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Another example of a fraudulent "psychic"

Discussions about Psychics and Psychic Phenomena, Extra Sensory Perception, Telepathy, Psi, Clairvoyancy, 6th Sense, Psychokinesis, etc.

Re: Another example of a fraudulent "psychic"

Postby ProfWag » 28 Sep 2009, 20:55

quantumparanormal wrote:
ProfWag wrote:Yes, I did say that and yes, I believe that still. If a psychic claims they can communicate with the dead, and can do it, then that would be a good psychic. If a psychic claims they can foretell the future, and does it, then that would be a good psychic. If a psychic claims they can find dead bodies, and can do it, then that would be a good psychic. If a "psychic advisor" claims they can give advice on love, money, and careers, then that is an uncertified counselor. I haven't figured out yet what is paranormal about giving advice.


I have a personal bias against psychics/mediums claiming they can communicate with discarnate humans. The problem is that the source of the information cannot be empirically determined. This is a problem I have with most of what "ghost hunters" do in their investigation. For example--and I give ghost hunters a lot of flack for this, ghost hunters will typically take to their investigations voice recorders, EMF meters, cameras, and thermometers. When these devices behave anomalously, many of them will assume discarnate humans are the cause. That's an obvious error in judgment, as the source cannot be ascertained with certainty. Since discarnate humans are invisible, it's not possible to determine if they are present at the time of these anomalies, nor can you have some form of dialog with them to ascertain their identity or involvement. Therefore, any claim that discarnate humans are causing these device anomalies is unfalsifiable and, therefore, neither true nor untrue--we simply don't know (unless, of course, we can find obvious natural causes for the anomalies).

Similarly, the same problem applies to mediums/psychics. We simply cannot know for sure whether or not the sources of their psychical impressions are indeed discarnate humans. The sources could very well be cues, psi, or even plain guesses. A very good example of psi at work is in a story Charles Tart told about a sister having gone to a medium regarding her brother, whom she hadn't seen in many years. He'd gone off to war, and she assumed he'd been killed. The medium told the sister he had died in the war and had given her details about it. It later turned out the brother was alive and married with children. What the sister believed happened to her brother, in detail, is what the medium had "picked up." In other words, the sister's expectation of what had happened to her brother was exactly what the medium told her happened to him, suggesting the medium psychically perceived the sister's thoughts, not the brother's. Or perhaps the medium simply guessed, and that just so happened to coincidentally coincide with the sister's expectations.

Regardless of the source of information, to qualify as "good" for me, a psychic would have to be tested in a highly controlled, highly blinded, laboratory environment, much like several have via Gary Schwartz's various experiments. Then, if the psychics got repeatable "hits" more often than not, that medium would qualify as a "good" medium in my book, regardless of from where the information came. However, as is the case with the word "good," what qualifies as a "hit" is also subjective, and it depends on the sitter rating the information. Each person will judge a "hit" based on his or her own subjective qualifications. Besides hit rates being subjectively correlated with the sitters/raters, because psychic perceptions are often vague, unclear, and unpredictable, the hit rates mediums/psychics get are often small, albeit statistically significant in some cases. I'm not really into mediumship research, so I can't comment specifically about the data that's out there. I do, however, have a few books and papers archived that I can bring up for evaluation.

Regardless of what qualifies a medium/psychic as "good," I personally have a distaste for frauds, which is why I brought up this topic in the first place.

Great post QP. I find your views on this topic interesting. For the sake of clarification, perhaps we should change the word “good” to “legitimate?”
As for testing mediums and psychics, I’m not sure I understand why we can’t test them. Your observation as to the sources of how mediums obtain the information is obviously true when it pertains to the manner most psychic mediums perform their readings (that I have seen anyway). However, if (and that’s IF) they are actually speaking with “the other side,” why can’t such things be determined? Why can’t there be tests with pre-determined hidden clues while people are alive (ala Houdini)? Why can’t we find where Jimmy Hoffa is? Why can’t we find who killers are? Why can’t I find where my Dad hid some “treasure?” My prejudice against mediums tells me it’s because they aren’t actually communicating with discarnate humans. Somewhere, somehow, someone should have provided information through a medium that gives information that can be empirically determined. Perhaps they have, but I don’t believe that has actually been the case, at least not within academic practice. I didn’t look very hard through my journal articles, but all I could find was Schwartz’ studies.
I have lost both of my parents over the course of the past few months. Personally, I would LOVE to know they are together again and happy. I can easily see how people seek out mediums. In my case, which is unfortunate, both of my parent’s names start with the letter “J.” :-)
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Re: Another example of a fraudulent "psychic"

