ersby's critique of government RV research - what are the implications?

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Hello everyone, I'm new to the forum and this is my first post.

I joined PsienceQuest because I'm interested in remote viewing, as you can probably guess from my username. I'm thinking about trying to learn how to do it, but first want to see if I should have any real confidence that there's a "there there."

Though I've come across a lot of impressive RV research material, I've also read critical commentary from ersby that seems to do a very good job of poking holes in some of the "spectacular hit" operational RV cases associated with the US gov's STARGATE Project - a lot of examples of his critiques can be found here: https://ersby.blogspot.com/. (Another reason I joined is that I saw ersby is a member here, and I'm hoping he might be able to participate in this thread.) I'm really impressed with ersby's work because most content from psi skeptics that I find is careless and poorly argued, whereas his is thorough and well reasoned.

What I can't quite figure out, though, is whether what ersby has uncovered should cast doubt on the cumulative statistical evidence for RV. What I have in mind in particular here is summarized by Paul Smith in his doctoral dissertation, Is Physicalism "Really" True?, as follows:

>Nine years after the AAAS symposium, the classified program (now under nuclear physicist Dr. Edwin May – Targ had departed in 1982, and Puthoff in 1985) was directed by the Defense Intelligence Agency to publish a comprehensive review and summary of psychoenergetic6 research produced by the SRI laboratory from its official start on 1 October 1973 through 30 September 1988, the end of the Fiscal Year. The entire research effort over the program’s 15-year history amassed 25,449 trials conducted under a number of different protocols.7 According to May,

>>analysis indicates that the odds that our results are not due to simple statistical fluctuations alone are better than 2 X 1020 to 1 (i.e., 2 followed by 20 zeros). Using accepted criteria set forth in the standard behavioral sciences, we conclude that this constitutes convincing, if not conclusive evidence for the existence of psychoenergetic functioning. (May, et al, 1989, 2)

>Of these overall trials, 24,440 were evaluated remote viewing trials, 19,675 of which were relatively short-duration forced-choice type trials aimed at trying to use RV to reliably obtain alpha-numeric type information. These yielded statistical significance at p = 6.12 X 10-14 (but only a small effect size, as the task proved to be only very marginally successful). The 3,790 “search” trials (attempts to use RV to indicate hidden locations of objects or persons) were less significant (p = 4.53 X 10-3) but had an also relatively small effect size. However, the standard laboratory remote viewing trials (n = 966) demonstrated a robust effect size, and were very highly significant at p = 4.33 X 10-11.8 This was particularly the case for the subset of six experienced viewers who had long been affiliated with the SRI program (some of them retired military remote viewers). Their subset of 196 remote viewing trials showed a strong effect size and yielded significance at p = 3.49 X 10-8. (May, et al, 1989, 13)

Footnotes:

>6‘Psychoenergetics’ was a term borrowed from Soviet usage to denote the entire category of ostensible mental events typically attributed to ESP, psychokinesis, and related phenomena.

>7This number only includes the work done specifically at SRI-International and does not include several thousand more operational and informal experimental trials performed by the active duty military arm of the program at Fort George G. Meade, MD and at the Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity (AMSAA) at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, MD.

>8Nine operational intelligence-collection RV sessions (out of 106) were also conducted under sufficiently controlled circumstances as to be scientifically-admissible and statistically-analyzable. These nine were significant at p = 3.45 10-5, with a very strong effect size.

So it would seem that RV sessions for military intel work contributed very little to the dataset that Smith discusses. The direct relevance of the military RV cases that ersby has critiqued so extensively thus seems minimal. But naturally I wonder if the problems with that operational RV work suggest similar weaknesses in the other kinds of RV tests and experiments mentioned in the above-quoted material. This is what I don't yet have a clear answer to. Could anyone with knowledge of this area be so kind as to fill me in?
[-] The following 4 users Like RViewer88's post:
  • Ninshub, chuck, sbu, Laird
Hi @RViewer88, welcome to the forum.

Mostly, I'm the wrong person to reply here, as I'm probably less familiar with the data than you yourself are. Of course I've looked at this stuff in the past, but often in terms of short video presentations rather than detailed analysis.

