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Tannenisis

Skeptics: what proof do you want?

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Tannenisis

Hello all. I took a trip to California and was away longer than I anticipated. However, I asked a question in another thread that was never answered. What do you want as proof? If someone here is stating that he or she is psychic, what qualifies as proof to you? Do you want an answer to a specific question or a general overview of your life? If you were met with your ideal that would conquer your skepticism, what aspects would this psychic have?

An inquiring mind would like to know.

Tangie

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Korbus
Hello all. I took a trip to California and was away longer than I anticipated. However, I asked a question in another thread that was never answered. What do you want as proof? If someone here is stating that he or she is psychic, what qualifies as proof to you? Do you want an answer to a specific question or a general overview of your life? If you were met with your ideal that would conquer your skepticism, what aspects would this psychic have?

An inquiring mind would like to know.

Tangie

Personally, here is the test I might give:

5 random people in a room with a psychic. The psychic gives them each individual readings, only instead of saying it out loud, he or she would write the reading down on a piece of paper. After each 5 received a reading, the psychic would leave. The 5 pieces of paper would then be sorted out among the participants. Surely, if the readings were accurate to each person's life, the participants would be able to pick their own reading out. This means generalized statements wouldn't work as easy as they do with simple cold readings.

Just one test, I suppose.

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Nucular

For me it would depend entirely on the claim; what does the person claim they can do, and how do they think their ability is best demonstrated?

I think always the best place to start is with what a person claims he or she can do, and whether they can come up with a way to test it.

Jason's suggested protocol above is a good one, assuming adequate controls; it would probably fit a number of similar sorts of claim, including astrology (where that sort of model has been used before).

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The Skeptic Eric Raven
Hello all. I took a trip to California and was away longer than I anticipated. However, I asked a question in another thread that was never answered. What do you want as proof? If someone here is stating that he or she is psychic, what qualifies as proof to you? Do you want an answer to a specific question or a general overview of your life? If you were met with your ideal that would conquer your skepticism, what aspects would this psychic have?

An inquiring mind would like to know.

Tangie

Well, I am still waiting for a reading from you. You will not seem to do it. Hmm Why?

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Username Deleted

There isn't any proof that I would accept from another person - I'd have to find it for myself.

Edited by Username Deleted

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drakonwick
Hello all. I took a trip to California and was away longer than I anticipated. However, I asked a question in another thread that was never answered. What do you want as proof? If someone here is stating that he or she is psychic, what qualifies as proof to you? Do you want an answer to a specific question or a general overview of your life? If you were met with your ideal that would conquer your skepticism, what aspects would this psychic have?

An inquiring mind would like to know.

Tangie

Personally, I don't think you could give me acceptable proof on the internet. It's nothing against you, it's just the proof

that I would want to see I do not think you could give.

Say for instance:

- Could you give me my full name?

- Could you give me my exact date of birth?

- Could you tell me my age?

(Nevermind the above two questions can be found on my profile).

- Could you tell me how tall I am or how much I weigh?

- Could you tell me my favorite color?

Etc. etc. etc.

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DfizzleShizzle
Personally, I don't think you could give me acceptable proof on the internet. It's nothing against you, it's just the proof

that I would want to see I do not think you could give.

Say for instance:

- Could you give me my full name?

- Could you give me my exact date of birth?

- Could you tell me my age?

(Nevermind the above two questions can be found on my profile).

- Could you tell me how tall I am or how much I weigh?

- Could you tell me my favorite color?

Etc. etc. etc.

I am takin a wild guess...I jus am bored, so I feel like doin something...

You're 5'11...

Favorite color is orange

You weigh 187, or 167(?) pounds

So...How wrong was I Moro?

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drakonwick
I am takin a wild guess...I jus am bored, so I feel like doin something...

You're 5'11...

Favorite color is orange

You weigh 187, or 167(?) pounds

So...How wrong was I Moro?

Well, I am 5'9 around 160lbs. and my favorite color is blue well any darker blue colors.

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Nucular
Personally, I don't think you could give me acceptable proof on the internet. It's nothing against you, it's just the proof

that I would want to see I do not think you could give.

I still think that comes down to the claim itself. For instance, I'd think it would be fairly easy for someone who says they can astrally project at will and to wherever they wish, to demonstrate that satisfactorily over the internet. You could sit in your house at a prescribed time with, say, a random number generator or something. It doesn't all have to be so close to cold reading that it's hard to call. With a leaf out of Randi's book, any results should be self-evident and require no judging.

