Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Why Bad Science is like Bad Religion

By Rupert Sheldrake.

HT: Steve Hays

84 comments:

BeingItself said...

Rupert Sheldrake is a woo peddling buffoon. What's next? An article from the ghost hunters?

B. Prokop said...

I have personally spoken with a biologist (PhD) on the staff of Johns Hopkins University who told me he has to conceal his belief in intelligent design for fear of adverse consequences.

That said, this is my sole experience of anyone attesting to a professional environment of hostility to non-materialist viewpoints.

The now retired former science editor for the Baltimore Sun (and good friend of mine) was a practicing Jew and deeply religious. In the astronomical community, which I am most familiar with, it is No Big Deal to openly profess religious faith. In fact, the non-theist component of that community is vanishingly small. (Perhaps something to do with the Heavens "declaring the glory"???) I have only met with one gnu astronomer ever, and he was an all-around unpleasant person in many other ways as well.

So I can't speak to a lot of personal experience with closed-minded professional scientists.

Matt DeStefano said...

In fact, the non-theist component of that community is vanishingly small.

Source? Considering that only 7% of the National Academy of Sciences express a belief in a personal god, I find it surprising that any such non-theist component is "vanishingly small" in any discipline.

Of course, hobbyists and amateurs (including those without advanced degrees/unpublished in peer-reviewed literature) are a different story entirely.

As for the OP, I'm not surprised that Rupert Sheldrake is upset with science. Real science and pseudoscience don't get along.

B. Prokop said...

"Source?"

I know these people. I am the source. I meet with them almost daily. just had last night I had an hours long meeting on planning some solar max public events for next year. Tomorrow evening I will be observing the outer planets with several of them. This is a normal week for me.

I don't need no stinking source when I see them all the time. We talk about all sorts of things: politics, religion, sports, the economy... even astronomy.

B. Prokop said...

And I'm not talking just "amateurs/hobbyists". I am speaking of persons who work for the Hubble Space Telescope Institute, The Goddard Space Center, The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory... I could go on, but you get the picture.

Matt DeStefano said...

In fact, the non-theist component of that community is vanishingly small

I know these people. I am the source. I meet with them almost daily.

Your anecdotal evidence of theists in the community is not evidence for a "vanishingly small" community of atheists. When making claims about the statistical make-up of a population, it's a bad idea to think that your experience (however broad it is) is descriptive of the entire population.

When I see that the belief in a personal god among the National Academy of Sciences is at 7%, and then I hear an anecdotal account of "The atheists in [this community] are vanishing", I'm inclined to ask for a source.

steve said...

Matt DeStefano said...

"As for the OP, I'm not surprised that Rupert Sheldrake is upset with science. Real science and pseudoscience don't get along."

Matt,

That will win you a pat on the head from your atheist gurus, but it's not an intelligent response. It's just the kind of remark that people make who want to *feel* smart. Who want to win the approval of their clique.

B. Prokop said...

Matt,

You remind me of the character Mark Studdock in C.S. Lewis's novel That Hideous Strength.

"His education had the curious effect of making things that he read and wrote more real than things that he saw. Statistics about agricultural labourers were the substance; any real ditcher, ploughman, or farmer's boy, was the shadow. ... In his own way, he believed as firmly as any mystic in the superior reality of the things that are not seen."

I'll take my real world encounters with real people over your "statistics" any day.

BeingItself said...

"I'll take my real world encounters with real people over your "statistics" any day."

Yeah Matt! Keep your facts to yourself, you big meanie!

Matt DeStefano said...

That will win you a pat on the head from your atheist gurus, but it's not an intelligent response. It's just the kind of remark that people make who want to *feel* smart. Who want to win the approval of their clique.

You are a great mind-reader, steve - perhaps you should contact Sheldrake and get involved in his research.

I don't care much about winning approval of any clique (atheists? philosophers? graduate students? bloggers? St. Louis Ram fans?). It strains credulity when a person who is notorious for his work with pseudo-science (see his work on telepathy,ESP, etc.) criticizes the current trajectory of science as a discipline.

Karl Grant said...

Hey Matt,

First, the National Academy of Sciences makes up a small portion of the total scientists in the United States or the entire world. The original study that you are quotingreported in the journal Nature in 1997, 40 percent of biologists, physicists and mathematicians said they believed in God and not just a nonspecific transcendental presence but, as the survey put it, a God to whom one may pray "in expectation of receiving an answer." Of course, the way the questions were phrased that kind of leaves a Deistic God out of the picture; which is what the study's authors' intended.

Second, you have repeatedly accepted and championed anecdotal evidence without question many, many times on this blog and others whenever it supports atheism. Everybody here knows that you labeling something as anecdotal evidence and trying to dismiss it on said grounds is merely a hypocritical dismissal tactic on your part.

B. Prokop said...

Beingitself,

It's not a matter of "facts" here. I'm not pulling a Karl Rove and saying all the polls are wrong. But I am most definitely saying that actually knowing people in a group face to face and talking to them for megahours is not without value. The purported 7% figure is a bodiless phantom. The actual people that I know are flesh and blood.

Who knows what is behind that figure? How was the question worded? What was the context? Were there follow-up questions to find out the real feelings of the respondents?

I can recall several employee surveys I took while working for the Defense department, to which on occasion I could find NO answer that corresponded to what I would have liked to say, but wasn't given the option.

I recall a poll taken last year in which the pollster cleverly re-worded a number of questions and got totally opposite answers from the respondents concerning the same issue (health care reform) depending on how the question was worded.

I just did a count on a scrap piece of paper listing all the professional scientists that I know socially (that I can think of off the top of my head). Here are the results:

Theists - 19 (11 of those being Catholic)
Agnostic - 2
Atheist -1
No idea (topic never came up) - 16

Matt DeStefano said...

I'll take my real world encounters with real people over your "statistics" any day.

A truly scientific attitude. This is what we call a "sample bias".

B. Prokop said...

My point is that your belief that 93% of professional scientists are atheists is bunk! Console yourself with the idea if you wish, but it remains a bodiless phantom.

steve said...

Matt DeStefano said...

"You are a great mind-reader, steve - perhaps you should contact Sheldrake and get involved in his research."

By your own admission, you're a youthful apostate. And you mimic the typecast behavior of your kind.

"I don't care much about winning approval of any clique (atheists? philosophers? graduate students? bloggers? St. Louis Ram fans?)."

Your lips say one thing but your behavior says another.

"It strains credulity when a person who is notorious for his work with pseudo-science (see his work on telepathy,ESP, etc.) criticizes the current trajectory of science as a discipline."

