The Science-Religion Continuum
Animal Psi

Geller Again

Uri Geller is back in the news, which will please him. His name stands out in the CIA’s mass online release of classified documents last week, relating to the testing of him by Russell Targ and Hal Puthoff at Stanford Research Institute in 1972-3, and I’m interested to see how the media is reacting.

In fact there's nothing particularly new here. The documents themselves were declassified some time ago – it’s just that they’ve been placed online where they can be seen without having to go to a library. As for the Geller ESP tests, they were described in Targ and Puthoff’s Mind-Reach (1977), and in any number of other books since. The significance is that we can now see the original drawings, which in a few cases show how exactly Geller was able to reproduce images that had been drawn by the experimenters at a distance. The Daily Mail shows several of these.

What struck me especially is that the headlines are all about Geller, and (on the assumption that he’s a faker) the remarkable – and allegedly hitherto unknown fact – that the hardboiled CIA itself was convinced he was genuinely psychic. The Stargate programme is mentioned here and there, but the impression given is that Geller was the original ‘psychic warrior’, as some of the reports describe him. This is quite wrong. The positive tests may have played some role in the initial assessment by the US military intelligence, and encouraged it to give serious funding. But the long-term remote viewing at SRI was carried out by people like Ingo Swann, Pat Price, Hella Hammid and Joe McMoneagle, some of whom are said on many occasions to have provided actionable intelligence. Their collective contribution is far more significant in this field than Geller’s and yet, not being world famous, they’re hardly ever mentioned.

The sense I’m left with is how extremely primitive the public understanding of these matters is. None of the articles I’ve seen so far seem to have any sense of context. Some are overtly hostile –a particularly dinosaurish piece in yesterday’s Sunday Times stated, among many other untruths, that the psychics ‘never provided US intelligence with a single useful piece of information’. If that’s the case, why did it spend so much money for so many years? There must have been some reason why the viewers’ ‘customers’ in the intelligence community kept coming back for more.

A lot of this prejudice and misinformation, I’m afraid, has to do with Geller himself. When he came on the scene in the late 1960s it doubtless helped popularise ESP research. But because he’s always seen himself first and foremost as a celebrity entertainer – aiming to fascinate and mystify – he’s regarded by many people as an especially talented conjurer with a twist, one who (unlike other conjurers) claims that what he does is real. So of course they’re puzzled to discover that supposedly tough military types were taken in.

I had some dealings with Geller a few years ago (a writing job for a friend of his, nothing to do with him or psychic stuff), and found him to be charming and empathetic. I think he takes the whole celebrity thing way too seriously, but OK, that’s how he makes his living. What’s so frustrating is the way his notoriety casts a shadow over psi research. Whenever I discuss it with people who know little or nothing about it – which is not often, being a somewhat unrewarding business – it’s always Geller they mention, and since he’s been so heavily targeted by the sceptic community, never in a good sense. People seem to think that those like myself who believe psi is real have been ‘taken in by Uri Geller’, as if he was the sole and single reason for taking it seriously.

The chapter in James Randi’s Flim-Flam! that purports to debunk Geller’s SRI tests is something that all sceptics know about, as will doubtless be confirmed later in the comments thread. I expect also we’ll hear a lot about the ‘peep-hole’ in the isolation booth that according to Randi could have enabled Geller to see the target drawings, had they also been placed in the line of sight. It may indeed be that the experimenters’ methods were less than completely secure, but I’ve always been sceptical that highly-intelligent physicists could not have spotted something so basic (yes, I know, scientists are supposed not to know about magic tricks, but there’s nothing especially magical about a peep-hole).

And why would there be a hole in an isolation booth? I can think of one reason, to carry audio cables, but that’s normally done at floor level. So it’s no surprise to learn from David Scott Rogo, who took the trouble to visit Stanford to check up on Randi’s claim, that that’s indeed where the hole is, which means Geller could only have benefited from it if he’d been tasked with divining the colour of the experimenters’ socks - if it hadn't also been covered by a metal plate.

Another ‘explanation ‘of the SRI results, aired in a 1974 New Scientist article is that Geller had implanted a miniature communication device in a tooth, that enabled him to get the details of the drawings from a confederate. But I don’t know how much we’ll hear about that, as it never really took off.

None of this is to defend Geller, who can look after himself, or the probity of his SRI tests, which could be proved to have been entirely faked without in the least affecting the results of the far greater and multi-faceted remote viewing projects that followed over decades. The Psi Encyclopedia has yet to include a piece on the Stargate project (although one is being written now). But at the weekend, by coincidence, I uploaded a general survey of remote viewing by Stephan Schwarz, one of its most dedicated pioneers. He gives details of projects carried out at his Mobius lab, which included some very striking archaeological finds by a team of viewers that at various time included Ingo Swann, Hella Hammid, and the novelist Michael Crichton.

The piece also includes the unequivocal statement by statistician Jessica Utts:

Using the standards applied to any other area of science, it is concluded that psychic functioning has been well established. The statistical results of the studies examined are far beyond what is expected by chance. Arguments that these results could be due to methodological flaws in the experiments are soundly refuted. Effects of similar magnitude have been replicated at a number of laboratories across the world. Such consistency cannot be readily explained by claims of flaws or fraud.

Surely that’s the real story here – it’s just not one that’s likely to feature in the mainstream press.

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Sciborg writes a somewhat incomprehensible comment that, "Leonora Piper was nothing more than a fraud, she was caught three times with cheesecloth ectoplasms. I have never come across a genuine mediums it is nothing more than fraud." Then when challenged he comes back and says, "Amos it was just a joke. Course she wasn't caught with fake ectoplasm lol."

Apparently I am mistaken in that I thought that people who comment here were adults and somewhat honest in their efforts to discuss paranormal topics---but apparently that is not so as Sciborg seems to be a puerile, adolescent who thinks he can spout out lies and then when caught in his lies just says ". . . it was just a joke! LOL!"

It didn't read like a joke to me!

