Nov. 29th, 2010

melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
[personal profile] melannen
I just stumbled over a discussion about a scientific paper that claims to prove precognition. It's making news because the methodology was impeccable enough that it's getting published in a major mainstream journal.

The work was by Daryl Bem, and what it specifically tested was retrocausality as applied to standard psych experiments - that is, he took an experiment where being exposed to a stimulus (seeing a word) changes a person's later response (seeing a picture related to the word) and reversed the order of events - giving the stimulus *after* the reponse had already been recorded.

And using these very standard, unimpeachable experimental set-ups, he seems to have gotten a results to show that the response is affected by future stimuli at something approaching half the rate of past stimuli. With these particular studies, the numbers are pretty small either way - something like .4 (for the standard experiment) vs. .25 (for the reversed one). But it's one of those fascinating cases where science is screwed either way - because if he was studying anything other than psi, Bem's results would have been accepted with no controversy (those kind of numbers come up in medication trials, for example, all the time.)

So either the experimental methods that *everybody* uses are flawed, or causality can flow backward. Mainstream science loses either way!


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