Monday, April 2, 2018

How Evidence for ESP Undermines the “Minds Come From Brains” Dogma

The question of whether or not humans have paranormal abilities is extremely relevant to the issue of whether our minds come purely from our brains. For example, there is no way that extrasensory perception (ESP) or telepathy could be occurring if our minds are purely coming from our brains. A human has no antenna that would allow him to pick up a thought transmitted from another brain, nor does the brain have any antenna or transmission system that might cause a thought to travel like a radio signal from a brain to a brain. If humans do not have any ESP or telepathic ability, this does nothing to show that the “minds come from brains” idea is correct. But if some humans do have such an ability, it is a very strong reason for thinking that minds do not come from brains, and that the human mind must involve some psychic or spiritual reality compatible with telepathy or ESP.

Recognizing that the idea of ESP is incompatible with the dogma that minds come from brains, many a scientist has assured us that there is no good evidence for something like ESP. Such claims are very untruthful. Convincing evidence for ESP has been gathered by careful and conscientious researchers for more than a hundred years. The best evidence for ESP meets all of the requirements of solid experimental science. The truth is that ESP is a firmly established fact, but a fact that is unreasonably denied by mainstream authorities.

Let us consider the experiment results produced at Duke University, in experiments conducted by Joseph Rhine testing with the subject Hubert Pearce. The experiments are described in great detail at the link here.

The experimental protocol is described below by Rhine, and it is not a protocol in which he can imagine any opportunity for cheating over a long series of trials. The Zener cards he refers to are cards that have one one of five symbols on one side.

The working conditions were these: observer and subject sat opposite each other at a table, on which lay about a dozen packs of the Zener Cards and a record book. One of the packs would be handed to Pearce and he be allowed to shuffle it. (He felt it gave more real "contact".) Then it was laid down and was cut by the observer. Following this Pearce would, as a rule, pick up the pack, lift off the top card, keeping both the pack and the removed card face down, and, after calling it, he would lay the card on the table, still face down. The observer would record the call. Either after 5 calls or after 25 calls,—and we used both conditions generally about equally—the called cards would be turned over and checked off against the calls recorded in the book. The observer saw each card and checked each one personally though the subject was asked to help in the checking by laying off the cards as checked. There is no legerdemain by which an alert observer can be repeatedly deceived at this.

The table below (from the link here) summarizes the results of Rhine's experiments with Pearce. These are tests in which the expected success rate is 5 out of 25, or 1 in 5. There is no way to work in some hypothesis of cheating with the results reported here. The table shows that Pearce got the same super-dramatic results even in a series of 650 trials when he was looking away from the cards, and also in a series of 300 trials in which there was a screen separating the cards and Pearce.

We can use the very handy binomial probability calculator at the site site to calculate the likelihood of these results. The calculator gives a probability of simply 0 when we type in the overall results, so let's use a subset to try to get some non-zero result. Let's use only rows 2 and 6, involving either Pearce looking away from the cards or a screen between Pearce and the cards, either one of which should have ruled out any possibility of cheating. When I type these results in the binomial probability calculator, I get a result with a chance probability of 5 chances in 100 trillion, which we can round to be 1 chance in 10 trillion. This is a result we should never expect to get by pure chance even if we tested with every single person in the human race.

What we have in the case of Pearce and Rhine is a very well-documented case of experimental results far, far in excess of what chance can account for, what is basically “smoking gun” evidence of ESP.

There were two other tests involving Pearce that provided dramatic evidence of ESP. One was the Pearce-Pratt series of tests, conducted by Rhine's assistant J. Gaither Pratt. In this test, Pratt dealt out one card a minute from a shuffled deck. Pearce (located in a building far away) recorded his guesses as to the cards, at the same time. 1850 cards were dealt, and the expected chance success rate was about 370 cards. Instead, Pearce got 558 correct guesses. The chance probability of such a result was less than 1 in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. In another informal test conducted in front of Rhine, Pearce correctly guessed 25 cards in a row. The chance of that? One in three hundred quadrillion.

Under laboratory university conditions, Joseph Rhine got extremely convincing experimental evidence for ESP with many other subjects other than Pearce, although Pearce was the one who did best in Rhine's tests. As astonishing as Pearce's results were, he was not the most successful test subject in laboratory tests for ESP. One subject did even better, in an
ESP test conducted by Bernard. F. Riess in 1937, a professor at Hunter College in New York. The test was the most successful ESP test ever recorded. The test is described at the link here, which can be found by doing a Google search for “ESP and Personality Patterns” or “Riess ESP Test.”
Riess was very skeptical about ESP, but when one of his students said that a friend claimed to have ESP, Riess began an ESP test with a 26-year-old woman who was never identified by name. At 9:00 PM on each evening the test was run, the woman stayed in a room a quarter of a mile away, in a room facing away from the home of Riess. Riess at that time would be in a room facing away from the room in which the woman was in. Before 9:00 PM Riess would shuffle a deck of ESP cards, and lay out one card each minute, recording the value of each card. At the same time the woman would make one guess each minute as to the value of the card.

