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August 22, 2008


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One of the points I love to make whenever the woos whine about that sort of thing. Thanks for putting it together in a cogent posts.

Yes... but how would double-blind controls screen out for skepticism in the experimenters themselves? Ha! Answer that, Mr. Smarty Pants! Run rings around your logic!

BTW, I accidentally typed "double-blond controls" the first time out. And I'm now thinking that science would be a lot more interesting if we demanded double-blond controls in all experiments.

What kind of powers does one have that the mere existence of negative thought dwindles it?

I suggest that for the first European Amazing meeting, we circle the hadron collider and focus all our negative energy, powered by the dark lord himself (James Randi, not satan). Together we could stop it. Or speed up that whole black hole situation.

But before you start any such test, you'll have to establish a scientific measure of skepticism (the Dawkins scale?), and grade each skeptic accordingly. Otherwise you won't know which was affecting the test more - the skeptic or the psychic.
This could turn into a big undertaking.

Funny, I thought negative energy was what you needed to open a wormhole...

Still, she's just admitted that sceptics are powerful that psychics. This presents a wonderful opportunity to investigate the big, obvious question about "The Secret" - what happens if two people have conflicting wishes?s

Boy are we lucky that other forces such as gravity are not so easily negated by mere disbelief alone.

I think they should have just invited 100 of her best friends and believers (and 1 or 2 skeptics), and performed the same test. Its not as good as a double blind, but it would at least dampen the stupid negative energy criticism. Results would be the same.

Debunking the negative energy idea would simply move the goalpost. They would just say "Well you can't do psychic experiments in a lab", you know with fancy equipment that also diminishes positive energy, like mirrors, chairs, and linoleum floor tiles.

In the result of the confirmed presence of a negative energy, I suppose that legitimate cosmologists would quickly decide that it's actually the same thing as dark energy and that skeptics are fueling the accelerating expansion of the universe. Amusing article, thanks Skeptico:)

BTW, I accidentally typed "double-blond controls" the first time out. And I'm now thinking that science would be a lot more interesting if we demanded double-blond controls in all experiments.

If this doesn't belong in Nature Methods, I don't know what does...

(Files for research grant...)

Re the various protocols suggested, you know this, of course, but naturally, all will be described as inadequate by the psychics for various delightfully contrived reasons. Bringing in a balancing number of believers is no good, seein' as this skepticism shtuff, it's infectious/polluting... Just takes the one, y'see... Or the believers were ringers/weren't believing hard enough... Faraday cage is no good: skepticism pierces all veils, transcends time and space, makes true-believin' tulips melt on the far side of the planet with the sheer withering power it exerts. Watching it on a videotape later? Ah, but why did you tape it in the first place? Clearly, you were skeptical enough to do so, so no dice. Same for that can we predict which tape they'll watch thing: no, 'cos psi is so creatively shy in the face of skepticism, it'll dutifully fail unpredictably, just at the same rate predicted by raw probability, in the presence of the skeptic who designed the experiment...

The whole point bein', of course: you have to believe it even to detect it. For some odd reason...

But still, I support doing these experiments. Watching the cons bend over and stick their heads between their legs in order to try to wiggle around each one should be pretty good entertainment on its own, anyway.

Ah... but wait. I see your point. They will not so much be able to call the experiments inadequate at each phase as be forced to acknowledge the sheer, Earth-shattering (and nerve-shattering) power of skepticism.

I like this. I feel powerful. Bring it on.

Come on guys this amazing power is not yours.It is His Holy Noodliness working through you. Duh!

The funny thing, however, is that the "negative energy" didn't even affect her ability to find the crystals. It just pissed her off so she chose wrong on "purpose." You would think the best way to shove it back in their faces would be to guess right. Getting everything incorrect really showed them!

I wrote a related article earlier this month in which I questioned the likely effectiveness of military remote viewing in the presence of skeptics.

A skeptic on every corner. Much easier that rooting out double agents or trying to stop a nuke.

Damn - that was going to be my next post on this subject.

Sorry. :)

I feel woefully inadequate that my comment isn't as chock full of awesome as all the others. Still, I wanted to tell you that this was an excellent post. It made me to laugh.

