Did Mary Baker Eddy Anticipate the Findings of Quantum Physics?

This is the second of two guest posts by guest contributor realscience critiquing a lecture at Principia College by Laurance Doyle, Ph.D., entitled, “The Metaphysics of Quantum Physics.” Doyle’s talk makes two basic claims: (1) quantum physics validates Christian Science; and (2) Mary Baker Eddy anticipated the findings of 20th century physics. The first claim was rebutted in the earlier post; this post address the second claim.

Please be aware as of March 26, 2015 comments on this post have been TURNED OFF.


Dr. Doyle makes several astonishing assertions in his talk about science and the religion that calls itself “Christian Science.” He says that Mary Baker Eddy “understood science really well,” and that her teachings anticipated the findings of quantum physics. He even tells us that her religious opus, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, can be read “as a book of science.”

How familiar was Eddy with the science of her day? She did not have a scientific education, but was she sufficiently well-read to have acquired a layperson’s understanding of scientific developments? She referenced the biologists Charles Darwin and Louis Agassiz in Science and Health (although she misstated their theories). But as for physics, there are no references in her works that would indicate she was aware of the important contemporary developments: thermodynamics (1850s); electromagnetism (1870s); discovery of the electron (1897); radioactivity (1890s); special relativity (1905). However, she did mention atoms, molecules, and forces.

As anyone familiar with Eddy’s writings knows, she was emphatic that matter is illusion. So how did she reconcile her acknowledgment of atoms, molecules, and forces with her teaching that matter is unreal? She defined them as mental entities: “Whence, then, is the atom or molecule called matter? Have attraction and cohesion formed it? But are these forces laws of matter, or laws of Mind?”1 The answer to her rhetorical question is found in Science and Health: “Infinite Mind creates and governs all, from the mental molecule to infinity”2; and “We tread on forces. Withdraw them, and creation must collapse. Human knowledge calls them forces of matter; but divine Science declares that they belong wholly to divine Mind . . . .”3

As a devout Christian Scientist, Laurance Doyle subscribes to Eddy’s teaching that the constituents of matter are really mental entities. Moreover, he would have us accept that “Christian Science–viewed through the lens of current quantum physics–clearly pre-dated the quantum physics community in its discoveries of the nature of matter, reality, and Mind.” But the reverse is actually the case: Dr. Doyle views quantum physics through the lens of Christian Science, which leads him to misstate the actual physics.

Physicists today know a lot about matter. They know that physical objects are composed of just two types of quarks and electrons, and that these particles possess the physical properties of mass, charge, and angular momentum. But Dr. Doyle declares, “particles don’t exist until observed,” implying that they are actually amorphously mental in nature. He believes that matter does not take physical shape until it is perceived by mind. To illustrate, he uses the metaphor of an ocean wave mysteriously solidifying into a little ball when it hits the “beach” of the mind of the observer. But this is a misrepresentation of the physics; a particle is never a wave, as experimentalist Victor Stenger explains:

No one has ever measured a wavelike property associated with a single particle. Interference and diffraction effects are only observed for beams of particles and only particles are detected, even when you are trying to measure a wavelength. The statistical behavior of these ensembles of particles is described mathematically using equations that sometimes, but not always, resemble the equations for waves.4

Matter is real, and it is insensitive to thought.

Mary Baker Eddy insisted that Christian Science is scientific. If so, then we should expect it to employ the scientific method. Doyle would agree, and he believes that Eddy essentially followed the scientific method in her “discovery” of Christian Science:

Mrs. Eddy called it, “Revelation, reason, and demonstration,” which is like hypothesis, logic, predicting what therefore must be the result (and that’s the experimental verification). And so that’s the scientific method.

