Oct 12, 2022Liked by Giulio Prisco

On Wed, Oct 12, 2022 at 1:46 AM Giulio Prisco <giulio@gmail.com> wrote:

> OK John, we'll just have to agree to disagree on this point.

I think fundamentally we agree more than we disagree.

> let me summarize yet another good argument for psi.

>If our sci/tech continues to develop, it seems likely or at least plausible that one day, perhaps in only >a few centuries, most humans will have brain implants with neural lace connected to whatever the >internet will become. In other words, most humans will be telepathic. We will also be able to control >some kind of utility fog to move things and act in the physical world. In other words, most humans >will have psychokinetic abilities. I could continue and cover all parts of psi... So psi will exist in our >universe.

I agree, except that in a few centuries (perhaps a few decades) it will not be biological humans that have such abilities but our descendants the machines, what Hans Moravec called our "Mind Children" in his book by the same name, a book I highly recommend.

> if we can find a way to do something, I guess nature must have found ways to do the same thing. >Some degree of psi would evidently have evolutionary value, so I guess it is included in Darwin's >playbook.

Not necessarily because random mutation and natural selection is horribly cruel, inefficient and slow, but until it finally managed to produce a brain, after billions of years of fumbling around, it was the only way complex objects could get made. Intelligent design works much faster, we only got serious about building brains about 70 years ago and look at the enormous progress we've made in that short time.

John K Clark

Expand full comment
Oct 11, 2022Liked by Giulio Prisco

​> ​Hi John, I think we are talking past each other. If I really want to

believe that psi is a thing, and you really want to believe that it

isn't, no argument will ever change my mind or yours.

I plead guilty as charged: I really want to believe that psi is a thing.

I wish it were real, I think it would've been great fun if psi had turned out to exist and I think most people feel that way too, but the universe is not required to conform to the wishes of human beings. You don't need a $10 billion particle accelerator to investigate it so if psi had been real it would have been proven to be so many centuries ago to the satisfaction of even the most skeptical, and today high school freshmen would be repeating those classic 17 century psy experiments in their science fair projects. It's a pity but that's just not the universe we live in.

​> ​while not yet supported by direct​ ​experimental evidence, string theory has produced results (e.g.

AdS/CFT) that can be used to calculate things in the real world (e.g.

duality between quark-gluon plasma in the lab and hyperdimensional​ ​black holes).

String theory has never made a prediction confirmed to be correct ​by an ​experiment that had not already been predicted by other far less convoluted theories. To confirm a new string theory prediction you would need a particle accelerator that can reach energies at the Planck level, and with current technology that would require a machine at least as big as the solar system.

​> ​Some speculative (I guess you would call them fringe)

string-based models seem to provide theoretical models for psi.

As I said, before I become interested in making a model of something I'd want to know that something exists that needs modeling. There is no burning need to explain how psy works, just as there's no burning need to explain how magic works in books like Harry Potter or the Bible. By the way, I found one of those books to be very entertaining.

​> ​I have​ ​too much respect for my fellow human beings to entirely dismiss the

"anecdotal evidence" provided by countless people over the centuries.

There are a lot of things I respect about my fellow human beings​ ​but being able to give accurate accounts of what they just saw or experienced is not one of them. There was anecdotal evidence, or to be more precise there was allegedly anecdotal evidence​, that Mohammed flew from Mecca to Jerusalem in one day on the back of a flying mule and then climbed to heaven on a ladder. And I don't believe one word of it. ​

John K Clark

Expand full comment
Oct 10, 2022Liked by Giulio Prisco

> ​I'll have to read Smullyan's book ​ ​again, I loved the beginning but

never finished the book (this is a side effect of having too many good


For me Smullyan's nonfiction book (The Tao Is Silent) was as enjoyable as any novel I've ever read, and far more intellectually stimulating. Smullyan was an interesting guy, he had the talent to be a concert pianist but instead became one of the world's leaders in the logical foundations of mathematics.

​>​<<<John: There is no scientific theory that predicts the existence of

psi, and as there is no experimental evidence to suggest that it

exists it just doesn't have any scientific interest.>>>

​> ​On the contrary, there are scientific models that are compatible with

the existence of psi.