Usually those sorts of investigations, however well-controlled, will only work to convince the person it's happening to (from the perspective of a third party, you could be in cahoots), but it would certainly be an extraordinary event, to get a normally outspoken sceptic to admit that he has no explanation for the result of a transparently-designed investigation. Not conclusive, but highly suggestive, perhaps.

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eight bits

Glad to see you on this one, Nuke.

With a leaf out of Randi's book, any results should be self-evident and require no judging.

Randi can take the position he does because his interest is in stunts. I define stunts as performances that almost everybody with experience of the world would be confident that nobody can really do, and for which there are tricks by which a false appearance of performance can be created.

I don't think stunts are what Tannenisis is asking about.

I also don't know whether what she is asking about includes performances which might be achieved by natural, but as yet undocumented, means. Some people like the word paranormal because it can include that idea, as opposed to, say, supernatural.

I don't think there is any test which would compel the conclusion that a performance really was supernatural. So, if she isn't talking about "just" paranormal, then she has her answer as far as I am concerned.

Your example with the random target for the out-of-body traveler or remote viewer to see is, I think, a stunt. Randi-eque methods are the way to go, and I doubt anybody will go very far.

But the non-stunt, not-necessarily-supernatural paranormal claim?

There is a considerable body of relatively recent enlargements of the scope of documented natural means of information gathering and communication. Low-frequency sound messaging among elephants, canine determination of alpha status by smell, and the efficacy of pheromones in mammals, for instance.

In each case, not only was the test tailored to the claim, but also to a hypothesized mechanism for the claim to be realized naturally. I think establishment of the mechanism is a material part of the confidence about the phenomenon.

What if there were no mechanism established? Elephant herds mysteriously share information and coordinate movement. Dogs "just know" who's an alpha. Some animal pairs have "chemistry" goin' on between them. Yeah, right. Sounds like three UM threads.

Long post, to reach a short conclusion. Scepticism about performance will persist so long as there is any unexplained mystery. The achievement of the natural explanation and the end of scepticism coincide. Sorry, Tangie.

Edited by eight bits

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Fluffybunny

It is actually fairly simple for me. A repeatable test done in a controlled setting with the terms agreed to ahead of time where appropriate scientific minds can view the event happening. I dont care if it is a test in telekinesis, ESP, umbrellakinsis(my new favorite-which has edged out cheesokinesis),whatever, just as long as it is done in a fashion that can be tested and confirmed by people who know what they are doing.

Youtube videos done in a dark bedroom showing a "psiwheel" turning just dont cut it...even if the person is being truly honest in their attempt there are too many ways that drafts and thermals can move a pinwheel.

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Nucular
Glad to see you on this one, Nuke.

You too eight bits :)

Randi can take the position he does because his interest is in stunts. I define stunts as performances that almost everybody with experience of the world would be confident that nobody can really do, and for which there are tricks by which a false appearance of performance can be created.

I don't think stunts are what Tannenisis is asking about.

Hmmm. Well, I'd be tempted to answer that - since she hasn't stated otherwise - Tangie is likely asking about the sorts of claims which are seen hereabouts, many of which I think would come under that definition of 'stunts'. We've got various claimed APers, an increasingly (and unnecessarily) diverse psi taxonomy of various '-kineses' and '-pathies', people making claims which run contrary to what is known about the way the world works; I think many, or most, of these may qualify as 'stunts'.

I'm also assuming - I think, re-reading Tangie's post, possibly wrongly - that she meant proof over the internet; the sort of thing that springs up from time to time where one of the resident sceptics posts a challenge of some kind, perhaps, and quite quickly the topic becomes quite muddy and confused, with nobody really very sure at what point someone may be convinced of something, or even whether 'being convinced' was ever on the cards at all. Indeed, if someone's valiantly trying to demonstrate a paranormal ability of some kind over the internet, it's really only fair to state at the outset that blurry YouTube vids are not the way to go. But if we go with someone's own claim, there's no a priori reason that the internet can't be used to convincingly demonstrate some abilities, provided a self-evident result is mutually agreed upon.

So these are the things I'm bearing in mind when I say that self-evident results may be the way to go in such situations: whilst it's true that Randi's rules are the comfortable result of his pursuing a particular kind of 'psychic', that particular one does lend itself quite well, I think, to other situations. I should also say that by 'self-evident', I'm talking about 'obvious to all observers that an agreed-upon criterion was reached', as opposed to "No, you didn't give me enough details about my Gran's house, you lose".

