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Comment author: ahbwramc 17 April 2013 08:12:02PM 0 points [-]

I honestly don't know what to think of Rossi. He could be genuine, he could just be a scam artist. Certainly he's exhibited behaviour in the past that I would associate with scam artists - continually promising definitive proof is "just around the corner", and then not delivering. On the other hand, if cold fusion is really real, it obviously raises the probability that he's genuine.

Comment author: externalmonologue 18 April 2013 09:12:16PM 2 points [-]

scam artist for sure, that one is easy.

Comment author: David_Gerard 18 April 2013 05:18:49PM 11 points [-]

Thank you very much for giving it this much attention!

Comment author: externalmonologue 18 April 2013 09:08:47PM -1 points [-]

The irony here is that rational wiki has an article on yudkowsky and it isn't very flattering. Perhaps you have read it David?

Comment author: novalis 18 April 2013 04:35:03AM 4 points [-]

I'm sort of surprised that this article is only at zero. I would expect it to be lower because:

(1) it has nothing whatsoever to do with rationality (except, I guess the bit at the end), and (2) it is almost certainly wrong (for the reasons given by DanielLC and OrphanWilde.

The poster is a guy who "[doesn't] know what to think" about a dude whose entire history is scamming people with alternative energy sources. Doesn't make him a bad person -- it just makes him bad at evaluating evidence.

Comment author: externalmonologue 18 April 2013 09:01:46PM 3 points [-]

I love somewhat fringe articles on lesswrong. It helps raise the quality of discussion by offering contrasts to what is and is not acceptable and points out onerous details skeptics are wary to explain in detail, like the subtleties of believing a phenomena exists versus having a theory to explain it. (see my comments above).

Comment author: CarlShulman 18 April 2013 08:09:52PM *  6 points [-]

Have you read much of Less Wrong? It is a common theme here that the replication rates of famous published findings in most fields is low, reflecting the aggregate weight of such biases. The work of Ioannidis and others like him comes up frequently in discussions of medicine, psychology, and foreign aid. Some random examples: 1, 2, 3, 4.

And in fact the scope of those problems is fairly mainstream: people like Ioannidis are huge draws at conferences, and almost no one disagrees with them that a large portion of findings are false due to various biases: the problems persist more because of the coordination and incentive problems in finding and switching to better systems.

The idea of parapsychology as a control group for science is that standards in science need to be improved to be more reliable, so that efforts like the Reproducibility Project find that most reported findings are solid rather than ephemeral.

Comment author: externalmonologue 18 April 2013 08:56:37PM *  0 points [-]

But this whole idea of the rate of error in repeatability of a field ignores all the experiments that are never done again because the same phenomena is found over and over again.

In general I agree. But I don't believe you should claim a phenomena does not exist because it doesn't fit with mainstream science.

If you think science says what can or cannot exist, you would only be rationally correct (that is correct by whatever criteria you have specified), not actually correct because the best answer is unknowable, so far. Thus, I maintain my agnosticism about net power, but not cold fusion. Cold fusion isn't a real phenomena, but maybe some have obtained net power, or maybe not.

Comment author: gwern 18 April 2013 06:55:43PM 10 points [-]

This baffles me: no one says mental disorders don't exist

Did not Szasz build a well-respected, successful, and famous career doing just that?

Comment author: externalmonologue 18 April 2013 08:39:19PM 1 point [-]

I know, I edited my remark after thinking a bit more to read, "no one in the mainstream..."

I am only trying to draw out the difference between claims of net power through some unknown physical process and the obvious flaws of cold fusion as a means of explaining the statistical phenomena. Non existence is obvious and trivial, but sometimes it merely points to our own ignorance. I am not a physicist so I use heuristics to decide who to believe, but they are mere heuristics and really shouldn't be taken very seriously.

Comment author: CarlShulman 17 April 2013 08:18:55PM *  21 points [-]

The prevalence of fraud, misreporting of experimental conditions as more solid than they were, publication biases, and other problems can produce bogus literatures that look more solid than this (aside from the prior), e.g. parapsychologists have many experiments that appear to replicate to a substantial degree in the parapsychology literature.

Given the initial flurry of attention to attract people to the the topic this field doesn't look particularly surprising to me on the assumption that it is studying a non-existent phenomenon. If that's explained, then I don't see reason to pay attention at all.

ETA: What probability did you assign to cold fusion of this sort existing when you first made this post, and what probability do you now assign in light of the evidence found by other commenters?