See, Matt, that's the problem. You're not an independent thinker. You just say what's expected of you within your social circle.

You're not presenting anything that resembles a counterargument.

You simply reject telepathy and ESP out of hand, as unquestionable "pseudoscience." That's just a knee-jerk faith-response on your part. faith.

For instance, here's a roundtable discussion involving Sheldrake and some secular philosophical/scientific luminaries. Who do you honestly think got the better of that exchange?

http://www.nautis.com/2007/06/how-do-pigeons-home/

steve said...

Here's another example:

http://www.sheldrake.org/D&C/controversies/Dawkins.html

Who do you think got the better of that exchange?

Matt DeStefano said...

First, the National Academy of Sciences makes up a small portion of the total scientists in the United States or the entire world.

They are the leaders of their respective fields, and the most prominent voices in the community. Anyway, this is irrelevant to Prokop's point - he said the atheist community was "vanishingly small", but it seems pretty clear that any poll we look at puts belief in God somewhere near 40% . It's either disingenuous or ignorant to claim that atheism is "vanishing" in this community.

Second, you have repeatedly accepted and championed anecdotal evidence without question many, many times on this blog and others whenever it supports atheism. Everybody here knows that you labeling something as anecdotal evidence and trying to dismiss it on said grounds is merely a hypocritical dismissal tactic on your part.

I have no idea what specific times you are referring to, but if you can give me examples of times when I ignored large scale surveys of the beliefs of a discipline in favor of my own personal experience with a select few... I'm all ears.

steve said...

Matt DeStefano said...

"It strains credulity when a person who is notorious for his work with pseudo-science (see his work on telepathy,ESP, etc.) criticizes the current trajectory of science as a discipline."

Does it? It's not just Sheldrake who's done research in this field. What about Stephen Braude?

http://www.skeptiko.com/parapsychology-researcher-stephen-braude/

Matt DeStefano said...

By your own admission, you're a youthful apostate. And you mimic the typecast behavior of your kind. Your lips say one thing but your behavior says another. See, Matt, that's the problem. You're not an independent thinker. You just say what's expected of you within your social circle.

Sorry, I'm tired of playing Let's-Psychoanalyze-with-Steve. If you have any substantive criticisms of what I've said, I'm interested to hear. I'm not interested in defending myself from vague charges of conformity that you keep lobbing my way, and not interested in correcting your erroneous mind-reading conclusions.

You simply reject telepathy and ESP out of hand, as unquestionable "pseudoscience." That's just a knee-jerk faith-response on your part. faith.

Actually, I spent some time investigating these issues and found the evidence to be inadequate. Specifically, when I found out the United States Government was spending large amounts of money in this research (and then subsequently suspended funding), I spent a lot of time trying to figure out if it was legitimate. A subsequent review of the literature on "remote viewing" (starting with this meta-analysis: http://www.lfr.org/lfr/csl/library/airreport.pdf) made me think otherwise.

Who do you think got the better of that exchange?

http://www.sheldrake.org/D&C/controversies/Dawkins.html


If you can get an official transcript and/or video documentation of this discussion, I'd be interested to give it a shot. But I find it hard to trust that a badly catalogued discussion (over the course of weeks? months?) from memory is completely accurate.

To comment briefly: Sheldrake says that "most people have experienced telepathy". Considering only 50% of the American population believes in ESP, I find it hard to take this claim too seriously. (http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind02/c7/fig07-22.htm)

Karl Grant said...

Matt,

First, Sample Bias? You actually are going that route. Fine, let's play that game. Tell me, what does it say about somebody who brings up statistic, in this case 93% percent of of the NAS doesn't believe in God, while ignoring the fact that A) the NAS makes up a small portion of the scientists in the US (indeed, the study that came up with that statistic also reported that close to half of the scientists across the country believe in God) and B) that the study that produced this statistic was focused on one country, the USA, and does not say anything about the prevalence of religious belief in scientist world wide.

Now why, oh why, does the beliefs of this one group of 2100 scientists in the United States matter more than say the beliefs of the personal of the Royan Institute in Tehran?

They are the leaders of their respective fields, and the most prominent voices in the community.

Correction, they are the leaders of their respective fields within the United States of America. Not the world. Also, does the fact that these people are the most prominent voices in their fields make them automatically right or somehow invalidate the opinions of other scientists? (The answer is, of course, no)

but if you can give me examples of times when I ignored large scale surveys of the beliefs of a discipline in favor of my own personal experience with a select few... I'm all ears.

You're doing it right now. You didn't conduct this survey of the NAS, you didn't sit in on the question and answer sessions, you didn't watch as the scientists filled out the survey forms, you didn't help tally the results. Other people did and they told the publishers what the results were. You are getting this information second-hand and probably third or fourth-hand.

It's a very simple concept Matt, unless you are taking part in the experiment or observing the experiment yourself, you are relying on eye-witness testimony that the results came out as they did. Eye-witness testimony is anecdotal evidence.

steve said...

Matt DeStefano said...

"Actually, I spent some time investigating these issues and found the evidence to be inadequate. Specifically, when I found out the United States Government was spending large amounts of money in this research (and then subsequently suspended funding), I spent a lot of time trying to figure out if it was legitimate. A subsequent review of the literature on 'remote viewing' (starting with this meta-analysis: http://www.lfr.org/lfr/csl/library/airreport.pdf) made me think otherwise."

Well, to judge by your own description, it looks suspiciously like you "spent a lot of time" skimming a Wikipedia article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remote_viewing

That aside, what makes you think remote viewing is interchangeable with other reported paranormal phenomena?

steve said...

Matt DeStefano said...

"To comment briefly: Sheldrake says that 'most people have experienced telepathy'. Considering only 50% of the American population believes in ESP, I find it hard to take this claim too seriously. (http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind02/c7/fig07-22.htm)"

Looks suspiciously like you copy/pasted that from a James Randi forum:

Skepticism: How successful is it? [Archive] - JREF Forum
forums.randi.org › ... › General Skepticism and The Paranormal
14 posts - 12 authors - Dec 23, 2011
nsf.gov/statistics/seind00/c8/c8s5.htm (http://nsf.gov/statistics/seind00/c8/c8s5.htm) nsf.gov/statistics/seind02/c7/fig07-22.htm ...

Is that your idea of research, Matt?