Postby quantumparanormal » 28 Sep 2009, 22:45

Yeah, for me, mediumship research is very difficult to conduct when considering the hypothesis involved, as there are many possibilities for what might be occurring, as the subjectivity of the sitters and the unknown source of information obtained by the mediums is often an issue. I've never really been much into mediumship research for these reasons. I remember reading some of Schwartz's research back in the first half of this decade, but that's the extent of my knowledge about mediumship research in general. I have a bias towards believing that mediums are mostly likely either 1) guessing, 2) picking up cues, or 3) employing living psi, but I admit I have no evidence to backup that claim. That's simply my presumption.
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Re: Another example of a fraudulent "psychic"

Postby ProfWag » 28 Sep 2009, 23:31

quantumparanormal wrote:Yeah, for me, mediumship research is very difficult to conduct when considering the hypothesis involved, as there are many possibilities for what might be occurring, as the subjectivity of the sitters and the unknown source of information obtained by the mediums is often an issue. I've never really been much into mediumship research for these reasons. I remember reading some of Schwartz's research back in the first half of this decade, but that's the extent of my knowledge about mediumship research in general. I have a bias towards believing that mediums are mostly likely either 1) guessing, 2) picking up cues, or 3) employing living psi, but I admit I have no evidence to backup that claim. That's simply my presumption.

Points 1 and 2 combined is called "cold reading" to magicians. Point 3 would probably change the world as we know it.
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Re: Another example of a fraudulent "psychic"

Postby quantumparanormal » 29 Sep 2009, 04:15

ProfWag wrote:Point 3 would probably change the world as we know it.


I disagree. It seems you are rationalizing the degree to which psi effects could potentially "impact the world" in order to reinforce your beliefs about psi by implying that because "psi hasn't yet 'changed the world' as we know it," it must not be "real," but that's a false assumption, and here's why: Psi are forms of phenomena that are typically subtle in their effects and are mostly unpredictable.

When I say 'subtle', I mean that the effects are not observed all the time, or even most of the time; they are rare occurrences. However, under laboratory conditions, they are noticed enough of the time for them to be considered "real" effects. This is where statistics are useful in the data analysis phase of psi research. Because psi effects are so rare, we must conduct many trials (i.e., obtain a large sample space) in order to extract the statistical significance from the "noise." If you only conduct a few trials, it's possible for any statistical effect to be discarded as just chance or coincidence. This is why replication in psi experiments is important, as many trials are required before any conclusion can be reached. In some of the REG experiments, the test subjects were able to influence 1 bit out of every 10,000 away from what chance would expect. While this may seem like a very small effect, when you consider that millions of bits/trials are employed in the experiments, the statistical odds against chance are extremely high. In contrast, control trials are often implemented in order to determine if an effect can be detected while test subjects are not attempting to influence the REGs. These control trials indeed show no statistical significance. Therefore, we can conclude that it's the intention of the test subjects that are "causing" the REGs to shift away from chance expectations.

To give you an example of the statistics involved, the preceding example would indicate that 5,001 successes (i.e., either 0s or 1s) were produced out of 10,000 total trials. That comes out to only 50.01% of the bits being in the intended direction, or in the direction considered a successful trial. This seems very small, but if you were to conduct one million trials, that extra 0.01% would mean something statistically significant. Using the preceding example, let's say we conducted one million trials/bits, and 500,100 of those were in the intended direction. A binomial calculation would yield a p-value of 0.000782085. A p-value of exactly half of a million bits, or 50%, would yield a p-value of 0.000797884. We need to add these two p-values in order to lower the odds against chance down to realistic values, which comes out to 0.001579969. This equates to odds against chance of 632 to 1, which is statistically significant. In contrast, a "meta-analysis of 25 clinical trials on recurrence of heart attack or stroke when taking aspirin versus placebo" yielded a "25% drop in recurrence rate of heart attacks." Put another way, the odds that you will be able to reduce your recurrence of heart attack or stroke when taking aspirin versus not taking aspirin is 1 in 4 (where the odds ratio is 0.75 for aspirin/placebo). Compare this to the 632 to 1 odds against chance for the preceding REG example; big difference.

