple of these experiments, the subject is asked which of two mirror images they prefer (this choice is then "influenced" retro-actively by them subliminally seeing the computer's random choice).

But if the image is of, say, a person then the choice isn't random. Am I right in thinking that there was a study done that showed that people preferred pictures of people facing to the right? So the initial choice of the subject isn't random. So those occasions where the computer chooses the rightward option, you can't say “Ah, this is retro-causation making people choose this option” because that's what they've more likely to have chosen anyway. And while you'd expect that to even out to 50% of the time, I'd like to be sure that the experimenters knew about this effect and accounted for it. After all, we're looking at a difference of a couple of percentage points on that particular experiment. It'd be interesting to see how the figures were for those targets which otherwise would have been chosen less frequently.

This is link to an article that nicely summarises Bem's experiments

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/...chic-phenomena
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Old 14th October 2010, 02:23 AM   #6
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If it were true that people could indeed foresee future events, could this be explained within a materialistic worldview? What do you think?

(I know that this is probably a dumb question, but I'm very curious about this study. It looks rather solid in my opinion.)
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Old 14th October 2010, 02:30 AM   #7
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My hunch is that time is the joker in the pack. Both these and the pre-sentiment experiments deal with predictions of events in the very near future (less than a second), so perhaps "now" isn't as strictly defined as we think.
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Old 14th October 2010, 05:50 AM   #8
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It will be interesting to see how this is received among psychologists more generally. I agree that parapsychology research would benefit from a broader input from other fields, although I hope that they do not take him up on the proposal to repeat uncontrolled experiments, but rather consider improving the design.

However, even if non-artefactual, these experiments don't seem to have anything to do with what we think of as 'psi'. I realize that psi has now been defined in such a way as to incorporate these results, but it borders on bizarre to claim that the potentially tiny effect of a fuzziness in our perceptions on the order of milliseconds can be presumed to relate to claims of presentiment. It would make more sense to relate these experiments to those of Libet, I think.

Much about the presentation of this selection of experiments is the same as other experiments, so I admit to some tedium on reading through it. But there were several things I found interesting, so far. Bem (finally) raises the issue of the actual placement of targets instead of a theoretical randomness when it comes to analysis (as Ersby referred to above). He didn't go so far as to make this a preference in terms of analysis, apply this analysis to all the experiments, or to design experiments which would obviate this effect, but at least he recognized the issue. And one of his analyses even provided a reasonable accommodation for this effect. It did modify the effect by a small amount.

The other part I found interesting was the discussion section titled "The File Drawer". It is interesting to get a glimpse of the much larger collection of data from which this selection was culled, although it does give some hints as to the extent to which statistical assumptions are violated.

However, for much of the experiments, Bem demonstrates that taking many measures and then dividing people into many different groups on the basis of those measures allows you to sometimes find 'statistically significant' differences in between group measures. He 'tests' some alternate explanations for those differences with varying success and leaves it at that. Residual 'unexplained' differences are meant to serve as confirmation of 'anomalous cognition', rather than simply a measure of the limits of his cleverness or of any interest by critics (i.e. the extent to which switching the burden of type I and type II errors helps us arrive at true results). As Ersby mentions, one wonders at the lack of control groups.

Linda
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Old 14th October 2010, 08:05 AM   #9
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I've not read the entire paper, but as for the first experiment color me unimpressed.

So they start with some images. Men test no better than chance. So, those numbers get thrown out. They change images. Men test better than chance. They keep those numbers. Other subgroups test worse than chance. Those numbers get tossed out.

It is trivial, given a large set of results with different possible sub-groupings, to find 'statistically relevant' results. Especially when you ignore non-relevant results and start the test over.

Now, of course that objection can be overcome if with this specific design researchers are able to duplicate the results over and over again. But, color me nonplussed. Things never move forward in PSI research, you always have some new experimental design, with a bunch of subgroups, playing around with the experimental design until you get 'statistically significant' results, at which point you stop, publish, and never revisit that experiment again.


This very paper is an example of that. Instead of all the hand-wringing analysis on how more trials would be good, but they have limited time and budget, on nine separate experiments, how about 9 runs of a single experiment?