BTW, notice how the NSF relies on CSICOP, Paul Kurtz's baby. That's hardly impartial research:

Indicators 2000 - Chapter 8: Science and Technology: Public ...
... Bragg, M. 1998. "Opportunity Knocks!" Science (August 21). The Committee
for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP). ...
www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind00/access/c8/c8r.htm - 19k
[ More results from www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind00/access ]

Figure 7-22: Belief in paranormal phenomena

www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind02/c7/fig07-22.htm - 1k

Chapter 7: Science and Technology: Public Attitudes and ...
... "A Study of the Measurement and the Correlates of Paranormal Belief." Journal
of the American Society for Psychical Research 79: 301–26. ...
www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind02/c7/c7b.htm - 38k
[ More results from www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind02/c7 ]

Figure 7-9: Belief in paranormal phenomena: 1990 and 2001

www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind04/c7/fig07-09.htm - 2k

Chapter 7: Science and Technology: Public Attitudes and ...
... Presentation to National Science Foundation, 11 December, Arlington, VA.
Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. ...
www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind04/c7/c7r.htm - 37k
[ More results from www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind04/c7 ]

Indicators 2000 - Appendix A: Contributors and Reviewers
... Nirmala Kannankutti, National Science Foundation Barry Karr, Committee
for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal Rebecca Kary ...
www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind00/contrib.htm - 8k

nsf.gov - Science and Engineering Indicators 2006 - Figure 7 ...

www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind06/c7/fig07-08.htm - 2k - 2006-02-23

S&E Indicators 2006 - Chapter 4: Research and Development ...
... Accessed 7 July 2005. Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims
of the Paranormal. 2003. ... Three in four Americans believe in paranormal. ...
www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind06/c7/c7r.htm - 33k - 2006-02-23
[ More results from www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind06/c7 ]

[PDF] Indicators 2000 - Volume 1
... Nirmala Kannankutti, National Science Foundation Barry Karr, Committee
for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal Rebecca Kary ...
www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind00/pdf/contrib.pdf - 2005-04-05

Matt DeStefano said...

Well, to judge by your own description, it looks suspiciously like you "spent a lot of time" skimming a Wikipedia article:

I actually researched it in part of providing commentary on a manuscript ('The Superhuman Mind', by Berit Brogaard and Kristian Marlow) for a seminar I am taking this semester.

But you must know me better than I know myself!

That aside, what makes you think remote viewing is interchangeable with other reported paranormal phenomena?

I never argued that it was. It was just the example I used to show that I hadn't dismissed it out of hand.

Matt DeStefano said...

Looks suspiciously like you copy/pasted that from a James Randi forum:

I googled "percentage of Americans that belief in paranormal" and found the graphic. Most studies done on the subject find similar numbers, so if you have a grudge against the NSF, here are a few more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paranormal#Belief_polls

steve said...

Matt DeStefano said...

On the one hand, Matt doubts the reliability of Sheldrake's recollection:

"If you can get an official transcript and/or video documentation of this discussion, I'd be interested to give it a shot. But I find it hard to trust that a badly catalogued discussion (over the course of weeks? months?) from memory is completely accurate."

But in the next breath he takes Sheldrake's memory for granted:

"To comment briefly: Sheldrake says that 'most people have experienced telepathy.'"

steve said...

Matt DeStefano said...

"I googled 'percentage of Americans that belief in paranormal" and found the graphic.'"

That's funny coming from someone who just accused another commenter of sample bias.

Sheldrake didn't say "most Americans," but "most people," right?

"Most studies done on the subject find similar numbers, so if you have a grudge against the NSF, here are a few more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paranormal#Belief_polls"

So Wikipedia is your standard of research. That explains a lot.

And in the meantime, you're using that to dodge his experimental evidence.

"I actually researched it in part of providing commentary on a manuscript ('The Superhuman Mind', by Berit Brogaard and Kristian Marlow) for a seminar I am taking this semester. But you must know me better than I know myself!"

Actually, I took my lead from you. The wording of your description, along with the source you gave, parallels the Wikipedia entry on 'Remote viewing,' which just so happens to be the example you were discussing.

You need to do a better job of covering your tracks.

"I never argued that it was. It was just the example I used to show that I hadn't dismissed it out of hand."

An example which bears an uncanny resemblance to the Wikipedia entry.

steve said...

steve said...

"I actually researched it in part of providing commentary on a manuscript ('The Superhuman Mind', by Berit Brogaard and Kristian Marlow) for a seminar I am taking this semester."

And do you consider their research conclusions to be pseudoscience?

B. Prokop said...

Now that this exchange has gone on for a bit, I like to draw attention to something many may have overlooked.

Note how my very first posting was primarily concerned with the idea that I (personally) saw little evidence of an antifaith bias in the scientific community. Now one would think that an atheist reader of such would respond, "Well, Bob's siding with us on this one."

But No-o-o-o... Matt's knee jerk response was to jump all over a side comment. In a lame attempt to play "gotcha", he infantily demands "Source?" and proceeds to derail the whole conversation. We still haven't returned to the OP.

As others have pointed out on previous threads, it's a shame how internet discussion has declined so badly of late, even on Victor's admirable website.

Dan Gillson said...

If I were going to start a Bad Religion cover band, I'd definitely be naming it Bad Science.

B. Prokop said...

It's neither bad science nor bad religion that's the problem here. It's when people choose to close their minds to new information. Such an attitude is, sadly, no respecter of a person's faith or lack of the same. I can see no difference between YEC advocates and Matt DeStefano. They're both cut from the same cloth - fingers in their ears, yelling "Ya, ya, ya", lest they come across a contrary fact.

Dan Gillson said...

Salient point, Bob. (Except for that stuff about Matt. I generally enjoy his contributions.) It's not 'science' or 'religion' as abstract constructs that are to blame, it's bad scientists or bad believers that are.

Moving on to the huffpo article, I'd have two complaints: Firstly, I wish Sheldrake named his actual targets, instead of reproving his "committed materialist" strawman. Secondly, Sheldrake uses 'materialism' merely to feed the bugbears; he doesn't actually spell out those portions of 'materialism' that are supposedly problematic for science, he just uses it to scare his readers.

B. Prokop said...

Yeah, maybe (just maybe) I was a bit harsh with Matt. But admit it, his sort (the gnu crowd) comes to this site spoiling for a fight - never just to discuss. Their modus operandi is to shoot first and aim later, always hoping to land a wild "gotcha" punch (and usually failing to do so). Their motive in a discussion is not to learn, but to win.

steve said...

Dan Gillson said...

"Moving on to the huffpo article, I'd have two complaints: Firstly, I wish Sheldrake named his actual targets, instead of reproving his 'committed materialist' strawman. Secondly, Sheldrake uses 'materialism' merely to feed the bugbears; he doesn't actually spell out those portions of 'materialism' that are supposedly problematic for science, he just uses it to scare his readers."

