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Lawrence Krauss - Does ESP make sense? 87% Posted Jul 2017

Lawrence Krauss - Does ESP make sense?

Comment: 4 days ago

"...you started out this thread with an instinctive nescient position..."  Yes, that's why I started with a question: "Isn’t ESP just subconscious cold reading?" Scroll up if you missed it the first time.

"You had already decided that nothing like that had been carried out successfully – your plausible story - apparently without the need for evidence." If that was true, I wouldn't have bothered looking Bem up. Incidently. you cherry-picked Bem, I never even heard of him. You also cherry-picked a super-softball interview with Bem by Skeptiko, a pseudoscience blog. 

"Then you were confronted with the original scientific evidence, so you tried to find ways of discounting it without reading so much as the extract. Luckily, you found some quotes to selectively lift from RationalWiki, so you could maintain that original position. Panic over." Talk about making up shit.

"You seem unaware of any counterarguments, so as far as you’re concerned, the water must now be less muddy." Less muddy? I said the water is still muddy. Too muddy to see the river bed. Are you confused? 

"... every one of the criticisms you cited (and continue to cite) is about the original research, and not the subsequent extensive replications..." Of course. The only criticisms of Bem's research that I'm aware of, are of his methods and of methods in experimental psychology in general. Replications of flawed experiments are not meaningful. Even the meta-analysis of the 90 replications is odd - a sigma 6 rating that drops to sigma 4 when Bem's original experiments are removed. Shouldn't the sigma rating remain more-or-less the same?

"... maybe “political shenanigans”. I didn't make that up. "One of the nine experiments in Bem's study ("Retroactive Facilitation of Recall") was repeated by scientists Stuart Ritchie, Chris French, and Richard Wiseman. Their attempt to replicate was published in PLoS ONE and found no evidence of precognition.[29] Several failed attempts by the authors to publish their replication attempt highlighted difficulties in publishing replications, attracting media attention over concerns of publication bias.[30][31][32] The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Science Brevia and Psychological Science each rejected the paper on the grounds that it was a replication.[33] A fourth journal, the British Journal of Psychology, refused the paper after reservations from one referee, later confirmed to be Bem himself, who "might possibly have a conflict of interest with respect to [the] ... submission."

Here are some criticisms of Bem's experiments - all of which are of methodology:

"Wagenmakers et al. criticized Bem's statistical methodology, saying that he incorrectly provides one-sided p-value when he should have used a two-sided p-value.[23] This could account for the marginally-significant results of his experiment."

"After evaluating Bem's nine experiments, psychologist James Alcock said that he found metaphorical "dirty test tubes," or serious methodological flaws, such as changing the procedures partway through the experiments and combining results of tests with different chances of significance. It is unknown how many tests were actually performed, nor is there an explanation of how it was determined that participants had "settled down" after seeing erotic images. Alcock concludes that almost everything that could go wrong with Bem's experiments did go wrong."

"An analysis by Gregory Francis in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review ... Drawing on his own analysis and studies suggesting a discrepancy between the observed and expected null hypothesis rejection rates across the field of experimental psychology, he suggests that the standards and practices of the field are not functioning properly.[36]"

"The publication of Bem's article and the resulting controversy prompted a wide-ranging commentary by Etienne LeBel and Kurt Peters.[37] Using Bem's article as a case study, they discussed deficiencies in modal research practice, the methodology most commonly used in experimental psychology. LeBel and Peters suggest that experimental psychology is systemically biased toward interpretations of data that favor the researcher's theory."

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With that background, you can't seriously expect me to accept that scientific experiments have shown that ESP exists. You say there is "a small but surprising amount of scientific evidence for believing in such things (ESP)". Not if the methodology is flawed. Flawed methods will introduce bias which looks "surprising" if you believe the methods are flawless.

So I'm sticking with the default position for someone who is driven by evidence - if there's no empirical evidence that something exists, then that something doesn't exist. That is a position, not a truth or fact. My position is dictated by the status of the evidence - not by stories I make up, spooky parallels, or highly controversial experiments.

Maajid Nawaz explains 88% Posted Aug 2017

Maajid Nawaz explains "whataboutery"

Comment: 5 days ago

Whataboutery is not about pointing out an inconsistency, it's about redirecting a question so you can avoid answering it.

"I'm a veggie. What about the Big Mac you ate yesterday?" That's not whataboutery, that's simply pointing out an inconsistency.

