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« See, We Told You That God Didn't Exist The RantsWhy Religion Can't Get Into Our Schools »

Psychical Research: Over a Century, and Not One Useful Development
2006.06.05 (Mon) 23:19

Skeptico has an absolutely brilliant post up today. Go read it. Now. We'll wait.

Good, huh? We love how Skep boiled it down so nicely:

...it's not just that the evidence for psi has not gotten any better over the last 124 years compared with advances in science, although that is notable. The real lesson is that even if psi were real, in 124 years we still haven't found an actual use for it — no psi communications devices, no accurate predictions of the future, no military use, nothing.

Compare that with the real world of science. We started this post with Morse code, but now I can now access computers anywhere in the world from the color screen of my small cell phone. And it all works whether you believe in it or not.

Ah, reason and logic. It's nice to see they still haven't lost their edge, after all these years. Whereas superstition and silly beliefs remain as they always were: quite dull.

This brings to mind some of Allison DuBois' tired and infuriating claims, such as:

...skeptics that do it professionally help nobody in their lifetime, and I look at it that way. How many people have they really helped to have a better life, or to feel better? And I think not many, if any at all. And I have thousands, and I know many other mediums that do as well, and we've made a difference in people's lives that skeptics can't take away.
[our emphasis]

Sure, Allison, you keep telling yourself that, you sanctimonious bullshit-hurling bitch. Let's see...you've given people false hope, lied to them, and precluded the much-needed closure that the loss of a loved one demands.

As we said back then:

Now let's go through a list of just a few things that people of science — not all necessarily "scientists," but certainly people who used the scientific method, which requires a healthy dose of skepticism — contributed to the world. Heck, let's do it alphabetically, just for kicks: aeronautics, bionics, computers, differential calculus, electricity, first aid, genetic engineering, hygiene, internal combustion engines, jelly and jam, kinescopes, lasers, musical instruments, nanotechnology, On the Origin of Species, penicillin, quantum physics, refrigeration, submarines, telecommunications, ultrasonics, vacuum cleaners, water purification, X-rays, yogurt, and zero-point energy.

It's not hard to come up with lists like ours, or a beautiful chronology like Skeptico's. What is hard is coming up with just one concrete example of "psychic" research that has resulted in a useful development, changed history, or furthered the progress of humankind. Just one, true believers; that's all it would take. And yet...nothing.

Big thanks to Skeptico for such a thoughtful and well-written post. It should be required reading for anyone who believes that so-called "psychics" have any useful function.


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[  Filed under: % Bullshit  ]

TrackBack URL for this entry: http://www.twopercentco.com/rants/tpc-trkbk.cgi/338

Comments (10)

Skeptico, 2006.06.06 (Tue) 00:06 [Link] »

(Blushes), thanks guys, glad you liked it.



cenobio, 2007.06.11 (Mon) 17:43 [Link] »

I would like to know your thoughts on the defense departments remote viewing programs. And your thoughts on remote viewing itself.



Ryan, 2007.06.11 (Mon) 18:15 [Link] »

cenobio:

I think I can speak for all skeptics.

I would like to know your thoughts on the defense departments remote viewing programs.

An abuse of taxpayer funds.

And your thoughts on remote viewing itself.

A bunch of bullshit that has never been demonstrated when the ability to cheat has been removed.



cenobio, 2007.06.12 (Tue) 12:04 [Link] »

I wonder how much research have you done into remote viewing? This opinion hasn't been formed from visiting wikipedia, has it?



Ryan, 2007.06.12 (Tue) 12:38 [Link] »

cenobio:

I wonder how much research have you done into remote viewing?

It's not up to me to prove it; it's up to the claimant. They need to do their own research and prove it to me.

This opinion hasn't been formed from visiting wikipedia, has it?

No, the burden of proof is always on the claimant you presumptuous ass.



cenobio, 2007.06.12 (Tue) 12:53 [Link] »

Whoa whoa. No need to call names. I guess it's too easy to do on the net. Maybe I should've put a ;) next to my last statement. I was wondering how you came to form your opinion. As you provided no sources to back up YOUR claims. I myself claimed nothing. I was simply intersted in your views. ASSHOLE! ;)



Jeff from the Two Percent Company, 2007.06.12 (Tue) 14:36 [Link] »

Here's the problem, cenobio — it was all too obvious where you were headed from the start, and most of the folks around here are getting sick of this kind of shit. Winkies or smilies aren't the issue — emoticons can't disguise the pure exasperation we tend to feel when another "fence-sitter" (all too often not legitimately a fence-sitter) tries to "challenge" us on one particular form of bullshit.

