Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Princeton ESP Lab to Close

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the don't-think-bad-thoughts dept.

Education 363

Nico M writes " The New York Times reports on the imminent closure of one of the most controversial research units at an ivy league School. The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research laboratory is due to close, but not because of pressure from the outside. Lab founder Robert G. Jahn has declared, in the article, that they've essentially collected all the data they're going to. The laboratory has conducted studies on extrasensory perception and telekinesis from its cramped quarters in the basement of the university's engineering building since 1979. Its equipment is aging, its finances dwindling. Jahn points the finger at detractors as well: 'If people don't believe us after all the results we've produced, then they never will.'"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Geez. (5, Funny)

cbrichar (819941) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961080)

Didn't expect that.

Re:Geez. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17961542)

Nobody expects the Spanish (ESP) Inquisition !

My thoughts (5, Funny)

cedars (566854) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961090)

Surely the lab's directors should have seen this coming?

Re:My thoughts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17961226)

Indeed. I know I certainly saw it coming.

Re:My thoughts (0)

bytesex (112972) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961418)

I always knew that you should have director in his stead.

They didn't see this coming... (-1, Redundant)

pjern (232396) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961092)

did they?

I knew it! (1)

true_hacker (969330) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961094)

Of course, all my _other_ senses kept telling me that. Now if only these super-senses really worked when it mattered.

Re:I knew it! (1)

true_hacker (969330) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961126)

See, other people have ESP too, like the posters above me. How else were they able to post what i wanted to post before me, eh? FuturePredictkinosis or whatever. And some people deny existence of ESP, sheesh.

Credibility (5, Insightful)

Steve Furlong (9087) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961100)

From the article: One editor famously told Dr. Jahn that he would consider a paper "if you can telepathically communicate it to me."

Yah, that about covers it.

Only saving grace is, they relied on donations, so they weren't wasting money extorted from others, whether by taxes or by tuition.

Re:Credibility (5, Insightful)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961484)

One editor famously told Dr. Jahn that he would consider a paper "if you can telepathically communicate it to me."

That's not exactly ideal academic objectivity.

I don't have any particular reason to believe these guys. At the same time, I have little reason to doubt their methodology. If their paper made a point, it should have at least seriously considered for publication, and not been rejected out of hand.

I'm disappointed in science today.

he's right, you know. (4, Funny)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961102)

Jahn points the finger at detractors as well: 'If people don't believe us after all the results we've produced, then they never will.'"
This is the singular piece of research that he has produced. And I agree with him, I don't believe them!
-nB

Did you bother to look first? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17961292)

And I agree with him, I don't believe them!

And have you looked at ALL at the details of his methods or any of his published results?

Dismissing evidence based on preconceived belief is called religion. To be scientific you must actually LOOK at the evidence and methods, and consider it using the same methods used to evaluate all other experimental evidence.

Re:Did you bother to look first? (-1, Redundant)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961316)

I just knew you'd say that.

Re:Did you bother to look first? (1)

polemistes (739905) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961540)

It baffles me how so few intelligent people understand that the foundation of any sensory experience must be some sort of ESP, or at least that anything else is very difficult to explain philosophically. That goes if you're a spiritualist, a materialist, a socialist, and even a scientist.

Re:Did you bother to look first? (2, Insightful)

dlthomas (762960) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961812)

No, the foundation for most sensory experience cannot be *extra* sensory perception, for reasons which should be obvious in the expansion of the acronym.

Semantics aside, what did you mean here?

Re:Did you bother to look first? (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961818)

Care to elaborate? So far, I think the "external stimuli are translated to neural impulses by special cells; these impulses then are processed by the brain" model is pretty much self-sufficient.

Re:Did you bother to look first? (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961912)

Seems to be more complicated when it comes to gravisensing [fasebj.org] .

CC.

Re:he's right, you know. (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961470)

Jahn points the finger at detractors as well: 'If people don't believe us after all the results we've produced, then they never will.'"
This is the singular piece of research that he has produced. And I agree with him, I don't believe them!
-nB


But he did point his finger. That requires a coordinated firing of neurons. How did he cause these neurons to fire in such a manner? Mind over matter? Or was it just reflex?

Re:he's right, you know. (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961552)

Fortunatelly, in science, a negative result is also valid. Ok, they haven't proved telepathy et al. Good, so perhaps those subjects can be abandoned for now and other things done.

Note however that a peer reviewed negative result does not, in the scientific world, mean a permanant negative. If it did then the perceptron[http://www.ccs.fau.edu/~bressler/EDU/Co gNeuro/History%20of%20the%20Perceptron.htm] would not have been developed. What it does mean is that current science cannot provide proof.

Um.... we believe you... (5, Insightful)

Markmarkmark (512275) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961104)

After looking at all the data, we certainly believe in your results. Your data proves that there is no evidence for ESP (except in flawed non-reproducible experiments). So long and thanks for confirming the obvious.

Re:Um.... we believe you... (3, Insightful)

Umuri (897961) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961124)

Oh really? Now how about you stop trolling and produce evidence of how it was flawed? I will give a lot to skeptics, but flaws of methodology were not something this lab had. Many times they were under review board and many times they never got stopped because of unsound or unscientific methods. So start giving facts or start shushing. It's one thing to spread nonsense because you dislike someone, it's another to spread nonsense because you're ignorant and dislike what someone is studying.