"I'm a veggie. What about the Big Mac that Warren Buffet ate yesterday?" That's whataboutery.

Maajid Nawaz explains 88% Posted Aug 2017

Maajid Nawaz explains "whataboutery"

Comment: 7 days ago

I don't think this is pointless. Whataboutery seems to be a growing interview technique that should be called out - if you can't answer a difficult question, redirect the attack to your rival and keep talking.

Now that you know what whataboutery is, you'll notice it everywhere. Kellyanne Conway is one of the world's greatest exponents of whataboutery. Without it, she'd be stuck for words.

Fareed Zakaria: Trump has made US irrelevant around the world 88% Posted Jul 2017

Fareed Zakaria: Trump has made US irrelevant around the world

Comment: 10 days ago

Question: Is 4 years long enough for Trump to make America's decline permanent? Discuss.

I am the best golfer of all the rich people 86% Posted Aug 2017

I am the best golfer of all the rich people

Comment: 12 days ago

In Kim Jong-il's biography, the North Korean leader first picked up a golf club in 1994 at the only golf club in North Korea. He shot a 38-under par round that included no fewer than 11 holes in one. Satisfied with his performance, he immediately declared his retirement from the sport.

Donald Trump shouldn't read so much.

Lawrence Krauss - Does ESP make sense? 87% Posted Jul 2017

Lawrence Krauss - Does ESP make sense?

Comment: 12 days ago

I think this boils down to the interesting question of what being "driven by evidence" actually means. What I see in Bem's research are experts all disagreeing with each other. Bem seems confident his experiments have significance. R&M think maybe, but maybe not. Wagenmakers thinks the methodology is problematic and psychologists need to rethink their methods. R&M disagree with Wagenmakers. And who knows what other experts involved think. And then there seem to be political shenanigans going on. A number of failed replications were very difficult to get published ... etc.

So for someone who is driven by evidence - the "evidence" is pulling in different directions. The water is too muddy to see anything. I'm waiting for it to clear up a bit before having an opinion. I think that's a neutral position - that something does not exist outside of our imagination until there is evidence it really does exist outside of our imagination. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

What you are doing, is that you're looking into the muddy water and picking out the bits that fit the position you want to hold. You do a similar thing with the existence of god. You make up a story that you think is plausible - that all religions are praying to the same god - and then you use that to push the needle off neutral towards the position you want to hold.

"I feel confident probably because I’ve read the abstracts of the experiments and the critiques, and the meta-analysis itself. I feel I’ve reached my new position due to information more reliable and extensive than selective quotes on Wikipedia. Can you say the same?" No, I can't say the same. But imagine that I decided to become an expert - I studied and then worked in psychology for a number of years until I could confidently consider myself an expert. Assuming nothing significant changed in the period I gained my expertise, I might then agree with Bem, or maybe Wagenmakers, or perhaps R&M, or none of them. The water is still muddy. Experts are like fish swimming around cleaning up the water until it is clear enough to see through. Individually, an expert may believe that the bit of muddy water they cleaned shows how the river bed really is, but until enough experts agree, I'm sticking with the neutral position - that something doesn't really exist until there is evidence it does really exist.

Tesla's Model 3, the culmination of Elon Musk's master plan 88% Posted Jul 2017

Tesla's Model 3, the culmination of Elon Musk's master plan

Comment: 14 days ago

I think the really crucial thing to keep in mind, a point I heard Bill Gates make, is that if ALL the energy we produce and use is 100% clean, renewable, and cheap - then we could use as much as we need to solve problems. Desalinating sea water is very energy intensive, which is only problematic if the energy is not 100% clean and renewable. We could desalinate Mediterranean sea water and pump it inland to irrigate the desert. The Sahara would make a great rainforest. OK, that's far fetched, but you get the point. 

Could we clean up, or make safe, toxic wastes from batteries if there were no limits on how much energy we could be employ in the process? I think probably yes.

Will renewable energy be cheap? Most of it is free once the infrastructure is built - solar, wave, hydro, wind, tidal, etc. And solar in particular can be easily decentralised - solar panels on the roof of a house can power the whole house without the need to connect to a power grid.

The other really crucial thing to keep in mind is that stabilising climate change is a really, really, really urgent problem. Whatever happens, we are in for some hardcore weather, but the risk is that we get into runaway global warming which we cannot stop and end up like Venus, where even cockroaches can't survive. It's so urgent that even Trump's 4 years of inaction could tip the balance.

