Precognition paper to be published in mainstream journal


by pftest
Tags: journal, mainstream, paper, precognition, published
pftest
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#1
Nov12-10, 01:42 PM
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http://www.newscientist.com/article/...he-future.html

Extraordinary claims don't come much more extraordinary than this: events that haven't yet happened can influence our behaviour.

Parapsychologists have made outlandish claims about precognition – knowledge of unpredictable future events – for years. But the fringe phenomenon is about to get a mainstream airing: a paper providing evidence for its existence has been accepted for publication by the leading social psychology journal.

What's more, sceptical psychologists who have pored over a preprint of the paper say they can't find any significant flaws. "My personal view is that this is ridiculous and can't be true," says Joachim Krueger of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, who has blogged about the work on the Psychology Today website. "Going after the methodology and the experimental design is the first line of attack. But frankly, I didn't see anything. Everything seemed to be in good order."
Critical mass

The paper, due to appear in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology before the end of the year, is the culmination of eight years' work by Daryl Bem of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. "I purposely waited until I thought there was a critical mass that wasn't a statistical fluke," he says.
This is an unfinished version of the paper: http://dbem.ws/FeelingFuture.pdf
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Ivan Seeking
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Nov12-10, 01:59 PM
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I was aware of this work [at least, very similar work] and some of the claims emerging, but nothing ever seemed to come of it. Thanks for the update!

It will be interesting to see what happens now.
Ivan Seeking
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Nov12-10, 10:41 PM
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From the cited paper, this is what I saw quite some time ago [probably around 2002 or 2003]. I have mentioned it but was never able to find a valid reference for this work.

The trend is exemplified by several recent “presentiment” experiments, pioneered by Radin (1997), in which physiological indices of participants’ emotional arousal were monitored as participants viewed a series of pictures on a computer screen. Most of the pictures were emotionally neutral, but a highly arousing negative or erotic image was displayed on randomly selected trials. As expected, strong emotional arousal occurred when these images appeared on the screen, but the remarkable finding is that the increased arousal was observed to occur a few seconds before the picture appeared, before the computer has even selected the picture to be displayed. The presentiment effect has also been demonstrated in an fMRI experiment that monitored brain activity (Bierman & Scholte, 2002) and in experiments using bursts of noise rather than visual images as the arousing stimuli (Spottiswoode & May, 2003). A review of presentiment experiments prior to 2006 can be found in Radin (2006, pp. 161–180). Although there has not yet been a formal meta-analysis of presentiment studies, there have been 24 studies with human participants through 2009, of which 19 were in the predicted direction and Feeling the Future 5 about half were statistically significant. Two studies with animals are both positive, one marginally and the other substantially so (D. I. Radin, personal communication, December 20, 2009)...

FlexGunship
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Nov15-10, 07:02 AM
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Precognition paper to be published in mainstream journal


Quote Quote by Ivan Seeking View Post
I was aware of this work [at least, very similar work] and some of the claims emerging, but nothing ever seemed to come of it. Thanks for the update!

It will be interesting to see what happens now.
Ditto. It would be fascinating to learn the mechanism behind this, if this turns out to be repeatable (and re-observable).

It is my experience that its far too early to get your hopes up about this... it will either be discredited, or will turn into cold fusion (so untestable that it might as well be false for any practical purpose).

On the other hand, if precognition turns out to be scientific fact, then it'll be a very useful surveillance and advertising tool (among other things).
rolerbe
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Nov15-10, 04:27 PM
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Thanks for the link to the draft version. I'm sure I would not have otherwise come across it. It appears well-written, down to earth, and a legitimate attempt at objective scientific inquiry. Can't speak to the actual data, of course, but fascinating stuff.
FlexGunship
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Nov17-10, 08:32 AM
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Just my two cents here:
Obviously I'm skeptical. This could certainly turn out to be another Project Alpha, or just a bump in the data. But this would certainly vindicate the idea that "if it's real, science can find it" mantra which is either loved or loathed by individuals.

In any case, precognition certainly wouldn't be paranormal anymore if this study is repeatable.
Now for a discussion builder: some (not all) parapsychologists and paranormal investigators have long claimed that precognition, remote viewing, and other similar perceptional phenomena weren't measurable by science. I've long taken issue with this statement since remote viewing, at least, is easily testable and worth a lot of money (Randi has a box with something in it, guessing it on your first try gets you $1,000,000).

Does this open the doors? Hypothetically, these parascientists (or scientists, now) have brought their research into the realm of peer-reviewed science.

IF the research turns out to be flawed, does precognition remain in the realm of science (i.e. still non-existent until proved), or do we allow it to go back to that mushy realm of untestability?
JaredJames
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#7
Nov17-10, 08:38 AM
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Science won't take a stand until it has some evidence to do so with. Which is what they are trying to do now.