As generally understood, the scientific method can be expressed as: observation, hypothesis, experiment, evaluation. Notice that Eddy omits the essential first step: observation. Instead she substitutes “revelation,” holding that observation is not only unnecessary but also misleading. This is consistent with her belief that the human senses are illusory: “Natural science, as it is commonly called, is not really natural nor scientific, because it is deduced from the evidence of the material senses.”5 Eddy’s rejection of sense evidence is a core teaching of Christian Science. However, all scientific knowledge is ultimately perceived through our senses. Today’s scientific instruments–from the powerful accelerators that physicists use to detect subatomic particles, to the large radio telescope arrays that let astronomers like Dr. Doyle see cosmic events–simply translate inaccessible phenomena into signals that can be perceived by our physiological senses.

Doyle equates Eddy’s term “demonstration” with experimental verification, but her denial of empirical evidence disqualifies it as such. When scientists conduct experiments they catalog all results, whether the data tend to validate or invalidate the hypothesis. In contrast, Eddy taught her students to reject negative evidence and acknowledge only those results that support the revealed hypothesis. Clearly, Eddy’s methodology has nothing in common with the scientific method.

Christian Scientists’ unwillingness to acknowledge negative evidence is a reflexive confirmation bias that renders Christian Science testimony scientifically meaningless. The Christian Science Church habitually cites the thousands of testimonies of healing in its periodicals as proof of the efficacy of Christian Science treatment. But as Caroline Fraser puts it, “the Church and its members have simply eliminated the negative. . . . The Church never acknowledges failures in its editorials or articles.”6 Consequently, rank-and-file Christian Scientists (including students at Principia College) do not have access to information on Christian Science failures. And the failures, tragically, are legion.

In summary, Laurance Doyle’s claim that Mary Baker Eddy anticipated the findings of quantum physics can only be entertained if one misstates the physics and overstates Eddy’s discernment. Moreover, the notion that Christian Science is in any way scientific is utterly insupportable. Ultimately, the bright students who spoke so searchingly during the Q&A of Doyle’s talk will figure that out for themselves.

End notes

  1. Miscellaneous Writings, 173:28-31
  2. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, 507:24-25
  3. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, 124:26-31
  4. Victor J. Stenger, God and the Multiverse: Humanity’s Expanding View of the Cosmos (Prometheus Books, 2014) Kindle ed. loc. 1801.
  5. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, 274:7-9
  6. Caroline Fraser, God’s Perfect Child: Living and Dying in the Christian Science Church (New York: Metropolitan Books, 1999), 426.

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UPDATE (March 26, 2015) Comments on this post have been TURNED OFF.

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23 thoughts on “Did Mary Baker Eddy Anticipate the Findings of Quantum Physics?

  1. tildeb says:

    Your conclusion is solid!

    Doyle’s claim, that constituents of matter are really mental entities is unequivocally wrong. This is the same irrational woo peddled by Deepak Chopra and his ilk who also try to harness the weirdness of quantum behaviour as ‘evidence’ for justifying his peddling of pseudoscience and quackery. Putting such quackery under the heading of ‘religion’ doesn’t improve quality; it just makes the audience more susceptible to gullibility.

    • Pete Jensen says:

      When I was in Christian Science I remember there was a lot of buzz about the movie “What the #$*! Do We Know?!” and how it proved this or that. Well, the movie is a joke, the same pseudoscience that you speak of, and should not be used as evidence of any sort. Of course people ate it up back then, I heard about it at Church and at school at The Principia. People are so ravenous about finding some shred of evidence that supports their claims that they will grab onto anything regardless of the source.

      http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/What_the_Bleep_Do_We_Know%3F

  2. Pete Jensen says:

    “Physicists today know a lot about matter. They know that physical objects are composed of just two types of quarks and electrons, and that these particles possess the physical properties of mass, charge, and angular momentum.”

    This is either a typo or a vast oversimplification. Matter at the atomic level, the level at which elements have distinct chemical properties, is composed of Protons, Neutrons, and Electrons. At the sub atomic level, particles like Protons and Neutrons are composed of Quarks which come in 6 different “flavors,” Up, Down, Charm, Strange, Top, and Bottom. There are also Leptons (which include the Electron) and Bosons, these form our list of Elementary particles.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elementary_particle

    That’s still a fairly basic overview, but it’s far more accurate.

