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R's Prize

Weird-shit prize for proof of psychic phenomena
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(+2, -1)
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This is a search for proof and useful derivation of technique of psychic phenomena. The search is on (again). The prize will be divided into the usual weird-shit categories, but they basically can be boiled down to PKE and perception. Physically moving stuff around, that's psychokinetic energy. The flip side - extra sensory perception - is all about knowing or perceiving stuff that you don't think the situation 'normally' affords, because of either time or space getting in the way.

The prize fund will be accrued in the future using a mechanism of winning the lottery based on practical test of the research methods evolved by the prize winning technique(s).

The important difference here as opposed to all those others that have preceded it and are indeed currently ongoing at this moment, is that we take a different approach.

The amazing James Randi for example, excellently scientific mind that he is (and still is) takes the hard line approach that skepticism is the keystone or millstone or bedrock or to such studies, and that falsifiability is an essential core value. Most science stuff would also take this approach. Don't believe the woo merchants, actually test this shit, measure it, verify it, or it just counts for fiction. We've successfully put religion to bed this way, and as a result, nobody is religious today, thankfully. After all, it'd be pretty stupid if people were. Similarly, in the 70s, people were a lot more primitive and believed in all sorts of nonsense, such as esp, levitation, guesswork, magic and knowing the phone is ringing the moment it rings. Clairvoyants would read your palms, gypsies would make physical objects disappear, key cutters would mend shoes. We now know this is cobblers.

This prize would take the opposite approach - it would wholeheartedly and thoroughly dive into believe anything and everything deep down to the core, sucking in almost everything anyone cares to claim. Then a machine learning system could be used to correlate the correlation across these claims, synthesising inferences and further correlations (some of which could be fed back into the first correlations). The idea is to basically ask "why do so many people believe this weird shit nonsense? What is the commonality? What is it that they are really expressing? Is there something at the bottom of that? What?".

There would be no skepticism, no negative criticism, no thwarting, only support, growth, warm cozy encouragement, and wholehearted belief. The chances are that there's something in common - there's likely to be a reason there's this commonality even across times and cultures. This differs from the early JB Rhine experiments and all those that have followed by having a different name and the prize structure works differently, a bit. The thing to be discovered is not why does this persistently crop up in the way it does, rather than discover the actual existence of PKE or ESP, but rather, instead, actually discover workable PKE and ESP.

The name, which is slightly related to pirates, but not much, is chosen mainly because it sounds funny.

Ian Tindale, Apr 08 2017


       Prize names with apostrophes are not great. Why not just call it the ARSE Prize (assistive research into strange experiences) and be done with it?   

       There may be, though, a nugget of worthwhileness in all this flimmery. There is, presumably, a "gullible spectrum" just as there is an "autism spectrum". In the case of autism (which almost everybody claims to have these days), people are looking for genetic and environmental factors which may be causative. The same could be done for gullibility or self-delusion. The good news is that you can find a genetic association with almost anything* if you look hard enough.   

       (*Including, but not limited to, obesity; ear-wax consistency; and stock market prices.)
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 08 2017

       Prize names shouldn't have apostrophes? Well how was I supposed to know that.
Ian Tindale, Apr 08 2017

       Did you not read "Prize Names and How To Avoid Basic Errors Such as Including Apostrophes", by Thornton J. Thornton?
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 08 2017

       This seems like a lot of trouble to go to, just to frame a debate.
pertinax, Apr 09 2017

       It's only 3 pages in the 1937 reprint edition
pocmloc, Apr 09 2017

       [MB] the gullibility spectrum is a great idea. It could be expanded to become a 2d plot (like an empathy/systemising chart). What are the 2 axes that generate gullibility? Discernment and discovery maybe?
pocmloc, Apr 09 2017

       //What are the 2 axes that generate gullibility?//   

       I suspect there are several axes. One is intelligence, since smarter people are more likely to be able to reason themselves out of a delusion or misconception.   

       Another might be self-esteem. Someone with low self-esteem is more likely to believe that the world is plotting against them; and more in need of the ego-boost that comes from "knowing" something that most other people don't "know".   

       I was wondering if depression/mania might be a third axis, with both depression and mania tending to foster delusions (negative and postitive, respectively).   

