Re: time loops (was: Re: WORM HOLES)

Hal Finney (
Tue, 5 May 1998 20:50:50 -0700

Damien Broderick, <>, writes:
> I've spent a lot of time reading in parapsychology, good, bad and
> indifferent, and have done some experimental work of my own in
> precognition. My current best guess is that some claims of psi are valid,
> and that the record clearly shows that veridical non-inferential
> foreknowledge is possible (although in a vagrant, transient and
> irritatingly stochastic fashion).
> Most of the rational posters on this list will be horrified by this
> declaration, and I don't blame them. Luckily, there are convenient sources
> of information about this apparently absurd and New Ageish claim. Right
> now I'm reading a quite good generalist 1997 book on the topic by Dean
> Radin, PhD, with the unfortunate catch-penny title THE CONSCIOUS UNIVERSE
> (Harper Edge). Even more unfortunately, the art dept has a floating - but
> unbent - sugar spoon on the cover, despite Radin's explicit decision *not*
> to discuss Geller's exploded claims in his book. The great merit of his
> treatment is a lucid account of various recent meta-analyses of many
> hundreds of parapsychological experiments, which together provide effect
> sizes on the order of that demonstrated by aspirin against cardiac disease.

I have heard of similar meta-analyses in the past, where they combine
results from a large number of studies. A percentage effect which is
not statistically significant at a small scale becomes significant with
a sufficiently large amount of data.

I would feel better if a single study, done with iron-clad protocols,
replicable, could be done at a large enough scale to demonstrate the
phenomenon at a strongly significant level. This technique of aggregation
of multiple small studies, each with different methodology, will never
be as convincing.

One problem with psi phenomena is that their behavior seems so much
more like fraud and error than like a physical effect. The magnitude of
the phenomenon tends to be independent of the common-sense difficulty.
Seeing around the world isn't any harder than seeing into the room
next door. Foretelling events a few seconds away is no easier than
foretelling things which will happen hours or days later.