Psi/Consciousness studies alluding to downwards causality

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  • #1
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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
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #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?
 
  • #3
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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?

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..
 
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  • #4
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Double post, sorry.
 
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  • #5
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This is really weird, especially theory and speculations part in the princeton link.
 
  • #6
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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.
 
  • #7
Ivan Seeking
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The PEAR papers are also really good..

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?
 
  • #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.
 
  • #9
apeiron
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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.

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.
 
  • #10
Ivan Seeking
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The mainstream isn't the holy Grail. I'm kind of curious what the problem with downward causation is.

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.
 
  • #11
apeiron
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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.

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.
 
  • #12
Ivan Seeking
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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.

You need to present evidence supporting your claims about Radin and Nelson.
 
  • #13
apeiron
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You need to present evidence supporting your claims about Radin and Nelson.

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]
 
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  • #14
Pythagorean
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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.

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?
 
  • #15
apeiron
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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?

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?
 
  • #16
Ivan Seeking
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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?

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.
 
  • #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
 
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  • #18
russ_watters
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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..
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:
Independent scientists Edwin May and James Spottiswoode conducted an analysis of the data around the 11 September 2001 events and concluded that there was no statistically significant change in the randomness of the GCP data during the attacks and that the apparent significant deviation reported by Nelson and Radin existed only in their chosen time window.[19] Spikes and fluctuations are to be expected in any random distribution of data, and there is no set time frame for how close a spike has to be to a given event for the GCP to say they have found a correlation.[19] Wolcotte Smith said that "A couple of additional statistical adjustments would have to be made to determine if there really was a spike in the numbers," referencing the data related to September 11, 2001.[20] Similarly, Jeffrey D. Scargle believes that unless both Bayesian and classical p-value analysis agree and both show the same anomalous effects, the kind of result GCP proposes will not be generally accepted.
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.
 
  • #19
CRGreathouse
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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.

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.
 
  • #20
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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.

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.

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.

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.

the data were clearly cherry-picked.

You can just state this? How? I don't understand how you can arrive at this conclusion
 
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  • #21
russ_watters
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PEAR & the GCP are two different things.
GCP is a spin-off project of PEAR. They are parts of the same line of research.
Nelson & Radin feverently denied that claim, you can see their defense on their site.
Where?
They also state that only around 50% of data is after the fact, and the other they consider what they call 'rigorously defined events' in which they specify the amount of time before hand. Of course they could be lying about this..
No, I doubt they are lying - I always assume people are telling the truth and have no reason to believe they are saying things they don't believe. That has very little bearing on the quality of their research: in my experience, most crackpots really believe what they say.
OBVIOUSLY, this leaves the door open for the meddling of data and bias, BUT, I have never seen a proper dissemination of the data, which is all available, only baseless claims like yours that they mined. Common sense tells you that they in theory could have cherry picked, but it's interesting that 0 people have actually gone through the data, they just say the data has been cherry picked and they are somehow satisfied with their conclusion. It also seems you haven't considered the Nelson/Radin's attempted refutation to the critique you brought up, which is disappointing.
It's not baseless, I paraphrased and quoted the closet thing they have to an independent review (from the wiki). Here's the full paper:
http://www.lfr.org/LFR/csl/library/Sep1101.pdf [Broken]

You're also shifting the burden of proof here. These claims of theirs have never been published in a reputable journal, as far as I know - this thread should probably have been locked already for not meeting our quality guidelines. The burden of proof to show qualilty is completly yours.
But I don't want to jump to the lying conclusion, which is the only alternative.
No, there is also the alternative that they believe they are doing quality research, but aren't. Selection bias is a pretty natural human psychological failing.
 
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  • #22
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Please refer to my edited post, it addresses most of the concerns you've had with my reply.

It was not my intention to appear to be shifting the burden of proof, in my last post I was trying to point out two things:

- There are attempted refutations of the criticisms you have pointed out that you aren't considering
- You were mistaken that the cumulative z-score was a culmination of all their events, and not only their before-the-fact events.
 
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  • #23
russ_watters
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[edit] The link you just posted is broken.
 
  • #24
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Fixed :)
 
  • #25
Ivan Seeking
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Since my posts are being ignored, this thread is done.
 

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