In the nature of the case, a huffpo article will be very abbreviated. If you want details, you can go to his website, which has lots of freebie supporting material:

http://www.sheldrake.org/homepage.html

Or you can read his recent book Science Set Free.

He also names names in this interview:

http://www.skeptiko.com/rupert-sheldrake-responds-chris-french/

Matt DeStefano said...

Note how my very first posting was primarily concerned with the idea that I (personally) saw little evidence of an antifaith bias in the scientific community. Now one would think that an atheist reader of such would respond, "Well, Bob's siding with us on this one."

You said that atheists were a "vanishingly small" portion of the astronomical community (and then went on to say that you've only met one "Gnu astronomer" who was unpleasant generally). I was shocked, as this seems contrary to all of the available data. When I asked for a source, you said that you were the source because you meet with these people.

I find it hard to believe that this is a radical demand or a "gotcha" attempt. You made an observation, and I asked for an empirical source that corroborated it. Not exactly "What is your favorite Constitutional Amendment?"

Secondly, Sheldrake uses 'materialism' merely to feed the bugbears; he doesn't actually spell out those portions of 'materialism' that are supposedly problematic for science, he just uses it to scare his readers.

Right. He points to some current limitations on science - such as the hard problem of consciousness, dark matter/energy, etc. but it's not at all clear how he thinks an overzealous commitment to naturalism/materialism is the root cause.

One route to take is Chalmers', and advocate for a type of "Russelian monism" in which consciousness is, in principle, undiscoverable from a scientific perspective.

Dan Gillson said...

A summary of Russellian monism: you seem to have an iser, but I can't seem to find it with my microscope.

B. Prokop said...

Matt,

If you were genuinely shocked, then I would suggest that you get to know a few real flesh and blood scientists, and not rely on some survey. You'll find that as a group, they are actually more in tune with the inherent limitations of their field of knowledge than is the general public (which either unquestionably accepts everything they say or distrusts them completely - there seldom seems to be a middle ground).

And yes, I will stand my (anecdotal) ground - whenever the subject of religion comes up amongst a social gathering of professional scientists (at least here in Maryland), the overwhelming majority of participants will express a personal belief in God (or at the least, leanings in that direction). Now true, that may be a skewed sample. Maryland is one of the most Catholic states in the Union (heck, it's even named after the Mother of God), and statistically (horrid word) the level of participation (such as weekly Mass attendance) is above the national average.

(I knew there was a reason I liked it here so much... in addition to Maryland being the all-around best state in which to live in the USA!)

I am now powering down and headed out to observe Uranus and Neptune. One of tonight's observing companions is on the James Webb Space Telescope science team. But I understand that anything he might say is just anecdotal...

Matt DeStefano said...

If you were genuinely shocked, then I would suggest that you get to know a few real flesh and blood scientists, and not rely on some survey. You'll find that as a group, they are actually more in tune with the inherent limitations of their field of knowledge than is the general public (which either unquestionably accepts everything they say or distrusts them completely - there seldom seems to be a middle ground).

I know a great deal of scientists, and I have personally found that they show less religious inclinations than their layman counterparts. The difference is, I don't take my experience of a subset of an entire community of people as evidence of the more general make-up of that group.

Further, and this is where your inference was most mistaken, my experience with that group is NOT evidence that theists are vanishing as a group among scientists.

Your animosity towards surveys is striking. You should consider taking a course in statistics, or picking up some of the relevant literature to see how exactly these surveys are conducted. After all, considering how successful someone like Nate Silver was in predicting the election (and polling about how one will vote is far more difficult than polling about the beliefs an individual currently holds), they are pretty powerful tools.

But I understand that anything he might say is just anecdotal...

This remark makes me think you don't know what this word means in relation to 'ancedotal evidence'. From the Wikipedia (my bold):

"The expression anecdotal evidence refers to evidence from anecdotes. Because of the small sample, there is a larger chance that it may be unreliable due to cherry-picked or otherwise non-representative samples of typical cases. Anecdotal evidence is considered dubious support of a claim; it is accepted only in lieu of more solid evidence. This is true regardless of the veracity of individual claims."

You said, and I quote, "I don't need no stinkin' source" --- but then admit that your cherry-picked sample size might not be reflective of the population. All I can do is scratch my head.

steve said...

Matt originally said:


"It strains credulity when a person who is notorious for his work with pseudo-science (see his work on telepathy,ESP, etc.) criticizes the current trajectory of science as a discipline."

Elsewhere he says:

“I am a member of the Synesthesia Research Team”

He later said:

"I actually researched it in part of providing commentary on a manuscript ('The Superhuman Mind', by Berit Brogaard and Kristian Marlow) for a seminar I am taking this semester."

What’s odd about this combination of statements is that Brogaard is the director of the St. Louis Synesthesia Lab while Marlow is the associate director. Yet they themselves subscribe to a type of telepathy:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/print/111980?page=2

So does Matt think their work is pseudoscience?

B. Prokop said...

"You should consider taking a course in statistics"

I have - several of them. I have an MBA from Boston University. Statistics was part of the curriculum. It's partly why I do indeed mistrust them to a certain degree when it comes to polling.

B. Prokop said...

"But I understand that anything he might say is just anecdotal..."

That was humor. I guess you didn't recognize it as such - the problem with going deadpan.

B. Prokop said...

""I don't need no stinkin' source""

That is correct. Be prepared to get the same response to future demands for sources.

Matt DeStefano said...

So does Matt think their work is pseudoscience?

Been doing some research on me, Steve? I have no idea what the point of your post is - but I do not think that the article you posted is pseudo-science. An EEG reader is not similar to telepathy as researched by parapsychology.

That is correct. Be prepared to get the same response to future demands for sources.


How reasonable of you! If only everyone was as self-assured that they didn't need sources, and they could simply rely on their own experience.

I have - several of them. I have an MBA from Boston University. Statistics was part of the curriculum. It's partly why I do indeed mistrust them to a certain degree when it comes to polling.

It's shocking that you have an MBA but don't understand why someone would consider anecdotal evidence to be inferior to several national surveys conducted by reputable polling agencies.

steve said...

Matt DeStefano said...

"I have no idea what the point of your post is - but I do not think that the article you posted is pseudo-science. An EEG reader is not similar to telepathy as researched by parapsychology."

Explain the fundamental difference.

B. Prokop said...

"It's shocking that you have an MBA but don't understand why someone would consider anecdotal evidence to be inferior to several national surveys conducted by reputable polling agencies."

Go back and re-read the passage from C.S. Lewis's That Hideous Strength that I quoted at 8:06 PM yesterday. Better yet, read the whole novel.