How in the world can anyone believe anything that Sciborg ever says---ever! Unfortunately I think this attitude is common among the so-called Skeptics who not only post on this site but on other internet sites and who believe that they are charged with responsibility to inform the world that anything and everything paranormal is fraudulent. These multitudinous lies test my patience but to allow them to stand is a disservice to the pursuit of scientific truths.

Every one of these lies whenever and wherever they show up should be challenged. - AOD

" If human really did possess faculties like telepathy and clairvoyance or psychokinesis, it seems to me that after more than a century of research and experimentation we’d all know it by now. "

Argument invalid, because the natural sciences rely largely on repeatability, while psychic phenomena are not usually repeatable at will and under controlled conditions of lab.

"Mainstream science would have embraced it by now if these alleged powers really existed. "

No, because you are underestimating the weight of the metaphysical prejudices of scientists and the problem of repeatability already commented.

"It should be abundantly clear in everyday life but there is no evidence this happens."

Invalid argument. Quantum phenomena have occurred for millennia and hardly impact our diary lives, as psychic phenomena.

Next?

Next?


"How in the world can anyone believe anything that Sciborg ever says---ever!"

Sciborg Patel is a proponent of the psi trickster hypothesis. He uses the motto across the web "Trickster Makes This World". Guy P. Hansen in his book Trickster and the Paranormal also wrote about this. There is a lot of fraud and trickery in parapsychology. Sciborg sees himself as a trickster himself. No need to believe anything he says.

"he natural sciences rely largely on repeatability, while psychic phenomena are not usually repeatable at will and under controlled conditions of lab."

Yep... and that is why psi can never be demonstrated by the scientific method. It is not empirical or repeatable. The whole concept of psi is in opposition to science.

"Skeptics who not only post on this site but on other internet sites and who believe that they are charged with responsibility to inform the world that anything and everything paranormal is fraudulent."

Do you know of any paranormal cases or individuals claiming to possess psychic powers that have not been proved fraudulent (conscious or unconscious fraud) ? I do not know a single one.

"Yep... and that is why psi can never be demonstrated by the scientific method. It is not empirical or repeatable. The whole concept of psi is in opposition to science."

Why? If I were to say that the continents were moving in the 1800s, citing the similar puzzle curve of South America and Africa, I would be accused of being against science at that era. Same thing with planetary rotations. Or even meteorites. To say the whole concept of psi is in opposition to science is appealing to authority. No different than saying evolution is against the church. When it becomes clear that science institution cannot solve a strange mystery, it has to change to accommodate the new standards. A paradigm shift.

"Do you know of any paranormal cases or individuals claiming to possess psychic powers that have not been proved fraudulent (conscious or unconscious fraud) ? I do not know a single one."

Then perhaps you should open your mind and not assume every person must be a fraud because they claim things you don't believe. That is Trump did when the vote revealed that he lost the popular vote to Clinton. He shouts fraud and tries to delegitimize the research through every little ad hominem attack or any margin of error to prove that he won the popular vote, with his supporters going across the Internet to spread this fraud message. This can go both ways, mind you.

And quite frankly, that's the reason why so many fields have been neglected thanks to this skeptic arrogance. We have videos of people able to have objects be attached on their bodies without any sort of grip. And yet, instead of researching this strange phenomenon, the skeptics have instead dismissed it as a hoax and state it was sticky skin, but never bother to go any further. Such as how were these people able to hold these objects when other people can't? What were the components that allow them to so? And why would these people say they are using their mind have it stick?

In the end, the skeptic explanation doesn't change the fact that there is a person who can have a metal hammer be attached on their forehead.

Patience Worth has never been proven to be a fraud. - AOD

Patience Worth has been debunked. It was unconscious fraud.

"Unfortunately for Spiritualism, Curran’s writings failed to provide convincing evidence of life after death. Try as they might, researchers were unable to find any evidence that Patience Worth actually existed, and linguistic analysis of the texts revealed that the language was not consistent with other works from the period. The case for authenticity was not helped by Patience writing a novel set in the Victorian times, some 200 years after her own death. Eventually even the most ardent believer was forced to conclude that Pearl Curran’s remarkable outpourings were more likely to have a natural, not supernatural, explanation."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patience_Worth

Joe Nickell

"The weight of the evidence—the lack of historical record for “Patience Worth,” the fantasy proneness of Curran (consistent with producing an imaginary “other self”), the writings’ questionable language, and the evidence of the editing and revision process—indicates that Patience was merely a persona of Curran’s."

http://www.csicop.org/si/show/ghost_author_the_channeling_of_patience_worth

" Such as how were these people able to hold these objects when other people can't? What were the components that allow them to so? And why would these people say they are using their mind have it stick?

In the end, the skeptic explanation doesn't change the fact that there is a person who can have a metal hammer be attached on their forehead."

Get over it pal it is indeed sticky skin. That has been debunked here:

http://www.livescience.com/12986-magnetic-people-sticky-bogdan.html

Peoples bodies are different. Look at Hematidrosis, a rare condition where people sweat blood

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hematidrosis

Do you want to claim that is 'paranormal' as well? It isn't. There is no need to resort to the superstitions any longer. Science has come a long way in explaining even rare phenomena. Look at ball lightning for example.

Now I am not being 'too critical' here, I am just am saying how it is. If there was evidence for the paranormal I think it would be cool and mainstream science would have embraced it a long time ago, but there is not any. The real world does not work that way. It is wishful thinking.

And why isn't there more investigations or research of the "sticky skin" people? I've seen the Wikipedia page and it's quality is appalling. The explanation is scant and dismissive. And much of the explanations seems to be conjectures rather than actual experiments. I want a more extensive look at this human magnetism phenomenon. What exactly makes them different from others? Is it a gene or something else? Can it be replicated or not? How could it impact society? And keep in mind, I did not use paranormal to explain this strange ability at all. This is something worth researching and not to be dismissed. When I see videos of human magnets, I don't see people asking how could they have been done it but rather dismissive insults proclaiming they are fake and fraud, citing Randi's mundane explanation and completely ignoring the extraordinary feat that stands before them. This is not healthy science.