    I’ll also leave this article here on the dual nature of light as both a particle and a wave.
    http://www.insidescience.org/blog/2015/03/13/no-you-cannot-catch-individual-photon-acting-simultaneously-pure-particle-and-wave

  3. realscience says:

    Thanks so much for your comments, Pete. Yes, that film “What the Bleep Do We Know” was nothing more than New Age poppycock. Christian Science seems to be increasingly aligning itself with New Age pseudoscience, which says something about the desperate state it finds itself in.

    You are correct, of course, that matter at the atomic level is composed of protons, neutrons, and electrons. What people may not realize, though, is that protons and neutrons are in turn composed of just two kinds of quarks: “up” and “down” (the proton has two ups and one down; the neutron one up and two downs). The four other quarks you mention are highly unstable and decay quickly and are not commonly found in nature but can be produced in high-energy particle collisions.

    I believe this statement contained in the article you link to is incorrect: “When it [a photon] passes through a narrow slit, it spreads out like a water-like wave.” Not true. When a single particle is released through a slit, it appears on the receiving screen as a dot, not a wave. The interference pattern distribution of elementary particles that suggests a wave (which can be represented mathematically by a wave function) is observed only for beams of particles, not for single particles. This is what experimentalists report. Theoreticians sometimes believe their mathematical models are equivalent to physical reality, however.

    • Pete Jensen says:

      I follow now, I got tripped up in your wording. I would add a comma after “two types of quarks” for the sake of clarity as I thought you were including electrons in your count. It might be worth adding that you are talking about subatomic structure and not atomic structure as a layman probably wont make that distinction.

      I also agree with your particle/beam statement, that’s what I get for linking to a blog instead of a more scholarly source. I’ll admit I only gave it a quick glance, but it wasn’t intended to be a response to anything you wrote, the topic happened to catch my eye as I was looking around for related articles.

  4. Bill Sweet says:

    Moving from quantum theory to a broader theme of science, Mary Baker Eddy did promote that ultimately Christianity would be Science. It may sound absurd, but that is exactly what she anticipated.

    About quantum theory being the end of the road of discovery, I don’t think so. Something new in science will likely come along and shake things up even further. I don’t know if string theory is still being taken seriously, as I’ve heard “yes and no.” String theory makes my point though. New understandings of the universe come along to be considered.

    • tildeb says:

      This tends to be a common refrain of those who would prefer reality to be different than it is.

      In my studies, physicists generally have nailed down probably 95% of how reality operates. The remaining areas not yet solidly understood tend to be quantum, meaning the very large and the very small, and/or deep historical projections to facilitate deep future predictions. I see nothing in these pursuits that might overthrow or fundamentally alter our basic understandings and explanations… merely refine them. I suspect this is the only ‘shaking’ as far as our understanding is concerned that will occur.

      What will occur are technological breakthroughs and energy capture that will ‘shake’ how we do things. In this area, the possibilities are endless and the effects profound. Just think what we have done with the electron… so far… and these are early days! But the fundamental precepts remain pretty constant except for refinement and application.

      Introducing any element of woo is not science (more often considered the method now used to find mistakes than it is to discover something new) and it has never, nor does, nor ever shall produce (if history is any indication) better explanations and insightful models that improve our understanding of how reality works. Quite the contrary. Woo tends to stand incompatible with our current understanding and utterly fails to to account for why our applications, therapies, and technologies based on this current understanding seem to work reliably and consistently well for everyone everywhere all the time. That’s not a small achievement nor one that can be waved aside to make room for contrary faith-based beliefs that it actually operates differently than it does with hidden causal agencies intervening to cause real effects. If this were indeed true, then our model of science – having failed to account for these agencies of causal effects by unknown mechanisms is simply wrong. That proposition requires a lot of accounting for those who continue to believe in such agencies and, so far, none has been forthcoming. That’s a clue about its serviceable value, I think.

