Skeptical Attempts to Dismiss Psychic Phenomena

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How the Skeptics Lost Their Minds Over a Precognition Experiment, Craig Weiler.  

A new and apparently devastating "hit piece" exposing the truth about the skeptical reactions to the Daryl Bem precognition experiments, and about the general still prevalent closed-minded skepticism about psychical phenomena. Waiting for a plausible devastating skeptical response, waiting...

Quote:"The researcher was Daryl Bem, professor emeritus at Cornell University and the landmark study was titled: Feeling the Future: Experimental Evidence for Anomalous Retroactive Influences on Cognition and Affect. It was basically a well — known psychology experiment with a couple of parameters switched so that instead of taking measurements of a subject’s physiological reactions after they were exposed to certain stimuli, the measurements were taken before the exposure. The study showed that people were subconsciously reacting to random stimuli even before they experienced it."

The closed-minded evangelical skeptic reaction was immediate. For instance Wagenmaker's Bayesian statistical argument. It was basically GIGO. In response to rebuttal by Bem, Wagenmaker doubled down, with ultimately discredited results: 

Quote:"The absurd premise (of Wagenmaker's thesis) goes like this: Psychic ability is impossible. Therefore, if Bem’s experiment showed psychic ability to be real, then the very process that demonstrated this must be broken. These are the musings of people who would never, ever consider the alternative hypothesis: They. Are. Wrong."

Bem’s experiment survived this challenge because the ultimate premise of Wagenmaker’s argument was clearly wrong. (He had other accusations, such as calling the experiments “preliminary”, but these also went nowhere.) 

Also covered: James Alcock's futile attempt to dismiss the findings, and attempts by Richard Wiseman, Chris French and Stuart Ritchie.

Quote:"Conclusion:

The point I want to make here, in conclusion, is that the skeptical position in regard to Bem’s experiment is all smoke and mirrors. Once you clearly see the smoke and mirrors for what they are, you see what skepticism really is: cognitive dissonance writ large. The problem here is not the study design or the number of replications or the statistics used, the problem is people: people who refuse to accept study results because they can’t ever admit they were wrong.

The discussion isn’t about science anymore. This is about zealotry. Psi is real and there is plenty of science to back it up. The objections are insulting to any sane person’s intelligence at this point and the lengths that skeptics go to in order to maintain their narrative are fundamentally dishonest. And that’s the real problem. The skepticism is less than sane and it’s time to take a much closer look at THAT problem. You can start here.

I have seen these people go to the ends of the earth and beyond, conjuring fictional narratives so that they never, ever have to concede. I’ve seen this from garden variety skeptics on the Internet and from academics. How much longer do we have to placate their delicate egos by maintaining the fiction that psychic ability isn’t real?"
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The experiment you describe is remotely interesting.  Obviously, independently replicating such an experiment and also discounting any pattern in the randomness of the events being anticipated.

1) So, first, one would have to independently replicate Bem's experiment.
2) One would have to establish that the number of hits were more than chance
3) One would have to establish that there were no means by which the successes could be guessed. For example, was there a pattern in when hits happened. Did a noise , body language of experimenter or other marker allow you to know when was going to happen.


As a lark many years ago, I proposed a game of psychic poker.
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  • Brian
(2021-10-19, 04:34 PM)entangled_cat Wrote: The experiment you describe is remotely interesting.  Obviously, independently replicating such an experiment and also discounting any pattern in the randomness of the events being anticipated.

1) So, first, one would have to independently replicate Bem's experiment.
2) One would have to establish that the number of hits were more than chance
3) One would have to establish that there were no means by which the successes could be guessed. For example, was there a pattern in when hits happened. Did a noise , body language of experimenter or other marker allow you to know when was going to happen.


As a lark many years ago, I proposed a game of psychic poker.

Bem's experiments have been independently replicated actually, quite a large number of times. Enough for it to be pretty significant when they did a follow up meta analysis in....2015 I think it was.
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https://statmodeling.stat.columbia.edu/2...2003-cool/

"I question the authors’ claims that various replications are “exact.” Bem’s paper was published in 2011, so how can it be that experiments performed as early as 2003 are exact replications? That makes no sense. Just to get an idea of what was going on, I tried to find one of the earlier studies that was stated to be an exact replication. I looked up the paper by Savva et al. (2005), “Further testing of the precognitive habituation effect using spider stimuli.” I could not find this one but I found a related one, also on spider stimuli. In what sense is this an “exact replication” of Bem? I looked at the Bem (2011) paper, searched on “spider,” and all I could find is a reference to Savva et al.’s 2004 work.
This baffled me so I went to the paper linked above and searched on “exact replication” to see how they defined the term. Here’s what I found:
“To qualify as an exact replication, the experiment had to use Bem’s software without any procedural modifications other than translating on-screen instructions and stimulus words into a language other than English if needed.”
I’m sorry, but, no. Using the same software is not enough to qualify as an “exact replication.”
The background:



https://slate.com/health-and-science/201...roken.html



https://medium.com/@katenuss/discovery-w...dc0ab9d6d7
I was curious if Jessica Utts, who was elected president of the American Statistical Association (ASA) in 2016, had anything to say about this.

