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Bogus mind pr0n.

May 5, 2011

This guy: Michael Shermer

Back in January, we posted on an intriguing study on extra sensory perception. At the time I was curious but cautious, and eagerly awaited the input of skeptics much smarter than myself. Luckily, the world has Michael Shermer.

The study conducted by Daryl Bem exposed subjects to erotic and non-erotic images randomly, and tested to see if the subjects could predict where the images would appear. Bem’s results seemed to point to a small but notable percentage that supported ESP in terms of predicting future events.

Alas, it was all bunk. According to Shermer:

Bem’s study is an example of negative evidence: if science cannot determine the causes of X through normal means, then X must be the result of paranormal causes. Ray Hyman, an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Oregon and an expert on assessing paranormal research, calls this issue the “patchwork quilt problem” in which “anything can count as psi, but nothing can count against it.” In essence, “if you can show that there is a significant effect and you can’t find any normal means to explain it, then you can claim psi.”

Shermer goes on to point out all the holes in Bem’s study, and as always, his article is a great read, I highly recommend you check it out, along with our original post on the matter here.

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