For Skeptics - What would you need as proof of psi?

For Skeptics - What would you need as proof of psi?

  • Personal experienced

  • *


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#3
I think Jay's referring to the fact that this question seems to come up as a thread every few months or so. You can probably find a few of them with the search function. Maybe bump one if you want to continue the discussion.
 
#5
Personal experiences are to be avoided at all cost.

Cheers,
Bill
If what you mean by that is that skeptics believe that one should be very careful in what conclusions should be drawn from them, and how they are interpreted, then that would be my position.
 
#7
Repetitive personal experiences seem to be a game changer. But the tricky part is having a witness or at least how to record it in order to come back to the event once the emotional impact (usually surprise or astonishment) is gone, which is only posible in a few cases of PSI. Once upon a time I was as arrogant in my skepticsm as your average New Atheist, it took repetitive experiences and randomly asking whoever was with me when they happened "do you remember when..." on several ocassions to convince myself that they actually happened. On a bad day, I still question myself and then... I ask the "do you remember when..." question again, its lucky that the witnesses were close people and we remain in communication or I would dismiss the experiences as some random delusion. My guess is that since these took place after I became an adult, my mind just can't handle them very well, and this leads to some congnitive dissonance.

A single personal experience, no matter how emotionally meaningful, will not change someone's perspective unless it leaves behind some extraordinary evidence. See Shermer for an example of how hard skepticism creeps back in, regardless of how uncanny the experience seems.
 
#8
I don't think there's much doubt that personal experiences change people's mind all the time. The question is whether their minds have changed using skeptical methodology.
 
#9
People aren't skeptics because they haven't had the profound and/or strange experiences which get called "psi". They are skeptics because the scientific approach takes a step back and questions whether or not these profound and strange experiences are due to something novel and odd (i.e. something we would recognize as "psi"). I suspect that the poll distinguishes between people who do or do not question the validity of personal experience, rather than between people who have or don't have these experiences (i.e. despite it being "for skeptics", people other than 'skeptics' have answered your poll).

Linda
 
#10
What exactly is meant by 'psi' here?

Daryl Bem wrote this:
"The term psi denotes anomalous processes of information or energy transfer that are currently unexplained in terms of known physical or biological mechanisms."

When you personally experience something how could you possibly tell if is currently unexplained and therefore psi?
 
#11
I don't think there's much doubt that personal experiences change people's mind all the time. The question is whether their minds have changed using skeptical methodology.
Right, if their minds are changed by a single incident, no matter how uncanny it seems, like Shermer's experience, then it's doubtful they are using the skeptical methodology. But if it involves repeated occurrences that were carefully analyzed and witnessed by other people, as E.Flowers mentions above, then it is certainly possible to do so.

Cheers,
Bill
 
#13
I think being open to the idea that things happen that cannot currently be explained is more a question of temperament than anything. Some people are just inherently more open minded than others. That is why you can have both sides of one extreme position. Funny how in general, the only thing that really separates the fundamentally religious and the fundamentally atheistic is the belief in a deity. Both in general regard psi as complete hooey.

That is why psi in general gets such a bum rap. You've got the mainstream religions, proclaiming psi as woo at best, and satanic at worst (which is kind of a bizarre cognitive dissonance in itself-psi isn't real but if it is, only satanists can do it) and atheists/materialists proclaiming it impossible because their belief system says so.

Most people I have come across that are either "proponents" or agnostic yet open to the idea are the complete opposite of both the hardline atheists and religious fundamentalists. Most aren't religious at all. Many don't just out and out believe every psi claim made. It seems most just keep a little space in their mind open to the possibility.

By far the most rational people I know don't really subscribe to any one "belief" system.

As for the OP question, I don't think there really is any way, from a rational perspective, to completely convince anyone of anything. It all comes down to this- what do we believe to be truth, in this moment, with what we know now? Truth is subjective. Our "truth" changes constantly. New information is introduced and our "truth" changes along with it.

Given the idea that our experience is entirely subjective, all we ever will know, all we ever can know is entirely dependent upon that subjectivity. As such, it's entirely impossible to ever be convinced of anything on a permanent basis.

