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Project Alpha and the Spoon Benders

Article #266 • Written by Alan Bellows

In the late 1960s, a young Israeli man named Uri Geller gained a substantial amount of attention and fame following a collection of remarkable demonstrations on US and British television. In full view of astonished audiences, Uri was seemingly able to manipulate metal with his mind. Spoons softened in his hands, keys curled at the gentle stroke of his fingers, and he was able to cause compasses to wobble at his cajoling. He was also known to restart stopped wristwatches by merely holding them in his hands. According to Geller, these feats were the products of sheer will, a phenomenon known as psychokinesis.

In addition to his mental metallurgy and magnetism, the dashing young Israeli demonstrated potent psychic abilities, most notably in his ability to reproduce drawings which he had never seen. A volunteer would draw a picture while Uri was not watching, and Geller would use his gifts to attempt to reproduce the image. Although his recreations were not always completely accurate, they were sufficiently similar as to provoke astonishment from onlookers.

Geller's high-profile exploits in the 1970s significantly raised awareness of "paranormal science" worldwide, and since that time many have gone on to mimic his feats. Though there are throngs of skeptics who have reproduced his handiwork under the harsh light of reality, there are still a handful of yet-to-be-explained effects exhibited by Geller and his spoon-bending contemporaries.

Most Americans became acquainted with the charismatic Uri Geller following a series of high-profile television and magazine appearances in the late 1960s and early 1970s. As the cameras looked on, spoons softened and became almost taffy-like in his fingers. Often his audiences were awestruck when a spoon's head separated from its body and clattered to the floor.

An early Uri Geller TV appearance
An early Uri Geller TV appearance

When he reanimated wristwatches on television, he further dumbfounded observers by urging viewers to each hold their own broken wristwatch if they had one, allowing him to act as the psychic conduit. Much to their amazement, some of the viewer's watches reportedly started ticking again.

By 1972, the media frenzy surrounding Geller finally drew serious attention from the scientific community as supporters and skeptics began to polarize. In order to better understand Uri's methods, the scientists at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) asked him to participate in a series of impartial experiments. Uri eagerly agreed. For five weeks, researchers Harold E. Puthoff and Russell Targ made the controversial character the target of their scientific scrutiny as he was subjected to a host of laboratory adventures.

Following some informal demonstrations by Geller, Stanford's first test revolved around a number of drawings which had been made prior to the experiments and placed in nested envelopes. Uri was asked to recreate each selected image on his own paper. Some of the drawings had been examined by the researchers before entering the experiment room with Uri; some were double-blind, where not even the researchers knew what was within each envelope before it was opened; and some of the images were brought in by outside consultants, sealed in their envelopes before arriving at the facility. Before most of these experiments Geller expressed a measure of insecurity about his abilities, and in fact he declined to respond about 20% of the time due to lack of confidence in his response. But for those he did complete, he displayed a shocking level of accuracy. His representations were crude, but they frequently bore an unmistakable resemblance to the original, though sometimes reversed.

Samples of Gellar's drawings (right) and the researchers' (left)
Samples of Gellar's drawings (right) and the researchers' (left)

The Stanford researchers also conducted tests to measure Geller's ability to detect materials without seeing them, a skill known as dowsing. In each of these experiments, he was presented with a box of ten numbered aluminum canisters and asked to determine which one of them contained an object. Before they were presented to Uri a third party placed the object in a random canister and then shuffled the cans' positions. The objects used were ball bearings, magnets, room-temperature water, and sugar cubes. Geller was not allowed to touch the cans or the box, otherwise the experiment would be listed as a failure. The protocol indicated that he was to eliminate the cans one by one by pointing to them or calling out their number until only two remained, then he was required to guess which of the remaining two held the contents by calling out its number and writing it down. Later this method was criticized as needlessly complex, leaving too many gaps where trickery might be used.

At first Uri spent a lot of time waving his hands over the canisters before selecting each one for removal, but as as the tests progressed he seemed to gain confidence until he eventually would simply call out the number of the correct canister upon entering the room. In fourteen tests, there were two occasions that he declined to guess, but in all of the other twelve trials he made the correct selection. Puthoff and Targ were understandably intrigued by their subject's performance. There were no detectable signs of deception, yet the odds of correctly guessing in all twelve tests was one in 10^12, or one in a trillion.

