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The Scientific Evidence for Psychic Ability

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Re: The Scientific Evidence for Psychic Ability

Postby ProfWag » 10 Sep 2011, 03:20

craig weiler wrote:Ok. What are your objections to the testing? I was not at all convinced by Hyman. I found his critique bombastic and more importantly, Schwartz pointed out that it was riddled with errors. But this study was also unique, so there is definitely room for error.

First off, when we are talking about the ability to speak to dead people, no--there is no room for error.
It's a shame that too few people out there are qualified to critique the results of a parapsychology test. I do agree with you that Hyman's critique may have been harsh. However, his experiment is far from scientific in my opinion. As an example, in one study referenced below, he asked his subjects to grade the results themselves. To me, that's very subjective. If a subject really wants to hear from a loved one, they would naturally be more inclinded to call a miss a hit when the results were close (John when the deceased actually went by Johnny, for example). A deceased person should be able to transmit, though the medium, specific information that should be agreed upon beforehand and not a grading scale ala a remote viewing experiment. More accurate and pre-determined questions/answers should be demanded. What color shirt he wore every day--what did he do in the Navy--Where is he buried, etc. for example. The answers would be written down and sealed away until after the reading. Only accurate hits would be counted rather than calling Jane a hit when the real name was Jean. Additionally, as you'll see below, the grading scale the subjects used allowed for some range of a "hit" from 1-6 with the score of "zero" being "no correct information." If a medium is doing a reading, some guesses are bound to happen by chance (ala cold-reading), hence, I believe the scale is skewed in favor of the medium almost always scoring some sort of "hit," resulting in a greatly exagerated grading scale.

Here's an abstract of his research (the entire experiment can be found here: http://www.drgaryschwartz.com/files/Qui ... 07vol3.pdf

Sittersalso gave each list of items a summary/global numerical score
(0-6) using the Arizona Whole Reading Rating System (AWRRS;
based on remote viewing scoring scales13):
6: Excellent reading, including strong aspects of communication,
and with essentially no incorrect information.
5: Good reading with relatively little incorrect information.
4: Good reading with some incorrect information.
3: Mixture of correct and incorrect information, but enough
correct information to indicate that communication with
the deceased occurred.
2: Some correct information, but not enough to suggest beyond
chance that communication occurred.
1: Little correct information or communication.
0: No correct information or communication.
After summary scoring was complete for both readings in a
pair, the sitters were asked to “Pick the reading which seems to be
more applicable to you. Even if they both seem equally applicable
or non-applicable, pick one.” They were then asked to rate
their choice compared to the other reading according to the
following scale:
a. clearly more applicable to me
b. moderately more applicable to me
c. only slightly more applicable to me
d. both seemed applicable to me and to the same extent
e. neither seemed applicable to me
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Re: The Scientific Evidence for Psychic Ability

Postby craig weiler » 10 Sep 2011, 03:58

Ok, this is the kind of objection that I expected. Schwartz did understand this problem and to deal with it, he had everyone rate the readings that other people received as if it were their own. This was, I think, a reasonable attempt to weed out vague information and educated guesses. It established a cold reading benchmark and I don't have the figures but I was surprised at how high the percentage was. (Like 60% or something.) So a psychic would have to beat this by a reasonable margin for their reading to be considered valid. Schwartz was arguing that they did.

What I found interesting from the book was that cold readers were not interested in participating. Particularly Randi, who should have, because I understand that he is truly gifted at cold reading.
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Re: The Scientific Evidence for Psychic Ability

Postby ProfWag » 10 Sep 2011, 04:28

craig weiler wrote:What I found interesting from the book was that cold readers were not interested in participating. Particularly Randi, who should have, because I understand that he is truly gifted at cold reading.

Sorry? How do you know that Dubois, Edward, et. al are not cold readers? Because, well, I think pretty strongly that they are...
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Re: The Scientific Evidence for Psychic Ability

Postby craig weiler » 10 Sep 2011, 05:36

If you want to view it from that perspective, then let's say that people who are on record as being cold readers and make no claim to actual psychic ability elected not to participate.
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Re: The Scientific Evidence for Psychic Ability

Postby ProfWag » 10 Sep 2011, 06:39

craig weiler wrote:If you want to view it from that perspective, then let's say that people who are on record as being cold readers and make no claim to actual psychic ability elected not to participate.

And why would someone who makes no claim to actual psychic abilities participate in an experiment on psychic abilities? (Though I usually separate "psychic abilities" from "mediums."
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Re: The Scientific Evidence for Psychic Ability

Postby craig weiler » 10 Sep 2011, 08:25

According to what I read, cold readers, with Randi leading the charge, have claimed that with some practice they could achieve the results that the mediums got. To which Schwartz replied: "Fine, Then do it. Everyone has to prove their claim." (Or something like that.)