And I would be wary about assuming mainstream science is staying the way it is. Before Galieo, people assumed the Sun moved around the Earth. It was self-evident and it would be ludicrous to think the Earth would be moving under our feet. However, there were tiny clues that displayed a problem to that notions even before the telescope. It didn't became mainstream until new technology gradually became available. Paradigm shifts are not so easy to be spotted.

"Science has come a long way in explaining even rare phenomena. Look at ball lightning for example."

Yes, it has but, clearly, it hasn't answered all the questions. Science is a work in progress, it is not an infallible god - despite the fact that the fundamentalist science fraternity clearly regard it as such. Science is a method of inquiry - and not all science revolves around laboratory evidence. It is sheer insanity to say that anything the can't be produced at will simply doesn't exist. The words 'sand' and 'ostrich' spring to mind.

As for ball lightening: yes it's certainly a genuine phenomenon. But then there phenomena similar in appearance that are not yet explained. I have seen, with naked eye, the light phenomena described by the Scole experimenters. It's an apparently intelligently-directed point of light. On two occasions I saw this phenomenon in the presence of others who saw exactly what I saw.

I have also, on two occasions, seen coloured orbs of light: once in the home of a neighbour immediately following his death and once in my own home. Again there is the appearance of some form of consciousness contained within.

To those who experience such things, the idea that they can't possibly exist because science says so is, frankly, risible. While no one can (as yet) say definitively what they are there is no doubt in my mind that they exist.

So, please, let's move beyond the 'we know everything there is to know' stand. At best, it's small-minded arrogance and it's an attitude that has no place in a place of fine-minded discussion such as this.

Ps. I wrote the above very quickly because I was in a hurry to get outside and tend the animals. But it seems that Shadao and I were pixelling at the same time and saying much the same thing!

Anyway, it's a fascinating subject with little room for expressions of closed minded bigotry such as, 'science knows all there is to know' and 'when you're dead you're dead'. It would help the flow of discussion enormously if such comments were left out. So if that's basically all you have to say on the subject then why bother? :)

Leuders:
I anticipated your comment and could have written it word for word myself. It is the same old hackneyed claptrap spouted off year after year by Wikipedia and Rationalwiki editors. Joe Nickell is their only reference and Nickell's 'investigation' of Patience Worth and Pearl Curran resulted in his opinions only! He provided no evidence that Patience Worth and Pearl Curran were frauds (whatever that may mean in this case). - AOD

Leuders (rationalwiki editor) :
"If there was evidence for the paranormal I think it would be cool and mainstream science would have embraced it a long time ago,"

But, surely; it wouldn't be paranormal then, would it?

"Yep... and that is why psi can never be demonstrated by the scientific method. It is not empirical or repeatable. The whole concept of psi is in opposition to science."

Psi is not opposed to science, but to strict repeatability. Your problem is to assume that science requires strict repeatability, which is not so, because there we have the field research of human sciences such as history and anthropology that are not strictly repeatable. And that does not say anything about the existence of psychic phenomena.

"Do you know of any paranormal cases or individuals claiming to possess psychic powers that have not been proved fraudulent (conscious or unconscious fraud)?"

Indridason.

Next?

"Indridason.

Next?"

Wrong.

Indriði Indriðason was detected in trickery twice. The reference is given on Michael Goss's book "Poltergeists: An Annotated Bibliography of Works in English, Circa 1880-1975", on page 140. His fraud was discussed at a paper read for the Second International Congress for Psychical Research, Warsaw in 1923. The paper notes that the psychical investigators who detected the fraud of this Icelandic medium considered the 'fraud' to be the result of spirit possession. Funny stuff.

In other words Indriðason was detected in trickery moving objects but believers still wanted to cling to their devout paranormal beliefs so made up excuses. It reminds me of the Colin Fry incident, where Fry was seen holding a trumpet in the air, his defenders credulously claimed a spirit had taken control of his body to commit the fraud. You can never win with believers. When various mediums are caught in fraud, the devout spiritualists defend their mediums by claiming 'spirits' were responsible for the fraud. Bottom line however is that that medium was indeed caught in fraud. You are wrong.

"The paper notes that the psychical investigators who detected the fraud of this Icelandic medium considered the 'fraud' to be the result of spirit possession."

Show a link on the paper, because that is not enough to disqualify Indridason.

In addition, the psychic is not only shown in special gifted persons, but also spontaneously to normal people, who are not especially psychic, such as OBEs, NDEs, deathbed visions, crisis apparitions, reciprocal apparitions, ESP and microPK in lab, and so on.

What do you think, Robert, that Indridason was caught in fraud?

There is a photograph in Haraldsson's & Gissurarsson's book Indridi Indridason, on page 63, with the caption "Indridi Indridason photographed with the broomstick on 6 December 1907, when he appears to have resorted to fraud, whether conscious or unconscious" This is discussed under the heading "The fiasco of the photograph experiment" p. 84. It was an unusual séance with only Indridi and a photographer: "The negative showed an arrangement of drapery on a pole ..." such crude trickery would have not been possible during experimental sittings. Indridi's spirit controls blamed a spirit for the incident.

"It was an unusual séance with only Indridi and a photographer: "The negative showed an arrangement of drapery on a pole ..." such crude trickery would have not been possible during experimental sittings. "

So other instances were probably not frauds, so it has not been proven that everything about Indridason was a fraud.

"If a medium is caught in fraud once, then Occam's razor says all their mediumship is fraudulent. "

So therefore anyone caught telling a lie never tells the truth?

"I know you are scared of death and want there to be something magical after we die, but reality does not work that way I am afraid."

And it would bring peace of mind to know for sure that what you say above is true. My only fear of death is the process and the possibility that there is more to face beyond.


"All scientific evidence shows us when we are dead we are dead. "

What an ignorant and bigoted statement! There is a huge amount of evidence from NDE studies to the contrary.