Another test where Geller showed startling accuracy was one which made use of a standard six-sided die in a metal box, both of which were provided by SRI. The die was placed in the box and shaken, and Uri was asked to state which face would be showing when the lid was opened. During the ten tests he declined to respond on twice, but in the other eight he was 100% accurate in his predictions.

Geller attempting to manipulate a one gram weight on a scale
Geller attempting to manipulate a one gram weight on a scale

Uri's metal manipulation demonstrations were somewhat less impressive. Though he had previously claimed the ability to bend metal objects without making physical contact, he was unable to demonstrate this in the laboratory. When allowed to lightly touch the spoons, forks, and rods with his hands, they did indeed bend; but such evidence was useless due to the inability to determine the amount of force Geller was using. Another of the psychokinetic tests proved moderately successful, this one involving a one gram steel weight on an electric scale. Without touching the weight or scale-- which were both covered by a glass dome-- Uri was able to cause measurable changes in a scale's reading.

The resulting SRI report was published in the science journal Nature in 1974. The researchers weren't quick to draw conclusions, and they largely dismissed the psychokinesis results as inconclusive, but they felt that he had performed successfully enough that the phenomenon warranted further scientific study. Puthoff and Targ coined the term "Geller-effect" to describe his remarkable displays of apparently paranormal powers.

Geller's charisma and talents won him regular appearances on television and in the print media over the next few years, and he was soon celebrated as a supernatural superstar. With the Stanford research seemingly corroborating his claims, the skepticism surrounding him began to erode.

Soon another man appeared who could also demonstrate these remarkable feats before audiences of his own. His name was James Randi, otherwise known as The Amazing Randi. He, too, appeared to possess the astonishing ability to soften spoons with a gentle touch. But Randi made no claims to supernatural powers. In fact, he was a stage magician and a scientific skeptic. He prepared the spoons in advance by bending them back and forth until the neck was sufficiently weakened. He also convincingly tweaked keys and cutlery, quickly bending them with his hands as he directed the viewers' attention elsewhere. After performing each trick he explained to his audience how he accomplished the simple illusions. Randi was careful to point out that his demonstrations were not proof positive that Geller was a fraud, but rather that trickery was a more reasonable explanation than supernatural powers.

The Amazing Randi
The Amazing Randi

In 1973 The Amazing Randi received a telephone call from the producers of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson who had booked Geller as an upcoming guest. Johnny Carson himself had spent some time as a stage magician, so he was skeptical of Geller's claims and he wanted Randi's assistance in sidestepping any shenanigans. Randi suggested that the producers present Geller with an assortment of their own unprepared spoons, aluminum cans, and sealed drawings. When Uri walked out on stage, he was uncharacteristically nervous as his gaze fell on the collection of objects. When prompted to demonstrate his skills later in the show, he was unable to proceed, complaining that he was not feeling "strong" on that particular evening.

The incident had little effect on Uri's popularity, and over the next few years Geller amassed a fortune. He claimed that his wealth was largely the result of dowsing services performed for major oil, gold and mineral mining companies, but at least a portion of his riches were the fruit of his fame. He remained a fixture of the popular media, and he continued to astonish audiences. Others people around the world began to claim similar abilities, and spoon-bending shortly became a staple of psychic demonstrations.

In the late 1970s, the McDonnell Laboratory for Psychical Research in St. Louis began an organized effort to locate and study individuals who could convincingly demonstrate the Geller effect. James Randi contacted the researchers and gave them advice on how to avoid being duped, but the scientists did not welcome his skeptical input. During the early phases of the testing many of the applicants were disqualified for failing to demonstrate their skills in the lab, but two young men-- Mike Edwards and Steve Shaw-- appeared to be authentic. In a series of publicized experiments the two men contorted an assortment of cutlery, caused objects to levitate, coaxed compasses to quiver, and recreated drawings which were provided in sealed envelopes. It seemed that science had vindicated Uri Geller and his contemporaries yet again.

Left to right: Shaw, Edwards, and Randi
Left to right: Shaw, Edwards, and Randi

In 1981, after four years of testing at the McDonnell labs, Edwards and Shaw held a press conference in New York City with Discover magazine. The pair of famous psychics made an announcement which left their audience agape. Mike Edwards told the crowd, "The truth is, we are not psychics. We are magicians." Steve Shaw added amidst the murmuring, "Yes, for the past four years we've been fooling people." They went on to explain that they were participating in Project Alpha, an effort launched by James Randi to illustrate that modern paranormal research was so blinded by bias that it was incapable of detecting deception.

