Which Theory May Explain Psi Phenomena?

Forests

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#1
To those who are open to PSI existing. Which theory do you believe may explain PSI (paranormal phenomena) such as telepathy, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, near-death experiences or apparitions etc?

John Beloff a well known parapsychologist concluded that PSI occurs becuase of dualism ie the mind and brain are separate. Amit Goswami however in his book “The Self-Aware Universe”, lists some studies on quantum physics that may lead to an explanation of psi that agrees with the theory of a nonphysical and conceptual world. He explains that in quantum physics, objects are not seen as definite things. Instead, objects are possibilities, viewed as something called “possibility waves”. Of course his interpretation due to his research in quantum physics has lead him to formulate idealistic monism, that only consciousness exists in the universe and everything is part of it, he argues against dualism and materialism.

Others however have disagreed and put forward physical and materialistic theories to try and explain PSI.

Michael Persinger claims that much of paranormal phenomena can be explained by low frequency (ELF) electromagnetic waves.

Brian Josephson has claimed that the explanation of PSI may be found in quantum physics. Gerald Feinberg's concept of a tachyon, a theoretical particle that travels faster than the speed of light has been advocated by some parapsychologists who claim that it could explain some PSI phenomena.

Charles Tart however believes PSI is completey non-physical and does not operate to material laws.

There are many theories which try and explain PSI. Which one do you advocate and why? If any?
 

Stormkhan

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#2
The problem is the assumption there is some form of "unified theory" concerning such a vast selection of differing phenomena. Even ghosts come in such varying manifestations that finding a "one explanation fits all" theory is going to come unstuck.
 
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#3
I hope this fits in here. It suggests there is no theory. But, absence of evidence isn't necessarily evidence of absence. Can't find the study its responding to. But if its on the FTMB maybe it could be moved to there.


Believing the Impossible: No Evidence for Existence of Psychic Ability Found
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 094737.htm

A new study fails to find evidence for the existence of psychic ability, contradicting an earlier controversial study that claimed to demonstrate precognition. (Credit: © timur1970 / Fotolia)

ScienceDaily (Mar. 15, 2012) — Research failing to find evidence for the existence of psychic ability has been published, following a year of industry debate. The report is a response by a group of independent researchers to the 2011 study from social psychologist Daryl Bem, purporting the existence of precognition -- an ability to perceive future events.

Professor Chris French (Goldsmiths, University of London), Stuart Ritchie (University of Edinburgh) and Professor Richard Wiseman (University of Hertfordshire) collaborated to accurately replicate Bem's final experiment, and found no evidence for precognition. Their negative results have now been published by open access journal PLoS ONE.

Their report was rejected by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (JPSP), which originally published Bem's findings along with his appeal to independent researchers to attempt replications.

"Our submission was rejected without being sent for peer review on the basis that the journal has a policy of not publishing replications," said Professor Chris French. "Our paper has opened up the debate on the proper place of replication in the scientific literature."

In Bem's experiment, after completing a memory test on a list of words, participants were then shown a random selection of half the words from the original list. Results showed that participants were better at remembering the words they were about to be shown, indicating they had reached forward in time to 'practice' those words in the future.

Within parapsychology, there is a tendency to accept any positive replications but to dismiss failures to replicate if the procedures followed have not been exactly duplicated.

"We went to great pains to ensure we followed the same procedures as Bem," said Stuart Ritchie. "Using Bem's own computer programme and stats methods, we replicated his experiment three times, at each of our respective campuses, with the same number of participants as the original study."

"By having our paper published, we hope academic journals and popular media alike will offer the same weight to negative results as given to eye-catching positive results," said Professor Richard Wiseman.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by University of Hertfordshire, via AlphaGalileo.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Journal Reference:

Stuart J. Ritchie, Richard Wiseman, Christopher C. French. Failing the Future: Three Unsuccessful Attempts to Replicate Bem's ‘Retroactive Facilitation of Recall’ Effect. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (3): e33423 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0033423
 

titch

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#4
From hilary Evans "seeing ghosts" One incontrovertible feature of the ghost experience is that frequently the percipient obtains information of which no one living is aware. This information, whether it is a visual detail or a spoken instruction, can only be obtained in one of only two ways: either by extra sensory (psi) perception or by direct communication.(this communication, of course may also involve psi)....However, he goes on to emphasize that while this may go part of the way towards an explanation, in that telepathy or something like it is almost certainly involved, the psi only hypothesis is inadequate as the total explanation that the SPR-group hoped it would be,even if it is accepted, as they sometimes had to reluctantly had to accept-that sometimes it may be necessary to extrapolate from telepathy from the living to telepathy from the dead.

