Study suggests precognition may be possible

Nov 18, 2010 by Lin Edwards report

(PhysOrg.com) -- A Cornell University scientist has demonstrated that psi anomalies, more commonly known as precognition, premonitions or extra-sensory perception (ESP), really do exist at a statistically significant level. Psi anomalies are defined as "anomalous processes of information or energy transfer that are currently unexplained in terms of known physical or biological mechanisms."

In a paper soon to appear in the leading (peer-reviewed) social psychology publication, The , psychologist Daryl Bem described nine experiments, in most of which he reversed the order of well-known psychological experiments such as recall and affective priming, so that what was usually seen as the cause became the effect. The experiments were carried out over a period of eight years and were well-designed and controlled and rigorous enough to be replicated in the future by other researchers.

In one experiment subjects, all of whom were students, were briefly shown a word list and then asked to recall as many as they could. Later, they were asked to copy a list of words randomly selected from the same list by a computer. The surprising result of this experiment was that in the recall section of the experiment the subjects recalled at a significantly higher rate words they were later asked to type, even though they had no way of knowing which words would be on the list.

In another experiment subjects were shown images of two curtains alongside each other on a computer screen and told one was concealing a picture (sometimes of an erotic nature), while the other concealed a blank screen. They were then asked to click on the one they “felt” was hiding the picture. When the curtain was selected it was opened to reveal what was behind it. This was repeated 36 times for each subject, and the picture positions were computer-selected and random.

In the 100 sessions subjects consistently selected the correct curtain 53.1 percent of the time for the erotic pictures, significantly over the 50 percent expected by pure chance. For the non-erotic pictures, the success rate was only 49.8 percent.

In a third experiment Bem reversed a common test in which subjects are shown one of the words “Ugly” or “Beautiful,” and then shown a picture of something unpleasant (such as a snake), or pleasant (such as a puppy or kitten), and the subject is asked to quickly decide if the picture is pleasant or unpleasant. In Bem’s reversal experiment the subject was shown the picture first and was required to respond as fast as possible and was then shown the word, which was randomly selected by the computer.

Bem carried out his experiments with a total of 1,000 subjects in all, and all experiments revealed small but statistically significant psi anomalies. Data collection was automated to minimize contact between the subject and researcher.

Head of the journal’s editorial board that reviewed the paper, Charles Judd, from the University of Colarado at Boulder, said the paper was reviewed by “some of our most trusted reviewers,” and has held up to all scrutiny. The journal intends to publish a skeptical editorial alongside the paper in the hope other researchers will replicate the experiments. Bem said he has already had requests from dozens of researchers wanting more details.

Explore further: Eight signs of back to school anxiety in children

More information: Bem, D. J. (in press) Feeling the Future: Experimental evidence for anomalous retroactive influences on cognition and affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. PDF: www.dbem.ws/FeelingFuture.pdf

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User comments : 108

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AkiBola
4.1 / 5 (14) Nov 18, 2010
I already knew that.

:)
Jo01
3 / 5 (18) Nov 18, 2010
The explanation is simple: fraud.
JES
4.9 / 5 (9) Nov 18, 2010
Think I saw this coming...
resinoth
3.9 / 5 (14) Nov 18, 2010
statistical analysis of valid experiments is a great tool for hypothesis formation, but where's the hypothesis here?
TechnoCore
3.9 / 5 (16) Nov 18, 2010
The conclusion is psi-powers? rotflmao. Who funds these guys?
El_Nose
4.3 / 5 (15) Nov 18, 2010
resinoth is right

it is well known in finance that if you have a method of picking stocks -- ANY METHOD -- and write it down and only use that method you will out perform most benchmarks over time.

when I say any method I mean ANY method -- lets say you only buy stocks with three letter tickers on a day when it is down. and you sell - based on some other condition also written down

as long as emotion has nothing to do with the decision most people will out perfom a given standard benchmark -- say the s500 or R1000

This proves nothing about there process -- nothing at all can be said of its viability, reliablility, or rationality... It just means that it can cause a statistically significant difference.

statistics is a mathematicians way of lying about the numbers everyone can clearly see as well.
Ravenrant
2.3 / 5 (22) Nov 18, 2010
The explanation is simple: fraud.


The explanation, fraud, is simple to the simple. Precognition is one of those things you have to experience yourself to believe. If you haven't, there is more than enough evidence to come to the conclusion that it is possible, only a fool would dismiss all the evidence as fraud.

I have had personal experience more than once that can't be explained by co-incidence. When you dream something completely unlikely and it comes true within days, you might believe too, especially if it happens several times.
freethinking
3.4 / 5 (12) Nov 18, 2010
To check if there is PSI,

Did they have a computer randomly make choices and then compare the results with people?

In stats, one or two lucky persons can skew the whole stats, and in general several % off of expected results is considered background noise.
Burnerjack
4.7 / 5 (7) Nov 18, 2010
Headline I've never seen : "Psychic hits Powerball. Twice."
That being said, Explanations for examples such as Edgar Cayce or a myriad of paranormals aiding law enforcement are well documented. Sure, an argument could be made for the brain super focused to interpolate and discriminate based on inputs and wieghted probabilities, but seems an inadequate explanation in many cases. But then, you knew that...
Simonsez
2.5 / 5 (10) Nov 18, 2010
@freethinking
In stats, one or two lucky persons can skew the whole stats,

Define 'lucky' and contrast against the expectations of someone with latent psychic ability.
Javinator
5 / 5 (15) Nov 18, 2010
It'd be interesting to write a computer program to make the decisions the people were asked to make and see how many tests it would take for the results to no longer be "statistically significant". 50% is only a sure answer at infinity.
El_Nose
5 / 5 (11) Nov 18, 2010
javinator -- that sir is an awesome question

use two computers -- one randomly picking which side the picture is on underneath the curtain.

the other program observes humans and probably using a nueral network tries to predict which curtain the humans will pick. if the computer is correct greater than 70% of the time is it a precog ?? or are humans just predictable?
winthrom
5 / 5 (10) Nov 18, 2010
I would perform a test of the computer random number generator and the way it generates random selections. As a programmer, I know that some generators have bias (poor RNG design). Some users of good RNGs perform bad seeding practices. Some RNGs are sensitive to certain seeds (ones that should not be used).