You know, Susan Blackmore actually did this once. Not entirely what you suggested, but she did test for "negative energy". She was getting negative results in all her psi experiments, so it was suggested to her that maybe she just "didn't believe enough". Then she realized that she could test it -- her next experiment involved Tarot cards, which she at the time loved very much and honestly believed in. Guess what -- it didn't help any. Of course, the believers wouldn't be convinced (you cannot really prove that you believe in something, can you?)
I just loved the idea that Susan Blackmore actually thought about how she could test the claim, rather then reject it upfront; which is what you did in this post, too. Thank you!

Isn't it interesting that the wooster never said in advance that negative energy was clouding her superpowers and that she couldn't see. Oh no, if she'd lucked out and scored at the far end of the bell curve, she'd have claimed that all right.

So she guessed and blew it. Only then did she realise that her psi-eyes had been blinded.

Greta Christina:

And I'm now thinking that science would be a lot more interesting if we demanded double-blond controls in all experiments.

I agree, and would suggest we now call that the new gold standard (or even platinum standard)!

In the wooniverse, however, controls used in testing tend to be double-bland...

Hey, if you folks still need a skeptic to spend a few hours inside a Faraday cage, I'm available.

I'm blond too...if that helps :P

Alternatively, with a different vowel I can just imagine the ads:

"Mmm! The caffeine buzz from new Nescafé Double Blend's smooth double-roasted beans really gives me the edge when it comes to those meta-analysis all-nighters!"

You know, I think you may have some universal truth here. Apparently God himself cannot abide negative energy, which has been reported to hold up all kinds of prayer requests, skepticism that is, or unbelief. Seems the same thing goes for any non-emperical supernatural stuff. Talk about confirmation bias.
Apparently nothing is knowable after all.

That's hilarious!

I, for one, will gladly volunteer my negative-energy powers for the good of this scientific experiment (naturally I expect to be reasonably compensated for my time, say $100 per hour).

In that St. Petersburg Times article, the psychic maliciously lied about her treatment by the skeptics (including myself). The true story, including annotated video, can be found at www.tampabayskeptics.org/Virginia_chall_video.html.

Something I've never understood about "The Secret" and the so-called "Law" of Attraction: If it is true that we receive what we envision, or get what we attract, how is it that there's so much starvation in large swaths of the world? I mean, surely these people know what "eating" is (even if they aren't able to do much of it), and surely they can envision having lots of food (even if they don't). So ... given this ... why aren't they feasting like senior-citizens at a Chinese buffet? (Sorry seniors!)

Put another way, if envisioning is truly the equivalent of having, why are there so many people in the world who don't have enough food, water, or whatever, to get by? How can anyone ever "need" anything?

If I can envision all this as a total load of steaming ordure with as much intellectual worth as a drunken belch - not too hard to do - doesn't that make it so?

PsiCop -

Secretards answer that question by saying that people suffer from hunger because they have envisioned hunger, and if they could read The Secret they could indeed change their situation. They would admit that it would be difficult for them, because of a lifetime of habitually seeing only the refugee camp and the cluster bombs, and simply not noticing the limousine waiting for them just around the corner....

If you ask what about babies who are born hungry they will say they chose it before they were born because of something bad they did in a past life.

Read about here (see the comments too)

Or if you have a masochistic streak, talk to one of them personally (if you don't mind copping some aggressive rhetoric for half an hour, til they stomp off fuming).

All those poor scientists like Fitzgerald, Lorentz, Michelson and Maxwell banging their heads against the wall trying to get to the bottom of why things go screwy when you go quickly... maybe they just didn't magic the right easy equation into existence.

Then along comes this Austrian patent clerk who says, "Mein Gott, how I wish there vos some zimple ratio like v^2 / c^2, and it vould be so much easier if energy and matter vere interchangeable..." and bingo, job done!

Exactly! And that's why Maxwell and those other losers didn't get mentioned in The Secret, but Einstein gets a good rap for knowing how to manifest simplicity and success in life. God doesn't play dice - rather he carefully turns the dice around according to what we envision for ourselves.

(That's literally what Rhonda Byrne was thinking when she claimed Einstein knew "the secret". She literally reduced Einstein's ideas down to that.)

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