I also don't know whether what she is asking about includes performances which might be achieved by natural, but as yet undocumented, means. Some people like the word paranormal because it can include that idea, as opposed to, say, supernatural.

I don't think there is any test which would compel the conclusion that a performance really was supernatural. So, if she isn't talking about "just" paranormal, then she has her answer as far as I am concerned.

Your example with the random target for the out-of-body traveler or remote viewer to see is, I think, a stunt. Randi-eque methods are the way to go, and I doubt anybody will go very far.

But the non-stunt, not-necessarily-supernatural paranormal claim?

There is a considerable body of relatively recent enlargements of the scope of documented natural means of information gathering and communication. Low-frequency sound messaging among elephants, canine determination of alpha status by smell, and the efficacy of pheromones in mammals, for instance.

In each case, not only was the test tailored to the claim, but also to a hypothesized mechanism for the claim to be realized naturally. I think establishment of the mechanism is a material part of the confidence about the phenomenon.

What if there were no mechanism established? Elephant herds mysteriously share information and coordinate movement. Dogs "just know" who's an alpha. Some animal pairs have "chemistry" goin' on between them. Yeah, right. Sounds like three UM threads.

Long post, to reach a short conclusion. Scepticism about performance will persist so long as there is any unexplained mystery. The achievement of the natural explanation and the end of scepticism coincide. Sorry, Tangie.

Again: hmmm.

Some, but not all of your point may be answered if we step back and ask: as sceptics (if so we are), what are we sceptical of?

Notwithstanding the fact that many claims come with built-in mechanisms attached (to their detriment, every time - that is, those cases where the 'claim' is more about mechanism than ability, such as "it's a proven fact that brainwaves can travel across the world to be picked up on, I'm just not very good at it yet"), it's usually the ability itself which comes under doubt. There are always two ways in - I've spent a lot of time elsewhere and irl debating homeopathy, for instance, and I've repeated like a mantra that, although the lack of any known mechanism for it to work is one of the main reasons for my being sceptical of its efficacy, it will only take convincing demonstration of that efficacy to cause me to rethink. There's no known way for anything diluted past ~18C to have a detectable affect on a human; but if such an effect is convincingly and repeatedly shown, I'll happily accept that, and then the search for a mechanism can begin in earnest.

I do, perhaps naively, believe that it at least should be the same with other non-stunt, not-necessarily-supernatural paranormal (NSNNSP) claims - the debate about mechanism should be a separate one to whether the thing is happening or not. You are right that some things may be extremely difficult to demonstrate without a known mechanism: the elephant communication example is perhaps one of these cases, in that as far as I know, the research began not with an effect to explain, but with the transfer of audio technology from whales to elephants in an exploratory fashion (which paid off nicely). But there are other examples of mysteries which have been demonstrated satisfactorily to occur, but do not have a fully-understood mechanism behind them as yet. Some psychological therapies, for instance, seem to work quite well in specific circumstances, and nobody can agree quite what the 'active ingredients' are; or, say, the Pioneer 10/11 anomaly, which is a highly unexpected yet undisputed observation, for which a mechanism is being keenly sought. Similarly observations which require some kind of as-yet unidentified dark matter or dark energy; and the enduring popularity of Tom Cruise. All observed effects as yet without an identified mechanism.

The NSNNSP class of claim isn't too far removed from these cases: if we're shown an effect, then perhaps we can worry about the mechanism.

In any case, most people making a NSNNSP claim are doing so because they have an effect they believe needs explaining, and it is this effect which should be demonstrable, or else admittedly unfalsifiable. So all of this is me taking even longer than you did to reach a conclusion, which is that scepticism does, or should, end when an effect is reliably shown to occur, but that a whole new scepticism can then legitimately arise over whether, say, elephants are communicating via infrasound or 'pure thought energy', or something.

Personally, to me it's the effect which is the bottom line. If someone's moving an object just by thinking about it under controlled conditions, of course I'd love to know how, and I'll bet my cat on the fact that it's got nothing to do with chakras, ley lines or orgone energy - but it's the moving object which is the nuts-and-bolts of the issue, and everything else must come later. Scepticism ending with a self-evident effect!

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DfizzleShizzle
Well, I am 5'9 around 160lbs. and my favorite color is blue well any darker blue colors.

Omg!

So close with the height...

I got 5'11 first, but thought bout 5'8-5'7...But I went with my first guess xD...

And I was waaaaay off with the colors...

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000000000000000

I just want to see a video of your powers. Anything out of the ordinary. no psi wheels or anything easily seen as a fake.