Blind faith in "the computer" is a very slipery slope.
freethinking
4.2 / 5 (10) Nov 18, 2010
I agree with winthrom. A random number generator isn't alway random.

Simonsez By random chance I can sometimes guess the outcome of a coin toss. If you take just the times I get lucky with the guess you would say I have PSI. However if you average out over a very long time, my wrong guess rate would equal my correct rate.
donjoe0
3.5 / 5 (6) Nov 18, 2010
"In the 100 sessions subjects consistently selected the correct curtain 53.1 percent of the time for the erotic pictures, significantly over the 50 percent expected by pure chance."

:))))))))) This has got to be the joke of the month.

As explained above, 50% is only guaranteed at an infinite number of trials. 100 trials are far far far far far far far far far far far far far far far far far far far far far far far far far far far far far far far far far far far far far far fewer than infinite. Our dear psychologist seems to have gone to a psychology school where they don't teach statistics at all.
Bob_B
4.6 / 5 (5) Nov 18, 2010
One thing I noted: compared to most 'trial runs' I've seen reported here this had 1000 subjects x 100 test sessions. This is way more subjects, usually it seems less than 30 are used in most reports here.

More subjects is more trustworthy of an outcome...no?
donjoe0
4.8 / 5 (6) Nov 18, 2010
No they didn't. Lin here forgot to tell us that the paper was talking about "100 sessions" because there were 100 PARTICIPANTS IN TOTAL. And each session (for each participant) had 36 trials of guessing the correct curtain. So it's a total of 3600 trials. And then they get all extatic about a 3% deviation from 50%. Jeez Louise.
freethinking
4.4 / 5 (13) Nov 18, 2010
In a statistics class, I once guessed correctly 7 coin tosses in a row. That proves I have PSI.

Problem was after 100 tosses I had guessed only 45% correctly. So that proves three things. 1 I shouldn't gamble, 2. I have -PSI or 3. I have PSI but I was subconciously trying to get the coin toss wrong, in which case my failure in PSI was actually a success which proved I have PSI :)

I love stats, I use them a lot, problem is, if you don't use them correctly, or don't know what they mean, they can lead you to believe in almost anything including PSI.
otto1932
1.2 / 5 (15) Nov 18, 2010
Feynman on psychology:
http://www.ration...967.html
james11
1.8 / 5 (9) Nov 18, 2010
RaventRant, its interesting that you say you have dreamed an event and then it happened days later. One of the guys I used to work with told me he used to have dreams of meeting people and then days or weeks later he would meet those people and it seemed like he was telling the truth. Weird.
james11
1.8 / 5 (9) Nov 18, 2010
I also had a very weird experience once. My girlfriend was in a different state due to being in the military and one night while I was sleeping I could hear her telling me things. I wanted to know the truth so I asked her 4 days later if she ever tried to "send me a message" and she said yes. So I asked her when she did this and she said 4 days ago. Hmmm.
thermodynamics
3.8 / 5 (4) Nov 18, 2010
freethinking: You said: "I agree with winthrom. A random number generator isn't alway random." I agree but would go one step farther. A computer random number generator is NEVER random. It always ties back to some deterministic pattern. It is always reproducible and the code is inherently deterministic. The entire idea of computer code producing a really random number has proven impossible so far.

As for the article, I would wait for someone to reproduce these results before I gave them any weight. As pointed out by the other comments here, the sampling number is small and the deviation is small leading to a null hypothesis from my point of view, unless it can be reliably reproduced.
marjon
1.7 / 5 (11) Nov 18, 2010
People believe what the want to beleive, or not.
If science declares something to be impossible, no 'respectable' scientists will investigate.
But scientists will create all sorts of convolution to try and justify current theories.
Javinator
4.9 / 5 (9) Nov 18, 2010
But scientists will create all sorts of convolution to try and justify current theories.


Questioning methods is important when trusting the results of any experiment or study.
marjon
1 / 5 (12) Nov 18, 2010
The explanation is simple: fraud.

"Einstein famously referred to this phenomenon as "spooky action at a distance"."
http://www.physor...firstCmt
But this is all well understood and not a fraud?
Javinator
4.9 / 5 (8) Nov 18, 2010
Perhaps they should take the individuals that all chose "right" more often and redo the testing with them.

If there are "adepts" among them, the average should be higher in the second trial should it not? With a large enough sample size you could even ween it down a few times to get rid of your "false positives" and see what happens to your average.

If there's a trend upwards then I'd raise my eyebrow a little higher.
El_Nose
4.6 / 5 (5) Nov 18, 2010
you know i have been waiting all day for someone to say it -- but i guess it has to be me....

when picking a coin flip -- or the picture behind the curtain... what are your chances of getting it right???

well if the flip of the coin is random then you have say 50% chance of getting it right.

-- new experiment --
what is the percentage of times heads ( or the left curtain ) is the correct answer ... 50%

new question --
how big does your sample space have to be to make picking heads drop down to 50% .... somewhere between 500 - 1000.

so unless each person did this a few hundred times -- the ratio of sample space to signifiacant difference has to be a bit higher than 3% ... who were the quaks that evaluated this ... FIRE THEM, they aren;t good at math and they aren't good at statistics
kdqq
5 / 5 (8) Nov 18, 2010
I love "Can't be explained by coincidence". Of course it can. Incredibly unlikely things happen all the time.
Their random generators are just fine. The charge of fraud is unreasonable; they may have had problematic procedures but I'd bet heavily against fraud.

