Re: MR Evidence

From: Dace (
Date: Thu Aug 09 2001 - 20:46:39 BST

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    Subject: Re: MR Evidence
    Date: Thu, 9 Aug 2001 12:46:39 -0700
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    From: "Bill Spight"

    > Dear Ted,
    > > There've been a few experiments roughly along the lines you suggest.
    > > instance, Gary Schwartz, a psychology professor at Yale, selected 48
    > > from the Hebrew Old Testament. He then scrambled these words to produce
    > > more, none of which were real words in Hebrew. He asked test subjects
    > > guess their meaning in English and then rate on a scale of 0 to 4 how
    > > confident they felt about whether they'd guessed the meaning correctly.
    > > subjects reported feeling confident about their guesses 75% more often
    > > the real Hebrew words than with the fakes.
    > >
    > So what?
    > > Alan Pickering of Hatfield Polytechnic in England came up with a list of
    > > authentic Persian words and then created another list of fake words also
    > > written in Persian script. He would show each word to the test subjects
    > > ten seconds, after which they would try to duplicate the word on paper.
    > > found that his students were able to duplicate real Persian words more
    > > accurately than fake ones 75% of the time. He noted that the odds of
    > > achieving this result were 10,000 to 1. Like Schwartz, Pickering
    > > that his results confirmed morphic resonance.
    > >
    > Why?
    > Look, languages and scripts have internal structure, as do the Morse
    > code and practical typewriter layouts.
    > You have to control for that structure, or else that structure offers an
    > explanation for the kinds of effects cited.
    > The conclusion that these results confirm morphic resonance is really
    > grasping at straws.
    > Who knows what the feeling of confidence about guesses means? Even if
    > you assume morphic resonance, why should you predict that?

    Because the real terms seem somehow familiar to us, so when we guess their
    meaning, we're liable to feel more confident of being right.

    > The second experiment is a good start. Once you have a set of fake
    > Persian words that are as easy to duplicate as a set of real Persian
    > words, then you test whether the real words are easier to learn. They
    > should be, by morphic resonance, right?

    This is exactly what Pickering did.

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