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Journal of Scientific Exploration

The Two-Edged Sword of Skepticism: Occam’s Razor and Occam’s lobotomy

Authors: Bauer H.H. Journal: Journal of Scientific Exploration Publication date: 2006 Keywords: skepticism, Ockham razor, Ockham lobotomy, disbelief, rational thinking

Skepticism views the probability of a proposition as always less than 1, whereas belief or disbelief are absolute, asserting that the probability equals 1 or 0. The proper spirit of skepticism is constructive: it seeks to improve knowledge by stimulating better estimates of probability. That means micro-skepticism, questioning the soundness of every detail of fact, method, logic; it is empirical. By contrast, macro-skepticism is deductive; it relies on current scientific knowledge, which makes it backward-looking and destructively critical rather than
constructively critical. It appeals commonly to Occam’s Razor: it is always “simplest” to explain things in the way we are used to doing. But knowledge advances through change; so the Razor becomes a Lobotomy as people forget
Einstein’s insistence that theories should be as simple as possible, but no simpler. Strong skepticism about new claims safeguards science against error. But the failure to maintain skepticism after a theory has been incorporated fosters dogmatism. There are a mounting number of contemporary examples where the native conservatism and dogmatism of science have become tyranniesknowledge monopolies and research cartels-because science has become so much governed by official bureaucracies.

Journal of Scientific Exploration

Time-Normalized Yield: A Natural Unit for Effect Size in Anomalies Experiments

Authors: Nelson R.D. Journal: Journal of Scientific Exploration Publication date: 2006 Keywords: effect size, random event generator, random number, REG, RNG, normalization, inter, experiment comparison, meta-analysis, statistics, experimental yields, bits, trials, time normalization

Comparing the yields in different anomalies experiments is important for both theoretical and practical purposes, but it is problematic because the effects may be measured on differing scales. The units in which experiments are posed vary across digital and analog measures recorded in a wide range of uniquely defined trials, runs, and series. Even apparently fundamental units such as bit rates may lead to disparate calculated effect sizes and potentially misleading inter-experiment comparisons. This paper seeks to identify a study unit that can render the results from various types of anomalies experiments on a common scale. Across several databases generated in the
consistent environment of the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) laboratory, yield per unit of time is the most promising of several measures considered. The number of hours during which participants attempt to produce anomalous effects can be consistently defined, and the timenormalized yield Y(h) = Z ldhours is demonstrably similar across a number of humanlmachine experiments, with a magnitude of about 0.2. On both practical and heuristic grounds, this constitutes a prima facie case for regarding the timenormalized yield as a natural metric for anomalous effects of consciousness. Application to a broad range of experiments, including examples from other laboratories, confirms the viability and utility of a time-based yield calculation. A X2 test across 12 local and remote databases from PEAR’S humanlmachine experiments indicates strong homogeneity. Inclusion of the remote perception database, which has a significantly larger yield at Y(h) = 0.6, immediately
renders the distribution of effect sizes heterogeneous. These and other applications return reasonable and instructive results that recommend the simple, time-normalized yield as a natural unit for cross-experiment comparisons permitting an integrated view of anomalies research results.

Journal of Scientific Exploration

Experimenter Effects in Laboratory Tests of ESP and PK Using a Common Protocol

Authors: Roe C.A., Davey R. Journal: Journal of Scientific Exploration Publication date: 2006 Keywords: ESP, PK, psychokinesis, laboratory tests, psychic

This paper describes the fourth in a series of studies that explore the relationship between ESP and PK performance by testing for both using a common protocol so as to control for expectancy effects and experimental
artifacts. Following earlier work we were particularly concerned to look for evidence of experimenter effects. Forty participants completed a computerbased greyhound racing game. Races occurred in two blocks of 12, with one
block presented as an ESP task and the other as a PK task, though in fact each block included equal numbers of ESP and PK trials presented in random order. Roe and Davey each served as experimenter for 20 sessions and, after briefing each participant, would rate the interaction for warmth, spontaneity and positivity. Performance was non-significantly better than chance overall, but was significantly so for disguised ESP trials (p = 0.01 1). As predicted, participants who had been briefed by Roe performed better overall than those briefed by Davey; suggestively so overall (p = 0.085) and significantly so for disguised ESP (p = 0.002). Some interaction measures gave promising correlations with task performance, particularly the experimenter’s confidence of success (rs = -.43 1, p = 0.007).

Journal of Scientific Exploration

A Unified Theory of Ball Lightning and Unexplained Atmospheric Lights

Authors: Coleman P.F. Journal: Journal of Scientific Exploration Publication date: 2006 Keywords: Vortex breakdown, combustion, tornado, ball lightning, whirlwind, fireball, UFOs, meteor, tornadoes, Mar lights, Hessdalen, vortex, vortex splitting, meteors, earthquake lights, min mins, volcanoes, foo fighters

Ball lightning has been observed in close proximity to atmospheric vortices such as tornadoes and weaker vortices. In some events it is difficult for eyewitnesses to differentiate between the two phenomena. Excluding a chance
association, two causal possibilities present themselves. The first is that the vortex is somehow manufacturing ball lightning and its nature is, as yet, unknown. The second option is that ball lightning is a burning vortex (also
referred to in this paper as a ‘vortex fireball’) in a continuum ranging from a small-scale (centimeters) to a large-scale (meters) vortex. Unusual luminosity is sometimes observed in vortices and this provides a clue to the ball lightning problem. Although one past suggestion used the electrical discharge hypothesis as a mechanism to illuminate a vortex, there is another possibility. The hypothesis is that gaseous combustion within the confines of vortex breakdown could account for ball lightning and other unexplained atmospheric lights. Given the large air speeds that exist inside tornadoes the only viable mechanism would be that of ignition and continued combustion of a flammable fuel gas taking place within the low air speed, stagnation zone of vortex breakdown. Field evidence from meteorological reports and elsewhere suggest that such a vortex-combustion phenomenon exists. The theory has the added support of experimental demonstration of combustion within vortex breakdown. In addition to ball lightning, the theory can be applied to understand and interpret several difficult-to-explain UFOs.

Journal of Scientific Exploration

Half a Career with the Paranormal

Authors: Stivenson I. Journal: Journal of Scientific Exploration Publication date: 2006 Keywords: reincarnation types, survival, theory of reincarnation, pst lives memory, children, childhood, Stivenson

I am a latecomer in this field, because my activity in it did not begin until I had already established myself in conventional psychiatry. I had had training in that specialty and in psychosomatic medicine. My research and training enabled me to advance in academic positions; in 1957 I was appointed professor and Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia…

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