Professors and their servile press flunkeys do amazingly good jobs at isolating themselves in intellectual silos, using filter bubble techniques that keep them from being exposed to information that they do not want to learn about. The ideological enclaves of such scientists are enforced through a wide variety of censorship techniques and information restriction techniques. First, there is the "peer review" process under which anonymous scientist reviewers recommend non-publication for almost any paper finding some result that conflicts with the belief system of the modern scientist. Then there is the fact that scientific textbooks and college science lectures conveniently avoid mentioning (except in some brief deprecatory way) very many important observations that conflict with the dogmas that professors are trying to propagate. Then there is the fact that science information web sites such as www.sciencedaily.com and livescience.com tend to only report news stories that are consistent with the worldviews of the modern scientist. Then there are various subtle devaluation techniques by which hard-to-explain observations from residents of exotic locales such as India or China may be systematically devalued or excluded, or observations of hard-to-explain anomalies from before 1950 are systematically devalued or excluded. Then there is the "purse string" control by which professors channel research dollars away from subjects they don't want investigated, and towards subjects they are enthusiastic about, which are often very speculative. Then there is the "keep our shelves modern" technique, by which "old-fashioned" books are gradually removed from the science book shelves of colleges, depriving readers of a host of inconvenient hard-to-explain observations from before 1950.
An example of such an ideological enclave is the https://arxiv.org/ Cornell physics paper server. Mainly a storage place for preprints of physics papers, the server also stores a wide variety of other types of papers. The server describes itself as "an open-access archive for 1,819,574 scholarly articles in the fields of physics, mathematics, computer science, quantitative biology, quantitative finance, statistics, electrical engineering and systems science, and economics."
We can see the very high ideological bias of the arXiv.org server in the fact that at the beginning of this year the server stored countless tens of thousands of utterly speculative papers about never-observed things such as dark matter, exponential primordial cosmic inflation, dark energy and the theoretical constructs of string theory, but the server seemed to contain no papers discussing evidence for the very well-observed phenomenon of ESP (extrasensory perception), despite almost 200 years of abundant scientific observational evidence for such a phenomenon. For example, a search on the arxiv.org server for papers with "dark matter" in their title produces 13,598 papers, but a a search on the arxiv.org server for papers with "ESP" or "telepathy" in their title produces only a few dozen matches, none of which are papers dealing with extrasensory perception or telepathy. There is no direct observational evidence for dark matter, but almost two hundred years of dramatic observational evidence for ESP.
Finally the other day a paper managed to breach this absurd censorship. The paper by Dean Radin and biologist Stuart Kauffman is entitled "Is Brain-Mind Quantum? A theory and supporting evidence." I will skip over a discussion of the theoretical aspects of the paper, and focus on its citation of evidence for paranormal phenomena and psi, a broad term referring to things such as ESP, clairvoyance, mind-over-matter (sometimes called telekinesis or psychokinesis) and precognition (an anomalous ability to fortell the future). On page 5 the paper tells us that such paranormal experiences are "even reported by a high proportion (over 90%) of randomly sampled contemporary scientists and engineers." On page 6 the authors commit the error of stating, "Psi effects have been systematically studied using the tools and techniques of science starting in the late 1800s." To the contrary, psi effects have been systematically studied using the tools and techniques of science starting around 1825, the beginning of the committee of the Royal Academy of Medicine which found (after six years of diligent scientific study) in favor of clairvoyance (a psi effect) in 1831.
On page 6 the paper notes that a review published in the American Psychologist (the flagship journal of the American Psychological Association) stated the following:
"The evidence provides cumulative support for the reality of psi, which cannot be readily explained away by the quality of the studies, fraud, selective reporting, experimental or analytical incompetence, or other frequent criticisms. The evidence for psi is comparable to that for established phenomena in psychology and other disciplines."
At the beginning of page 7 the authors start some reasoning that isn't very strong, something along the lines of psi effects can occur because "the world is quantum." Theories of physics (such as quantum mechanics) have little relevance to the possibility of psi. The real issue is whether or not human minds are merely the results of brains, or whether the human mind is some spiritual reality or soul reality. Once we realize there is no proof for the claim that the mind is merely a product of brains, and examine all the reasons for thinking mind and memory are not brain effects, all kinds of psi effects seem perfectly possible. If you have a soul or a spirit, then the limits of such a thing are unknown (just as we cannot say for sure anything about the limits of an extraterrestrial spaceship if it were to arrive).
On page 7 the authors begin discussing evidence for telepathy (also called ESP). The authors discuss only evidence for ESP gathered in recent decades, such as evidence from what is called the ganzfeld technique, a technique for testing ESP in subjects in a rather drowsy state of sensory deprivation. The evidence produced using this technique (which originated a few decades ago) is very good, but much better evidence was gathered in earlier decades by researchers such as Joseph Rhine of Duke University, and many doctors reporting dramatic clairvoyance in hypnotized subjects. The authors give this summary of the telepathy evidence from the ganzfeld experiments, in which the success rate expected by chance is 25%:
"From 1974 to 2018, the combined ganzfeld database contained 117 studies. Of those, studies using targets sets with 4 possible targets included 3,885 test sessions, resulting in 1,188 hits, corresponding to a 30.6% hit rate. With chance at 25%, this excess hit rate is 8.1 sigma above chance expectation (p = 5.6 × 10-16). Analysis of these studies showed that similar effect sizes were reported by independent labs, that the results were not affected by variations in experimental quality, and that selective reporting biases could not explain away the results. The Bayes Factors (BF) associated with the last 108 more recently published ganzfeld telepathy studies was 18.8 million in favor of H1 (i.e., evidence favoring telepathy). Given that BF > 100 is considered 'decisive' evidence, this outcome far exceeds the 'exceptional evidence' said to be required of exceptional claims.[48,49] By comparison, in particle physics experiments effects resulting in 5 or more sigma are considered experimental 'discoveries.' ”
The probability of 1 in 5.6 × 10-16 cited is a likelihood of less than 1 in a quadrillion. So the ganzfeld experiments got results with a chance likelihood of less than 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000. Given a 30% hit rate (5% above what was expected by chance), this very low probability should surprise no one familiar with what is called the law of large numbers. This is the law that the more trials, the more unlikely it is that a result will differ from the result expected by chance. So given a deck of cards with four suits (clubs, hearts, spades, and diamonds), you might guess by chance the suit of a randomly selected card at a rate much higher than 25% if you make only a few guesses. But the more guesses you make, the closer your hit rate will be to the rate expected by chance. For example, with 1000 guesses you success rate by chance would be something close to 25%, and it would be incredibly unlikely that by chance you would get as high as 30%.
I already knew about the results of the ganzfeld experiments being in excess of 30%. But I then learned something very interesting I did not know, that a certain subgroup of subjects scored at a rate of 40% (in these experiments with an expected chance result of 25%). We read the following, mentioning a probability (p) of less than 1 in a 10 billion:
"The modest 5% advantage over chance expectation in the ganzfeld telepathy studies suggests that rudimentary forms of telepathy are widely distributed among the general population. We know this because the majority of participants in these studies were unselected, often just college students participating in an experiment to gain credit for their psychology courses. By contrast, in a subset of these studies where participants were selected based on their prior reports of telepathic experiences, maintaining an active meditative practice, engaged in creative pursuits, and/or having strong belief in psi, the hit rate was a more robust 40.1%, some 6.2 sigma above chance expectation (p = 2.8 x 10-10)."
On page 9 we learn of some psychologists who disavowed belief in ESP, but who still got an incredibly unlikely success rate of 32% in ganzfeld experiments with an expected success rate of 25%. The authors then have a discussion of some not-very-convincing evidence under headings of "electrocortical evidence" and "autonomic nervous system evidence." It would have been much better if such a discussion had been replaced with a discussion of ESP evidence gathered before 1950.
We then learn of some highly successful results:
"The first published meta-analysis of these studies retrieved 26 relevant publications from 1978 to 2010. The results showed a significant effect ranging from 5.3 sigma (p < 5 x 10-8 ) to 6.9 sigma (p < 2 x 10-12), depending on whether a random effects or fixed effects model was employed. Higher quality experiments resulted in larger effect sizes and greater levels of significance than lower quality studies, and selective reporting was deemed insufficient to explain the results."
We then read about experiments in mind-over-matter, sometimes called psychokinesis or telekinesis. The most common such experiment tested attempts to mentally influence the results of dice throwing. We read of a probability (p) of less than 1 in a billion trillion quadrillion quintillion sextillion:
"Systematic scientific tests of psychokinetic effects on dice began in 1935. A meta-analysis published in 1989 found 73 relevant publications, representing the efforts of 52 investigators from 1935 to 1987. Over that half-century, some 2,500 people attempted to mentally influence 2.6 million dice-throws in 148 experiments, and 150,000 dice-throws in 31 control studies where mental influence was not applied. The number of dice tossed in a single throw ranged from 1 to 96. The overall effect size was small, but the overall results were 19 sigma over chance expectation (p ≈ 10-80)."
On page 13 the authors describe mind-over-matter experiments with random number generators. Such experiments often involve random number generators that worked through radioactive decay, a process that is inherently random and unpredictable. We read this, describing results with a probability (p) of less than 1 in a trillion:
"The first meta-analysis of these studies, published in 1989, retrieved 152 publications, describing 597 experimental and 235 control studies reported by 68 different principal investigators. Any experiment using an RNG as the target of mind-matter interaction was included in that analysis. The results showed a 6.8 sigma effect (p = 5.23 x 10-12) in the experimental data, null results in the controls, no significant effects due to selective reporting, and null correlations with assessed experimental quality."
The authors have managed to get this compelling evidence for paranomal phenomena past the usual ideological censorship of the Cornell physics paper server by using a paper title that does not mention the paranormal, but uses the word "quantum" and uses the phrase "brain-mind." The evidence presented actually defies any such idea as a "brain-mind," and supports the idea that the human mind is something very different from the brain, and not the product of the brain. No one has any remotely credible account of how a brain could produce phenomena such as ESP or mind-over-matter. But if a mind is an aspect of a soul or spirit, then we have no idea of what the limitations of such a thing may be, and we should not be surprised by phenomena such as ESP and mind-over-matter. The slight mention of quantum mechanics in the paper is just a little superfluous semantic sprinkling. Psi phenomena such as ESP and mind-over-matter do not tell us much of anything about quantum mechanics. But such paranormal phenomena do suggest something very important about the relation between the brain and the mind: that the prevailing dogma about such a relation (that the mind is merely the product of the brain) is dead wrong. Just after describing an astonishingly exact account of telepathy, Arthur W. Osborn states this in his very interesting book on precognition entitled The Future Is Now:
"Many volumes have been filled with accounts of spontaneous telepathy and clairvoyance. As I have pointed out elsewhere, these facts destroy all mechanistic attempts to explain consciousness as being merely a product of neural functioning. If it is assumed that all our knowledge is derived only by means of the senses, then how can we know of events entirely beyond the reach of the senses?... Both spontaneous and experimental cases of paranormal cognition demonstrate that certain people do become aware of thoughts in other minds and of events at a distance under conditions of rigorous control which exclude the possibility of fraud and where it is impossible for any physical means of communication to operate....Clairvoyance and telepathy do indeed pose crucial problems for the classical theories of mind; and for those theories which postulate that consciousness is exclusively dependent on the physical organism they administer a coup de grace."
The same book by Osborn has many interesting accounts of paranormal phenomena. For example, we learn of the case of a Mr. Dencausse, who about eight days before his death declared that he knew that he would die on All Saint's Day. Four days before his natural death, he was examined by a doctor, who found him to be "giving no indication of impending death." On October 29, 1916 he announced "I shall die on All Saints’ Day, on the stroke of midnight, without suffering." We are told, "This prediction was exactly fulfilled, at midnight, Tuesday, October 31,1916, All Saints’ Day."