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Yugure
I just want to see a video of your powers. Anything out of the ordinary. no psi wheels or anything easily seen as a fake.

many people don't have cameras. u_u

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Sporkling

Skeptics don't want proof. They just want us to be wrong.

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eight bits

Hello, again, Nuke.

Maybe you and I were writing about different steps along the inferential path. I took to heart Tannenisis'

If you were met with your ideal that would conquer your skepticism,

and so wrote about establishment of mechanism as a (possibly) necessary element of resolution.

Obviously, someone might encounter events which could, despite the lack of an apparent and plausible mechanism, move a doubter to revisit what had formerly been a matter of practical certainty. The ensuing review might well launch the search for a candidate mechanism in parallel with searches for further evidence.

The no longer secure belief would then be in play, but that is not the same as being extinguished.

If a well designed and executed study showed that distilled water cured pancreatic cancer, then I am sure you would think some more about your views on homeopathy. But I know you too well to believe that that study, in itself, would stop you from thinking "No, that can't be right."

Edited by eight bits

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Nucular
Hello, again, Nuke.

Maybe you and I were writing about different steps along the inferential path. I took to heart Tannenisis'

If you were met with your ideal that would conquer your skepticism,

and so wrote about establishment of mechanism as a (possibly) necessary element of resolution.

Obviously, someone might encounter events which could, despite the lack of an apparent and plausible mechanism, move a doubter to revisit what had formerly been a matter of practical certainty. The ensuing review might well launch the search for a candidate mechanism in parallel with searches for further evidence.

The no longer secure belief would then be in play, but that is not the same as being extinguished.

Yes, you're very probably right there. I do think we were writing about two slightly different things; I wasn't responding particularly to Tangie's notion of scepticism being 'conquered' or extinguished in the same sense you were. Mechanism is absolutely a necessary element of resolution, and it's an important point that none of the examples I gave of established effects could in any way be considered 'resolved'.

If a well designed and executed study showed that distilled water cured pancreatic cancer, then I am sure you would think some more about your views on homeopathy. But I know you too well to believe that that study, in itself, would stop you from thinking "No, that can't be right."

:) Yes you do. However, I hope that if - as I said before - it was convincingly and repeatedly shown to be so, I would be more likely to move to the stage where a mechanism now seems to be required: the legitimate addition of the too-often-used "how" prefix to the "does it work?" question.

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Korbus
Skeptics don't want proof. They just want us to be wrong.

I can see where you're coming from, but believe me...not all skeptics are just closed minded fools.

For instance, I consider myself skeptical, but I am open minded enough to be actively looking for a psychic reading. I have posted a thread on this very board asking any psychics to PM me. Unfortunately, I haven't had anything that impressed me thus far, but everyone of my conversations with these people have been lovely and I remain in contact with them.

Do you have any special abilities, Sporkling? If so, I would be very honored if you would send me a PM so that I can show you how friendly and open minded some skeptics can be.

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drakonwick
I can see where you're coming from, but believe me...not all skeptics are just closed minded fools.

For instance, I consider myself skeptical, but I am open minded enough to be actively looking for a psychic reading. I have posted a thread on this very board asking any psychics to PM me. Unfortunately, I haven't had anything that impressed me thus far, but everyone of my conversations with these people have been lovely and I remain in contact with them.

Do you have any special abilities, Sporkling? If so, I would be very honored if you would send me a PM so that I can show you how friendly and open minded some skeptics can be.

I suppose it's kind of hard to have a rational conversation, when a person only thinks from one point of view.

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Korbus
I suppose it's kind of hard to have a rational conversation, when a person only thinks from one point of view.

This is true. But if a person only thinks from one point of view, they're not really skeptics. They're just closed minded.

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drakonwick
This is true. But if a person only thinks from one point of view, they're not really skeptics. They're just closed minded.

That closed minded notch works on both ends, for believers as well as skeptics alike.

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InHuman
Skeptics don't want proof. They just want us to be wrong.

Not true, I actually believe in the possibility that SOME people have or might have had powers...

It just that you and the other kids havn't done ANYTHING to prove you are among that true group of individuals.

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3rd rock resident alien

US Gas price 5 dollars by December 2008.

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eight bits
For instance, I consider myself skeptical, but I am open minded enough to be actively looking for a psychic reading. I have posted a thread on this very board asking any psychics to PM me. Unfortunately, I haven't had anything that impressed me thus far

So, Jason, going back to Tannenisis' original question, what are you looking for in a reading that you have not found so far in what you have been offered?

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