Edwards and Shaw demonstrated many of their methods to the assembled press, mostly consisting of basic sleight of hand. In some of the laboratory spoon-bending tests, they explained how they secretly switched the tags between various spoons so the researchers' angular measurements before and after the experiments would show detectable changes in each spoon's shape. In others, they handled one spoon in plain sight to direct the experimenters' attention away from their other hand, which was manually bending another spoon in concealment. Later, the bent spoon would be presented as evidence of success. They also employed small magnets for many of their illusions, and they even used their breath to make certain objects move. In nearly every instance, the recommendations Randi had made to McDonnell labs at the outset would have caught the deception.

Some of the paranormal researchers were so desperate to reject these confessions that they accused Edwards and Shaw of being real psychics who were lying about their true abilities. The field of parapsychology was crippled by the news of the ruse, and many of the researchers involved were discredited by Project Alpha. Its goal had not been to embarrass anyone, but rather it was a social experiment used to demonstrate that parapsychologists are susceptible to deception and self-deception, regardless of their intelligence and training. Project Alpha beautifully illustrated the human tendency to seek only that evidence which supports one's preconceptions, a phenomenon known to psychology as confirmation bias.

Uri Geller on the Tonight Show
Uri Geller on the Tonight Show

Though he was not directly discredited by the events, Uri Geller's fame faded over the following years. In 1988 a British businessman named Gerald Fleming offered to donate £250,000 to charity if Geller could execute a spoon-bend under controlled laboratory conditions, but Geller never responded to the invitation. Geller maintains to this day that his talents are genuinely supernatural, though he acknowledges that some of his feats can be mimicked using simple stage magic or natural phenomena. For instance, a stopped watch will often become temporarily reanimated after being held in the hands for several minutes due to movements and body heat. However not all of Geller's SRI demonstrations have been fully explained, such as his double-blind remote drawing tests, or the die-in-a-box.

The James Randi Education Foundation (JREF) currently offers a reward of one million US dollars to any psychic who can convincingly demonstrate their paranormal powers under controlled conditions. According to the rules, both he and the party accepting the challenge must agree in advance regarding what constitutes a success or a failure. Though over one thousand applicants have made the attempt, none have successfully collected the reward. So far Uri Geller has not taken this opportunity to prove himself, nor have the other high-profile self-proclaimed psychics such as Sylvia Browne or John Edward.

These days Geller can occasionally be coaxed into contorting some tableware or wobbling a compass, but he seldom performs for crowds. Recently some video evidence has appeared which seems to show Uri utilizing magicians' tricks-- such as his use of what appears to be a false thumb-- but no concrete evidence of fraud has yet been uncovered.

Geller and his Geller effect Cadillac
Geller and his Geller effect Cadillac

Today Geller directs much of his energy into his family and creative pursuits. He is an accomplished artist, and his creative juices have been wrung out upon the pages of newspapers and magazines for years. He also designs clothing and jewelry. He gives occasional interviews, and he can sometimes be seen driving around in his 1976 Cadillac he calls the "Geller effect." Its outer surfaces are bristling with bent tableware, each of which came from the mouth of a celebrity or historical figure. He has stated that he intends to drive it around the Middle East in an effort to bring peace to the region.

Given their unwillingness to subject themselves to controlled laboratory testing, Geller and his spoon-bending colleagues are likely to remain filed in the interesting-but-unlikely drawer for some time to come. Were it not for the handful of as-yet-inexplicable demonstrations, it would be easy to disregard such illusionists entirely. Whether Geller's gifts spring from an inner well of creative deception or from the the realm of magic, unicorns and fairies, it is certain that he is a highly talented and charismatic individual. His exploits have demonstrated beyond a doubt that the human mind possesses incredible powers of manipulation. All of this assumes, of course, that there is indeed a spoon.

Article written by Alan Bellows, published on 16 April 2007. Alan is the founder/designer/head writer/managing editor of Damn Interesting.

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130 Comments
Dtex
Posted 16 April 2007 at 07:19 pm

First! Kaa Kaaaaww! Grreat read as usual.


Dtex
Posted 16 April 2007 at 07:19 pm

Enter your reply text here.


another viewpoint
Posted 16 April 2007 at 07:45 pm

...btw, I've got a couple watches that need a "kick-start". Are watch repair services still for hire?


buttered_toast
Posted 16 April 2007 at 08:02 pm

thats pretty crazy stuff...everything's so DI on this site!!


texnation
Posted 16 April 2007 at 08:02 pm

I'm wondering about the secret pictures and the dice in the box.


