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(Death and Taxes Magazine)   Science says no, you don't have psychic powers. But you probably knew that already anyway   (deathandtaxesmag.com) divider line 25
    More: Obvious, psychology, James Randi, University of Melbourne, ESP  
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1002 clicks; posted to Geek » on 16 Jan 2014 at 9:07 AM (27 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



25 Comments   (+0 »)
   
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2014-01-16 09:18:12 AM
and combined with alcohol is even worse.   course, many drugs are worse when combined.   the fewer pills you have to take, the better.
 
2014-01-16 09:19:54 AM
Pffft "science". What has "science" ever done for us?
 
2014-01-16 09:24:32 AM

scottydoesntknow: Pffft "science". What has "science" ever done for us?


All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?
 
2014-01-16 09:34:33 AM
I'm kinda dubious about this. I've had "psychic" moments, but that's all they are, moments. I dreamed about a shooting in another state that threatened my ex two days before it happened and I'd really like to hear science explain where I got the information I couldn't process to foresee she'd be in danger. It's not the first time something like that happened, either.

Basically, I'm perfectly happy to accept that there is information I didn't process in many if not most cases of "psychic" moments, but it's harder to buy into that when you have nowhere to get the information and you still have that moment.

/wants to believe in science!
//science, why you letting me down!?
 
2014-01-16 10:05:19 AM

Yomoxu: I dreamed about a shooting in another state that threatened my ex two days before it happened and I'd really like to hear science explain where I got the information I couldn't process to foresee she'd be in danger. It's not the first time something like that happened, either.


This is a phenomenon known as "confirmation bias". Our brains are wired to seek out  positive and  pleasant experiences (being right, even about terrible things is pleasant). We do a much better job remembering the chain of events which lead to positive outcomes than we do the ones that lead to negative outcomes. The result is that, in cases of premonitions, we remember the hits and forget the misses. We remember the things that make us feel good, and forget the things that don't.

That sort of behavior, by the way, applies to pretty much anything with a brain. A good, if slightly off-topic, example is an experiment that created superstitions in pigeons. Take pigeons, and give them a machine with a button. When they press the button, they get food. Very quickly, the pigeons learn this- press the button, get food. Give them multiple buttons, they figure out the right one. Give them a set of buttons they must press in sequence, they very quickly learn the sequence. That's not too surprising.

What is surprising is what happens if you give pigeons a machine that behaves  randomly. They push the button, and sometimes food comes out. Sometimes, no food comes out. These birds would start doing weird things- one would stand on one leg for a few seconds before pushing the button. Another would hold its wing in awkward positions. Others might do complicated dances. What was going on here?

The birds remembered the time they got food. They remembered it so well that they associated whatever small movement they might have naturally done with the act of getting food. The next time they pushed the button, the same movement didn't work, though. Obviously, they must have done it wrong- so they exaggerate the movement. After a few tries, the machine spits out food again. Voila! Then it stops working. The bird isn't capable of deciding, "This is random, and it doesn't matter what I do," so it keeps trying to appease the machine. The movements get more intense, more bizarre, all because of that "ratcheting" action based on positive feedback.
 
2014-01-16 10:19:05 AM
Says you. I've known many a fat girl who has powers beyond the keen of mortal man. They have empathy I tell you, and that right there is a psychic power all on it's own. Just ask them.
 
2014-01-16 10:28:07 AM

t3knomanser: Our brains are wired to seek out positive and pleasant experiences (being right, even about terrible things is pleasant). We do a much better job remembering the chain of events which lead to positive outcomes than we do the ones that lead to negative outcomes. The result is that, in cases of premonitions, we remember the hits and forget the misses. We remember the things that make us feel good, and forget the things that don't.


I slightly disagree with some of this. We are good at remembering odd occurrences because so much of our day - including our thoughts - is straightforward and routine, and thus not really memorable. It's the odd things that stand out. I wouldn't necessarily say it's about any pleasant or aversive outcomes, per se, though that certainly plays a part. Also, frankly, the human memory system is pretty flawed. Most, if not all, of memory is partially reconstructed each time we or recall a particular thing, so it could very well be the case that we misremember having thought of a particular thing before it occurred.
 
2014-01-16 10:31:20 AM

Kome: It's the odd things that stand out. I wouldn't necessarily say it's about any pleasant or aversive outcomes, per se, though that certainly plays a part.


I'd argue that novelty, even when the novel thing is unpleasant, is itself a  pleasant experience. I'm probably abusing what most people mean when they talk about "pleasant" or "positive", but novelty does trigger a reward response.

Kome: it could very well be the case that we misremember having thought of a particular thing before it occurred.


Definitely true.
 
