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Straight Talk: The Ganzfeld (Advocates & Skeptics only)

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Re: Straight Talk: The Ganzfeld (Advocates & Skeptics only)

Postby ProfWag » 06 Sep 2011, 05:24

craig weiler wrote:In reading your last post, I was struck by how closely you hew to the skeptical line. That's not good.

You say that as if it's not good to be skeptical, Craig. Are you prejudice against skeptics? Because, well, that's not good either... :)
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Re: Straight Talk: The Ganzfeld (Advocates & Skeptics only)

Postby _Ice_Ages_14_Aces_ » 06 Sep 2011, 06:10

Arouet wrote:What does "any other type of science" mean? All you have shown - at best - in Ganzfeld is a small deviation from chance. The effect size is at best small. That's always worrying in any science.


I don't understand why some people have a problem with small effect-sizes... Saying the effect is too small to be genuine is rhetorical and quite frankly arrogant at best.

In statistics, a very small effect-size can have a very small P-Value on the long run. In fact, effects that are tiny have a good chance of not being detected by a small number of sample-size. Actually, the probability of detecting the effect depends on the power of tests, which is dependent on the effect-size, sample-size, and the alpha. The magnitude of the effect-size is irrelevant to whether or not it exist.

As for the Ganzfeld, you can put a 99.9% confidence interval in the meta-analysis and I promise you it will be far from the null-hypothesis.

Are you familiar with the Ioannidis study which showed that most scientific studies are indeed wrong, and that small biases creep into almost all research. We must be very careful with small effect sizes as they are most succeptible to the small biases. Ioannidis found that even when there is no effect we expect to find a small effect due to experimenter bias. His research did not involve parapychology by the way.


loannidis conclusion is correct. An effect that doesn't exist can indeed be concluded by researchers that the effect-size is small, when in fact, the effect doesn't really exist. This is due to experimenter and publication bias. A researcher hoping or expecting to find an effect can indeed consciously or unconciously bias his/her research. While these biases do exist, it can be prevented by the use of blind methods (Blind, Double-Blind, and Triple-Blind)

As for the Ganzfeld, they are done under sensory-isolated, automated, and double-blind conditions, so the possibility of experimenter bias has been ruled out.

Every time they tightened the protocols the effect size decreased.


Wrong, if you look at the 1974-2004 meta-analysis which was published in Psychological Bulletin and combined with the results of 88 independent studies, nearly most of the 95% confidence intervals of the cumulative hit rates for each study were very similar (Not significantly different). Even the University of Edinburgh used additional controls in the ganzfeld and still received very similar hit rates from earlier studies.


The question is not: would this evidence be accepted in any other science - we should be looking at those sciences too much more closely. Look at the problems being found now with anti-depressant research, and vitamin research! Many studies that seemed good in the past get subsequently thrown out and rethought.


Possibly because their studies were either flawed or biased. Worst, most or some of studies published in peer-reviewed, academic psychological journals suffer from publication bias and flaws....

This is a complex issue and we are not well-served by trying to fast-track it. And when the results of the experiment could be considered revolutionary we need to take even greater care. We need as mud-free research as possible.


The Ganzfeld studies have been conducted and replicated since 1974-present, what more do you possibly want?????
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Re: Straight Talk: The Ganzfeld (Advocates & Skeptics only)

Postby _Ice_Ages_14_Aces_ » 06 Sep 2011, 06:28

Arouet wrote:It's been awhile since I've gone through the ganzfeld stuff but Craig the debate is more complex than you're making it out. Have you seen Ersby's work on the mata-studies (he has thread's on JREF and Skeptiko.).


Actually, Ersby's Ganzfeld meta-studies have indeed been replicated:

Well, it's been long enough so the other day I chucked out my previous calculations, went right back to the raw data, and dug around in Excel until I found the right formula so it could do the sums properly. I then used a piece of free meta-analysis software to crunch the numbers for me. This is what I got.

