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The Evidence of Extra Sensory Perception ~ Precognition

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Is this evidence that we can see the future? Extraordinary claims don’t come much more extraordinary than this: events that haven’t yet happened can influence our behaviour. Parapsychologists have made outlandish claims about precognition – knowledge of unpredictable future events – for years. But the fringe phenomenon is about to get a mainstream airing: a paper providing evidence for its existence has been accepted for publication by the leading social psychology journal. What’s more, sceptical psychologists who have pored over a preprint of the paper say they can’t find any significant flaws. “My personal view is that this is ridiculous and can’t be true,” says Joachim Krueger of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, who has blogged about the work on the Psychology Today website. “Going after the methodology and the experimental design is the first line of attack. But frankly, I didn’t see anything. Everything seemed

to be in good order.” Critical mass;  The paper, due to appear in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology before the end of the year, is the culmination of eight years’ work by Daryl Bem of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. “I purposely waited until I thought there was a critical mass that wasn’t a statistical fluke,” he says. It describes a series of experiments involving more than 1000 student volunteers. In most of the tests, Bem took well-studied psychological phenomena and simply reversed the sequence, so that the event generally interpreted as the cause happened after the tested behaviour rather than before it. In one experiment, students were shown a list of words and then asked to recall words from it, after which they were told to type words that were randomly selected from the same list. Spookily, the students were better at recalling words that they would later type. In another study, Bem adapted research on “priming” – the effect of a subliminally presented word on a person’s response to an image. For instance, if someone is momentarily flashed the word “ugly”, it will take them longer to decide that a picture of a kitten is pleasant than if “beautiful” had been flashed. Running the experiment back-to-front, Bem found that the priming effect seemed to work backwards in time as well as forwards. ‘Stroke of genius’ Exploring time-reversed versions of established psychological

phenomena was “a stroke of genius”, says the sceptical Krueger. Previous research in parapsychology has used idiosyncratic set-ups such as Ganzfeld experiments, in which volunteers listen to white noise and are presented with a uniform visual field to create a state allegedly conducive to effects including clairvoyance and telepathy. By contrast, Bem set out to provide tests that mainstream psychologists could readily evaluate. The effects he recorded were small but statistically significant. In another test, for instance, volunteers were told that an erotic image was going to appear on a computer screen in one of two positions, and asked to guess in advance which position that would be. The image’s eventual position was selected at random, but volunteers guessed correctly 53.1 per cent of the time. That may sound unimpressive – truly random guesses would have been right 50 per cent of the time, after all. But well-established phenomena such as the ability of low-dose aspirin to prevent heart attacks are based on similarly small effects, notes Melissa Burkley of Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, who has also blogged about Bem’s work at Psychology Today. Respect for a maverick;  So far, the paper has held up to scrutiny. “This paper went through a series of reviews from some of our most trusted reviewers,” says Charles Judd of the University of Colorado at Boulder, who heads the section of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology editorial board that handled the paper. Indeed, although Bem is a self-described

“maverick” with a long-standing interest in paranormal phenomena, he is also a respected psychologist with a reputation for running careful experiments. He is best known for the theory of self-perception, which argues that people infer their attitudes from their own behaviour in much the same way as they assess the attitudes of others. Bem says his paper was reviewed by four experts who proposed amendments, but still recommended publication. Still, the journal will publish a sceptical editorial commentary alongside the paper, says Judd. “We hope it spurs people to try to replicate these effects.” One failed attempt at replication has already been posted online. In this study, Jeff Galak of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Leif Nelson of the University of California, Berkeley, employed an online panel called Consumer Behavior Lab in an effort to repeat Bem’s findings on the recall of words. Bem argues that online surveys are inconclusive, because it’s impossible to know whether volunteers have paid sufficient attention to the task. Galak concedes that this is a limitation of the initial study, but says he is now planning a follow-up involving student volunteers that will more closely repeat the design of Bem’s word-recall experiment. This seems certain to be just the first exchange in a lively debate: Bem says that dozens of researchers have already contacted him requesting details of the work. Daryl Bem: A Brief Professional Bio;  Daryl J. Bem, professor emeritus of psychology at Cornell University, obtained his BA degree in physics from Reed College in 1960, and began graduate work in physics at MIT. The civil rights movement had just begun, and he became so intrigued with the changing attitudes toward desegregation in the American South that he decided to switch fields and pursue a career as a social psychologist specializing in attitudes and public opinion. He obtained his PhD degree in social psychology from the University of Michigan in 1964, and has since taught at Carnegie-Mellon University, Stanford, Harvard, and Cornell University, where he has been since 1978. He retired from Cornell on June 30, 2007. Professor Bem has published on several diverse topics in psychology, including group decision making, self-perception, personality theory, ESP, and sexual orientation. He is coauthor of an introductory textbook in psychology and the author of Beliefs, Attitudes, and Human Affairs (1970). Professor Bem has presented testimony to a subcommittee of the United States Senate on the psychological effects of police interrogation and has served as an expert witness in several court cases involving sex discrimination. Sources: newscientist.com  &   Cornell University ~  Precognition (from the Latin præ-, “before,” + cognitio, “acquiring knowledge”), also called future sight, refers to perception that involves the acquisition of future information that cannot be deduced from presently available and normally acquired sense-based information.The related terms, premonition (from the Latin praemonēre) and presentiment refer to

information about future events that is perceived as emotions. The terms are usually used to denote a seemingly parapsychological or extrasensory process of perception, including clairvoyance. Psychological processes have also explained the phenomena. As with other forms of extrasensory perception, the existence of precognition is not accepted by the scientific community, because no replicable demonstration has ever been achieved.Scientific investigation of extrasensory perception (ESP) is complicated by the definition which implies that the phenomena go against established principles of science. Specifically, precognition would violate the principle that an effect cannot occur before its cause. However, there are established biases, affecting human memory and judgment of probability, that create convincing but false impressions of precognition. Parapsychological; There are several ways by which precognition can be conceived as occurring without fundamental dependence on normally recognized processes of perception and cognition, i.e., by psi.Firstly, there are several ways to explain precognition as a form of extrasensory perception. Precognition can be conceived as an extraordinary process of clairvoyance, involving no direct perception of the future. If, as is offered by the philosophy of determinism, all future events are determined by present conditions, then it can be suggested that it is clairvoyance of all the relevant present conditions that permits one to know their future outcomes. Alternatively, if somebody in the present is aware of what will happen in the future, then it can be suggested that it is telepathy of that information that grants oneself

a like knowledge of the future. “Seeing into the future” can also be conceived as not a direct perception of a future event, but only a perception of one’s own future experience of that event; what J. B. Rhine called precognitive sensory perception.Support to this suggestion is given by the meta-analysis which includes the study of a subset of experiments in which details were provided about the feedback of target information given to subjects in the future. The study shows that when no feedback was given, the significance of the results fell to chance-expectation. This does suggest that the contacts were being made with the subject’s future experience of receiving the target information, and not with the targets themselves. The construct of psychokinesis permits another set of ways to think about precognition. It can be suggested that precognition involves the influence of present conditions so that they conform with what is precognized.Alternatively, a retrocausal process can be proferred as an explanation, raising the idea that, at a future time, the ostensibly present conditions are influenced backward in time. As for theories of precognition itself, parapsychologists have offered several phenomenological theories that – like most psychological theories themselves – do not presume to provide a physical explanation of how precognition occurs, but only seek to describe the processes that must, it seems, be occurring at a psychological level of explanation. There are two classes of such theories, which are not exclusive to each other.  ~  GoodNews International


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