Or in my own words, sometimes we don't need fancy theory's it may just be dead people. :D
 

titch

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#6
I had another quote from the same book, in which Evans says the pursuit of psi has got in the way of understanding ghosts, but this afternoon in a fit of madness i loaned my copy of "seeing ghosts" to a college tutor, and the course ends in 3 weeks.....FFS! I AM OLD ENOUGH TO KNOW NEVER EVER EVER LOAN BOOKS!!
 

dreeness

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#7
What Richard Wiseman said:

"By having our paper published, we hope academic journals and popular media alike will offer the same weight to negative results as given to eye-catching positive results," said Professor Richard Wiseman.



What Richard Wiseman didn't say:

From Bem's response:

'By the deadline, six studies attempting to replicate the Retroactive Recall effect had been completed, including the three failed replications reported by Ritchie et al. and two other replications, both of which successfully reproduced my original findings at statistically significant levels. (One of them was conducted in Italy using Italian words as stimuli.) Even though both successful studies were pre-registered on Wiseman’s registry and their results presumably known to Ritchie et al., they fail to mention them in this article. I consider this an important omission. (I also note that Ritchie et al., describe their replication attempt as three independent studies, but the total number of sessions they ran was the same as 'the number I ran in my own original experiment and its successful replication.)

So there seems to be a suppression of results that don't agree with a preconditioned mind set and an eye on an 'it's all rubbish' headline. How remarkable....
(From "Guardian" comments)

link




... A very long time ago, when I was just a young embryonic Dreeness, I asked an elderly professor why it was that tabloids printed huge sensationalistic headlines. And the old professor explained to me, in a weary voice: "Headlines go on the front page, in letters two inches tall. Retractions go in a little box, on page 37. And for every person who actually reads the retractions, there will be ten thousand who will only ever remember the headlines."
 

jkarlson

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#9
Stormkhan said:
The problem is the assumption there is some form of "unified theory" concerning such a vast selection of differing phenomena. Even ghosts come in such varying manifestations that finding a "one explanation fits all" theory is going to come unstuck.
That made me think of one such "one explanation fits all" explanation I read in this book:

smashwords.com/books/view/126971
Link is dead. No archived version found.
 
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Xanatic*

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#10
I was watching Duck Quacks Don't Echo the other day, where they mentioned how when a couple sit and look at each other, their heart beats synchronise.
This seems rather odd if real, seeing as I can't think of any good mechanism for it. Nothing for one heart to know how the other heart is beating.
Could this be a live example of some kind of ESP?
 

SkepticalX

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#12
I have always been intrigued by John Keel's theory of the superspectrum, an unknown set of electromagnetic frequencies on which most human brains transmit and receive. He suggests that paranormal events, including many UFO cases, actually involve the experiencer momentarily tapping into the cacophony of messages bouncing around the superspectrum. As such, all paranormal events could then be considered different facets of the same phenomenon.
 
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#13
To be honest when I occasionally read or hear about the latest mind boggling theories in quantum physics (most of which I can hardly grasp so don't ask me to name specifics) it surprises me that any scientist could still scoff at the paranormal. We are reaching the point where most phenomena could be explained in terms of theoretical physics.
 

GNC

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#15
To be honest when I occasionally read or hear about the latest mind boggling theories in quantum physics (most of which I can hardly grasp so don't ask me to name specifics) it surprises me that any scientist could still scoff at the paranormal. We are reaching the point where most phenomena could be explained in terms of theoretical physics.
A fascinating concept, but it still comes down to what you can recreate or observe according to science's known rules, and until you can recreate a ghost in a laboratory, there will remain the scientific naysayers. But then again, there's no denial that some day you may be able to recreate precisely that. I hold out hope the Ignobel Awards will stumble across some mad scientist who researches something crazy and supernatural and can prove it, too.
 

