February 12, 2007

The Skeptical PEAR

Apparently, the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab (PEAR) is closing or moving or something like that. The lab studied the effects of consciousness on the world mainly through the use of random number generators. I think that the use of random number generators (also called random event generators) is an really brilliant device for measuring the effects of consciousness. Outside of PEAR, many other groups especially in Noetic science have been using them to great effect.

So, I've been listening to and reading media coverage of the PEAR closure and wincing. Most coverage takes relish in the opportunity to trot out references to spoon bending, voodoo, and new agey/drug culture. Every serious fact or comment must be followed up with a snicker possibly in the interest of balance.

One of my favorite ironies is how self-titled skeptics invoke the name of science to spread their belief (or in this case disbelief) in human consciousness. Denying your own existence is an amusing but difficult sell since literally no person ever experiences anything other than their own existence. But what does experience matter when you can get to truth directly using science. Also, according to many skeptics, scientific findings are only valid if they fit into a predetermined belief system of "the possible".

To help illustrate my point, here is a quote from a letter from Marcello Truzzi (founder of the Zetetic Scholar) to Douglas Hofstadter which can be found in Hofstadter's outstanding book, Metamagical Themas:

"The term 'skeptic' has become unfortunately equated with disbelief rather than its proper meaning of nonbelief ... I view [this type of skeptic] as obstructing inquiry because it has prejudged many areas of inquiry by labeling them pseudo-scientific prior to serious inquiry... [and] in its fervor to debunk, has tended to lump the
nonsense of the National Enquirer with serious scientific research programs".

I'm sure to bring up Metamagical Themas again in the future.

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