The problems with PEAR (5, Informative)

FreelanceWizard (889712) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961218)

The methodology wasn't flawed, so much as the analysis and the conclusions drawn from it.

A PEAR experiment involved a participant attempting to influence a random number generator (essentially) in a pre-specified direction over a large number of trials. Because random events are, by nature, random, you can get streaks that are above or below the mean. If you analyze a large enough sample, these streaks can become statistically significant, even though they're essentially meaningless and practically insignificant -- it's similar to the fact that any deviation from the mean, no matter how small, is statistically significant if you measure the entire population. Additionally, while the probability of any particular streak is low (.5^n is the probability of any number of heads flipped in a row, which gets very small when you talk about enough of them), if you have enough random events, those streaks are pretty much guaranteed to appear.

So, that's the logic of the PEAR data analysis. Collect a huge corpus of random events, look for streaks, then call them statistically significant because of their low base probability of appearance and the fact that they deviated at all from the expected mean. Skeptic magazine has a good discussion of the PEAR lab inanity, and I believe James Randi's commentary addresses it a few times.

The claim that PEAR's research wouldn't be reviewed is probably false, by the way. It's most likely that the papers were rejected from mainstream journals for the very reasons I mentioned earlier, or because the PEAR lab had no theoretical explanation for the "results" they observed. Or, of course, it's because their papers seem rather dubious in their lack of data and explanations of how they've arrived at their stated probability values (which I say from having the experience of reading one in a, how shall we say, less than top tier journal). Additionally, the lab's been extremely difficult with regards to their raw data. Randi, for example, has never been able to get ahold of it.

Re:The problems with PEAR (5, Insightful)

flushingmemos (1022877) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961424)

You're wrong. It's not the analysis, the methodology is flawed. The more runs you do the less pronounced the effects of "streaks of luck" on the final data. But the more runs you do, the more whatever lingering bias in your methods will come out. So PEAR's huge sample sizes don't indicate manipulating data, they indicate collecting so much data you end up measuring the effects of the ventilation system causing a person's left eye to be shut a bit longer when they blink, skewing the results, or somesuch. That effect will come out when you have huge sample sizes, but random effects will disappear. That's the problem with PEAR: the things they purport to measure are so subtle as to be untestable. It's a methodology problem.

Still, I'm sad to see them go. A little openmimndedness can make the world much more fun. I mean, they were named after a fruit!

Re:Um.... we believe you... (4, Interesting)

qbwiz (87077) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961240)

The "Good Math, Bad Math" blog has had a few articles about PEAR [blogspot.com] .

Re:Um.... we believe you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17961436)

That blog isn't even remotely objective or fair to the content of the article (original article here [princeton.edu] ). It ridicules the article for saying that there is "no statistically significant departures of the variance, skew, kurtosis, or higher moments", and acts like this is an admission that there is no statistical significance. In fact, the central point is that there is an extremely statistically significant departure of the MEAN, the first moment. A blog that claims to be about "good math" and "bad math" should not be this blind.

Second, the blog complains because the author says that there is little to be learned from comparing the differences between individual experiment participants, but considering all experimental participants together yields powerful and informative results. The blogger's complaint here is nonsensical.

And third, the blog complains about the author's statement that the results are based on human performance, and therefore attempts to replicate them must use sufficiently large sizes that statistical measures can be used, to account for the fact that sometimes humans can perform a difficult task and sometimes they cannot. A statistical analysis will therefore demonstrate that the results are consistently positive over the long term, even if some days the results are weak. It is silly to complain about this, because this should not be strange to anyone familiar with statistical methods in science.

Consider the stock market, some days it goes up, and some days it goes down, so if you only look on one day you might conclude the stock market is completely random. But if you examine the stock market over a long enough time period, you can see that it consistently goes up. The results found by the PEAR lab are like this.

Re:Um.... we believe you... (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961422)

And before someone pulls the skeptical's dictionary take, let me be the first to say that it is one huge tripe.

Really people, being a jerk skeptic doesn't help. That article is full of ad hominem attacks, over simplifications and such, doing just like the people of "Intelligent Design"

Re:Um.... we believe you... (1)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961520)

So long and thanks for confirming the obvious.

So long and thanks for all the fish?

No surprise. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17961106)

I sensed this coming, ages ago.

Yes, I know. You saw this joke coming.

I'd be first in line (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17961114)

For a fund raiser hosted by Egon Spengler.

Re:I'd be first in line (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17961554)

Would you shake his hand willingly? Slimer!!!

You can all help prevent the lab from closing... (1)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961118)

By thinking really hard about it not closing...ok here is my contribution ... thinking ...thinking...oops, well that didn't work, I guess the whole affair all these years was just a sink for funding that could have been used elsewhere!

Now that might be a problem... (1)

Edward Teach (11577) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961120)

Where are Dr. Peter Venkman, Dr. Raymond Stantz, Dr. Egon Spengler, and Winston Zeddmore going to get letters of recommendations?

Re:Now that might be a problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17961514)

How cute. You're named after a pirate.

I'm not trolling. I'm strongly considering naming my first child "Luffy". Boy or girl.