The testing needs to be repeated. It is possible for a perfect test to come back with 100% success; it's just not very likely.

One of three things will happen:
1. Further analysis of their results will find a problem of some kind.
2. More testing will bring the success rate back to what is expected.
3. More testing will show no problems and a positive hit rate.

I'd put #1 at 59.999% and #2 at 40%

The race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong, but that's the way to bet.
kdqq
4.8 / 5 (4) Nov 18, 2010
And coin flipping won't *ever* settle to 50%. It'll stay around it, but it's not likely to stay on it for any length of time.

If you're going to use statistics to belie someone's argument, you first should really study statistics in depth. Most of what you know is wrong (true for everybody).
kdqq
5 / 5 (5) Nov 18, 2010
javinator or are humans just predictable?


I have a program that will stay well ahead of random (e.g. 70-85%), guessing whether you are going to type an upper- or lower-case letter.

Check out Markov chain on wikipedia.
otto1932
1.2 / 5 (17) Nov 18, 2010
RaventRant, its interesting that you say you have dreamed an event and then it happened days later. One of the guys I used to work with told me he used to have dreams of meeting people and then days or weeks later he would meet those people and it seemed like he was telling the truth. Weird.
Synchronicity:
http://en.wikiped...ronicity

I used to get the following a lot on my watch but not so much any more (because I dont wear a watch any more) -coincidence or what??
http://www.1111sp...ans.com/
http://en.wikiped...erology)
dtxx
3.5 / 5 (8) Nov 18, 2010
We are all constantly deluded by the clustering illusion.
dtxx
3.5 / 5 (8) Nov 18, 2010
Take a 12" by 12" square table and draw horizontal lines on it spaced exactly one inch apart. Get a 1" toothpick and drop it on the table. It will either cross exactly zero of the lines or at least one line. Do it a bunch of times and divide the total number or trials by the number of drops where the needle crossed at least one line.

This is a way to use geometric probability to compute pi. Try 3600 trials and see how close you are to actual pi (hint: usually not very close until way more trials).

fullbony
not rated yet Nov 18, 2010
the fact is, no one will bet their life on this stuff whereas with real science you can say that jumping out of an airplane will kill you. ( without a scientifically designed parachute. )
scenage
5 / 5 (1) Nov 18, 2010
Is there a reason why you wouldn't have more then 2 choices in any of the experiments?
That'd lead to a more conclusive answer right?
Say 10 options, so 1/10 chance of getting it right. Get the statistics for that :)
GaryB
4 / 5 (4) Nov 19, 2010
Seems I read this all before somewhere ...

Anyhow: I'm pre-cognating that the Republican congress with screw things up even more. I'm channeling that they will think that the best way to compete against China will be to save more money by cutting things like the NSF, NIH and so on.
ormondotvos
5 / 5 (7) Nov 19, 2010
Sorry to post so late, but I was flipping coins a thousand times. 530 heads, 470 tails.
Foolish1
5 / 5 (1) Nov 19, 2010
freethinking: You said: "I agree with winthrom. A random number generator isn't alway random." I agree but would go one step farther. A computer random number generator is NEVER random. It always ties back to some deterministic pattern.


They use different software randomization algorithms as well as hardware random number generators and discuss the topic of possible bias caused by random number selection on the experiments.

The paper is an interesting read or at least a good critical thinking spot the statistical error exercise.
Pkunk_
3 / 5 (2) Nov 19, 2010
Sorry to post so late, but I was flipping coins a thousand times. 530 heads, 470 tails.


Heh . Now that we don't get an agreeable answer , change the coin to a different type and try again a 1000 times. It just *might* average too 50% over both coins then.

The statisticians will always say the shape of the coin might make a 3% difference too.
Dug
4.3 / 5 (6) Nov 19, 2010
Anyone ever hear the term/concept "data clusters?" or the fact that the effect diminishes as sample size increases. Apparently no one in the soft sciences of sociology or psychology. It pretty much destroys the results of these type of small sample universe experiments (increased data cluster probability) - and pretty much most of the experimental results in these two highly subjective fields. Science in general allows far too much credibility latitude in accepting the problematic experimental designs and results of the soft sciences - because of their inherent data collecting difficulties. Inherent design difficulty however, is no reason to excuse inadequate scientific discipline.
neiorah
1.4 / 5 (7) Nov 19, 2010
I am not going to do a detailed critique of the information or the results. All I am going to say is I know from personal experience that we are able to have a rudimentary functioning of extra sensory perception. Many people have experienced this phenomena and it is not something in most cases that can be done at will therefore, it is not measurable in the scientific arena. It does exist to varying degrees and i believe it is because of a increase in brain function or change in it's structure.
dtxx
3.4 / 5 (9) Nov 19, 2010
I am not going to do a detailed critique of the information or the results. All I am going to say is I know from personal experience that we are able to have a rudimentary functioning of extra sensory perception. Many people have experienced this phenomena and it is not something in most cases that can be done at will therefore, it is not measurable in the scientific arena. It does exist to varying degrees and i believe it is because of a increase in brain function or change in it's structure.


Prove any of that nonsense. If you can't, then we might as well say ghosts were whispering into the ears of the test subjects. Why just limit this to psi? Some people KNOW ghosts are real and have had indelible experiences with them.
trekgeek1
3 / 5 (2) Nov 19, 2010
Really? This is statistically significant? Hey guys! I just flipped a coin 100 times and got 60 heads and 40 tails! Obviously the coin is rigged since I should have got 50 heads and 50 tails! As has been said, 50 percent is expected after an infinite number of trials. Sounds like the psychology department needs to enlist a math major to interpret their data. The problem with psychology is that it really isn't scientific in the same way as most scientific subjects. Even the tests sound iffy sometimes.
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (8) Nov 19, 2010
For the mathematically uninformed, the phrase "statistically significant" usually means that a given experimental outcome would be expected by chance in only 5% or fewer of experimental runs, when assuming the null hypothesis.