William said...

Steve: Matt is right on that minor point, you see:

levitation is to airplane flying

as

telepathy is to EEG-assisted computer input

(it's technology versus pure esp).

steve said...

Steve: Matt is right on that minor point, you see:

levitation is to airplane flying

as

telepathy is to EEG-assisted computer input

(it's technology versus pure esp).

****************

The analogy fails inasmuch as airplane flying is purely mechanical, whereas "artificial telepathy" involves mental causation. The question is how the mind can interact with the technology.

steve said...

And, actually, it's less like "artificial telepathy" than artificial telekinesis or psychokinesis.

steve said...

Put another way, it involves the mind directing a machine.

William said...

Cmon steve, if you use that reasoning all animal movement require telepathy :)

steve said...

Blogger William said...

"Cmon steve, if you use that reasoning all animal movement require telepathy :)"

Of course, Sheldrake has done extensive research on animal telepathy.

In addition, telekinesis may well be an extension of the mind/body relation.

Tony Hoffman said...

Lewis: "His education had the curious effect of making things that he read and wrote more real than things that he saw. Statistics about agricultural labourers were the substance; any real ditcher, ploughman, or farmer's boy, was the shadow. ... In his own way, he believed as firmly as any mystic in the superior reality of the things that are not seen."

B Prokop: "I'll take my real world encounters with real people over your "statistics" any day."

I think it's the quote above is too murky to determine what it is that Lewis is trying to say, so I'm not sure how it helps.

I think it depends on the kind of thing being examined. If one wants to know what any given individual ploughman looks like or thinks, etc., then it's obvious that an interview with said ploughman is superior to referring to statistics on ploughmen in general. However, if one wants to know about aspects of a group of ploughmen, then the collection of this data is superior to interviewing one ploughman and surmising that this somehow applies to the whole. This is so obvious that I'm not sure what the Lewis quote above does to clarify things.

What I do find odd is that you (Bob) appear to be disagreeing with the second last sentence in my paragraph above. Is that really what you think?

William said...

Tony:

You probably understand what Lewis is implying here about treating the numbers and not the person, but I'll give an example anyway.

I was browsing a site where there was a discussion of population numbers, and someone suggested that a large drop in the world's human population numbers such as that caused by a asteroid strike would be beneficial. Beneficial to whom, of course?

Tony Hoffman said...

William, I truly don't get what you're saying regarding my point -- that personal, firsthand (anecdotal) knowledge is superior to statistical investigation in some questions, and inferior with regard to other questions. Your example doesn't seem to work with this point, at least not in a way that I can see.

Maybe what Bob is saying is that we thinks that, given his firsthand experience, that the given statistical knowledge seems suspect. This is something that I can sympathize with, and I think it's a useful, common heuristic. And it can sometimes help spur investigation into what turns out to be shoddy surveys, etc. Of course, assuming that this is the case just because of anecdotal experience would be as faulty, I think, as accepting all statistical knowledge at face value without tempering it against our own experiences.

B. Prokop said...

"I think the quote above is too murky to determine what it is that Lewis is trying to say."

Tony,

If you have not already done so, might I strongly recommend that you find a copy of That Hideous Strength and read the whole thing. One of Lewis's finest books (along with the two others in the series, and Perelandra).

B. Prokop said...

No, Tony. It's just that I genuinely mistrust all such surveys having seen how badly the questions are usually worded. I literally can't count the number of times I've been asked on a survey at work or after a class or making a purchase or filling out a customer feedback form, etc., where NONE of the available answers were appropriate.

I'm going to go out on a very long limb here, and say that it's probably not possible to devise a valid questionnaire on a large group's religious beliefs that would come up with meaningful data.

If you want to find out what a person believes, it takes far more than a few yes/no questions. At a bare minimum, it would require a series of essay questions (and probably an oral interview as well).

I doubt seriously, even after posting to this site for some years now, that anyone following Dangerous Idea would have an accurate picture of my own most deeply held religious beliefs.

William said...

Tony: " I truly don't get what you're saying regarding my point -- that personal, firsthand (anecdotal) knowledge is superior to statistical investigation in some questions, and inferior with regard to other questions. Your example doesn't seem to work with this point, at least not in a way that I can see."

I was saying that Lewis is pointing out that sometimes good science is used to justify bad ethics (one can also do that with good anecdotal evidence, but it lacks the authority of good science). Think WWII, German scientists, etc (which is when Lewis was writing).

I agree with the lack of any really reproducible pro-ESP studies as far as Sheldrake goes though.

Tony Hoffman said...

B Prokop: "I'm going to go out on a very long limb here, and say that it's probably not possible to devise a valid questionnaire on a large group's religious beliefs that would come up with meaningful data."

I think it shouldn't be that hard; I think a question like "Do you believe that a personal being created the known universe and now directs events, or that the universe is currently best explained as a brute fact that is indifferent to life?" would probably do very serviceable work in ascertaining who is "religious" and who is not.

B. Prokop: "I doubt seriously, even after posting to this site for some years now, that anyone following Dangerous Idea would have an accurate picture of my own most deeply held religious beliefs."

Maybe the nuances of your belief would be difficult to identify, but it's very easy for almost anyone to ascertain from our comments that you are religious, and that I am not, and that further probing would not change this fact. I don't think it's that mysterious a process.

Tony Hoffman said...

William: "I was saying that Lewis is pointing out that sometimes good science is used to justify bad ethics (one can also do that with good anecdotal evidence, but it lacks the authority of good science). Think WWII, German scientists, etc (which is when Lewis was writing)."

Well, I don't know how you could get that from the passage provided. Bob was re-pointing back to the passage as if it explained itself, but it sounds like both of you agree that it makes more sense in the context of the work that surrounds it and some knowledge about Lewis and his milieu, etc.

cl said...

"Bad religion is arrogant, self-righteous, dogmatic and intolerant. And so is bad science. But unlike religious fundamentalists, scientific fundamentalists do not realize that their opinions are based on faith. They think they know the truth. They believe that science has already solved the fundamental questions. The details still need working out, but in principle the answers are known."

Pure awesome. I just gnu certain folks would get all in a hissy about this one. Matt, we squashed our beef so don't feel like this is an attack, but you should really listen to these guys and take the blinders off. You live in this black vs. white world where ALL telepathy is "pseudoscience" and same with ALL esp. Are there hucksters in said areas? Sure, but there are hucksters in every area. Are the vast majority of scientific results firmly in favor of allegedly "paranormal" phenomena? I don't think so, but that's the case with every batch of new ideas. Realize that people lambasted Einstein's ideas the same way you lambast Sheldrake's.

