This book changes everything.

Discussion and reviews of books and other items of interest to our members.

This book changes everything.

Postby John Bear » Wed Sep 19, 2007 7:29 pm

Elizabeth Mayer (Ph.D., Stanford) was a longtime psychoanalyst and clinical professor of psychology at Berkeley, and an activist in various skeptical organizations.

Her son's extremely valuable harp was stolen. After going through all the usual police and advertising procedures, she was told of a dowser in Arkansas who specializes in finding missing objects. She figured she'd at least have another debunking story to tell. She phoned the man. He told her at once that the harp was in Oakland, California, and to send him a street map of Oakland. She did. He identified the exact house--in a neighborhood she'd never been to--where the harp would be, and it was.

As she wrote, "This changes everything."

She devoted the next fifteen years of her life to learning more about this kind of situation. (She died tragically just before her book was published). As it became known in the world of science that she, the confirmed skeptic, was looking into these things, people came forward with stories they'd never dared to tell. Many of them. A famous surgeon, renowned for his success rate on delicate brain surgery, told her that for years, he only has chosen patients whom he sees as surrounded by a white light. She spent time at the Princeton (that's Princeton University) Engineeering Anomalies Research laboratory where they study things that "can't" happen, but do.

And so on. And so on.

She makes an extremely persuasive case for the existence of phenomena that cannot necessarily be replicated in controlled laboratory studies, or under the Amazing Randi's Million-Dollar Challenge. Yes, of course that claim has been often made, from the Duke/Rhine ESP research to seeing a 900-foot-tall Jesus outside the window. But coming from someone I totally respect, with her skeptical credentials . . . well, that got to me . . . and, it seems, many others. Her book seems very popular on Amazon. Extraordinary Knowing: Science Skepticism and the Inexplicable Powers of the Human Mind. http://tinyurl.com/2xzas4

'Tis an interest experience having ones mind pried open, after all these years.
John Bear
Senior Member
 
Posts: 2536
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2006 5:12 am
Location: California

Postby SteveFoerster » Wed Sep 19, 2007 8:15 pm

Not unrelatedly, I've always wondered what truth, if any, there might be to claims of UFOs and extraterrestrials, by, for example, the Disclosure Project.

The government denies it all, obviously, and that should be enough, but they lie about so much that to me their denial alone is enough to make it worth examining.

-=Steve=-
BS, Information Systems concentration, Charter Oak State College
MA in Educational Technology Leadership, George Washington University
PhD in Leadership, U. of the Cumberlands (in progress)
More about me at my site
SteveFoerster
Senior Member
 
Posts: 2352
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2006 8:41 pm
Location: Northern Virginia & Dominica, West Indies

Postby Brandon » Wed Sep 19, 2007 10:23 pm

I’ll definitely have to add this book to my reading list. I’m not really surprised by any of it. My worldview has a spot for such phenomena. Thanks, Dr. Bear, I’m sure this will be a really enjoyable book.
Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour.

- 1 Peter 5:8

Bernie 2016

Support the Pregnant Women Support Act!
Brandon
Senior Member
 
Posts: 1890
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2006 11:02 pm
Location: Indiana

Postby Crisper » Wed Sep 19, 2007 11:12 pm

Brandon wrote: My worldview has a spot for such phenomena.


Mine doesn't.

Well okay, I do accept that intuition, and unregistered ways of knowing, can be real phenomena. But I don't see any plausible mechanism to explain the hard-core psi claims (true telepathy, telekinetics, whatever dowsing is supposed to be, etc.)
Chris
Crisper
Senior Member
 
Posts: 776
Joined: Fri Jul 28, 2006 4:18 pm
Location: Toronto

Postby Brandon » Wed Sep 19, 2007 11:31 pm

I don’t see anyway for it to be explained, either. My worldview, however, includes the spiritual and other unexplained phenomena. Now, I don’t believe that telepathy and telekinetics is real, either. However, I don’t see any reason why it might not be possible, just because it is hardcore and difficult to explain. Please don’t mistake me for an individual who buys into anything. I consider myself a Christian skeptic and was quite fond of the writings of Carl Sagan, especially his Demon Haunted World. Peace.
Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour.

- 1 Peter 5:8

Bernie 2016

Support the Pregnant Women Support Act!
Brandon
Senior Member
 
Posts: 1890
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2006 11:02 pm
Location: Indiana

Postby John Bear » Thu Sep 20, 2007 12:40 am

Crisper: "But I don't see any plausible mechanism to explain the hard-core psi claims (true telepathy, telekinetics, whatever dowsing is supposed to be, etc.)"