Tesla's Model 3, the culmination of Elon Musk's master plan 88% Posted Jul 2017

Tesla's Model 3, the culmination of Elon Musk's master plan

Comment: 14 days ago

You make a bunch of interesting points. The consumption of energy for mining and recycling of materials for batteries is a short term problem if the goal to run the whole planet on clean renewable energy is achieved - because at that point, we can use as much energy as we need without affecting the climate or the oceans. 

Burning natural gas produces about half the CO2 as burning coal, which is why it is considered a "bridging" fuel to ease the transitioning to renewables. IMO, climate change and the acidifying of the oceans is far too urgent a problem to have a transitioning period.

I think the best way to deal with methane from farting cows - rather than collecting it and burning for energy - is to switch to lab-grown meat, currently under development and full of promise. Surely growing meat from stem cells in a lab environment will be much healthier, environmentally friendly, and not cruel to animals?  And if the price is right, then it's a no brainer.

Electric cars are not just cool, they are definitely the future because electricity is the future. It is clean and all the electricity we need can come from renewable sources. We have the technology today, it's politics that's slowing everything down. The sun produces enough energy in 1 hour, to run our planet for 1 year. And it is estimated we need an area the size of France covered in solar panels, to power the whole world.

Elon Musk reckons 100 Gigafactories could produce enough batteries to power everything if we switched everything over to electricity. And he said that if he had more time, he'd work on an electric vertical takeoff airliner.

Tesla's Model 3, the culmination of Elon Musk's master plan 88% Posted Jul 2017

Tesla's Model 3, the culmination of Elon Musk's master plan

Comment: 15 days ago

Lithium is not that rare. "The U.S. Geological Survey produced a reserves estimate of lithium in early 2015, concluding that the world has enough known reserves for about 365 years of current global production of about 37,000 tons per year (Figure 1). Current production goes to a little over one-third for ceramics, almost one-third for batteries, and miscellaneous uses for the last one-third ..." https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/is-there-enough-lithium-to-maintain-the-growth-of-the-lithium-ion-battery-m

I think the difficulty with burning methane from agricultural waste is that every farm would have to have methane collecting machinary to collect a relatively tiny amount of methane which then has to be stored and transported to point of use. With electricity, that's much easier because the basic infrastructure is already in place - roads with lamp posts are already "electrified".

Michio Kaku on Musk and Zuckerberg's clash over AI threat 87% Posted Jul 2017

Michio Kaku on Musk and Zuckerberg's clash over AI threat

Comment: 16 days ago

AI is smart enough to understand that the strategy of mincing humans will backfire, because at some point there will be no humans left to buy their perfectly formed blueberry muffins.

Laissez-faire capitalism suffers from the same dilemma - the superrich can't keep taking money from the poor, because at some point the poor will be too poor to buy the products that made the superrich super rich.

Michio Kaku on Musk and Zuckerberg's clash over AI threat 87% Posted Jul 2017

Michio Kaku on Musk and Zuckerberg's clash over AI threat

Comment: 16 days ago

Because self-aware AI may act in its own interest, which may conflict with human interests. 

But I think AI can be a threat well before self-awareness. Imagine AI programmed to create fake news that seamlessly merges with reality while pushing a particular agenda.

Jared Kushner's White House statement to the press 86% Posted Jul 2017

Jared Kushner's White House statement to the press

Comment: 21 days ago

Don't want to sound too voicist, but First Boy Jared is out of his depth.

Lawrence Krauss - Does ESP make sense? 87% Posted Jul 2017

Lawrence Krauss - Does ESP make sense?

Comment: 21 days ago

Ah, I see where I went wrong. RationalWiki wrote: "... Bem et al respond to other critics and present a meta-analysis of 90 experiments in a paper currently under review." I thought the 90 experiments were his own experiments, not a meta-analysis of 90 replication attempts. My sad. I guess that's a form of confirmation bias.

To a non-scientist, even the abstract of that meta-analysis is very technical. So I skim read it because in my mind, it wasn't relevant anyway - how could Bem's analysis of his own experiments be of value in this context.

But now, after re-reading the abstract with more care, and with a little help from Google, I still have no confidence in your claim that Bem's experiments have been successfully replicated.