2014-01-16 11:14:27 AM
This is just a ploy so they can steal my tinfoil hat.
 
2014-01-16 11:26:03 AM
I often have to suffer the emotional trauma of bad experiences before they happen. I wonder what science has to say about that? And I'm practically never wrong about my premonitions. Furthermore, as I consider myself a science-minded person, simply being able to do this conflicts with my view on how reality is supposed to work, which is in itself troubling. I try to debunk this all the time, often calling out stuff in advance.

My personal theory is that alot of "ESP" is caused by synesthesia from subconscious clues. This might explain, for instance, why some people see auras. What most people would pick up on subconsciously about someone they pick up on as well, except that in their case this information somehow bleeds into their visual perception.
 
2014-01-16 11:50:03 AM

Zombalupagus: I often have to suffer the emotional trauma of bad experiences before they happen. I wonder what science has to say about that? And I'm practically never wrong about my premonitions. Furthermore, as I consider myself a science-minded person, simply being able to do this conflicts with my view on how reality is supposed to work, which is in itself troubling. I try to debunk this all the time, often calling out stuff in advance.

My personal theory is that alot of "ESP" is caused by synesthesia from subconscious clues. This might explain, for instance, why some people see auras. What most people would pick up on subconsciously about someone they pick up on as well, except that in their case this information somehow bleeds into their visual perception.


What you might want to do, if you haven't already, is start documenting these premonitions. Every time you have one, post it online. That gives your claims accountability. Get yourself a free blog and make a post every time you have one of these visions/feelings/premonitions.

Then you can document whether or not these were accurate by posting the relevant news stories or events that subsequently happen. it will also help you understand what you were feeling before and how that related to the actual event.

I do think this might be helpful to you, and I mean it in all sincerity.
 
2014-01-16 01:10:03 PM

Zombalupagus: I often have to suffer the emotional trauma of bad experiences before they happen.


Or, being emotionally traumatized (because of hormones, neurology, other previous traumas, whatever) makes you more likely to end up in situations where bad experiences happen. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy. It's exceedingly common in various forms, and is the same foundation that leads people to associate "positive thinking" with positive outcomes.

Zombalupagus: This might explain, for instance, why some people see auras.


The reason people see auras is because of retinal fatigue. I can make myself see an aura pretty much on demand.
 
2014-01-16 01:12:14 PM

Nine Hundred and Eight: This is just a ploy so they can steal my tinfoil hat.


Must be an aluminium shortage, and they are sick of us "wasting" it all.

I find it amusing that with unexplained things people are always going: "See science says it's wrong, told you so!". Maybe these "scientists" could put their efforts to something more useful than trying to be Mr. Buzz Killington? What is the point in trying to disprove something, when 90% of the population willing believes it?
 
2014-01-16 01:31:39 PM

t3knomanser: Yomoxu: I dreamed about a shooting in another state that threatened my ex two days before it happened and I'd really like to hear science explain where I got the information I couldn't process to foresee she'd be in danger. It's not the first time something like that happened, either.

This is a phenomenon known as "confirmation bias". Our brains are wired to seek out  positive and  pleasant experiences (being right, even about terrible things is pleasant). We do a much better job remembering the chain of events which lead to positive outcomes than we do the ones that lead to negative outcomes. The result is that, in cases of premonitions, we remember the hits and forget the misses. We remember the things that make us feel good, and forget the things that don't.

That sort of behavior, by the way, applies to pretty much anything with a brain. A good, if slightly off-topic, example is an experiment that created superstitions in pigeons. Take pigeons, and give them a machine with a button. When they press the button, they get food. Very quickly, the pigeons learn this- press the button, get food. Give them multiple buttons, they figure out the right one. Give them a set of buttons they must press in sequence, they very quickly learn the sequence. That's not too surprising.

What is surprising is what happens if you give pigeons a machine that behaves  randomly. They push the button, and sometimes food comes out. Sometimes, no food comes out. These birds would start doing weird things- one would stand on one leg for a few seconds before pushing the button. Another would hold its wing in awkward positions. Others might do complicated dances. What was going on here?

The birds remembered the time they got food. They remembered it so well that they associated whatever small movement they might have naturally done with the act of getting food. The next time they pushed the button, the same movement didn't work, though. Obviously, they must have done it wrong- so they exagg ...


If you got a link to that study could you hook a farker up?  That study sounds interesting and pretty funny too.
 
2014-01-16 01:42:40 PM

scroufus: If you got a link to that study could you hook a farker up?


It's a fairly famous experiment by behavioral psych's granddad, BF Skinner. People have been debating those conclusions since the experiment, but I have to go with Skinner's interpretations.
 