When I say 'unpredictable', I mean essentially what I said above, which is that because psi effects are so small and so rare, they are largely unpredictable. We cannot predict with any great degree of certainty when or if a person will produce an effect. For example, if you ask a person to influence the direction of one bit produced by an REG, there's no way we can predict with any degree of certainty, or any significant degree of probability, in which direction the bit will "land." We can calculate that the person has a chance of making it land on 0 50% of the time and on 1 50% of the time, but that's it. If you were to have that person only conduct a few trials, that would not yield statistically meaningful data, as chance and coincidence can be factored into the results. You need many trials to test a hypothesis in which the effects are weak, rare, and largely unpredictable.

Given the preceding, it's not difficult to conclude that because typical psi phenomena are often subtle, rare, and unpredictable, they serve seemingly no practical uses/applications. What use or application would their be, for example, for a person to be able to influence 51% of one million REG bits in an intended direction? What practical purpose would there be for employing a person capable of guessing which cards are the correct cards 33% of the time versus the 25% expected by chance? What practical purpose would there be to employ a person capable of being able to accurately describe a remote, distant object 10% of the time, when 5% is expected by chance? While there's evidence to suggest we can influence random quantum events, we typically cannot cause large objects to move, such as cars, people, pens, etc. Additionally, we cannot predict what "impact" on the world such psi effects would have, as there are many variables to consider, such as how cultural, religious, and personal factors could influence one's view of psi. Since a majority of people already believe in some form of psi, I don't know why or how an additional percentage of believers would "change the world." Therefore, I think it would be illogical and premature of anyone to presuppose how or if such subtle, rare, and unpredictable psi effects could ever "change the world as we know it."
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Re: Another example of a fraudulent "psychic"

Postby ProfWag » 29 Sep 2009, 04:24

Feel free to read this post from the JREF posted just a couple days ago and then send a copy of your post to Jeff to counter his claim. http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/swi ... at-if.html I didn't see it until after my post, however, it is similar. Perhaps we are talking about two different things, however, any proof of psi would be signficant in my mind.
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Re: Another example of a fraudulent "psychic"

Postby ProfWag » 29 Sep 2009, 04:48

Your post made me think of another question for you. If psi results are largely unpredictable, then how can that be classified as positive psi effects when it could just as easily be considered "by chance."
What you are essentially saying in your post is that no one has displayed psi capabilities on a predictable basis. If that's the case, then no one who advertises themself as "psychic ..." is legitimate. To put your words to it, that's a pretty bold statement. How do you know this? (Actually, you don't have to answer that. Just trying to show how frustrating those kinds of comebacks are.) ;-)
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Re: Another example of a fraudulent "psychic"

Postby NinjaPuppy » 29 Sep 2009, 07:10

I also wrote a comment to the previous posts and basically it was in essence what QP just said but it is still sitting in my draft box as I needed to go out and do some stuff and I wanted to make sure that my thoughts were coherant. Since he already pretty much said what I attempted to say, may I just add.... Yeah, What QP said!

Of course I did not have any references to p-values, meta-analysis, REG or million bits.

This sentence however is exactly what I was trying to say:

QP wrote:it's not difficult to conclude that because typical psi phenomena are often subtle, rare, and unpredictable, they serve seemingly no practical uses/applications.
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Re: Another example of a fraudulent "psychic"

Postby quantumparanormal » 29 Sep 2009, 07:33

ProfWag wrote:Your post made me think of another question for you. If psi results are largely unpredictable, then how can that be classified as positive psi effects when it could just as easily be considered "by chance."
What you are essentially saying in your post is that no one has displayed psi capabilities on a predictable basis. If that's the case, then no one who advertises themself as "psychic ..." is legitimate. To put your words to it, that's a pretty bold statement. How do you know this? (Actually, you don't have to answer that. Just trying to show how frustrating those kinds of comebacks are.) ;-)


I expected you'd respond in such a way. You are incorrect. You've performed another logical fallacy by saying psi results cannot be classified as positive because they are largely unpredictable. It seems you to have taken "largely unpredictable" to mean "not predictable," whether on purpose or by mistake. I guess you didn't really read my entire post, either that or not critically enough. Please re-read the post--carefully.