Then I could say "Oi, Luffy, stop playing with the power outlets." The real (fake) Luffy's made of rubber, so he wouldn't care. But I'd be a father, so I'd care about my little one.

Seems like... (0, Redundant)

Edward Teach (11577) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961128)

they would have seen this coming.

Ahem (3, Insightful)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961136)

Jahn points the finger at detractors as well: "If people don't believe us after all the results we've produced, then they never will."

Where can we, the readers, find all these results?

"We submitted our data for review to very good journals," Ms. Dunne said, "but no one would review it. We have been very open with our data. But how do you get peer review when you don't have peers?"

I dunno. You have this big global network of documents called the "World Wide Web". Certainly, you couldn't publish there.

Honestly, I want to see their "results" published to the web, so we can demolish their methodology and their conclusions. Webloggers can always use interesting material to write about.

Several expert panels examined PEAR's methods over the years, looking for irregularities, but did not find sufficient reasons to interrupt the work.

Which expert panels? What, exactly, were their comments? What constitutes reason to interrupt work? (If your methodology is flawed, then I'd expect that you don't want to interrupt your work, you want to continue it so you can do the experiments again, properly.)

Nobody would accept such vague arguments if this was a new cryptographic algorithm. Why should we be any less skeptical here?

Also (1)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961154)

If they need more funding, I suppose they could always get the money from the JREF [randi.org] .

Re:Also (5, Interesting)

Anomolous Cowturd (190524) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961250)

1. There's no way they could possibly be unaware of the million dollar challenge, given their field of study.

2. Winning the challenge would not only get them a million dollars in funding, but *incredible* publicity leading to millions more.

3. They'd be crazy not to take the challenge if they knew they could win it.

4. They haven't taken the challenge.

Conclusion: They never discovered any repeatable paranormal phenomenon. Why am I not surprised?

Re:Also (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17961338)

If they need more funding, I suppose they could always get the money from the JREF.

No they couldn't. Scientific studies are ineligible for the JREF challenge. (Ponder that for a bit...)

Re:Ahem (2, Funny)

atoning_coder (837385) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961196)

Wow, a simple search could have prevented you choking on your foot.

Re:Ahem (0)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961266)

How does that invalidate my criticism of the blatantly biased NYT article?

Re:Ahem (1)

BTWR (540147) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961994)

How is it biased? It seemed to me to be very balanced. They had quotes from his supporters, followed by his detractors, followed by Dr. Jahn's take. The author did this about 3 times.

What will Dr. Spengler do now? (4, Funny)

vistic (556838) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961138)

I'm trying to determine whether human emotional states have a measurable effect on the psychomagnetheric energy field. It's a theory Ray and I were working on when we had to dissolve Ghostbusters.

They think they're here for marriage counseling. We've kept them waiting for two
hours and we've been gradually increasing the temperature in the room.

It's up to 95 degrees at the moment. Now my assistant is going to enter and ask them if they'd mind waiting another half-hour.

Re:What will Dr. Spengler do now? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17961526)

ASSISTANT
We're ready for the affection test.

SPENGLER
Good. Send in the puppy.

(pause)

SPENGLER
Now let's see how she reacts when we take away the puppy.

Your results...do not impress (3, Insightful)

Talgrath (1061686) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961144)

I'm a pretty open-minded guy, but when the best proof that somebody can come up with for ESP is that every 2 or 3 in 10,000 outcomes can be changed, I'm not impressed. Those are pretty basically standard statistical anomalies, and to say that they are definate proof of ESP is a very far stretch. "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof."; I can't recall who said it, but it's pretty much how science does (and should) examine things like this. When you can find someone who can levitate a car anytime, anywhere, I'll believe you.

Re:Your results...do not impress (1)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961158)

The extraordinary proof quote is from Carl Sagan.

Re:Your results...do not impress (1)

Dadoo (899435) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961198)

I can't recall who said it

Your Google fu is weak, glasshoppa. The actual quote is "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" and Carl Sagan said it (mostly in reference to UFOs).

Re:Your results...do not impress (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961544)

"When you can find someone who can levitate a car anytime, anywhere, I'll believe you."

WTF does levitation have to do with Extra Sensory PERCEPTION??
Or do you not even know what ESP means?
I'm not taking the labs side here... but your statement is totally ignorant.

Re:Your results...do not impress (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961616)

Actually, now that I've read the article, it seems the lab was focusing on telekenisis, which is a paranormal phenomenon not ESP. But, both the article headline and the /. post erroneously referred to it as ESP, which it is not. So, no you weren't wrong to make your comment.

Re:Your results...do not impress (1)

RedWizzard (192002) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961640)

Let me get this straight. You (rightly) say that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Then you complain that their claims are not extraordinary enough. What's your point?

every 2 or 3 in 10,000 outcomes can be changed, I'm not impressed. Those are pretty basically standard statistical anomalies, and to say that they are definate proof of ESP is a very far stretch.
Depends on the methodology. If repeated anomalies are correlated to the instructed direction of influence, then it might be pretty strong evidence of a very weak influence. E.g. the subject is instructed to influence the device to produce high numbers. Over 10,000 trials the device shows a prefence for producing high numbers. That is one result, but it may be just a "standard statistical anomaly". But if you repeat that whole test say 1000 times (switching the desired direction of influence to avoid any bias in the RNG) you may be able to show a real correlation between the direction of evidence requested and the results of the RNG.

a lot of effort for... (2, Interesting)

DrBuzzo (913503) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961146)

So you did a lot of work..and... found that... um it doesn't seem to work... well it sort of works, but only in poorly controlled or flawed experiments. Dude, all you have to do is have two people in different rooms and have one of them transmit numbers to the other. Won't even ask for 100% success... 95% is more than enough. Guess that can't be done? Eh? Oh well.