Well sure, the theory of continental drift is compatible with psi because it has nothing to do with it, and so is string theory because string theory has not been able to make any quantitative predictions at all. But I'm not even asking the psi people to give me a theory, I'm not demanding an answer, all I want them to do right now is to prove to me there is a question worth asking, a phenomenon that needs explaining. After that I'll worry about finding an answer, but first I must know the question.

​> ​there's plenty of first person experimental evidence, from

thousands of years, all over the world and in all cultures.

It's not first person experimental evidence it's just anecdotal evidence, and if the history of religion has taught us anything it's that sort of evidence is absolutely worthless. Haven't you ever noticed that the less a psy experiment adheres to the demands of the scientific method the stronger the psy effect, and the greater the rigor the weaker the psy?

​> ​To me,​ ​this indicates that scientific studies of psi could yield spectacular


It's not as if nobody has tried​,​ so where are​ all the spectacular results?!​ ​​

​> ​Live and let live, develop your theories and​ ​let others develop theirs, and let the best theories win.

That is exactly what science has done, and that is exactly why psy lost and is scientifically dead.

<<<John: universities should be allowed to give tenure to professors

who make scientific discoveries and not give tenure to professors who

just repeat experiments that have already been performed dozens or

hundreds of times previously, and I should be allowed to spent quite a

lot of my hard earned money to send my children to universities of

that type and not to the unscientific type.>>>

​> ​Universities should be allowed ("allowed" ??? WHO is in charge of

"allowing" ?)​ ​to give tenure to whoever they like

The president and Board of Directors of the university obviously​. And if you disagree with their decision then don't spend your money to send your kid to that University. ​​

​> ​ and parents should

be allowed (same comment) to send their kids to whatever university

they like.

Sure,​ ​and high-tech companies​ should be allowed to only hire people who graduated from universities that take the scientific method seriously. That's why INTEL hires more people from MIT than from Bob Jones University​.​

​> ​Call it whatever you want! Just don't interfere with the intellectual

freedom of others.

If I decide I don't wanna hire somebody for my high-tech company or my university that is not interfering with the intellectual freedom of others. I can't hire everybody, I've got to pick and choose. After all, you don't want Caltech to hire somebody who insists the earth is flat and only 6000 years old to be a professor of astronomy ​do​ you? You wouldn't spend lots of money to send your kid to such a place would you?

​>​<<<John: For every Galileo there were about 6.02*10^23 people who

thought they were scientific geniuses but were just crackpots.>>>

​> ​Right. And the only way to know which one is Galileo is to let them all try.

Who is saying otherwise?​ Certainly not me. By the way, would you agree that there are vastly more crackpots than there are ​Galileos?​

John K Clark

Expand full comment
Oct 8, 2022Liked by Giulio Prisco

> The Nobel Prize goes to research on “spooky action at a distance,” aka quantum entanglement.

I was delighted this happened! Pretending that the foundations of quantum mechanics is not worth bothering about has gone on for far too long.  

 > Clauser takes distance from what he calls “pseudo-physics.” Scientific rigor “sadly began to decline,” he says. “I am not much of a fan of Eastern mysticism.”

I agree with Clauser about that 100%.

> Perhaps even the far fringe of psi (the paranormal) research (sorry, “pseudo-physics”) will become mainstream science one day.

People have been predicting pseudo-physics will become mainstream for a very long time, but in 2022 it has come no closer to becoming a reality than it was in 1922, or 1822 or even 1822BC. Never mind how explaining how psi is supposed to work, the evidence that there's even something that needs to be explained has not increased 1 nanometers since the days when "psi" was called "spiritualism", and there's no reason to believe that situation will change. I think it's time to put a fork in psi and call it done and move onto a line of research that is likely to be more productive because scientists are not immortal and every hour somebody spends on yet another research program into spoon bending or tea leaf readings or prayer is an hour they could've spent on something a bit less dubious. After all, it's not as if there's nothing better to do. 

John K Clark

Expand full comment