Desperado mentioned this book on a thread in the Extended Consciousness forum. Andy Paquette and his dream studies were brought up as well. I have previously written on this idea, and criticized Andy's attempt at torturing probability on the Skeptiko forum (e.g. http://forum.mind-energy.net/forum/skept...post154713, http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/jr...#post-1222).

The problem is that most people identify "psi" by identifying improbable connections (hence the need for anomalous information). And most people intuitively estimate probability and are wildly off when they do so. A common mistake is to do what Andy did - estimate the probability of a specific connection post hoc, rather than estimating the probability of any connection. There's no point in estimating the probability that Andy's dream about his uncle's painting would be accurate (for a very loose definition of "accurate") given that nobody specified that this was the one dream out of thousands that was going to be accurate beforehand, and in what way it was going to be accurate.

The Birthday Problem, mentioned in the article, is a good way to illustrate this. These events come to our attention post hoc. So when you're at a party and it is discovered that two people in the room were both born on April 16, your first instinct is to estimate the probability of being born on April 16 (it's not 1/365, by the way). So you think the probability of the event is 0.27% (some people even go so far as to estimate the probability as 1/365 x 1/365 or 0.00075%), yet in actuality the event has a probability of 50%. Nobody specified beforehand which birthday pair would be found.

And in daily life, it gets even worse, because nobody specifies beforehand just what kind of synchronicities are going to come to our attention, which leaves us with a wide open list of possibilities. If it hadn't been a shared birthday, it may have been a license plate with your initials and birthdate, or running into someone with the same name as you and your spouse, or a randomly generated PIN which coincides with your home phone number, or winning the lottery by playing your family's birthdates, or dreaming about an infrequently seen relative who shows up on your doorstep the next day unexpectedly, etc.

Linda

The problem is that most people identify "psi" by identifying improbable connections (hence the need for anomalous information). And most people intuitively estimate probability and are wildly off when they do so. A common mistake is to do what Andy did - estimate the probability of a specific connection post hoc, rather than estimating the probability of any connection. There's no point in estimating the probability that Andy's dream about his uncle's painting would be accurate (for a very loose definition of "accurate") given that nobody specified that this was the one dream out of thousands that was going to be accurate beforehand, and in what way it was going to be accurate.

The Birthday Problem, mentioned in the article, is a good way to illustrate this. These events come to our attention post hoc. So when you're at a party and it is discovered that two people in the room were both born on April 16, your first instinct is to estimate the probability of being born on April 16 (it's not 1/365, by the way). So you think the probability of the event is 0.27% (some people even go so far as to estimate the probability as 1/365 x 1/365 or 0.00075%), yet in actuality the event has a probability of 50%. Nobody specified beforehand which birthday pair would be found.

And in daily life, it gets even worse, because nobody specifies beforehand just what kind of synchronicities are going to come to our attention, which leaves us with a wide open list of possibilities. If it hadn't been a shared birthday, it may have been a license plate with your initials and birthdate, or running into someone with the same name as you and your spouse, or a randomly generated PIN which coincides with your home phone number, or winning the lottery by playing your family's birthdates, or dreaming about an infrequently seen relative who shows up on your doorstep the next day unexpectedly, etc.

Linda