Re: Dawkins etc

From: Dace (
Date: Tue Sep 11 2001 - 20:53:50 BST

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    Subject: Re: Dawkins etc
    Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 12:53:50 -0700
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    > > We can also indirectly experience morphic resonance. For instance, the
    > > subjects of Sheldrake's crossword puzzles found that they could solve
    > > puzzles more easily when many other people had already solved them.
    > > was a controlled experiment, and its results have not been successfully
    > > disputed.
    > Ted, do you have the citation for this experiment?
    > Lawrence

    The description I originally read has since disappeared from the Internet,
    so I had to go to Sheldrake to find some details on it. The experiment
    turns out to have been conducted by a graduate student named Monica English.
    She summarized her results in the Noetic Sciences Bulletin, Autumn 1991, pg
    1. She also presented her findings in full as her thesis at the University
    of Nottingham but never published them in a journal.

    Here's Sheldrake's description:

    "The crossword puzzles she used were from the London Evening Standard, not
    the New York Times,and in the experiments she tested groups of subjects
    before and after the crossword puzzles were published in the Evening
    Standard on Feb 15th 1990. Each group of subjects also did a control
    crossword which had been published ten days earlier in the Evening Standard.
    This was to estimate their ability to solve crosswords of this kind. The
    results were scored blind. She found that the results for the Evening
    Standard 'easy crossword' showed that the subjects performed better after
    the crossword had been published in London, relative to scores before
    publication. This difference was significant at the 5% level, using the
    one-tailed t test. This effect was not detectable with the Evening Standard
    'quick crossword' which the students found much harder to do and in which
    they completed fewer clues.

    "Obviously this result is only a preliminary one, but it does suggest that
    experiments with crosswords provide a feasible way of testing for morphic
    resonance. There is however one problem with this general method which only
    became apparent to me when I enquired more about how crossword puzzles are
    compiled. Crosswords are made up by professional compilers and it seems
    that quite often they recycle parts of old crosswords and so this means it
    is not always the case that a crossword is original and has not been done by
    anybody before even if it has not yet been published in a particular

    "The reason Monica England thought of doing this experiment in the first
    place is that there is a folk-lore among people who do crosswords,
    especially difficult ones like the Times of the Daily Telegraph, that these
    crosswords are easier to solve if they're done the next day or in the
    evening rather than on the morning of the day they are published, suggesting
    a possible influence from others who have done them."

    As an interesting aside, I thought I'd paste in something else Sheldrake
    mentioned in his post:

    "I wonder if, on your discussion list you have yet brought up the subject of
    rises in IQ. In the appendix to my book 'Dogs That Know When Their Owners
    Are Coming Home' I discuss the Flynn effect and show data for these rises in
    IQ. I predicted this effect in the early 1980s but could find no data about
    it. Then Flynn discovered that there had in fact been rises in IQ. He and
    a colleague, William Dickens, have recently tried to explain this by what
    seems to me a highly complicated and artificial argument, published in the
    Psychological Review (Vol. 108, 2001). (Unfortunately I don't have the
    page numbers because I only have a proof copy of the article).

    "The fact that Dickens and Flynn have been driven to this tortuous attempt
    to explain the phenomenon is because all previous attempts to explain it
    have failed, and yet the data are very solid and have been replicated in at
    least 14 different countries. The paradox is that IQ test improvement is
    not paralleled by any other indication that intelligence really is
    increasing. I think this is happening because people are simply getting
    better at doing IQ tests because so many people have done them before. In
    other words, it's a morphic resonance effect. They have already tested
    possibilities about it being due to more TV, increasing test sophistication,
    etc, etc, and none of these have been shown to explain it. This might be an
    interesting subject to take up on your discussion list, if you have not done
    so already."


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