Tink
Posted 16 April 2007 at 08:10 pm

While on Zoloft (an anti-depressant) for a short time, pictures and other hanging objects in my home would "leap" from the walls and crash to the floor, light bulbs would burn out in a matter of hours. Sometimes as I was still in the process of replaceing them, they would literaly "pop" in my hands (not break) while screwing into the sockets.

Also while on this medication,I worked at a popular restaurant, known for its waffles. During the stressful evening rush, the lights along the counter top would blink on and off, and eventually burn out as I passed them. I was fired after the managment got tired of replaceing the burnt bulbs and accused me of sabotogeing them somehow. Bummer. Thankfully un-employment agreed to my plea and I collected for a good year as well as keeping my insurance.

I have witnessed much odd kinetic energy in my residents on some anti-depressants (Zoloft and Paxil respectivly, but not Prozac or ssrt's) also. Almost poltergeist type of things happening around these individuals, objects breaking, and flying, without human hands touching them, and especially plumbing problems.

It would be interesting to see the serotonin activity and chemical analysis of Uri Gellers brain.
Humm, Damned Interesting! For sure.


toxicroach
Posted 16 April 2007 at 08:19 pm

I lost a lot of respect for this site because of this post.

Geller is a fraud and his blind reading tricks are standard parts of a magician's bag of tricks. So is the watch trick, the spoon bending, and the rest of the stuff he does. Entirely normal tricks that have been around for a long time.

Don't buy the hype; he's a con man.

Short version of the other side of the story: http://www.randi.org/encyclopedia/Geller,%20Uri.html


TowerTone
Posted 16 April 2007 at 08:30 pm

I knew you would read this.....


ConcernedCitizen
Posted 16 April 2007 at 08:54 pm

@toxicroach: did you even read the article? it is sufficiently skeptical, basically saying that all evidence implies that gellar is a fraud, but that there are a couple of tricks that are not yet explained (the dice box, and the bland drawing). i love the subtle barb at the end about manipulation.


ConcernedCitizen
Posted 16 April 2007 at 08:54 pm

oops... bland = blind


Gerry Matlack
Posted 16 April 2007 at 09:33 pm

First you must realize that there is no spoon, and it is your mind that must bend.


mohdowais
Posted 16 April 2007 at 09:41 pm

Wow, that's one lengthy article! Great work, Alan!! Given the general dearth of time, we wouldn't have minded getting this article in two parts. We are such great fans, you see :)

Tink, those are some fascinating experiences you've had...thanks for sharing. Have you reported any of this to your local health department or university? I'm sure somebody out there is interested in researching the phenomenon further.


etonalife
Posted 16 April 2007 at 10:01 pm

now That was Damn Interesting!! I still think Neo was the One though, even if the spoon was a hoax.

"Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you suddenly know everything there is to be known"
-Winnie the Pooh


Tink
Posted 16 April 2007 at 10:28 pm

mohdowais said: "Wow, that's one lengthy article! Great work, Alan!! Given the general dearth of time, we wouldn't have minded getting this article in two parts. We are such great fans, you see :)


Tink, those are some fascinating experiences you've had…thanks for sharing. Have you reported any of this to your local health department or university? I'm sure somebody out there is interested in researching the phenomenon further."

Thank you, your a sweetheart.

Please forgive the length of this post.
I work in the medical field and have mentioned this in passing to various pharmacy rep's. and a few psychiatric persons.

I'd not concidered actually reporting this,'cause first I wouldn't know where to began, and second, there are no records, or 'viable/reliable' witnesses to these oddities.

The events are quite random, un-expected and involentary. You see, I could never induce these things to happen and my residents seem to have no control over the events as well. Hightened emotions, anger and stress as well as laughter, seems to lead to something odd.

An example, from only two weeks ago: We live in the southwest,in a house on a slab. There are not floor creaks or earthquakes here. A few were gathered in the dining room playing trivia pursuit, a heated argument was started, followed by side ripping laughter. Someone glanced towards the kitchen bar and brought our attention to a plastic cup "dancing" accross the counter top. Soon as we all became aware of this and stopped laughing to look, it quit.

Who would believe this except the witnesses, and myself?

IMHO I do not think a scientist or researcher would take the word of an old pharmaceutical nurse, and a bunch of certified mentally ill people. LOL.

