So. Let's start with the material in the OP. I won't be able to even be close to totally going over the entire PEAR topic, because I'm starting up
with a new job in a new locale, and it's going to sort of eat my time up. But it's a good bone to chew, so let me crank off with this and I'll come
back to it in a few days. This post is not meant to be an in-depth look at PEAR either, it's sort of a 'what about this catches my eye'. There's no
deep analysis here, because I have a ton of background crap to read for tomorrow for work. So don't say 'that doesn't prove anything, it's, like, your
opinion man' because you're right. That's all I have time for - what about this bothers me. In a few days, I'll wade into Jahn and PEAR and we'll pick
some of the papers apart. This post is more - 'look here, and here, it's worrisome'
I'm not trying to bang on Peeple, either. It's a very interesting topic. I'm not trying to trash it, or him/her. The question was put, 'what strikes
you as manky about this', (mas o menos), and the next few posts will be an overly wordy but very condensed version of what went through my mind from
the first time I read about PEAR (they were quite active at the time). And a lot of it was basically 'but wait, how do you know that is actually what
is going on? You're jumping wildly to conclusions based on things you think you're seeing..."
And who knows? Maybe it's true. But there are classes of topics that always worry me in the sense that I examine them closely, since I know people
have a natural tendency to erroneously think/perceive in certain ways, due to design. One, for example, is seeing faces in random visual clutter. That
was such a VERY useful thing in not being eaten in the jungle that you have a chunk of brain that's devoted to doing nothing BUT that. Better still,
you have the ability to vary the cut-off level on face detection so that you can talk yourself into getting a positive hit on just about ANYTHING. So,
I don't bother reading "I saw Jesus in a cantaloupe" articles. Of course you did. Because you're sort of designed to do that.
Another is, sadly, 'I thought about something and it happened so it happened because I thought about it' topics. That's another 'built-in' that sort
of comes from how your brain picks out causes and effects. 'Wish and make it true' has both pseudo-cause and confirmation bias behind it. It's even
got a name:"magical thinking". And most kids do it until the ages of 7 or 8, all the time. And most adults still do it at times, even if they laugh at
themselves for doing it, and some don't ever get past it. So, another thing I take with grains of salt are results that tend to confirm 'magical
thinking', for the reason that it's so easy to fool yourself with it. Not only is it a soft, mushy spot in everyone's perceptual toolkit, it's
. What if I could do [x] just by thinking about it? Sadly, the world is probably a better place because I can't - it would probably
turn out like The Man Who Could Work Miracles
, or worse, It's a Good Life
. Anyway, topics like that are a trigger for my 'look closer'
filter, just because we all tend to fall short here, scientists included. So, let's look at the material in the OP.
The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) program, which flourished for nearly three decades under the aegis of Princeton University’s
School of Engineering and Applied Science, has completed its experimental agenda of studying the interaction of human consciousness with sensitive
physical devices, systems, and processes, and developing complementary theoretical models to enable better understanding of the role of consciousness
in the establishment of physical reality.
This is, of course, sort of a 100K foot view and not meant to be taken literally, maybe, but what does it tell you?
1) Jahn thinks that human consciousness interacts with physical devices, systems, and processes.
2) He's possibly back-engineered models to try to fit the data - sort of the reverse you'd normally do. Most science that's not pathological (though
not all) would have proposed a mechanism and an experimental means for validating and invalidating it, then collected the data. The way it's worded
here would seem to indicate they got the data and developed a model to fit it.
3) He thinks that consciousness establishes reality.
Right off, it seems likely that PEAR is going to be a forthright appeal to magical thinking by 1 and 3, and that he's back-fitting models to match
data by 2. This is not a good indication that it's going to be good science. Still, if you could prove that 'life is but a dream' (my summary of this
mission statement), it would be worth a Nobel. The difficulty will be in actually proving it, as you have to ask 'whose dream is it, then?'. You end
up in a sort of multiplex solipsism down that trail. It's hard to prove, and I don't Jahn came close. Still, it tells you something about him and PEAR
- it's 'there is no objective reality'. But it seems odd then that they'd try to prove it objectively.
Next, that diagram in the OP. It looks good, and they have some nice bafflegab to go with it. But what are they really saying? You have your 'normal'
path - your consciousness takes in data from tangible ('real') events. The double arrow would tend to imply that it directly affects events but I
suspect he's meaning here that you physically react and change tangible things. That would be the 'objective' world. You perceive things happening,
you make physical changes, they have physical consequences. Great, I'm down with that pathway.
Then he brings in two more blocks that are 'mysterious'. One is the unconscious mind (U) and 'intrinsically unobservable pathways' (I). Hoo, boy. Ever
see this cartoon?
Jahn's U and I pathways are tantamount to 'then a miracle occurs'. He does this because (1) it's obvious that there's no direct conscious path to do
this, so he has to invoke an 'unconscious' part of the mind that somehow DOES know how to influence probability, and does so as an un-sensed agent of
the conscious, and (2) he has no idea how this might be managed even so, so he inserts (I) and for frosting states that it's "intrinsically
unobservable". Note that one. He precludes any form of testing or confirmation by stating right out that you can't detect or measure it, or know how
it works, by its very nature. THAT's certainly handy, isn't it? It's a sciency way of saying 'Goddidit', only you're sticking in the unconscious mind
AND a mystery method that inherently can't be analyzed.
Still, you'd have to leave open the door of 'maybe he's onto something, but just has an execrable way of stating it'. Given his premises, there are
tests he could have done but didn't, which would have been one of the first things you ought to have. And assumptions he makes which seem odd to me,
which I'll point out at some future time when I have more time to think about them. First would be 'why in the world are you convinced that the use of
'psi' would invariably bias random number generators as a side effect?' He seems to assume this to the point that it's basically the only thing he
tests for. Yet there doesn't seem to be a real reason, except that it's how he became a true believer.