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Psi/Consciousness studies alluding to downwards causality

  1. Mar 21, 2010 #1
    I've been doing a lot of reading on Psi-phenomena experiments as of late, and it appears as though an overwhelming number of experiments are producing statistically compelling positive results (although, these are small results that are produced over long period of time). I find this amazing as if proven this will be a discovery that will change almost all of science. Obviously, I can't wait to see what the next 30 years of attempted replication will bring.

    Discuss:
    What more is needed for conclusive proof.
    If this phenomenon is conclusively proven, what are the subsequent consequences.

    Some sources:
    - http://dbem.ws/online_pubs.html (Scroll down to "Psi phenomena (ESP)" for his papers)
    - http://noosphere.princeton.edu/ (The most compelling, the most bulletproof to skeptical criticisms, click on "main results" up the top left)
    - http://www.princeton.edu/~pear/ (Go to publications and read the papers)

    Criticism (actually by Apeiron, PF member):
    http://dichotomistic.com/mind_readings_psi pear lab.html

    EDIT: Some graphs to get you guys reading:

    (PEAR proposition 1995 paper)
    2v360sm.jpg
    hsw6c5.jpg

    (Princeton PEAR 1992 paper on human/machine interaction)
    34oy1yv.jpg
    rving0.jpg
    zsu5o7.jpg

    (noosphere.princeton.edu experiment)
    currz100227.gif
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 21, 2010 #2

    russ_watters

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    I've never seen a study I considered all that compelling and I'm not going to read through the dozens you posted: could you point to one good one that had a good experimental setup and produced consistent, statistically significant positive results?
     
  4. Mar 21, 2010 #3
    Okay, read the noosphere one. I like this one the best as all the data has been in the public domain for over a decade.

    The PEAR papers are also really good..
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2010
  5. Mar 21, 2010 #4
    Double post, sorry.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2010
  6. Mar 22, 2010 #5
    This is really weird, especially theory and speculations part in the princeton link.
     
  7. Mar 22, 2010 #6
    This is either one of the most groundbreaking discoveries of our lifetime, or a spectacular failure of experimental design, or a spectacular misuse of statistics. Truly exciting.
     
  8. Mar 22, 2010 #7

    Ivan Seeking

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    Only papers that were published in mainstream journals are considered to be scientific information. At best. all others count only as anecdotal evidence. At worst, any paper may be blatent crackpottery.

    If an author can't get a paper published in the mainstream, why should we give it any weight at all?
     
  9. Mar 22, 2010 #8

    Pythagorean

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    The mainstream isn't the holy Grail. I'm kind of curious what the problem with downward causation is.

    I'm uncomfortable with it too, but the general tenant is that the system affects the components. Would it really be surprising that global constraints in a system effect the outcome of the individual elements of the system?

    Also, we've never seemed to have mentioned upward causation before downward causation was mentioned. Why do we suddenly assume upward causation is the only type of causation once somebody mentions downward causation? We never cared before.

    I'm also confused about the significance of the heirarchy. If the heirarchy can be described subjectively, then we could construct models in either direction depending on our interest.
     
  10. Mar 22, 2010 #9

    apeiron

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    Hierarchy theory describes complementary causality - were upward and downward actions (construction and constraint) are in interaction, and furthermore will find their equilbrium.

    Even Newton's third law recognised downward causality - for every (ie: locally constructive) action, there is an equal and opposite (ie: equilbrium) reaction (ie: global constraint). Though Newton's simplification of course was to reduce the global scale constraint to a locally opposed force vector. But that is just a modelling convenience, not an ontic truth.

    Had to mention that again Pythagorean as there is a sequence of ideas here. Complementary or synergistic causality is where it all starts to come into focus in the systems perspective.
     
  11. Mar 22, 2010 #10

    Ivan Seeking

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    For our purposes, it is a minimum requirement. Discussion that assumes the validity of an unpublished paper is not allowed. General discussion is fine. Specific references may be a problem depending on how the information is presented.
     
  12. Mar 22, 2010 #11

    apeiron

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    Spectacular abuse of statistics was what sceptics would presume. The criticism was that Radin and Nelson were data mining. Collect enough data, then throw the right data binning at it, and you can always find apparent significance in noise.

    If you don't find the signal you want averaging over say five minute intervals, then something may pop out over 3 or 15.

    But its been a few years since I read the literature or talked with those involved. So the REG analysis may have been standardised to fix this criticism.
     
  13. Mar 22, 2010 #12

    Ivan Seeking

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    You need to present evidence supporting your claims about Radin and Nelson.
     
  14. Mar 22, 2010 #13

    apeiron

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    What kind of evidence do you require of conversations that I had with Radin, Nelson, Jahn, Broughton and others some 17 years ago?

    I can tell you Radin did agree that data-mining was a valid possible criticism. He also defended himself against it, but I wasn't too convinced.