"You failed to list a genuine medium. None exist. They were also caught in fraud at some time or another, or suspected of it. There is no medium with an entirely clean record. They are nothing more than con-artists. Look at Mina Crandon or Doris Stokes."

My feeling is that it is you that needs to believe in magic after death. It has often occurred to me that many of the people who make endlessly crass and infantile arguments, such as yours above, simply want others to find them clear cut, rubber stamped proof and understanding of the ineffable.

Well, sorry to disappoint you, Mr. Skeptic, but the finer aspects of life just aren't like that. You'll simply have to man-up and learn to live with ambiguity. So why not just grab your comfort blanket, pick up your copy of 'Lampposts Through the Ages' and toddle off to bed with a nice cup of cocoa.

There, there. No need to fear the dark, it will soon be morning. :)


I know it may be strange to say but I do not regard photographs of psychic phenomena as good evidence of either fraud or evidence of the paranormal since usually the provenance of the photograph is not known. I tend to think that many of the photographs of ectoplasm and apparitions might be reenactments for publicity purposes or to accompany an article about the medium. A sheet on a broomstick or cut-out faces from magazines and swathed in cheesecloth might just be a naive attempt to demonstrate what an apparition looked like. In that sense the photographs might all be 'fakes' but they are not necessarily evidence of a fraudulent medium. - AOD

"If a medium is caught in fraud once, then Occam's razor says all their mediumship is fraudulent."

No, Occam's Razor really doesn't "say' anything about anything. The concept of Occam's Razor is used by simple-minded people, regardless of their education or specialty to sound learned and to reduce explanations of various phenomena to simple materialistic explanations and shut people up. Applying Occam's Razor to mediumship allows Skeptics and believers alike to blow off explanations that require more comprehensive thought structures and belief systems.

Another example of the stupidity of the aforementioned comment is a singer who lip-syncs a performance. Singers that are caught in lip syncing are not by Occam's Razor all fraudulent singers. Many, or shall I say most of them are well paid and provide live concerts and are considered legitimate singers but for one reason or another had a need to 'fake it' on occasion.

I think good true mediums do the same thing when the occasion requires it. - AOD

It is obviously true that when the body of a living organism dies, that body is dead and eventually decays. But I don't think that that is what most people who frequent a site such as this are thinking about when they consider an afterlife. Few if any people here think that they will occupy the same physical body in a spiritual life that they have in physical life. What concerns most of us, is not what happens to the body after death; we know that---but what happens to our consciousness. So that begs the question, "Does the body produce consciousness?" Because if it turns out that it does, then when the body ceases to be alive consciousness ceases to be. But, to my knowledge there is not yet a good explanation of how the body---or the brain--- produces consciousness and there are some signs that perhaps consciousness is not a cellular phenomenon in the brain and that in fact it might exist in some form apart from a material body. - AOD

" "Does the body produce consciousness?" Because if it turns out that it does, then when the body ceases to be alive consciousness ceases to be. But, to my knowledge there is not yet a good explanation of how the body---or the brain--- produces consciousness and there are some signs that perhaps consciousness is not a cellular phenomenon in the brain and that in fact it might exist in some form apart from a material body." - AOD

And that is a *very* scary prospect. We practise for death every night. The dreamless sleeps are the best.

"You first said he never did any fraud, you were then shown evidence and now you shift gears by saying just because he was caught in fraud once then the other times were all genuine. "

Because other instances were made under more rigorous conditions that prevented some of fraud. Neither have you proved that Garrett and Piper were frauds.

I kind of know that feeling, Julie, but the alternative might be scarier even though logically it probably shouldn't be because you wouldn't experience anything bad. Then again, you'd think that as an on-off suicidal insomniac I'd at least logically speaking not suffer such massive death anxiety, but as Michael Prescott's latest post reminds us, life is not fair :(

I suspect you're considerably younger than me Chel. For what it's worth, death anxiety gets less as one grows older. Paradoxical but true. :)

When we die,....does the universe die with us?

I'm 27 and autistic so my emotional processing isn't always the same as someone else my age and I might come across as younger.

"Because other instances were made under more rigorous conditions that prevented some of fraud. Neither have you proved that Garrett and Piper were frauds."

The burden of proof is always on the paranormal claimant, because you are making the extraordinary claims. It is up to you to demonstrate your claims, not the skeptic to debunk them.

You have failed to provide any evidence Leonora Piper was a genuine mediums. Throwing around names proves nothing. You have not cited any literature. Even some believers were not convinced her mediumship needed a spiritualist interpretation.

"In contrast to the extravagant claims made by the vast majority of mediums, Mrs Piper herself was not convinced that the information obtained through her came from discarnate sources or that her 'controls' were, in fact, the spirits they purported to be. One of her early controls, who called himself Phinuit, was obviously fictitious, for although he claimed to be the spirit of a French doctor who had lived in Marseilles, he knew but little of French and still less of medicine. All statements to verify his statements met with failure. One investigator invented a dead niece whom he named Bessie Beale, and requested Mrs Piper's control to contact her spirit. Messages from the non-existent 'spirit' were duly given."

Simeon Edmunds

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonora_Piper

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonora_Piper

Amos Oliver Doyle are you still claiming the fraudulent Bangs Sisters were genuine mediums?

They have been debunked on Wikipedia recently with many sources.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangs_Sisters

Is the PSI encyclopedia going to create an article on the Bangs sisters?

"I'm 27 and autistic so my emotional processing isn't always the same as someone else my age and I might come across as younger."

And I am younger than you, but know more about psychical research than any of the believers on here :)

"And I am younger than you, but know more about psychical research than any of the believers on here "

No you don't, Steve001. You're just more stupid than most people on here. :)

I gathered, Steve. I learned to provide actual quotations and references for my assertions in high school and not to start pointless fights on the internet by twelve. However, I don't know a lot about the topic, so if the other users would be so kind, can I get some info on his assertions from a source not just any idiot can edit?

