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Forums Forums Answering Skeptics and Debunking Cynics Million Dollar Challenge/Question for sgrenard re: Randi

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  • #62289
    rotabilis
    Participant

    I’ve started a new thread for this because it was off the topic of the thread in which the subject arose. I understand that the topic of James Randi brings up feelings of anger for some people. Please understand that I have the utmost respect for everyone here, and my sole interest is the pursuit of mutual understanding.

    This is in response to a post from sgrenard in the thread “Scientific American Editorial-August 2001”.

    I said to sgrenard: “First a quick correction: Randi does not do the testing; it is done by scientists, or other third parties following scientists’ recomendations and scrupulously monitored. The rules prevent Randi from interfering.”

    To which sgrenard replied: “This was mentioned before and answered. You and he can say what you want about this condition, it is meaningless because Randi’s written conditions give him ownership of the data and he is the ultimate person to decide in spite of who does the testing or analyzes the stats. It’s there in black and white and to suggest otherwise is merely a P.R. attempt to make what you say sound like its true. Randi decides whether to accept the findings of the scientists or decide whether there was a flaw in their methodology or “something” was wrong with the data. See Hyman Vrs Utts on this. LOL.”

    I have reread his rules, and I cannot find a correlation to what you are saying. It does *not* say that he is the ultimate person to decide. It says that the applicant must agree to what would constitute success, that the test will be designed such that the results will be obvious to all witnesses (and the applicant must agree beforehand that THAT is true as well), and that if the applicant is successful, they WILL get the money. Randi is clearly prohibited from changing the test criteria once they are agreed to. By the time the test is performed, the outcome is out of his hands. So his trustworthiness is not an issue; the rules prevent it from being a factor.

    Perhaps you are referring to Rule 3, which states that “Applicant agrees that all data (photographic, recorded, written, etc.) of any sort gathered as a result of the testing may be used freely by JREF in any way Mr. Randi may choose.” It doesn’t say he OWNS the data or has exclusive control over it; it just says he can use it any way he wants. Basically that means he can either tell the truth about it, lie about it, or try to pretend it doesn’t exist. But so what? The claimant still gets the money! Randi can decide what to say about the data, but he can’t decide not to give the claimant the money. So what good would it do Randi to lie about the data, after the fact, when everyone would know he is lying? All they’d have to do is point to the now-empty bank account.

    What is Hyman Vrs Utts? Where would I find information on that? Thank you.

    #70279
    PsyQuestor
    Participant

    Originally posted by rotabilis

    What is Hyman Vrs Utts? Where would I find information on that? Thank you.

    I believe that SG is referring to Ray Hyman;( Ph.D./psychology, Johns Hopkins ) who has represented CSICOP in the past. I am sure that you could do a search on Mr. Hyman. I am not sure who the Utts is in this reference.

    Hope it helps.

    For further reading please see Survival Science

    and more specifically helpful would be:
    This discussion

    #70287
    PsyQuestor
    Participant

    The Utts that SG made reference to is Jessica Utts. A link to her homepage is below, and a reference to Hyman and corresponding article can be located there.

    Jessica Utts Homepage

    Ms. Utts is a statitician :)

    Again, hope this helps ~ Tammy

    #70295
    sgrenard
    Participant

    The issue of Hyman and Utts was used as an illustration of what can happen in a Randi challenge, especially since Hyman was suggested as one of the scientists to evaluate the Univ of Az
    studies. I have the highest respect for Prof Hyman and he is a
    gentleman in every sense of the word. However, in this particular issue he accepted the results of psi testing as being statistically significant but then, after all was said and done, rejected the validity of the study on an ad hoc basis, saying in effect something must be wrong with it (but I don’t know what it is)so I don’t believe the results. Hence he rejects them. End.

    Now this is precisely the sort of law court Judge power Randi has over this study. It doesnt make any difference what the results are, what the statistics turn out to be, Randi holds the ultimate
    decision to decide 1)if the applicant passes the preliminary test
    (which is another issue) and goes on to the final challenge, which in this case still remains undefined and 2)regardless of who the scientists are (and he didn’t name any…did he or did I miss that?)
    he decides if the applicant passes the test and he turns over the negotiable bonds with a face value of $1 million. Not that who the scientists are isn’t important. If they include, for example, Ray Hyman, Randi’s friend and the person referenced above, would you consider this a fair choice?