The Psi Encyclopedia says this:

Quote:In a widely-cited paper, Utts challenges the common claim that psi phenomena are not repeatable by comparing accumulated evidence from ganzfeld telepathy experiments with an influential study that showed taking a daily aspirin could reduce the likelihood of a heart attack. She points out that the ganzfeld effect size is several times larger than the aspirin effect size, arguing that the lack of acceptance of psi research is driven by a weak theoretical basis combined with a prejudice against parapsychological phenomena.

The reference is from 1999 though, so will have to dig further.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2021-10-24, 10:25 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)
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  • Brian
(2021-10-24, 05:01 PM)Brian Wrote: https://statmodeling.stat.columbia.edu/2...2003-cool/

"I question the authors’ claims that various replications are “exact.” Bem’s paper was published in 2011, so how can it be that experiments performed as early as 2003 are exact replications? That makes no sense. Just to get an idea of what was going on, I tried to find one of the earlier studies that was stated to be an exact replication. I looked up the paper by Savva et al. (2005), “Further testing of the precognitive habituation effect using spider stimuli.” I could not find this one but I found a related one, also on spider stimuli. In what sense is this an “exact replication” of Bem? I looked at the Bem (2011) paper, searched on “spider,” and all I could find is a reference to Savva et al.’s 2004 work.
This baffled me so I went to the paper linked above and searched on “exact replication” to see how they defined the term. Here’s what I found:
“To qualify as an exact replication, the experiment had to use Bem’s software without any procedural modifications other than translating on-screen instructions and stimulus words into a language other than English if needed.”
I’m sorry, but, no. Using the same software is not enough to qualify as an “exact replication.”

I get the argument that the same software is not enough to qualify as exact, though I'd have to dig deeper.

But the quoted portion [of Bem and friends] seems, AFAICTell, to say the desire is for exact replications not a claim that past papers were exact replications?

edit: What I think is necessary to properly show whether Bem and friends did a proper meta-analysis is comparison with other meta-analyses. But I also think most lay people cannot judge this kind of statistical work for themselves so it's possibly sort of a moot point. IIRC Chris made some defenses of Bem's work on this forum.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2021-10-24, 10:52 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel.)
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Bleeehhh I mention a meta analysis and what do I get.

The link Brian posted seems to bring up some interesting points, though some of them also seem to be adressed in the actual 2015 meta analysis itself. Including an experiment with spiders (what) is weird, but that doesn't at all mean the rest of the included studies are illigitimate or not exact replications. They mention file drawer affects, which are adressed in the paper, and then just go on to mention forking paths as a last ditch attempt to throw some doubt onto the entire thing. 

The slate article feels like the same kinda deal, alongside the medium one. And it pretty much goes along with the article by Craig Weller that was posted. If there are studies reporting anomalous results that suggest that some kind of PSI is going on, the entire method they used to get there is wrong, because there's NO possibility that PSI is possible. If that's the case, then every single statistical science study that has ever been performed in psychology is questionable, since Bem and the others make sure to account for potential flaws in their papers. If file drawer, or p hacking or questionable research practices can't account for the effect and it's still wrong, well then that doesn't bode well for every non parapsychology study.
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(2021-10-24, 10:56 PM)Smaw Wrote: Bleeehhh I mention a meta analysis and what do I get.

The link Brian posted seems to bring up some interesting points, though some of them also seem to be adressed in the actual 2015 meta analysis itself. Including an experiment with spiders (what) is weird, but that doesn't at all mean the rest of the included studies are illigitimate or not exact replications. They mention file drawer affects, which are adressed in the paper, and then just go on to mention forking paths as a last ditch attempt to throw some doubt onto the entire thing. 

The slate article feels like the same kinda deal, alongside the medium one. And it pretty much goes along with the article by Craig Weller that was posted. If there are studies reporting anomalous results that suggest that some kind of PSI is going on, the entire method they used to get there is wrong, because there's NO possibility that PSI is possible. If that's the case, then every single statistical science study that has ever been performed in psychology is questionable, since Bem and the others make sure to account for potential flaws in their papers. If file drawer, or p hacking or questionable research practices can't account for the effect and it's still wrong, well then that doesn't bode well for every non parapsychology study.

Sorry Smaw. LOL   I wasn't trying to throw the cat in amongst the pigeons, it's just that I like to see evidence from both angles on subjects like this and I wanted to stimulate discussion to hear what others say about it.  There is often bias on both sides sadly.
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(2021-10-25, 11:17 AM)Brian Wrote: Sorry Smaw. LOL   I wasn't trying to throw the cat in amongst the pigeons, it's just that I like to see evidence from both angles on subjects like this and I wanted to stimulate discussion to hear what others say about it.  There is often bias on both sides sadly.

That's fine. Like I said, it is weird there was a spider study in there for....some reason.
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