John: Nor do I. Nor did Dr. Mayer. But, since the harp event was both undeniable and inexplicable, she spent 15 years collecting a huge number of accounts from people even more skeptical than she who said, in effect, 'I cannot conceive of any mechanism, nor can I question the methodology nor deny the results of this research."
John Bear
Senior Member
 
Posts: 2536
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2006 5:12 am
Location: California

Postby Crisper » Thu Sep 20, 2007 2:57 am

John Bear wrote:Crisper: "But I don't see any plausible mechanism to explain the hard-core psi claims (true telepathy, telekinetics, whatever dowsing is supposed to be, etc.)"

John: Nor do I. Nor did Dr. Mayer. But, since the harp event was both undeniable and inexplicable, she spent 15 years collecting a huge number of accounts from people even more skeptical than she who said, in effect, 'I cannot conceive of any mechanism, nor can I question the methodology nor deny the results of this research."


Good point. The fact that no explanation is currently plausible should not be enough in itself to rule something out of the bounds of possibility.

However, in this case, I believe that the lack of plausible mechanism is not the only problem. I am not convinced that there is any phenomenon which needs to be explained by such a mechanism. I have never seen evidence that the demonstration of any of these effects is greater than chance would expect, given strict control conditions.
Chris
Crisper
Senior Member
 
Posts: 776
Joined: Fri Jul 28, 2006 4:18 pm
Location: Toronto

Postby Brandon » Thu Sep 20, 2007 3:11 am

Crisper wrote:
John Bear wrote:Crisper: "But I don't see any plausible mechanism to explain the hard-core psi claims (true telepathy, telekinetics, whatever dowsing is supposed to be, etc.)"

John: Nor do I. Nor did Dr. Mayer. But, since the harp event was both undeniable and inexplicable, she spent 15 years collecting a huge number of accounts from people even more skeptical than she who said, in effect, 'I cannot conceive of any mechanism, nor can I question the methodology nor deny the results of this research."


Good point. The fact that no explanation is currently plausible should not be enough in itself to rule something out of the bounds of possibility.

However, in this case, I believe that the lack of plausible mechanism is not the only problem. I am not convinced that there is any phenomenon which needs to be explained by such a mechanism. I have never seen evidence that the demonstration of any of these effects is greater than chance would expect, given strict control conditions.


True, however, it seems that some hardened skeptics aren’t entirely certain of that explanation. I think the tendency to state that some natural phenomena will eventually explain these unexplained occurrences is an interesting response. It reminds me of the “god of the gaps” argument, only now it is the “natural phenomena of the gaps” type of thing. No disrespect meant to you, of course. I think there is a lot more to this stuff than what our science has been able to explain using rational, natural explanation. Maybe I’m just dumb for believing that. Oh well.
Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour.

- 1 Peter 5:8

Bernie 2016

Support the Pregnant Women Support Act!
Brandon
Senior Member
 
Posts: 1890
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2006 11:02 pm
Location: Indiana

Postby Crisper » Thu Sep 20, 2007 4:08 pm

Brandon wrote:
True, however, it seems that some hardened skeptics aren’t entirely certain of that explanation. I think the tendency to state that some natural phenomena will eventually explain these unexplained occurrences is an interesting response. It reminds me of the “god of the gaps” argument, only now it is the “natural phenomena of the gaps” type of thing. No disrespect meant to you, of course. I think there is a lot more to this stuff than what our science has been able to explain using rational, natural explanation. Maybe I’m just dumb for believing that. Oh well.


Brandon,

I am not relying on a "God of the gaps" approach here - I am not saying that some explanation will emerge "eventually." What I am saying is that I don't believe there is anything to be explained. I am not convinced that the phenemona exist, so therefore, I don't expect, or require, any explanation.

...and you know that I think you are far from dumb...
Chris
Crisper
Senior Member
 
Posts: 776
Joined: Fri Jul 28, 2006 4:18 pm
Location: Toronto

Postby Brandon » Thu Sep 20, 2007 5:07 pm

I’m not really convinced, either. However, I prefer to keep my options open and simply suspend judgment until a later date. Maybe someday we will know for sure. :D
Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour.

- 1 Peter 5:8

Bernie 2016

Support the Pregnant Women Support Act!
Brandon
Senior Member
 
Posts: 1890
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2006 11:02 pm
Location: Indiana

Re: This book changes everything.

Postby DTechBA » Thu Sep 20, 2007 6:39 pm

John Bear wrote:Her son's extremely valuable harp was stolen. After going through all the usual police and advertising procedures, she was told of a dowser in Arkansas who specializes in finding missing objects. She figured she'd at least have another debunking story to tell. She phoned the man. He told her at once that the harp was in Oakland, California, and to send him a street map of Oakland. She did. He identified the exact house--in a neighborhood she'd never been to--where the harp would be, and it was.