Parapsychologists have relied on magicians for a long time to help design studies and Schwartz was no different. He enlisted the help of a local magician and cold reader to help him create his. This is especially important in this type of study where the participants have every reason to act fraudulently. If you don't know what magicians are capable of, then your study results might be the result of magic tricks. So yes, cold readers are very important.

In addition, you would want to compare what the best cold reader could do against the best medium, wouldn't you? If they're equal, then the medium hasn't proven a thing.
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Re: The Scientific Evidence for Psychic Ability

Postby Arouet » 10 Sep 2011, 10:54

I would also like to see cold readers used as controls.

Reminds me of the Darren Brown video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btP_vy5cQq4

the first part is a little interesting, but its the second part that's really fascinating (presuming of course that its all not just fiction for television!)
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Re: The Scientific Evidence for Psychic Ability

Postby ProfWag » 10 Sep 2011, 20:29

craig weiler wrote:According to what I read, cold readers, with Randi leading the charge, have claimed that with some practice they could achieve the results that the mediums got. To which Schwartz replied: "Fine, Then do it. Everyone has to prove their claim." (Or something like that.)

Parapsychologists have relied on magicians for a long time to help design studies and Schwartz was no different. He enlisted the help of a local magician and cold reader to help him create his. This is especially important in this type of study where the participants have every reason to act fraudulently. If you don't know what magicians are capable of, then your study results might be the result of magic tricks. So yes, cold readers are very important.

In addition, you would want to compare what the best cold reader could do against the best medium, wouldn't you? If they're equal, then the medium hasn't proven a thing.

Okay, I'm hip to that response and understand now where you're coming from. I'm also pretty confident that there are magicians out there well up on cold reading that would love to help him. Our friend, Craig B, for example, would probably be one of the most qualified in the country at helping him out if he were physically able. I wouldn't think he'd be the only one though.
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Re: The Scientific Evidence for Psychic Ability

Postby craig weiler » 10 Sep 2011, 23:33

You would not want Craig B. because he is also a psychic. You want cold readers with no psychic ability so that you can truly eliminate psychic ability as a possible source.

That said, this is an intimidating study for a cold reader as they have absolutely no visual or verbal clues to go on. It is a double blind study where they can neither see the person they are reading nor hear their actual voice. All they get during the experiment is a yes or no (voiced by a different person) to give them some immediate feedback.

Cold reading typically relies on visual clues, (clothing, mannerisms, body language) and verbal. The person also has to see the cold reader so that the reader can gain their trust to complete the illusion. For a cold reader to walk into a double blind experiment would require balls of steel.

All of the mediums that were tested knew that this was what they were going to face and marched right in while every cold reader balked. Why?
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Re: The Scientific Evidence for Psychic Ability

Postby Craig Browning » 11 Sep 2011, 00:09

craig weiler wrote:According to what I read, cold readers, with Randi leading the charge, have claimed that with some practice they could achieve the results that the mediums got. To which Schwartz replied: "Fine, Then do it. Everyone has to prove their claim." (Or something like that.)

Parapsychologists have relied on magicians for a long time to help design studies and Schwartz was no different. He enlisted the help of a local magician and cold reader to help him create his. This is especially important in this type of study where the participants have every reason to act fraudulently. If you don't know what magicians are capable of, then your study results might be the result of magic tricks. So yes, cold readers are very important.

In addition, you would want to compare what the best cold reader could do against the best medium, wouldn't you? If they're equal, then the medium hasn't proven a thing.


Ok, you're in my ball park here; I've studied and written several books on the topic of Cold Reading for the magician's/Mentalist community (here's one of my FREE PDFs on the subject of Cold Reading http://www.lulu.com/product/ebook/learning-to-cold-read/14358013?productTrackingContext=author_spotlight_767346_ and this is my intro to Mentalism texthttp://www.lulu.com/product/ebook/mentalism-introduction-resource-list/15574606?productTrackingContext=author_spotlight_767346_) Most of my retail material on this topic has been highly praised by those in that community that do Reading work. Sadly, cynics have overwhelmed Mentalism in the past decade and done their best to remove from the craft, it's roots and traditions for which doing legit Readings was a key part (literally, post show private sessions as well as appointments to meet with folks during the time said performer would be in the area.)