Please, brother... decompartmentalize and shed this rigid attitude where there are only two sides to everything. Think in shades of grey, not black and white. Challenge yourself about these things. There is a multitude of "real" science on the things you scoff at.

And if that's too much for you, my delivery there, just let me know and I'll tone it down. I feel I can be direct with you without you feeling insulted; we're both big boys and we've been around each other a while. I value our "makeup" and don't want to alienate you again.

Steve,

Nice comments, though, usually to no avail with the diehards.

Dan,

LOL @ Bad Science cover band. Maybe their first song could be aptly called Darwinian Gradualism? Or, Absolute Newtonian Universe? Hell, how about Physics Explains All?

Anyways.

B. Prokop said...

Don't really want to beat a dead horse here, but I just now remembered an incident from an astronomy conference I attended about two years ago outside Philadelphia. There about 150 people in the room, listening to a panel discussion on astronomy education. (That's why I was at the event, being an instructor in the subject at Howard Community College.) About one/third of the room were professional scientists, the remainder being educators. At one point, the panel chair (it was appropriate to the discussion at that moment) asked the audience how many believed in God. (The exact wording was "How many of you in this room believe in God?" A very simple, unambiguous question.) Nearly every hand in the room went up. I say "nearly" although to tell the truth, I saw NO ONE with their hand down, but must assume I could not see everyone from where I was sitting.

I know, I know, it's anecdotal. But when I hear people spout survey results as thought they were gospel truth, I simply have to respond, "Who am I going to believe? Statistics, or my own lying eyes?"

Tony Hoffman said...

Bob, if you asked a roomful of people in Maryland if they thought Romney should be President, I bet you'd get the same kind of results.

Does this mean that you think Obama didn't actually win the election?

B. Prokop said...

I believe you meant to type "shouldn't be".

No, and I was wondering how long it would take before someone brought that red herring up!

Tony Hoffman said...

No, I'm pretty sure I menat to type "should."

Not sure why you think my question is a red herring. It's a question, after all.

B. Prokop said...

No, if you asked a roomful of people in the Blue State of Maryland whether Romney should be president, nobody's hand would go up (or at least only a minority of hands).

It's a red herring, because in political election polling, the respondents are given a clearly defined choice (in this case, Obama or Romney). There's no ambiguity. But in the poll cited by Matt, the question was highly ambiguous and loaded with terms that could potentially mean very different things to different respondents.

They are totally different animals.

Matt DeStefano said...

I know, I know, it's anecdotal. But when I hear people spout survey results as thought they were gospel truth, I simply have to respond, "Who am I going to believe? Statistics, or my own lying eyes?"

First, let's notice how you are backing up from your original claim. Your original claim was not that there are a lot of theists in science, but that atheists were a vanishing minority. You have so far provided absolutely zero evidence for this claim, only that you happen to know a lot of scientists who are also theists (which include a bizarre hand-raising bit, as if this is a more appropriate way to survey a population than a survey from the Pew Research Center or Gallup).

Second, I'm really astonished at the piss-poor statistical reasoning this type of attitude shows. When I was growing up, I went to a fairly large church with about 200 people. They were (as many on this blog have noticed) in large part fundamentalists.

Imagine I come on this blog and proudly assert "Boy, Catholics are a vanishing minority among believers!" People on this blog would (rightly!) take me to task for being ignorant of the world around me. They would point me to surveys showing population statistics about how many Catholics there are, and compare that to the amount of Evangelicals, Orthodox, etc.

I could insist (like you) that I don't need no stinkin' source and that my own lying eyes should be trusted above statistics. But that would be absurd, right?

cautiouslycurious said...

Tony,

During the election, my Facebook feed was littered with pro-Republican talking points, every lawn sign I saw was for Romney, and most people I know are Republicans. I live in a blue state, or at least that's what the polls and election results tell me. It's just that my area is a concentrated with people who fit Romney's demographic (wealthy and white) and is nowhere representative of the state as a whole. I suppose the same thing happens in reverse with regards to Austin and Texas; a blue area inside of a red state. Just a few cases of where it would be myopic to presume that the immediate area is representative of the greater community without surveying it.

Also, did you catch that someone who said that it's probably not possible to devise a valid questionnaire on a large group's religious beliefs that would come up with meaningful data proposes a scenario in which a large group of people were asked a single question and supposedly came up with meaningful data about their religious beliefs, while at the same time ignoring all the reasons for why surverys are done anonymously?

Matt DeStefano said...

Also, did you catch that someone who said that it's probably not possible to devise a valid questionnaire on a large group's religious beliefs that would come up with meaningful data proposes a scenario in which a large group of people were asked a single question and supposedly came up with meaningful data about their religious beliefs, while at the same time ignoring all the reasons for why surverys are done anonymously?

What, hand-raising in a public forum isn't a valid protocol?!

B. Prokop said...


First, let's notice how you are backing up from your original claim. Your original claim was not that there are a lot of theists in science, but that atheists were a vanishing minority.
"

You're holding me to wording that's typed as fast as I can move my fingers with no editing? You can play that game if you want to, but it's one for fools.

Matt DeStefano said...

You're holding me to wording that's typed as fast as I can move my fingers with no editing? You can play that game if you want to, but it's one for fools.


You've been defending the claim through this entire comment thread. Instead of admitting that it was wrong, you dug your heels in and made some really nonsense claims about statistics.

BenYachov said...

I'm going to take a small break from worrying about my Father to give Matt some jazz.

Where has Bob claimed he was giving anything other then anecdotal testimony?

You cited the 7% figure of those at the National Academy of Sciences but that as has been noted is not an exhaustive servery.

Euklund and or Stark might have more developed and maybe slightly different results. Some might show the majority of Scientists are "religious" in some sense.

BTW where are your counter statistics other then the 7% figure to prove your intuitions?

So you can form an opinion based on one survey of "leading scientists" but Bob can't do the same with his anecdotal experience?

So Bob has to prove his intuitions to the N'th degree but you don't have to?

Is that fair?

Son don't make me come back here.

Oh & did you ever apologize to Crude?

BenYachov said...

>First, let's notice how you are backing up from your original claim. Your original claim was not that there are a lot of theists in science, but that atheists were a vanishing minority.

Bob literally said "The now retired former science editor for the Baltimore Sun (and good friend of mine) was a practicing Jew and deeply religious. In the astronomical community, which I am most familiar with, it is No Big Deal to openly profess religious faith. In fact, the non-theist component of that community is vanishingly small. (Perhaps something to do with the Heavens "declaring the glory"???) I have only met with one gnu astronomer ever, and he was an all-around unpleasant person in many other ways as well."END QUOTE

So where does Bob say he is talking about all scientists everywhere & not just Astronomers in his local community of Astronomers?