2014-01-16 01:50:41 PM

t3knomanser: The reason people see auras is because of retinal fatigue. I can make myself see an aura pretty much on demand.


That's a blanket statement.

I imagine another cause could be synesthesia.

Another could be plain old astigmatism depending on what the person describes as an "aura"

Another off the wall idea is that someone has a genetic mutation that allows them to see infrared and the "auras" are actually infrared and the color interpreted as "anger" is actually a persons body temperature rising. There's way more likely stuff.

I'm sure there are about 100 other possible causes ranging in probability.
 
2014-01-16 02:40:11 PM
Im sure everyone that signed this would disagree, but what do doctors and scientists know.

http://www.frontiersin.org/Journal/10 .3389/fnhum.2014.00017/full
 
2014-01-16 03:10:29 PM

t3knomanser: Zombalupagus: I often have to suffer the emotional trauma of bad experiences before they happen.

Or, being emotionally traumatized (because of hormones, neurology, other previous traumas, whatever) makes you more likely to end up in situations where bad experiences happen.


I'm in bad situations all the time, granted. But they are not always accompanied with the feelings of dread. For instance I had what many people would consider a small issue (rain when I'm at the beach) blow me into almost a full panic an hour before it happened. Later, on that same trip, my VW van broke down. The transmission blew out 500 miles from home. This was something that could potentially cost me all my savings, days or weeks of my time shuttling myself and parts back and forth, and even my job. But I felt nothing. Nothing. I actually spent a good portion of the night wondering why one event had such an impact on me and the other one didn't even after it happened. As it turned out when first light came it was only a drive shaft, and a VW being what it was I simply fixed it and went on my way.

Zombalupagus: This might explain, for instance, why some people see auras.

The reason people see auras is because of retinal fatigue. I can make myself see an aura pretty much on demand.


Pretty sure that's not the same thing. People see auras with colors that are representative of certain things, just like synesthetes who see colors pertaining to music, for instance. BTW studies have shown they are actually seeing these colors and not imagining them. They can give a test like a red/green colorblind test but substitute 2's and 5's and flash it for a split-second and synesthete will see it plain as day, even before the mind converts other parts of the image.

www.youramazingbrain.org

Can you spot the pattern? And could you spot it if that image flashed up in your peripheral vision for only a split-second? To someone with that variety of synesthesia it would look like this.
 
2014-01-16 03:23:10 PM

scroufus: If you got a link to that study could you hook a farker up? That study sounds interesting and pretty funny too.


Bah, this is way funnier: Project Pigeon
 
2014-01-16 04:41:56 PM
Kome:I slightly disagree with some of this.

That's nice, but you do realize that he's not actually applying any analysis here, and confirmation is an empirically-established fact and not a derived one, right?  Humans remembering "hits" and forgetting "misses" isn't the  theory, it's the  data upon which several (competing) theories of psychology are built... but the data itself is for this particular thing in no way in dispute.  We've confirmed and moved on to measuring it and refining situational variations.

So disagree all you want, but be warned that this makes you the logical equivalent of a creationist... so, not really in good company there.
 
2014-01-16 08:17:32 PM
Zombalupagus:This might explain, for instance, why some people see auras.

I just call these people "liars".
 
2014-01-16 11:01:55 PM
This is pretty "duh." I've had real-deal psychic moments myself, but there is way more going on than meets the eye. If asked to conduct experiments the stress alone kills your unconscious mind's link to it, leaving your subconscious to influence the conscious mind: a recipe for flawed results. Ego is very difficult to kill.

To me, the  psychic phenomenon is far less superstition and more like a brain hack that allows you to process information at vastly larger scales near instantly without thinking. It's cool, not all that special, and everyone with a functioning brain can do it.

/Observe.
 
2014-01-17 10:13:57 AM
When young there are things you can see that you can no longer see as you get older, that is the system upon us.

Sure some might say imagination while others would say it's the lost connection to ourselves.

There is a reason the globalization wants to assimilate everyone,
 
2014-01-17 10:14:32 AM
farking auto correct
 
2014-01-17 11:55:18 AM
I don't believe in psychics, per se... but I have had a few random, oddball "psychic" moments, as I'm sure everyone has.  For instance, I mentioned the Eric Johnson song "White Cliffs Of Dover" to my wife who said she'd never heard it. I said "Here, check this out" & flipped on the radio without thinking... The song had just started. We lived out in the middle of nowhere at the time and there was no other radio on in the house.

I'm certainly a skeptic, but I don't discount that there's something to most of what we now call paranormal phenomena that will ultimately be explained by science someday. What we know now is a drop in the bucket compared to what there is to discover.
 
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