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  • A "Scientific" approach

    As a youth, I was extremely skeptical and disbelieving in regard to "psychic phenomenon" in general. "miraculous" abilities, and the like.

    I had a very strict religious upbringing, which I moved away from as a teenager.

    My mother and those who followed her religion believed that Jesus would return and a "New World" would be brought into existence at (or before) a specific date. I was 16 years old when that date came and went and nothing extraordinary happened.

    Up until that time, however, I was deeply indoctrinated. When time proved to me that "the only truth" I had ever known was false, I was left in a kind of vacuum. I felt that everything I had ever known was wrong but I had nothing to substitute for it.

    I felt my entire life had been wasted in anticipation of something that never came.

    In an effort to fill the void, I became you might say; "a seeker after truth", but I was not going to fall into the same trap. I was not going to "believe" anything unless it could be unambiguously verified or proven. Unless I could see or experience it for myself. Even then I would remain skeptical.

    I wanted to know, in a very deep way, what really was the truth, but I wasn't going to take anyone else's word for it.

    When it came to all the "miracles" and unusual abilities and powers spoken of in all the worlds religions, I wanted to know if there was anything to any of it at all, but there is so much apparent trickery and fraud, even self deception of people who "want to believe", I decided to take a strictly "Scientific" approach.

    I "experimented" cautiously, with all kinds of meditation. I mostly avoided "hypnosis" of any kind, as it seemed to me that would be a sure route to self delusion. I didn't practice ANYTHING however, until after I had studied it IN DEPTH and felt I fully understood the rationale or "theory" behind it. My efforts were very methodical and deliberate. If I was going to fool with any mental type practice or exercise, there would have to be a rational, reasonable, logical reason for doing so. In other words, it would have to be grounded in "science". This generally goes counter to most religions and spiritual practices which are expected to be taken on "Faith", so it often took some really in depth research to get to the underlying philosophy and rationale behind many spiritual practices.

    By "science" I mean, gathering evidence, making observations about a specific phenomenon, formulating a theory or hypothesis as a tentative explanation and then following up with practical experiments designed to test or apply the theory. Adding those results in with the previous evidence and observations and so on.

    I did have some grounding in science.

    Unlike my mother, my father was of a scientific mind. Growing up, I overheard many a conversation or argument between my mother and father over her religious views vs his scientific views. My father was studying to be a Chemistry teacher and there was a lab in the house full of various equipment, microscopes and chemistry sets and many books. In my early youth I would steal away and spend hours and hours in the lab reading and carrying out experiments following the instructions in the books.

    I learned a lot from my father, if indirectly, about how to think logically. check and double check the facts. To be skeptical, and how to carry out experiments.

    Later in life when I became a "seeker of truth" I also spent a great deal of time studying science, physics, and especially the fundamentals of scientific methodology.

    Applying that, (science) to religion in general and spiritual claims of supernatural powers in particular was, perhaps, unorthodox. I do not however view these things as "off limits" to science.

    In general, I believe this approach has led to some fruitful results. I do however, currently feel the need to take this further. A study cannot truly be considered "scientific" without repeatability, full disclosure of methodology and procedures and "peer review" and the added "objectivity" that might be derived through collaboration.

    In general, however, I have found that neither science nor religion particularly welcomes my findings. Those who "believe" seem to resent having their views challenged in a scientific arena and most scientific or skeptical types want nothing to do with delving into spiritual claims. If anything, they are only interested in debunking, not "objective" experimentation. So I am somewhat hard pressed when it comes to finding collaborators who are neither fanatical believers or hostile skeptics but rather researchers willing to embark upon some novel experiments to ferret out the truth wherever it might lead.

  • #2
    Im not sure I follow. Are you aware of the existence of academic parapsychology?

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Iyace View Post
      I'm not sure I follow. Are you aware of the existence of academic parapsychology?
      Yes.

      Parapsychology - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      I'm not sure what in particular you don't follow.

      I think that Wiki article makes clear, the attitude of main stream science has at best been overwhelmingly dismissive of parapsychological research in general.

      I would extract some quotes from the article that emphasize this point, but that would entail practically the entire article and I'm not sure that is even the point you are addressing. Could you be more specific?

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Tom Booth View Post
        Yes.

        Parapsychology - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

        I'm not sure what in particular you don't follow.

        I think that Wiki article makes clear, the attitude of main stream science has at best been overwhelmingly dismissive of parapsychological research in general.

        I would extract some quotes from the article that emphasize this point, but that would entail practically the entire article and I'm not sure that is even the point you are addressing. Could you be more specific?
        So I am somewhat hard pressed when it comes to finding collaborators who are neither fanatical believers or hostile skeptics but rather researchers willing to embark upon some novel experiments to ferret out the truth wherever it might lead.
        That was at the end of your first post. I was just confused because theres an community of people who study psi scientifically. This community studies psi scientifically.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Tom Booth View Post
          I think that Wiki article makes clear, the attitude of main stream science has at best been overwhelmingly dismissive of parapsychological research in general.
          This is true that mainstream science doesn't pay much attention to parapsychology research but there is, in fact, a lot of compelling research that has been done in academical setting in the last decades and before that, all the way to the 19th century.

