Re: Psi and Science Fiction

Bryan Moss (
Wed, 4 Aug 1999 23:29:13 +0100

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:

> I used to believe in psi. The reason, from my current perspective, was
> simple enough: No Internet. I'd read a couple of "science fact"
> articles from people I later found out were lunatics, but they were very
> plausibly written. No exclamation points, just the reporting of
> experimental results and personal experiences. With no way to just type
> stuff into Altavista and find different opinions, I believed what I read.

I find this odd. Precognition and telepathy, for instance, seem absolutely at arms with what we know from the neurosciences, and from physics (although quatum theory can be somewhat misapplied to create semi-tangible ideas). Even before gaining an (apparent) understanding of these subjects I always had problems with telepathy - what combines all these disparate brain processes for transmission? How are they transmitted? How does the other brain decode them? Why doesn't natural selection favour telepathy? What about precognition, even if time is asymmetric the procession of thought is not, how could these processes possibly interact? Those were the sort of questions I asked myself before having the faintest idea of what the brain was made of or how the physical world functions (I've been using computers since aged four, I started programming not long after, I think the questions reflect that). Having said all this, although I had my doubts about these things I still spent more time thinking about them than real science.

I blame television.