Number of experiments=65
Number of trials=2,854
Weighted average z-value=1.4571
Significance (one-tailed) P=0.07 (or 1 in 13)



He claimed he has found no evidence for his alternative hypothesis simply because his statistical analysis didn't became statistically significant; however, his statistical analysis is flawed. Since he got a 27.4% hit rate, his total number of hits are 782.

If you do a proper statistical analysis (Two-Tailed), you will get Z=2.93955, P=0.00328 (1 in 312)

So the big question is did his meta-studies show evidence of psi? Yes.
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Re: Straight Talk: The Ganzfeld (Advocates & Skeptics only)

Postby craig weiler » 06 Sep 2011, 06:59

Profwag,
You say that as if it's not good to be skeptical, Craig. Are you prejudice against skeptics? Because, well, that's not good either...


Yes, it is not good to be too skeptical. It's entirely possible to miss the spot when you reached "enough" if you're wrapped up in seeing things from one side. People who never answer the question "What will it take to convince me?" are too skeptical.

Am I prejudiced against skeptics? There is a grey area here. I certainly have no respect for the vast majority of skeptics that I have encountered on the internet. They are very insistent in their views, insulting and mean spirited and don't know a damned thing about the subject. They pretend though. I refer to these people as deniers, since that term more accurately reflects them.

So far, I have encountered better skeptics on this forum, else I would not waste my time. "u suck n all pykiks ur fak" is not the level of discussion I enter into.

Too often, skeptical translates into "blowhard who can never be wrong."

I personally think that if you give yourself the title "skeptic" that you owe it to yourself to do justice to this honorable word.

This includes: Being able to utter the phrase "I don't know." when it applies

Reading the source material and considering it on its own merits BEFORE rushing off to see what the criticism is. In my mind, a skeptic who has not read The Conscious Universe by Dean Radin or a parapsychological work of similar weight cannot be taken seriously.

Recognize that all skepticism is not equal. Poorly researched skepticism loaded with generalizations and talking points is not to be taken seriously.

Avoid red neck science: i.e. "That thar psychic was wrong about heer predicshun, so sheez a fake."

I'm sure you get the idea.
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Re: Straight Talk: The Ganzfeld (Advocates & Skeptics only)

Postby Arouet » 06 Sep 2011, 08:21

_Ice_Ages_14_Aces_ wrote:I don't understand why some people have a problem with small effect-sizes... Saying the effect is too small to be genuine is rhetorical and quite frankly arrogant at best.


But that's not the argument. My problem with small effect sizes is that it makes it very difficult to tell if it is a real effect you are seeing, or small biases that result in a result in favour of the experimenter's hypothesis. This applies to conventional science as well. This is a well-spread out and well-known problem that does not just apply to parapsychology.

I had a blog for a short time where I summarized the Ioannidis study: it explains my concerns: http://pleasureofdoubt.wordpress.com/20 ... dy-part-1/

[/quote]
In statistics, a very small effect-size can have a very small P-Value on the long run. In fact, effects that are tiny have a good chance of not being detected by a small number of sample-size. Actually, the probability of detecting the effect depends on the power of tests, which is dependent on the effect-size, sample-size, and the alpha. The magnitude of the effect-size is irrelevant to whether or not it exist.

As for the Ganzfeld, you can put a 99.9% confidence interval in the meta-analysis and I promise you it will be far from the null-hypothesis.[/quote]

If there are small biases (as there are in pretty well any experiment) they will show up as deviations from chance. Because they are not due to chance.

loannidis conclusion is correct. An effect that doesn't exist can indeed be concluded by researchers that the effect-size is small, when in fact, the effect doesn't really exist. This is due to experimenter and publication bias. A researcher hoping or expecting to find an effect can indeed consciously or unconciously bias his/her research. While these biases do exist, it can be prevented by the use of blind methods (Blind, Double-Blind, and Triple-Blind)

As for the Ganzfeld, they are done under sensory-isolated, automated, and double-blind conditions, so the possibility of experimenter bias has been ruled out.


