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Can Porn Make You Psychic?

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2 comments to Can Porn Make You Psychic?

  • HappyEvilSlosh

    It’s been a while since I read the paper but if I recall correctly it isn’t true that over 1000 people were used on any single trial, rather over 1000 people were used spread across 7 different experiments, for that particular one you talk about I seem to remember it only involving around 200 people.

    Secondly I’m all about bashing this paper but I believe the one you link has been withdrawn by the authors since it was done online and they couldn’t prove people were paying attention. http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1018886/Bem6.pdf is a paper that specifically attacks the use of statistics in Bem’s paper.

  • pegdirb

    I encourage everyone to read the paper, instead of relying on very limited accounts of it, such as this one.
    It clearly is not enough to convince me of the existence of psi, and my guess is that most future attempts to replicate will fail. However, it is a rigorous, methodologically sound set of experiments to test precognition. It is also quite simple in procedures and analysis (but see Wagenmakers, Wetzels, Borsboom & Maas 2010), which make it very easy for anyone to replicate. This is clearly a plus in comparison to other examples from the psi tests or related issues such as alternative medicine. In sum, Bem presents a paper that meets the criteria that we skeptics usually ask (and rarely get) from people suggesting evidence of psi. This is mainly an empirical paper, trying to convince us of the existence of the effect. In terms of explanations the author himself does not have confidence in any answer. He openly admits that his speculations on evolutionary basis or quantum mechanics are just that – the best speculations he can come up with to account for the effects.
    Do not get stuck on the fact of using erotic or pornographic stimuli. That is really not the point! In fact, those kind of materials are not that uncommonly used in experiments. In addition, the experiment here described (Experiment 1) is actually the least convincing to me, because they present no justification or convincing reason for not expecting the effect with the negative pictures (maybe because they did not find it…). However, there are a few more convincing studies after that (although I doubt they will replicate).
    In fact, replication is the point here, and I want to alert anyone interested in pursuing replication attempts that Richard Wiseman is having a registration of anyone who intends to do it, before having the results (go to his blog for this).
    Finally, it is important to realize that even if this was to replicate (with the proper statistical tests), it would still not be evidence for the kind of precognition most anecdotes deal with (broader and supposedly much more powerful). However, it would be ‘precognition’ and something quite hard to reconcile with our current notions of ‘things’.

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