I personally dismiss the notion until evidence of it's existence is proven. For me it remains the equivelant of a myth, great for stories but with little basis in reality.
FlexGunship
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Nov17-10, 09:07 AM
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Quote Quote by jarednjames View Post
Science won't take a stand until it has some evidence to do so with. Which is what they are trying to do now.
That's kind of what I'm talking about. A group has decided that this test is "good enough" to show evidence of precognition. The test must be falsifiable to be seriously considered.

Which brings me to my question: if this test is shown to have failed (i.e. the results are negative), do we allow the results to stand, or do we push it back into the realm of parascience?

Let me try to build this idea a bit more. In "normal" science. You devise a test which could yield positive or negative results. You don't discard the negative results and say: "oh, there's no evidence here." You keep the negative results along with the positive results.

A group has decided that this test is "good enough" to prove the existence of precognition. Does that mean that it's also "good enough" to disprove it? If the answer is "no", then it's not a scientific test!!
JaredJames
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Nov17-10, 09:18 AM
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Test results coming back negative don't indicate something doesn't exist.

As a crude example, you devise a new way to test for guns at an airport, you run the test and every time it returns a negative result (no guns on a person) when in fact 50% of people actually had guns on them. The test has clearly failed and doesn't work.

Does the fact the test didn't work indicate the guns didn't exist? No. It simply means the test can't detect them. It can't be used as grounds to derive somethings non-existence.

(Disclaimer: I'm in no way trying to defend any of this paranormal stuff.)
FlexGunship
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#10
Nov17-10, 10:06 AM
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Quote Quote by jarednjames View Post
Does the fact the test didn't work indicate the guns didn't exist? No. It simply means the test can't detect them. It can't be used as grounds to derive somethings non-existence.
(Bold added for emphasis.)

Well, I believe in your example here you are testing the functionality of the gun-detecting system. One of the premises of the test is that guns exist. Otherwise you wouldn't be testing anything. I hate to nit-pick, but I'm not sure your example is an analog to what we are discussing.

Furthermore, your post includes the words "it simply means the test can't detect them." But we've gotten past that point. The scientists involved in this study (which is still slated to be published as I understand it) have given this test the stamp of approval. They have said "this test can prove the existence of precognition." However, it's not worth anything unless the negative results have equal value.

Their test includes showing a series of images to a viewer. If they allow for positive results (a viewer reacts to an upcoming image before it is shown), then they need to allow for negative results (a viewer not reacting to an upcoming image before it is shown). Just because the viewer might NOT react doesn't mean that there is no data being gathered.

Jared, is it okay if I change your example to something I feel is more accurate? Here's my try:

You are testing for the ability of un-aided human flight. The test involved a random subset of the human population. Some are given jetpacks with fuel, and others are given jetpacks with a fuel substitute (same weight, but provides no thrust). So, the testee doesn't know if he has a working jetpack or not. After being thrown off a bridge, the testee must use any means he or she can to fly. Record the success rate. Next you perform that same test, but you don't give anyone a jetpack. Record the success rate.

The addition of the jetpack with or without fuel with combat confirmation bias from the tester and the testee and allow for a double blind test (so long as the tester isn't aware of the contents of the jetpack).

If no one can fly without the properly fueled jetpack, that doesn't mean you didn't gather any data. Proof that no one can fly without aid? Of course not! But science now has a definitive statement on the issue: "it seems humans cannot fly without a source of external aid. This has been shown to be true to a certain statistical degree (dependent upon test pool size)."

This is not a null statement. It has content. Scientific content. And you can use it to predict the outcome of future tests with high reliability.
FlexGunship
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Nov17-10, 10:26 AM
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I feel the previous post was lacking content to properly demonstrate my point. I've chosen to use a separate post so as to keep the conclusion separate from this sort of epilogue.

If you carry the analog back to the precognition example, you can see that the details line up better than the "gun detector" test.

Get a test group together, tell them that they will be seeing a series of images. For the entire group, insert an image that says: "warning, explicitly sexual content ahead." In half of those test cases you show them an explicitly sexual image, and in the other half, you don't. This if your control group.

In the next half of the test, you perform the same test, but you remove the image that says: "warning, explicitly sexual content ahead." So, again, half of the group will see the sexual image, and the other half will not.

I'm concerned that we will learn that this test didn't quite create a rigid control group. Instead they were looking for any arousal in the testee versus none. And, frankly, humans are weird, and we might be aroused by... um... anything.
JaredJames
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#12
Nov17-10, 10:43 AM
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Agreed, your idea is better.

My original point was regarding the test being shown to be null. Not with the results, I apologise I mis-read your post.

If science has collected evidence then yes, it can make a statement regarding the existence (or possibility) of something.
FlexGunship
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Nov17-10, 11:18 AM
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Quote Quote by jarednjames View Post
If science has collected evidence then yes, it can make a statement regarding the existence (or possibility) of something.
This is good, but it's also contingent on everyone agreeing that the test is even within the realm of science.