So why isn't this person finding all of the missing people in the world? Or even a few? In our society he/she could have found just a few and it would have been all over the media. Instead, we have a story about a harp which cannot be verified because the witness has, sadly, passed.

I am a skeptic and this story has many of the usual parts to spark skepticism. IE, the author died before publication, the phenomena she talks about can't be replicated in controlled studies, etc. Something like tis in relation to a mill would be jumped all over on here.

The world is a weird and still often unexplained place. I agree weird things appear to happen but never underestimate the opportunity of chance in anything. The odds of winning the lottery are astronomical but people do win the lottery. However, if something like she claims happened, really happened, it could have been replicated and tested to overcome the possibility of chance. If the person had this power on call it would be used and people would know about it.

For every book like this there is another to debunk every point.
DTechBA
Senior Member
 
Posts: 740
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2006 3:30 pm

Postby John Bear » Thu Sep 20, 2007 6:55 pm

DTechBA: "For every book like this there is another to debunk every point."

John: Yeah, that's my point. Until now. I am a third-generation lifelong skeptic. My grandfather shamed his family in rural Russia by refusing Bar Mitzvah because he didn't believe in it. My father called one of his popular novels No Stork at Nine, from one of his favorite quotes--Bertrand Russell, I think, "For me there was no santa at six, no stork at nine, no god at twelve." I've read many of the debunking books, and this book, written by a lifelong skeptic with huge respect for research protocols, has shaken me to the core. That was my point. If someone else were actually to read it, and then explain why and how it is debunkable, I'd be most interested.
John Bear
Senior Member
 
Posts: 2536
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2006 5:12 am
Location: California

Postby DTechBA » Thu Sep 20, 2007 7:14 pm

John Bear wrote:DTechBA: "For every book like this there is another to debunk every point."

John: Yeah, that's my point. Until now. I am a third-generation lifelong skeptic. My grandfather shamed his family in rural Russia by refusing Bar Mitzvah because he didn't believe in it. My father called one of his popular novels No Stork at Nine, from one of his favorite quotes--Bertrand Russell, I think, "For me there was no santa at six, no stork at nine, no god at twelve." I've read many of the debunking books, and this book, written by a lifelong skeptic with huge respect for research protocols, has shaken me to the core. That was my point. If someone else were actually to read it, and then explain why and how it is debunkable, I'd be most interested.


Note, I am not saying things don't happen. I just have to ask if these people have this power why can they not demonstrate it under controlled circumstances? That is ever the 1000 pound gorilla in the room.

And you of all people know that in theoretical research the onus is generally not to disprove something but to prove it or at least disprove other possibilities. That is the crux of the the supreme being argument. People say prove it and others say disprove it when neither can be proven. If someone was to locate things in a controlled environment beyond the realm of chance I would be the first to say it is a possibility.

I would definately like to read this book. However, like everything else in my life lately, (except for my studies, which have slowed down too) it will probably wait until my son stops playing competitive soccer. If you have ever been a soccer parent of a committed soccer kid you know what I mean. And yes, I have tried to read at games. That didn't work, I always end up jumping up and down at something or the other.

I have a stack of books waiting to be read. I have been working at one about Teddy Roosevelt's post presidency life for a month. I used to read a book like that over a weekend...
DTechBA
Senior Member
 
Posts: 740
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2006 3:30 pm

Postby John Bear » Fri Sep 21, 2007 1:28 am

DTechBA: " I just have to ask if these people have this power why can they not demonstrate it under controlled circumstances?"

John: That's been my question for decades. If you can really do it, then win the Randi $1.1 Million Challenge.

And that, of course, was Mayer's question too. After the harp incident, she devoted 15 years to finding hundreds and hundreds of such circumstances, ranging from the massive CIA-funded remote viewing research at SRI to Princeton's long-term Engineering Anomalies project.

She suggests that whatever is going on (and she doesn't address that), there is a middle ground between the things that always work (law of gravity), and the things that do not always work, but when they do, they really do.

Here's the first chapter of the book:

http://www.enotalone.com/article/11962.html
John Bear
Senior Member
 
Posts: 2536
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2006 5:12 am
Location: California

Postby SteveFoerster » Fri Sep 21, 2007 4:49 pm

It would be interesting to encourage people who have had these experiences to have kids together for a few generations and see what happens. Think Heinlein's Howard families, but with a parapsychological objective rather than one of longevity.

-=Steve=-
BS, Information Systems concentration, Charter Oak State College
MA in Educational Technology Leadership, George Washington University
PhD in Leadership, U. of the Cumberlands (in progress)
More about me at my site
SteveFoerster
Senior Member
 
Posts: 2352
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2006 8:41 pm
Location: Northern Virginia & Dominica, West Indies

Next

Return to Books & Reviews

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron