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Crufix Fondue
20th August 2003, 10:20 AM
Say there was a comet that made a loop through the sky at some point. It would be highly unusual to see, Correct? So if it is seen by hundreds of people, video taped, etc; But it melted and/or simply never crossed paths with earth again.

How could we really prove that the comet was there in the first place?

I think this is a fundamental problem with this challenge. It apparently requires you to be able to replicate the phoenomena in a controlled environment. Well, in the same vein as the comet, what if something unusual and undeniably paanormal happened, but only happened that one time (ball lightning comes to mind as a very rare occurence). How could you prove it multiple times, especially in this age of Photoshop and video editing?

Stimpson J. Cat
20th August 2003, 11:50 AM
You can't.

That sort of thing is not what the challenge is intended for. The challenge is a direct challenge to the thousands of con-artists out there who not only make claims that could easily be tested, but are duping people out of very large sums of money based on these fraudulent claims.

Dr. Stupid

20th August 2003, 12:13 PM
In any case, why would seeing something strange happen qualify you for the prize? It was my understanding that the prize was for actually being able to do things.

T'ai Chi
20th August 2003, 12:43 PM
I would reason that a once in a lifetime event, an event that occurs with probability p, where p is very small, could occur for each person.

Also, there have been, are, and will be, many people, say n, and n*p, the expected number of once in a lifetime events, could probably be greater than 1, so therefore we could have a chance of seeing at least one of these events, perhaps multiple times.

?

Crufix Fondue
20th August 2003, 01:02 PM

Stimpy is, IMO, one of the best cartoon characters ever.

Linguist, it doesn't have to be an Event-How about if one day, you found out that if you hopped realy high, you could 'float' yourself down? But it only happened that one time? Or saying you were struck by lightning one day (god forbid) and you suddenly had Power over electricity, but only for a few hours; Th epower runs out of your body after that. And that phoenomena never happens again. It may be unproveable, but it still happened.

Isn't this an inherent flaw in the Challenge?

RCNelson
20th August 2003, 07:27 PM
AFIK, the paranormal challenge is not a challenge about what you claim to have done, but rather a challenge about testable things you claim you can do at will.

Major Billy
20th August 2003, 08:51 PM
Originally posted by Crufix Fondue
it is seen by hundreds of people, video taped, etc; How could we really prove that the comet was there in the first place?

1) Show people the videotapes
2) Record oral histories of the people who saw it
3) Show people the logbooks of the astronomers who observed it
4) Show people the videotapes again!

Heavens! Comet Shoemaker-Levy was "once in a lifetime", do you not consider that proved?

21st August 2003, 09:08 AM
Originally posted by Crufix Fondue
Linguist, it doesn't have to be an Event-How about if one day, you found out that if you hopped realy high, you could 'float' yourself down? But it only happened that one time? Or saying you were struck by lightning one day (god forbid) and you suddenly had Power over electricity, but only for a few hours; Th epower runs out of your body after that. And that phoenomena never happens again. It may be unproveable, but it still happened.

Yes. And?

I would be making no testable claim. Clearly therefore, my experience would fall outside the bounds of what is addressed by the JREF Challenge.

Isn't this an inherent flaw in the Challenge?

No. It works like this: paranormalists are challenged to pass a test under scientifically controlled conditions. Obviously this challenge, by its very nature, doesn't apply to persons who make no testable claim.

You seem to be assuming that the point of the Challenge is to give a million dollars to someone who has genuinely experienced something paranormal. It isn't. The point of the Challenge is to get paranormalists who make testable claims a chance to prove those claims, and the motivation to do so (and of course to give them a million dollars if they pass).

There are people out there who make loud claims that they have superpowers. This is what the Challenge is about. If I had the floaty experience you describe, just one time, it might upset me a lot, but it wouldn't make me go around claiming to have the power of flight. So I'd not be one of the people the Challenge is aimed at even if I did have one of your one-off experiences.

Starrman
21st August 2003, 10:01 AM
Linguist, it doesn't have to be an Event-How about if one day, you found out that if you hopped realy high, you could 'float' yourself down? But it only happened that one time? Or saying you were struck by lightning one day (god forbid) and you suddenly had Power over electricity, but only for a few hours; Th epower runs out of your body after that. And that phoenomena never happens again. It may be unproveable, but it still happened.

As stated over and over, the challenge is for those who claim their powers have not run out. That they can do what they claim over and over again under conditions they agreed to. So the answer to your question is "NO", it is not a flaw in the challenge.