But I do thank you again for allowing me to share this with you all. Thats why I love this site so much, we all have many stories to tell, exciting life events, that may not be the norm' and many would find hard to believe.
But they are true, and simply not documented unless one writes a best selling book or becomes famouse in another way, usually unrelated to many of those moments. AH, Wonderful Life, it sure beats the alternative, No? ;:+)


Lisette
Posted 16 April 2007 at 10:32 pm

DI... what a great article. Tink are those mentioned as side effects on the lable of your meds?


Tink
Posted 16 April 2007 at 11:07 pm

Lisette said: "DI… what a great article. Tink are those mentioned as side effects on the lable of your meds?"

LOL, no my dear, I do not know of any med.'s with the indications of psychic or kinetic side effects.

Though halucinations are common in overdoses of some medications, and many 'recreational drugs'; most psych med.'s are prescribed to stop, or decrease the frequency of the halucinations and voices that people with schizophrenia and other mental illneses experiance.

I would like to note here that I've not had to take any prescribed drugs in many years.
The time on Zoloft for myself, was after the deaths of my husband,brother and two unborn daughters, needless to say I was extremly depressed, but also these drugs were new on the market at that time and being prescribed for any one feeling a little blue.
So after about two years my doctor decided that I didn't need it any longer. I will say that it is a wonderful drug, and certainly helped me through the darkest period of my life. And as soon as I quit takeing them I had no more experiances with kinetic phenom, untill these many years later, after begining work with the mentally ill and noting the same strange things happening to some of my patients takeing these two particular drugs.


advocate_of_chaos
Posted 16 April 2007 at 11:49 pm

Personally, I've always liked to believe in the idea of telekinesis/psychokinesis. Maybe in the same way that some people to believe in god but still go to dinosaur exhibits (I still hold to the Terry Pratchett idea that they were placed during creation to give paleontologists something to do), or claim to be atheists but can't answer who else would create platypi :P Maybe its just easier to believe in everything and wait for it to be disproved : )

Either way, I'm yet to see anything that details how he did the dice trick fraudulently. Everything else has been disproved in other psychics (I'm also of the opinion that 99% of publicly known psychics are frauds - personally, I wouldn't tell anyone - sure, you'd make less money that way, but think of the fun you could have with skeptics! Fill their house with poltergeist-like activity and see them argue with that!) but it's never been proven that Geller himself is a fraud, only that other people with the same claims are. Though when I found out he claimed to have got his powers from aliens, it cost a bit of faith :P

Regardless, I want to be able to do that : )


SandmanX
Posted 17 April 2007 at 01:14 am

I see dead people.


CanInternet
Posted 17 April 2007 at 01:17 am

Tink
Posted 17 April 2007 at 01:34 am

I want to apologise to Alan, as I did not mean to go off topic with my first post.

The original idea in my head was to question the relationship between brain chemistry and psychic / kinetic occurances.

We have all heard stories about someone's ability to "see" or sense a dear one in danger,for instance, or one following a hunch to win a lottery.

There are well documented cases of twins having shared mind, thoughts, and experiances, even when separated at birth, and raised apart. Their lives often running in oddly psychic parallels.

My original question would have been," Could brain chemistry not create tele kinesis or psychic ability in the same fashion as it creates mental illness, growth hormones, sight, hearing,dreams or great discoveries."
And why would it be hard to believe that some folks have a greater amount of the right chemicals, neurons etc. to have this talent, or ability.

Much like a savant, could not one be talented in this area as well as say, playing chess, or piano?
Do you see where I am trying to go with this?

Alas, the words I wish to express myself with here elude me.


misanthrope
Posted 17 April 2007 at 03:23 am

Puthoff and Targ ("The Laurel and Hardy of PSI") were big admirers/believers before they even started, and I'd be willing to bet there's a lot bigger proportion of tests that weren't double-blind than you imply. If it's not double-blind, it's worthless, and doubly so when the testers are believers themselves. Randi's book "The truth about Uri Geller" is an absolute must read on the Standford tests.

On a lighter note, you didn't mention Uri's phenominal power of sending positive vibes to football teams here in the UK. Every now and then he's made a big fuss over a team in trouble, calling on people to help him focus something or other and got a couple of minutes on daytime TV for it. All the teams, without fail, have subsequently gone tits up, been relegated, gone into administration or some combination of all three. When he announced he was doing the same for Exeter, the local paper headlined with something along the rather melodramatic lines of "Uri's kiss of death hits Exeter".