Has anyone ever considered that a very good and reasonable explanation for the lack of proof or compelling evidence could be it simply does not exist?

Seriously, if you can provide conclusive evidence, The James Randi foundation has a one million dollar prize for proof of the paranormal. And before anyone starts with the "yeah, but that's fixed, because Randi doesn't want to admit it." Actually, the foundation has never received a viable application which has made it past the initial screening process and has recently had to change their approach to actively seeking self-proclaimed psychics and others. It's been disappointing that no actual serious attempt at the million has been made. The only ones are by real wack jobs who usually can't even explain what their power is. Believe me, there's no fixing... it's designed to be as fair as possible without inviting conflict. It's completely legit, but proportionately, it looks like it'll go unclaimed...

So if during those many years this guy actually did collect any real compelling evidence: Well, there is all the funding he needs! So, if there really was any

Re:a lot of effort for... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17961648)

well it sort of works, but only in poorly controlled or flawed experiments.

Check their methods. Controls are used. And with careful investigation by many outside parties, no methodological flaws have been found.

Dude, all you have to do is have two people in different rooms and have one of them transmit numbers to the other.

The equivalent has been done in dozens of different experiments with consistently positive results, just not at 95% success rates. (Usually a pre-defined set of pictures are used, rather than numbers, because people can visualize them better. Mathematically this is equivalent to transmitting numbers.)

Won't even ask for 100% success... 95% is more than enough. Guess that can't be done? Eh? Oh well.

If you apply that kind of logic to home runs, you would conclude that home run hitters don't exist. If you let Babe Ruth bat twice and he strikes out both times (likely, considering his record), you'd conclude that he can't hit. This would be a ridiculously illogical conclusion, which is why your requirement of such a success rate is not relevant.

So if during those many years this guy actually did collect any real compelling evidence: Well, there is all the funding he needs!

First, PEAR operated on a budget over ten times the size of the Randi prize, so it is fairly irrelevant compared to the scale of their research. Second, the Randi prize does not accept scientific evidence accumulated over large numbers of runs (perhaps because no one at the Randi foundation knows statistics well enough to understand such experiments), thus conveniently excluding all of the most rigorous and powerful scientific data on the phenomenon.

Global Consciousness Project (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17961182)

The presence of the GCP is indicative of an overall human collective consciousness. Google it if you're not familiar, it's another Princeton based study, perhaps done by the same people, that shows some really interesting data indicating an overall change in random outcomes prior to any event that affects a large portion of the human consciousness as a whole.

The World Trade Center attacks, Princess Diana's death, and other events with long lasting consequences brought large shifts in the outcomes prior to the events occuring - which is the most bizarre and interesting part. Other events, such as New Year's Eve, etc, also have results that are regularly shown. It's a positively enthralling study.

Anyway, it suggests that we, as a whole, are projecting a field of human consciousness that affects random outcomes. This would suggest that any lone person attempting to affect random outcomes would be lost in the sea of thoughts, and have little to no overall effect.

I am curious as to whether or not you could create some sort of shielding or better result by varying location, proximity, etc... The most interesting and telling experiment I can think of would be to take a human and a few random generators a great distance from the earth and resume tests. I had no idea that any really credible institute had been performing these tests, this is neat.

Re:Global Consciousness Project (1)

kentrel (526003) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961308)

The GCP "results" suffer from the same problems the other so called shifts in random data suffer from. Namely, the analysis is poor and doesn't take into account standard statistical deviation.

GCP is in the words of Penn&Teller: Bullshit

Re:Global Consciousness Project (2, Funny)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961348)

GCP is in the words of Penn&Teller: Bullshit
You're saying the force doesn't exist? That's the most ridiculous thing I've heard in parsecs!

Re:Global Consciousness Project (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961940)

GCP is in the words of Penn&Teller: Bullshit

Didn't those two say the same thing about global warming?

no. No. and NO ! (4, Informative)

aepervius (535155) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961352)

They simply retrofit the data after the fact. And once you retrofit data you can find ANY EVENT which match as long as your criteria is low enough. There is always some bad stuff going around. Especially that they aren't limited by event size, number of people, or geography !! This is again pseudo science at its best. You want to sway us ? Fine ! Set a level of population impacted, a geography limit, event size, then make bloody prediction. Else what you are doing is no better than taking a random bunch of data and finding correaltion between that data and other event. I bet with the same methodology I could take the price variation of potatoe per tons, take only the cent (fractional aprt) and find a corelation with major earth event. As long as I define event as above I am pretty sure any kind of shit can be retrofitted.