On a more general note, people claim crap like this all the time. In my opinion it is most likely that is does not happen again because it never happened in the first place. Their claim of a 'once in a lifetime' experience is merely their shield from scrutiny.

Starrman
21st August 2003, 10:02 AM
Linguist, it doesn't have to be an Event-How about if one day, you found out that if you hopped realy high, you could 'float' yourself down? But it only happened that one time? Or saying you were struck by lightning one day (god forbid) and you suddenly had Power over electricity, but only for a few hours; Th epower runs out of your body after that. And that phoenomena never happens again. It may be unproveable, but it still happened.

As stated over and over, the challenge is for those who claim their powers have not run out. That they can do what they claim over and over again under conditions they agreed to. So the answer to your question is "NO", it is not a flaw in the challenge.

On a more general note, people claim crap like this all the time. In my opinion it is most likely that is does not happen again because it never happened in the first place. Their claim of a 'once in a lifetime' experience is merely their shield from scrutiny.

Crufix Fondue
21st August 2003, 10:25 AM
....My Goodness. I have never met a person who claimed to have repeatable, testable powers. I would love to see someone attempt this test, then.

Of course....genetic mutation (yes, yes, mutants...) over time would make this challenge somewhat hard to enforce. Wait...maybe not. A man born with 2 brains, or double the amount of nerves in his body...hmm. While it seems extraordinary to think of this, I would put forth that in the next 70 or so years, this challenges' protocols will have to be modified a bit to account for changes in the Human body.

Stimpson J. Cat
21st August 2003, 12:40 PM
Crufix,

Of course....genetic mutation (yes, yes, mutants...) over time would make this challenge somewhat hard to enforce. Wait...maybe not. A man born with 2 brains, or double the amount of nerves in his body...hmm. While it seems extraordinary to think of this, I would put forth that in the next 70 or so years, this challenges' protocols will have to be modified a bit to account for changes in the Human body.

Homo Sapiens has not undergone any major genetic changes in several tens of thousands of years. What makes you think that these massive genetic mutations you have suggested will start occurring over the next few decades?

Dr. Stupid

Crufix Fondue
21st August 2003, 12:46 PM
We also have not started Cloning humans yet, which opens a Pandora's Box of Genetic altering, etc. I say 70 years because that seems the right time frame for laws and attitudes to change about how wrong Cloning is. If you can decide on the sex of your baby before it is born, It is not hard to exend that thought into other forms of manipulation.

hgc
21st August 2003, 02:58 PM
Originally posted by Crufix Fondue
We also have not started Cloning humans yet, which opens a Pandora's Box of Genetic altering, etc. I say 70 years because that seems the right time frame for laws and attitudes to change about how wrong Cloning is. If you can decide on the sex of your baby before it is born, It is not hard to exend that thought into other forms of manipulation. Well, no mutations, in any species, ever, as far as I know, have allowed the animal to contradict the laws of physics, as we now understand them.

hgc
21st August 2003, 03:01 PM
Originally posted by Crufix Fondue
...

Well, in the same vein as the comet, what if something unusual and undeniably paanormal happened, but only happened that one time ...And here we have the crux of the problem: If it happened only once, it's pretty darn hard to say it's "undeniable." That's why we rely so much on repeatable results in trying to determine through observation and experiment what's going on in this universe.

Crufix Fondue
21st August 2003, 03:38 PM
Originally posted by hgc
Well, no mutations, in any species, ever, as far as I know, have allowed the animal to contradict the laws of physics, as we now understand them.

Well, no animal has had the ability to modify it's own genetic coding either.

Now then, my new question: If someone like Wolverine were to be born, with abnormal healing (say, improved white blood cells, cell regeneration, etc.) would that count as paranormal, or would it still simply be a natural, logical function, albeit only applicable to him?

Stimpson J. Cat
21st August 2003, 04:15 PM
Crufix,

Now then, my new question: If someone like Wolverine were to be born, with abnormal healing (say, improved white blood cells, cell regeneration, etc.) would that count as paranormal, or would it still simply be a natural, logical function, albeit only applicable to him?

It would definitely be paranormal, because the healing abilities of Wolverine go far beyond anything that is possible for a biological organism to do.

To get even a fraction of the way to the regenerative powers of Wolverine, you would have to redesign from the ground up the way the human healing process works. And even then, you couldn't get anywhere near what he has in the comic book, without violating the laws of physics.

The X-Men comic book is pretty cool, as long as you don't think too deeply about the implications of the "mutations" described within them. None of the powers possessed by any of the X-Men that I can think of are anywhere even close to the realm of possibility.