As I understand it: scientists admit that it is very difficult to get rid of all these small biases. The other problem is that they won't always easily show up in a report. Add to that the conflcits over methodology (including statistical methodology) and the doubt grows!

Now, I can see how this opens me up to being accused of not accepting anything. But that's the problem when psi is dominated by small effect sizes. If the sizes were larger it would be easier to hold that the effect size overcomes the small biases.

Parapsychologists often claim that certain types of people get bigger hit rates. I'd like to see them do these studies just with those types of people. Also: studies need to be reported in advanced in order to eliminate the file-drawer problem (and I know the meta-studies try to cover that but I understand that even those methodologies are questioned.) Questions all over!

So how can I feel confident about the results in these circumstances? I can't. So I withhold belief for the time being. And don't feel closed-minded about it.
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Re: Straight Talk: The Ganzfeld (Advocates & Skeptics only)

Postby Twain Shakespeare » 06 Sep 2011, 09:49

I see there are at least two people who I need never explain statistics too, or confirmation bias either, for that matter. Thanks Arouet and Ice.
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Re: Straight Talk: The Ganzfeld (Advocates & Skeptics only)

Postby _Ice_Ages_14_Aces_ » 06 Sep 2011, 10:50

Arouet wrote: My problem with small effect sizes is that it makes it very difficult to tell if it is a real effect you are seeing, or small biases that result in a result in favour of the experimenter's hypothesis.


These biases you're talking about is known as experimenter bias. As I had said before, these biases can indeed bias research.

These biases can be prevented, if not, minimized by blind methods and automated data. Blind methods and automated data assures that the experimenter or the receiver is not influencing the studies consciously or unconsciously. Of course, you have to make sure these blind methods are truly realiable; otherwise, biases will contanimate the results.

As for the Ganzfeld, I'm highly confident experimenter bias is not a plausible explanation. In the Ganzfeld, neither the experimenter nor the receiver have any first hand knowledge of the 4 targets or videos, so the possibility of conscious or unconscious bias in the judging process has been ruled out and the data/protocols are completely automated. Besides experimenter bias, let's look at other plausible explanations:

Sensory leakage? No

Randomization flaws? No

Documentation flaws? No

Variations in experimental quality? No

File-drawer problem? No

Multiple Analysis? No

As I understand it: scientists admit that it is very difficult to get rid of all these small biases.


I believe that applies to some studies such as the double-blind placebo study.

The reason why they find it difficult is because the double-blind methodology isn't really at all realiable. One good example of unrealiable is telling the test-subjects that this pill may or not be real.

Now, I can see how this opens me up to being accused of not accepting anything. But that's the problem when psi is dominated by small effect sizes. If the sizes were larger it would be easier to hold that the effect size overcomes the small biases.


Sorry, but I strongly disagree. The fact the effect-size is large does not mean it has overcome biases. Think about it: if these Ganzfeld studies weren't double-blind at all, then don't you think that would strongly inflate the hit rates and therefore, have a large effect-size?????
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Re: Straight Talk: The Ganzfeld (Advocates & Skeptics only)

Postby craig weiler » 06 Sep 2011, 11:28

Ok, this is sloppy, but here is a list of ganzfeld studies from The Journal of Parapsychology Vol, 65, September 2001 (pp. 000-000)
I cut and pasted from a pdf. I can't turn this into a table so this will just have to do.
I hope this helps

