h a l f b a k e r y
Reformatted to fit your screen.
add, search, annotate, link, view, overview, recent, by name, random
news, help, about, links, report a problem
or get an account
Weird-shit prize for proof of psychic phenomena
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
'normally' affords, because of either time or space getting in the
The prize fund will be accrued in the future using a mechanism of
winning the lottery based on practical test of the research
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
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
is the keystone or millstone or bedrock or to such studies, and
falsifiability is an essential core value. Most science stuff would
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,
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 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
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
only support, growth, warm cozy encouragement, and
belief. The chances are that there's something in common - there's
likely to be a reason there's this commonality even across times
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.
||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.)
||Prize names shouldn't have apostrophes? Well how was I
supposed to know that.
||Did you not read "Prize Names and How To Avoid Basic Errors Such as Including Apostrophes", by Thornton J. Thornton?
||This seems like a lot of trouble to go to, just to frame a debate.
||It's only 3 pages in the 1937 reprint edition
||[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?
||//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.
||I think they all ended up voting for someone or something,
can't remember who or what.
||But in the directors cut you get to see the aliens.
||//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.
||Yes, maybe that too. We may need more than three axes.
||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
||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
||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.
||//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.
||/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.
||// 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.