    But for those who find googling a chore, here are a few links it took seconds to find.

    http://www.lfr.org/LFR/csl/library/Sep1101.pdf [Broken]

    http://noosphere.princeton.edu/papers/jseScargle.pdf

    http://www.thenational.ae/article/20090209/FRONTIERS/272091981/1036/OPINION

    http://www.skepticnews.com/2005/04/terry_schiavo_a.html

    http://skepticreport.com/sr/?p=560

    http://www.skeptiko.com/74-radin-nelson-global-consciousness/

    http://www.theage.com.au/news/in-depth/mind-over-matter/2007/04/26/1177459869857.html

    http://www.manticeye.com/article.php?id=1061_0_3_0_C [Broken]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  15. Mar 22, 2010 #14

    Pythagorean

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    I guess my issue is that it's a more philosophical and methodological issue. We can interpret direction of causation in many ways without changing the technical aspects of the causal relationship, as apeiron showed with Newton.

    There's also the more obvious example of air molecules confined in a balloon. If we take the volume of the system (the balloons boundares) to be at the top, it is causally affecting the air molecules.

    But we can also look at the molecules of the balloon membraine to avoid mentionig downward causation. However, wouldn't occams razor cut the latter out as the more complicated explaination, leaving us with downward causation?
     
  16. Mar 22, 2010 #15

    apeiron

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    This is philosophy (yah!) rather than psi (dulls-ville) so should really be pursued elsewhere.

    But downward causation is really to do with Aristotle's four causes analysis of causation. So that would be the reason why returning to material cause (talking about the rubber) would be missing the point.

    At the global scale, we would be seeking the formal causes (the formal and the teleological in Aristotle's scheme). So the questions become who constructed the balloon, for what purpose, and what is the general form by which that construction exerts its downward constraint?
     
  17. Mar 23, 2010 #16

    Ivan Seeking

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    In order to dispute the claims formerly, we need published papers. All else only counts anecdotally at best. The danger here is that the skeptics wade into the waters of pseudoscience.
     
  18. Mar 23, 2010 #17

    Ivan Seeking

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    It sounds like you two may want to start another thread in philosophy.

    This is the question that must be addressed: Were any of the PEAR papers published in mainstream journals - not to include the journal of the National Institute for Discovery Science, which is not a proper source?

    The journal must be subject-appropriate, and listed here
    http://scientific.thomson.com/index.html
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2010
  19. Mar 23, 2010 #18

    russ_watters

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    I didn't realize PEAR was The Global Consciousness Project. You label it as "The most compelling, the most bulletproof to skeptical criticisms" but to real scientists it is one of the worst examples of psi "research" around. It is a bad mixture of selection bias and misuse of statistical data. From the wiki on it:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Consciousness_Project

    In essence, what was done is these random number generators were mined for anomalous non-random data, then interesting world events were found to connect the data to. For example, the 2001 Yankees World Series win generated an event, but neither the 1999 or 2000 Yankees World Series wins did.

    Then they took all of the probabilities of the events and combined them over time to produce a shockingly strong claim of a million to one odds of such a deviation from random. But that's just nonsense. Consider this similar example:

    Say you flip a coin twice and you get heads both times. The odds of that happening are 1:4. Say you do it again and get heads again twice. The odds of it happening again are still 1:4 but the odds of it happening twice in a row are 1:16. But what if you flip the coin 10 times and you count the instances of getting heads twice in a row (and find it happens twice)? You still can end up with 5 heads and 5 tales - an exactly average result - but by his count, you saw an event that had a 1 in 16 chance of happening.
     
  20. Mar 23, 2010 #19

    CRGreathouse

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    Funny, I wrote out a post saying just that (also using the 'bulletproof' quote) but I decided not to post.

    I looked in the methodology section for where they explain how they pick events and theorizing about how it could be done properly (red-black type separation of systems, picking events without any contact from anyone who's seen the data, cross-comparisons with the odds for random times rather than important events, etc.), only to be let down... the data were clearly cherry-picked.
     
  21. Mar 23, 2010 #20
    PEAR & the GCP are two different things.

    Nelson & Radin feverently denied that claim, you can see their defense in the JSE Volume 17, unfortunate that it's not on their site. And of the wiki article(s) here: http://noosphere.princeton.edu/wikipedia.GCP.html.

    No no, their claim is that this apparantely impressive cumulative z-score is for only formal events, defined before the fact. This is of course only their claim, which is a bit disappointing. But I don't want to jump to the lying conclusion, which is the only alternative.

    That's why I found this so impressive, because they're either flat-out lying about the events being defined before the fact and they're actually cherry picking after the fact, or something amazing is happening.

    The argument of cherry picking for their cumulative z-score is an accusation of lying, while it's still a possibility, I don't see how you can just jump to that and be satisfied.

    You can just state this? How? I don't understand how you can arrive at this conclusion
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2010
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