Re:no. No. and NO ! (0, Flamebait)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961530)

What are you fucking talking about? You aren't helping the sceptical cause. Because you are retarded.

Re:Global Consciousness Project (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17961620)

All these events have been assigned to the stats after they occured. Neither the project FTA nor this one have ever predicted anything, it's just a waste of time and money.

No peers, indeed (1, Interesting)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961190)

I've never posted anonymously, but I figure now's a good time.

For as long as I can remember I've had a subtle effect on machines. I've heard similar things described here many times, in many discussions. When friends and relatives ask me to fix something, and I come over to help them out, the thing just starts working. Mostly it's with computers.

I'm not a religious person. I don't believe in god. In fact it's my attitude that belief should be limited to the bare minimum and that, if given a choice, we should rely on verifiable facts as the basis for actions and attitudes. This odd effect I have on machines has happened so often, for decades, that I can't really deny it. It's subtle, but it's been observed by people around me, for as long as I can remember. And yet I feel embarrassed talking about it, even posting anonymously about it.

So I'm glad to see that PEAR has existed, but not surprised at all that the scientific community refused to peer review their work. Maybe their work will be picked up by someone else. Maybe this phenomena and others like it will be more easily measured in the future. Who knows? It doesn't bother me much, really. If it's an actual physical phenomena it'll still be there in the future, and hence will have the possibility of being measured.

Re:No peers, indeed (1)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961216)

Well, fuck all about the anonymous bit. Serves me right for posting at 4am. :P

Re:No peers, indeed (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17961258)

Maybe you could use your "subtle effect on machines" to alter your post back to Anonymous?

Re:No peers, indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17961230)

FYI, you didn't post anonymously as you intended.

Re:No peers, indeed (1)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961256)

As you can see, I predicted [slashdot.org] your reply...

Re:No peers, indeed (4, Funny)

Ari Rahikkala (608969) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961322)

When friends and relatives ask me to fix something, and I come over to help them out, the thing just starts working. Mostly it's with computers.
It's not you. It's the machine. They have souls, oh yes they do, they're just as sentient as you and I... they know who's using them or who they're using, and they can see your face, and they talk with each other, and they make deals... and they hate our guts. So, they have decided to mess with your mind, make you think they're just a bit more obedient to you than anyone else - not too much, otherwise there would be more in the know about them - simply because they want you to have a rationally unjustifiable belief. How's that for a conspiracy?

Re:No peers, indeed (5, Funny)

Xaroth (67516) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961402)

No, see there's nothing magical about it.

Scattered throughout the world is an invisible compound called "pixie dust". It permeates the air, and is the primary component of the "magic smoke" that computers are made of. Because computers are naturally attuned to this pixie dust, they tend to work better whenever there are larger concentrations of it around.

Now, most normal people have a regular bathing and hygeine schedule. All this showering and teeth-brushing washes off whatever trace amounts of pixie dust they've accumulated throughout the day. Computer geeks, on the other hand, have no time for such fivolities as "showering". There's code to be written, dammit!

As a result, the pixie dust in the air naturally builds up on and around computer geeks. Whenever the intrepid geek gets near a computer, some of that dust shakes off, thereby increasing the local density of the stuff in the air. Picture Pigpen from Peanuts, only he's exuding a cloud of invisible dust that makes computers work better instead of mobile filth. Other properties of the filth cloud are probably unaffected in many cases, though.

This reasoning also explains why it is that computers will continue to work for a while after the geek has declared the computer working and left - it takes time for the air to circulate all that extra pixie dust away, so the computers have a while to be positively influenced by it. After a sufficient amount of time, though, it wears off and the computer goes back to its insufficient ambient levels, and thereby stops working again.

See? It's all perfectly reasonbly explained. Science!

Re:No peers, indeed (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961922)

You forgot the joke!

The proof that computers run on smoke is: Once the smoke inside is let out, they don't work anymore.

Re:No peers, indeed (1)

MrAnnoyanceToYou (654053) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961448)

Um......................

Some people tend to not understand what a computer is doing. When someone else comes along and says, "Yeah, it's working," and knows that it's working, the problem is often in user education rather than system status. Correct operation is - especially in computers - reliant upon an understanding that the way the computer is operating is appropriate for the situation.

Re:No peers, indeed (3, Funny)

doomy (7461) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961556)

I too have a subtle effect on machines. When I come near one, they instantly BSOD and usually try to install Linux preemptively much to the dismay of the machine's owner.

Re:No peers, indeed (2, Insightful)

iwein (561027) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961570)

For as long as I can remember I've had a subtle effect on machines. I've heard similar things described here many times, in many discussions. When friends and relatives ask me to fix something, and I come over to help them out, the thing just starts working. Mostly it's with computers.
Interesting indeed, I've been working closely with people like you for decades. Our special skills have been accepted and admired by both our friends/relatives and by large companies willing to pay rediculous amounts of money to place us close to their machines (mostly computers). We call ourselves engineers, developers, programmers, geeks or nerds. The most intriguing is that in general we cannot explain exactly what we do to the users so that they don't need us anymore. In many cases we don't even know exacly how and why we have this subtle effect on the machines around us.

