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Paranormal and Physics

  1. Dec 24, 2003 #1
    Is there even a single thread of evidence for paranormal phenomenon? Or is that whole subject just some weird interpretations of ordinary events?
     
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  3. Dec 25, 2003 #2

    Integral

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    Pretty much by definition, there is no, nor can there ever be any direct evidence of Paranormal phenomena.

    Simply because as soon as we have physical evidence it is no longer paranormal.
     
  4. Dec 25, 2003 #3
    There is not a single smidgen, hair, thread, ounce, bibble, getty, crumb, fragment, scrap, bit, shread, tittle, or remotest iota of evidence for paranormal phenomena.


    Evidence for the paranormal comes in at least 4 forms:

    Fabricating evidence. (See Crop Circles.)

    Misinterpreting evidence. (Such as Near Death Experiences being "proof" of an afterlife.)

    Ignorance of evidence. (See Parapsychologist Charles Tart.)

    Anedotal evidence. (While its not always proper form to dismiss all anecdotal evidence out of hand, if there is no valid evidence to support the anecdote, it essentially cannot be used to establish anything.)


    For resources, see:
    Skepdic.com
    Skeptic Report
    James Randi Educational Foundation
    QuackWatch
    Australian Skeptics
    Bad Astronomy
    CSICOP
    Snopes.com - A catalogue of Urban Legends
    UrbanLegends.com
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2003
  5. Dec 25, 2003 #4
    Re: Re: Paranormal and Physics

    Might I impose upon you, please, to define the word "bibble"?
     
  6. Dec 25, 2003 #5

    Ivan Seeking

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    Re: Re: Paranormal and Physics

    What would you consider evidence; say for instance in the case of an alleged ghost?

    Also, consider claims of ESP. If this exists but cannot be repeated on demand, then how do we gauge the claims? There are examples in the public record, especially with police investigations, in which the police will tell you that some particular person did help in a case allegedly by using ESP. The problem is that most any skeptic cries "random luck" in all such cases; no matter how unlikely this may be. He can't prove this, which means that your argument is out the window, but instead of realizing that we only have evidence, and not proof, many still claim incorrectly that we have no evidence for such things. This fallacy is an example of pseudoscience.

    Note that one of the most famed "psychics", Jean Dixon, gained fame by publicly warning Kennedy not to go to Dallas or he would be assasinated. This was general knowledge [in the press] at the time. Was this just luck? Maybe. Is it evidence for ESP? Yes. Is it proof? No.
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2003
  7. Dec 26, 2003 #6
    Re: Re: Re: Paranormal and Physics

    Considering the shear number of "psychics" and their "predictions," it's little wonder that some of them will get significantly lucky.
     
  8. Dec 26, 2003 #7

    Ivan Seeking

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    Re: Re: Re: Re: Paranormal and Physics

    This is no proof that all hits are luck; thus evidence does exist. This is the difference between evidence and proof.
     
  9. Dec 26, 2003 #8
    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Paranormal and Physics

    As I see it, the only evidence that exists is that some so-called psychics will get "hits." The fact that, to date (as far as I know), there has been no substantiated claim of any "hits" being frequent enough to rule out random probability.

    Though it was my word first, "luck" was perhaps a poor choice since this relates to superstition, which is but another supernatural concept in itself. "Chance" would have been a better choice.

    Regardless, I would suggest that the number of "hits" is likely to be along what might be expected by random probability, but that kind of math gives me a headache. If you know of someone with a higher frequency of "hits" than could be mathmatically expected, perhaps you could share.

    Dixon wouldn't be a very good example, particularly with regard to Kennedy. That was a very tumultuous period and an especially risky one for a President with as many enemies as JFK. That kind of prediction would almost be expected.
     
  10. Dec 26, 2003 #9

    Ivan Seeking

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    As for the TV psychics and such, I give little to no credence to these as a rule; I was quite surprised to learn about Dixon. I had never heard of any such seemingly accurate and public prediction, but again, there is no way to filter any potential hits from the noise.

    It seems to me that by now it has been established that genuine ESP, if it exists, is not repeatable on demand; except perhaps for extremely small perturbations about the norm. I have noticed that the most compelling anecdotal stories often involve extreme events such as the death of a loved one. This is a little difficult to duplicate in the lab. Still, even if we all practice ESP everyday without realizing it, it may well be constrained within the noise and can only be understood within the subjective interpretation of context.

    For example, if a psychic tells the police to look for the body of a murder victim in "the lake", this may not mean much. If they say to look at this particular place in the lake and they find the body, this may be another matter altogether. Still, the statistics don't allow for this sort of special credit. I suspect that this happens because the interpretation of such extenuating circumstances is often subjective beyond use. This could speak more to the limits of our analysis rather than to that of the alleged phenomenon.
     
  11. Dec 26, 2003 #10
    Re: Re: Re: Paranormal and Physics

    (I made up a definition for "getty" also... :D )
     
  12. Dec 26, 2003 #11

    Doc Al

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    Re: Re: Re: Paranormal and Physics

    Not exactly, see http://skepdic.com/dixon.html.
     
  13. Dec 26, 2003 #12
    Re: Re: Re: Paranormal and Physics

    Well, if the ghosts never interacted the physical world, I dont think it would be possible to demonstrate any empirical evidence for their existence.

    However, as its been reported that the temperture drops in the presence of a ghost, I would definitely consider an infrared of a something walking around, in combination with a low-light or other camera to verify that there is nothing walking in front of the camera. (Assuming the camera footage is legitimate.)

    Or perhaps a documented experience of Skeptics and Scientists asking a spirit to throw something across the room, then a cup flies across the room.

    Note: The "orbs" you see in pictures are not evidence of anything except faulty photography.