I have always though that Skeptics make too much of the “Bessie Beals” communicator in Leonora Piper’s mediumistic sessions. I think that the control at that time was ‘Richard Hodgson’ who, when alive had spent several years investigating Mrs. Piper during her trance communications with various and sundry personas. One sitter with Mrs. Piper was Mrs. Bessie Blodgett , maiden name Bessie Barr. She met with Mrs. Piper over a period of 4 years I think from 1888-1891. Richard Hodgson was present at those meetings between Bessie Barr Blodget and Mrs. Piper and took notes so he was somewhat acquainted with Bessie Barr Blodgett. It is possible that the Hodgson control confused ‘Bessie Beals’ with ‘Bessie Barr’ or ‘Bessie Blodgett’. It would be interesting to know if Bessie Blodgett had passed away at the time that the spirit of Hodgson provided communications from ‘ Bessie Beals, as 15 or more years had passed between the time that Bessie Blodgett and Hodgson sat with Piper and Hodgson died in 1905 so that the Bessie Beals’ communicator may have been in fact Bessie Barr Blodgett and Hodgson was just confused about the name. - AOD

"Yep... and that is why psi can never be demonstrated by the scientific method. It is not empirical or repeatable. The whole concept of psi is in opposition to science."

Wrong. A lot of lab anomalies trying to reproduce psi have been succesful and repeatable (given their respective statistical power).
References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3114207/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3389376/
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0153049
http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00390/full (a new article replicating it:
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0170370 published 1 month ago)
http://www.ics.uci.edu/~jutts/JSE1999.pdf
http://emmind.net/openpapers_repos/Nonlocality_Fields/Nonlocal_Mind/Various/2014_Explicit_Anomalous_Cognition_A_Review_of_the_Best_Evidence_in_Ganzfeld,_Forced-choice_Remote_Viewing_and_Dream_Studies.pdf
http://www.patriziotressoldi.it/cmssimpled/uploads/Meta_Baptista14.pdf
https://f1000research.com/articles/4-1188/v1

About trance mediums, a lot of important points have been made. But none invalidated the allegedly and well documented anomalous information transfer. There's no evidence that it was spirit communication of other form of psychic phenomena (see Braude 'Immortal Remains' and Sudduth 'A philosophical critique...'). Most of comments I see here are right, the trance personas (like Phinuit) are probably imagined and the fact that a actual communication with spirits took place is questionable (and indeed a lot of mediums admit that they aren't sure that were not talking to spirits), but the fact they were able to obtain information that was almost impossible to be obtained by normal means is unquestionable. (the references can be checked in http://psi-encyclopedia.spr.ac.uk/articles/leonora-piper,http://psi-encyclopedia.spr.ac.uk/articles/chico-xavier">http://psi-encyclopedia.spr.ac.uk/articles/chico-xavier">http://psi-encyclopedia.spr.ac.uk/articles/leonora-piper,http://psi-encyclopedia.spr.ac.uk/articles/chico-xavier the articles are very biased, however they have a lot of references.)

"Do you know of any paranormal cases or individuals claiming to possess psychic powers that have not been proved fraudulent (conscious or unconscious fraud) ? I do not know a single one."

The most dramatic case that I know is Amir Amyden. He was investigated by Stanley Krippner (a famous parapsychologist and friend of James Randi) and he found no apparent fraud.

References:
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Stanley_Krippner/publication/237411055_Physiological_and_Geomagnetic_Correlates_of_Apparent_Anomalous_Phenomena_Observed_in_the_Presence_of_a_Brazilian_CCSensitive/links/56faa3c508aef6d10d904ba5.pdf

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.504.3493&rep=rep1&type=pdf

http://neuroquantology.com/index.php/journal/article/viewFile/408/407 (I hate this journal, I'm only citing it because is an interview)

http://archives.sfweekly.com/sanfrancisco/the-psychic-world-of-stanley-krippner-a-quest-to-document-esp/Content?oid=2184869

http://boingboing.net/2012/05/01/stanely-krippner-a-parapsycho.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUTzjK_GvdA&t=20s

"You have not cited any literature. "

Wrong. I mentioned "The Limits of Influence: Psychokinesis and the Philosophy of Science", by Braude and "If This Be Magic: The Forgotten Power of Hypnotism ", by Playfair, and in other posts, "The Enigma of Survival", by Hart.

"Even some believers were not convinced her mediumship needed a spiritualist interpretation."

And that? There are good reasons to consider that some spirits during Piper's sessions were deceased humans.

"Amos Oliver Doyle are you still claiming the fraudulent Bangs Sisters were genuine mediums?"

That is the fallacy of leaning on a weaker case. There are cases stronger than that as others have commented.

"Most of comments I see here are right, the trance personas (like Phinuit) are probably imagined and the fact that a actual communication with spirits took place is questionable (and indeed a lot of mediums admit that they aren't sure that were not talking to spirits), but the fact they were able to obtain information that was almost impossible to be obtained by normal means is unquestionable. "

There have been sessions where someone has shown the personality and manner of being of a deceased, something hardly questionable as postmortem communications. In addition, there are the drop-in communications. We can question everything because we were not there, but it is useless.

I don't know if the Bangs sisters were fraudulent mediums or not and I don't care. What I do know is that the artistic high quality precipitated paintings of the Bangs sisters (and the Campbell 'brothers') have not been explained as to the method of production to my satisfaction. David Abbott's explanation and others are not reasonable explanations. - AOD

"Wrong. A lot of lab anomalies trying to reproduce psi have been succesful and repeatable (given their respective statistical power)."

Well some of these papers you linked are not arguing for the existence of psi, they are on other subjects. For example one of those papers "Testing for Questionable Research Practices in a Meta-Analysis: An Example from Experimental Parapsychology", is actually a pretty skeptical paper:

"We consider [questionable research practices] in the context of a meta-analysis database of Ganzfeld–telepathy experiments from the field of experimental parapsychology. The Ganzfeld database is particularly suitable for this study, because the parapsychological phenomenon it investigates is widely believed to be nonexistent."

I will have to click through the rest, but looks like flawed statistical arguments to me. Parapsychologists cannot demonstrate psi in the real world so now they have to resort to hiding by statistics.