Each such test involved two series of 25 cards, so a total of 50 cards were laid out in each session. Thirty-seven such sessions were held, meaning the woman guessed a total of 1850 cards. The woman returned her response sheets to Riess, and was never told the degree of success she obtained.

The ESP cards used have 5 possible values. The expected chance result per session was only 5 correct guesses. But the woman guessed an average of 18.24 cards correctly per 25 cards, achieving a phenomenal 73% accuracy rate (instead of the expected accuracy rate of 20%).

The chance of getting such a result accidentally is far less than 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000 (this link estimates the probability of getting these results by chance as 1 in 10 to the 700th power, which is smaller than the chance of you correctly guessing all of the social security numbers of a set of 70 strangers). After the test the woman moved to the midwestern US, and refused to participate in further tests. Riess had to be prodded to publish the results, which were published in the Journal of Parapsychology in 1937 (1, 270-273).

Attempts by skeptics to debunk this test have been futile. Riess pointed out that while the tests were done, his house was continually occupied by a housekeeper, meaning the woman being tested could not have strolled into the house, and altered Riess' response sheets to match her responses. Riess also pointed out his response sheets were written in his own handwriting, and showed no signs of being altered. So even the ridiculously far-fetched idea of some conspiracy between the woman and the housekeeper is not tenable.

The term “smoking gun evidence” is used to describe a situation like you might have if you had a photo of someone pointing a smoking gun at a dead body. But what would be better evidence? Perhaps a video actually showing someone firing a gun into the body of someone. The Riess experiment must be described as that type of evidence, something better than “smoking gun” evidence.

The experiments I have discussed thus far were done before 1950, but there is a wealth of more recent experimental evidence establishing the reality of ESP. A ganzfeld experiment is one in which a test for extra-sensory perception is combined with sensory deprivation achieved through methods such as cutting a ping-pong ball in half and taping it over someone's eyes, and having someone wear an earphone transmitting white noise. In these ESP experiments, the expected chance hit rate (matching of a user's selection and a random target) is 25%. But as wikipedia reports here, “In 2010, Lance Storm, Patrizio Tressoldi, and Lorenzo Di Risio analyzed 29 ganzfeld studies from 1997 to 2008. Of the 1,498 trials, 483 produced hits, corresponding to a hit rate of 32.2%.” That success rate of 32.2% is hugely above the expected by-chance success rate of 25%. The review article can be found here. The probability of such a hit rate occurring by chance is incredibly low. The Law of Large Numbers dictates that whenever you do a huge number of trials, there is only a very low chance of exceeding the result expected by chance.

We can plug the results above into the binomial probability calculator at the Stat Trek web site. When you plug into numbers above into Stat Trek's binomial probability calculator, we get a probability of less than 1 in a million.

IN 2014 the biologist Rupert Sheldrake published a paper describing experiments involving ESP and telephone, E-mails, and text messages. It is supposedly not uncommon for people to get a phone call from a distant acquaintance, and to say something like, “Funny, I was just thinking of you.” Sheldrake did experiments to try and verify whether there is anything more than just coincidence behind such thoughts. The paper can be found here.

Sheldrake and Pam Smart tried a phone call test in which participants get a call from one of four different people, and must guess beforehand who the person is. Testing 63 subjects in a total of 570 trials, the average success rate was 40%, hugely above the expected 25% success rate. This 40% success rate had a probability of less than 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000. Four of the subjects who did best were then retested under rigorous videotaped conditions. In 271 trials, the average hit rate was 45%, even more dramatically above the expected success rate of 25%., with a probability of less than 1 in 1,000,000,000,000.

Sheldrake and Pam Smart also did email experiments in which participants get an e-mail from one of four different people, and must guess beforehand who the person is. Testing 50 subjects in a total of 552 trials, the average success rate was 43%, hugely above the expected 25% success rate. This 43% success rate had a probability of less than 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000. Five of the subjects who did best were then retested under filmed conditions. The average hit rate was 47%, even more dramatically above the expected success rate of 25%. These tests provide overwhelming evidence for the reality of ESP.

