Month: May 2012

Of Time and Telekinesis

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I’ve been distracted lately.

My small amount of blogging time has, in the past couple of weeks, been soaked up responding to comments following the little article I wrote about the MyTelekinesis site.

That article, and the followups (here, here and here), are easily the most commented on articles, so passions have certainly been aroused. The ElmoreBots don’t even come close.

It all started when I ridiculed the MyTK site (as its followers call it). I didn’t actually set out to ridicule it, but just to have some fun examining some of the way out claims made on it. But the more I looked, the more it deserved ridicule, sorry.

The curious thing was that, is that in addition to the ‘you’re so closed-minded, man’ comments, there were also comments from MyTK members who AGREED that there’s a lot of rubbish on their site, and that moderators needed to clean things up. So, I guess I feel vindicated in drawing attention to some of the more obvious nonsense on the site.

The comments also had a nice mix of polite and abusive comments. For those who haven’t been following the exchanges, there is quite a nice series of comments back and forth after the articles to which I linked earlier, from a well-meaning correspondent known as Fro-G-irrafe, (whose peudonym sounds a bit like that other evolutionary myth, the croc-o-duck, doesn’t it? If it’s not a pseudonym, my apologies go to Mr. Irrafe).

Anyway, Fro seems very keen for me to believe, and has been been sending me video as proof, as well as quotes from people like Einstein, just to make sure I pay attention.

In one exchange in this article, Fro presented two videos which were particularly lame, so I tried to explain how I would do them. I then decided to actually do one myself, and proceeded to present the remarkable demonstration you see in that article.

But Fro is not deterred. He insists it is up to me to prove that telekinesis doesn’t exist.

And my response has been consistent –  here is an excerpt from that thread:

As I’ve said before, the challenge is for you to prove tk exists, not for me to disprove.
In the absence of ANY information to the contrary, I can only conclude that someone made it up – wishful thinking. How do I conclude this? After decades of research there is not even one confirmed effect or demonstration. Not one. So what are you asking me to believe in, or even disprove? Are you asking me to disprove what people claim they can do in private but not in controlled conditions? Are you asking me to explain how the videos are done – I can do that. So what’s left to disprove?

Thanks for touching on astrophysics. Yes, there are billions of things we don’t know, not just in astrophysics, but every discipline. Now listen closely.
When we don’t know, we investigate. We make observations.
When we have enough observations, we construct a hypothesis, which we test. Over and over again.
And we refine it. If it fails, we discard it, or modify it.
Eventually, the hypothesis may become a theory. And we keep testing – just like the theory of relativity, and gravity, and germ theory etc.
Yes, we don’t know if parallel universes exist, or how the big bang happened, but, instead of just being lazy and saying ‘god did it’ for example, we construct a hypothesis and test it, even if it’s only thought experiments – at least we are proposing something and comparing that to our experience.

The difference with tk is that there are no observations. I ask you a simple question: what prompted man to hypothesise tk as a phenomenon?
Did they observe things moving with no explanation? If so, tell me when this happened and who identified it.
If not, IT WAS JUST INVENTED, because is sounds fun and romantic.

You can play around with words like closed-minded all you like – call me whatever you like. What you call ‘closed-minded’ is just me saying that I can’t believe something for which there is not even a phenomenon which can be explored. And that’s just boring.

So, until we have some killer demonstration of telekinesis, I’m afraid it’s case closed. If and when that killer evidence happens, I’ll be glad to say I was wrong. But I’m prepared to say that if I had to bet my life one way or the other, I’m betting against telekinesis.

But I will no doubt continue to have conversations with Fro. At least it helps me refine my thoughts on pseudoscience.

Thought for the week

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I’d be way more impressed if the Book of Revelations told me where my keys are.

– George Hrab

Fear vs Hope – Of doomsayers and atheists

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There is no better way to promote the achievements of mankind than to contrast them with his reluctance to let go of magical thinking.

Below we have such a contrast.

First take a look at yet another doomsayer here, who tells us that the world will end on the 27th May – yes, this Sunday!  Actually, the world will end in the US on the 27th, we here in Oz will have more time I guess. If you browse this site and take it all in, you get this sense of despair mixed with the pointlessness of existence.  It’s amazing how some people give themselves over to unseen scary things and superstition. Interestingly the guy is selling books, but obviously you will need to be a snappy reader to get through them before Sunday.