ProfWag wrote:If psi results are largely unpredictable, then how can that be classified as positive psi effects when it could just as easily be considered "by chance."


You are incorrect because the positive/successful effects observed in the experiments occur beyond what chance would expect. That we are able to perform psi beyond what chance would expect supports the various psi hypotheses (after, of course, having accounted for non-psi, extraneous variables). Again, because they are rare, they are largely unpredictable. You are using faulty logic in presuming that if something is largely unpredictable, it's not occurring at all or is occurring in accordance with what chance would expect. This is certainly not what's occurring in many of these psi experiments.

In other words, when I say "largely unpredictable," I mean we have a low probability of being able to ascertain with certainty the outcome of an event, just as we have a low probability of being able to ascertain with certainty who, exactly, will be "saved" by aspirin. In other words, we are dealing with probabilities when it comes to psi effects and aspirin outcomes, not certainties.

Using the aspirin example, if you take aspirin, you lower your risk of getting a heart attack or stroke by only 25%. If we sample four people who are taking aspirin, can we predict with a high degree of certainty, or even a high degree of probability, which of those four people will get heart attacks or strokes and which won't? No. It's not possible. In order to determine aspirin's positive effects, you need to survey many, many people who have taken aspirin versus those in the control group(s). Therefore, all we can do is conclude that each person has a 25% less of a chance of getting a heart attack or stroke while taking aspirin. Therefore, being able to predict which person will or will not get a heart attack or stroke while on aspirin is largely impossible; therefore, it's largely unpredictable. However, this doesn't mean the effects of aspirin are not real or occur only by chance (or using the more appropriate medical term, by placebo). Therefore, we cannot logically conclude that because we cannot predict with a high degree of certainty who will be "saved" by aspirin that the effects of aspirin or not positive or only occur "by chance."

Similarly, as an example, we can predict that out a million tries, people will be able to influence REGs in the intended direction 50.01% of the time, which is way beyond what we would expect by chance (in some REG experiments, people have been able to produce 51% and even 52% "hit" rates). It's because it occurs so rarely that we must conduct many trials. Given this, we can (not largely) predict that a "hit" will be obtained 50.01% of the time. Therefore, from trial to trial, we cannot predict with a high degree of certainty which trials will result in a success, or hit. Therefore, the trials, or their effects/outcomes rather, are largely unpredictable. That's not to say that the positive outcomes are completely and utterly not predictable, only that they are largely unpredictable due to their low probability of occurring.

ProfWag wrote:What you are essentially saying in your post is that no one has displayed psi capabilities on a predictable basis.


Jeesh. No, you are--again--incorrect. I am not saying "no one has displayed psi capabilities on a predictable basis." I have just demonstrate evidence to the contrary. What I did, and am, saying is that some people have displayed psi capabilities on a largely unpredictable basis. This is your logic:

1) Psi is largely unpredictable.
2) Therefore, no one has displayed psi capabilities on a predictable basis.

How in the hell did you come up with that logic? Have we tested every single psychic's psi abilities? No. Therefore, the "no one" inclusion should be excluded from your logic. Additionally, what logic leads you to believe that you can take the word "largely" to mean "all?" Regardless of these fallacies, the odds against chance of these psi effects occurring are large enough to suggest psi is indeed occurring. Just because we cannot predict with a great degree of certainty when they will occur or who will produce them does not mean they do not occur at all or that no one has displayed psi capabilities on a predictable basis. In other words, we cannot know what will occur, with certainty, from trial to trial, what the outcome will be; hence, the outcomes are "largely unpredictable." Overall, however, we can provide a probability of something occurring, but we can't predict what will occur with great accuracy.

Here's how the logic should be constructed:

1) Some people have demonstrated psi effects significantly beyond what would be expected by chance (in addition to what would be expected by extraneous variables).
2) Psi effects are largely unpredictable (according to probability theory).
2) Therefore, some people have displayed psi capabilities, but those capabilities are largely unpredictable.

ProfWag wrote:If that's the case, then no one who advertises themself as "psychic ..." is legitimate.