Comment author: externalmonologue 18 April 2013 06:51:37PM *  1 point [-]

The real reason to doubt cold fusion is real is because of lack of replication and communication between relevant experts to replicate the phenomena. Its been several decades and there isn't continuous refinement and improvement.

Parapsychology has the same problem.

But, publication bias is a problem throughout science, especially in medicine and psychology but mainstream science believes in and trusts the treatment prescribed by doctors and psychiatrists/psychologists. This baffles me: no one in the mainstream of scientific authority says mental disorders don't exist, but by the standards of bias and lack of replication, we would have to say so, wouldn't we?

To be clear: there is no mainstream scientific theory that explains mental disorders. This is so obvious we forget it, right? Yet we don't say mental disorders do not exist. We use different criteria based upon social status, not the quality of evidence. Now, maybe you don't do this. I don't know you that well, but its clear and easy to see the standard of evidence isn't met in many other areas of science - like genetics and evolutionary development.

Comment author: externalmonologue 18 January 2013 07:59:07PM *  3 points [-]

A possible comparison group to act as a control for Kurzweil's predictions is Joseph Mcmoneagle remote viewing work. His book, "The Ultimate Time Machine: A Remote Viewer's Perception of Time, and Predictions for the New Millennium" offers multiple, precise predictions that are precise enough to use your 5 point scale.

For example, on page 247:

1) By 2010, a single light fiber, half the diameter of a human hair, will be capable of carrying a million gigabits per second 2) Hard disk computer storage systems will be replaced in 2008 with electromagnetic/chemical storage systems

page 248:

3) The standard RAM on the average machine in 2008 will be 128 MB, with 256 MB the industrial standard on business machines

page 249:

4) A new home sound system will be unveiled by one of the leaders in the sound industry between 2002 and 2004. It will produce sound that is controlled by computer to simulate 360 degree surround sound, or 3-D sound simulation. The computer will use sensors to detect how many people are in the room and where they are located in comparison to the shape of the room and the furniture in it. It will then alter the sound being emitted from ten or more speakers... (continues) 5) Within ten years (1998 to 2008) there will be a silver bullet cure for most cancers, as well as the development of a vaccine for AIDS

There are many other categories of prediction in the book besides technology, including politics and government, the environment, economics, social (anthropology, archeology, arts, education, etc) and economics.

As a bonus, the predictions include the year 3000. This is nice because kurzweil loves to compare the intuitive linear view to the his law of accelerating returns. If parapsychology is like the control group for science, why not put this declaration to the test? There are many predictions in the book, probably well over 100 that can be tested already.

Granted, this book is in a popular format, but so is Kurzweil's books, so I believe it is an apt comparison. In other words, this book does not represent the absolute highest quality possible for remote viewing work. For that, you might try the Farsight Institute. Here is an example of what I would consider high quality remote viewing work:


I did not get a chance to download the data that was encrypted in order to prevent cheating. What I would like to know is if anyone on the forum knows anyone who did get a chance to snag the data prior to the remote viewing session. Furthermore, anyone else know of a way that they may be cheating or fooling themselves?

A major advantage of using this book is that it was published prior to Kurzweil's book, in 1998. But one may have to check kurzweilai.net (and Kurzweil's previous work) to see if Mcmoneagle copied (intentional or not) Kurzweil's views.

Comment author: MichaelVassar 08 December 2009 03:38:08AM 16 points [-]

I used to think that way before I knew about Bayesianism. Once I learned about it I realized that the prior probability for psi was very VERY low, e.g. its complex and there's no reason to expect it so one in a bajillion, while the probability for the observed evidence for psi, given what we know about psychology, was well in excess of 50% in the absence of psi, so the update couldn't justify odds greater than two in a bajillion.

Comment author: externalmonologue 27 November 2010 05:14:04PM 0 points [-]

One in a bajillion? You are saying you actually know how complex psi is without even saying what aspect of psi you are talking about.

We know biology is very complex. So when testing a supplement like creatine, the pseudoskeptic could say "biology is extremely complex. We do not know the mechanism that makes creatine work so I assign a very low bayesian probability. Today I feel like a hundred trillion to one".

Keep in mind this is after several studies have shown an effect in the predicted direction whose odds are not easily explained by chance. Indeed, there is nothing wrong with you assertion about complexity just the subjective part where you assign a number to a phenomena you are not very familiar with.