As for this:

"He was investigated by Stanley Krippner (a famous parapsychologist and friend of James Randi) and he found no apparent fraud."

Stanley Krippner is not a magician, he has no understanding about deception or trickery methods. So he is not a reliable source on such matters.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_Krippner

He claimed the fraudulent psychic Nina Kulagina and other frauds were genuine. He has 0 credibility. His dream telepathy experiments have never been replicated by the scientific community.

As for Chico Xavier he was caught in fraud. Yet Guy Lyon Playfair's Psi Encyclopedia entry doesn't mention this.

http://www.csicop.org/specialarticles/show/spiritualism_in_brazil_alive_and_kicking

There are some embarrassing photographs there of Xavier with someone dressed up in a cloth or towel over their head. The Psi Encyclopedia is written by die-hard believers. They do not cite the negative or skeptical information on parapsychology or spiritualism in their articles. They are not reporting the full side of the story.

Let me just clarify I have no problem with statistical science, a lot of valid science is done this way. The problem is that psi effects are claimed by proponents to be real. Yet when it comes to detecting these effects it cannot be done. It can only be shown by disputable statistics in a meta-analysis. There is no evidence any psi effects manifest themselves in everyday life. Nobody has ever provided proof that this can be done.

Juan here is arguing that people can move tables with their minds or communicate with spirits, yet provides no evidence of this that we can actually observe. Why do these things not happen on a regular basis in the everyday world? Why do we not see items in supermarkets floating around in broad daylight or spirits manifesting themselves down our local police station helping us with missing person cases? It blatantly obvious that these do not exist. Believers always have to invent excuses. There never give the null hypothesis a chance.

As Robert Todd Carroll (R.I.P) wrote

"We know that no matter how statistically significant the results are, the actual size of this psi effect is so small that we can’t detect it in a single person in any obvious way. We have to deduce it from guessing experiments. What hope do we have of isolating, harnessing, or expanding this power if a person who has it can’t even directly recognize its presence?"

There are people on this blog arguing psi is real but they cannot point to any empirical evidence it exists. Why can't a single person ever demonstrate it on camera to millions of people?

"I don't know if the Bangs sisters were fraudulent mediums or not and I don't care. What I do know is that the artistic high quality precipitated paintings of the Bangs sisters (and the Campbell 'brothers') have not been explained as to the method of production to my satisfaction. David Abbott's explanation and others are not reasonable explanations. - AOD"

We are lay-men, not professionals on this subject, so your own opinion is worthless. We have professional magicians and historians of science who have told us how those fraudulent paintings were made, and it is rational to accept those conclusions like I do. It makes no difference if you want to believe it or not.

When you go to the airport, you would want a professional pilot right? So why dispute experts on this subject? Not everything is a conspiracy.

"When you go to the airport, you would want a professional pilot right? So why dispute experts on this subject? Not everything is a conspiracy."

Exactly! There are so many distinguished scientists working in the field present and past - many Nobel laureates - why should lay men and nothing people such as Randi (who has failed, even on TV, to replicate effects that he claims to be false) be given the time of day?

As a layman perhaps you should stick to your field of expertise - assuming you have one. :)

"The problem is that psi effects are claimed by proponents to be real. Yet when it comes to detecting these effects it cannot be done. It can only be shown by disputable statistics in a meta-analysis"

There's no evidence that the statistics are "disputable". They are perfectly sound. You argument can be applied to anything that has small effect size, so you are basically saying that anything that have a small effect in lab tests doesn't exist.
In fact, I invite you to to a meta-analysis of Ganzfeld studies, plot the graphs for the effect sizes, analyse the file-drawer, check the internal consistency, check for diffrent inclusion criteria and try to find any statistical artifact.

"There is no evidence any psi effects manifest themselves in everyday life. Nobody has ever provided proof that this can be done."

Yes, there is. But any proof outside the lab will be labeled as "fake" and Skeptics will invent a bunch of implausible mechanisms to explain away what happend ("it was just an absurdly complex magic trick performed by kids who don't know magic", "the medium is clearly a genius savant able to obtain more information than trained policemen").
A dozen of surveys have been made asking if people had any sort of "paranormal" experience and a lot of them answer positively. But Skeptics also explain away this saying that is wishful thinking, the law of large numbers, deception.
Them you go to the lab and find some traces that these kind of phenomena may be real. And them Skeptics say "Well, but nobody manifest it on their daily lives".

"There are people on this blog arguing psi is real but they cannot point to any empirical evidence it exists. Why can't a single person ever demonstrate it on camera to millions of people?"

I agree with you. This rules out any kind of ostensible on-demand psi. However, this doesn't rule out the possibility that psi effects are small or are residual effects of something else. And this doesn't rule out any spontaneous case of psi.

"We are lay-men, not professionals on this subject, so your own opinion is worthless. We have professional magicians and historians of science who have told us how those fraudulent paintings were made, and it is rational to accept those conclusions like I do. It makes no difference if you want to believe it or not."

Why do you use arguments of authority only when it serves you? If this is a valid argument, so I can say that because people like Alan Turing, Wolfgang Pauli, Charles Richet, Brian Josephson and Freeman Dyson investigated and believed that psi is real them it's "rational" to do so.
Also, any parapsychologist is a professional on the subject and some of them publish their papers in respected peer-reviewed journals. Should we trust them? Or should we trust some random blogger on the internet?


------------------------

I will not keep discussing this. I already know what is goind to happen because all the 'internet debates' on the subject are the same.
I'll just say that I personally HATE the idea of psi. It disturbs be that some random medium may be accessing my thoughts. Also, the idea is bizarre and doesn't make any sense to me at all. However, I cannot dismiss the evidence and as a scientist, I cannot accusate other scientists to be fraudulent, unless I have a really good evidence for that.

I think that Uri Geller 'tricks' are mostly BS. However, because you think that magicians opinions are really important, there are dozens of magicians saying that they cannot explain a lot of Uri Geller's tricks:
http://www.urigeller.com/category/testimonials/quotes-from-magicians/

So this makes Uri Geller real? Well, probably not because I don't know the exact controls used during these pseudo-experiments.