This means if the "psi" hypothesis is wrong (and there really is no precognition), then such an experiment could be run 100 times over, and on average in fewer than 5 of those 100 runs you'd get such type of results.

So, is it POSSIBLE that the reported results are spurious, and due entirely to random chance? Yes. But is that LIKELY? Well, if their mathematical analysis holds up (and it certainly held up under peer review), then the answer would have to be no.

Of course, in this case we're confronted with extraordinary claims of an extraordinary phenomenon. So, we're predisposed to skepticism and even toward rejecting statistically significant outcomes. But that's called bias, not math.

Let others try to reproduce the results, and then pass judgment...
thewhitebear
2.7 / 5 (7) Nov 20, 2010
Using science to prove/disprove phenomenon such as ESP, dowsing, remote sensing, paranormal, etc, seems to be based on the assumption that these forces/powers are constant, like laws of physics, but if they are temperamental, effected by environmental/psychological nuances, and perhaps even actively averse to being quantified, then science would be a very poor tool to ferret them out. We make a huge mistake when we assume that all forces will submit willingly to our blunt instruments.
marjon
2.3 / 5 (6) Nov 20, 2010
We make a huge mistake when we assume that all forces will submit willingly to our blunt instruments.

The current method of Popper's scientific method is reaching a limit.
Observation, induction and an inquiring, open mind will be required to make further advances.
JRDarby
1 / 5 (1) Nov 20, 2010
I prefer to remain agnostic regarding the existence of psi phenomena. That said, I'll risk any reputation I might have and posit that I believe I've had dozens of experiences with what appeared to be such phenomena throughout my life.

I saw one of the early posts talked about guessing a coin toss 7 times in a row: when I was a teen I had a spontaneous compulsion to roll a dice and each time I knew what face would turn up. I stopped counting after 35 times but it went on a while longer. That's just one of many (some are better stories too). I admit that I could have been psychotic and didn't know it (though I think that highly unlikely!) and so I still suspend belief whether anything I've experienced was psi. It's always been interesting, though, whatever it is.

All of my experiences have conformed to the classical definition of precognition. I've always wondered about telekinesis and all the other ones that some say exist but I have never witnessed them firsthand.
JRDarby
5 / 5 (1) Nov 20, 2010
For lack of characters left in the previous post for this addendum, I would like to acknowledge here that I realize anecdotes do not a science make. I do not attempt to dogmatically push one belief over another (as if science and the belief in a paranormal, or however you wish to define it, are mutually exclusive); I merely am sharing a personal experience for whatever it is worth and ask that you take it at that if at all.
marjon
1 / 5 (5) Nov 20, 2010
I'll risk any reputation I might have

It's too bad 'science' is so judgmental today.
Science is certainly not open to new ideas.

If science adapted to the process used by failure investigators, I wonder how many more advances may occur. Failure investigators assign levels of probability to a cause unless it can be proven to be impossible.
frajo
3 / 5 (2) Nov 20, 2010
perhaps even actively averse to being quantified, then science would be a very poor tool to ferret them out. We make a huge mistake when we assume that all forces will submit willingly to our blunt instruments.
You are proposing non-falsifiable statements. This is - by definition - not science.
Call it religion, call it whatever, but don't call it science.
marjon
1.8 / 5 (5) Nov 20, 2010
You are proposing non-falsifiable statements. This is - by definition - not science.

Who says, Popper? (Popper was not even a scientist.)
Science was conducted long before Popper.
frajo
5 / 5 (3) Nov 20, 2010
The current method of Popper's scientific method is reaching a limit.
Until now nothing indicates that you understand the principle of falsifiability.
That one quote you found some months ago just showed that you also don't understand Popper's critics.
frajo
4 / 5 (3) Nov 20, 2010
I prefer to remain agnostic regarding the existence of psi phenomena.
After voting thewhitebear's comment as "5" you are no longer agnostic.

Anybody may believe whatever he likes.
But nobody should molest science with non-falsifiable assertions.
All of my experiences have conformed to the classical definition of precognition.
But none of them have been subjected to scientific examination.
JRDarby
2.8 / 5 (5) Nov 20, 2010
But none of them have been subjected to scientific examination.


So believe what you want. I don't care, really. And I didn't vote on anyone's comments except Ravenrant's first.

But "molesting science?" Not to group myself in with Creationists by my choice of words (because a casual perusal of my posting history will confirm I am anything but), but you seem to have created an idol for yourself. Science isn't a sacred being you can molest: it's just science, and it's great tool for discovering more about the world in which we live. Like all tools it probably has failings we have yet to address until we discard it for a new, more efficacious tool. I make no musing about these shortcomings here: my point is merely to say get off your high horse.
dtxx
3.3 / 5 (9) Nov 20, 2010
For the latent psychic crowd here, you need to understand that your personal experiences, as powerful or vivid as they may be to you, will never stand as a reason for me or anyone else to believe you.

What if I told you that the god Shiva just appeared to me in a vision and said it's not psychic powers? How can you refute that or prove it? Is that going to make you believe me?

