Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Skeptic demonstrates psi (Repost from AMNAP 1.0)

In 1995, Rupert Sheldrake began an investigation of a dog named JayTee and his apparent ability to know when his owner, Pamela Smart, was on the way home. Dr. Sheldrake became aware of JayTee when Smart answered an advertisement in the paper looking for dogs who seemed to know when their owner was returning home.

Dr. Sheldrake began to observe JayTee and it quickly became apparent that JayTee was, indeed, going to the window and apparently waiting for her whenever Smart was on her way home. And this behavior occurred despite changes in her return time and using a variety of different modes of transportation. So Sheldrake designed a videotape experiment to provide objective evidence of JayTee's unusual ability, and conducted a large number of trials with Pam and Jaytee.

Sheldrake invited Dr. Richard Wiseman to perform his own videotaped trials with Jaytee. Wiseman conducted four trials total and then proclaimed loudly to the media that JayTee had no special abilities.

However, Sheldrake obtained the videotape data and found that Wiseman's data matched his own experimental data very closely.

It appears that Dr. Wiseman is still claiming JayTee showed no special abilities and "failed the test" despite the fact that his own data matches Sheldrake's. Certainly most of the "skeptic" websites seem to loudly proclaim how Wiseman "disproved" Sheldrake's research with JayTee.

I'm including data published in Sheldrake's account of the controversy with Wiseman below so you can judge for yourself.

The first graph shows Sheldrake's data from 30 videotaped trials. The second shows data from Wiseman's 3 trials taken at the same location. The bottom graph shows control data from 10 trials when Smart arrived home much later than the recorded data or did not return that evening. Note that the last point in all trials shows the first 10 minutes of Smart's return journey which always lasted at least 13 minutes, so no data from Pam's actual arrival in the vicinity.

UPDATE: Richard Wiseman admitted in his recent Skeptiko interview, that his data does correspond with Sheldrake's. Wiseman should be congratulated for his honesty about this.


Book Surgeon said...

It appears that Wiseman is coming around to some degree as to the validity of psi phenomena and the quailty of much of the data. I definitely have more respect for him than for most skeptics because he's open minded and willing to admit when he's wrong.

BTW, note the tone on this blog re: a skeptic being willing to admit that he's wrong versus the unholy flaying that a parapsychologist would get from a skeptic blog if he admitted he'd botched an experiment or falsified results. I'm reminded of the brutal way that Neoconservatives talk about liberals on Neocon forums and blogs. Interesting correlation.

Ersby said...

I looked at Sheldrake's experiment with Jay-Tee a while ago and I think I posted this on the previous amnap, too, but I may as well post it again.

I looked at Sheldrake's data, but this time I put it into chronoligical order, and I noticed something quite peculiar about the first seven sessions:

19 nov 96 - 18
11 dec 96 - 17
11 feb 97 - 16
19 mar 97 - 13
25 mar 97 - 13
7 may 97 - 12
1 jul 97 - 12
9 jul 97 - 17
29 aug 97 - 12
10 sep 97 - 12
21 sep 97 - 20
8 oct 97 - 15

(The number is the period when the owner began to return home)

Despite being chosen randomly, they decrease gradually from the first very long session to the seventh short one. Since the trials are spread out over eight months, there's no way the dog could recognise this, but the parents who were looking after her may have been thinking "she should be back by now", and subtely acting accordingly, which then effected the dog's behaviour.

It's certainly curious that the first seven trials should follow such a distinct pattern, and it should be amongst these that the best results are. The control sessions - where the owner did not return at all, unknown to the parents - did not happen until after the seventh trial.

Also, it would have been nice to see the data from the 50 sessions with Jay-Tee alone, since that would cancel out any chance of the dog reacting to body language. I did email Rupert Sheldrake asking to see it but despite an email from Pam Smart saying she'd pass on the request, I never heard anything.

Ersby said...

"and it should be amongst these that the best results are"

what the hell did I mean by that?!

So much for proofreading.

I meant it was interesting that the best results were from the period where the times of return followed this pattern.

M.C. said...

Interesting data analysis Andrew. It would be interesting to conduct an ANOVA on the first seven sessions and the latter five.

I'm not sure that this explanation can account for all the non-randomized trials, or the replication experiment conducted with Kane.

In my opinion, clearly this is a very interesting phenomena that deserves additional research with suitable animals and human companions who report this behavior pattern.

Joseph Capp said...

Thank you for objective tone:

I do have experience with skeptics who are suppose to be objective. Many scientist use what I call applied seeing. That is: what ever they see or experiment on must turn out a curtain way even when the results or the evidence points to another explanation. The results never matter it has to be a curtain way. In the UFO field this is done through attacking the witnesses. If the scientific explanation points to a control craft and many of them do. The answer witness lied or are to stupid to see what they are seeing. If these can't possibly apply then weather is always used. These scientist are not dispassionate observers. Only the geniuses are allowed to practice this and they are on a very short lease. Princeton University has yet received it rightful kudos on the work done on PSI.

Scientistific debunkers today practice a religion. It does not surprise me that a debunking scientist claims he has one result even though a through look at his experiment shows another. There are no skeptics anymore the last one to die and was Dr. James McDonald who had such a silly idea, follow the data they destroyed his career because that data way not allowed.

Now what you have is debunkers with preconceived result. I at this time do believe that some of the results against PSI and other strange anomalies could be very well fake to make sure this religious belief isn't threatened. It is only when we see the work taken apart on our side that you gain see the work really done or not done. I had one scientist mentioned to me how they are even to frightened to look at his research. Is this academic freedom? I don't buy its a waste of time.
By the way I love your title Science is a method not a position. If only it was so.

Joseph Capp
UFO Media Matters