          I also wouldn't count on Wikipedia as a balanced source of knowledge on parapsychology. We just had a thread about it:

          http://forum.mind-energy.net/skeptik...s-problem.html

          Try the book Entangled Minds by Dean Radin for a historical overview of parapsychology research. I wrote something about it here: Short history of psi research | Mind-Energy

          You can read other reviews of this book. There are more books like this.
          Or just read the Skeptiko Podcast forum here and listen to the podcast itself.

          Comment


          • #6
            Tom, I don't have any thing to add, other than to say welcome to the forum.

            From the overview you gave of your background and attitude it sounds like you can make some useful contributions to this area of study, whether on this forum, in in the broader context.

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            • #7
              Jacob, thanks for the info.

              I found this forum while perusing information about Dean Radin.

              One of the links you posted led to another link which mentions: "Dean Radin has performed similar experiments in a laboratory conditions, even with online participants."

              This is something I've been trying to do for many years. That is, find individuals online, who might be interested in or willing to participate in some sort of online collaborative, experimental research.

              I've gotten onto various forums over the years where it seemed likely I might find individuals interested in such a proposal. Sometimes I've been banned. Sometimes I've been "run off" by skeptics. I've been criticized by "believers" who think I'M too skeptical, etc.

              For the most part, I'm not sure anyone reading any of those posts, mostly detailing my "experiments", theory, procedure, results... etc. believes any of it. In general, many seem to think I'm lying or delusional. That is mainly where my opening comments come from. That is, my personal experience in trying to recruit online participants, as well as my experience in trying to get personal friends or acquaintances involved.

              I might mention that my main area of research has been in the area of what spiritualists refer to as "apports". Physical materializations of "thought forms".

              Some "channeled" information refers to this as "precipitation". Basically the "crystallization" of a visualized image into material tangible existence. Buddhists refer to it as the creation of a "Tulpa".

              To me, this is something, out of all the "Psi" phenomenon, that could be subject to study by the material sciences. I'm not much personally interested in statistical studies, such as influencing the toss of a coin type of thing, mind reading, guessing what picture someone is thinking about, past lives, reincarnation, ghosts, visionary experiences, dreams or other intangibles.

              There are numerous references to this possibility of "materialization" in religious and esoteric literature as well as "How To" instructions and supporting "theories" as far as how and why such a thing is possible.

              This has some affinity with things like "The Law of Attraction", "The Secret", "Positive Thinking", "Science of Mind" and similar things of that nature but which generally don't go quite so far as to say it is possible to materialize what you want out of thin air.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by typoz View Post
                Tom, I don't have any thing to add, other than to say welcome to the forum.
                Thanks!

                From the overview you gave of your background and attitude it sounds like you can make some useful contributions to this area of study, whether on this forum, in in the broader context.
                I think so.

                I think my most useful contribution might be a method I worked out for studying such phenomenon in an overwhelmingly skeptical atmosphere. Being, or at least having been, when I started, a skeptic myself, I had to find a way past that road block.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Tom,

                  Radin does have an online psi test site, I've used it myself...in 'precognitive remote viewing mode'.

                  If you are based in the USA, why not go and see Russell Targ, who runs THE RV workshop, and reckons he can get results with RV in anyone. (I think that's about what he said.)

                  I've run ganzfeld sessions in the UK in which some of the receivers initially thought there was some trick involved, as they had clearly described the target picture several minutes (up to 30 minutes) before seeing it.

                  Once you've done this with a high degree of accuracy several times, you KNOW it happens, and once you are looking at all this not as speculation, 'belief' and balanced probabilities, it makes it all a lot easier!

                  Best of luck on the quest.
                  Last edited by Ian Holfield; October 15th, 2013, 09:08 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Ian Holfield View Post
                    Tom,

                    Radin does have an online psi test site, I've used it myself...in 'precognitive remote viewing mode'.
                    Can you provide a link ?

                    If you are based in the USA, why not go and see Russell Targ, who runs THE RV workshop, and reckons he can get results with RV in anyone. (I think that's about what he said.)
                    I'm somewhat familiar with Targ and his work back in... 70's ? early 80's SRI and all that. Not sure what he might be up to these days. On his website, there is a note about "recent research" that references a paper from 1976 ?

                    Russell Targ. Books and Workshops on Remote Viewing, Psi / Psychic Science, Spiritual Healing.

                    I've run ganzfeld sessions in the UK in which some of the receivers initially thought there was some trick involved, as they had clearly described the target picture several minutes (up to 30 minutes) before seeing it.

                    Once you've done this with a high degree of accuracy several times, you KNOW it happens, and once you are looking at all this not as speculation, 'belief' and balanced probabilities, it makes it all a lot easier!