UPDATING THE GANZFELD DATABASE 4
Table 1
Number of Trials, z Score, Effect Size (ES), Hit Rate, and Standardness Rating for Each Study in the Updated
Ganzfeld Database (arranged in order of decreasing Standardness).
Study Trials z score ES Hit Rate% Standardness
Bierman et al. (1993) (Series I) 50 0.03 0.00 26.0 7.00
Bierman et al. (1993) (Series II) 50 -0.30 - 0.04 24.0 7.00
Broughton & Alexander (1997) (First Timers Series 1) a 50 -0.30 -0.04 24.0 7.00
Broughton & Alexander (1997) (First Timers Series 2) a 50 -1.33 -0.19 18.0 7.00
Broughton & Alexander (1997) (Emotionally Close Series) a 51 1.81 0.25 37.3 7.00
Dalton (1994) 29 1.76 0.33 41.4 7.00
*Dalton (1997) 128 5.20 0.46 46.9 7.00
Morris et al. (1993) (Cunningham Study) 32 1.78 0.31 40.6 7.00
*Alexander & Broughton (1999) 50 1.60 0.23 36.0 6.67
Broughton & Alexander (1997) (Clairvoyance Series) a 50 -0.64 -0.09 22.0 6.67
Broughton & Alexander (1997) (General Series) a 8 0.46 0.16 37.5 6.67
Kanthamani & Broughton (1994) (Series 3) 40 -0.91 -0.14 20.0 6.67
Kanthamani & Broughton (1994) (Series 4) 65 2.01 0.25 36.9 6.67
Parker et al. (1997) (Study 2)b 30 1.25 0.23 36.7 6.67
Parker et al. (1997) (Study 3)b 30 1.25 0.23 36.7 6.67
*Parker & Westerlund (1998) (Study 4) 30 2.40 0.44 46.7 6.67
*Parker & Westerlund (1998) (Study 5) 30 1.25 0.23 36.7 6.67
Kanthamani & Palmer (1993) 22 -2.17 - 0.46 9.1 6.33
Morris et al. (1995) 97 1. 67 0.17 33.0 6.33
Kanthamani & Broughton (1994) (Series 8) 50 0.03 0.00 26.0 6.00
Morris et al. (1993) (McAlpine Study) 32 - 0.17 -0.03 25.0 6.00
Stanford & Frank (1991) 58 -1.24 -0.16 19.0d 5.67
Kanthamani & Broughton (1994) (Series 7) 46 0.03 0.00 26.1 5.33
McDonough et al. (1994) 20 1.02 0.23 30.0 5.33
Parker et al. (1997) (Study 1)b 30 -0.83 -0.15 20.0 5.33
Williams et al. (1994) 42 -2.30 -0.35 11.9 5.33
*Wezelman et al. (1997) 32 2.15 0.38 43.8 4.67
Bierman (1995) (Series III) 40 1.94 0.31 40.0 4.33
Bierman (1995) Series IV 36 1.33 0.22 36.1 4.33
*Symmons & Morris (1997) 51 2.97 0.42 45.1 4.00
*Wezelman & Bierman (1997) (Series IV) 32 -1.45 0.08 30.0 d 3.67
Kanthamani & Broughton (1992) (Series 6a)c 20 -0.46 -0.10 25.0 d 3.33
*Parker & Westerlund (1998) (Serial Study) 30 -0.49 -0.09 23.0 d 3.33
*Wezelman & Bierman (1997) (Series V) 40 -0.91 -0.14 20.0 3.00
*Wezelman & Bierman (1997) (Series VI) 40 -0.15 -0.02 25.0 3.00
Kanthamani et al. (1988) (Series 5a)c 4 0.22 0.11 50.0 2.67
Kanthamani et al. (1988) (Series 5b)c 10 -2.06 -0.65 10.0 d 2.67
Willin (1996a) 100 -0.33 -0.03 24.0 1.33
Willin (1996b) 16 - 0.24 -0.06 25.0 1.33
Note *Asterisks denote studies added to Milton and Wiseman (1999).
a Cited as Broughton and Alexander (1996) in Milton and Wiseman (1999).
b Cited as Johansson and Parker (1995) in Milton and Wiseman (1999).
c Series summarized and numbered in Kanthamani and Broughton (1994).
d Hit rate not reported. Estimated from z score.
successful replication would still be considered standard
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Re: Straight Talk: The Ganzfeld (Advocates & Skeptics only)

Postby Arouet » 06 Sep 2011, 20:57

You've forgotten the biases in calcualting the statistics.
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Re: Straight Talk: The Ganzfeld (Advocates & Skeptics only)

Postby craig weiler » 06 Sep 2011, 21:51

I just pasted it from a pdf as I said. I personally did no calculations.