For some parascientists, their work is outside of science (EDIT: their claim, not mine!). I'm genuinely glad that we've all agreed to bring "precognition" into the scientific realm. It means that we can start making definitive statements for the first time.

Here's a twist for you... if the arousal happens prior to the image being displayed, can you detect the arousal ahead of time and remove the image from the queue? If that's true, then this would be the first evidence for multi-dimensional time. Or maybe it would just end the universe.
Evo
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Nov17-10, 02:20 PM
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Flex and Jared, you guys are discussing the wrong paper. You're discussing the crackpot Radin paper that Ivan posted. He was thinking of an older unrelated paper.

Here is the paper you're supposed to be discussing.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/...he-future.html

Not that this paper will turn out any more credible, I'm not impressed.
JaredJames
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Nov17-10, 02:22 PM
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Quote Quote by Evo View Post
Flex and Jared, you guys are discussing the wrong paper. You're discussing the crackpot Radin paper

Here is the paper you're supposed to be discussing.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/...he-future.html

Not that this paper will turn out any more credible, I'm not impressed.
I haven't read any paper. Just making a comment regarding scientific procedure.

I still don't buy into any of this paranormal stuff so there's really nothing for me to discuss.
Evo
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Nov17-10, 02:29 PM
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Quote Quote by jarednjames View Post
I haven't read any paper. Just making a comment regarding scientific procedure.

I still don't buy into any of this paranormal stuff so there's really nothing for me to discuss.
It's not paranormal like the Radin paper.

In one experiment, students were shown a list of words and then asked to recall words from it, after which they were told to type words that were randomly selected from the same list. Spookily, the students were better at recalling words that they would later type.
Ok, no information here and not impressive.

In another study, Bem adapted research on "priming" the effect of a subliminally presented word on a person's response to an image. For instance, if someone is momentarily flashed the word "ugly", it will take them longer to decide that a picture of a kitten is pleasant than if "beautiful" had been flashed.
Well, duh. We've known for years that it takes a while for the brain to consciously shift from one train of thought to an opposite.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/...he-future.html
FlexGunship
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Nov17-10, 02:40 PM
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Quote Quote by Evo View Post
Flex and Jared, you guys are discussing the wrong paper. You're discussing the crackpot Radin paper that Ivan posted. He was thinking of an older unrelated paper.
Well, don't I feel silly! I guess I was just blindly following the trend of the thread.

That being said, the majority of what I've stated here is valid for any parapsychological study.
That's kind of what I'm talking about. A group has decided that this test is "good enough" to show evidence of precognition. The test must be falsifiable to be seriously considered.
Either way, we are now allowed to "science-up" the idea of precognition. No one is allowed to say: "precognition is out of bounds for science." At least, that's how I read the situation.
JaredJames
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#18
Nov17-10, 02:46 PM
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In one experiment, students were shown a list of words and then asked to recall words from it, after which they were told to type words that were randomly selected from the same list. Spookily, the students were better at recalling words that they would later type.
Spooky my a**. All they've said there is that a student has shown they remembered a word and then when asked to type some words later that is one of the ones the typed. Would you believe it.
In another study, Bem adapted research on "priming" – the effect of a subliminally presented word on a person's response to an image. For instance, if someone is momentarily flashed the word "ugly", it will take them longer to decide that a picture of a kitten is pleasant than if "beautiful" had been flashed. Running the experiment back-to-front, Bem found that the priming effect seemed to work backwards in time as well as forwards.
Subliminal advertising comes to mind. Nothing new here.
In another test, for instance, volunteers were told that an erotic image was going to appear on a computer screen in one of two positions, and asked to guess in advance which position that would be. The image's eventual position was selected at random, but volunteers guessed correctly 53.1 per cent of the time.
What you mean out of a choice of two theres virtually a 50/50 split in right and wrong choices. Who'd have thought it.
That may sound unimpressive – truly random guesses would have been right 50 per cent of the time, after all. But well-established phenomena such as the ability of low-dose aspirin to prevent heart attacks are based on similarly small effects
They help prevent heart attack. As in you take them in the hope they help you (hence the small odds of them actually working - it works for some people so others try it). Nobody is claiming they definitely will prevent heart attacks. The odds are low for them because they only assist with this.
These people are using similarly low odds to claim precognition exists without any basis.

And any of this has what to do with precognition? Aside from that 50/50 test with the porn I see no reason to ascertain precognition's existence. I'd want that test reapeated many times to hold that there are >50% correct guesses occurring. But even then I'd still wouldn't hold out much for it. Why not do it with 5 / 10 / 15 pics? If precognition actually exists it would still show up, and wouldn't be so close to an even draw (as you'd expect without precognition).


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