    Now for the view on the preliminary part and there would be none had not Prof Archie Roy and TJ Robertson just this year published the results of an identical study regarding acceptance of medium offered validations by intended recipients and non-recepients. This study, over two years in the making, was carefully subjected to every statistical test applicable. You can find it in two parts so far (more coming) in the Jan and July 2001 issues of the JSPR. These scientists (Roy is an astrophysicist at Glasgow University)employed 10 mediums, 44 recpients and a control group of 407 non-recipients to achieve statistically significant results. Nine non-recpients won’t cut it. I suggest Randi has seen these studies as have his statistical consultants and they have done nothing less than set up Sylvia Brown for a kill since she did not, obviously, have the benefit of any consultants on her side.

    Of course Sylvia would have to agree and perhaps she will and perhaps she won’t. But agree to what? The conditions as Randi sets forth. Are they negotiable. I doubt it. We found that out in the Univ of Az challenge that never took place. If Sylvia demures or rejects it does this mean she gets a special, personal gold plated clock on the Randi website to be ridiculed and derided for perpetuity?

    #70305
    rotabilis
    Participant

    Originally posted by sgrenard
    The issue of Hyman and Utts was used as an illustration of what can happen in a Randi challenge, especially since Hyman was suggested as one of the scientists to evaluate the Univ of Az
    studies. I have the highest respect for Prof Hyman and he is a
    gentleman in every sense of the word. However, in this particular issue he accepted the results of psi testing as being statistically significant but then, after all was said and done, rejected the validity of the study on an ad hoc basis, saying in effect something must be wrong with it (but I don’t know what it is)so I don’t believe the results. Hence he rejects them. End.
    [/quote]

    That is not what he said. He did not reject the results. What he rejected was the conclusion that the results clearly establish the existence of psi phenomena. His reasons for this were clear and consistent, not vague and dismissive as you seem to indicate. His views are consistent with the conservative nature of science in general. And he did agree with Prof. Utts that the results warranted further study.

    In any event, your analogy between this and the Randi challenge is not valid. Hyman did not set up the rules of the SRI and SAIC experiments, and certainly did not specify in advance what would constitute proof of psi phenomena. He was evaluating the experiments after the fact. I explain the differences more below.

    Quote:
    Now this is precisely the sort of law court Judge power Randi has over this study. It doesnt make any difference what the results are, what the statistics turn out to be, Randi holds the ultimate decision to decide 1)if the applicant passes the preliminary test (which is another issue) and goes on to the final challenge, which in this case still remains undefined and 2)regardless of who the scientists are (and he didn’t name any…did he or did I miss that?) he decides if the applicant passes the test and he turns over the negotiable bonds with a face value of $1 million.

    Well, let’s consider the Sylvia Browne test, since that is an instance where we have a specific protocol to look at. In that scenario, the only people who do any judging are the 10 participants themselves, when they score Sylvia for accuracy. There’s no subjective judgment involved in seeing whether the scoring results fit the criteria specified in the protocol; it will be public and obvious to all to see. Randi can deny it all he likes, but he still has to hand over the money.

    Now, in his own analysis of the results, Randi could certainly make a Hyman-like statement that the results don’t really provide conclusive evidence of psi phenomena or a spirit world. But Randi’s personal analysis makes no difference to the awarding of the prize. The prize is awarded strictly based on whether the criteria in the protocol have been met, and the truth or falsity of that will be clear and unambiguous and not subject to personal judgment — either that of Randi or his friends. At least that is my understanding. So you are comparing apples and oranges here.

    Quote:
    Now for the view on the preliminary part and there would be none had not Prof Archie Roy and TJ Robertson just this year published the results of an identical study regarding acceptance of medium offered validations by intended recipients and non-recepients. This study, over two years in the making, was carefully subjected to every statistical test applicable. You can find it in two parts so far (more coming) in the Jan and July 2001 issues of the JSPR. These scientists (Roy is an astrophysicist at Glasgow University)employed 10 mediums, 44 recpients and a control group of 407 non-recipients to achieve statistically significant results. Nine non-recpients won’t cut it. I suggest Randi has seen these studies as have his statistical consultants and they have done nothing less than set up Sylvia Brown for a kill since she did not, obviously, have the benefit of any consultants on her side.

