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Week15Science_and_Pseudoscience

VIEWS: 4 PAGES: 43

									I have access to everyone‟s birth date, and
   we have prepared a personalized
   horoscope for every person in the class.

Please take the one with your name on it.

DO NOT OPEN UNTIL INSTRUCTED TO!
Science and the Paranormal
   Douglas Duncan and Nahum Arav
    What is the scientific* evidence for
       paranormal phenomena?
•   Astrology           •   Crop circles
•   Psychokinesis       •   Tarot reading
•   ESP                 •   Pyramidology
•   Clairvoyance        •   Palmistry
•   Crystals            •   Big Foot
•   Numerology          •   Alien abductions
•   ET visits           •   Divination
•   Channeling
                        Things on the fringe of
*testable; repeatable     science…
Lots of
TV, movies,
about
ghosts,
UFOs…


As with my own
experience
explaining
ghosts, popular
media rarely
publish when
paranormal
claims are
false.
• If any of these phenomena has factual
  validity it will have a profound impact on the
  way we understand the world. Remember
  that only 4 forces have ever been
  discovered (maybe 5 with dark energy).

  Many paranormal claims demand new ones

 Extraordinary claims demand
 Extraordinary proof.
          Paranormal belief
• Is widespread – many people want to
  believe

• Anthropologists have yet to isolate a single
  human society without a well established
  system of Paranormal belief.

• People dislike being told, “We don‟t know.”
Anthropologists have yet to isolate a single human
society without a well established system of
Paranormal belief.

People dislike being told, “We don‟t know.”

Since the human mind – conscious and
subconscious – is so powerful, we need to be very
careful in how we test these questions.

Remember the gorilla!
 We have a powerful and precious
    way of not getting fooled:

            Scientific progress
• The cumulative growth of a system of
  knowledge over time in which useful
  discoveries are retained and non useful
  features are abandoned, based on
  the rejection or confirmation of repeatable,
  testable knowledge.
       What is the alternative?
• Do we want to test our paranormal beliefs?

• How would we guard ourselves from
  self-deception, blatant fraud, being led
  astray by dogmatic people, wasting our
  time and money on useless things?

• “Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself.”
  Richard Feynman
         Let‟s test astrology
We have prepared a personalized
 horoscope for every person in the class.

You may open yours now.
  How well does your astrological
 description match your life situation
               NOW?
1.   Excellent
2.   Very good
3.   Good
4.   Fair
5.   Poor – it doesn‟t apply to me at all
 Trade your horoscope with someone sitting
  near you. How well does the astrological
  description match your life situation now?

1.   Excellent
2.   Very good
3.   Good
4.   Fair
5.   Poor – it doesn‟t apply to me at all
  Everyone was given the same horoscope!

The first half of the month focus on work. Your Tenth House
  is brimming with planetary activity that can‟t be ignored.
  Peak days for this to manifest itself are the 1st and from
  the 7th through the 17th, so the worst will be behind you
  before long. The next week abounds with romantic
  energy for you. Be honest about demands on your time,
  both to yourself and others. With all the demands placed
  upon it now, pay particular attention to your body. To help
  with that disjointed feeling, try meditation or a good
  physical workout to help realign your energies. Taking an
  hour or two to commune with that special someone will
  help immensely too!

most rated it very good, before knowing everyone got the same reading
An alternative is to watch a professional do
              the same thing!


       Good horoscope readings?
        Astrological Time Twins
A study involving 2,101 persons born in London during
3–9 March 1958. They were born on average 4.8 minutes
apart, so they were precisely those for which astrologers
had predicted „really exceptional similarities of life and
temperament‟.

Measurements at ages 11, 16 and 23 provided
scores for IQ, reading and arithmetic;
teacher and parent ratings of behavior such as anxiety,
aggressiveness and sociability self-ratings of ability such as
art, music and sports; and various others such as
occupation, accident proneness and marital status;
     No correlation was found!
The effect size due to astrology was 0.00 ± 0.03.
• It disconfirms the idea of sun signs (2,101
  Pisceans evidently had few similarities!)

