View Full Version : ANDREAS SALADIN, Swiss Dr. FeelGood
19th April 2005, 11:45 AM
Here's the first new claim in weeks.
Demonstration of the effect of a paranormal method for rising the ambience of a location, which influences the vigour of humans measured by valid psychological diagnostic tests.
Herewith I apply for the JREF Challenge. Having performed a double-blinded controlled pre-test I rely on empirical evidence with my ambition to demonstrate the above-mentioned effect.
I claim that in a double-blinded controlled testing the group being renmote influenced by the paranormal method for a 3-month period of time will show higher values in positicve attitude towards life and in self-esteem compared to the control group. For the measures of these psychological attributes only valid diagnostic tests shall be used. As a consequence of the rised ambience of the location this positive influence will transfer itself to the subjects who will have increased positive attitude towards life an self esteem. The influence on the subjects will generally take place during the night due to the fact that most people are at home at this time. Only healthy subjects who did not move house and who did not face serious harm or extreme fortune and who are not mostly absent during the testing period shall be acceptable for the analysis.
Living in Switzerland I used for the pre-test a German written diagnostic instrument. The thesis and the related documents are written in German, too. Therefore it would be ideal to start the examination in cooperation with the German skeptics (www.skeptiker.de).
I am looking forward to discussing with you the specification of the investigation which should be defined in advance to meet the level of clinical testing. Likewise we have to discuss who is recruiting the subjects (and how many) and who is handling the documents, etc. Basically this duty should be done by a third party to ensure for both parties that everything is carried out correctly.
- A. Saladin
Dear Mr. Saladin,
We are in reciept of your application, but it has not been notarized according to the Challenge rules. Please send us a properly executed application, without which your claim cannot be processed.
Assuming that you will send the requested application, I'd like to make some comments about your claim letter, much of which is very unclear. For example, what do you mean by..."the effect of a paranormal method for rising the ambience of a location"?
Do you propose that you can make people living in the experiment area feel happier, healthier and more positive in their "attitude"?
If so, how do you propose to demonstrate this in a scientifically acceptable manner?
10th May 2005, 11:05 AM
Dear Mr. Kramer,
Thank you for your answer of april 19, 2005. Sorry for the inconvenience caused by the unclear explanation of my claim. As you assumed correctly in your letter I claim to be able to influence locations like apartments, dwellings, accommodations etc. from distance. This influence in its nature is a "paranormal" phenomena, and cannot be measured by technical instruments.
I claim that this paranormal influence has an effect on humans. As mentioned I performed an empirical investigation on this subject where I measured the subjective well-being of humans. The subjective well-being is a psychological construct which is well-known and well-investigated. Therefore it is known that no variables like sociodemographic status, fortune etc can explain subjective well-being. It is also investigated that several strokes
of fate are necessary to have an influence on subjective well-being.
I claim that my influence on dwellings (which you cannot measure) has a positive effect on subjective well-being of the humans who live there.
The investigation shall take place in a standard scientific procedure: Two groups (one testing group and one control group) both groups randomly selected and a random allocation to either control- or testing-group. As dependent variable (the measure variable) I suggest a standard and well-known psychological diagnostic test. Ideal would be to use the same
test which I used. This test was developed by Mr. Prof. Dr. A. Grob, University of Basel, Switzerland.
Of course only healthy subjects who did not move house during the investigation period of 3 months and who did not face serious harm or extreme fortune and who were not mostly absent during the period shall be accepted for the analysis. The more variables we control the more the internal validity of the investigation rises.
This method allows to come to the conclusion wether my influence has an effect or has no effect. In this way all kind of scientific investigations are performed: authorization of medicaments is only one under many examples.
I am looking forward in discussing with you the specification of the investigation which should be defined in advance to meet the level of clinical testing. Likewise we have to discuss who is recruiting the subjects (and how many) and who is handling the documents etc. Basically this duty should be done by a third party to ensure for both parties that everything is carried out correctly.
12th May 2005, 08:41 AM
I asked Randi to advise me on this claim, and forwarded him the protocol proposal from this applicant.
Randi mistakenly thought that this protocol was from someone who had yet to apply, and emailed her directly with his standard APPLY OR GO AWAY response, which proved quite disconcerting for the applicant.
