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Aside: The Problem With Parapsychology

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Posted by Aurino Souza on August 16, 2001 16:25:18 UTC

A typical experiment in parapsychology:

Get a person to change the outcome of a random process just by "wishing" a particular result. It often suceeds at first, I have done it myself several times. But these things have a knack for letting you down, and what happens is that as you keep trying the effect vanishes. There are not enough tears in the world for once-amazed, later-frustrated parapsychologists to cry.

What's wrong here? I think I know why. The problem is being attacked from the wrong side. If you toss a coin 1,000 times and get very close to 500 heads, you have just as much explaining to do as if you got 990 heads! People think 990 is a mystery while 500 is perfectly natural, but they never asked themselves what is it that makes 500 natural. Does the coin "know" how many times it has fallen on each side?

The problem is with the idea of "mind", as if it was something that only exists in one's head and nowhere else in the whole universe. Even people who defend that mind is a completely natural phenomenom will irrationally insist that it only happens inside human skulls.

But that's an entirely different subject.

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