I'd also like to challenge your use of the word 'charismatic'... my dictionary doesn't define it as "weasely, snivelling little turd", so you might like to check yours is from a reputable publisher. (Although the archaic meaning might be more appropriate than the common one...)


ironcross
Posted 17 April 2007 at 03:53 am

Very nice. I urge all of you to go to You Tube for the Johnny Carson show and some other Amazing Randi videos. Although Randi is a damn atheist, some of the things he is able to refute are interesting.

Alan fix these:

Others people around the the world began to claim similar abilities;
Its outer surfaces are bristling with bent tableware, each of came from the mouth of a celebrity or historical figure.


justjim1
Posted 17 April 2007 at 04:40 am

Foolishness, not even close to being Damned Interesting material. Geller is nothing more than a fraud and again his "reputation" has preceeded him. He is but a man of smoke and mirrors and his "accomplishments" will all be found out to be nothing more than simple stage tricks. As for his drive the spoonmobile for peace, it's anything to keep up the myth and nothing to do with middle east peace. Uri should get a real life and stop trying to live a dream.


jarvisloop
Posted 17 April 2007 at 06:00 am

I know that, if I truly possessed such abilities, I would tell no one about them. Think about it: How long do you think that you would be allowed to live? Do you think that either a government or religious zealot would suffer your presence? One would kill you as a threat, and the other would burn you as a witch or demon.


J.K.
Posted 17 April 2007 at 06:58 am

Toxic up there is a FOOL and he himself is an excellent example of this article in which 'confirmation bias' is at play. He came into this one being not of an open mind, but of a mind-set, and then dropped accusations at the author Alan Bellows as trying to help propagate a fraud. Had the nitwit read this good 10min read here which is well scripted, he'd find that Geller is like 95% debunked, just leaving open the weird dice in a box and knowing the hidden image trick as open to possibly being legit. The rest is debunked and not only calls out Geller but that other moron John Edward who likes to profit off chumps who really think he can channel their dead relatives.

Damn interesting write up and discussion on the matter. Surprised honestly with all the weirdness here it hadn't come up before. Can't wait for the book. It will fit excellently well right next to my paperback of 'Museum of Hoaxes' (which also has a website of the same name .com which is greatly more updated semi-regularly.)


Techno-Kid
Posted 17 April 2007 at 07:43 am

This is certainly DI. Pyschic or not, anyone capable of such powerful social manipulations (and able to make a living off of it to boot!) is an individual worthy of discussion.

I do agree that without being able to verify just how "double blind" his unexplained successes were we have to discount them entirely. Let us not forget Clever Hans the Math Horse -

http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=384


jcuempire
Posted 17 April 2007 at 08:27 am

Ultimately, who cares if it's real? It's entertaining. I like to think that we can do more with our minds than fill in spreadsheets and remember cable channels, but if it never gets proven, what have I lost? Magicians have been around for thousands of years, and we have not lost our appetite for it. I hope we never do. And I hope we never, ever figure out the human mind and the range its abilities. Where's the fun in that?


InterestedOne
Posted 17 April 2007 at 09:03 am

Interesting to see so many of Randi's fans responding. I've seen things I can't explain that some may label as psychic phenomena. To an extent, I prefer to believe most may be the result of a ruse. However, I try not to automatically categorize all I don't understand as frauds or fraudulent. That would be closed-minded (and perhaps a bit ignorant) as well as uninteresting. I've learned that I always have more to learn.


another viewpoint
Posted 17 April 2007 at 09:24 am

SandmanX said: "I see dead people."

...I do too. Everyday when I come to work...I see people that are dead from the neck up. This presents a problem as well as a challenge, since it's difficult to distinguish between those that are dead and natural movement.

Besides...it's DI...DAMN INTERESTING! Get it?


bitemark
Posted 17 April 2007 at 09:28 am

I remember reading his auto-biography as a child. Even then, some of what he put in it seemed far-fetched to me. Of course, I was a kid, and I bought most of it hook-line-and-sinker.

It was given to me because we share the same birthday. :)


Floj
Posted 17 April 2007 at 09:29 am

Wow, that's neat! InterestedOne puts up a good point, but if it's just for entertainment why not just admit it?

Oh well, Damn Interesting!