• The above result is consistent with empirical
  studies of signs, aspects and so on, which
  consistently failed to find effects commensurate
  with astrological claims (Eysenck and Nias,
  1982; Culver and Ianna, 1984; Dean, Mather
  and Kelly, 1996; Martens and Trachet, 1998;
  Dean et al., 2002).
   The Australian astrology
experiment shows how astrology
            “works”


   The results from a genuine horoscope
   and from a placebo horoscope are the
   same!
   (both favorable according to the
   clients).
       Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann.
            The case of cold fusion
Not
published
in peer-
reviewed
journals.


Could not
be
replicated
by other
scientists…
             UFOs




Play video
Figure 2. A Landstat image of the three oil platforms in the Campec
the area off the coast of Mexico (Akal-C with 4 flares, Akal-J with 4
   flares and Nohoch-A with 2 flares). The white lines indicate the
   narrow camera field during the video segment.
(A) Flares as they would appear at sea level.
(B) Additional flares as they would appear if located on 100 foot towers.
(C) Choosing the best match from the above two options
(D) A frame from the video image taken at 17:06:53 for comparison
Doug Duncan‟s genuine UFO (unidentified floating object)
 The role of the commercial media
• Little interest in serious (boring) study
  of paranormal phenomena.
• Fanatic adherents and “unsolved
  mysteries” are much better for ratings.
The integrity fig leaf: “you decide”
(but they provide only one-sided evidence)

You do better with public TV and NPR.
Is there a scientific* debate whether the
   Big Bang happened?
   No.        (less than 0.001)

   Is there a scientific debate how the Big Bang
       happened?

   Yes, all the time.

   *based on data, makes testable predictions
Is there a scientific* debate whether
   evolution happened?
   No.        (less than 0.001)

   Is there a scientific debate how evolution
       happens?

   Yes, all the time.

   *based on data, makes testable predictions
 Is it more difficult for people to accept
    biological evolution than astronomical
    evolution?


  A. Yes                     Why?

  B. No


Two comments: 1. Evolution is not random – but has random elements.
2. No one can PROVE to you the world wasn‟t created yesterday… but that is
not a scientific theory. It‟s not testable.
Is it dangerous when many people do not
   accept biological evolution, or do accept
   pseudoscience?


A. Yes
B. No, their beliefs don‟t hurt anyone else
When evolution and the microbial basis of
  disease were discovered in the 1800s,
  what was life expectancy*?

A.   30 years
B.   40 years
C.   50 years
D.   60 years
E.   70 years

*by Darwin and Wallace, and by Pasteur.
When evolution and the microbial basis of
  disease were discovered in the 1800s,
  what was life expectancy*?

A.   30 years
B.   40 years
C.   50 years
D.   60 years
E.   70 years

*by Darwin and Wallace, and by Pasteur.
Some people still believe
that crop circles are not
made by humans….
   Predictions and Prophecies

  Where are the predictions for 9/11
  or for the horrible Asian tsunami?

Remember that science is based on pre-diction,
 not post-facto explanation.

[Beware of people who claim prediction after
  something happens!]
So what paranormal phenomena have proven true when
tested scientifically?
The Data so far…
Ex-magician James Randi has become a foremost
  spokesperson on behalf of critical thinking,
  reason and a willingness to ask questions --
  especially when claims are made concerning the
  paranormal or spiritual. He offers $1M for proof!
Standing against the establishment
 does not guarantee correctness!
They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at
 Galileo and they laugh at my claims.

"But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown".
  (From Carl Sagan, Broca's Brain)
For further reading on metaphysics, science
               and psychology:




Michael Shermer    Victor Stenger       Demon Haunted      John Shumaker

I have some fun handouts about these topics for anyone who wants to take
    them home (and get a book for the holidays?)
I hope this class has provided you with an
   interesting perspective on the universe we
   live in….

And I‟d like to end with my favorite quote.
 Carl Sagan author of “A Pale Blue
 Dot;” “The Demon-Haunted
 World”, “Contact”, “Cosmos…”



We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you
  look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On
  it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever
  lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and
  sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and
  economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and
  coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king
  and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child,
  every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every
  teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar,
  every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of
  our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a
  sunbeam.
The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood
   spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they
   could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the
   endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely
   distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their
   misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their
   hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we
   have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of
   pale light.

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -
  - in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to
  save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It's been said that astronomy is a
  humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there
  is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this
  distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal
  more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and
  cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.

								
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