While I am at it Bob said:
>My point is that your belief that 93% of professional scientists are atheists is bunk! Console yourself with the idea if you wish, but it remains a bodiless phantom.

I note Matt you so far have never claimed 93% of all Scientist are Atheists.

Stop spoiling for a fight with Bob. He of all people is the most civilized person here next to let us say Angra.
Bob has taken me to task in the past for my language & hostility.

If it helps I'm sorry if I've too harsh with you in the past. Don't take it out on Bob.

B. Prokop said...

"Instead of admitting that it was wrong"

Why should I admit I was wrong in this case when I wasn't? As demonstrated multiple times on this website, when I am wrong, I will acknowledge such. In this case, there's nothing to admit.

What I will admit to is a very poor choice of words. But the substance was (and is) correct.

Consider my heels dug in.

B. Prokop said...

Ben,

I let Matt have it on this thread because he was the one who came out swinging - totally uninterested from the get-go in rational discussion. He just wanted to score points, and didn't care how he did so.

Tony Hoffman said...

Bob Prokop: "I let Matt have it on this thread because he was the one who came out swinging - totally uninterested from the get-go in rational discussion."

This seems objectively false. Matt asked for a source, provided a statistic that contradicted what you said, and pointed out that the process behind your conclusion didn't seem sound. It's a comment stream; I thought that this was what normally happens.

B Prokop: "He just wanted to score points, and didn't care how he did so."

And you know this how? It looks to me like you assume to know the motivations of another, and accuse him of not being genuinely concerned about the issues he raised.

Your comments on this thread are easy for anyone to read. I'm not sure where you think you have been misrepresented.

It appears obvious that your comments endorse personal interviews and personal observations when it comes to determining a group's religious beliefs, and/or that such a question is probably impossible to know.

Is that an unfair characterization of your comments, and if so, how would you prefer your position to be characterized?

Matt DeStefano said...

BTW where are your counter statistics other then the 7% figure to prove your intuitions?

I referenced a bunch of different studies, all which show a MAJORITY of scientists are atheists or agnostics. Here are a number of them, all done by reputable agencies:

Pew research
SSRC
Here's the Christian post reporting similar numbers: CP

It's odd to me when someone who is confronted with the facts says things like "I don't need no stinkin' source" and "I saw a bunch of people in a public forum raise their hand!" and all of these other inane things that any freshman student with a statistics class under their belt would be easily disabused of. It's cognitive dissonance at work.

In this discussion, I'm not particularly interested in trying to change Prokop's mind (it's pretty clear he's already made it up - "consider my heels dug in"), but to show readers who may be potentially thinking about this issue why "I see X in my immediate experience, therefore X applies generally" is a horrid inference.

It irritates me when people who make grandiose knowledge claims (Prokop has a history of this, "God's as obvious as the sea!", etc.) and then when pushed on it, they resort to sticking their finger in their ears or saying "I can't be held accountable for what I type, especially because I don't edit!"

So where does Bob say he is talking about all scientists everywhere & not just Astronomers in his local community of Astronomers?

Read it again, it wasn't about the local community of astronomers - but about the "astronomical community". The clause "which I am most familiar with" is meant to differentiate astronomy from other scientific disciplines.

Stop spoiling for a fight with Bob. He of all people is the most civilized person here next to let us say Angra.
Bob has taken me to task in the past for my language & hostility.


I'm not looking for a "fight", and I generally think Prokop is very civil - but we should all call attention to error when we see it. He found my asking for a source irritating, but I find it to be a good rule of thumb when engaging in discussion.



BenYachov said...

@Matt
>I referenced a bunch of different studies, all which show a MAJORITY of scientists are atheists or agnostics.

>Pew research
>SSRC
>Here's the Christian post reporting similar numbers: CP

QUOTE from the Pew link " Indeed, the survey shows that scientists are roughly half as likely as the general public to believe in God or a higher power. According to the poll, just over half of scientists (51%) believe in some form of deity or higher power".

So a 51% is not a majority & or belief in some form of deity and or higher power are examples atheism & agnosticism?

Seriously?

As for the SSRC paper link it says "About 52 percent of scientists see themselves as having no religious affiliation when
compared to only 14 percent of the general population."

OK but not being religious doesn't always translate into being an Atheist or Agnostic especially if you believe in a higher power.

That PhilosophyKnight fellow from the "The Devil is in the Questions: NCSE" on whether scientists reject God" tread says "Gross and Simmons found 51.5 percent of American professors across 20 disciplines in institutions of higher education from community colleges to elite universities believe in God".

Your links hardly seem conclusive. Even the 7% who believe in a "personal" God well I as a militant Thomist have been accused by Theists over at VoxDay's Blog as well as by Gnus & or generic Atheists here of not believing in a "personal" God either.

That is ambiguous at best.

BenYachov said...

>It's odd to me when someone who is confronted with the facts says things like "I don't need no stinkin' source" and "I saw a bunch of people in a public forum raise their hand!" and all of these other inane things that any freshman student with a statistics class under their belt would be easily disabused of. It's cognitive dissonance at work.

They are not "facts" they are snapshots of one particular sample of people from one particular group in one city in America. I don't see how they conclusively prove the Majority of Scientists in the whole world are Atheists and or Agnostics?

Plus the differentiating in the survey between "God" vs "Highter Power" &or "Universal Spirit" is special pleading IMHO.

>Read it again, it wasn't about the local community of astronomers - but about the "astronomical community". The clause "which I am most familiar with" is meant to differentiate astronomy from other scientific disciplines.

So you are backtracking now? You said he said it was all scientists. I quoted both of you side by side remember? Bob was talking about his local community therefore it is logical to infer that is what he meant by "astronomical community".

>It irritates me when people who make grandiose knowledge claims...

You have irritated me with your lack of knowledge of Classic Theism, Catholicism and Thomism and grandiose statements you have made for which either I or Crude smacked you hard for. So what? People have their pet peves.

Life is too short. My Father has first stage Lung Cancer & he is getting it operated on this Monday. So maybe (even thought it is great fun) you should choose your battles? Life is too short.

>I'm not looking for a "fight", and I generally think Prokop is very civil - but we should all call attention to error when we see it. He found my asking for a source irritating, but I find it to be a good rule of thumb when engaging in discussion.