In short: why even ask your initial question? See, we understand — or at least, we know — that the general idiot population is always thinking along the standard "all the other bullshit is bullshit, but my bullshit is true" lines, but it should only take a cursory examination of our site (and others like it — such as Rockstar's) to come to the inescapable conclusion that we think that all bullshit is bullshit. So what's the mystery? Why bring up this particular bullshit phenomenon? (And on, I might add, a post to which it is not directly relevant, though I'll grant that — if it had any valid basis — it would be a good argument for some useful result from psychical research. But it's not. Valid, that is.)

It's not that it "gets our dander up," man, it's just that it's highly suspicious and — more to the point — terribly familiar. We've seen this before, too many times. It makes us wonder: what are the Single Bullshit Theorists trying to do? "Catch" us skeptics believing in just one bullshit thing? We doubt that's your aim, but if so, you'd have to do a lot better than this. For fuck's sake — remote viewing?! Yes, the government has conducted experiments involving this ridiculousness. The very same government that put us trillions of dollars in debt and, wait, what was that other thing...? Oh, yes, that's right — they entrenched us in an unwinnable, irrecoverable, and inescapable war in a country that had nothing whatsoever to do with the worst terrorist attack on American soil.

Yes, well, if the government is conducting experiments in remote viewing (which, incidentally, they aren't doing anymore), then it must certainly have some validity, right? Or maybe I'm being incredibly sarcastic here, and should help you out — how's this... ;)

Again: remote fucking viewing?! Out of all the fucking bullshit things, that's the one you thought you might "catch" us on? By either finding out that we "buy" it or by us "not being able" to refute it? Come on...are you serious? Just the other day, Bad Psychics put up a video of Uri Geller's incredibly poor attempt to pretend he was "remote viewing." The man needed to cheat just to "remote view" across a fucking table! Do you really think he could manage to "view" something halfway around the world?

And, for the record: yes, many of us have conducted our own experiments in remote viewing — particularly Rockstar (we happily reported on his experiment), so don't try to fuck with him on this one.

And, no, the folks around these here parts do not rely on fucking Wikipedia for our research — Wikipedia is a good starting point to learn what you want to research, but its free-form, democratic editing process leaves too much room for error. Those of us with any skill in these venues know damn well that real supporting evidence will come from elsewhere.

You may not have realized it, but you threw the first punch, missing emoticon or no. Don't insult people who have a keen interest in debunking this bullshit by suggesting we would rely on Wikipedia for our research. Rockstar has, at the very least, my full support in labeling you a "presumptuous ass," because that's precisely what you've come across as. If you want us to think any differently, you'll have to put the effort in.



Ryan, 2007.06.12 (Tue) 16:22 [Link] »

When I said

A bunch of bullshit that has never been demonstrated when the ability to cheat has been removed.

the most scathing retort would've been links demonstrations of remote viewing under controlled conditions.

But I don't need to elaborate. If the ability existed, the claimant would be $1 million richer

Instead I get a lame misdirection - trying to shift the burden of proof to me. That's just lame. Can't you Woos come up with anything better?



cenobio, 2007.06.12 (Tue) 17:40 [Link] »

Hey, I hear you on the war, along with other points in your post. I've visited this site for about a year now off and on, as I'm busy with work, and I'm pretty exhausted much of the time. Just to state it outright, I wasn't trying to come off as a presumptous ass. Although I do understand you guys have to some degree a paranoia from other posters. My post was just a quick thought that wasn't meant to be any type of BOMB dropped on you guys. LOL. While I have done my fair share of reading on psychics, remote viewing, the holographic theory/universe. I often wonder what are others thoughts about it. Not so I can then think like them, but so I can get some other type of input. I am highly skeptical myself. But I do have some experiences from childhood that I feel have come from an other existential source. Please, do not write me off from that last statement. It deserves a thorough explanation for it to be understood. But just another question, what are some of your thoughts on the holographic theory/universe, david bohm, etc...

As for the general idiot population, I too feel the same frustration about the situation. But from my personal understanding, there is a reason why we are in this predicament, and it isn't from people just being "stupid", :).