      Christianity as a fundamental set of tenets offers no support for this method of inquiry we call science (allowing reality to adjudicate our beliefs about it) but does reliably and predictably produce support for pseudo-science and explanatory models incompatible with current understanding – models that have a very nasty tendency to harm real people in real life when acted upon (which is predictable given that the method we call ‘faith’ supports imposing belief on reality and then demanding that it conform). That’s why any ‘dialogue’ containing knowledge about reality between science and religion is always one way… where science can sometimes be used to correct religious beliefs that are factually wrong and demonstrably so but just as often either ignored or waved away in order to protect incompatible religious beliefs from reality’s arbitration of them. It is this fundamental methodological flaw used to support religious belief like Christian Science that hopefully – someday – will be ‘shaken’ to the extent that only an extreme tiny fringe element of any population would ever dream of turning to for guidance. The method of faith – in all manner of woo – has been demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt to be a guaranteed way to fool one’s self.

      Hoping for a scientific shift in some paradigm that would justify some subset of faith-based beliefs is magical thinking. It isn’t going to happen. Quantum physics is being abused by the woo-meisters – religious and non religious alike – to try to make room for their snake oil (think ‘alternative’ and ‘complimentary’ medicine, for but one example) and that’s exactly what Christian Science is still trying to peddle: snake oil.

  5. spindrifter says:

    I am half-way through my exercises and was hoping there would be some reply. There is a reply. It’s well-written and very thoughtful. I will share it.

    I suppose, just like people who don’t play a musical instrument for which I assume they are missing out (I’m sure someone would say the same to me that I’m missing out for not taking the game of tennis more seriously), that it appears to me that you don’t allow any woo into your life. Woo-woo is a distraction from reality.

    So those of us who do experience woo and wish to extend it beyond just our subjective beliefs are seen as woo-meisters. (Clever. I can use that.)

    It’s a main theme of Christian Science that Jesus Christ could control and have dominance over matter. Said differently, Christianity in general would agree, Jesus controlled matter, but their explanation is that Jesus is God. That sure is a conversation stopper! No further inquiry there.

    Though in small numbers, there are scientists who raise questions to investigate about woo that allow for other angles than solid reality. For example, and I’m sure you will love to jump on this woo-woo, I have met at least ten MDs who are pretty much devoting full-time to Near Death Experiences. There are some scientists, too, but from those I’ve met, NDEs seem to be medical doctor thing. Additionally, there are doctors who dabble in it in their spare time. NDEs are pretty woo-woo, and they are studied by some credentialed professionals in the medical field. You could find some nuts among them, but many are serious investigators of an admittedly fringe subject. Somebody has to do the research rather than just writing it off as crazy research.

    • tildeb says:

      Don’t confuse the explanations with the experiences themselves.

      No one is saying the experiences themselves are imaginary. Where ‘woo’ comes into it is squarely in the explanation offered. This is the problem… when people decide to believe in the explanation that contains woo and then project that belief back into reality as if the experiences were now explained.

      That is your inquiry killer right there… assuming and asserting that the explanation stands on its own merit. It doesn’t. It is dependent on belief. Remove the belief and the explanation collapses.

      The method of science avoids this fatal flaw by demanding that reality itself arbitrate claims made about it.Explanations are then modeled and repeatedly tested. One of the most important tests has to do with falsifying it. In other words, how can we determine if the model is wrong? If we can’t come up with this bit, then the model is just that much less deserving of confidence. This is why the independent variable is so important to clearly and succinctly link some effect with a cause. If we simply left an explanation with woo and then granted it confidence, then we are setting ourselves up to be fooled.

      NDEs are a great example. They have been greatly studied. We know all kinds of stuff about these experiences… so much so that we can duplicate many of their common effects by means of magnetic neural interference. No one is shying away from doing this kind of research because it’s considered ‘crazy’; in fact, there have been hundreds of peer reviewed studies done. The AWARE study was the largest to date and its results interesting… because it could have quite easily been a positive study but turned out to be a negative study.