Sam,
You are so deficient in knowledge about the Bangs sisters that I actually feel sorry for you. Get busy and read all of the reference materials. What kind of world do you live in?

Apparently you have no experience with so-called 'professionals. After more than 50 years hobnobbing with 'professionals' I would no more trust a 'professional' magician, of all things or a "historian of science" (Is there a Ph.D. in that?) to know all of the truth about anything, especially anything paranormal, than I would trust the beggar asking for handouts at an intersection of a busy highway to know anything about it. I defininately would not ask that beggar or a magician to explain the world and reality to me! You need to get out and mingle with people a little bit more and get some experience with educated people and you will soon find out how really stupid many of them are.

Deferring to authority is a child's way of thinking. Abbott's explanation of precipitated paintings of the Bangs sister was unabashedly nonsensical and I have previously discussed that in a previous post. How can anyone with an ounce of brains not see that! I sincerely feel sorry for you.

I don't consider myself a lay-man as I am one of those educated professional scientists you so revere nor do I consider my opinions worthless contrary to what I think about your opinions. - AOD

P.S. Why don't we see rainbows floating around us all the time, in the supermarket and such? Apparently they don't exist.

Here is a relevant funny thing about internet discussions: http://jasper-rolls.tumblr.com/post/156986546446/jasper-rolls-this-exchange-is-like-a-microcosm-of

Sam: "We are lay-men, not professionals on this subject, so your own opinion is worthless."

... by that standard, so is yours.

"Why do these things not happen on a regular basis in the everyday world? Why do we not see items in supermarkets floating around in broad daylight or spirits manifesting themselves down our local police station helping us with missing person cases? It blatantly obvious that these do not exist. "

Quantum phenomena are also not blatantly obvious and we know that they happen, so that argument is invalid.

"There never give the null hypothesis a chance."

Wrong. Parapsychologists often begin as if the null hypothesis were true, to conclude that it is not true either by field research or lab experiments.

"Why can't a single person ever demonstrate it on camera to millions of people?"

That excludes robust psi at will, but not spontaneous and involuntary psi, or weak psi at will.

This skeptical argument is vicious: it is argued that if psi exists, then it has to leave its mark out of the lab, but when evidence is presented outside the lab, the skeptic argues that such evidence is not valid because outside the lab, but when lab evidence is presented, it is argued that it has to leave its mark out...

"This skeptical argument is vicious"

Did you mean vacuous, Juan? Yes, I do agree - but then all the sceptic trolls' arguments are. Furthermore, it becomes more and more obvious to me that responding is akin to swatting flies.

There's is nowhere that an intelligent and thorough discussion can take place when trolls are permitted to take over and direct the proceedings. If they are allowed to remain they will simply continue because a) there is most likely nothing else in their life and b) because their petty disruption gives them a sense of importance that they are unable to achieve by merit.

Obviously, this is Robert's blog forum to conduct in whatever way he chooses. But I would dearly like to see filtered out posts containing phrases such as: 'when you're dead you're dead'; 'James Randi has proven'; 'all mediums are fake' and anything that gives 'wikipedia' or 'rationalwiki' as its source of reference.

"Did you mean vacuous, Juan?"

No, I meant that the argument is a vicious circle, ending where it begins, being logically invalid.

" I meant that the argument is a vicious circle, ending where it begins, being logically invalid."

Yes, that's the most tedious aspect of engaging with these trolls. It relates to the 'plaiting live eels in a bucket' analogy.

Not to mention camera tricks are a thing so even if someone did do it on TV the sceptics wouldn't accept it.

"Quantum phenomena are also not blatantly obvious and we know that they happen, so that argument is invalid."

Quantum phenomena do not cause observable macro-effects. The argument for psi is that these effects should allegedly be powerful macro-effects. You stated you believe mediums can levitate tables and things like that in the past. Then why do these macro-effects not exist in the real world? We never see them happen. They do not exist in reality.

Amos Oliver Doyle you are not a professional scientist. You have been around the web for over 10 years or more on spiritualist blogs (Michael E. Tymn, Zerdini etc). You state repeatedly in many blog posts that blatant fraudulent mediums are genuine (Fox sisters, Helen Duncan, Bangs Sisters, Davenport brothers). When you are shown skeptical literature you then go silent or reject that literature.

You stated on Michaels Prescott's blog and this one that God is everything and we live in God and we are all ''consciousness'' (whatever that means), that is religious talk, not science. You stated you believe different races are different species, that is crackpot talk, not science. You have written a lot of pseudoscientific and nonsensical statements all over the web about psychic powers. One has to only Google your name to see the pseudoscience you support. Please do not pretend to be a 'professional' scientist. You have no academic scientific peer-reviewed publications.

I think the Rationalwiki article on Patience Worth summed you up best:

"The only supporters of Patience Worth are devout spiritualists such as Amos Oliver Doyle and Michael E. Tymn. Doyle has an entire website dedicated to Patience Worth and he refuses to accept the evidence which shows she was not in contact with spirits."

You say you read all the literature but you do not. You cherry-pick Walter Franklin Prince's statements on Patience Worth but ignore all his skeptical writings (he dismissed Mina Crandon, Rudi Scheider, Henry Slade) and almost every other physical medium as a fraud but you don't like that.

Joseph Jastrow (psychologist), Richard Wiseman (psychologist), William Sentman Taylor (psychologist), Leonard Zusne (psychologist), Andrew Neher (psychologist), Karen Stollznow (linguist), Joe Nickell (magic historian) have all written about ''Patience Worth'' in their mainstream publications and came to the rational conclusion she was a fictitious creation of Curran.

But everyone of these above specialists has to be automatically wrong according to you, and you are right. You just need to give the game up. Patience Worth never existed, your website which argues she was some sort of spiritual being or is still a 'mystery' to science, has no credibility whatsoever. After I read some old posts of yours on the Fox Sisters claiming they were genuine, I am sorry but I do not believe a word you say.

