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last updated by RC 19 years, 3 months ago
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  • #62898
    RC
    Participant

    Sincere question (I’m a believer):

    On another discussion board, people are talking about the issue of JE and scientific testing. I would ordinarily ignore the whole discussion, except that (1) there are many, many “on the fence” types that are very open to believing in mediumship but would like to see more testing and (2) as a believer, I would like to see how much mediumship can be proven scientifically.

    I’m familiar with the Schwartz study and while I found it interesting and compelling, there seem to be enough flaws in the testing methods that perhaps more testing should be done. I could be wrong about the flaws, it just appears that way. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    So my question: are there other tests being developed besides Schwartz? Also, I’ve read the protocol suggested by Randi. I’m not a Randi fan at all, but what are the arguments against this protocol if it were to be carried out by independent researchers?

    Thanks to anyone who has the time to answer some of these questions.

    #76007
    PsyQuestor
    Participant

    Sincere answer ( I too believe )

    http://www.survivalscience.org

    #76015
    sgrenard
    Participant

    Randi’s principal hypothesis against the validity of mediumship his is generalization hypothesis (that is when all else fails ) he says readings are so general they can apply to anyone. I suggest that anyone can easily test this hypothesis for themselves. In a formal study of 447 sitters in England this hypothesis was falsified. I myself falsify “generalization” everytime I watch JE. If some names or causes of death are extremely common they could apply to all of us, but on more unique facts, involving rare causes of death, odd names and unique ocurrences, they do not.

    All scientific studies have flaws. What were the flaws you mention in the Schwartz strudy? I would be interested in hearing your opinion of them….

    If you need to go back and review them, they can be found under the Mediumship heading on the aforementioned website.

    #76016
    sgrenard
    Participant

    There are no arguments against Randi’s protocol except that in the Sylvia Brown challenge he uses too few controls or non-sitters to be statistically signfiicant and he knows it (9 people in all) in order to falsify the generalization hypothesis. As I mentioned in the post above,. scientific researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland has extensively studied this hypothesis of Randi’s using over 400 control or non-sitters. This was a highly statistically signficant number of participants, enough to prevent any cheating by someone like Randi (which he does all the time himself). Randi of course makes believe he has not seen these studies which have been published in 2001.

    It totally amazes me how people like Randi play the odds, knowing that they issue a challenge with say 9 controls instead of 200 (easy to get in this case as they wont be participating, just rating the reading) but if someone else were doing it he would be yelling there were two few pariticpants to be statistically signficiant. This is the shameless and deplorable game James Randi plays on us, an unsuspecting public and his personal benefactors.

    The biggest bias in his favor that Randi has built in to the Sylvia Brown challenge, another trick of his, is that the 10 people must all be believers in mediumship and have had people cross over that were close them. What’s wrong with control subjects who don’t believe in mediumship or have had few or no close loved ones pass? Don’t they have “rights” as controls also?

    #76044
    RC
    Participant

    Thanks…I will check out the website before asking you to write more!

    #76046
    RC
    Participant

    The flaws that I’ve read about are mainly issues around some of the mediums knowing the sitter and discussion between mediums in between readings. Again, this is just what I’ve read in critiques of the study.

    Also, it seems that many skeptics would like to see studies where the mediums get no feedback whatsover until the end. They would just call out the messages, names, symbols, etc. without sitter feedback. Now, I understand and accept the mediumship process and know that making validations is important during a reading (preferably yes/no only). But I think it would be interesting to see JE or other mediums just call out what they are psychially seeing/feeling/hearing, etc. I imagine it would be very similar to a regular reading.

    #76051
    Tanner2
    Participant

    “Now, I understand and accept the mediumship process and know that making validations is important during a reading (preferably yes/no only). But I think it would be interesting to see JE or other mediums just call out what they are psychially seeing/feeling/hearing, etc. “

    That is exactly what John did on his celebrity reading of Roma Downing. He had his back to her and she only answered yes or no. He had some very detailed messages about her being in a grave yard with bullets zipping by that happened when she was very young, and her spiritual work (her work on Touched by an Angel). She did not want him to know who he was reading, and tried to disguise her accent, and yet everything still came through very clear. I’ve seen several readings of celebrities where he has his back to them. I think the validations help speed up the process so the person can get the most from the reading. More information in a shorter period of time.

    Tanner

    #76052
    sgrenard
    Participant

    Originally posted by RyanClary
    The flaws that I’ve read about are mainly issues around some of the mediums knowing the sitter and discussion between mediums in between readings. Again, this is just what I’ve read in critiques of the study.

    Reply: Yes, if you read the study carefully, you will find that one of the sitters was read by one of the mediums previously. In fact she had a subsequent death in her family which was sensed by the medium who read her previously. However, this sitter was not assigned to that medium and was given to someone else. There was no discussion between the mediums allowed prior to the readings. This also was one case out of many performed that day and which were validated in other ways irrespective of this. These things happen, and when discovered, are corrected as was the case here.

