VIEWS: 4 PAGES: 43 POSTED ON: 11/5/2010
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.