I'm getting very close to not debating with you at all, as your logic is just so flawed that we are obviously not at par intellectually. Again, you are generalizing by using faulty logic, or generalizing, and that ends up in your faulty logic. Here's your logic:

1) Psi is largely unpredictable.
2) Therefore, "no one who advertises themself as "psychic ..." is legitimate."

How in the hell did you come up with that logic? Have we tested every single psychic's psi abilities? No. Therefore, the "no one" inclusion should be excluded from your logic. Additionally, what logic leads you to believe that you can take the word "largely" to mean "all?" Let's say, for example, a psychic could obtain hit rates of 30%, where 25% would be expected by chance, and this hit rate occurred over 1,000 sessions. This means that out of 1,000 sessions, 300 of them would yield hits beyond chance expectation, but only 250 of them would be expected to yield positive results by chance. The odds against chance of that psychic getting 300 beyond-chance-hits out of 1,000 sessions is 219,005 to 1. That's huge! Yes, 33% is small, and it would indicate a phenomenon that is largely unpredictable, but the odds against chance are so large that something other than chance is occurring. Therefore, how can you conclude from the largely unpredictable nature of the phenomenon that "no one who advertises themself as 'psychic ...' is legitimate?" It makes no logical sense at all. You are--again--finding excuses to dismiss, outright, support for phenomena you simply do not want to be convinced exists, either that or you simply can't deduce what it is that I'm saying.

ProfWag wrote:To put your words to it, that's a pretty bold statement. How do you know this? (Actually, you don't have to answer that. Just trying to show how frustrating those kinds of comebacks are.)


There are databases out there that hold the data/answers to your questions. However, you are making a mistake in comparing the various laboratory, controlled experiments conducted which have been aimed at testing specific psi hypotheses to those claims made by psychics. You seem to be generalizing, again. For example, you cannot compare the effects of influencing REGs to a psychic claiming he or she can obtain "relevant" information about a sitter a majority of the time. They are two different things, two different phenomena, two different hypotheses, two different tests, so don't treat them as if they are the same, something you seem to be doing so often. If you want to discuss the "hit" rates of psychics, then refer to a database that holds the statistical data pertaining to psychic research and to that type of specific research, not the databases pertaining to, for example, PK or presentiment.

Let me state it so that it's clear: "largely unpredictable" = mainly not occurring at expected times. This certainly applies to whether or not a person can influence an REG event and whether or not aspirin can "save" someone. It doesn't mean they don't occur, at all.

Perhaps instead of using the term" largely unpredictable," I should have used the term "largely not likely to occur every time."
Last edited by quantumparanormal on 29 Sep 2009, 08:06, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Another example of a fraudulent "psychic"

Postby quantumparanormal » 29 Sep 2009, 07:48

NinjaPuppy wrote:I also wrote a comment to the previous posts and basically it was in essence what QP just said but it is still sitting in my draft box as I needed to go out and do some stuff and I wanted to make sure that my thoughts were coherant. Since he already pretty much said what I attempted to say, may I just add.... Yeah, What QP said!

Of course I did not have any references to p-values, meta-analysis, REG or million bits.

This sentence however is exactly what I was trying to say:

QP wrote:it's not difficult to conclude that because typical psi phenomena are often subtle, rare, and unpredictable, they serve seemingly no practical uses/applications.


However, those so illogically inclined will assume that "often unpredictable" means "not predictable" and, therefore, means unfalsifiable, a fallacy that seems to be prominent lately.
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Re: Another example of a fraudulent "psychic"

Postby quantumparanormal » 29 Sep 2009, 08:26

I wanted to add that when I say "largely unpredictable" in this context, I do not mean to imply "untestable," but, rather, "largely unable to foretell when or if a specific, single outcome of an event will occur." Various psi phenomena are certainly testable.
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Re: Another example of a fraudulent "psychic"

Postby quantumparanormal » 29 Sep 2009, 08:38

ProfWag wrote:Feel free to read this post from the JREF posted just a couple days ago and then send a copy of your post to Jeff to counter his claim. http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/swi ... at-if.html I didn't see it until after my post, however, it is similar. Perhaps we are talking about two different things, however, any proof of psi would be signficant in my mind.


I will take a look at this when time permits. However, I'd need to see his specific claim(s) in order to respond appropriately accordingly, as what I've posted her pertains specifically to what we're talking about here, not to what, specifically, he is [Jeff] "claiming."