      This is what the method of science does: takes claims made about reality seriously and then tries to find out what reality has to say in the matter. This is a good method. It yields knowledge and reduces ignorance and is fatal to superstition.

      What isn’t a good method is substituting that honest inquiry (respecting what reality has to say about claims made about it) with suppositions and assertions and assumptions that require some kind of woo, followed by apologies and excuses and more rationalizations why the woo cannot be arbitrated by reality but must stand on the belief of those who wish to believe it. That’s your ‘crazy’ in action and it’s far more popular and prevalent than anyone might think and it is deeply anti-scientific and deeply anti-intellectual. It is on this shaky basis – people’s credulity and gullibility and willingness to grant confidence to their beliefs not arbitrated by reality but often contrary to it – that woo lives and ides. That’s why Christian Science is anti-science and a promoter of woo… the kind that harms people.

  6. Bill Sweet says:

    One question before I ponder over a reply. The way you use the word “reality.” Is it meant to mean only phenomena that is observable, testable, tangible? That seems reasonable. What I get is, and set me straight, that subjective woo-woo experiences don’t have a connection to reality. Is that right? Then people are deluded with their experiences. Or are you saying that the way a believer or experiencer of woo goes at providing evidence of his experience with woo has nothing to do with realily or how sciences works? Kind of like the singer who has a song in his head but can’t easily get onto sheet music,

    • tildeb says:

      The OED meaning is what I mean by reality.

      My point is that when we encounter woo, we inevitably do so as part of the explanation rather than imbedded in the experience itself. If it were part of the experience itself, we would find evidence for it – in whatever guise the woo supposedly takes casual form – independent of our beliefs. The problem is, we don’t find any such compelling evidence independent of the belief.

      We don’t find compelling evidence for homeopathy efficacy. It’s water. No memory involved and no way to link its causal effects to any mechanism known to humanity. We don’t find life force energy in Chiropractics. We don’t find meridians that can be blocked. We don’t find chakras. We don’t find any evidence for intervention – divine or imported. We don’t find special creation for people. We don’t find efficacy in prayer. We don’t find healing through laying on of hands and spiritual devotion. We don’t find devout people with higher rates of immunity above the herd. We don’t find woo any place we look independent of people who believe otherwise. Reality arbitrates these beliefs to come from some other source than compelling evidence from reality. Woo comes from us.

      Woo is always some form of magical, mystical yet immune-from-inquiry causal agency. The most likely explanation for this absence in reality that woo seems to enjoy is that we create it first in our minds and then import it into some misunderstood experience as if that actually explains anything. It doesn’t. Woo is always a pseudo-answer, a pseudo-explanation, a pseudo-model that really means “I don’t know but I’m going to pretend that I do.” And that helps explain why belief in woo never produces knowledge about reality. Ever. About anything.

      Taken together, the case is overwhelming that woo in all its forms is a product of people believing in things that reality fails to endorse. I think that’s a pretty powerful clue about its real source.

  7. Bill Sweet says:

    There is too much to get at in this essay you wrote presently. I am pondering what elements to address. I asked my brother to read it. With his partner, he was the Illinois high school debate champ. He said a debate coach gave advice to shut the door on any open door that the other guy plans to go through before he gets to the door. It appears that is what we have here in your reply.

    I’m sure you believe every bit on it. I’m sure it’s reality in cement. What I am wondering is this: how a former Christian Scientist doesn’t have one scintilla of woo he or she can point to somewhere in the past that wasn’t some kind of special experience that challenged the material senses as to them being the exclusive arbiter of what is included in reality? Could you share what happened with you that a total 180 degree turn took place? I would be most interested, and I would share it on a Christian Science message board that discusses issues.