Anyway, in complete contrast, we have the contribution by TheThinkingAtheist, which highlights mankind’s achievements in a nice 5 minute video, leaving you with pride and hope, instead of fear and despair.

On which side of the spectrum are you?

MyTelekinesis – I’m converted

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It turns out that I can do telekinesis. Who’d have thought. Inspired by an example by correspondent Viktor, I’ve discovered my inner chi.

Viktor said:

Its intended as a demonstration of psychic ability, not an illusion.
Its about the same thing I’d do if put on the spot.

http://www.mytelekinesis.com/chi-pull-bumpcjmixmaster.html

I realize its not scientific proof, but still food for thought.

So, here’s my breakthrough performance, except that I’ve upped the degree of difficulty: by turning the folds towards me instead of away, and de-cluttering the desk so you can see there are not wires or levers. Also, I’m not much good at sucking, although many my recent correspondents would think I suck bigtime. In addition, I’ve filmed in high def, and made sure to have some nice solid background shapes to enable the viewed to detect any relative movements in the scene. I think that’s as scientific as it gets.

Anyway, sit back and enjoy the mystical stylings of the amazing TheRationalbrain:

Over the coming months I will be honing my skills and attempting more brazen feats of telekinesis, so stay tuned.

And I’ll be emailing Randi my bank account details later today.

MyTelekinesis update

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Thanks to all the MyTK people for inflating my site stats enormously, although still not into the stratospheric heights of a PZ Myers – who, by the way, has now done a piece on MyTK thanks to a tip-off from an un-named source.

It’s interesting to contrast the comments on his piece to those on mine. It’s kind of like comparing a mensa meeting to an overcrowded primate cage at the zoo, but then again, that just my skeptical bias showing through again.

I must say, I did feel for the plight of one correspondent, Viktor, who is quite passionate about his abilities and engaged in a fairly constructive way. He described the difficulty in getting even to first base with the Randi challenge. My guess is that the JREF has been so burnt by the gazillions of phoneys out there, that they are very wary of walk-ins claiming paranormal powers.

In fact, the JREF changed their rules some time ago I believe, making it a pre-requisite that applications already have some sort of media profile – that is, you need to be out there impressing the general public first -sort of a pre-qualification. Viktor claimed to have difficulty doing this as well. So I guess if one really did have powers, it might be tough to actually get it out there. While I admire the passion however, I still think it’s trickery and/or delusion. Most of the links provided as ‘evidence’ are really just parlour tricks which I could replicate  myself.

Anyway, I’ve enjoyed the banter, and look forward to the MyTK fraternity taking on PZ’s Pharyngula readers.

MyTelekinesis Update: There’s (telekinetic) movement at the station…

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Update for visitors from MyTelekinesis – you’re most welcome to make comments, and I’ll try to get to them all. But be aware we may be in different time zones, so your post may not be published for quite some time, since I read and release each and every item.

Also note that I will not publish abusive emails, as submitted by one of your number already.

Of course, you call all foresee that I would do that.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Wow.

The folks over at MyTelekinesis have just cottoned onto the article I wrote some time ago about their folksy little site.

The word has got around and every spoon-bender, mind-reader, crystal-healer, and faux-physicist in the land has dropped by my humble blog. Some have even left comments, some of which are as coherent as the MyTelekinesis website itself, which is to say, not very. But they are at least entertaining, so pop back to the original article and read the thread if you’ve got a few minutes (which, by the way, you’ll never get back).

You can also read their outrage at my review of their site here. Why not post a nice comment while you’re there.

The gist of the comments seems to be my ignorance of things spiritual and my inability to disprove what they are claiming.

Naturally, I have insisted that it’s up to them to prove their claims, not the other way around.

And so I offer them here, in the public domain, to complete on their behalf, completely free of charge, the application forms for the JREF million dollar challenge.  If they can prove even one of the dozens of flavours of the kinesis powers claimed on the site, then someone will get rich quick.

Now, get to work people at MyTelekinesis. Work out between you who’ll be the your champion, and I’ll do the paper work.

I’m actually really looking forward to it.