Re: Free Will debate [WAS Free Will not an illusion. AND impotent disorganized gods?

From: Richard Loosemore (
Date: Thu Dec 29 2005 - 10:13:24 MST

fudley wrote:
> On Wed, 28 Dec 2005 "Richard Loosemore" <> said:
>>it is possible that conscious systems have effects on the
>>world that are grossly at odds with the the "cause and
>>effect" pattern that we see in normal science.
> The normal cause and effect pattern is that everything happens because
> of cause and effect or it does not and so is random; and even in the
> unlikely event that voodoo turns out to be true that will not change.

Well, what I was alluding to is the posibility that effects happen in
the world that are not random, but which are coupled to their causes (in
this case human wishes or intentions) in a way that is barely governed
by any regular laws. It is the possible lack of regularity in that
connection that may lead us to call this something different than cause
and effect. It may turn out, of course, that psi effects can be
understood in a regular way, but the problem at the moment is that it
looks diabolically irregular and capricious. I don't want to say that
it is *not* cause and effect, just that it looks like such a badly
behaved form of causal relationship that it might be better to use a
different term. And more importantly, it may have relevance to the way
that conscious entities interact with the world. *May* have, notice!

>>I personally have very strong evidence that there is
>>something_ going on out there that is not encompassed
>>by normal science.
> Then you should be writing your Nobel Prize acceptance speech not
> gabbing on the internet.

Please try to spare the sarcasm. I am only one of a couple hundred
scientists that have tried these experiments over the last fifty years.
  We are scientists, not fools, and we behave just like scientists
should - we seek the truth dispassionately and carefully - but as you
can see from your own comments here, we tend to be treated with
something less than respect. After a while, many of us start to feel
like doing something else and not bothering until the world becomes a
little more mature about it.

>>I don't care to try to justify this to anyone else anymore
> Oh dear that could be a problem, the Nobel Prize committee prefers it if
> scientists can justify their results. Perhaps youíd better cancel that
> reservation to Stockholm.

No need to worry, I won't be going there as a parapsychologist. Not the
first couple of times, anyhow.

>>because the eventual response from skeptics is that
>>experimenter deceipt is a satisfactory explanation for the
>>results that I got, and that is rather tedious if you are the
> Can you really blame people for having this reaction? No area of
> Science, if thatís what you want to call it, has a more dismal record of
> wishful thinking, sloppiness, naivety, and downright fraud than
> parapsychology. And even that is an understatement, few areas of human
> activity has proven itself to be less productive than parapsychology.
> After working hard on this for one century the net result is exactly
> zero; and Iím not talking about something as ambitious as explaining how
> it works, Iím just talking about showing there is something that needs
> explaining. These witch doctors, I mean scientists, canít even do that.
> We could have been having this exact same conversation one century ago,
> and in fact many people did. Back then fortune tellers and palm readers
> insisted there was all sorts of fascinating stuff going on in the world
> that mainstream science, for reasons never clearly explained, ignored.
> Today the situation is exactly the same. Back then there was an inverse
> relationship between the rigor of the experiment and the spectacular
> results produced. Today the situation is exactly the same. Back then the
> evidence for the existence of this odd phenomenon stank. It still stinks
> today.
> You canít prove something never happens, but after experiment after
> experiment produces nothing of interest a wise scientist realizes heís
> running up a blind alley and moves on to something else.
> John K Clark

Now, what you have done, John, is to produce the reaction that I was
referring to (I have heard those same words spoken by many other
skeptics), and the most significant feature of your words is that ....
they are just downright empirically wrong. Unlike a real scientist, who
would check their facts before making a statement such as the one above,
you have laid out a version of reality that you would *prefer* to be
true, rather than the one that actually is true.

The situation is this. Some parapsychologists have done carefully
controlled, repeatable experiments that demonstrate the existence of
certain effects that appear to be inexplicable by current laws. They
publish these results in journals, they meet and discuss them at
conferences, and they try to find new experiments they can do that will
probe deeper. You can find these results in such journals as:

     International Journal of Parapsychology
     Psychological Bulletin
     European Journal of Parapsychology
     Journal of Parapsychology
     Journal of the Society for Psychical Research
     Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research

... and, these days, probably many others, but these are the only ones I
can vouch for from personal knowledge.

Your statement that "experiment after experiment produces nothing of
interest", your use of the words "witch doctor" to describe skillful,
dedicated scientists, and comments like "It still stinks today" really
do not contribute to informed debate.

For what it is worth, though, I met a friend of mine when I was a
skeptical 21-year old physicist, and when he told me he had done some
psi experiments, I scoffed mercifully and said all the things you said
above. He challenged me to put my credibility where my mouth was, and I
was stung enough that I did.

At the end of the day, though, it is frustrating to work in a
theoretical vacuum. You can get experiments to work, but when you try
to pin it down, it doesn't behave in a way that I could ever make sense
of. I did my best to find a theoretical foundation, but with no luck.

Richard Loosemore.

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