Wait! if there really is no spoon then how could you eat the pie! Unless, there really is no pie and you are simply eating yourself! AH!


smokefoot
Posted 17 April 2007 at 09:30 am

In one of his books, Dr. Feynman (a Nobel winning physicist and trouble-maker) talked about meeting Geller and asking for a demonstration. Feynman caught him bending spoons against the table while Feynman was supposed to be distracted by something else. So at least one person has observed Geller cheating.


rev.felix
Posted 17 April 2007 at 09:55 am

I don't know about the rest of you, but that top picture freaks me out.


Alan Bellows
Posted 17 April 2007 at 10:10 am

ironcross said: "Alan fix these:

Others people around the the world began to claim similar abilities;

Its outer surfaces are bristling with bent tableware, each of came from the mouth of a celebrity or historical figure."

Thanks... fixed. I overlooked several little grammar problems in this article for some reason... maybe Uri was remotely disrupting my writing to prevent me from posting things that may discredit him. Cough.


Merciless
Posted 17 April 2007 at 11:18 am

I'd love to win that million bucks but Xavier keeps me locked up in this plastic bubble under the mansion.

Great read as always. Thanks D.I.


sh0cktopus
Posted 17 April 2007 at 11:30 am

Have any of you ever watched the David Blaine DVD, where he faces the camera and riffles a deck of cards, and asks you to pick one? Then he shows the card that you picked, and it's accurate to an uncanny degree. Some people, like my girlfriend, get freaked out. Other people, like me, immediately look for a scientific explanation involving a manipulation of the psychology of perception. Skilled magicians can use their talents for a variety of ends. You can be Criss Angel or Penn & Teller, or anything inbetween, or anything beyond those limits. It's telling that JRAF has never had an applicant pass even the preliminary test to test psychic or paranormal abilities. But then, you can always invoke the conspiracy claim. If I really had superior abilities, why tell everyone? Why not benefit in secret? And if I won the million dollar prize for demonstrating true paranormal abilities, wouldn't I be snapped up by the blackest of the black government secret research facility? Blah, blah, blah. This story is definitely damn interesting, but I think modern magicians put Uri Geller to shame. There have always been a lot more gullible people in the world than those with a healthy skepticism. And sadly, I don't think the ratio is improving. Thanks for some food for thought, Alan! Peace to all of you.


thingummy
Posted 17 April 2007 at 12:40 pm

advocate_of_chaos said: "Personally, I've always liked to believe in the idea of telekinesis/psychokinesis. Maybe in the same way that some people to believe in god but still go to dinosaur exhibits (I still hold to the Terry Pratchett idea that they were placed during creation to give paleontologists something to do), or claim to be atheists but can't answer who else would create platypi :P Maybe its just easier to believe in everything and wait for it to be disproved : )


Either way, I'm yet to see anything that details how he did the dice trick fraudulently. Everything else has been disproved in other psychics (I'm also of the opinion that 99% of publicly known psychics are frauds - personally, I wouldn't tell anyone - sure, you'd make less money that way, but think of the fun you could have with skeptics! Fill their house with poltergeist-like activity and see them argue with that!) but it's never been proven that Geller himself is a fraud, only that other people with the same claims are. Though when I found out he claimed to have got his powers from aliens, it cost a bit of faith :P

Regardless, I want to be able to do that : )"

WHAT???


Byrden
Posted 17 April 2007 at 01:45 pm

I just bent a spoon.


Kafka
Posted 17 April 2007 at 01:54 pm

Magicians can be very, very clever. Scientists are smart, sure, but they often lack guile and the ability to recognize fraud. The fact that Uri Geller seems to "back out" of events he himself had not planned, claiming that "he was not feeling strong" is a classic sign of a fraud. If he truly had this power, he would be able to demonstrate it in all laboratory situations, to this present day.

He knew how to fool some scientists, but now that scientists have caught on, he has 'retired", because he knows that if he attempts the same tricks again in public, someone will catch him out for sure this time. He had a great career in the 60's, 70's when people didn't know how to spot frauds.

I'm not saying that psychic power is absolutely impossible, just that Uri Geller is most likely a fraud, because he acts like one. He has been 95% debunked, and that puts the remaining 5% in much doubt. Because there is no evidence, I won't believe in it.

To say that "no one with real powers would ever show themselves, and so it must be true" is a bad rationalization and a logical fallacy, because that is not evidence, that's a lack of evidence. I won't believe in anything unless I have some reason for believing in it. Uri Geller, if you're so sure of yourself, come out again and prove us all wrong. But of course, he probably won't.