And how about that discussion? More splitting into subgroups: proponent vs skeptic; extravert vs intravert. Hand waving away studies that don't replicate the results. Hand waving away the "pilot" studies which showed no effect. Claiming that too long sessions cause the effect to go away out of fatique or boredom (talk about assuming your conclusion). Bringing in quantum mechanics.

edit: sorry Linda, you raised the same points, didn't you?
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Old 14th October 2010, 08:32 AM   #10
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So let's say it's some sort of retrocausality. Do I need to see and react to the selected target? Or is it sufficient simply to select the target after I make my choice? Let's run one of the experiments without showing the subjects the selected target.

I'm not sure there can be an objection based on the target being displayed quickly after the subject makes her choice. In the first experiment, for example, the subject is staring at two blank curtains and then chooses one of them. Only after that is the target selected and displayed. Presumably there is no way the subject can see the target before making her choice.

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Old 14th October 2010, 08:35 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by roger
I've not read the entire paper, but as for the first experiment color me unimpressed.

So they start with some images. Men test no better than chance. So, those numbers get thrown out. They change images. Men test better than chance. They keep those numbers. Other subgroups test worse than chance. Those numbers get tossed out.
Where are you reading this, roger?

I agree with you that it's rather odd that all the supposedly time-consuming work was spread over many different kinds of experiments.

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Old 14th October 2010, 08:40 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by fls View Post
Much about the presentation of this selection of experiments is the same as other experiments, so I admit to some tedium on reading through it. But there were several things I found interesting, so far. Bem (finally) raises the issue of the actual placement of targets instead of a theoretical randomness when it comes to analysis (as Ersby referred to above). He didn't go so far as to make this a preference in terms of analysis, apply this analysis to all the experiments, or to design experiments which would obviate this effect, but at least he recognized the issue. And one of his analyses even provided a reasonable accommodation for this effect. It did modify the effect by a small amount.
The section you mention talks about the placement of left or right targets (unless there's another bit of the paper I missed), but not of the content of the target itself. There's an article on Google Books which describes what I was talking about...
http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=l...palmer&f=false
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Old 14th October 2010, 08:44 AM   #13
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Why did they use one-tailed tests? Wouldn't it be just as interesting if the subjects guessed significantly under the expected number?

It's also interesting to note that nonerotic but negative images did not produce any results. I guess the subjects realized that it was the erotic images that were important.

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Old 14th October 2010, 08:46 AM   #14
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Say, this would be perfect for an online experiment where you could recruit thousands of people. A little Java applet would do the trick.

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Old 14th October 2010, 08:47 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Paul C. Anagnostopoulos View Post
Where are you reading this, roger?

I agree with you that it's rather odd that all the supposedly time-consuming work was spread over many different kinds of experiments.

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Quote:
In our first retroactive experiment (Experiments 5, described below), women showed psi
effects to highly arousing stimuli but men did not. Because this appeared to have arisen from
men’s lower arousal to such stimuli, we introduced different erotic and negative pictures for men
and women in subsequent studies, including this one, using stronger and more explicit images
from Internet sites for the men
page 8
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Old 14th October 2010, 08:49 AM   #16
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I have a couple of earlier papers by Bem actually that looked highly impressive - I will withold comment till I have read this one, but as always I'm happy to look up references for people

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Old 14th October 2010, 09:20 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by roger
page 8
Ah yes, thanks. I was trying to find where that had been done in experiment 1.

So retrocausality requires that the future event be extremely emotional in order to affect the past event. I love the way he says "Because this appeared to have arisen from men's lower arousal ...". How the heck does he know that?

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Old 14th October 2010, 09:21 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Ersby View Post
The section you mention talks about the placement of left or right targets (unless there's another bit of the paper I missed), but not of the content of the target itself. There's an article on Google Books which describes what I was talking about...
http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=l...palmer&f=false
Weren't you referring to the second experiment?

ETA: Oh, I think you were objecting to "placement of target". That was sloppy wording on my part. I meant all ways in which targets were indicated, whether it was through placement or content or whatever.

Linda

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Old 14th October 2010, 11:25 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Paul C. Anagnostopoulos View Post
How the heck does he know that?
He's employing the scientific principle known as "making **** up".
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Old 14th October 2010, 11:42 AM   #20
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Paul says...

Quote:
I love the way he says "Because this appeared to have arisen from men's lower arousal ...". How the heck does he know that?
I thought everyone knew that men think about sex about 60 times a minute!

