Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Does the discovery of fake psychics provide good evidence that there are no genuine psychics?

Imagine 2 possible worlds:

a) No psychics exist due to the fact that anomalous information acquisition is simply not possible i.e the physical laws of nature prohibit what we refer to as ESP.

b) Psychics do exist, but they are comparatively rare.

It is clear to me that in world "b" there will be more fake psychics than in world "a". Why?  Here's an analogy.   If we lived in a world where £20 notes didn't exist then it is likely there would also be no counterfeit £20 notes either.  There would be no purpose in counterfeit £20 notes since no one would be fooled by them.  However in our world where £20 notes exist and they are in demand, then inevitably there will be many counterfeit £20 notes.

Similar reasoning applies to psychics, albeit to a lesser degree.  That is to say in world "a" there will be fake psychics, but it seems clear to be that they will not be as numerous as fake psychics in world "b".

Skeptics of the paranormal often allege that the discovery of fake psychics provides compelling evidence that genuine psychics do not exist.  But since there are many more of them in world "b" this is not only false, but arguably (and admittedly counterintuitively) makes the existence of genuine psychics more likely.

In addition they sometimes use the argument that since every psychic they have heard about turns out to be a charlatan, then it is reasonably, via induction, to infer there are no genuine psychics. But this is rather like a person flicking through a wad of £20 notes, carefully removing the counterfeit notes which are fairly easy to discern with the naked eye, and then declaring that since every note they've examined so far is counterfeit, it's reasonable to infer they all are!

In other words skeptics focus on the easy targets and insinuate that similar debunking can be applied to all alleged psychics.  And this is the strategy that skeptics of the paranormal seem to me to apply across the board to all paranormal phenomena (to be fair though such underhand tactics are pretty well universal no matter what the subject matter happens to be  i.e. people have the propensity to attack the weakest articulation of a position or resort to attacking straw men, and to avoid addressing the strongest or most compelling articulation of  a person's position on any subject).


Monday, 27 January 2014

Predictions for 2024

A few months ago, as a result of making disparaging comments about Isaac Asimov's predictions in 1964 for 2014, someone asked me to make predictions for 2024. 

I think making predictions is extraordinarily difficult. And I don't have the knowledge to attempt such a thing. However I decided not to be boring and gave it a crack anyway. This is what I said:


2024? Well I'll predict everything will be more or less the same.

OK google glasses will have limited success when they are first launched. But later models will become more and more popular as all the issues are ironed out. It'll be like the history of mobile phones (cell phones). At first very few people will have them, but eventually they became all pervasive.

People will not make a one way trip to Mars in April 2023 to live the rest of their lives there! I just can't see that happening, at least not by that time.

Smart watches will find a market, but they will never become that popular. They're too small and people will prefer their smartphones.

Much less stress will be placed on the notion that saturated fats are a great evil. It will be increasingly recognised by 2024 that it is sugar and refined carbs, rather than dietary fat and lack of exercise, which is largely responsible for rising obesity rates and ill-health.

Yeah not very startling exciting predictions.  But I'm trying to be realistic.  I think I may have been proven to be correct with the Mars trip already since the last time I heard a year mentioned it was 2025!  But, regardless, I cannot imagine it happening before 2040, and I doubt that a one way trip will ever happen -- or at least not until Mars is terraformed!

A Purposeful Life?

We find ourselves in this world not knowing what we are, who we are, or why we are here.  Are we  mere meat robots with no free will living out our purposeless lives in a purposeless Universe?  Or are we souls with an ultimate purpose to our existence -- a purpose which we cannot as of yet know, or possibly even comprehend. Worst of all we don't know what our ultimate destiny might be, whether it will be oblivion or whether it will be to ascend into some mysterious new reality.

In our day to day lives let's just be happy for the day and have a few pints of beer. Problem is I made a new years resolution not to drink from the 1st January 2014 to the 31st March 2014.  I am mortified  :-(