Sharon Hill

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#16
If you follow current pop paranormal trends, you will notice a very strong effort to find that "unified field theory". I just finished Persinger and Lafrieniere's Space-Time Transients (1977) and the concept is in there too. While it's an attractive idea, I think it's deeply flawed as an explanation but nifty when thinking of the cultural phenomena (what a small group of us like to call the "PUFT").
 

AlchoPwn

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#18
I see an issue with the normal scienific methodology here. Say you have 100 respondents, and only 1 is any good at your psychic test, but that one person is pretty amazing. According to science, that demonstrates with 99% certainty that there is no such thing as psychics, and we shouldn't focus on these "outlier" positive results.

On the other hand, if we aren't actually studying the 1% of people who can actually do psychics, and insist on the fact that 99% of people can't, where does that get us? No further in our understanding, that's for sure.

What I find amazing is that anyone is able to perform psychic operations successfully under lab conditions at all. I can't imagine an environment less conducive to the emotional triggers that make and power these responses than a lab. Then you have the likes of Yuri Geller who use stage magic to fool scientists. The whole process is fraught. But perhaps that is a good thing? Wouldn't it be just awful if psychics were proven to be true and we needed to pass and enforce laws about it?
 

gordonrutter

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#19
I see an issue with the normal scienific methodology here. Say you have 100 respondents, and only 1 is any good at your psychic test, but that one person is pretty amazing. According to science, that demonstrates with 99% certainty that there is no such thing as psychics, and we shouldn't focus on these "outlier" positive results.

On the other hand, if we aren't actually studying the 1% of people who can actually do psychics, and insist on the fact that 99% of people can't, where does that get us? No further in our understanding, that's for sure.

What I find amazing is that anyone is able to perform psychic operations successfully under lab conditions at all. I can't imagine an environment less conducive to the emotional triggers that make and power these responses than a lab. Then you have the likes of Yuri Geller who use stage magic to fool scientists. The whole process is fraught. But perhaps that is a good thing? Wouldn't it be just awful if psychics were proven to be true and we needed to pass and enforce laws about it?
With this logic then we should ignore the speed abilities of Usain Bolt as he does not represent the majority and is merely an outlier? Some people can do something so we investigate them and compare them to those who cannot. Those who study parapsychology at university only claim a small effect and they try to investigate that small effect using the scientific method.
 

AlchoPwn

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#20
With this logic then we should ignore the speed abilities of Usain Bolt as he does not represent the majority and is merely an outlier?
Exactly. If we study Usain Bolt we might discover how everyone could run faster.

Some people can do something so we investigate them and compare them to those who cannot. Those who study parapsychology at university only claim a small effect and they try to investigate that small effect using the scientific method.
Whereas skeptics will say that if 99% of people can't do something, nobody can. I have no issue with parapsych btw. I think their papers are frequently quite interesting and well researched.
 

gordonrutter

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#21
Exactly. If we study Usain Bolt we might discover how everyone could run faster.



Whereas skeptics will say that if 99% of people can't do something, nobody can. I have no issue with parapsych btw. I think their papers are frequently quite interesting and well researched.
Yes I must admit I hate the skeptic attitude of "no, that's impossible" whereas the Fortean is "ooh, that's interesting, lets have a look".
 

Xanatic*

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#24
A psychic prodigy would still show up in the statistics. The problem is the researchers never encounter people like that, they just got people who might do slightly better than chance. A Bolt would be a much better thing.
 

AlchoPwn

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#25
worse (and so much more annoying) than blanket skepticism is blanket belief
Agreed. Belief is a gullible cop-out. I am just suggesting that skeptics have a way of shooting down innovative ideas along with the bullshit ones. Nobody ever applied for a patent out of skepticism.
 

Bad Bungle

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#26
A fascinating concept, but it still comes down to what you can recreate or observe according to science's known rules, and until you can recreate a ghost in a laboratory, there will remain the scientific naysayers
First you need to define a ghost in scientific terms (half the arguments are over semantics). Then you need a Gloriette 80 Materialiser.