BTW, how's Skeptiko holding up without me?
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Old 14th October 2010, 01:11 PM   #21
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Fast Eddie! Welcome to the JREF forum. It's the usual stuff over there, except that I've noticed a distinct hush has fallen in the Haven. Perhaps they are bored with their New York Review of Each Other's Books.

~~ Paul
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Old 15th October 2010, 08:24 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by fls View Post
It will be interesting to see how this is received among psychologists more generally.
Yes, it will. My prediction is that they will take little notice of it. Not of lot of comments one way or the other.
Quote:
However, even if non-artefactual, these experiments don't seem to have anything to do with what we think of as 'psi'. I realize that psi has now been defined in such a way as to incorporate these results, but it borders on bizarre to claim that the potentially tiny effect of a fuzziness in our perceptions on the order of milliseconds can be presumed to relate to claims of presentiment.
When I was young, I used to hear adults around me talk about those silly scientists. Always telling them that something or other was bad for them. They would describe the scientists as giving a few mice tremendous overdoses of whatever they were testing to see if it would be toxic to humans. How stupid was that!

When I was older and learned more about science, I came to understand why they conducted those experiments that way. It wasn't stupid, it was actually quite well considered.

The way we measure and test things in the laboratory is quite different from what people might experience in the "real world". There are reasons for that. What we can reasonable measure is one of the constraints that experimenters must deal with.

Quote:
It would make more sense to relate these experiments to those of Libet, I think.
I agree. It might be interesting to concoct a hypothesis about it.

Originally Posted by Ersby View Post
Bem's work is impressive, and this looks to be a more solid demonstration of psi than the ganzfeld. But I do wonder about the lack of a control group.
Actually, there are control groups with the last two experiments. Results are at about the same level of significance. The other experiments had control trials along with the experimental trials, so there was control data for each test subject. This was built into the test statistic.
Quote:
But if the image is of, say, a person then the choice isn't random. Am I right in thinking that there was a study done that showed that people preferred pictures of people facing to the right? So the initial choice of the subject isn't random. So those occasions where the computer chooses the rightward option, you can't say “Ah, this is retro-causation making people choose this option” because that's what they've more likely to have chosen anyway. And while you'd expect that to even out to 50% of the time, I'd like to be sure that the experimenters knew about this effect and accounted for it. After all, we're looking at a difference of a couple of percentage points on that particular experiment. It'd be interesting to see how the figures were for those targets which otherwise would have been chosen less frequently.
He goes into quite a bit of detail about the randomization procedure. I didn't attempt to read through all of it, but if you are interested, detailed technical information appears to be available. The randomization seems well done to me although I'm not familiar with the actual algorithms he references. In addition, different randomization schemes were used with different experiments. They have gone to a good deal of trouble and thought on that part of the set up.

Originally Posted by Paul C. Anagnostopoulos View Post
Where are you reading this, roger?

I agree with you that it's rather odd that all the supposedly time-consuming work was spread over many different kinds of experiments.

~~ Paul
Actually, I would guess that these experiments were done sequentially. They all have a similar set up. The changes seem almost like tweaking to try to more precisely hone in on whatever it is that is showing up as significant in their experiments.

Originally Posted by Paul C. Anagnostopoulos View Post
Why did they use one-tailed tests? Wouldn't it be just as interesting if the subjects guessed significantly under the expected number?
Actually, they are explicit about which direction they expect the target hits to move in and why. There are some test situations where they are looking for a negative move rather than a positive one. The one-tailed test is appropriate.
Quote:
It's also interesting to note that nonerotic but negative images did not produce any results. I guess the subjects realized that it was the erotic images that were important.
~~ Paul
I would guess the experimenter realized that erotic images were more likely to induce a predictable reaction. Incidently, the expected direction is negative for the erotic images. He expected it to produce fewer target hits and it did.

Originally Posted by Paul C. Anagnostopoulos View Post
Say, this would be perfect for an online experiment where you could recruit thousands of people. A little Java applet would do the trick.~~ Paul
Yes, that's quite true. It would be interesting to see what the results would be over such a large sample. Do you think it likely he will do so?
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Old 16th October 2010, 01:48 AM   #23
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My issue with a control group only really applies to the retroactive habituation experiments. These experiments ask the subject to chose which of two mirror images they prefer, but there isn't a 50:50 chance that they'll chose either one because certain compositions are generally considered more "pleasing" (see the link in my last post). So my issue isn't with the randomisation process either, but with a concern that the RNG chose those targets which would've been picked whether retroactive habituation was occuring or not. To be sure, a control group could've been run.

