Re: MR Evidence

Date: Fri Aug 24 2001 - 03:30:54 BST

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    Subject: Re: MR Evidence
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    On 23 Aug 2001, at 10:42, Dace wrote:

    > Hi Vincent,
    > > Anecdote is insufficient as a form of evidence. I'm aware Sheldrake
    > > likes to use this as a form of evidence and then attack people who
    > > critique his work for only using experimental tests that suit their
    > > rejection of his ideas, without ever seeing the greenhouse he's
    > > throwing stones in...
    > Sheldrake does not rely on anecdotal evidence, and he doesn't attack
    > people.
    You seem to heavily rely on it.
    > But he's not afraid to point out that the anecdotal stuff does
    > overwhelmingly support him. When he conducted a controlled experiment
    > demonstrating that crossword puzzles are easier to solve after large
    > numbers of people have already solved them, he received loads of mail
    > from people attesting to the fact that it's long been common knowledge
    > among puzzle enthusiasts that the puzzles are harder when you try to
    > solve them as soon as they've been published. Wait till the evening
    > or the next day, and it's much easier. No one ever had an explanation
    > for this. It remained a total mystery until Sheldrake came along,
    > proved the effect experimentally, and then explained it according to
    > morphic resonance.
    I do not accept that such a contention has been proven.
    > > Thousands of people say they've seen UFOs too, does that make them
    > > all right?
    > If morphic resonance is real, then once a certain explanation for an
    > unexplained event is taken up by enough people, others are likely to
    > take up that explanation as well.
    I think this has to do with memetic propagation.
    > For centuries, when people saw
    > mysterious lights in the sky, they chalked it up to supernatural
    > influences. But with the rise of modern, techno-oriented
    > civilization, a new explanation, based on space ships, began to
    > appear. Once this new explanation picked up enough momentum, then
    > people became more likely to tune into it than the traditional
    > explanation.
    Memetic drift; the technology meme became generalized to infect
    mythic explamations.
    >This is similar to Waddington's notion that evolution
    > works according to the replacement of one developmental pathway with
    > another. Due to external influences, the ball rolling down the
    > hillside is pushed over a wall into a different path. Pretty soon,
    > the wall has been smoothed over at that spot, and the new "chreode"
    > becomes the dominant pathway.
    This has to do with environmental selection, and the fact that a
    fitness landscape can change, and even do so, according to the
    gaia hypothesis, in a self-regulatory fashion (which causes real
    problems for a backward-looking theory).
    > > Besides which since MR denies, like any good faith,
    > > that it can be detected directly, it is unfalsifiable, and therefore
    > > unscientific.
    > Virtually nothing in physics these days can be detected directly.
    > Even magnetic fields can't be detected without throwing metal filings
    > into them and watching them line up according to the lines of force
    > produced by the field. All you can directly observe is the metal
    > filings, not the field itself. Morphic resonance can be falsified by
    > demonstrating the absence of cumulative benefits from previous
    > generations of organisms engaged in a specific task.
    They are also detectable, and implementable, when converted to
    electricity. You construct a feasible mechanism, check to see if
    consequences which are logically entailed if such a mechanism
    exists are indeed present, and also if consequences which would
    be logically forbidden in fact do not exist. There is no feasible
    mechanism suggested here, nor any way to implement such if it
    could in fact be found.
    > > In domesticated animals, that their owners perceive increased
    > > capabilities of their animals is undoubtedly a product of a number
    > > of things, not least selective recall, and unconscious bias towards
    > > personal possessions (how many new parents think their child is
    > > developing much faster than they should, is much more clever than
    > > average etc. etc.?), and so on.
    > It's for these reasons that Sheldrake doesn't offer this sort of
    > testimony as conclusive evidence for MR. It should be noted, however,
    > that the trainers and ranchers who wrote to him usually stated that
    > they just didn't see how any factors outside the animals themselves
    > could explain their amazing improvements.
    Clever Hans' owner claimed that he did not realize that he was
    communicating to his 'counting' horse via subliminal signals.
    > > What's Sheldrake's, or an MR enthusiast's view on Horse Whispering?
    > > For generations people have been 'breaking' horses, and it doesn't
    > > appear to have ever got any easier, with horses somehow knowing with
    > > successive generations to behave. Horse Whispering, OTOH, involves
    > > utilising body language that horses respond to, that doesn't trigger
    > > their strongly in-built flight responses, and has become more
    > > popular in recent years. These tactics work on horses bred from
    > > generations of domesticated horses (and didn't the guy who started
    > > it succeed with a mustang? I'd like to
    > see
    > > him try a Zebra...), and yet appealing to their natural movement
    > > patterns
    > is
    > > more effective than breaking them.
    > Who says the horses we have now aren't easier to domesticate than the
    > first ones? As you imply, they're certainly easier than zebras,
    > who've never been domesticated. But there's a limit to how easy it
    > can be to domesticate horses (at least through traditional methods)
    > and that limit was presumably reached a couple thousand years ago.
    Horses are easier to domesticate now than before, most likely
    because docility, domesticability and trainability were traits for
    which we have intentionally selected for millennia while breeding
    > Ted
    > ===============================================================
    > This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    > Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    > For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
    > see:

    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)

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