 

Bad Bungle

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#27
I have a background in Science although I'm not a very good scientist - my first attempt at a PhD in Medicinal Chemistry ended when my Supervisor drank himself to death. The second foray into Neuropharmacology ended in a physical breakdown before I wrote up. The preface to my proposed thesis would have been something like " If a comprehensive understanding of the Brain is analogous to landing a man on the Moon, then we are at the stage where Stars are holes in the Sky where the light shines through."
Science cannot explain consciousness or self-awareness or Thought or 'Soul'- at least not yet - it's all just neurons and action potentials and chemicals, all parts less than the whole. So I think Fortean and 'paranormal' phenomena are outside the remit of the White Coats and their particular methodology until they remember that Science is only one branch of Natural Philosophy.
 

EnolaGaia

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#28
I see an issue with the normal scienific methodology here. Say you have 100 respondents, and only 1 is any good at your psychic test, but that one person is pretty amazing. According to science, that demonstrates with 99% certainty that there is no such thing as psychics, and we shouldn't focus on these "outlier" positive results.
Well, no ... The scenario as you specifically described it represents neither normal (as prescribed; not in the sense of 'common') nor acceptable / publishable scientific procedure.

Relative incidence within experimental results isn't a measure of relative probability or certainty for the existence of whatever those results are supposed to reflect.

(At most, it's a measure of relative occurrence for evidence of the target phenomenon in the specific context of the experimental setup.)

If it were, and if it were that straightforward, physicists might well have erroneously concluded the Higgs Boson didn't 'exist' two decades before it was finally confirmed. In this physical science case, there was substantial rationale (coherent theorization and models supported by empirical data) to believe the failure was explicable in terms of the feasible energy level at which particles could be collided. Physicists persisted, progressively vectoring in on the requisite energy level requirements through repeated failures, and finally succeeded when the LHC afforded them the necessary conditions.

The physicists weren't just wistfully continuing just for the sake of continuing. They had a rationale for continuing, and they could present a convincing argument for doing so.

Psi / psychic experimentation doesn't have the luxury of lucid theories, strong predictive models, and clearcut prior results to leverage. To make matters worse, there's no reason to presume psychical / psychological phenomena are as reliably coherent, replicable, nor universally uniform as physical phenomena.

Psi researchers are still at the starting line, trying to convincingly demonstrate there's something 'there' to investigate. A single solid (unassailably valid) 'blip' (like the single outlier in your example) would be major news. Unfortunately, the apparent blips to date have not exhibited such unassailable validity (not least because so many of them have proven to involving hoaxing / cheating).
 

Coal

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#29
Psi / psychic experimentation doesn't have the luxury of lucid theories, strong predictive models, and clearcut prior results to leverage. To make matters worse, there's no reason to presume psychical / psychological phenomena are as reliably coherent, replicable, nor universally uniform as physical phenomena.

Psi researchers are still at the starting line, trying to convincingly demonstrate there's something 'there' to investigate. A single solid (unassailably valid) 'blip' (like the single outlier in your example) would be major news. Unfortunately, the apparent blips to date have not exhibited such unassailable validity (not least because so many of them have proven to involving hoaxing / cheating).
Yep, nicely put.
 

AlchoPwn

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#30
Psi researchers are still at the starting line, trying to convincingly demonstrate there's something 'there' to investigate. A single solid (unassailably valid) 'blip' (like the single outlier in your example) would be major news. Unfortunately, the apparent blips to date have not exhibited such unassailable validity (not least because so many of them have proven to involving hoaxing / cheating).
Actually on closer inspection, I must disagree. The problem is not that nothing has been demonstrated but in a lack of reproducible results. Studies frequently throw outlier results, but then they are tested elsewhere with different respondents and lo and behold, no outliers. Why? Wrong respondents. Not everyone can do it. What is even more perverse is that some people are actively so much worse than average. Then there are the people who only manifest anything during danger, while others require positive reinforcement. This isn't a mechanistic phenomenon with an on/off button.
 
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