Re: The influence of skeptics [WAS Re: no more lottery talk]

From: Richard Loosemore (
Date: Mon Jan 02 2006 - 12:35:59 MST

I will say this without meaning to be at all condescending or impolite,
but you have made an enormously straightforward Experimental Design 101
mistake here (and Michael Shermer, if he is referring to this particular
case, is even more guilty of doing so).

If someone is able to influence an experiment in such a way was to make
the number of hits consistently below chance, they are doing something
just as paranormal as someone who makes them come out above chance. If
psi is not real, neither the sheep nor the goats should be able to have
*any* consistent effect on the number of hits!

They give these kinds of problems to first year psychology
undergraduates to trick them, in their statistical design of experiments

Richard Loosemore

BillK wrote:
> On 1/2/06, Richard Loosemore wrote:
>>More generally, though, it is difficult for me to pick one reference on
>>this: if you go to the literature and look up "sheep-goat effect" you
>>should find hundreds of examples.
> As Michael Shermer has commented:
> "But wouldn't that mean that this claim is ultimately nonfalsifiable?
> If both positive and negative results are interpreted as supporting a
> theory, how can we test its validity?
> Skepticism is the default position because the burden of proof is on
> the believer, not the skeptic."
> BillK

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