                    Best of luck on the quest.
                    Thanks for all the info. Unfortunately, I think this type of research is open to the usual criticism from skeptics. For example, you note: He "reckons he can get results with RV in anyone."

                    Here is how a skeptic might interpret that:

                    "The process of evaluation by parapsychologists of a "hit" for remote viewing is similar to that used in the Maimonides dream telepathy experiments. If an occasional description seems apt to the target, that's a hit. If it isn't, exploit the ambiguity of the description or revert to allowing symbolic connections and that's a hit too. In other words, a hit's a hit and so is a miss. In fact, there is no precise, clear-cut definition of what will count as a hit before the test begins. Because of the leeway in interpretation that is allowed judges of hits and misses, there is no way to falsify the remote viewing hypothesis using such tests. Without a reliable method that could falsify a claim, one can let the imagination run wild and allow confirmation bias to count as scientific testing."

                    remote viewing - The Skeptic's Dictionary - Skepdic.com

                    Don't get me wrong. I've practiced remote viewing on occasion with some success.

                    Just for example, someone on a forum did a remote viewing experiment. They were to write a number on the wall and people from the forum were supposed to view it remotely and post their "guess". The actual answer or number was emailed to a third party. A rather skeptical member of the forum.

                    In my "remote viewing" I "saw" the individual putting the number on the wall, but from my position I could not see the number, just his back, but could see his arm movements. It appeared to me that he made two vertical lines and one horizontal line above them.

                    I guessed Pi, the mathematical symbol.

                    The actual number was 17.

                    So, although my "guess" was wrong, I felt my "vision" had been accurate. In general, the "results" of such experiments are largely subjective and open to interpretation.

                    There is nothing ambiguous about a material object "precipitated" out of "thin air". It is either there or it isn't. If it is, it can presumably be photographed, subject to various kinds of tests, spectral analysis or whatever, weighed measured and so forth.

                    This is the first book I read on the subject when it first came out in 1979:

                    http://www.summitlighthouse.org/Read...nt-germain.pdf

                    The "method" is described in various sections throughout the book, but a general outline is in chapter 7 "Methods of Transfer".

                    I did not rely exclusively on this particular book, nor did I follow the procedures outlined exactly. As mentioned, I also studied the Siddhis of Buddhism/Yoga which allude to such things and incorporated much from many other esoteric/religious/spiritual/scientific sources.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I think you'd need to contact Russ through the contact form on his site.

                      He mentioned the workshops he was running at the PA Conference in Paris a couple of years ago.

                      I notice in another post you cite the "Wikipedia" entry for Parapsychology. Are you aware of the CSICOP vigilante editing which has made a mockery of objectivity on Wiki on many subjects? I'm afraid that entry is pure propaganda.
                      Check the Wiki thread on this forum now, or go to http://weilerpsiblog.wordpress.com/2...ptics-problem/

                      As for the "Skeptics Dictionary" stuff about ganzfeld scoring, that is just the sort of malicious misrepresentation you would expect from such an organ.

                      I personally have zero interest or less in what "pseudoskeptics" think about anything, ultimately, it's personal choice, if they feel happy in their angry little world of nonsense, I just leave them to it. They are irrelevant.

                      They are annoying when they construct something like "Anomalistic Psychology", which seems to be a Trojan Horse designed to mop up funding in Academe which would otherwise go towards proper consciousness research, best done with a less limited and more scientific world-view. These guys are fanatics, trying to defend an essentially 18th century worldview. They think that spreading their denial as propaganda makes them some sort of equivalent of the Spanish Inquisition, which at least had the support of the Church, and all in the best possible cause, "The Protection of Science."

                      Science doesn't need self appointed vigilante lobby groups.

                      "Science progresses funeral by funeral," as Max Planck put it.

                      If you read my own personal experience in the gz, I think maybe you will revise your view of how it's run in reality, at least I hope so.

                      Here's my experience, for what it's worth....http://forum.mind-energy.net/skeptik...on-inside.html

                      Your idea of studying 'apports' is quite unusual. I know this is supposed to happen around various Eastern mystics, I think it's also happened around people like Uri Geller and Matthew Manning, and certainly in some spontaneous poltergeist cases but are you suggesting it could be conjured up in a laboratory?
                      Last edited by Ian Holfield; October 17th, 2013, 12:56 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Maimonides didnt use evaluation hit rating. They used a 4-up 4-down hit rating. Much like the gz, but with a 50% hit rate instead of 25, because there was an 8 image pool with 2 4-image options.

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                        • #13
                          Maimonedes also used psychodrama as the target. Not sure how they scored that! That was with Malcolm Bessent, who I have interviewed.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Ian Holfield View Post
                            Maimonedes also used psychodrama as the target. Not sure how they scored that! That was with Malcolm Bessent, who I have interviewed.
                            It doesnt get its due credit as a relatively well done dream telepathy experiment.

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                            • #15
                              It was very good, just too much time/cost per datapoint, so the Gz took over.

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