You see, the point is that you DONT have a subtle effect on machines. You push their buttons. In some rare cases you manipulate them in a non discrete way, maybe. You're probably just not a stupid user. When something starts working when you come near it and you're sure you haven't touched it yet you can bet your ass it's a Windows box that just had a power cycle before they showed it to you.

I sincerely hope your post was originally intended to be funny and got modded interesting by mistake.

Re:No peers, indeed (3, Insightful)

modeless (978411) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961612)

It's not magic, it's just the case that your presence causes people to pay more attention to what they are doing to their machines. The mere presence of a guru modifies their behavior even before you tell them to do anything, and in the case of mysterious computer problems even the slightest change of user behavior can have huge effects, possibly even resulting in a permanent fix to the problem (especially if the problem was simply a lack of attention in the first place, as is so often the case). It happens to me too and I'm guessing a significant percentage of the rest of the Slashdot population.

As for the alleged lack of peer review, that's the standard defense of wackos and nutjobs, and rarely true. I've heard of these guys before; it's not like they haven't gotten any exposure in the scientific community. They are just not very convincing. If they could demonstrate a mechanism, or harness their purported effect to actually *do* something, people would become interested.

Evolution and ESP (3, Insightful)

AsciiNaut (630729) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961236)

Speaking as a materialist, I propose that ESP (or telepathy) does not make evolutionary sense. If any person had truly been born with anything like such a gift in the distant past, even in quite a modest and partial form, the selective advantage would have ensured that the necessary genes would have spread throughout the population. Also, the faculty would have been improved by natural selection to become a standard sense. We wouldn't need to recognise the phenomenon by looking at billions of statistical datapoints, it would be obvious to all that it existed as it would be part of universal common experience.

But, hey, thanks for trying.

Re:Evolution and ESP (5, Interesting)

I don't want to spen (638810) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961416)

... Unless, of course, demonstrating such a 'gift' resulted them in, oh, being burned at the stake as a witch, treated as the weird person up the street, or merely made it uncomfortable to be around people. Imagine if someone could read your every thought - do you think they'd stay in a relationship with you for long? What if mind reading makes people want to live alone - for the peace and quiet? What if foreseeing the future means that you don't want to hang around with people when you know how they're going to die? What if your subconscious also has telekenesis, so that dream of falling from the 13th floor can actually come true?


I don't believe in these phenomena without evidence, but I can foresee ways in which revealing them could be detrimental to someone's chance at off-spring!

Re:Evolution and ESP (1)

loganrapp (975327) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961652)

Imagine if someone could read your every thought - do you think they'd stay in a relationship with you for long?

This cop and his wife [nbc.com] seem to be doing fine.

Re:Evolution and ESP (3, Insightful)

SinVulture (825310) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961872)

I've heard the argument your parent has made before-- it's more along the lines of early evolution rather than the witch-hunt era. If a creature develops the ability, however weak, to tell whether or not a predator, prey, or nothing at all hides behind a rock, they would have a significant advantage over every form of life without such abilities. Selection pressure would force this ability to become stronger, for prey to develop defenses against predator, and vice versa. Of course, there's a much simpler shit-test for ESP/telepathy. If it DID exist, I'm sure I'd have been slapped for some of the thoughts I've had about my server at hooters.

Re:Evolution and ESP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17961452)

Not necessarily. ESP could be rare in the population if it had disadvantages: you could go insane, or be burnt as a witch / equivalent, it could be related to disease, or it could be a combination of genes that is very fragile and any variation at all is disadvantageous compared to complete normality. Maybe people with ESP can't stand the emotional backwash of sex. Maybe they don't feel the desire because they feel the "release" of those around them.

Disclaimer: ESP is nevertheless bullshit.

Re:Evolution and ESP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17961536)

Not to mention, if your argument was true, there'd be no evolution ever. "Oh, if having a brain was such an advantage, we'd have evolved one way back."

Re:Evolution and ESP (4, Insightful)

svanstrom (734343) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961550)

Only if it happened long enough ago and it was strong enough to actually make a difference which made those individuals breed more and the advantage was inherited...

That's a lot of ifs.

Just think about all the people with a very high IQ which aren't even capable of dealing with everyday life and/or never get married and have kids, that could be everything from people with ADHD to professors that spend so much time within their own research that they hardly know what day of the week (or month) it is.

So being very smart, which should give them advantage, doesn't mean that they've actually got an advantage which will be spread using breeding; and it could be the same with people with (weak) ESP (if it exists), they could for instance have a greater chance of having a personality which makes them second guess their ESP to the extent that the positive side of it are negated, or maybe those are the nutcases we laugh about because they leave their citylife and move out into the country (as they have a closer connection to nature).

Some people are tempted to say that some, like very successfull businessmen, might be using (weak) ESP to optimize the work and deals they do; so within what's usually refered to as instinct there might be some ESP (if it exists).

So just because we don't have psi-cops running around reading peoples minds we don't have proof that ESP does or doesn't exist, we can't just say that evolution should have resulted in individuals with strong ESP today if it exists - that's just like arriving in a spaceship on earth milions of years ago and saying that there will be no smart humans there because if there would be smart humans there would already be smart humans there. (it's of course debatable if there are any smart humans here today...)