    • tildeb says:

      I take the time to explain my responses. Many people don’t like the conclusions I reach so they tend to complain about the length. That’s how I roll. Rather than address particular elements of my explanation, maybe address the conclusions! Demonstrate where woo exists independent of belief and where reality offers compelling evidence that justifies the claim of “Here is woo.” That would be a terrific start.

      I don’t ‘believe’ the products of the scientific method work; they demonstrate to me every day. The models upon which the technologies, applications, and therapies you utilize every day offer you the same. Yet when this method is applied to claims of woo – any claim of woo, like mind controls matter – it comes up empty. Every time. So why believe the claim in woo? Well, I think it’s pretty obvious: for reasons other than respecting what’s demonstrably true and reasons other than respecting reality’s adjudication of the claims. And what might these reasons be? Usually religious but not always. Sometimes we wish reality were otherwise and so we utilize a host of other ways of reinforcing our contrary beliefs because it makes us feel special and insightful even when we’re not. We’ll even sacrifice the health and well-being of people we claim to love to maintain our belief fictions, which is, sadly, all too common and even respected in law (you can cause intentional but preventable harm to children for religious reasons in 48 of 50 states, for example)!

      I was never a Christian Science member but as a child I did experience apartheid policies and totalitarian governance. These are expressions of the identical method used to support woo: belief imposed on reality. It’s a toxic method desperately in need of loud and sustained criticism whenever and wherever it can be found used as a justification.

  8. spindrifter says:

    Your replies are of a quality tonality. Perhaps you are more adept at writing English than many others from being brought up in, I guess, South Africa. I know two people from South Africa, and their vocabulary alone impresses. If you reply your not from there, then where are you from anyway?

    It throws me off a bit that you are on an ex-Christian Science club site. Maybe it’s the atheism part that attracts you.

    Well, you have no story to tell me then, but thanks for the apartheid reference. It’s a good one for when religion goes wrong. There is no day that goes by that we don’t hear of religion going bonkers.

    You have given an intriguing definition of woo. “Woo: belief imposed on reality.” That is going to take some thought. I will share it with my psycho psychic friends.

    There are some parapsychological tests that have worked beyond chance. You can say you don’t accept the findings or you don’t think the people doing the tests are credible. I hear that often. I have myself participated in tests of thought and prayer. Several hundred people overtime have also done so. To see woo effects from these tests is either exciting to people or it scares them away. That is, if they are one of those who elicit an effect in a test. Do I have a “belief” I saw an effect? Yes, it’s my belief. My brain tells me I did see it.

    I would agree with you that involvement in a religious group, (or it could be some esoteric organization), does give one a feeling of “special knowledge.” The science part of Christian Science I have found appealing. Yet, I can tell you with authority that the pursuit of how Science is a lens to look at Christianity in a new way, is something that almost all Christian Scientists don’t bother with or even appreciate. That’s right. Most Christian Scientists have glommed onto the religion and it has controlled them. The Science aspect was ‘supposed’ to keep that control from happening.

    I have posted on the forum before that my family was fortunate to be introduced to Christian Science by “liberally” minded Christian Scientists. Some were into the science of it. So I had beginners luck. I have of course run into the conservatives, but had they been the ones who introduced us, I don’t think my family would have bought into it.

    For example, you mentioned health reasons tied to religion as dangerous but permitted in 48 states. This is a huge topic. Here is just one part of it. Laws permitting it developed from social status. Christian Science had status because it had high status Christian Scientists. Those laws would never have been permitted, if the process was beginning today.

    The children cases have been disrespect to law properly adjudicated. Christian Science will never live it down. My liberal Christian Science friends would infrequently get themselves into that kind of mess. Few among us would like to have the government controlling our lives, but there are times laws should stop us from making certain judgments. I think of the man who lived next door to me. He had seven shotguns, a machine gun, pistols and a storage bin filled with ammunition. The law shouldn’t allow all that to be there, I don’t think.