I am glad most parapsychologists are old and the field is dying out. They have never demonstrated anything.


"Furthermore, it becomes more and more obvious to me that responding is akin to swatting flies."

Right Julie. Everyone is a troll if they even show the slightest ounce of critical thinking. I get it, skepticism threatens your world-view. I am sorry but there is not much I can do about that. Take care now. Let's cease communication. I stated what I wanted to say. If you want to call every skeptic on this blog a troll just for saying something different to what you agree with, that is up to you. You are good at scaring people away, I will give you that. Now excuse me while I levitate to work.

"Right Julie. Everyone is a troll if they even show the slightest ounce of critical thinking. I get it, skepticism threatens you."

Au contraire. Everyone here with a genuine and fair-minded interest in the subject of parapsychology is a critical thinker: a healthy scepticism is the correct approach to scientific study. How can critical thinking be threatening?

See? You're doing it again: ignoring what has actually been said and repeating the same old same old. The people afraid to have their world view shattered are you 'RationalWiki' (an oxymoron if ever there was one) fundamentalist control freaks. I can see you in my mind's eye lying on your backs screaming 'Noooooo' and drumming your little pink heels on the carpet.

It isn't the parapsychologists who are dying out, it's the dinosaurs like you whose days are severely numbered. Now go and do as you promised: levitate yourself away. Go on, off you go. Otherwise aunts Julie will be along to smack your chubby little legs again. :)


Sceptics are critics, nothing more.
They offer nothing but criticism.
They have nothing positive to say.
They are negative entities.
They attack paranormal investigative forums because those forums act as a magnet to them.
If it were not for these forums then they would be lost.
Have sympathy for these negative entities.
They are nothing without us.

Sam,
I am honored to see that you have such fascination with Amos Oliver Doyle. Of course you do not know me and therefore you can imagine whatever and whoever you want me to be. That is no concern of mine. My comments must hit a nerve in you that you would find it so necessary to attack me personally and so vehemently. I am glad that you have read and apparently remembered my comments on multiple sites and perused the website www.patienceworth.com. I appreciate that recognition and see that what I have written has made a great impact on you. That suggests that your skepticism is beginning to crack and I suspect that in time, after you have matured a bit that you will be able to see past opinions of others and come up with some thoughts of your own.

People I care nothing about and have nothing worthwhile to say fade from my memory as “Sam” will quickly fade away but apparently I will remain in your memory for some time to come.

I would find it interesting to see a listing of your credentials and scientific accomplishments or perhaps your website in which you contribute something worthwhile to humanity. But I suspect that you have contributed nothing! - AOD

Sam, stating things over and over will make them neither true nor believable. Provide actual arguments.

This may not be the time or place to say this but considering “Sam’s” comments, there have always been and will always be ‘barbarians’, that is, uneducated hateful people who seek to destroy anything uplifting, positive and beautiful. Inquiring minds want to know, but barbarians do not want to know, they just want to destroy and spread their ugliness, bringing everyone else down to the muck and mire of their pitiful existence. One only has to think of the crucifixion of Jesus so see how there are some people determined to destroy the good in humanity. Members of ISIS are examples of current barbarians whose only interest is to kill and destroy and unfortunately there are many others in today’s society who hate and destroy and those people are not confined to any one culture or country; they are worldwide.

I know that there are some people who do not have the mental capacity to appreciate the writings of Patience Worth/Pearl Curran and marvel at their use of exotic and archaic language. They often say that her writing is not understandable. But to my mind, people who say this really mean that they do not understand it. They may, at no fault of their own, lack the brain development, experience and education to understand it so I do not fault them. I suspect that those who try to debunk Patience Worth have not actually read, to any extent, her poems, aphorisms, novels and plays and contemplated their significance as evidence of something greater in human beings than physical form nor have they considered investigations, comments and opinions of people who actually knew Pearl Curran and Patience Worth.

I will say as I have said many times on many different venues, the source of ‘Patience Worth’ has not been determined. Contrary to what people like “Sam” might say or any others regardless of how many ‘peer reviewed’ articles they may have published, there is no evidence to support a view that Pearl Curran made up the Patience Worth personality; that she was an alter ego, that she was a multiple personality, that she was a dissociated personality etc. etc. There is just no evidence! Anyone can have an opinion and many people have one as “Sam” has pointed out, but that is just opinion, not evidence. - AOD

"Have sympathy for these negative entities.
They are nothing without us."

One might say the same of any parasite. But the comparison is a tad unkind . . . . . . to fleas. ;)

"Quantum phenomena do not cause observable macro-effects. "

Wrong. There are macroscopic quantum phenomena:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macroscopic_quantum_phenomena

"Then why do these macro-effects not exist in the real world?"

Do you mean today? They may continue to occur, but not at will and any instance will be characterized as fraud even if it is not so.

Sam, the fact that you don't believe people when they say they witnessed these happenings is not the same as it being fact that they don't occur. You can't simply declare things never happen seconds after people explained why they think they do.

You might be wasting your time, Chel. Apparently, Sam has had a rather unfortunate accident. Seems his levitation skills weren't all they might be and he came down to earth suddenly, with a bump.

Well, when I say came down to earth, he actually landed on top of a Manhatten skyscraper and was promptly arrested on a charge of suspected terrorist activity.

Last I heard he was over at Guantanamo Bay doing his best to explain himself to a couple of rather large, imposing and remarkably sceptical military chaps.

Good luck, Sam! And don't worry, the colour orange looks great on you. :)

Julie Baxter:
"Apparently, Sam has had a rather unfortunate accident. Seems his levitation skills weren't all they might be and he came down to earth suddenly, with a bump."

Julie, maybe he should have asked me? I would have put him right.

"Julie, maybe he should have asked me? I would have put him right."

Yes, well, 'tis easy to be wise after the event. :/

Poor old Sam. Gone but not forgotten. :(

Would whoever the "Paul" is here mind using a different name - the original "Paul" here), to avoid confusion,

The comments to this entry are closed.