    Of all things people think are paranormal, orbs are perhaps the most fun. Dust never caused so much trouble.

    "Orbs" are photographs of dust motes. They commonly appear when photographers use small cameras that have the flash unit close to the lens. Most small digital cameras fall into that category.

    You can make your own orbs by shaking a dusty towel in front of your camera, a diagram is at the bottom of this post...


    That is one hurdle which is impossible to get across.

    However, if ESP cannot be repeated or verified (such as a once in a lifetime event), then there is nothing that can be said about it. However, in the Skeptical Community, claims that sound like "I cant reproduce my power for such and such reason" is usually seen as an ad hoc. In any case, its not justifyable as evidence.

    I want to quickly make a comment...

    Yes, the police have in fact used Psychics. However, while mysteries have been solved with Psychics along side, the Psychics really dont do anything. That might sound a bit undermining and cynical, but it is true.

    I dont believe psychics solve crimes by "Random Luck" because they dont help at all, they waste the police's time.

    From Police Psychics - Do they really help?:
    I am also aware that in Greece, psychic's are allow to act as valid witnesses for serious crimes such as murder (the idea is to get any information they can by any means). However, after every instance of a crime involving psychic testimony, the defendant sues the psychic for lying under oath (the psychic testimonies are quite rare for that reason).

    Evidence for ESP? No. Here is why:

    I am fairly certain this event was just this psychic's lucky day (I see someone else has already linked the Skepdic.com article). However, interpreting that luck as evidence for the paranormal would be at error.

    Consider precognition. About 6 billion people fall asleep in 24 hours. Is it at all amazing that a few people's dreams might unfold the way it did in the dreams? Not at all, in fact its expected.

    Psychics make predictions all the time, but people have a habit of counting the hits and neglecting the misses.

    If its any consolidation at all: Psychics have been predicting the deaths of Presidents for years. President Bush made a trip to Omaha, Nebraska a few years ago, various psychics predicted that there was a conspiracy to kill the president. Well, I guess there wasnt.

    Psychics are notorious for leaving their "predictions" extremely vague. For instance, if I said "the life of a political figure will end in the near future", what does it mean? Which political figure? Does "life ending" mean die naturally or get killed? What is the time span of "near future"?

    At least to me, I think telling the President not to act out of security ordinance for personal appeal is commonsense.
     

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    Last edited: Dec 26, 2003
  14. Dec 26, 2003 #13

    Ivan Seeking

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    Re: Re: Re: Re: Paranormal and Physics

    This does not account for the several people I have seen interviewed that confirm Dixon's effort to contact the president. From what I saw, the linked explanation does not account for the actual events.
     
  15. Dec 26, 2003 #14

    Ivan Seeking

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    Re: Re: Re: Re: Paranormal and Physics

    In fact there is no proof that could be offered that would ever satisfy science; unless the ghost is willing to perform tricks on queue. If our alleged ghosties are less cooperative, then any testimony, film or video, any measurement, or any live broadcast or sound recording is effectively useless. So it seems to me that science demands evidence that is not allowed by the intrinsic nature of the phenomenon. Also, skeptics who change their minds are called true believers. I offer UFOs and Allen J. Hynek as evidence.

    Yup; dust, rain, and fine particulates look like orbs on a photograph. However, at the least there is one variety of large glowing orbs called ball lightning. Meteorologists now generally agree that this does exist, so not every glowing orb need be dust.

    I think that if ESP happens, in nearly all cases it cannot be controlled. So for me this rules out at least most pop “psychics” and claims. Also, if science can offer no viable means to test a phenomenon, then we are left with anecdotal evidence for guidance; and the skeptics really have nothing to say. This is why I am bothered by so many skeptical websites and arguments; the only explanation for the only evidence that we CAN have is that all experiencers [sic] are wrong or lying. It can't be proven as such, but we should all assume so because this makes more sense.

    I don't consider this to be balanced perspective. To me this only says that since we can offer no answers, you all [the believers and "experiencers"] are nuts and liars.

     
  16. Dec 26, 2003 #15
    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Paranormal and Physics

    Of course, most people tend to remember when a psychic makes a correct prediction, and forget the failures.

    But with weather predictions this tends to happen the other way around. Nobody goes "wow, the weatherman was right, it rained today".



    As for abilities that fail when they recieve rigorous testing...well, if someone tells you that they are in fact a really good doctor, but they never got a degree because their ability didn't work when they had to write medical exams...
     
  17. Dec 26, 2003 #16
    Define paranormal. Would a yeti or other cryptid species be a paranormal event? If so, then there are footprints, footage, photos, hair samples resempling but not matching those of any known primate and many testimonies of bigfoot creatures.
     
  18. Dec 27, 2003 #17
    Re: Re: Paranormal and Physics

    If you simply consider these to be ordinary animals, then I wouldn't consider it to be paranormal. The paranormal usually starts to creep in when people try to explain away their failure to actually find such a creature.

    For example, some people seem to think that that Loch Ness monster is somehow invisible to all sonar. The idea that the monster might not exist doesn't seem to occur to them.
     
  19. Dec 27, 2003 #18
    Re: Re: Re: Paranormal and Physics

    People actually think that the loch ness monster is undetectable by radars? I've never heard anything like that before.
     
  20. Dec 27, 2003 #19
    Re: Re: Re: Re: Paranormal and Physics

    It's only an explaination that I heard once. It was just part of a chat I had with someone on MSN. Their views weren't exactly "mainstream", even for fans of nessie.

    I was only trying to give an example of what I think it takes for something to be paranormal.
     
  21. Dec 27, 2003 #20
    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Paranormal and Physics

    Oh, so bassically you're saying something paranormal has to defy the current understanding of phyical possibility?
     
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