Feel free to discover what sort of bias so many different researchers can have that all yield such similar results. These studies have been picked over for 30 years with an intense focus on finding this so called bias, so if you can do it, you'll be the first. It looks to me as if you'll find any excuse to explain away the data.

I mean, seriously, this data agrees with hundreds of years of observed psi, 75% of the U.S. population believes in some form of psi and 50% report having some sort of psychic experience, the staring studies confirm this and a few others. Telepathy is not something exotic and unheard of, so what's the big deal if researchers actually find it?
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Re: Straight Talk: The Ganzfeld (Advocates & Skeptics only)

Postby Arouet » 06 Sep 2011, 21:59

craig weiler wrote:I just pasted it from a pdf as I said. I personally did no calculations.

Feel free to discover what sort of bias so many different researchers can have that all yield such similar results. These studies have been picked over for 30 years with an intense focus on finding this so called bias, so if you can do it, you'll be the first. It looks to me as if you'll find any excuse to explain away the data.

I mean, seriously, this data agrees with hundreds of years of observed psi, 75% of the U.S. population believes in some form of psi and 50% report having some sort of psychic experience, the staring studies confirm this and a few others. Telepathy is not something exotic and unheard of, so what's the big deal if researchers actually find it?


Sorry: my post was geared to the one before yours. I've seen that chart before.

I still haven't re-read the ganzfeld therad, but IIRC there was a lot of discussion about the statsitical methods used that would produce different resutls. Also bias can sneak in in how to choose what studies to include in the meta-study as well.

There is debate on how to properly use meta-studies, how to properly account for file drawer effect, how to calculate the stats. There is debate on the use of P values, and Bayesian statistics.

In short, this field is a mess. What they really need to do is start over with the very best protocol they 've come up with, set up a registry to announce studies, and start from scratch. Tedious, I know, but probably necessary. Then there needs to be some tight work done on the stats and an attempt among statisticians (not just skeptics and parapsychologists) for the proper stat methods to use.

The Parapsychological Association should immediately set up an online registry for parapsychological experiments of all kinds. This is trivially easy to do and would eliminate the file drawer question entirely.

It'd be nice if someone could also push beyond mere stats and try to actually explain something. persinger is trying just that. I'm not sure what his actual beliefs are re: psi but I like his approach (though I don't understand his work - way above my head!)
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Re: Straight Talk: The Ganzfeld (Advocates & Skeptics only)

Postby craig weiler » 06 Sep 2011, 23:04

I don't get the whole file drawer thing. Even if a few unpublished studies exist, they are always going to be a small minority of the total. Because psi studies are two tailed, all you have to figure out is how many unsuccessful trials you would need to nullify the results. That seems pretty straightforward. I am deeply suspicious of the skeptic attitude that everything has to be thrown into question all the time no matter how basic when it applies to psi. This smacks of radicalism.

If you want more parapsychological science, all you have to do is accept the science that has already been done so that everyone can move on. As long as this excessive nitpicking goes on, the field will remain stagnant.
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Re: Straight Talk: The Ganzfeld (Advocates & Skeptics only)

Postby Arouet » 06 Sep 2011, 23:51

craig weiler wrote:I don't get the whole file drawer thing. Even if a few unpublished studies exist, they are always going to be a small minority of the total. Because psi studies are two tailed, all you have to figure out is how many unsuccessful trials you would need to nullify the results. That seems pretty straightforward.


Because psi is basically about ruling out mundane causes, we have to rule out as many as we can identify (we'll never identify them all). Remember the problem with small biases? Well, they can add up.

I know there is a formula that allows people to estimate the file drawer effect. fls from JREf recently linked an article questioning the methodology of that methodology (more doubt!). So its not so straightforward.

Given how trivially easy it would be to set up an international database to announce studies in advance and eliminate any question of file drawer- I don't see why it should be done immediately. (this goes for conventional science as well by the way.)