That's why the whole falsifiability issue comes up. It should be (SHOULD BE) self evident that unless you can devise a way to show something is false there isn't much point in talking about whether it is false (or true) or not. How would you ever be able to tell?
eachus
3 / 5 (2) Nov 20, 2010
Lots of people commenting, few who have done the math. 100 experiments, 36 trials each, and a 53.1% positive result, or 1911.6 correct choices. Let's round down to 1911, and what is the probability of a number that large or larger of correct answers? Binomial distribution, whip out a handy tool, http://stattrek.c...ial.aspx and the answer is Cumulative Probability: P(X > 1911) = 0.000114618... or 0.01146%.

This is much, much more significant than random chance. Most people use 5% as significant, and the cautious statisticians, such as me, use 0.1% For the non-dirty pictures the probability is 64.9% obviously non-significant.

Do I think precognition is possible? Sure. Look at human life expectancies. My estimate is that everyone goes through about 8 coin flip equivalents before they can reproduce and several dozen in a lifetime. The Darwin Awards records extreme cases of people missing a good precognition filter getting weeded from the gene pool. But they are rare.
dtxx
2.3 / 5 (6) Nov 20, 2010
Yes, a damaged precognition filter is clearly the simplest and most suitable explanation for stupid human behavior. The evidence is insurmountable.

The crackpots are really coming out of the woodwork today. Maybe if my precog filter was operating under optimal conditions it would have saved me the misery of ever even checking back on the comments here.

ODesign
5 / 5 (1) Nov 20, 2010
LOL. This article is 100% correct.

READ THE DEFINITION. . .
"Psi anomalies are defined as "anomalous processes of information or energy transfer that are currently unexplained in terms of known physical or biological mechanisms."

since the article didn't explain the information transfer by definition it was a psi anomoly. Starting the instant your comments here explain the information transfer the phenomena described was reclassified into a statistical quirk. ps. fraud as an explanation doesn't count because it's not a known physical or biological mechanism.

To use another example. . . it is correct language to describe a black rock floating above the ground as a psi anomaly when first seen and up to the point someone explains that the black rock is a magnet and their is another magnet under it supporting it with magnetic repulsion. It's like the way U.F.O. means Unidentified Flying Object and is used appropriate when describing a Boeing 747 too far away to recognize.
Ravenrant
3 / 5 (2) Nov 20, 2010
The explanation is simple: fraud.


The explanation, fraud, is simple to the simple. Precognition is one of those things you have to experience yourself to believe. If you haven't, there is more than enough evidence to come to the conclusion that it is possible, only a fool would dismiss all the evidence as fraud.

I have had personal experience more than once that can't be explained by co-incidence. When you dream something completely unlikely and it comes true within days, you might believe too, especially if it happens several times.


1.5 out of 5 with 15 votes? I knew you people would do that. lol You guys afraid that there may be a little destiny in our lives? Not to fear, the future isn't set in stone, any visions of the future are what MAY be, not what WILL be.
Nigeison
not rated yet Nov 20, 2010
How about thinking about this the other way round. If I toss a coin a 100 times and always guess heads and I get head 100 times does this mean I have ESP or is it just statistically sooner or later someone doing this will get a 100 heads. You have to repeat the whole study not just once but many many times to get close to any proof of ESP.
Grizzled
3 / 5 (2) Nov 21, 2010

it is well known in finance that if you have a method of picking stocks -- ANY METHOD -- and write it down and only use that method you will out perform most benchmarks over time.

This can't be true. Let's conduct a hypothetical experiment - you pick a method and write it down. I have a look at it and pick the opposite - eg, when your method says "sell" my method says "buy". We can't both perform better than average. Ergo - your assumption is false.
cyberCMDR
5 / 5 (4) Nov 21, 2010
Belief in ESP is based on how we humans count events. If we have a dream and we see something in life like it, we consider it a hit and remember it. All the other dreams of course don't count. Likewise for picking cards, rolling dice, etc. In a related vein, by the law of big numbers someone will have a noteworthy but random hit (dream of a relative the day he/she dies, etc.). These stories get passed around as proof of ESP, but in a world with lots and lots of people these events are bound to occur to someone. Kind of like winning the lottery.
dtxx
3 / 5 (6) Nov 21, 2010
How about thinking about this the other way round. If I toss a coin a 100 times and always guess heads and I get head 100 times does this mean I have ESP or is it just statistically sooner or later someone doing this will get a 100 heads. You have to repeat the whole study not just once but many many times to get close to any proof of ESP.


This is why in science we emphasize the importance of others being able to replicate our results. If you get a one in a trillion result during a rigorous scientific trial that's fine, but no one else will. See where I'm going with this?
NameIsNotNick
1 / 5 (1) Nov 21, 2010
Sorry to post so late, but I was flipping coins a thousand times. 530 heads, 470 tails.


You are assuming, of course, that the particular coin you are using is perfectly balanced. Better flip it another 1111 times to check...
Confusedent
5 / 5 (2) Nov 21, 2010
User eachus had about the only intelligent comment in here. Use a binomial probability calculator (here: ) and figure it out for yourself - the chances of getting those results are about 0.01%. Those results would only turn up in 1 in 10,000 experiments.

I'm inclined to think there's another explanation besides magical voodoo or something like that, but 53% out of 3600 trials is very statistically significant.
jcwx86
5 / 5 (5) Nov 21, 2010
I'm inclined to think there's another explanation besides magical voodoo or something like that, but 53% out of 3600 trials is very statistically significant.


This is only statistically significant if the methodology used is perfectly unbiased. A small systematic error would be all that is required to cause an apparently statistically significant positive result. This could arise, for example, in incomplete randomisation of the distribution of the image between the positions on the screen. A poor randomness generator could throw up a positive result, for example, if people were slightly more likely to pick one image position of the other.
marjon
1 / 5 (2) Nov 21, 2010
We now have the means for people to document predictions with independent recording.
Has anyone set up a web site to collect and test such predictions?
Of course this may take too much time for a grad student to get his PhD.
trantor
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 21, 2010
I probably had psi powers, because I already knew this article would be bullshit even before reading it.
Ravenrant
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 21, 2010
So many stupid opinions. There were reports of the existence of the Coelacanth before a specimen was found. Einstein predicted gravity would bend light before it was found. The King Cheetah was reported and before it was found. All were dismissed by skeptics.