Jeff from the Two Percent Company, 2007.06.13 (Wed) 00:31 [Link] »

Fair enough, cenobio — as we always try to point out, you're absolutely welcome to figure out this stuff for yourself. Your conclusions won't change a single fact — they'll either be accurate or inaccurate — but they will be your own, and I'm sure I speak for many individualists when I say we're all for that (that's one of the basic points of the Two Percent Company, after all — we just want to try and get the information out, share our opinions on it, and let others decide for themselves which way they want to go).

I will point out, though, that your first three comments seemed excessively evasive, which may be a large part of your problem, here. You requested:

Please, do not write me off from that last statement. It deserves a thorough explanation for it to be understood.

Okay...but if you think your statements require thorough explanations in order for us to comprehend them, then why aren't you providing those explanations? The incredibly brief two sentences in your first comment provided us with no way to assess your positions or motivations in writing them. Considering the idiots we've dealt with for years — and you've noted that you've been reading our site for about a year, so you've certainly had ample opportunity to witness a great number of them — how exactly did you expect us to react?

Sure, you can label it "paranoia," but remember the old saw: it's not paranoia if they really are out to get you. As you can see from our site, there are plenty of folks who really do leave comments like yours as some sort of "gotcha" (which never quite "gets" us, of course). Without any context to go on, cenobio, we're left to guess at your intentions, and after a few years of this, we tend not to be so charitable when we guess.

We don't need novels, we definitely don't need something on the order of freakin' Tolstoy, but a bit more information on where you're coming from and why you're asking will go a long way toward earning you the somewhat warmer reception you appear to have been hoping for. I understand if you don't have much time — if you've been following along in the last few months, you know that neither do we Two Percenters right now — but you can still take an extra sixty seconds or so to clarify your reasons for writing (if you're going to bother to take the first sixty to write your comment in the first place!).

Sure, some of us are quite verbose, just to make sure we cover all the bases (I'm one of the biggest offenders in this regard, I know — I just type fast, so I get a bigger ROI for my sixty seconds!), but — for instance — Rockstar, above, manages to be both clear and concise. You know where he's coming from, and you know what he's said. Clarity is the only path to any fruitful discourse, and context and elaboration (even tersely delivered) are the best routes toward clarity.

The answers to your questions are almost invariably already provided elsewhere on our site, either directly or in an incredibly easily inferred fashion. If it doesn't have any supporting evidence, we probably don't buy it — we may think it's neat, but we just don't think it's true. Skepticism is about holding out for evidence before coming to your conclusions (not simply "doubting everything," as some anti-skeptics would have you believe); but when observation and experiment have already produced zero evidence so many times, for so very long, we tend not to focus on such unsupported claims, and they (or others like them) will be dismissed until such time comes that we have reason to reexamine them.

If you really can't be bothered finding those answers, I'll sum it up briefly for you this one time.

Remote viewing is, quite simply, bullshit, both because it has been tested and found utterly lacking, and because it wholly falls under the umbrella of the more general "psychic powers" hypotheses, which also have zero supporting evidence after literally thousands of years of experimentation (controlled and, more often until the last few hundred years, non).

The "holographic universe" stuff is intriguing and even pretty darn cool, in some respects, but only if you're talking about the resulting (according to the holographic model) phenomena which have been observed — Bohm's initial forays into the holographic nature of the brain are fascinating, but when you start getting into, for instance, the last half of Michael Talbot's The Holographic Universe, you've just waded cowlick-deep into some very smelly bullshit. In such cases, either the holographic universe is an attempt to explain phenomena which have not been proven to occur (pointless — why try explaining something that you haven't even proved is happening?), or it is an attempt to demonstrate that such phenomena do occur (also pointless — you can't rest your assertions on a premise that itself is unproven). In the former case, it's like saying that your ability to jump four hundred feet into the air is inherited from your father, when you've yet to demonstrate that you can jump four hundred feet into the air; in the latter case, it's like saying you believe you can jump four hundred feet into the air because your father has this ability, without first demonstrating that your father can do it in the first place.

These two answers should enable you to figure out our answers to any other such questions of the "what do you think of the hypothesis of..." variety. If it's been explored and has no evidence, we don't believe it. If it hasn't been explored, we may be interested, or we may not be — that's just personal taste — but we certainly haven't accepted it as true or even plausible.

If you have further questions regarding specific phenomena, feel free to use our Rants' search feature (or even search our comments via Google). You'll probably find what you're looking for.

I apologize for the brevity of my response, but I really don't have much time for a more detailed summation at the moment. (And yes, I'm just poking fun at you with that remark, don't worry.)




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