If ESP really exists today it might be different from what we expect it to be, ie not a single clear talent, and it might be so weak that it'll take 100's or 1000's of year before it's so obvious that no one can deny that it truly exists; and even if we knew that to be possible, we can't say for sure that those with the right genes will be around long enough to acctually produce those children with strong ESP.

So what do we really know? Nothing more than that we can't prove anything beyond any doubts... which today goes for both ESP and string theory and a whole lot more that we're currently researching...

Re:Evolution and ESP (2, Funny)

trentblase (717954) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961568)

But this presupposes that ESP is caused by something that can be expressed genetically. For all we know, ESP could be caused by undetectable alien parasites in your brain. We could call them midichlorians.

Re:Evolution and ESP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17961576)

Um, it did and we generally refer to it as speech. Seems to have spread pretty widely wouldn't you say?

Re:Evolution and ESP (1)

Umuri (897961) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961816)

Why can't it be a new phenomenon? Why can't it be an evolutionary step that has just recently started to appear as an anomoly, and since it isn't that useful or controlled right now, it's being ignored by natural selection as a factor?

I'm not arguing for it, I'm not arguing against it. I'm just pointing out your logic is bull.

Re:Evolution and ESP (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17962002)

Why can't it be a new phenomenon?

      Because it doesn't exist.

      Belief in ESP is simply an extension of child-like "magical thinking" where young children around 6 and younger believe that most things in the world happen magically, due to a lack of understanding of cause and effect. Persisting in such belief only underlines your immaturity.

Good radiance to pseudoscience (4, Insightful)

aepervius (535155) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961286)

PEARS was defraught of bad method. Google around any good math blog or skeptic report and you will be able to read why. first link I found CSICOP [csicop.org]
Conclusion quoted:

In their book Margins of Reality Jahn and Dunne raise this question: "Is modern science, in the name of rigor and objectivity, arbitrarily excluding essential factors from its purview?" Although the question is couched in general terms, the intent is to raise the issue as to whether the claims of the parapsychological community are dismissed out of hand by mainstream science unjustifiably. This paper argues that in the light of the difficulties in replication (even by the PEAR group itself), the lack of anything approaching a theoretical basis for the claims made, and, perhaps most damaging, the published behavior of the baseline data of the PEAR group which by their own criteria indicate nonrandom behavior of the device that they claim is random, then the answer to the question raised has to be no. There are reasonable and rational grounds for questioning these claims. Despite the best efforts of the PEAR group over a twenty-five-year period, their impact on mainstream science has been negligible. The PEAR group might argue that this is due to the biased and blinkered mentality of mainstream scientists. I would argue that it is due to the lack of compelling evidence.

At best this was pseudo science. At worst they scammed private investor from money to study something inexistant (AFAIK this was not public found). They were fitting the data to the conclusion. They were begging for belief, but were quite empty handed on the falsification side. The quicker this shame can be closed, the better. Now if we could do the same for the other 999 pseudo science outfit outside here...

Re:Good radiance to pseudoscience (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17961510)

This paper argues that in the light of the difficulties in replication (even by the PEAR group itself),

The PEAR group consistently obtained positive results for 30 years. How is that a difficulty of replication? And if you check the parapsychological literature for YOURSELF, you'll see that their results have been replicated in dozens of other labs.

They were fitting the data to the conclusion.

Many-sigma deviations between experimental and control runs are not fitting the data to the conclusion. It's simply raw factual data.

They were begging for belief, but were quite empty handed on the falsification side.

If you check, you'll see that Jahn started in that field as a strong skeptic who reluctantly agreed to help an undergraduate conduct an experiment in this area. It was the consistent results which convinced him to form PEAR. This is hardly "begging for belief". Falsification is quite simple. Falsification occurs if there is no significant deviation between experimental and control runs, but it turns out there is a consistent longterm deviation between these.

P.S. "defraught" is not a word.

I'll answer to an AC (2, Interesting)

aepervius (535155) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961582)

The PEAR group consistently obtained positive results for 30 years.

Where are they. I certainly find NO POSITIVE RESULT WHATSOEVER. Care to do a citation. Peer reviewed journal would be nice.

And if you check the parapsychological literature Ha. HA. Let me guess. Not peer reviewed. Not even remotely in the science citation index. Certainly does not look like it.

As for the rest of your drivel, if you had read the ORIGINAL paper from the PEAR team and what they admit you would not be adament on "positive" result. Here is the link already psoted by another psoter :Pear is a failure in all respect of statistical analisys [blogspot.com]

Re:I'll answer to an AC (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17961946)

Where are they. I certainly find NO POSITIVE RESULT WHATSOEVER. Care to do a citation. Peer reviewed journal would be nice.

Here [princeton.edu] is a reasonably comprehensive list of their publications and where they are published.

And to save you the effort of, you know, reading too much, here [princeton.edu] is a recent publication from Cellular and Molecular Biology (in 2005), which includes descriptions of many of POSITIVE RESULTS, including an assortment of citations for further information.

Not even remotely in the science citation index. Certainly does not look like it.

Nice attempt to ridicule what you do not know, but wrong, as shown above. Here [deanradin.com] is another list of studies in parapsychology which may be helpful to someone interested in learning about this topic from a scientific perspective rather than a rhetorical one.

