John K Clark (
Sat, 9 May 1998 23:59:03 -0700 (PDT)


On Sun, 10 May 1998 Damien Broderick <> Wrote:

>We know empirically that in such tasks people mostly select
>numbers on the basis of simple algorithms that have nothing to
>do with `hunches' - the `lucky' numbers in their astrological
>charts, the days of the month of their kids' or other loved
>ones' birthdays, etc.

They sure seems like hunches to me. If psi exists we have not the slightest
idea how it works and so we're unjustified in throwing data out just because
it doesn't work. Birthdays, astrological charts, and interesting patterns on
play slips are as legitimate as anything else. There is a insidious trap in
science that should be feared, unconsciously "correcting" the raw data until
the desired results are obtained.

>Perhaps the most intriguing finding in my study is that people by
>and large *can't* be following evanescent `hunches', because their
>behaviour is so rote.

Who says hunches must be evanescent? If I had a hunch that there was one
chance in a thousand that a particular 12 digit number would win I'd play it
every week for the rest of my life.

>a catastrophic earthquake, or bad weather for the picnic, or a
>market slump, are each encodable as just one bit of data.

If it exists it seems to me psi would have to deal with a lot more than one
bit because you'd have to know what the bit refers to. Before you can
receive an answer you must ask a question, just exactly how do you explain
to psi that you want to know if particular city at a particular place on the
Earth's crust will experience an earthquake of a particular size at a
particular time? First you'd have to explain to psi that an earthquake is a
large scale movement of rock, then you'd have to explain what rock is and
exactly what you mean by "large scale movement". Most earthquake predictions
mentions the Richter scale and that involves the amount and rate of energy
that is released. That's not a simple thing to determine and you certainly
can't do it with one bit.

>>In the USA you can win about 10$ if you guess 3 out of the 6 numbers
>>in any order, the number of these small winners is in the millions
>>and the number is just what you'd expect if the psi effect was zero.

>Good point. But how do you know the outcomes are random?

The state makes a lot of money off the lottery, if the total number of
winners was significantly larger than what the laws of probability dictate
the annual budget would be in the red because of it. It may be in the red but
not because of that.

>John, I believe you mentioned that you've never heard of PEAR, one
>of the major academically-affiliated anomalies research programs in
>the world.

That's true I've never heard of it, but if the data is as solid as you say it
is then it would be the most important scientific paper in 400 years. I read
a lot so I really should have hear of this interesting development by now,
the fact that I have not makes me wonder if the data is really that solid.

>Even Dr Ray Hyman, prime CSICOP debunker, admits that the latest
>batches of ganzfeld studies show that *something* unexplained in
>afoot. He doesn't think it can be psi, because he argues that psi
>as classically propounded is inconsistent with QT, relativity, etc.

I don't think there is any question, if psi exists QT and relativity would
have to be dumped, I'd be willing to do that but only if the data was very
solid indeed. I know nothing of the latest research you speak of, maybe it's
better, but psi's history of incredible sloppiness and outright fraud does
not build much confidence.

>Nobel physics laureate Brian Josephson disagrees with him, as it

Josephson is a strange man and hasn't done any physics in 35 years. He
started off great and discovered the Josephson Effect as a very young man in
1962, but then for unknown reasons he immediately abandoned science and
became a mystic. And not a very good mystic.

John K Clark

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