Presentation Speech Outline:
Skepticism vs. Psi
By Winston Wu
I. The 2 general kinds of skeptics
A. Open-minded skeptics
- Typical traits: honest doubt, inquiry and investigation of both sides, considers evidence on all sides and seeing their good/bad points, asking exploratory questions, acceptance of evidence, good common sense, nonjudgmental
B. Closed-minded skeptics (also known as pseudoskeptics, debunkers, hard core materialists, scoffers, atheists)
- Typical traits: Automatic dismissal of all paranormal claims, predisposed to discredit all testimonials of a paranormal nature, denial of any and all evidence, scoffing, giving off an air of superior rationality, judgmental about things they know nothing about, quick to draw conclusions without evidence, using philosophical semantics to win arguments and invalidate paranormal or spiritual experiences
· The skepticism of closed-minded skeptics is a philosophy, not a science
II. Examples of organized skeptical groups which seek to debunk/discredit spiritual or paranormal claims:
A. CSICOP (Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal)
- Publisher of Skeptical Inquirer magazine. Website: www.csicop.org
- Former staff member Dennis Rawlins resigned after finding hard evidence of CSICOP intentionally suppressing its own findings which supported astrology (known as the "file drawer effect"), thus proving the organization's true agenda was simply to discredit/debunk in any way possible rather than to find the truth, in order to appease its subscribers. You can read Rawlins' report at http://cura.free.fr/xv/14starbb.html
B. JREF (James Randi Educational Foundation)
- Founded by magician and professional debunker James Randi, who is infamous for his million dollar psychic challenge. Website: www.randi.org
- Critics claim that his challenge is a publicity stunt that no one can win, citing claims that applicants for the challenge go unanswered.
III. Common underhanded tactics of organized skeptics
A. Raising the bar or moving the goal posts endlessly and undefined
B. Dismissing ALL anecdotal evidence on purely philosophical grounds
C. Double standards in accepting only anecdotal evidence that supports their claims
D. Ignoring facts and evidence that don’t fit into their beliefs, rather than updating their beliefs to conform to the facts (but this is human nature, which we all do)
E. Forcing or adhering to any explanation rather than a paranormal one, even if it's been ruled out.
· Some articles that describe these type of tactics/tricks in detail:
- Zen and the Art of Debunkery (satire on skeptics), http://www.eskimo.com/~billb/pathskep.html
- 10 Stupid Tricks of Skeptics, http://www.primenet.com/~lippard/stupid-skeptic-tricks.txt
- Extraordinary Claim? Move the goal posts!, http://www.anomalist.com/commentaries/claim.html
IV. Common arguments of organized skeptics
A. Anecdotal evidence is invalid
B. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence
C. Occam's Razor
D. Invisible Pink Unicorn analogy or Santa Claus gambit
V. Scientific evidence for psi
- Done repeatedly during the 70's and 80's, subjects choosing one our of four targets got between 33 and 45 percent hit rate rather than the chance rate of 25 percent.
- Same as above, but used computers for the testing, during the 80's and 90's.
- Repeated by Edinburg. Examined by experts who found no sensory leakage in controls.
· For more reading on Ganzfeld, see Dean Radin's book The Conscious Universe: The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena.
· Links to scientific reports on Ganzfeld
C. PEAR (Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research)
- Done over 20 years. Psychokinesis experiments revealed consistent statistical anomaly throughout thousands of trials. Skeptic Ray Hyman investigated and could find no lack of controls. See PEAR website at: http://www.princeton.edu/~pear/
D. Recent experiments by Dr. Gary Schwartz involving mediums and sitters
- The mediums got a hit rate far above chance, between 70 - 90 percent. Results summarized in Jan 2001 edition of the Journal for the Society of Psychical Research. His recent book The Afterlife Experiments is convincing evidence of survival of consciousness and of telepathy.
E. Overwhelming anecdotal evidence for telepathy and ghosts
- At least half the population of the world has experienced either telepathy or ghosts that defied any conventional explanation, and everyone knows someone who has too. Therefore, it is extremely likely that these are real phenomenon. For example:
In their biennial report on the state of science understanding released in April 2002, the National Science Foundation found that 60 percent of adults in the United States agreed or strongly agreed that some people possess psychic powers or extrasensory perception (ESP). In June 2002, the Consumer Analysis Group conducted the most extensive survey ever done in the United Kingdom and revealed that 67 percent of adults believed in psychic powers. Report author Jan Walsh, commenting on the statistics that found that two out of three surveyed believed in an afterlife, said that as far as the British public was concerned, "the supernatural world isn't so paranormal after all."
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More...TIME AND MINDWay back in one of my first columns for FATE (August, 1991), I wrote of the apparent connection of geomagnetic fields (the fields generated by the Earth itself) and psi abilities. Researchers had found correlations between highs and lows in the field and the incidence and apparent “strength” of psi experiences. It has been postulated that observing the fluctuations of the geomagnetic field might allow researchers in the laboratory to decide when to try experiments for best results in PK or ESP.Of course, the geomagnetic fields generated by our planet do shift irregularly, and can be affected on a planet-wide scale by solar flares, cosmic radiation, and similar extra-terrestrial (natural) events, and on a local level by movements of the earth and weather. This makes predicting best times for best results a bit tricky.Now a researcher in California has found another environmental correlation, but this one having to do with a specific time of day, though not one measured by our usual clocks.TIME AND THE STARSDr. James Spottiswoode, a physicist with the Cognitive Sciences Laboratory in Palo Alto, California, set out to look for any correlations between laboratory results and either local time or sidereal time. In his paper in the JOURNAL OF SCIENTIFIC EXPLORATION (v. 11, no. 2, pp. 109-122, Summer, 1997) entitled “Apparent Association Between Effect Size in Free Response Anomalous Cognition Experiments and Local Sidereal Time,” Spottiswood found a time period in which ESP is three to four times likely to work than at other times of day.First, a few definitions for those not up on their jargon.Anomalous cognition is a fairly new phrase that has been applied to ESP. It essentially means an inexplicable knowing, a transfer of information whose explanation is outside our current knowledge of perception and cognition.