# UFOs and skepticism

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Energy is a quantitatively measurable property in the universe, not just a mere arithmetic value or mathematical unit (number) used to measure that property.

Nope. Potential energies such as gravitational aren't quantitively measurable. Only changes in them are measurable, which means they're only defined up to a constant. (Which makes them even numerically meaningless on their own, not just physically meaningless as a measurement.) One then has to arbitrarily chose the situation such that you want to have the value 0. For gravity, the choice with the least contrivance is having "infinitely far away from all mass-energy" as 0; and as that's the highest possible value, all gravitational potential energy numerical values on this scale become negative. But that choice was arbitrary, and still quite contrived.

Nope. Potential energies such as gravitational aren't quantitively measurable.

Fully agree. Only certain kinds of energy are quantitatively measurable, which only strengthens the point that energy is not 'just' a number.

Only changes in them are measurable, which means they're only defined up to a constant. (Which makes them even numerically meaningless on their own, not just physically meaningless as a measurement.) One then has to arbitrarily chose the situation such that you want to have the value 0. For gravity, the choice with the least contrivance is having "infinitely far away from all mass-energy" as 0; and as that's the highest possible value, all gravitational potential energy numerical values on this scale become negative. But that choice was arbitrary, and still quite contrived.

Amen.

Hmm.. to me this conversation comes across as:

"Some vegan meals are quite tasty."
"Give me an example then, in my experience they all contain tofu and I hate tofu."
"All right, here's an example of a tasty meal without tofu."
"Yeah ...uh, no thanks. This recipe was made by vegans, and in my experience they all use tofu."
See posts # 141 (@Mendel ) and 156 (mine) for reasons why not to engage with a crackpot paper from a pseudoscience source which you yourself stated was irrelevant.

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Fully agree. Only certain kinds of energy are quantitatively measurable, which only strengthens the point that energy is not 'just' a number.
Congratulations on a brief post, LilWabbit! I'm so proud of you. It's more than I could have hoped for from a person who wrote the longest post I've ever seen that included (apparently with a straight face) -
3) The seeming assumption that a verbose technical elaboration of your point adds to the credence of your argument

Congratulations on a brief post, LilWabbit!

Thanks.

I'm so proud of you.

Neat.

It's more than I could have hoped for from a person who wrote the longest post I've ever seen that included (apparently with a straight face) -

your research would be interesting if a reputable physicist (or the JRF?) had been able to replicate it
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Second, WS’s critique blithely dismissed 28 similar studies reported to date, including experiments conducted by three other independent groups (Guerrer, 2019; Jeffers, 1996; Ibison & Jeffers, 1998). Eleven of those 28 studies reported significant outcomes (p < 0.05, two-tailed), where just one would be expected to be significant by chance. This is extremely unlikely to have occurred by chance (p < 10-7).
source: https://osf.io/9csgu

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Second, WS’s critique blithely dismissed 28 similar studies reported to date, including experiments conducted by three other independent groups (Guerrer, 2019; Jeffers, 1996; Ibison & Jeffers, 1998). Eleven of those 28 studies reported significant outcomes (p < 0.05, two-tailed), where just one would be expected to be significant by chance. This is extremely unlikely to have occurred by chance (p < 10-7).
source: https://osf.io/9csgu
If two out of your three cited papers have the same author listed, they can't be "independent groups". I looked up "Ibison & Jeffers" (as the most easily identifiable paper since there were two names on it) and found it in something called scientificexploration.org. Here's some of the criticism of their journal, and a reason why I do not wish to waste time reading their work.
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Of the SSE and its journal, journalist Michael D. Lemonickwrites, "Pretty much anything that might have shown up on The X-Files or in the National Enquirer shows up first here.

#### Kendrick Frazier, editor of Skeptical Inquirer and Committee for Skeptical Inquiry fellow, has suggested that:​

The JSE, while presented as neutral and objective, appears to hold a hidden agenda. They seem to be interested in promoting fringe topics as real mysteries and they tend to ignore most evidence to the contrary. They publish "scholarly" articles promoting the reality of dowsing, neo-astrology, ESP, and psychokinesis. Most of the prominent and active members are strong believers in the reality of such phenomena.[8]
Clinical community psychologist and professor of social psychology at the University of Connecticut Seth Kalichman regards the journal as a publisher of pseudoscience, with the journal serving as a "major outlet for UFOology, paranormal activity, extrasensory powers, alien abductions etc".[9]

Philosopher of science Noretta Koertge described the journal as an "attempt to institutionalize pseudoscience".[10]

Skeptic Robert Sheaffer writes that the SSE journal has published articles implying that certain topics, like paranormal activities, dowsing and reincarnation, are true and have been verified scientifically. The articles, often written in impressive jargon by scientists with impressive academic credentials, try to convince other scientists that further research into those topics is warranted; but, Sheaffer argues, those articles failed to convince the mainstream scientific community.[2]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Society_for_Scientific_Exploration