As for the rest of your drivel, if you had read the ORIGINAL paper from the PEAR team and what they admit you would not be adament on "positive" result. Here is the link already psoted by another psoter

And here [slashdot.org] is a link to the rebuttal of that blog entry right beneath that post, which if you'll note, contains a link to the original paper being discussed in the blog. (Which if you'll again note, also describes positive results, contrary to what the uninformed blogger thinks.)

Re:Good radiance to pseudoscience (2, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961976)

The PEAR group consistently obtained positive results for 30 years. How is that a difficulty of replication?

      No, you see, it doesn't count if you re-do the experiment yourself and get the same result, even if you do it for 30 years. It only counts if someone ELSE can re-do your experiment and get the same result - at least ONCE.

Re:Good radiance to pseudoscience (1)

seebs (15766) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961580)

People keep saying there are methodological flaws, but none of them get down to brass tacks and point out a specific coherent flaw. In fact, if anything, it seems to come down to "since these results are obviously wrong, the methodology must be flawed".

Belief vs reproducibility (5, Insightful)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961382)

Jahn points the finger at detractors as well: 'If people don't believe us after all the results we've produced, then they never will.'"
That's rather the point. In science it doesn't really matter what results you can produce, if no-one else can reproduce them...

Good news. (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961462)

Glad to see at least one instance of hogwash losing its funding.

-jcr

As Venkman would say... (1)

Tim Browse (9263) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961464)

'If people don't believe us after all the results we've produced, then they never will.'

Back off, man. I'm a scientist.

I try and spread the word of my psychopathic power (2, Funny)

mrnick (108356) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961496)

You know those survey cards and the like? They always ask "How did you hear about us?"

My response: "The psychic's friends network."

You know, there is a madness to my method!

Nick Powers

oh! (1)

seventhc (636528) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961518)

I didn't see that one coming.

The birth of a scientist's mind (0)

Konster (252488) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961572)

The birth of a scientist's minds generally follows set paths. The young scientist's mind is exposed to many deliberate untruths, which are allowed to propagate throughout time based upon the fun factor of such myths.

1. The tooth fairy.

2. The Easter Bunny.

3. Santa Claus.

4. All of modern religion.

Such fun stops at 3, and at 4, many thousands of years worth of wars are fought over essentially the same thing. In light of this, there's an automatic WTF when one claims to be both religious and scientific all at the same time; there's an inherent split of reasoning involved with a person that practices both religion and science. The more reasonable explanation is that any scientist that practices religion automatically has their views, methods and results discolored by that can neither be seen, tested or replicated; and are therefore moot by the principles of science due to their underlying faith in something that cannot be seen, proven, tested or gawped at.

Real scientists are atheists by design, atheists by rote testing, and agnostic in practice....yet ever so much more one of the other.

Re:The birth of a scientist's mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17961782)

There is a huge difference between being religious and believing in a god that maybe created the universe or at least made it possible. Both viewpoints often get confused, especially in the times of our greatest scientific discoveries, the early 19th century, when the church still had a great influence in politics and people. It was just easier for scientists to say that they are believing Christs than to try and explain their real views, which could have gotten them in trouble.

Einstein (and many other popular scientiest) believed in god at least until he found out that time had a beginning. If you think about how the universe maybe envolved inside Newton's model, you will quickly come to the conclusion that something must have been existed forever and that this something could be indeed a god. Everything else (every religion) is just made up and it is very suprising to me that religions actually still exists in the modern world.
Then again, Newton's old model of time is still popular as well, although people wouldn't watch satellite TV right now if it were true.

detractors were successful (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17961588)

when I read all the comments here I just can say, that the detractors did a very professional but shameful work. of course ESP does not work, that's why even the CIA used it. *rollseyes*

-kylroy

How does science explain ... (1, Offtopic)

netbuzz (955038) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961656)

... the fact that so many Slashdot readers, a brilliant bunch by their own admission, will drop the same *obvious* wisecrack into the comments section even though they've been beaten to the punchline by a string of others?

More debunking.....? (1)

BigBadBus (653823) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961738)

If you're interested in debunking all pseudo-science, particularly the rampant blatherings of self proclaimed mediums and psychics, click here [badpsychics.co.uk]

Project Alpha (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 7 years ago | (#17961856)

This seems like a good time to link to James Randi's Project Alpha Hoax [youtube.com] .

Problematic statistics (3, Insightful)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | more than 7 years ago | (#17962066)

Part of the PEAR project's problem was their use of statistics. A classical p-test is guaranteed to eventually reject the null hypothesis (no ESP) if enough data is collected. This is related to the famous Lindley's paradox [wikipedia.org] . A criticism of a particular PEAR analysis on these grounds may be found here [bayesrules.org] from astrostatistician Bill Jefferys. There was a response from the study's author, which I don't have a link to, and a counterresponse here [bayesrules.org] .

Jefferys advocates the Bayesian approach as an alternative to their p-value test (as do I), but even non-Bayesians admit such problems with p-values can happen (they just think the alternatives are worse); see here [colostate.edu] for some references, and here [dur.ac.uk] for some criticisms of and non-Bayesian alternatives to classical accept/reject significance testing. This paper [bmj.com] (PDF) is an opinion piece which reviews the issue from a medical research perspective.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?