I tried to clear matters up and resume the protocol debate with the following email:
Sorry about the confusion involving Randi. He was unaware that you had submitted an application already.
However, I do share his misgivings, in that there is really no way to conduct a proper, controlled test when subjective matters are concerned.
You basically say that you can make people feel better, happier, healthier, greater optimism, etc.
There is no way of measuring this properly that we are aware of, and the protocol you suggested is NOT acceptable. Proof must be more conclusive than what you offer, and without locking up the entire town and putting guards at each house, how would we know that what the subjects are experiencing is solely due to your paranormal powers?
I cannot imagine how this claim can be properly tested. Would you like to try to offer us an alternative solution to this problem?
12th May 2005, 09:06 AM
Dear Mr. Kramer,
It seems that there is a problem in communication. The letter you sent to me on april 19, 2005 is not the same letter that is published on your webpage. If the only problem is that I did not yet consult a lawyer why don't you just tell me? You did not even mention in your letter that something is missing!
Furthermore you interpreted my claim. I wrote back to you on may 10, 2005 and confirmed that your interpretation is correct. The logic consequence is that there should be no more problems in understanding my claim. As you asked me to propose how to investigate my claim scientifically I followed your advise and offered an investigation procedure. The only consequence was then that Mr. Randi told me not dictate to you what a test will consist of.
Now really! What is this all about?! Obviousely - as I guess - there must have been a misapprehension.
Again my claim: (due to the mail of may 11, 2005 of Mr. Randi who told me that nothing is clear although you obviously, according your letter of april 19, 2005 have understood my claim correctly.)
--my claim in the words of Mr. Kramer:
"...that you can make people living in the experiment area feel happier, healthier, and more positive in their "attidutes"..."
I make people, who live in the influenced area, feel more self-assertive and optimistic towards life.
I hope this is a clear statement.
I would say that this statement can be falsified and can be investigated by standard scientific investigation procedures as I already described twice. I am eager to hear your critisism.
I do not know whether you are still working together with the German association of sceptics. Maybe it makes things easier for you and me if this challenge would be started in cooperation with the German association.
Mr. Kramer: I ask you for instructions in order that this process can be continued.
kind regards, A. Saladin
I said nothing about consulting a lawyer because no such effort on your part is necessary. A "notary" refers to a confirmed, official signature ID. A lawyer MAY provide one, but it is NOT required that a lawyer be involved in the process. A simple signature ID is sufficient.
Also, I checked the email I sent you against the what is posted in your application thread in the JREF forum, and was surprised to see that the first paragraph regarding the notary issue was NOT within the letter you were sent. I can only say that this is a great mystery to me, and I have no real explanation for it other than that my CUT & PASTE function had malfunctioned. I must apologize for that, as well, but I don't think it's a major issue at all. The missing paragraph refers ONLY to the notary signature, and as you can see by our continued correspondence with you, we have no problem in proceeding with protocol negotaitions with you while we await the arrival of your notarized application. It is NOT an issue to waste our time on. So let's proceed.
Yes, I intererpreted your claim, but I chose to consult Randi for advice on how to respond to your protocol.
Again, I apologize for any confusion this may have caused you, and I hope we understand each other now. The mistake was entirely ours. You are quite right: There is no more problem
in understanding your claim.
The problem now lies with deciding whether or not it is possible to devise an acceptable protocol. We strongly fear that this will NOT be possible, but we remain open to suggestions.
And Randi's statement about things "not being clear" was in reference to your protocol proposal, NOT your claim. I hope this clarifies his position on this matter and puts your mind at ease.
When you say, "standard scientific procedures", we must ask you what these procedures are. We are not aware of any that would suffice in verifying your claim. Your insistence that they are acceptable will NOT make it true. What is acceptable to you, in this specific case, is NOT acceptable to us, or to the scientific community, such as we understand it. So we do have problems
here that we may not find a way to solve, try as we might.
Regarding German Skeptics, you are certainly free to contact our associate Mr. Amardeo Sarma at GWUPP in Germany, in an effort to make headway in this matter. However, the JREF does not initiate communications with our investigators until we are sure that a protocol is possible.
Please let us know your thoughts on this matter.