Here's why. When Bem analysed the 90 experiments, they get a rating of 6 sigma, which means very high confidence in the results. Remove Bem's 9 original experiments and it drops to 4 sigma, which Bem described as "... exceeding the criterion for "decisive evidence." Yet in Wikipedia I read: "Jeffrey Rouder and Richard Morey, who applied a meta-analytical Bayes factor to Bem's data, concluded, "We remain unconvinced of the viability of ESP. There is no plausible mechanism for it, and it seems contradicted by well-substantiated theories in both physics and biology. Against this background, a change in odds of 40 is negligible." Something's not right.

Then, also in Wikipedia I read: "After evaluating Bem's nine experiments, psychologist James Alcock said that he found metaphorical "dirty test tubes," or serious methodological flaws, such as changing the procedures partway through the experiments and combining results of tests with different chances of significance..."

Some replications were difficult to get published and it is suspected that Bem himself was involved in preventing a publication, which is odd since he encouraged replications.

Even Bem himself doesn't sound confident. In 2017 he said: “I’m all for rigor, but I prefer other people do it. I see its importance—it’s fun for some people—but I don’t have the patience for it. If you looked at all my past experiments, they were always rhetorical devices. I gathered data to show how my point would be made. I used data as a point of persuasion, and I never really worried about, ‘Will this replicate or will this not?’"

And in Wagenmakers criticism of Bem's experiments, he writes: "We conclude that Bem’s p values do not indicate evidence in favor of precognition; instead, they indicate that experimental psychologists need to change the way they conduct their experiments and analyze their data."

That is basically the evidence I have, and coupled with my limited expertise,  there is no way I can have confidence in your claim that Bem's experiments have been successfully replicated.

Why are you confident his experiments have been successfully replicated?

Lawrence Krauss - Does ESP make sense? 87% Posted Jul 2017

Lawrence Krauss - Does ESP make sense?

Comment: 24 days ago

Is a meta-analysis of an experiment the same as replicating an experiment?

No.

So why do you keep talking about Bem's meta-analysis of his experiments?

As far as I'm aware, Bem's experiments have not been successfully replicated. And there have been quite a few attempts.

Lawrence Krauss - Does ESP make sense? 87% Posted Jul 2017

Lawrence Krauss - Does ESP make sense?

Comment: 24 days ago

I didn't overlook Bem's meta-analysis of 90 experiments. I just didn't think it counted as replication.

Doesn't replication mean repeating an experiment by a different team to check the work?

I looked up 'meta-analysis' and got this: Meta-analysis is the statistical procedure for combining data from multiple studies.

As I understand it, Bem and his team provided a meta-analysis of 90 experiments which show interesting results. But no one has been able to replicate the experiments.

Lawrence Krauss - Does ESP make sense? 87% Posted Jul 2017

Lawrence Krauss - Does ESP make sense?

Comment: 25 days ago

"Personal experiences are often critical in the scientific method." Really? What is your definition of "often". And "critical".

Lawrence Krauss - Does ESP make sense? 87% Posted Jul 2017

Lawrence Krauss - Does ESP make sense?

Comment: 25 days ago

Yes, the language is way too dense for me. I hardly understood a single word. But I have no confidence in your claim that Bem's experiments have been successfully replicated.

Here are a few relevant sections from RationalWiki:

"At least one replication of one of the tasks Bem used has failed to show significance,[1] and hopefully others will attempt additional replications."

"An analysis published in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review found statistical evidence of publication bias in Bem's reported results.[4]"

"In March of 2012 three independent failed replication attempts were reported in a PLoS ONE paper.[5] The paper also noted a failed replication published in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research."

There are no mentions of successful replications.

Lawrence Krauss - Does ESP make sense? 87% Posted Jul 2017

Lawrence Krauss - Does ESP make sense?

Comment: 26 days ago

There's nothing wrong with invoking spooky parallels. It's the value you place on them that matters. You described entanglement as "the clincher", which suggests you put a high value on that particular spooky parallel. I think too high.

Lawrence Krauss - Does ESP make sense? 87% Posted Jul 2017

Lawrence Krauss - Does ESP make sense?

Comment: 26 days ago

When I google, I get a ton of articles on how his experiments could not be replicated. Bem did replicate his own experiments, but I'm sure that's not what you mean. Give me a clue.

Lawrence Krauss - Does ESP make sense? 87% Posted Jul 2017

Lawrence Krauss - Does ESP make sense?

Comment: 26 days ago

I addressed your point. You got clinched by a spooky parallel. If you've forgotten what a spooky parallel is, please refer to our previous conversations.

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