Starting tomorrow, I have many new projects on my plate, so I won't be able to come on this forum as often as I'd like. That means my posts will be shorter. I'm sure some of you will enjoy less of my "rambling." :lol:
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Re: Another example of a fraudulent "psychic"

Postby NinjaPuppy » 29 Sep 2009, 09:55

JREF Article wrote:From the JREF's perspective, someone winning the challenge isn't the end of the world. In fact, it's the beginning. If these things are real, WE WANT TO KNOW. In the meantime, all available evidence points to them NOT being real, and that will be our assumption until we're shown differently.

Are there any groups/organizations/scientists/committees actively trying to prove psi? I know about the PEAR research but that's obviously been discontinued.
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Re: Another example of a fraudulent "psychic"

Postby quantumparanormal » 29 Sep 2009, 10:10

NinjaPuppy wrote:
JREF Article wrote:From the JREF's perspective, someone winning the challenge isn't the end of the world. In fact, it's the beginning. If these things are real, WE WANT TO KNOW. In the meantime, all available evidence points to them NOT being real, and that will be our assumption until we're shown differently.

Are there any groups/organizations/scientists/committees actively trying to prove psi? I know about the PEAR research but that's obviously been discontinued.


There aren't any scientists actively trying to "prove" psi. There are a handful of scientists who are actively engaged in testing various psi hypotheses, however. I actually have a list, but I'll have to get that to you when time permits.

Additionally, the JREF is completely incorrect in their statement that "all available evidence points to them NOT being real." In the meantime, the available evidence points to them BEING real, as that is what the data shows us, until, that is, the data shows us something different in the future, via replicated experiments. Please note that the JREF doesn't set out to conduct psi research for peer review via journal publications, only criticize psi research. If they want to falsify a specific psi hypothesis, they should conduct research accordingly, then let the scientific community peer review that research.
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Re: Another example of a fraudulent "psychic"

Postby NinjaPuppy » 29 Sep 2009, 10:27

quantumparanormal wrote:There aren't any scientists actively trying to "prove" psi. There are a handful of scientists who are actively engaged in testing various psi hypotheses, however. I actually have a list, but I'll have to get that to you when time permits.

Not to worry about the list. You answered my question and I appologize if I seem as if I am somewhat uninformed on the study of psi. I have, what I would call, some personal experience with what the average person considers to be psi but the studies...not so much.

quantumparanormal wrote:Additionally, the JREF is completely incorrect in their statement that "all available evidence points to them NOT being real." In the meantime, the available evidence points to them BEING real, as that is what the data shows us, until, that is, the data shows us something different in the future, via replicated experiments. Please note that the JREF doesn't set out to conduct psi research for peer review via journal publications, only criticize psi research. If they want to falsify a specific psi hypothesis, they should conduct research accordingly, then let the scientific community peer review that research.

I think they covered that faux pas ("all available evidence points to them NOT being real.) since this article was a 'what if' situation written from their perspective. At least that is how I interpreted it.
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Re: Another example of a fraudulent "psychic"

Postby ProfWag » 29 Sep 2009, 18:53

quantumparanormal wrote:Jeesh. No, you are--again--incorrect. I am not saying "no one has displayed psi capabilities on a predictable basis." I have just demonstrate evidence to the contrary. What I did, and am, saying is that some people have displayed psi capabilities on a largely unpredictable basis. This is your logic:

1) Psi is largely unpredictable.
2) Therefore, no one has displayed psi capabilities on a predictable basis.



Once again, you are taking my points and trying to make me look like a buffoon when I am not the one make any claims of the existance of psi capabilities. You are. I am simply trying to clarify your statements as you claim there is data to support psi, yet when pushed, you can't provide data to support your claim with anything other than "largely unpredictable" and a .01 statistical significance, yadda yadda yadda. When I ask who these people are that can demonstrate psi capabilities with ANY type of predictability, I receive a lot of name calling on my ignorance. People who can demonstrate psi capabilities with ANY type of predictability would stand to gain a lot of money, ya' know. That's why I'm really curious as to why, if there is such data and people with these capabilities out there, they aren't stepping forward. It's not really that difficult QP. You say they could be out there. I'm saying they could be also, but where are they?
And yes, I will be quite happy to be done reading your ramblings.
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