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Physics with an Open Mind What Physics Has To Say About Parapsychology.

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Presentation on theme: "Physics with an Open Mind What Physics Has To Say About Parapsychology."— Presentation transcript:

1 Physics with an Open Mind What Physics Has To Say About Parapsychology

2 The Domain of Physics All events involving physical objects or processes are part of the subject matter of physics. All events involving physical objects or processes are part of the subject matter of physics. Since parapsychological experiments involve physical events, physics has something to say about them. Since parapsychological experiments involve physical events, physics has something to say about them. Physicists should not assume that currently known laws are the whole of physics! Physicists should not assume that currently known laws are the whole of physics!

3 Blind Spots in Physics Most observations in parapsychology crucially involve intention, attention, subjective qualia, or combinations of these to invoke psi effects. Most observations in parapsychology crucially involve intention, attention, subjective qualia, or combinations of these to invoke psi effects. Physics experiments generally ignore these factors. Physics experiments generally ignore these factors. Therefore most of the known laws of physics derive from an observational base that simply does not address psi effects. Therefore most of the known laws of physics derive from an observational base that simply does not address psi effects.

4 The Psi-Sensitive Chip A Gedankenexperiment

5 ► Suppose that a physics or engineering laboratory invented a device that was very sensitive to human mental activity. ► Since such laboratories do not consider the mental state of their staff to be relevant information, they would regard this device as behaving erratically for no detectable reason. ► The design would be regarded as failing all quality control and reliability trials and would be discarded.

6 Gedankenexperiment Conclusion ► The standard development cycle, especially for experimental apparatus, unintentionally acts as a screening process to eliminate sensitivity to mental effects. ► It should come as no surprise that parapsychological effects on such devices are small and erratic or that no reliable detection device for psi has yet been constructed.

7 Circular Causality A Cautionary Image of Consensus in Physics

8 Causality Violation Dismissed as Non-Physical Artifact Due to Lack of Evidence Reports Dismissed as Evidence Because No Theoretical Model Permits Causality Violation New Physical Model Predicts Causality Violating Effects Model Is Now Taken as Requiring Causality “ like all other models ” Phenomena That Seem to Violate Causality Are Reported (e.g. precognition)

9 Unrecognized Evidence Existing records from physics experiments may conceal evidence for psi effects that has not been recognized for what it is. The “cold fusion” and “fifth force” controversies of the late 20 th century showed a remarkable tendency for labs to get the results they wanted to see. Sloppy technique, or something else?

10 Taxonomy What are the categories of psi phenomena from a physical perspective?

11 Classifying Psi Phenomena Many attempts have been made to categorize different types of psi phenomena. Many attempts have been made to categorize different types of psi phenomena. There has been much debate about the validity, usefulness, and distinguishability of categories. There has been much debate about the validity, usefulness, and distinguishability of categories. The following classification is based on the implications of psi phenomena for physics, and makes no claim to definitiveness for psychological or parapsychological purposes. The following classification is based on the implications of psi phenomena for physics, and makes no claim to definitiveness for psychological or parapsychological purposes.

12 Physical Categories of Psi ESP: Human gains information without using known senses. E.g., Rhine categories of clairvoyance and telepathy. ESP: Human gains information without using known senses. E.g., Rhine categories of clairvoyance and telepathy. Micro-PK: Human mental effort alters the distribution of an unpredictable physical process within its range of possible variation. E.g., RNG experiments, intentional healing, DMILS? Micro-PK: Human mental effort alters the distribution of an unpredictable physical process within its range of possible variation. E.g., RNG experiments, intentional healing, DMILS? Macro-PK: Physical process is altered beyond its range of possible variation by known mechanisms. E.g., levitation, “impossible” cures in healing. Macro-PK: Physical process is altered beyond its range of possible variation by known mechanisms. E.g., levitation, “impossible” cures in healing. Retrocausation (meta-category): Any phenomenon within the above categories in which an effect temporally precedes its cause. E.g., precognition, presentiment. Retrocausation (meta-category): Any phenomenon within the above categories in which an effect temporally precedes its cause. E.g., precognition, presentiment.