What does interest me is this:
RViewer88 Wrote:I joined PsienceQuest because I'm interested in remote viewing, as you can probably guess from my username. I'm thinking about trying to learn how to do it, but first want to see if I should have any real confidence that there's a "there there."

It's always good to have anyone here who is willing to engage in any sort of practical activities in these areas. It reminds me a little bit of myself when I used to read about out-of-body-experiences. This is quite a number of years ago by now. There was no internet in those days, all I had was whatever could be found in books, usually borrowed from the library. The problem for me was, could I believe or trust what I was reading?

Well, my own answer on that topic, OOBEs was to attempt to learn how to do so myself. I really didn't expect anything, I was pretty sure that what I was reading was some sort of fiction or fantasy. But I did need to believe it was possible, or I could not even begin. I sometimes liken a lot of things in life to "wanting to learn to swim before getting in the water". There is only so far one can get in preparations. At a certain point it has to be put into practice. Only then does one begin to learn.

Well, those are my general musings, not directly related to your question. (By the way, yes out-of-body-experiences do happen, I found that out from my own first-hand attempts.)
(This post was last modified: 2021-07-29, 09:47 AM by Typoz.)
[-] The following 6 users Like Typoz's post:
  • Ninshub, RViewer88, chuck, Sciborg_S_Patel, sbu, Laird
Hi @RViewer88 - It really pleases me when people take their time to really understand the data rather than echoing other peoples conclusions. I hope you will find the answers you are looking for.
[-] The following 4 users Like sbu's post:
  • RViewer88, chuck, Typoz, Laird
Hello, RViewer88. Thanks for the kind words. I think the only real implication my work has is that remote viewing isn't good enough for gathering intelligence that's usable in military operations. And that's about it.

As for the statistics, that's a completely different (and quite boring) argument. Especially in this case where the studies themselves are unavailable, have not been peer-reviewed and the statistical methods are not fully explained. You rightly point out that the military ops RV sessions from Fort Meade are absent from the statistical results, so I generally don't give these SRI experiments much thought.

But if you're to take the figures at face value, then it occurs to me that one potential factor is that subjects in lab experiments usually get feedback much sooner than viewers undertaking operational trials, who would not know about their target details (notwithstanding info given to them through the questioning during sessions) for months or even years. This may have an impact on psi-functioning, especially considering that the most successful recent psi paradigm of Precognition while measuring skin conductance concerns looking into the future of just a few seconds. I suspect that time is a major player in psi, but this is just a suspicion and I have scant details to back this up.
(This post was last modified: 2021-07-31, 04:29 PM by ersby.)
[-] The following 7 users Like ersby's post:
  • diverdown, sbu, Sciborg_S_Patel, RViewer88, chuck, Laird, Typoz
Thanks to everyone who has responded! And especially to ersby for clearing this up for me.

ersby: One thing I have to mention is that I'm really surprised to see that you're seemingly inclined to some degree to think psi is real. I wasn't expecting that in light of all the blog posts of yours I've read! Your idea about the possible temporal factor is intriguing.
[-] The following 3 users Like RViewer88's post:
  • Laird, Sciborg_S_Patel, Typoz
(2021-07-31, 04:26 PM)ersby Wrote: Hello, RViewer88. Thanks for the kind words. I think the only real implication my work has is that remote viewing isn't good enough for gathering intelligence that's usable in military operations. And that's about it.

As for the statistics, that's a completely different (and quite boring) argument. Especially in this case where the studies themselves are unavailable, have not been peer-reviewed and the statistical methods are not fully explained. You rightly point out that the military ops RV sessions from Fort Meade are absent from the statistical results, so I generally don't give these SRI experiments much thought.

But if you're to take the figures at face value, then it occurs to me that one potential factor is that subjects in lab experiments usually get feedback much sooner than viewers undertaking operational trials, who would not know about their target details (notwithstanding info given to them through the questioning during sessions) for months or even years. This may have an impact on psi-functioning, especially considering that the most successful recent psi paradigm of Precognition while measuring skin conductance concerns looking into the future of just a few seconds. I suspect that time is a major player in psi, but this is just a suspicion and I have scant details to back this up

Since you appeared Ersby, just thought I'd say that having just found out about it, I really like your blog XD Your criticisms are interesting and well read and you've got a lot of nice articles on there. Thanks to RViewer to posting it too.

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