I've attached a picture to illustrate my point. It's simplistic, but I hope it gets my point across. If the randomly chosen left/right option (the red line) happened to coincide with a certain characteristic of the target (for example, facing right), then a baseline 50:50 chance can't be assumed.

I hope that's clear, anyway.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg facing.jpg (88.7 KB, 12 views)
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Old 16th October 2010, 05:28 AM   #24
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Has Bem somehow controlled for micro-PK on the random number generators?

~~ Paul
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Old 16th October 2010, 05:46 AM   #25
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Does anyone want to hazard a guess as to what's happening? Has psi research finally steered itself toward something with a physical basis: retrocausality? Could that explain the Ganzfeld, too?

~~ Paul
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Old 16th October 2010, 06:13 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Beth
Actually, I would guess that these experiments were done sequentially. They all have a similar set up. The changes seem almost like tweaking to try to more precisely hone in on whatever it is that is showing up as significant in their experiments.
But it seems like there are some obvious variants that weren't tested. For example, how about a series of trials where the subjects never see the targets? We would expect no results, right? Let's test that.

~~ Paul
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Old 16th October 2010, 06:13 AM   #27
fls
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Originally Posted by Paul C. Anagnostopoulos View Post
Has Bem somehow controlled for micro-PK on the random number generators?

~~ Paul
He starts discussing this at about page 12. Basically, he rules it out by pointing out that the results are similar using a pseudo-RNG or a RNG. And realistically, since the PEAR data showed that if an effect was present, it meant that one number was influenced for every 10,000 that were not, it can hardly be expected that this could make a difference in a run of 36.

Linda
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Old 16th October 2010, 06:19 AM   #28
fls
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Originally Posted by Paul C. Anagnostopoulos View Post
Does anyone want to hazard a guess as to what's happening? Has psi research finally steered itself toward something with a physical basis: retrocausality? Could that explain the Ganzfeld, too?

~~ Paul
These experiments don't seem to distinguish themselves from the way that 'positive' results have been obtained for decades of parapsychology research. At best, he may have steered himself out of psi and into some of the interesting discoveries of non-parapsychological researchers before him.

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Old 16th October 2010, 07:13 AM   #29
Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
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I started reading the paper carefully. I think it's quite interesting that in the first two experiments, all the effect is obtained from the subjects high in "stimulus seeking" and none of the effect from the others.

In experiment 1, I still don't understand why the erotic pictures should produce the effect but the nonerotic negative pictures should not. How did the subjects "know" which ones they should react to? Did the instructions clue them in? Are young college students not disturbed by negative pictures? What if Bem had decided that the negative pictures weren't negative enough and made them worse? (He changed the erotic images for men because he decided they weren't erotic enough.)

~~ Paul
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Old 16th October 2010, 07:28 AM   #30
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Quote:
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/...chic-phenomena
The results showed that people were quicker at categorizing photos when it was followed by a consistent prime. So not only will you categorize the kitten quicker when it is preceded by a good word, you will also categorize it quicker when it is followed by a good word. It was as if, while participants were categorizing the photo, their brain knew what word was coming next and this facilitated their decision.
How long before or after is the "prime"? Milliseconds? Minutes? Hours? Was this variable tested for? I tried to read the paper, but it is impenetrable to me for some reason. It seems like there are many obvious routes for follow up testing--before publication--that are just never considered. Why not use "neutral" primes (green, copper, under) in addition to "good" and "bad" ones. The references to "quantum" stuff in the article present a huge red flag for me, I'm afraid.

Quote:
Similarly, modern quantum physics has demonstrated that light particles seem to know what lies ahead of them and will adjust their behavior accordingly, even though the future event hasn't occurred yet.
Is this part of the paper's claims or just the rantings of the article's author?

