Okay, one quick follow-up to the Shermer/remote viewing post. It’s about how we categorize success where remote viewing is concerned. When Ray Hyman laughs off the success rate of remote viewing (15% psychic hits; 85% psychic misses by his count), should he be laughing? It depends on how we’re counting.
As a spy program for the military or CIA, yeah, 15% sucks. Shut the program down, by all means. As a statistical value wherein 15% represents chance, yeah, that’s pretty awful, too. But as proof that an as-yet scientifically unproven element of psychic aptitude really does exist? It’s gold.
We’re not talking about psychically influencing coin flips, here. We’re talking about visualizing what is sealed inside an envelope. In the case of the classroom exercise Shermer took part in, what’s in the envelope is a picture. In the case of military remote viewing, what was in the envelope was a set of “coordinates.” Numbers. I can’t remember if they were actual coordinates or just random numbers–if you know, please post in the comments. I’m too lazy to look it up.
So, you’ve got a target in an envelope to which the remote viewer is blind and the viewer starts sketching out what they visualize is in the envelope–or what is represented by the numbers. An accurate hit means that either what they sketch is the target or that the act of sketching aids them in being able to verbalize the target. Either way, what we end up with is a human who is perceiving something they can’t know. (If it’s coordinates or random numbers, obviously they are not perceiving what’s in the envelope but, somehow, the thought or intention of the person who wrote them. One of the big flaws I see with military remote viewing is they never tackled the question of how this works, they just knew that it did and went with it. But, if we live in a multiverse comprised of other choices we never made, yada-yada, who is to say that they are reading from this version of the person who put that in the envelope? Perhaps they end up reading some alternate version of the universe, which influences the exactness of the psychic hit. Or not. Just a possibility. I digress….)
Okay, that’s basically what remote viewing is. It’s a gussied up psychic ability. My contention is that the success rate of such a thing does not fall into the language of statistics. It just doesn’t. If even one hit is exact, that warrants uncorking the champaign. I think the dude writing “Stonehenge” when the target was Stonehenge counts as an exact hit. I think Michael Shermer admitting that, “I, myself, had picked up on a grassy field with a statue or monument near London” is close enough. I think him hiding behind the statistical probability that it’s chance is, how Penn and Teller say, bullshit.
Statistics? Irrelevant. If you have a picture hidden in an envelope of Stonehenge and I, an American in America, gain the impression that it’s Stonehenge and draw Stonehenge, that’s it. Game over. We don’t have to guess at what constitutes failure since the rest of the class is drawing circles that may or may not be fuzzy hits. I’ve hit it exactly. And not just me, Michael friggen Shermer. And not just us but other Westernized people 15% of the time. I wonder what that hit rate would be for, say, a First Peoples shaman?
This gets me to another rub: cultural bias. Anyone else here think that if a shaman living with/in/as nature looked at our scientific studies and charts trying to prove or disprove the reality of remote viewing he or she would actually be the only one with a right to a smirk? Not Shermer. Not Carr. Hey, how about the people who have built successful cultures around the very things we are arguing about discovering or discarding as nonsense?
Perhaps when we live with/in/as nature, these “psychic” connections grow stronger. The signal grows stronger without all the noise of thoughts and judgements and egocentrism and problem-solving inherent to a people who must fix and upgrade their buildings and pavements and online access, which they’ve invented to “conquer” and be able to freely ignore nature. Or perhaps that’s another conversation for another time.
Go back to the original article. Look at what Joe McMoneagle drew and look at what his target was. He drew the target! That doesn’t mean he can predict the future or alway get it right or even mostly get it right. I find his books overblown nonsense, for the most part, truth be told. But if he never got it right again, he did that once. (And he did get it right numerous times.)
I think the old adage “If even one UFO turns out to be alien, that’s enough,” applies here. Not statistics.