13 Challenges to Physics When the data contradict the theory, do we discard the data, or revise the theory?

14 Distance Independence Reported failures to follow an inverse square law are cited as inconsistent with known physics. Reported failures to follow an inverse square law are cited as inconsistent with known physics. Signal information content does not attenuate as signal strength, providing a physical model for non-attenuating informational phenomena. Signal information content does not attenuate as signal strength, providing a physical model for non-attenuating informational phenomena. Quantum entanglement gives another physical model for phenomena that don ’ t attenuate with distance. Quantum entanglement gives another physical model for phenomena that don ’ t attenuate with distance. ESP, Micro-PK

15 Energy Conservation Macro-PK is the only form of psi that raises Macro-PK is the only form of psi that raises energy conservation issues. Some of the best-attested reports involve physical effort greater than the subject could produce, implying more energy was used than the subject could provide. Some of the best-attested reports involve physical effort greater than the subject could produce, implying more energy was used than the subject could provide. Even if the subject ’ s body can produce the requisite energy, no known mechanism can transfer it to the macro-PK target. Even if the subject ’ s body can produce the requisite energy, no known mechanism can transfer it to the macro-PK target. Macro-PK, if real, requires at least some revision of currently understood physical laws. Macro-PK, if real, requires at least some revision of currently understood physical laws. Macro-PK ________________________________________

16 Retrocausation Traditionally, physicists have rejected any violation of causality because of the implication of time paradoxes. Traditionally, physicists have rejected any violation of causality because of the implication of time paradoxes. Retrocausal effects are at least as well established in psi research as causal effects. Retrocausal effects are at least as well established in psi research as causal effects. Recent developments (1992 onward) in physics make causality violations much less threatening. Recent developments (1992 onward) in physics make causality violations much less threatening. Many physical models allow the possibility of retrocausation, but none have been confirmed. Many physical models allow the possibility of retrocausation, but none have been confirmed. (Nobody ’ s looked.) ESP Micro-PK

17 The Observation Problem Double-slit experiment illustrates wave-particle duality. Double-slit experiment illustrates wave-particle duality. “ Which-Way ” measurement disrupts interference, even if detector is placed but unused. “ Which-Way ” measurement disrupts interference, even if detector is placed but unused. Recent experiments show RV can act as a which-way measurement. Recent experiments show RV can act as a which-way measurement. But RV requires no apparatus, so “ detector ” is always in place! But RV requires no apparatus, so “ detector ” is always in place! How can any double-slit experiment produce interference? How can any double-slit experiment produce interference?

18 Physical Models for Psi What Theory Says How Theory Can be Revised

19 Hierarchy of Revisions No Change. Existing physics can accommodate the phenomenon, although some details may be unknown. No Change. Existing physics can accommodate the phenomenon, although some details may be unknown. Extension. Some new physics is needed, but it can be fitted into current theories. Extension. Some new physics is needed, but it can be fitted into current theories. Revolution. A complete paradigm shift is required; as with relativity or QM, it must reduce to current physics in the special case of no psi influences. Revolution. A complete paradigm shift is required; as with relativity or QM, it must reduce to current physics in the special case of no psi influences.

20 Psi In Existing Physics ESP and micro-PK can be accommodated to a limited extent. Known fields could carry signals, if biological coding/decoding is more sophisticated than currently believed. Quantum entanglement is another candidate (next slide). ESP and micro-PK can be accommodated to a limited extent. Known fields could carry signals, if biological coding/decoding is more sophisticated than currently believed. Quantum entanglement is another candidate (next slide). Macro-PK cannot be explained by current physics. Macro-PK cannot be explained by current physics. Retrocausation can potentially be explained by multiple mechanisms, all compatible with current theory, none proven to exist. Retrocausation can potentially be explained by multiple mechanisms, all compatible with current theory, none proven to exist.

21 Quantum Entanglement Schematic of entanglement experiment at right. Schematic of entanglement experiment at right. Same schematic works for many psi experiments; psi established only by examining correlations post hoc. Same schematic works for many psi experiments; psi established only by examining correlations post hoc. Actual entanglement may or may not provide mechanism, does provide physical model. Actual entanglement may or may not provide mechanism, does provide physical model.