Well IMHO your sources are questionable in regards to the claim a "majority" of Scientists are Atheists and Agnostics. I also find it questionable to not define what it means to believe in a "personal God" & to equate belief in a Higher Power or Universal Spirit with "Atheism" & "Agnosticism".

Bob it seems to me was not making the grandiose claims you interpreted him to be making. Also if every election cycle has taught us anything is you should be skeptical of polls.

You can cite "evidence" but you still need to cite "credible" & or "convincing" evidence.

Cheers.

BenYachov said...

>Imagine I come on this blog and proudly assert "Boy, Catholics are a vanishing minority among believers!" People on this blog would (rightly!) take me to task for being ignorant of the world around me.

Well FYI the Church is in retreat in South America with the explosion of Protestant Churches.

Catholic Apologetics groups have been complaining about this for years. I used to get a mailing every other week from CATHOLIC ANSWERS to help with counter missionary efforts.

I think the Church is growing in Africa though........but my memory is fuzzy.

rockingwithhawking said...

Matt DeStefano said:

"An EEG reader is not similar to telepathy as researched by parapsychology"

It's unfair to say EEG is dissimilar to "telepathy as researched by parapsychology" when you don't even bother to say what you have in mind in the phrase. After all, why do you think neuroscience and neurology researchers can't use routine EEG to look for particular evidences for telepathy if routine EEG is a relevant means by which to do so? If there is a neurophysiological basis for telepathy, and if EEGs can detect this to a significant degree, then why not use it? You never bother to explain your reasoning.

Also, to what exactly are you referring when you use the term "EEG reader"? Routine EEG, sleep-deprived EEG, drug-induced EEG, something else? How are you using the EEG and what are you looking for in particular? Each of these could have different sensitivities and specificities depending on what you're looking for, among other issues.

Anyway, as those involved in scientific research are aware, all this is just barely scratching the surface too.

rockingwithhawking said...

Matt DeStefano said:

"An EEG reader is not similar to telepathy as researched by parapsychology"

A clock is not similar to time travel as researched by physics.

A laptop is not similar to A.I. as researched by computer science.

A thermometer is not similar to global warming as researched by climatology.

A Petri dish culture is not similar to creating life as researched by biology.

Matt DeStefano said...

It's unfair to say EEG is dissimilar to "telepathy as researched by parapsychology" when you don't even bother to say what you have in mind in the phrase. After all, why do you think neuroscience and neurology researchers can't use routine EEG to look for particular evidences for telepathy if routine EEG is a relevant means by which to do so? If there is a neurophysiological basis for telepathy, and if EEGs can detect this to a significant degree, then why not use it? You never bother to explain your reasoning.


rocking,

Before coming into a thread and saying that I haven't bothered to explain myself, you should really read the comments. I was referencing a specific article that was posted by steve from the director of the lab I work with. Further, I was already talking about parapsychology as referenced by Sheldrake and his work ("dog telepathy", etc.).


Well IMHO your sources are questionable in regards to the claim a "majority" of Scientists are Atheists and Agnostics. I also find it questionable to not define what it means to believe in a "personal God" & to equate belief in a Higher Power or Universal Spirit with "Atheism" & "Agnosticism".


ben,

Sorry, but you're just playing the partisan hack here. I don't even know what you are defending anymore. Bob made a claim that he didn't need a source to make claims such as "Atheists are a vanishingly small minoirty" and that his own anecdotal experience was sufficient justification.

Matt DeStefano said...

Life is too short. My Father has first stage Lung Cancer & he is getting it operated on this Monday. So maybe (even thought it is great fun) you should choose your battles? Life is too short.


Didn't mean to ignore this. I'm sorry for your trouble, my own grandmother has been battling with cancer. I hope the surgery goes well.

BenYachov said...

>Sorry, but you're just playing the partisan hack here.

That's not very gracious. Besides Bob's an old liberal & I'm a middle aged conservative. He & I are not on the same political team just same religion.

>I don't even know what you are defending anymore.

Maybe it's that you don't know what you are arguing anymore?

>Bob made a claim that he didn't need a source to make claims such as "Atheists are a vanishingly small minoirty" and that his own anecdotal experience was sufficient justification.

Which was a clear signal he wasn't interested in arguing. You should have just let it go.

>Didn't mean to ignore this. I'm sorry for your trouble, my own grandmother has been battling with cancer. I hope the surgery goes well.

This OTOH is very very gracious of you. Thank you lad my hopes & prayers for your dear Grandmother too.

Peace be with you.

Cheers.

rockingwithhawking said...

"Before coming into a thread and saying that I haven't bothered to explain myself, you should really read the comments."

1. You're assuming I haven't read your comments. But I have. While you do have a couple of reasonable things to say, most of what you say is at best unresponsive to points raised by others and at best merely superficially familiar with the intricacies of scientific research. Just like you've called another person a hack, I could easily say the same about you as a scientific hack.

2. By the way, anyone is free to comment on this thread at Victor Reppert's discretion.

"I was referencing a specific article that was posted by steve from the director of the lab I work with."

1. Actually, like you admit, you didn't reference it. Steve referenced it.

2. The only article you referenced at the time was this one. An article published in 1995. An article that's hardly say a systematic review or meta-analysis. An article that wasn't published by a peer-reviewed journal, but rather by the American Institutes for Research (AIR). AIR claims on its own website to be a non-partisan "behavioral and social science research organization[...]." Yes, and so do many partisan organizations. But is it? We'd have to investigate further. Besides, even if the research were somehow scientifically objective, a "behavioral and social science" would presumably be looking primarily at "behavioral and social science" aspects of this or that phenomenon. A significant limitation when it comes to the topic at hand. I'm sure other scientists could go on with the article's drawbacks.

3. As for the article Steve referenced, well, it's not as if you said a whole lot about it. It's not as if you tried to evaluate it for starters. (William at least made the attempt but it's not as if you voiced further agreement or disagreement or anything else. Plus Steve responded to William.)

The main point you brought up, and to which Steve and I responded, was "An EEG reader is not similar to telepathy as researched by parapsychology." But this is simply a poorly made and unreasonable statement as I've said and tried to illustrate above.

In any case, the article would be supportive with regard to what I've raised with you. If you can follow your own argument, this undercuts your point.

4. When you say you worked with this director, what did you actually do in terms of scientific research? Anything scientifically substantive? Since you tout your experience in scientific research, it's relevant to ask what this experience entailed.

"Further, I was already talking about parapsychology as referenced by Sheldrake and his work ('dog telepathy', etc.)."

Um, yeah, and what of it? This is obvious since this is the context in which Reppert posted the link, in which you've been debating, etc. You'll have to elaborate if you're trying to make a particular point.