16th May 2005, 10:51 AM
Dear Mr. Kramer,
Thank you for your apology and for communicating in a sensible way. It seemed impossible to communicate with Mr. Randi on a rational level. I am glad that the problem regarding the understanding of my claim is now clarified.
When I wrote in my proposal for the test protocol of "standard scientific procedures", I refer to the tradition of empirical research practice. The same scientific methods are used in different domains like social science, medicine, economics etc. For an introduction e.g.: Coolican, H. (1999) Research methods and statistics in psychology, London:Hodder & Stoughton.
It is for example (according to Popper) necessary that a nomothetical hypothesis (a general claim about the reality) must be able to be falsified. The "scientific method" (Coolican page 9) consists in testing hypothesis. Hypothesis are tested by inferential statistics with so called significance tests. What is it?
If a claimant would come to you and suggest that he can feel if there was a stone under an intransparent box, how would you test this hypothesis? You would let him demonstrate. Can you ever be absolutely sure that he is really able to do what he claims? The answer is NO. Because every effect can occur
due to chance fluctuation. A significance test quantifies the probability of the null hypothesis to be true. The null hypothesis means that effects occur only due to chance fluctuation. The probability of the null hypothesis cannot reach the value zero. As a result of this every testing within the scope of empirical experimental testing can NEVER lead to a conclusion which
is absolutely save. Conclusions can ONLY be well-proven. Therefore you should communicate what significance level you demand in order to accept the result. Widely used significance levels are 5% or 1%.
You write: "... there is really no way to conduct a proper, controlled test when subjective matters are concerned." I do not agree with your statement. As you might be aware there is a domain called psychological diagnostics. Within this domain there is a long tradition of psychometric tests which allow standardized measurements for human personality and ability characteristics.
For an objective statement about the creditableness of such
a test the "classical test theory" was established (e.g. Cronbach) which allows to check the accuracy, reliability and validity of psychometric tests.
Basically such a test is a standardized instrument to measure behavior (humans answers upon questions). It is widely used not only for psychological research but also e.g. for the clinical testing of the potency of antidepressants carried out by pharmaceutical companies. If this really were a unreliable way of measuring it would not not be so widely used and be accepted at universities and governmental agencies. I am convinced that no expert would ever criticize such a measurement procedure. And I just propose
exactly this way of measuring.
There are several types of experiments: e.g. laboratory experiment, field experiment, quasi-experiment, natural experiment etc. Every kind of hypothesis testing has assets and drawbacks. I proposed the gold-standard of experiment: a randomized controlled double-blind study. Without mentioning
the basics of science I think that in the community of scientists this standard is really widely known and accepted for hypothesis testing. If the participants of the experiment (subjects) are selected randomly and if there are no different conditions for the subjects the probability that the groups have different values in psychometric test (or what ever you take as measurement, e.g. body-height) can be calculated by significance tests. As
chance fluctuation can NEVER be excluded in the domain of scientific testing your argumentation: "... and without locking up the entire town and putting guards at each house, how would we know that what the subjects are experiencing is due to your paranormal powers?" is in this form not scientifically justified. It is rather a layman argument. You should be aware of the significance level you consider as crucial. Basically if you doubt about the procedure I am proposing you doubt about generally accepted procedures. I am interested in clear arguments against my proposed test procedure.
You are surely interested that I cannot manipulate the results of the study. Similarly I don't want you to have the opportunity of manipulation. As I already proposed the investigation should therefore be done by a third party. What needs to be done? Two samples of randomly selected people are necessary for this field-experiment.
The subjects must live at locations like apartments, dwellings or
accommodations. Within a given period of time all subjects have to complete a psychometric test measuring self-assertiveness and optimistic attitude towards life. The completed tests must be sent to a trusted third party. The third party will randomly divide the subjects into two groups, a test-group and a control-group. Then the third party will communicate the addresses of
the locations of both groups to you and me. It is forbidden for you and me to get in contact with anybody of the subjects. I will then choose a group and start the positive influence for this group. Then I will communicate by registered letter to the third party what group is influenced (e.g. group A or B). The third party will keep this letter closed until the second measure is finished. This is important in order to achieve the standard of double-blindedness. After a four-month-period the same psychometric test will be sent by the third party to the subjects for a repeated measure. In this second measure the subjects have additionally to confirm that nobody informed them about the condition (test or control-group) and to answer additional questions about experienced harm or fortune and about their absence during the four-month-period. Of course only healthy subjects who did not experience serious harm or fortune shall be accepted for the
For the analysis of the data I again suggest a standard significance test. A 2x2-design analysis of variance (Anova) with repeated measure, one-sided hypothesis testing, squared sums calculated according type 3. My claim will be tested with the interaction-effect.