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Second, WS’s critique blithely dismissed 28 similar studies reported to date, including experiments conducted by three other independent groups (Guerrer, 2019; Jeffers, 1996; Ibison & Jeffers, 1998). Eleven of those 28 studies reported significant outcomes (p < 0.05, two-tailed), where just one would be expected to be significant by chance. This is extremely unlikely to have occurred by chance (p < 10-7).
source: https://osf.io/9csgu
that's grasping at straws. if you do a replication, the effect should appear every single time, maybe not at a statistically significant level. If that's not the case, that raises questions about the quality of the respective studies, and the possibility that certain researchers would not publish on failed experiments.

The source you link is itself reporting on a failed experiment that is being represented as successful:
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Previous research on intentional mind-matter interaction tasks indicates that intentional tasks can sometimes result in outcomes opposite to the assigned instructions, depending on unconscious factors and demand characteristics of the experiment
note that this allows to report any anomaly as success, not only the intended one

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Examination of p45 showed that the laser’s illumination intensity randomly hopped between two power regimes (so-called “mode-hopping” is common in HeNe gas lasers).
note that the experiment includes a rich source of randomness

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adjustment of the power spectrum also made the results difficult to interpret in physical terms.
note that this translates to "we don't actually know what the physical effect of the consciousness influence was"

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The experimental design specified that 25 participants would each contribute 10 experimental and 10 matched sham sessions, for a total of 500 sessions
lots of data

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then due to unforeseen circumstances the lab was relocated from a quiet ground floor location to a noisier second-floor location
another possible source of change in the data
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When the p-values for the eight mean comparison tests are adjusted for multiple testing, none achieve significance at p < 0.05 after applying the False Discovery Rate (FDR) method (Benjamini & Hochberg, 1995). Thus, this experiment provided no evidence for a directional psychophysical effect
instead of taking advantage of the large number of samples and doing one test that would be most powerful, the data was grouped, and multiple less powerful comparisons were done. this increases the chance of finding an "anomaly" (see above, they don't predict a specific effect). but they could not find one.

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When the p-values for the eight variance comparison tests were adjusted with FDR, one outcome was significant at p < 0.05 in the experimental OX condition, which was one of the two conditions predicted to show a difference.

If one argued that FDR should be applied to 16 p-values rather than 8, then none of the comparisons would have achieved significance, so the variance outcome is best regarded as suggestive
translated: "we tried harder to find an anomaly, but failed again"

the paper itself is a response to a critique by the independent observer, published at https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01891 :
Prior work by Radin et al. (2012, 2016) reported the astonishing claim that an anomalous effect on double-slit (DS) light-interference intensity had been measured as a function of quantum-based observer consciousness. Given the radical implications, could there exist an alternative explanation, other than an anomalous consciousness effect, such as artifacts including systematic methodological error (SME)? To address this question, a conceptual replication study involving 10,000 test trials was commissioned to be performed blindly by the same investigator who had reported the original results. The commissioned study performed confirmatory and strictly predictive tests with the advanced meta-experimental protocol (AMP), including with systematic negative controls and the concept of the sham-experiment, i.e., counterfactual meta-experimentation. Whereas the replication study was unable to confirm the original results, the AMP was able to identify an unacceptably low true-negative detection rate with the sham-experiment in the absence of test subjects. The false-positive detection rate reached 50%, whereby the false-positive effect, which would be indistinguishable from the predicted true-positive effect, was significant at p = 0.021 (σ = −2.02; N = 1,250 test trials). The false-positive effect size was about 0.01%, which is within an-order-of-magnitude of the claimed consciousness effect (0.001%; Radin et al., 2016). The false-positive effect, which indicates the presence of significant SME in the Radin DS-experiment, suggests that skepticism should replace optimism concerning the radical claim that an anomalous quantum consciousness effect has been observed in a controlled laboratory setting.

The part I bolded means that the experimental setup naturally produces the effect that is claimed to be caused by conscious interference—the deck was stacked, so to speak.

The critique doesn't dismiss anything blithely: it notes a replication failure, which casts doubts on any study using this setup that found an effect.

Plenty of effects in serious science haven't stood up to replication, simply because the researchers got lucky the first time (and unlucky researchers don't publish). That's why replication studies are important.