  9. Bill Sweet says:

    TILDEB, you proposed a type of woo-woo that would present evidence of itself independent of a belief-system. Here is one example of a woo experiment that should be inline with that separation of belief. See http://noosphere.princeton.edu/

    Referring back to REALSCIENCE, PETE JENSEN and the theme of these two essays about Metaphysics and Quantum Physics. I had a conversation with a quantum physicist not long ago. He told me that when physicists sit around, they talk in various scenarios and story lines of what could be going on beneath us on a mathematical level. After I asked, he said that the Christian Science story is another scenario of what could be happening, one of many stories.

  10. Bill Sweet says:

    The correlations are impersonal. I thought that was what you wanted? It is a test of thought that is deprived of belief. Correlations were recorded between major events and the effects of woo affecting random number generators.

    • tildeb says:

      The ‘correlations’ are after the fact and unfalsifiable. All the data then will fit the hypothesis. This is not science.

      As Wally says, “You see a spike in the numbers, you scan the news headlines to look for some big event. If you find something, then you can say that the spike you saw detected it. If you don’t see anything, wait a bit and check again. Then when you find something, you can say that the spike you saw predicted it. From the other direction, if something big happens in the news, go back and look at your numbers. If you see a spike, bravo! If you don’t, look farther back in time. Found one? It was a prediction! (Oh, and if you don’t find a spike in the numbers, but instead find a trough, that’s okay — that counts, too.) Didn’t find anything at the time of the event or before the event? Don’t give up yet! Try looking after the event — it probably had some sort of psychic impact on the population of the planet for some time after the fact. Finally, if you weren’t able to find a correlation before, during, or after the event, just chalk it up as “one of those things” — no need to consider it as evidence against the truth of your theory.”

      See the problem? These guys are importing their belief that there is a global consciousness in order to ‘explain’ the selected cherry picked data not evident from reality itself (supporting the claim that mind can and does affect reality… for which there is no independent and compelling evidence) but from a statistical analysis of questionably ‘random’ number generators.

      As the video clearly lays out, the statistical differences could be anything including the colour of your socks but there is no means to identify this hypothetical ‘global consciousness’ as the variable!

      This is straight up woo… what we call pseudoscience in that it looks like science but when examined, isn’t. The results we see depend entirely on the importation of belief that the claim is true a priori – that there IS a global consciousness – in order to ‘interpret’ the statistical data correctly according to its supporters that demonstrates there IS a global consciousness! Take away the belief, the statistical analysis means nothing.

  11. Bill Sweet says:

    I have reached the scientific team that is doing the experiments. I wrote them that I gave you an example of what you wanted. You wanted a test of woo that was divorced from belief. I showed them your reply. Here is a reply from one of the scientists….

    Your critic assumes, incorrectly, that the Global Consciousness Project is a data fishing exercise. That’s the most frequent complaint by people who make assumptions without studying the actual experiment. In fact, the GCP is a pre-defined hypothesis test that applies the exact same analytical method to every test (in this case every worldwide event that is analyzed). These events are specified in advance, before examining the data. We do not look for deviations in data and try to match those up with events. That would indeed be a mistake, which is why we don’t do it!

    To date the GCP has produced a 7 sigma deviation from a chance outcome. The data have been independently analyzed and our results are confirmed to be correct. A 7 sigma outcome means there is no doubt that something significant is going on.

    However, it is not clear to everyone involved in the experiment that the results are necessarily due to collective consciousness. There is no doubt that we’re dealing with a genuine anomaly that is not due to any known mundane effect. I.e., not EM radiation, not power line deviations, not internet glitches, etc. So this can be called a psi effect, but precisely what is happening we can’t tell for sure. My ‘educated guess’ is that it is in fact due to a collective mind-matter interaction effect. But only further research will nail down the actual cause.