It's pure fantasy, with no basis in what is even remotely possible in reality. Even its creator, Stan Lee, would tell you that.

Dr. Stupid

Checkmite
21st August 2003, 10:55 PM
Originally posted by Crufix Fondue
....My Goodness. I have never met a person who claimed to have repeatable, testable powers. I would love to see someone attempt this test, then.

Various people with various claimed powers have tried the test. Some say they can use a stick to "detect" specific substances without any assistance or special knowledge (dowsing). Some say they can "read" books with their fingers, without having to physically "see" the book (remote viewing). I have personally never met any such person either - although I have to admit that it isn't exactly something I go out and ask people about. Nevertheless, such people exist and routinely try to pass the challenge - and routinely fail.

22nd August 2003, 02:17 AM
My Goodness. I have never met a person who claimed to have repeatable, testable powers. I would love to see someone attempt this test, then.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Uri Geller, Sylvia Browne, and John Edward all claimed to have repeatable, testable powers.

22nd August 2003, 05:19 AM
Originally posted by Crufix Fondue
....I would put forth that in the next 70 or so years, this challenges' protocols will have to be modified a bit to account for changes in the Human body.

Why on earth should anything that one can do with a modified human body qualify for the Challenge?

Mutation and genetic engineering aren't paranormal.

Edit: I now see Stimpy has addressed this.... sorry... derail over...

glee
26th August 2003, 02:33 AM
Originally posted by Crufix Fondue
....My Goodness. I have never met a person who claimed to have repeatable, testable powers. I would love to see someone attempt this test, then.

Obviously you've never spoken to any dowser then.

From my correspondence with a leading member of the British Society of Dowsers, I learnt that:

- anyone can learn to dowse just by paying a small fee

- dowsing can detect water, minerals, lost animals and much else

- the reasons that this person doesn't want to take any test of dowsing (including collecting the \$1,000,000) are "I want to remain true to my craft" "I know that dowsing works - I don't need to test it" "money really doesn't interest me"

Randi comments that dowsers seem genuinely surprised when tests reveal that they are 100% able to dowse knowing where the target is, yet instantly drop to chance levels when the target is concealed.

Zep
29th August 2003, 05:54 AM
Originally posted by T'ai Chi
I would reason that a once in a lifetime event, an event that occurs with probability p, where p is very small, could occur for each person.

Also, there have been, are, and will be, many people, say n, and n*p, the expected number of once in a lifetime events, could probably be greater than 1, so therefore we could have a chance of seeing at least one of these events, perhaps multiple times.

? Jumping back a bit...

Your expectation of how this works mathematically is wrong. Let's try a simple example to see why.

Let's use a simple 6-sided die, so the probability of rolling a six is 1/6. Now give seven people a die each to roll, all simultaneously. Using your formula, p=1/6, n=7, therefore p*n=7/6, ie. it is more than absolutely certain that at least one six WILL be rolled EVERY time. That's what your math says. It MUST, right?

Wrong. Why?

Plain common sense says that of all the combinations that could be rolled, there are very many that do not include a six anywhere at all: all ones, or all twos, for example. In fact, you can calculate easily how many combinations you can make with seven dice rolling only the numbers from 1 to 5, and it's a big number. So your math is wrong, I'm afraid, and I leave it to you as an exercise in logic and mathematics to rethink what the actual probabilities are!

And that, in turn, should show you why your idea that many low-probability events somehow adding up to higher probabilities has little going for it.

Good luck!

Beleth
29th August 2003, 11:43 AM
Originally posted by Zep
Jumping back a bit...

Your expectation of how this works mathematically is wrong. Let's try a simple example to see why.

Let's use a simple 6-sided die, so the probability of rolling a six is 1/6. Now give seven people a die each to roll, all simultaneously. Using your formula, p=1/6, n=7, therefore p*n=7/6, ie. it is more than absolutely certain that at least one six WILL be rolled EVERY time. That's what your math says. It MUST, right?

Wrong.
Exactly.

A good rule of thumb I heard once was "if you figure out the probablility of something happening, and your figures show a probability of greater than 1, your computations are wrong somewhere."

In the "small probability per person but large number of people" case, it's not just p * n, where p is the probability and n is the number of people. You can end up with probabilities greater than 1 this way, as Zep has shown. Rather, you have to take the probability that it doesn't happen at all, (1-p), multiply that by itself by the number of times it might happen, and then take the opposite of that. In other words, 1 - (1-p)^n.