Many of those that would have dismissed all this stuff and refused to acknowledge it was at least POSSIBLE must be posting here. All I said was that it was POSSIBLE that precognition can be true and most posters rated it a 1. It's no wonder people don't believe in global warming, their all STUPID. Our species deserves its fate and I predict it won't be pretty, what's more I predict that most people alive now will see it happen.
freethinking
1 / 5 (4) Nov 21, 2010
Interesting article on statistics and christianity

http://carm.org/p...nd-jesus

And since it is Sunday.... http://www.youtub...=related

marjon
1 / 5 (3) Nov 21, 2010
Many of those that would have dismissed all this stuff and refused to acknowledge it was at least POSSIBLE must be posting here.

You are in good company:
"A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.
Max Planck "
Roddenberry used to bounce ideas for his show off of JPL scientists, among others. Imagine how many of those ideas have inspired engineers and scientists to actually realize those ideas.
What is seriously lacking among science today is observation. The really interesting stuff happens when you are not paying too close attention and obtain unexpected results. Too few keep pulling on those threads.
freethinking
1 / 5 (3) Nov 21, 2010
One more since we are going into the Chrismas season and for my friend Otto

http://www.youtub...=related
dtxx
3.7 / 5 (6) Nov 21, 2010
So many stupid opinions. There were reports of the existence of the Coelacanth before a specimen was found. Einstein predicted gravity would bend light before it was found. The King Cheetah was reported and before it was found. All were dismissed by skeptics.


I'm sorry, but it sounds like you are implying the skeptics were doing something wrong. If you are right, in time your skeptics will be your best asset.

Marjon, you must live in a magical universe where jesus is hiding there holding a handful of miracles just behind the next curtain or under the next rock. Science today is lacking observation because what, they won't accept every crackpot theory someone dreams up?

No reputable scientist claims that scientific theories are fact. They are very clearly our best guess or approximation based on what we observe. That's why they become dominant and recede with time. It isn't a conspiracy to keep you from flying around the universe in the Enterprise with jesus.
marjon
1 / 5 (2) Nov 21, 2010
It isn't a conspiracy to keep you from flying around the universe in the Enterprise with jesus.

How 'science' treated Fleishmann and Pons was despicable.
Especially in light of the work being done by the Navy.
http://www.newsci...ine-news
Ethelred
4 / 5 (4) Nov 21, 2010
Interesting article on statistics and christianity
Was that supposed to convince anyone that Biblical prophecy is real?
There are many religious books in the world that have many good things to say, but only the Bible has fulfilled prophecies -- with more fulfillments to come.
It also has non-prophecy that believers call prophecy and of course FAILED prophecy which believers refuse to acknowledge.
Only God, then, would always be right about what is in the future, our future.
So how Jehovah said Cain was doomed to wonder and then he founded a city had children that are followed in the Bible for around 12 generations. Very first prediction in Genesis and it was wrong.
One approach to use with an unbeliever is to turn to Psalm 22 and read verses 12-18
Psalms are not prophecy. That is backwards filtering. There as not one thing that was intended as prophecy there. The same thing could be done with Shakespeare.

Ethelred
marjon
1.7 / 5 (6) Nov 21, 2010
The one 'prophecy' the Bible seems to have gotten right and continues to get right is the failure of civilizations when they stray from moral principles like individual liberty.
Eric_B
2 / 5 (4) Nov 21, 2010
Chew on this... I was in Art School during the first WTC attack where they bombed the basement. Someone in class asked why the buildings didn't fall and I explained that the basement was designed to hold all that weight under stress. I gave them a scenerio that would destroy the buildings (identical to the one used) and everyone in the room SCREAMED, "NO!" at me.

Summer of 2001 I had a vision of a blue sky on the white wall of my apartment. There was a red-white-red flashing dot going across and a voice told me it was, "a weapon".

Later, about a year after the tower fell, someone smugly asked in a discussion group, "well, why didn't psychics see that coming?"

I said, "I saw some of it in some context. However, consider what you propose..."
Eric_B
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 21, 2010
Hypothetical Psychic clearly sees the attack before it happens and decides to do something about it. He writes news organizations. He writes and calls the Pentagon, military, "intelligence" and law enforcement agencies.

Then, in frustration and panic as the day approaches, he jumps the fence of the White House in a screaming rage, throwing pamphlets directing people to his website.

He is tossed in the Looney Bin or shot dead.

There is a news story about him and his "delusions" where he calls the date and describes the methods dead-on.

Al Queda hears about this and in a secret meeting decides to call off the attack.

So, I ask you this, just who are these intelligent schizophrenics in our mental institutions and what do you know about them and their "delusions"?
Eric_B
2 / 5 (4) Nov 21, 2010
BTW, Kabbalist Rabbi Avrham Azulai predicted that in the year 5762 the potential for human immortality would be released in the world. This was the year that the Human Genome Project was completed. (He did specifically say "potential" not actualization.)
Ravenrant
1 / 5 (3) Nov 22, 2010
I'm sorry, but it sounds like you are implying the skeptics were doing something wrong. ....


No, I was saying it straight out in no uncertain words. It's one thing to be skeptical, it's total stupidity to maintain that all the evidence, and there is a lot, is bogus and it isn't at least possible that psychic phenomena is real.

All I said was it's possible and I was a lot more skeptical until it happened to me several times, and I am still skeptical even though what happened to me is BEYOND any statistical possibility. I was at least smart enough to admit it's possible even before these things happened to me.