    Also, it seems that many skeptics would like to see studies where the mediums get no feedback whatsover until the end. They would just call out the messages, names, symbols, etc. without sitter feedback. Now, I understand and accept the mediumship process and know that making validations is important during a reading (preferably yes/no only). But I think it would be interesting to see JE or other mediums just call out what they are psychially seeing/feeling/hearing, etc. I imagine it would be very similar to a regular reading.

    Reply: If you read one of the subsequent parts of the Arizona studies you will see that this is exactly what was done.

    Again, I hate to be redundant but Randi’s arguments in particular and those of his supplicants were that they wanted the readings reduced to paper or transcibed and checked against his generalization hypothesis. Actually I believe that Dr. Schwartz discusses doing this (see his response to Randi’s diatribes). Like myself, Schwartz knows that this is statistically irrelevant in a small number of sittings and non-read control subjects but he was willing to do it. The other big argument Randi and his followers wanted was a binary, yes/no rating system for the validations. Point of fact the validations were rated this way and achieved high %s. Randi would also like the mediums and sitters to structure their sessions as a true/false, yes/no test and this is just unworkable given the nature of the process but it can be retrospectively analyzed this way if need be.

    Finally, amidst all the rhetoric, the main claim to invalidate the Az study by Randi is a single video frame of John Edward bending as he took his seat. This is required because of the EEG wires coming off his head in order to cast them to one side and not become entangled in them. Randi implied John was peeking at his sitter through a 1/4″ space in the screen separating him from the sitter. If you try and duplicate this action with that screen you would see this is impossible. Randi also saw the following frontal frames which showed that the sitter was back to the wall and couldn’t possibly be seen by John this way. More evidence of Randi’s basic dishonesty in presenting his version of the “facts.”
    It is a pity that,because he is a self-admitted trickster and hoaxster and because of prior acts, Randi’s credibility with a lot of people has suffered as a result. What irks me about this more than anything else is that he hurts his position when debunking “genuine fakes” (and there’s a oxymoron for you)..

    :)

    #76053
    sgrenard
    Participant

    You can find Dr. Schwartz’s responses to Randi in the debunking the debunkers section of the website and the studies themselves in the Mediumship section at:

    http://www.survivalscience.org

    #76055
    RC
    Participant

    Tanner, I agree that the Roma Downey reading was excellent. It was one of my favorite JE readings simply because his back was to her and she answered yes/no only. I don’t think it’s the only way readings should be done, but it’s nice to see it done that way once in a while.

    Sgenard (sorry I don’t know your name!): Thanks for taking so much time to answer my questions. When I have more time, I plan to study the website carefully.

    Knowing this information is helpful as I’m finding that genuine open-minded skeptics are easily swayed by Randi’s crowd.

    #76056
    Pam B
    Keymaster

    We are proud to have Steve Grenard (sgrenard) as our Science Moderator. He DOES do a great job doesn’t he? :)

    As long as I’ve stuck my nose in this discussion I’m going to offer an opinion. In my slightly biased opinion, a medium who submits themselves to Randi’s test, is like “trial by the court of public opinion”.

    Randi’s already made a mockery of the whole thing, with his childish antics, emotional rhetoric and insulting barbs thrown at famous mediums.

    So what if they pass the test? What have they proven? To me, they’re just proving that they are concerned with what Randi and his subscribers think.

    A series of real lab tests, with impartial parties, and no money to be lost or gained, is the way to do the tests and retain your integrity.

    #76057
    RC
    Participant

    Pam, I tend to agree with you. (And, yes Steve does a fantastic job). I was just trying to find out the objections to Randi’s test. I also wanted to know if there were more studies in the works, and if I’m reading correctly, there definitely are. Thanks again to all and I look forward to reading the website in more detail.

    #76058
    Pam B
    Keymaster

    I fully admit to straying off topic. ;)

    I’m sure you’ll find a wealth of information on why the study that Randi proposes would not be scientifically acceptable. If not, please ask :)

    #76059
    sgrenard
    Participant

    The protocol Randi suggests and in fact has asked for in the Sylvia Browne fiasco is one that has been tested by serious scientists at the University of Edinburgh (a psychiatrist and an astrophyscist teamed up on this). They used a plethora of mediums, 50 or so real sitters and 447 control sitters. They
    unequiivocally, to a statistically significant advantage, falsified Randi’s proposal, which by itself, is highly biased by a lack of numbers since he is stipulating a paltry 9 controls or
    non-sitters to evaluate the reading Sylvia Browne gives to one person).

    You’re right Pam, the more I study Randi’s antics, the more I feel he has no business doing this, especially if he can’t do it right.
    But don’t worry, he is not goong to stop until his funds run dry.
    The problem he gives to everyone is his willingness to take advantage of the media to advance his case, something the serious scientists in Scotland hadn’t bothered to do and their study, published just last year, has hardly been reported outside of scientific circles. He wouldn’t mention it either because if he did, he’d have to look for a new “shtick” to push. And his benefatcors/donors such as Johnny Carson might start asking him some questions as well.

    #76060
    RC
    Participant

    Steve, is there a link on the survival science website to the University of Edinburgh study? I can’t seem to find it.

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