22 Does Psi Require New Physics? If macro-PK is a real phenomenon: yes. If only ESP and micro-PK need explanation: maybe. Physical mechanisms compatible with these two psi phenomena are possible but not demonstrated. Retrocausation has the same status: possible (through mechanisms appearing in multiple physical theories) but not demonstrated.

23 Does Physics Require New Physics? The two foundations of modern physics, Quantum Field Theory and General Relativity, are mutually incompatible. Therefore, we know that at least one major revision, at the level of full paradigm shift, is yet to come. might be the revision that physicists have been seeking for 60+ years.A physical theory constructed from the ground up to include psi phenomena, rather than ignoring them, might be the revision that physicists have been seeking for 60+ years.

24 Sideline: Observation Theories Some theories explain psi phenomena through “collapse of the wave function.” Some theories explain psi phenomena through “collapse of the wave function.” But this phenomenon is an ad hoc feature with no derivable formalism, and is at the crux of QM/GR incompatibility. But this phenomenon is an ad hoc feature with no derivable formalism, and is at the crux of QM/GR incompatibility. This feature of physics needs to be explained, rather than having the power to explain other phenomena. This feature of physics needs to be explained, rather than having the power to explain other phenomena.

25 Sideline: Retrocausation, PK The DAT model of May, Utts, and Spottiswoode proposes that micro-PK is an illusion caused by unconscious precognition. The DAT model of May, Utts, and Spottiswoode proposes that micro-PK is an illusion caused by unconscious precognition. The physical analysis of Echeverria, Klinkhammer, and Thorne (proving that retrocausal physics cannot create time paradox) implies a mechanism by which micro-PK is a real physical consequence of the existence of retrocausal ESP. The physical analysis of Echeverria, Klinkhammer, and Thorne (proving that retrocausal physics cannot create time paradox) implies a mechanism by which micro-PK is a real physical consequence of the existence of retrocausal ESP.

26 The Future of Parapsychology A Physicist’s Recommendations

27 Getting Good Answers Reliably repeatable results are a prerequisite for any experimental progress regardless of the specific question being asked. High-yield and high-repeatability protocols, such as DMILS and presentiment, should be explored, and their failures examined intensively to explain the cause of failure. High-yield and high-repeatability protocols, such as DMILS and presentiment, should be explored, and their failures examined intensively to explain the cause of failure. Parapsychologists should pay close attention to robust results that require psi-type explanations, even if they come from seemingly unrelated fields. Intentional healing research is a good example. Parapsychologists should pay close attention to robust results that require psi-type explanations, even if they come from seemingly unrelated fields. Intentional healing research is a good example.

28 The Interesting Questions 1. Does Macro-PK Exist? 2. Is Subjective “Energy” Really Energy?  If so, what (besides a human sensitive) can detect and measure it? 3. Does Psychic Observation Obey The Uncertainty Principle? 4. Does The Physics Literature Hold Unrecognized Evidence For Psi?

29 Answering the Questions 1. Does Macro-PK Exist?  Intense and systematic investigation of reports of RSPK, “external qi gong”, “impossible” healings (e.g. regeneration) 2. Is Subjective “Energy” Really Energy?  Metabolic studies of practitioners  Instrumentation of practitioners and events  Analysis of “charged” objects & substances

30 Answering the Questions 3. Does Psychic Observation Obey the Uncertainty Principle?  Replicate RV ‘which-way’ experiments  Look for limits in space & time  RV version of quantum Zeno effect 4. Unrecognized Psi in Physics Literature?  Systematic review and meta-analysis of candidate topics, e.g. “fifth-force”

31 The Interesting Questions 1. Does Macro-PK Exist? 2. Is Subjective “Energy” Really Energy?  If so, what (besides a human sensitive) can detect and measure it? 3. Does Psychic Observation Obey The Uncertainty Principle? 4. Does The Physics Literature Hold Unrecognized Evidence For Psi?


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