If there is one thing that all of science, history, philosophy, religion and experience can tell us, it's that our "reality", whatever it is, changes constantly. It is always in flux. Belief is the grasping of a small segment of space and time and deluding oneself that this small piece we've managed to grab onto is forever unchanging. We freeze our experience at one moment of space and time and convince ourselves this is the truth about our reality. When really all we've done is failed to move on with a reality that has already left us behind.
 
#14
And what exactly is skeptical methodology?
I've written pretty extensively on this on this forum and I'm happy to reiterate, but I'm curious, what do you (or any other proponent who wants to chime in) think I mean by it? And conversely, what do you think it should mean?
 
#15
I'm not sure "open-minded" is relevant. The question was about "proof", while "open-minded" is more relevant to belief in the absence of proof or evidence. One can be open-minded, but more interested in evidence. And one can be open-minded and more interested in perceptions. I think what we mostly see is open-minded people who are waiting for the science to catch up (non-proponents) and people who already find the perceptions compelling (proponents).

Linda
 
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#16
There was a time when I would have distinguished between skeptical methodology and scientific methodology. But there has been a lot more attention paid over the last 10+ years, within the field of science, to how our practices can create the appearance of an effect when none is present, in addition to more attention paid to fraud and quasi-fraud. So I suspect that skeptical methodology is becoming part of scientific methodology. This is in addition to modern skeptical movements which include the defense of science against deniers.

On the other hand, I still see skepticism presented as "weighing the evidence for yourself" which isn't as useful as it sounds like it should be.

Linda
 
#17
What exactly is meant by 'psi' here?

Daryl Bem wrote this:
"The term psi denotes anomalous processes of information or energy transfer that are currently unexplained in terms of known physical or biological mechanisms."

When you personally experience something how could you possibly tell if is currently unexplained and therefore psi?
Yeah, I wish there was a positive definition for "psi". I've been going with "novel and odd", which highlights that mere ignorance of the mechanism does not tell you whether it would be regarded as "novel and odd" (i.e. psi-like). We keep whittling away at it by discovering familiar and ordinary explanations contributing to the appearance of an effect. It doesn't yet tell us whether what's left also looks familiar or ordinary, or whether it looks novel and odd.

Linda
 
#18
I've written pretty extensively on this on this forum and I'm happy to reiterate, but I'm curious, what do you (or any other proponent who wants to chime in) think I mean by it? And conversely, what do you think it should mean?
The skeptical methodology is to be a propagandist for atheism and the status quo, to discard evidence by imagining ways it could be tainted, to cling to metaphysical beliefs confused for scientific theory, to tediously nit pick at minor points while ignoring the whole, and to unconsciously avoid cognitive dissonance and continuously engage in motivated reasoning while believing you are rational and free of bias.

Ideally skeptics would reform and simply practice science. Sadly the tendency is to persevere as adherents of scientism.
 
#19
The skeptical methodology is to be a propagandist for atheism and the status quo, to discard evidence by imagining ways it could be tainted, to cling to metaphysical beliefs confused for scientific theory, to tediously nit pick at minor points while ignoring the whole, and to unconsciously avoid cognitive dissonance and continuously engage in motivated reasoning while believing you are rational and free of bias.

Ideally skeptics would reform and simply practice science. Sadly the tendency is to persevere as adherents of scientism.
Feel better now?
 
#20
I've written pretty extensively on this on this forum and I'm happy to reiterate, but I'm curious, what do you (or any other proponent who wants to chime in) think I mean by it? And conversely, what do you think it should mean?
I thought that you meant using reason, logic, and all tools/means at our disposal to come to the best and most objective conclusion possible (regardless of what we may wish to be true). This includes devised and controlled experiments as well as analyzing situations that occur "in the wild" (our own, or those of others). This method needs to be applied regardless of which side of the "have had" or "have not had" personal experience you fall on. Discounting personal experience, because it has been shown to be unreliable X percent of the time, and throwing it all out and assuming that 100 percent of the anecdotal accounts must be due to "the usual suspects" is as bad as drawing conclusions based on "I experienced it." Having personal experiences, at the very least, enables you to rule out deliberate fraud (one of the usual suspects).

Cheers,
Bill
 
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