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Old 18th October 2010, 05:07 AM   #31
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Consider experiment 1. The sequence of trials is:
  • subject selects a curtain; computer displays photo or blank behind curtain
  • subject selects a curtain; computer displays photo or blank behind curtain
  • ...
When I explained this to my wife she immediately said that the subjects might perceive the experiment as this:
  • subject selects a curtain
  • computer displays photo or blank behind curtain; subject selects a curtain
  • computer displays photo or blank behind curtain; subject selects a curtain
  • ...
I'd love to get the raw data and see whether there are correlations between the displayed photo/blank and the subject's next guess. I don't think it has any effect on the results, but it's interesting nonetheless.

I've asked Bem for the data.

~~ Paul
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Old 20th October 2010, 03:00 AM   #32
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Hey Guys,

Long time lurker, finally posting

I am planning on reading this article this week. However, reading all the posts above, I fear this paper will (how original) use quantummechanics as some sort of "paranormal explanation".

A long time ago I learned some things about quantummechanics. Particlewaves etc. Unfortionately it's been a while and I have to admit that, even though I realise that the "what the bleep" interpretation is wrong. I can not really understand why exactly it is wrong, nor what the right interpretation of quantummechanics is.

Can one of you maybe help me with a link to a page that is good at explaining the observation part in quantummechanics?
I did some searching myself but I only seem to run into paranormal explanations or very difficult ones.
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Old 20th October 2010, 04:07 AM   #33
fls
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Originally Posted by Paul C. Anagnostopoulos View Post
Consider experiment 1. The sequence of trials is:
  • subject selects a curtain; computer displays photo or blank behind curtain
  • subject selects a curtain; computer displays photo or blank behind curtain
  • ...
When I explained this to my wife she immediately said that the subjects might perceive the experiment as this:
  • subject selects a curtain
  • computer displays photo or blank behind curtain; subject selects a curtain
  • computer displays photo or blank behind curtain; subject selects a curtain
  • ...
I'd love to get the raw data and see whether there are correlations between the displayed photo/blank and the subject's next guess. I don't think it has any effect on the results, but it's interesting nonetheless.

I've asked Bem for the data.

~~ Paul
That a good point. It would be interesting to present the raw data on different kinds of experiments without any accompanying description of how the data was meant to be grouped (i.e. does this data point go with the one which precedes it or follows it?) and see if the kind of psi experiment they represent could be reliably identified.

Linda
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Old 20th October 2010, 04:27 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by Ersby View Post
My issue with a control group only really applies to the retroactive habituation experiments. These experiments ask the subject to chose which of two mirror images they prefer, but there isn't a 50:50 chance that they'll chose either one because certain compositions are generally considered more "pleasing" (see the link in my last post). So my issue isn't with the randomisation process either, but with a concern that the RNG chose those targets which would've been picked whether retroactive habituation was occuring or not. To be sure, a control group could've been run.

I've attached a picture to illustrate my point. It's simplistic, but I hope it gets my point across. If the randomly chosen left/right option (the red line) happened to coincide with a certain characteristic of the target (for example, facing right), then a baseline 50:50 chance can't be assumed.

I hope that's clear, anyway.
I'm sorry, but I still don't understand why you think this is different from what Bem mentioned and what I mentioned - that the random choice, by the computer, happens to coincide with the non-random choices of the subjects, through chance or through association with a characteristic which influences choice or whatever. I also don't understand why this applies to the retroactive habituation experiment and not the other experiments, so I must be missing something. Note, I couldn't open the book chapter you linked to earlier (it told me my page limit had been exceeded or that I wasn't authorized).

Linda
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Old 20th October 2010, 05:13 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by Fast Eddie B View Post
I thought everyone knew that men think about sex about 60 times a minute!
Nah, men only think about sex once a minute.

That thought lasts for 60 seconds.
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Old 20th October 2010, 05:41 AM   #36
Robin
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Originally Posted by Paul C. Anagnostopoulos View Post
Does anyone want to hazard a guess as to what's happening? Has psi research finally steered itself toward something with a physical basis: retrocausality? Could that explain the Ganzfeld, too?

~~ Paul
At this stage I couldn't hazard a guess. Unlike the presentiment experiments I cannot see an obvious artifact. Like you I would like to see the raw data.

I would also be interested in seeing the software design. Is the experiment really fully computer controlled, or does it have a facility for an experimenter to discard a trial due to an error?