I am deeply suspicious of the skeptic attitude that everything has to be thrown into question all the time no matter how basic when it applies to psi. This smacks of radicalism.


Nonsense: the file drawer problem is well known, and not just in parapsychology. It crops up all the time in conventional science as well. It's a very real issue and must be taken into account. It's hardly radical. It would be imprudent not to consider it given that we all know it happens!

If you want more parapsychological science, all you have to do is accept the science that has already been done so that everyone can move on. As long as this excessive nitpicking goes on, the field will remain stagnant.


Someone recently calculated how much work had been done in the history of paraspychology and apparently it matches up to about 2 months of work in most other fields (I may not have it exact, but that's the gist). Despite a cetnury of work, due to lack of budgets for this work the body of work is still relatively small.

Science is about nitpicking. Especially when it results in major shifts in our understanding of how the universe works, from a scientific experiment. Imagine if it were otherwise? How often would we be re-writing the textbooks!

I think there is a danger in over-simplifying the skeptics' positions on these matters. It's easy to dismiss as closed minded dogmatists, but I find many proponents don't do a great job acknowledging that the evidence is not nearly as rock solid as they would like.

Parapsychology needs a big win. They haven't one so far.
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Re: Straight Talk: The Ganzfeld (Advocates & Skeptics only)

Postby craig weiler » 07 Sep 2011, 00:14

Jessica Utts, a PhD statistician, put this all to bed years ago, but skeptics ignore her, probably because she MUST be biased since she sided with the parapsychologists. (God forbid the people who are actually doing the work should know more than their biased critics.)

You've seen the studies. The results remain basically the same regardless of study quality. This effectively rules out small biases as a reason for the results.

And you're not skeptical of the skeptics. Just because someone claims that there is a file drawer problem doesn't mean that they're right. You need to establish that first before you drag out that argument. Never underestimate skeptic bias. It's much worse than anything the parapsychologists have done and there is considerable proof of this.
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Re: Straight Talk: The Ganzfeld (Advocates & Skeptics only)

Postby Arouet » 07 Sep 2011, 00:43

craig weiler wrote:Jessica Utts, a PhD statistician, put this all to bed years ago, but skeptics ignore her, probably because she MUST be biased since she sided with the parapsychologists. (God forbid the people who are actually doing the work should know more than their biased critics.)


You say put to bed. I say there is debate. Can we at least agree that there is some actual dispute going on here and there are non-droolers on both sides?

And you're not skeptical of the skeptics.


Evidence? Where have I indicated that I accept what the skeptics say without question? I've suggested that there is a debate going on. That this issue is NOT settled and that it is difficult particularly for a lay person like myself to just declare one side victorious. I think these are complex issues and I'm certainly in no hurry. let's stop pretending that one side or the other is in bad faith, recognize that there is more work to be done, and see what comes out of it.

Just because someone claims that there is a file drawer problem doesn't mean that they're right.
You need to establish that first before you drag out that argument.


You want me to dig up evidence that the file-drawer is a problem thorughout science? If you want me to I guess I could, but are there really people who dispute that it happens? I mean, scientists themselves acknowledge it happens. Again: this isn't just about parapsychology, it happes thorughout science. The sexier studies get the attention, the non-sexy ones or that show no result drift away.

Never underestimate skeptic bias. It's much worse than anything the parapsychologists have done and there is considerable proof of this.


This is what is unhelpful to these discussions. Bias is everywhere. With everyone. We must strive to identify it and overcome it. But I see plenty of bias all around.

And the bias that I'm talking about here is not necessarily the large type. It is the small biases that can create the small edges. Again: remember that the Ioannidis study did not even contemplate parapsychology.

In this debate, certain people like to vilanise the other. THEY are biased. THEY have hidden objectives. I don't trust THEM.

Reality is that we're all just people trying to figure out how things work and we all have our pros and cons. Sooner we can get past the finger pointing and name calling, the better understanding we can get.
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