When you have a unique and unlikely dream in vivid detail about an event that is of itself statistically unlikely, and it happens within days, you might understand. When it happens several times most people would believe.
Magus
3 / 5 (1) Nov 22, 2010
Anyone else realize that flipping a coin or rolling a dice is not a "random" event. The head or the number that will appear up are based on a physics. If your subconscious sees a person flipping the coin or rolling the dice it will start to figure out the pattern. From the position of the coin, rotation of the flip, distance to surface, friction of surface, you could determine the the face up before hand. However even if you had to guess before the coin was flipped, your brain starts to take in the person flipping the coin. Your brain will try to predict how this person is going to flip the coin the more times you watch the person the better at predicting their behavior will be. We would need a true random number generator probably based on uncertainty and have a person guess on that. If a person could guess above 50% against a truly random event over a course of lengthy trials I would say well there might be something worth investigating.
frajo
2.5 / 5 (2) Nov 22, 2010
When you have a unique and unlikely dream in vivid detail about an event that is of itself statistically unlikely, and it happens within days, you might understand. When it happens several times most people would believe.
[1] You couldn't tell whether your dreams were conceived that night you think they were conceived or in the moment after the event happened. Our brain is - per constructionem - quite creative.
[2] Why don't you play in a lottery in order to stimulate your brain?
[3] I'm dreaming of being able to fly. Since decades and very realistic - I know exactly how it feels.
But although I'd really like to it didn't ever happen to me.
Ravenrant
5 / 5 (2) Nov 22, 2010
Frajo,
[1] You couldn't tell whether your dreams were conceived that night you think they were conceived or in the moment after the event happened. Our brain is - per constructionem - quite creative.
[2] Why don't you play in a lottery in order to stimulate your brain?
[3] I'm dreaming of being able to fly. Since decades and very realistic - I know exactly how it feels.
But although I'd really like to it didn't ever happen to me.


You must be the shining intellect that rates my posts a 1.

1) I had the dream, which I remembered vividly, (can't you read?) went and checked if it had really happened (that was witnessed) and it hadn't. 1 week later it happened EXACTLY as I dreamed. Just because you can't remember dreams doesn't mean others can't.

2) I don't play the lottery and I never claimed to have psychic powers (can't you read?)

3) That's an intelligent comment. Why do you post when you can't read?
Ravenrant
5 / 5 (2) Nov 22, 2010
Frajo, I predict you will twist my words and others to suit yourself in many future posts.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Nov 22, 2010
n the 100 sessions subjects consistently selected the correct curtain 53.1 percent of the time for the erotic pictures, significantly over the 50 percent expected by pure chance. For the non-erotic pictures, the success rate was only 49.8 percent.

4 percent is not statistically significant, there's massive amounts of selection bias int he paper itself...

Who the hell wrote this?
virtualist
1 / 5 (1) Nov 22, 2010
The 61-pg pdf preprint of the entire paper is available above. As expected, few are diligent enough to actually study it.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Nov 22, 2010
The 61-pg pdf preprint of the entire paper is available above. As expected, few are diligent enough to actually study it.
And when you do study it, you'll find it's entirely full of garbage. "Rigorous controls" is not the same as "long winded descriptions of calculating chance".
marjon
2 / 5 (7) Nov 22, 2010
You couldn't tell whether your dreams were conceived that night you think they were conceived or in the moment after the event happened. Our brain is - per constructionem - quite creative.

Some people have somethings called a pencil and paper and write their dreams down, with dates and times.
js81pa
not rated yet Nov 22, 2010
We are drawn to procreate based off of metaphysical means, that is what this study proves ;)
Neophile
1 / 5 (4) Nov 22, 2010
4 percent is not statistically significant, there's massive amounts of selection bias int he paper itself...

Who the hell wrote this?


4 percent most certainly is a statistically significant result for this experiment, though I'll remain skeptical of the results until it is properly peer reviewed and the results replicated.
frajo
4 / 5 (4) Nov 22, 2010
I had the dream, which I remembered vividly
...
went and checked if it had really happened (that was witnessed) and it hadn't. 1 week later it happened EXACTLY as I dreamed. Just because you can't remember dreams doesn't mean others can't.
The thinking machine we have between our ears does simulation runs all the time. Some enter our consciousness, most not. If these runs are realistic (mine are not) then there's a non-vanishing chance the'll become reality. To rank coincidences of this kind as "precognition" is a notion from the dawn of mankind. In modern times "anticipation" is the more enlightened term.

To come up with any meaningful probability for coincidences of this type we'd have to know the number and the contents of all simulation runs/dreams/anticipations.
james11
1.7 / 5 (6) Nov 22, 2010
I heard my girlfriend talking to me from states away in my sleep. Is it coincidence that the same night she tried to reach me I just happened to hear it? I think not. Not precognition...but not coincidence either. Like I said I wanted to know the truth so I waited days to ask her about it and she hit the nail on the head. I didnt believe in anything like this before that happened but I was forced to believe.
Skeptic_Heretic
4 / 5 (4) Nov 22, 2010
Not precognition...but not coincidence either. Like I said I wanted to know the truth so I waited days to ask her about it and she hit the nail on the head. I didnt believe in anything like this before that happened but I was forced to believe.
Not exactly something that can't be reconciled with familiarity. Lacking direct facts and measurement, even easier to chaulk up to coincidence or anecdote. John Edwards (the medium) does similar things with little to no foreknowledge of who he's reading. Keep it vague or common enough and you're bound to come upon "precognition".
4 percent most certainly is a statistically significant result for this experiment, though I'll remain skeptical of the results until it is properly peer reviewed and the results replicated.