A spectacular ESP test result was reported in 2014
at the recent annual convention of the Parapsychological Association, in a paper entitled “Evidence for Telepathic Communication in a Nonverbal Autistic Child” written by Diane Hennacy Powell, MD. You can read the abstract here by scrolling down to page 25. Powell did experiments with an autistic girl named Hayley who can supposedly engage in telepathy with her therapists. The results reported below by Powell seem to be some of the most spectacular results ever reported in an ESP experiment:

Data from the first session with Therapist A includes 100% accuracy on three out of twenty image descriptions containing up to nine letters each, 60 to 100% accuracy on all three of the five-letter nonsense words, and 100% accuracy on two random numbers: one eight digits and the other nine. Data from the second session with Therapist A includes 100% accuracy on six out of twelve equations with 15 to 19 digits each, 100% accuracy on seven out of 20 image descriptions containing up to six letters, and between 81 to 100% accuracy on sentences of between 18 and 35 letters. Data from the session with Therapist B showed 100% accuracy with five out of twenty random numbers up to six digits in length, and 100% accuracy with five out of twelve image descriptions containing up to six letters. There was no evidence of cueing or fraud.

Besides abundant experimental evidence for extra-sensory perception, there is also abundant anecdotal evidence, consisting simply of the experiences of ordinary people. The researcher Louisa Rhine collected some 14,000 cases of anecdotal evidence for ESP.

A strong piece of anecdotal evidence for ESP is the fact that telepathy is very commonly reported in accounts of near death experiences. Person having such experiences will often report that they communicated with someone telepathically during such an experience, with a kind of crystal-clear telepathic communication occurring. 

I will give an example of anecdotal evidence for ESP that I can personally testify to. Years ago I was at the Queens Zoo in New York City with my two daughters when they were teenagers. We were looking at a feline animal called a puma, which we could see distantly, far behind a plastic barrier. Suddenly (oddly enough) I had a recollection of a zoo visit I had about eight or ten years previously, when I saw a gorilla just behind a plastic barrier, at the zoo at Busch Gardens in Florida. About three seconds later (before I said anything), my younger daughter said, “Do you remember that gorilla we saw close-up in Busch Gardens?” I was flabbergasted. It was as if there was telepathy going on. The incident seems all the more amazing when you consider that teenagers live very much in the present or the near future, and virtually never talk about things that happened 8 years ago. There was nothing in our field of view that might have caused both of us to have that recollection at the same time. On that zoo visit we hadn't seen a gorilla, nor had we seen any animal near a plastic barrier.

When we moved to the next zoo exhibit, just for laughs I asked my older daughter whether perchance she also was thinking of that gorilla we saw about 8 or 10 years ago, before anyone mentioned the gorilla. My jaw dropped when she reported: yes, she also was thinking of that gorilla we saw about eight or ten years ago in Busch Gardens, before anyone had said anything about it. So apparently before anyone said anything, we had three out of three people all recalling the same very distant memory – a memory of seeing a gorilla about eight or ten years ago. How do you explain such a thing without a hypothesis of something like ESP? The odds of such a coincidence seem less than 1 in a billion. 

When I was a young man, I played a guessing game with one of my sisters. We were in a large house with quite a few rooms.  The game worked like this: in each round, one person would think of an object somewhere in the house, and ask the other person to guess it. The other person could only ask questions with a yes or no answer, and as soon as there was a single "no" answer, the round was considered a failure. Objects were picked from random locations all over the house, with my sister and me alternating as the guessers. There were about 10 consecutive rounds in which all of the answers were "yes," with the object being correctly guessed without any "no" answers.  The odds of this happening by chance seem like less than 1 in a trillion. 

Innumerable people all over the world have reported such experiences. But despite massive anecdotal evidence, and despite the absolutely convincing laboratory evidence I have discussed, materialists continue to claim, very inaccurately, that there is no evidence for ESP. They claim that ESP experiments have been debunked. No such thing has actually occurred. They claim that Rhine's experiments haven't been replicated. They have repeatedly been replicated.

See the link here for Dean Radin's page giving links to very many successful experiments in ESP and other psychic abilities,  a page including a very large amount of evidence of successful replication.

What we have in the case of the mainstream's treatment of ESP is simply the construction of a social taboo that has no intellectual justification. The taboo exists purely for ideological reasons. Our materialists know that the evidence for ESP is irreconcilable with claims that minds are purely a product of brains. So our materialists are stonewalling, simply refusing to accept the very large body of convincing evidence that ESP exists. Wearing such horse blinders is conduct unbecoming a scientist.

Despite massive convincing evidence for ESP and other psychic phenomena, science is held back because the dogma-bound interpretations of scientists lag far behind the data they have accumulated and the technology at their disposal. In some cases our data demands a bold new twenty-first century outlook that never appears because the minds of scientists are hampered by the dogmas of earlier decades or the thought customs that became fashionable in the little professor tribes of academia.

progress of science

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