They mention a participant's data being removed altogether because of a high number of errors, I wonder how errors in general were treated.
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Old 20th October 2010, 06:12 AM   #37
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Also, as Roger points out, he does seem to allude to a lot of fiddling with the experimental design during the conduct of the experiment.
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Old 20th October 2010, 07:22 AM   #38
Ersby
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Originally Posted by fls View Post
I'm sorry, but I still don't understand why you think this is different from what Bem mentioned and what I mentioned - that the random choice, by the computer, happens to coincide with the non-random choices of the subjects, through chance or through association with a characteristic which influences choice or whatever. I also don't understand why this applies to the retroactive habituation experiment and not the other experiments, so I must be missing something. Note, I couldn't open the book chapter you linked to earlier (it told me my page limit had been exceeded or that I wasn't authorized).

Linda
The issue I have with these two particular experiments is that there seems to be an assumption that of two mirror images, there's a 50-50 chance that someone will prefer either one. But this isn't the case, since (for example) people prefer people facing right.

A snippet from the Google Books article:

Quote:
"The pattern of results we found [...] exhibits three important effects: a strong centre bias, a strong inward bias, and a weaker rightward bias"
(All original author's emphasis)

This isn't a fatal flaw, by any means, but I would like to know that this was taken into account.
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Old 20th October 2010, 08:29 AM   #39
Aepervius
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Originally Posted by squig View Post
Hey Guys,

Long time lurker, finally posting

I am planning on reading this article this week. However, reading all the posts above, I fear this paper will (how original) use quantummechanics as some sort of "paranormal explanation".

A long time ago I learned some things about quantummechanics. Particlewaves etc. Unfortionately it's been a while and I have to admit that, even though I realise that the "what the bleep" interpretation is wrong. I can not really understand why exactly it is wrong, nor what the right interpretation of quantummechanics is.

Can one of you maybe help me with a link to a page that is good at explaining the observation part in quantummechanics?
I did some searching myself but I only seem to run into paranormal explanations or very difficult ones.

Basically, QM is about elementary particle (and molecules & atoms) being modellable as a wave , and their property described through a wave function. An observation in the physical term, is an interraction with the wave which provocate a collapse and enable one to read eigen value of the particle observed, for example energy level.

I am really summarizing here, but all woo pretending that the observer effect enable us to dostuff as human, are dead wrong, as QM has a specific definition of observing (interraction), and when we "observe" as human we don't interract with what we observe in any meaningful way.

I recommend to look on wiki on QM to get the basics.
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Old 20th October 2010, 08:38 AM   #40
fls
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Originally Posted by Ersby View Post
The issue I have with these two particular experiments is that there seems to be an assumption that of two mirror images, there's a 50-50 chance that someone will prefer either one. But this isn't the case, since (for example) people prefer people facing right.

A snippet from the Google Books article:

(All original author's emphasis)

This isn't a fatal flaw, by any means, but I would like to know that this was taken into account.
Okay. Parapsychologists generally seem to consider that they has been taken into account. When asked this question, they refer to a justification offered by Jessica Utts that it theoretically should not materially alter the results. The simple explanation is that though you may prefer to choose the right-facing target, and may do so on every trial, you should still only be right about half the time, as a random selection of targets will ensure that a right-facing target will only be selected about half the time. Yes, the variation expected from random sampling means that this 50-50 proportion is only a general tendency and that you will see usually see something a bit different from 50-50 and occasionally a lot different from 50-50. But this variation, and the probability of obtaining random targets which are a lot different from 50-50 and coincide with the choice of target by the subject, can presumably be described by the same distribution obtained by random sampling. Parapsychologists seem to consider this sufficient to mostly fail to take your concerns into account, and to occasionally attempt to see if they can discover this effect on post hoc analysis (as Bem attempts in this paper).

Now, I'm not sure that even theoretically this would work. When I've tried to play with this idea, it looks like this alters the variation so that the variance would no longer be accurately described by, for example, the binomial distribution, meaning that statements about expected probabilities based on a binomial distribution would be inaccurate. I haven't fully explored this though, so I may be wrong. And it is of little importance compared to the much bigger problem that it turns out in practice that the distribution of 'randomly selected' targets seems to be markedly different from the expected distribution. The few times we have been given the data on the distribution of targets, that distribution has been markedly different from chance. So we already suspect that statistical tests based on random sampling won't give us valid answers, regardless of whether they could in theory.

Linda

Last edited by fls; 20th October 2010 at 08:40 AM.
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