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June 05, 2006


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Wow! Excellent post.

Tell it like it is!

You forgot one all-important advancement, though: The Sony PSP. ;)

Nice work, Skeptico! I'm really excited to think that all tha psychic research is about to pay off. Any day now!

I guess we shouldn't be holding our breath, should we?

I knew you were going to say that.

Fantastic post. This is really great to show to weak-minded people who claim that psychics are 'useful'.

So I guess I can put down this book I've been reading while waiting for psi to be "proven" or an actual application to come from it? Damn...

This may seem irrelevant at first, but ...

Prayer has no effect on third parties.

(Ref. F. Galton; "Statistical inquiries into the efficacy of prayer."; 1872. )
I originally wrote that: “This should be given further examination, and fresh tests should be devised and performed”. This is where experimental, falsifiable scientific tests can be made, as they can for proposition 1. But, now attempts have been made to do double-blind tests over a reasonably large number of subjects. The results so far certainly seem to show that prayer has no discernible effect whatsoever.
Note that religious believers always say that both: (a) "prayer works" AND (b) "It doesn't work like that, and cannot be tested."
Why not? If prayer has any effect, or works at all, then that working or effect will be measurable.
Thus: (i) Prayer will affect first parties: those who are doing the praying. In the same manner that any organised directed thought by an individual may, and usually will affect the actions of the person thinking those thoughts.
(ii) Prayer may, and probably will, have an effect on second parties. People who are being prayed at, or over. Thus, even if the effect is to increase the resistance of the victim, it will have an effect. Typical examples would be: A group of Scots' evangelicals praying at / over a woman who has had a baby out of wedlock, or the condemnation of Shostakovitch for musical formalism in1948
(iii) Third parties, who are not present, will not be affected in any way, provided they are not informed of the prayers. In other words, provided they are kept in ignorance of others' intentions. Some double-blind trials of this, similar to those used in medicine and experimental psychology have now been performed. The results are being carefully ignored into the ground by the believers.

There is no such thing as "Psi".

Similarly, any so-called "Psi" forces and supernatural powers have no real effect, or existence.
If these had any reality whatsoever, consider the enormous evolutionary advantage that such a talent, skill, or ability would give to any person, or any other animal, so endowed. No such advantage has ever been seen, or noted. The simple reason is that "Psi" is not merely a myth, but a possibly comforting lie. It is also a source of great exploitation of the gullible by stage magicians and unscrupulous fraudsters.
All of the above applies to "miracles" as well.
Thus ; superstition: - "If you pray hard enough, you can make water run uphill. ……… How hard do you have to pray? ….. Hard enough to make water run uphill, of course!" ( R.A.H.)
Hence, prayer is superstition.

If these had any reality whatsoever, consider the enormous evolutionary advantage that such a talent, skill, or ability would give to any person, or any other animal, so endowed. No such advantage has ever been seen, or noted.

I think it was the Skeptic's Dictionary that first brought that to my attention: "Why aren't there any animals that hunt or forage by ESP?"

It's a potentially nifty concept for a D&D psionic monster, though.

All hail Skeptico! This was a fantastic post. When it comes to the efficacy of science and the failure of superstition, what better evidence could you ask for than the fact that science continues to make new discoveries every year, whereas pseudoscience continues to search feebly for even one credible, repeatable experiment?

And as far as James Van Praagh and his ridiculous attempts at shifting the burden of proof go, I'd say this to him:

"Hey, James, guess what: I control your life. It was my will that you would end up in the exact profession and status you have now. Every single event in your life that you thought was a coincidence was actually planned and orchestrated in advance by me to bring you to this end. Prove me wrong."

Wonderful. Somebody should make a picture of that (compare science with ESP 'studies', creationism, faith healing, etc.).

Skeptico, I would have loved to have you down here for a Rhine Institute conference called "After Death" held at Duke University last month. Of course, I couldn't afford to go ($235), but I know that many did.

Very well-written post! I've read some things of yours that people have linked to but this earned you a spot in my aggregator.

Thank you for this eloquent way of laying it all out.

A little-known pair of Nostradamus quatrains:

In the new millennium, five years plus one, the Antichrist shall subsume the earth,
Damning the unbelievers with wide-eyed rhetoric,
Demeaning the work of the philosopher and the sage,
Who struggle in vain on the strands of a giant web that spans the world.

What once was intended as a joke,
Now blooms into new life as doctrine,
Inventing detail in blank shadows
And finding meaning in garbage like this, which is a bit of a hoot, really, even though it won't happen for another five hundred years when I won't be around to laugh at it.

I declare that this is all my own work.

(signed) M. de Notredame, age 7 years and three months.

I disagree.

Okay, let's just say that a person went into the public with one's suernatural abilities. But instead they assumed a person's a nutcase and they also sent the person into the mental place. And if these power occur and they would keep it confidental and not letting anyone know about the situation. Seems like a government is afriad of people with supernatural abilties.
And yes, I don't have anything to prove my arguement.
And these scientist are just really unlucky.

People claiming supernatural powers aren't considered nutcases anymore. They go on national television and have gold idols made of them. It'd be kind of hard for the government to cover them all up, kind of like it'd be pretty hard for the government to pay off ALL the doctors / 9-11 witnesses / etc.

They'd also have to sort out the real ones from the fakes.

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