I hope that the misgivings you had about my proposal are now clarified. If not please tell me as exactly as possible what still is a problem from your point of view. And I ask you for professional scientifically qualified
Your email contains numerous misaprehensions regarding the nature of the Challenge. The most vital of these is the simple fact that the JREF itself does NOT conduct the testing of applicants or their claims: we only observe.
Another problem is that you also misunderstand another vital element of the Challenge: we do not test "hypothesis". We test alleged paranormal phenomenon. Theories and hypothesis are of absolutely no interest to us.
To answer your question regarding how we would test a Challenge applicant who claimed they could "feel" if there was a stone under a box, we would say, "OK. That sounds great. Let's see. Please do it."
It's as simple as that.
To address your other concerns regarding JREF's position in testing paranormal claims would be far too time consuming, and we do not believe that addressing them would result in a test of your claim.
The JREF does not have the resources to conduct a massive, time consuming test such as the one you have proposed. I also regret that I am personally unable to respond (as you have requested) with "professional scientifically qualified criticism" of your protocol. I can only tell you that such a test is not within our means, and that what you feel "convinced" would substantiate your beliefs, would not be acceptable as the kind of PROOF we require for the JREF Paranormal Challenge.
Kramer, JREF Paranormal Claims Dept.
25th May 2005, 10:40 AM
After some conversation in the forum I realized that I might have explained my proposal in a too complicated way which lead to misapprehensions. Maybe it was due to the confusion at the beginning of our communication or as well due to my English-skills.
Different locations have different "ambiances". It is difficult to define what exactly ambiance is about. In the far east some people make use of "feng shui" which means that a well constructed building and a well organized interior rises some kind of unmeasurable but tangible or sensible "energy". Famous architects in Europe sometimes mention as well such a kind of energy (e.g. Herzog & de Meuron). Other people think that the "ambiance" is influenced by "earth-rays" etc. Finally I just want to allude that a phenomena like "ambiance" is likely to exist, although no "hard-facts" exist for proving it. Humans or more general living creatures are sensible to their environments and are therefore influenced by the ambiance of their environment. I claim that I can "remotely rise the ambiance" of a location which can be indirectly measured on the effects it will have on humans who live there.
Two groups of people who do not know whether the ambiance of their home is or is not remote influenced could be tested twice: Before and after a time of remote influence. I claim that the group being remote influenced will have higher values in terms of subjective well-being at the second measure.
The "measure-tape" is proved to be reliable like commonly known IQ-tests. The "measure-tape" would contain questions like:
Positive Attitude towards Life (six level Likert type scale ranging from "completely wrong" to "completely correct")
PL1 My future looks good.
PL2 I enjoy life more than most of the people.
PL3 I'm content with the way my life plans are being realized.
PL4 I cope well with the things in my life that can't be changed.
PL5 Whatever happens, I can see the bright side.
PL6 I enjoy living.
PL7 My life seems meaningful to me.
PL8 My life is on track.
Self- Esteem (six level Likert type scale ranging from "completely wrong" to "completely correct")
SE1 I'm capable of doing things just as well as most other people.
SE2 I feel just as valuable as others
SE3 I have a positive attitude towards myself.
This is the way I propose to demonstrate my claim. Please tell me whether you agree with this kind of demonstration. I am also interested in knowing the level of accuracy or conclusiveness you desire. If for example you ask for a significance level of <0.001 for pre- and main test the overall probability of falsely accepting the effect after the two tests would be 0.001 * 0.001 = 0.000001 which means the chance would be one to a million.
Would you kindly inform me whether you agree to this kind of test-protocol? Thank you.
I will ask Randi and get back to you within a day.
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