       There was actually a study done in the (I think) 1970's in which people were psychologically profiled, and then asked to complete an (irrelevant) test. During the test, a radio program (which was, in fact, a recording) in the background was interrupted by an announcement of something outlandish (I can't remember, but it was something like UFOs landing); the tester reacted to the fake news as if it were real, and the responses of the subject were noted. They did turn up some interesting findings, but I'm buggered if I can remember what they were.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 09 2017

       I think they all ended up voting for someone or something, can't remember who or what.
Ian Tindale, Apr 09 2017

       But in the directors cut you get to see the aliens.
bigsleep, Apr 09 2017

       //self-esteem// maybe. I was thinking more about how curious a person is, as in a person who discovers lots of new "facts" needs to be more discerning or intelligent in filtering them.
pocmloc, Apr 10 2017

       Yes, maybe that too. We may need more than three axes.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 10 2017

       I think there's a strong and healthy anti-science approach that doesn't equate with what seems straightforward learning inability, lack of intellectual development or primitive ignorance.   

       In the old days, perhaps the divide was more to do with either simple lack of education or (I suspect) tying up the whole day in a manual or physical endeavour such as farming or mining with no time left over to dabble in theories, vs families with enough money to sprout bored offspring to funnel into an advanced education.   

       These days despite education being spread a lot more evenly, I still think there's a huge understanding gap between most people's usage of the artefacts of the modern world (eg of course technology, but not limited to) and any clue as to what goes on inside it to make it work. Further, I think that for most people this modern life magic seems so big and formalised that there's no hope of getting to the stage where any comfortable understanding can be had, even at a non-expert stage. Therefore people seem to substitute whole blocks of their life experience with an algebraic 'x' that never gets resolved, merely interacted with or used, the outside behaviour or shape being the only understood aspect.   

       Weird shit like PKE and ESP seems to a lot of people just as exchangeable as any other mysterious aspect of modern life, such as how VLSI chips in their phones are actually designed in the first place - must be magic, or aliens. The areas equate - they're big, mysterious, and might be true, who knows, nobody knows. I'm sure that's how it goes for a lot of people. There's so much out there not to understand, it is all on the same list.   

       Another aspect, not related to the above but exists nevertheless, is that science itself is a bit flawed. The actual doing of science, the sciencing that scientists do, has cognitive biases that often see scientists agreeing with other scientists because, well, those other scientists are scientists too, they must know their shit. They must have put the work and the methodology into all this stuff they're saying, it must be true. There's therefore a slight tendency for scientists, otherwise quite sceptical, to be a little bit gullible when knowing they're reading the peer reviewed work of another scientist - the guard is down.
Ian Tindale, Apr 11 2017

       //I'm sure that's how it goes for a lot of people.// Yes, I think you're right. On the other hand, as a molecular biologist I have very little understanding of, say, public/private encryption systems. But I don't believe for an instant that they rely on magic, or have anything in common with woo-woo.   

       //There's therefore a slight tendency for scientists, otherwise quite sceptical, to be a little bit gullible when knowing they're reading the peer reviewed work of another scientist// Yes, that's true, but I would add two caveats. First, it's a matter of practicality. If I want to know the structure of a protein I'm using, and I find the answer in a paper in a peer-reviewed journal, I will probably accept it because it would take me months, literally, to learn enough about X-ray crystallography to fully understand (let alone repeat) the derivation of the structure. Second, whilst scientists may tend to trust peer-reviewed papers, they are also very well equipped to spot major flaws in reasoning - more so than someone from a different profession.   

       On the whole, I am pretty sure that scientists do better in the acceptance/skepticism over scientific papers than, say, historians or economists do with papers in their disciplines. Science is largely about knowing which things to trust and how to analyse.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 11 2017

       /Then a machine learning system could be used to correlate the correlation across these claims/   

       The weakness in this premise. It is not easy for a machine to sort out good data from bad or reliable from lies. For example: try to learn how exactly fluoridation works. Must fluoride be absorbed into the bloodstream and delivered to the tooth via blood, or does fluoride leap on to the tooth as it passes through the mouth. An attempt to research this will be overwhelmed by fluoride conspiracy information.
bungston, Apr 12 2017

       // I suspect there are several axes. One is intelligence, since smarter people are more likely to be able to reason themselves out of a delusion or misconception. //   

       Not in the least bit a good correlation. There are some very bright people around here who unfortunately lend their minds to some very stupid ideas, such as vaccination dangers, alternative medicines, and Austrian economics.   

       The first axis I would choose would be humility, as smart people become very good at defending things they come to believe for very stupid reasons.
RayfordSteele, Apr 12 2017


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