    – Dean Radin PhD
    – Chief Scientist, IONS
    – Co-Editor-in-Chief, Explore

    • tildeb says:

      And you see the problem, as I pointed out: the cause could be the colour of socks for all we know! There is means to link this believed in notion called ‘global consciousness’ from the data set. And without that means, there is no science going on here related to establishing what these statistical anomalies might be an indication of (how’s that for a dangling preposition?). Again , without the belief in global consciousness, the data set is meaningless as evidence for anything. The claim that this project is evidence for global consciousness as you suggested it was, rests on first assuming (believing in) what is being set out to be demonstrated, namely, that there really IS a global consciousness. That fits the definition of woo, beliefs about reality that are founded not on reality itself but on beliefs imposed on it. There are many examples of anomalies in this data set that seem to have no compelling global consciousness correlation. That’s a pretty good clue that something else is going on and I suspect it has everything to do with how the experiment is designed (specifically, how random numbers are generated).

  12. spindrifter says:

    When someone does an experiment, which is an original experiment, he or she asks a question to try out. Then the test is to see how the test results go along with the question. Asking a question starts out as a belief to be tested.

    As mentioned earlier, physicists sitting around tossing out scenarios of what could be happening in quantum situations, equates to trying out their beliefs verbally, one belief after another. They may be pondering, “I believe this may be happening. I believe that may be happening.” It’s not just woo that is involved when it comes to belief from an experimenter.

    • tildeb says:

      No, no, no. You are conflating the two very different meaning of the word ‘belief’ to make it seem as if they the same. They’re not. The religious sense of the term means ‘acceptance’ as in an acceptance that something exists or is true, especially one without proof. The other sense is about ‘confidence’ in a firmly held opinion. Confidence can be swayed by compelling reasons to increase or decrease that level of confidence whereas belief in the religious sense is already established and impervious to compelling reasons contrary to it.

      This misunderstanding then informs your misunderstanding of how science is done. A question is put forth as a hypothesis. No answer is believed to be true; rather the first step is to try to figure out a way how to answer it. The key word here is ‘how’. The method used is called epistemology. What we find out is then tested to see if it does answer the question in a way that clearly allows reality to arbitrate it. The key word here is ‘what’. The result of the method used is called ontology. Ontology depends on epistemology and confidence is either increased or decreased based on how well the ontology withstands reality’s arbitration of it.

      This is the difference between how a religious belief is justified – by imposing the answer on reality and then demanding that it conform to the belief – and a scientific belief is justified – by allowing reality to arbitrate it and adducing a confidence level for a conclusion – is night and day. A simple way to compare and contrast these methodologies is by what each produces in the way of knowledge then applied to reality. The religious method produces none. Not a single bit of knowledge has been produced by religious belief. We have exactly zero applications, therapies, and technologies derived from religious belief. It doesn’t work to impose beliefs on reality and expect knowle3dge to be produced for application. In contrast the scientific method produces stuff that works for everyone everywhere all the time.

      When it comes to competing claims about reality – say creationism versus evolution – we see this same result. Nothing in reality comports with creationism. Compelling evidence from many and varied fields of inquiry simply aren’t there. They could be. They should be if the claims were true and accurate. They are absent. IN contrast, compelling evidence from many and varied fields of inquiry comports with evolution. Again and again and again, decade after decade, in each new field of research, evolution continues to be supported by compelling evidence. It doesn’t have to be this way but this is what reality is telling us. In fact, the confidence level in the explanation we call ‘evolution’ has achieved so much success over time and repeated testing that it has gained the highest level in science, namely, that of a ‘theory’. To overturn this explanation will require a better idea, a better explanation, that also comports with all this evidence. There is nothing on the horizon that even comes close. Claiming some kind of Oogity Boogity by the mechanism of POOF!ism is not a candidate because it fails to account for all the evidence we now have for how life changes over time by demonstrable mechanisms… an explanation that when applied produces stuff based on this explanation that work for everyone everywhere all the time. That’s not a premise, not a belief, but a conclusion you can and do gamble your life on successfully time and time again. If that’s not justified knowledge, then nothing is.

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