Yes, it is highly possible for a seriously practiced and patient Cold Reader to generate high hit ratios BUT, the one's that get the higher scores have a confirmed reliance on their gut -- intuition -- it's not just the combination of observed or statistical data tied to some kind of psychological framework (a.k.a. Forer template) with a handful of Barnum statements tossed in at the end or where opportune. But here's the big rub; ANY READER that uses a common oracle such as the Tarot, Runes or even Numerology, has to cold read.

?!?

Every card has a specific meaning as well as the micro-meanings found within it through the artwork. Too, these meanings gain or loose emphasis based on their position in a spread, the frequency of the same suit (or if it's Major Arcana) in the spread, all adjust said meanings. The "READER" is literally READING these meanings -- pictorial words, if you would -- to the best of their ability they create an easy to understand "story" based on these details which is then personalized to the client based on their energy at the time of the Reading i.e. body language, attitude, language patterns & skills, etc. So yes, by all standards they are in fact "Cold Reading" but not in the manner the majority of Skeptics love to imply by referring to Forer, etc. No, the skeptic wants to avoid showing how most of the symbolism used by Readers is in direct parallel to what is used in the Mental Health industry which, oddly enough, got their initial perspective on such things by studying Pagan & Shamanic traditions associated with Dream Interpretation, esoteric language, and so forth. In other words, what a Red Flower means to the Psychic is exactly what it means to the Psychiatrist, so whose the delusional one? Why?

THE GUT/INTUITION comes into play over time; oracles like the Tarot are only "keys" that help unlock this side of a person. The more one works with any given oracle and actually relies on the system(s) attached to it vs. outside psycho-babble theory, the more you will gain a sense of sensitivity to your environment and particularly the people you do Readings for -- the "thing" you are focused on, in other words.

As I've shared here in the past, my encounters with my "Mediums" has been a bit more than underwhelming; I've found most such individuals to be sorely lacking even in understanding the meanings of images let alone being able to actually Read the person in front of them. However, I have had one incidental encounter with John Edward and based on that encounter, which was 100% cold and unscheduled, Edward was able to offer some very specific information to me in under 3 minutes of conversation; personal information that is not mentioned anywhere when it comes to how letter specific he was. On the other hand, I've always questioned VanPraagh and Brown, the latter of whom has to be one of the rudest and most arrogant C**ts that ever walked the planet (I've heard stories about her antics decades back, at Psychic Fairs and how abusive she was to fellow Readers, event staff and clients. I simply can't understand her success).

Too, the couple of times I've been "overcome" by some alternate entity it gave me the creeps and even lead me to praying to the porcelain gods a time or two. I can't understand for the life of me why anyone would want to do this sort of thing, but to take it further, Mediumship is considered a taboo in nearly every major culture and religion known to humankind with very few and quite limiting exceptions. Even in Wicca there are taboos on this practice that are frequently ignored by today's fools. If and when a message is meant to come through it will, but to solicit information, especially for the sake of personal gain, is more or less forbidden. True to human nature, tell us "NO" and we will trip over ourselves to run out and do it anyway. :roll:
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Re: The Scientific Evidence for Psychic Ability

Postby ProfWag » 11 Sep 2011, 05:05

craig weiler wrote:You would not want Craig B. because he is also a psychic. You want cold readers with no psychic ability so that you can truly eliminate psychic ability as a possible source.

Craig B, are you a medium as well as a psychic? They are two different fields of practice, I believe...
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Re: The Scientific Evidence for Psychic Ability

Postby craig weiler » 11 Sep 2011, 07:43

No, he's not claiming that. He was saying that he was overcome by an entity and it left him sick. I can understand that. I allowed one in once. I see no need for it; they bring nothing to the party that I can't do myself. Although it didn't make me sick; I seem to be protected from the creeps. They cannot hang around me.
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Re: The Scientific Evidence for Psychic Ability

Postby Craig Browning » 12 Sep 2011, 00:29

ProfWag wrote:
craig weiler wrote:You would not want Craig B. because he is also a psychic. You want cold readers with no psychic ability so that you can truly eliminate psychic ability as a possible source.

Craig B, are you a medium as well as a psychic? They are two different fields of practice, I believe...


Absolutely NO!

While I understand that such things can happen (when needed by the person(s) present) it is NOT something I would go out of my way to develop. For starters, one really doesn't know what they might be letting in; both, P.I. Bonewits & P.M. Kraig warn of these things and how certain "entities" love to screw with stupid, untrained human beings, further echoing the taboo factor when it comes to this sort of work.

I AM a reader -- a counselor -- that's it!

While I know about cleansing, exorcisms, and certain types of healing work, my primary role in the Metaphysical Community is that of Teacher & Counselor . . . maybe a touch of wizardry on the side for the sake of fun and practice :twisted:
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