So if I can call a coin in the air 50% of the time does that mean I'm psychic? How about 52% of the time? How about 46% of the time? The chance of an accurate guess was 50%, from 48-52% is not significant.
super
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 23, 2010
So people with PSI powers can read the "minds" of computers, can they? I conclude that this proves that true AI exists and is just pretending to be stupid.
Shino
5 / 5 (1) Nov 23, 2010
Didn't read all the comments but what a hoax experiment..
Do these scientists ever heard of the Law of large numbers?
marjon
2 / 5 (4) Nov 23, 2010
"I am absolutely certain that the laws of large numbers-probability theory-will work and protect me. All of science is based on it. But I can't prove it, and I don't really know why it works."
Leonard Susskind, professor of theoretical physics at Stanford. p.88 in "What We Believe but Cannot Prove".
Kiljoy616
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 24, 2010
Oh not this stuff again.

http://www.ted.co...ndi.html
Kiljoy616
5 / 5 (1) Nov 24, 2010
So people with PSI powers can read the "minds" of computers, can they? I conclude that this proves that true AI exists and is just pretending to be stupid.


So we really are just puppets under their control, I better be nicer to my phone from know on incase it calls our overlord computer masters :-)
marjon
1 / 5 (3) Nov 24, 2010
Oh not this stuff again.

http://www.ted.co...ndi.html

Just a general question.
How many like to look at video talk for information?
I don't. I can't skim a video presentation.
Kiljoy616
4 / 5 (4) Nov 24, 2010
I heard my girlfriend talking to me from states away in my sleep. Is it coincidence that the same night she tried to reach me I just happened to hear it? I think not. Not precognition...but not coincidence either. Like I said I wanted to know the truth so I waited days to ask her about it and she hit the nail on the head. I didnt believe in anything like this before that happened but I was forced to believe.


Can you prove it? Is there a way to falsify it, no there is not.

Even worse did you tape your self as soon as you woke up to what the dream was no you did not. Then when you finally asked her your mind took a bad memory of something you think you dreamed and put it all together as a narrative story. You need to go pray a little more and then after all that fantasy get books on cognitive psychology so that you can understand better how your mind actually works.
TheWalrus
3 / 5 (1) Nov 24, 2010
I'm a skeptic, but I'm also open-minded. If this paper made it past peer review, and the methodology is sound, it could be important. The question of why we can't remember the future is taken seriously by quantum physicists. Perhaps this study is an indication that we do remember the future.

Here are a few articles from PhysOrg that touch on the subject:

http://www.physor...010.html

http://www.physor...562.html

Google "arrow of time" "remember the future" for more reading.
marjon
1 / 5 (2) Nov 24, 2010
I'm a skeptic, but I'm also open-minded. If this paper made it past peer review, and the methodology is sound, it could be important. The question of why we can't remember the future is taken seriously by quantum physicists. Perhaps this study is an indication that we do remember the future.

Here are a few articles from PhysOrg that touch on the subject:

http://www.physor...010.html

Google "arrow of time" "remember the future" for more reading.

"Stalking the Wild Pendulum" had some interesting ideas.
seb
not rated yet Nov 26, 2010
I'm also very skeptical, and wouldn't see this as some kind of "psi" power in the traditional sense.. But maybe, just maybe, there's some effect related to the underlying nature of reality, on a quantum level or having to do with the structure of spacetime or maybe a brane universe effect, that might come into play. It's a long shot though..

Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Nov 26, 2010
Oh not this stuff again.

http://www.ted.co...ndi.html

Just a general question.
How many like to look at video talk for information?
I don't. I can't skim a video presentation.

Perhaps you should stop skimming in general.
frajo
5 / 5 (2) Nov 26, 2010
Perhaps you should stop skimming in general.
I'm not sure whether I understand the meaning of "skimming".
But as I've grown up with books (and not with TV) I do appreciate the possibility to see a table of contents, to insert colored bookmarks at the beginning of each chapter, to quickly switch back and forth, to scribble notes on the margins, even to pile up a stack of books opened at selected pages.

Movies don't allow me to do these things. They force me to consume passively.

While a good teacher certainly is worth one's while she doesn't replace a good book. As a waiter doesn't replace a meal.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Nov 26, 2010
I'm not sure whether I understand the meaning of "skimming".
But as I've grown up with books (and not with TV) I do appreciate the possibility to see a table of contents, to insert colored bookmarks at the beginning of each chapter, to quickly switch back and forth, to scribble notes on the margins, even to pile up a stack of books opened at selected pages.
Skimming in American vernacular is not reading, nor taking notes. It is a very quick and superficial scan in order to pull specific pieces from a text without understanding actual context.

IE: everything Marjon posts.
Ethelred
3.4 / 5 (5) Nov 26, 2010
Movies don't allow me to do these things. They force me to consume passively.
Those things are good for non-fiction. Movies are mostly fiction, story telling. What you get from your process is facts and whatever you can make out them as the choppy nature of that kind of reading, it seems to me, would make it difficult to pick up insights and ways of thinking from the writers.

Plus some things are inherently visual or must taken in sequence to get the concept. This is the case for much of that TED video. It was James Randi SHOWING people how they could be scammed. That sort of thing must be experienced as it is not just a collect of facts but a process.

Besides non of the TED videos are more than 18 minutes. Only thing is that one doesn't relate all that well to the study in question.
While a good teacher certainly is worth one's while she doesn't replace a good book.
The opposite is also true.

http://www.feynma...res.com/

Ethelred
sungarnyc
not rated yet Dec 08, 2010
Well, I took a look at the actual paper (check the link), and I must say this seems to be a rigorous statistical analysis; those commenters who doubt it should take a look at the paper. I don't believe in psi or paranormal phenomena in general, but I cannot fault this study on the basis of experiment design or statistical analysis. On the other hand, I didn't study the paper, and I'm not a statistician; I'd sure like to see what a statistical guru says about it.