    Very interesting. I don’t have a response to that, as yet.

    Quote:
    Of course Sylvia would have to agree and perhaps she will and perhaps she won’t. But agree to what? The conditions as Randi sets forth. Are they negotiable. I doubt it. We found that out in the Univ of Az challenge that never took place. If Sylvia demures or rejects it does this mean she gets a special, personal gold plated clock on the Randi website to be ridiculed and derided for perpetuity?

    Since the point of the clock is her lack of communication, I don’t think there would be a clock there if she clearly rejected doing the test. The clock was put in after she agreed to take the test many months ago, but then did not respond to any follow-up communication. Anyway, that’s off the subject.

    #70307
    Yardbird
    Participant

    Originally posted by rotabilis
    Anyway, that’s off the subject.

    What was the subject again? :) Wow, debate that’s respectful, yet not oriented to the site….Hmm…. Yardbird

    #70309
    sgrenard
    Participant

    Originally posted by Yardbird

    What was the subject again? :) Wow, debate that’s respectful, yet not oriented to the site….Hmm…. Yardbird

    What is the site? LOL… just kidding. I don’t know where I am anymore, and will have to get used to this.

    Seriously though this is about Sylvia and Randi challenge, about Randi’s skepticism, about the pros and cons of his challenge which I am now skeptical of (imagine me being a skeptic….well stranger things have happened) so perhaps it is relevant. Hyman who was raised as an example by me is a good good friend of Randi’s. His strange opinion (and that’s what it was, an opinion) found its way into a debate in no less than the journal NATURE by Cambridge physicist Brian Josephson. The bottom line is that skeptic Hyman was suggested as a reviewer of the Arizona data and he has a track record of rejecting results even though they are statistically valid.

    I might as well reply to Michael here ….. is the follow-up (non-preliminary, second, final whatever) phase of the challenge spelled out yet? Who are the referees? Who will do the judging, more non-recipients? Who will add up the totals, who will do the statistical analysis? Who will interpret that analysis? Will it be published? Peer reviewed? Or will this just be the media circus Randi has been itching for as suggested by others?

    We don’t even know if the second phase will just be a larger version of the first or some other hoop. Randi has been accused by some potential applicants as a goal-post mover. This is an ideal situation for that to occur although I am not saying it will.
    Well, obviously in phase two the goal posts will be moved, the question is how far.

    I honestly believe that Sylvia and LKL were led to believe the preliminary phase was the Q&A and the 10 people was the ultimate test. I think we need to wait and hear from Sylvia as
    well as see what JE has to say on Monday night if the program
    airs.

    #70324
    rotabilis
    Participant

    Originally posted by sgrenard
    The bottom line is that skeptic Hyman was suggested as a reviewer of the Arizona data and he has a track record of rejecting results even though they are statistically valid.[/quote]

    Again, Hyman did NOT reject the results. He disagreed with Utts on what could be concluded FROM the results. There’s a difference.

    Quote:
    I might as well reply to Michael here ….. is the follow-up (non-preliminary, second, final whatever) phase of the challenge spelled out yet? Who are the referees? Who will do the judging, more non-recipients? Who will add up the totals, who will do the statistical analysis? Who will interpret that analysis? Will it be published? Peer reviewed? Or will this just be the media circus Randi has been itching for as suggested by others?

    We don’t even know if the second phase will just be a larger version of the first or some other hoop. Randi has been accused by some potential applicants as a goal-post mover. This is an ideal situation for that to occur although I am not saying it will.
    Well, obviously in phase two the goal posts will be moved, the question is how far.

    I don’t know details about the final test yet, but I have seen Randi say elsewhere (it was with regard to Penta water) that the final test is just like the preliminary test, but with greater security. In any event, since no one has ever passed the preliminary test yet, I suggest that we wait and see what Randi does, rather than decide in advance that he’s going to try to cheat somehow.

    Quote:
    I honestly believe that Sylvia and LKL were led to believe the preliminary phase was the Q&A and the 10 people was the ultimate test. I think we need to wait and hear from Sylvia as well as see what JE has to say on Monday night if the program airs.

    I am particularly interested in what Larry, as the independent observer, will have to say.

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