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I looked up "Ibison & Jeffers" (as the most easily identifiable paper since there were two names on it) and found it in something called scientificexploration.org.
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Second, WS’s critique blithely dismissed 28 similar studies reported to date, including experiments conducted by three other independent groups (Guerrer, 2019; Jeffers, 1996; Ibison & Jeffers, 1998). [..]
source: https://osf.io/9csgu
that URL is short for https://psyarxiv.com/9csgu/ . the way that was worded you'd think that Jeffers, 1996, and Ibison & Jeffers, 1998, confirm the result, but they don't (same source):
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Plenty of effects in serious science haven't stood up to replication, simply because the researchers got lucky the first time (and unlucky researchers don't publish). That's why replication studies are important.
Yes, as a matter of fact:
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More than 70% of researchers have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist's experiments, and more than half have failed to reproduce their own experiments. Those are some of the telling figures that emerged from Nature's survey of 1,576 researchers who took a brief online questionnaire on reproducibility in research.
source: https://www.nature.com/articles/533452a

This Nature survey shows how every field in science has reproducibility problems:

Dean Radin is open about his reproducibility problems as well, and states that the search for the right setup to optimally reproduce the experimental results is still ongoing:
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It might make sense to pursue confirmatory studies if this were a mature line of experimentation with a well-tested protocol. But as we have emphasized in our publications, the hypothesis under study is a purported psychophysical effect. Given that it is not possible to “step in the same river twice” when studying ordinary psychological phenomena, if one is serious about probing the enigmatic interstitial space between psychology and physics, then we believe it is woefully premature to narrow one’s focus to only include confirmatory studies.
But it seems to be worth the effort because it would shed light on both the quantummechanical measurement problem and the nature of consciousness.

Just to risk giving @Ann K and @tinkertailor a stroke!

Energy, generally speaking, is not conserved. Example: a photon across the expanding universe will redshift and thus become less energetic. Where does its energy go? It doesn't go anywhere, it's just not conserved in that particular situation.

This is another declarative and dogmatic statement without any rationale provided as to why the only viable logical alternative is the photon’s energy disappearing nowhere. This is also a case of an unwitting encroachment into philosophy and the category mistakes that logically follow. The question of things occurring without any cause has been discussed at length with much greater depth and analytical rigour in philosophy (ontology) as part of pre-modern and modern debates on the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PoSR).

The seemingly physics-concerning but effectively philosophical proposition that the loss of the redshifting photon’s energy means that the energy simply goes nowhere is logically equivalent to proposing the photon’s energy slowly ceases to exist. It's equivalent to a claim that nothing conserves the loss of energy of a photon – there simply isn’t a sufficient reason for the energy conservation. It just doesn't happen. However, such a claim raises these reasonable follow-up questions: If nothing conserves the loss of energy of a photon, how can it simply cease to exist? What inherent or external properties/entities cause it to cease existing? What short of sheer magic can cause total non-existence? How is energy ceasing to exist a scientifically more reasonable and viable explanation than it being conserved by something as yet undetermined? The anti-PoSR proponent (or scientific instrumentalist) is left with one logical answer which is akin to pure Biblical dogma: We should never ask why. It just happens. My response: Baloney.

The PoSR provides a powerful philosophical rationale for the Law of Conservation of Energy in physics. It essentially dictates that there must be (a) sufficient reason(s) for all physical phenomena which the science of physics exists to investigate and to explore. No phenomenon occurs or behaves in a certain way without any cause. If there isn't a sufficient reason/cause for energy to cease existing, the energy is effectively not ceasing to exist. It's conserved by something else than the photon. Hence, to claim as a brute fact that its energy just gradually ceases to exist without any reason is both (literally) unreasonable, highly mystical and scientifically unnecessarily constraining. There could be all sorts of other explanations than the energy ceasing to exist, such as it being absorbed into the expansion of the universe itself (utterly irrespective of which coordinate systems or none are used for its description). Indeed, under the PoSR, if there's no sufficient reason/cause for the energy to cease to exist, there must be an alternative reason for the energy's seeming disappearance. The exploration of this alternative reason is a worthwhile endeavour.

Commitment to such an enterprise of causal exploration of this phenomenon -- and other causes of other phenomena -- is the only constraint of the PoSR. However, on balance, it is less of a constraint than the irrational and dogmatic prohibition of any further exploration of a sufficient reason.

All types of causes are worth exploring in any exercise purporting to describe itself as 'scientific'. A silly commitment to not search for reasons is all well and good in a free world. But one doesn’t get to claim being scientific and open to all possible hypotheses in the same token.

How does this all feed back to the discussion on negative energy? Here’s how I see it, but don't claim infallibility. If energy exists (a self-evident empirical truth), it doesn’t non-exist or less-than-non-exist (i.e. minus-exist). Whatever properties it actually has are positive by necessity – capacities for x, y and z – such as rest, motion and radiance to varying extents. The only negative value that can be assigned to energy or any of its properties is purely mathematical or calculational and should not be misconstrued as having any real-world referent. Hence, negative energy/mass as a real physical thing powering warp drives is a category mistake and an absurdity, and therefore the energy condition is empirically well-founded, and shouldn't be violated.

Wasn't I admirably terse and concise, Ann.

We are pretty far from the original topic. Start another if you like but this one is closed.

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