Coherent
Posted 17 April 2007 at 02:52 pm

I would love it to death if telekinesis, psychokinesis, telepathy, levitation, etc existed. When I was a kid, I used to obsessively read about them and try to determine if they really existed or might exist at some point in the near future.

I also believed in flying saucers. :) Over time since then, I have been forced to conclude that it is extremely unlikely that any of these powers exist. If they did, then conclusive evidence for their operation would have eventually been found, and the powers would today be used reliably by a large number of people.

Exactly the same for flying saucers. If any of the flying saucer rumors had been true in the 70's, the government or other agencies would today have access to advanced technology. Which they don't, unfortunately. All of the technology I see in operation today is the perfectly normal outgrowth of technologies that were developing back in the 60's and 70's. So, dammit, no flying saucers.

No matter how much we want to believe, time proves all assertions one way or the other. No psychic powers, no flying saucers. Or at least, extremely unlikely. Either of these discoveries would change the world as one party or another used them to their advantage. 30 years later, I am still living in a relatively unchanged world. Ergo, no discoveries.

Unless as the ultimate conspiracy theorist and believe that we are all secretly dominated by a cabal that rules the world. IN WHICH CASE I thank them for the internet, and relative peace and prosperity, and for my continued freedom and happiness and hope for the future, and in fact I think they're doing a pretty good job of running things.

But I'm not a conspiracy theorist, and I think that ANY of these scenarios is highly unlikely. The world runs the way it does because that's the way it all worked out. No secret societies, no psychic powers, no flying saucers.

It's too bad, really.


maguffin
Posted 17 April 2007 at 05:37 pm

All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand.


CultHero
Posted 17 April 2007 at 05:49 pm

There's an anecdote in The Men Who Stare At Goats about Uri Gellar claiming to have been employed by the CIA in order to conduct psychic spying on the Soviets during the cold war, and was re-activated by the CIA to help spy on Muslim extremists in the wake of 9/11. This prompts the author to go investigating the military involvement in psychic research.

Definitely won't be able to look at the military the same again if you happen to read that book. It's about how alot of New Age mysticism stuff worked it's way into the Army to the point where they were conducting top secret research into whether or not they could train guys to kill with telekinesis. Starting with goats. They would see a slight change in heart rate of the goat as a "hit." It also describes how alot of psychological torture techniques used today by the military have their roots in psychic research.


st33med
Posted 17 April 2007 at 06:30 pm

Byrden said: "I just bent a spoon."

WOW! so did I (with my hands, of course:))


ti83
Posted 17 April 2007 at 09:38 pm

That's a great article! Keep 'em coming Alan, I just can't get enough.


jddes
Posted 17 April 2007 at 09:40 pm

Kinetic energy eh?


S0122017
Posted 18 April 2007 at 01:55 am

CultHero said: "There's an anecdote in The Men Who Stare At Goats about Uri Gellar claiming to have been employed by the CIA in order to conduct psychic spying on the Soviets during the cold war, and was re-activated by the CIA to help spy on Muslim extremists in the wake of 9/11. This prompts the author to go investigating the military involvement in psychic research.


Definitely won't be able to look at the military the same again if you happen to read that book. It's about how alot of New Age mysticism stuff worked it's way into the Army to the point where they were conducting top secret research into whether or not they could train guys to kill with telekinesis. Starting with goats. They would see a slight change in heart rate of the goat as a "hit." It also describes how alot of psychological torture techniques used today by the military have their roots in psychic research."

Is that also where the government got the a-m-a-z-i-n-g ability to bent the truth?


misanthrope
Posted 18 April 2007 at 03:24 am

InterestedOne said: ..."To an extent, I prefer to believe most may be the result of a ruse. However, I try not to automatically categorize all I don't understand as frauds or fraudulent. That would be closed-minded (and perhaps a bit ignorant) as well as uninteresting. "...

Yeah, but it's a highly effecient way of categorizing paranormal claims. 100% accuracy so far too ;)


Gadz
Posted 18 April 2007 at 08:11 am

"He has stated that he intends to drive it around the Middle East in an effort to bring peace to the region. "

Wow, there's a great idea. Maybe he'll be able to use his telekawhatsis powers to dodge bullets. Anything that gaudy and shiny screams "LOOK OVER HERE! HEY GUYS! OVER HERE!"


Misfit
Posted 18 April 2007 at 09:35 am

I wonder if he was able to smell the sugar cubes and etc. inside those metal boxes.


Mike I
Posted 18 April 2007 at 11:13 am

I've always wanted to see a film of Geller trying to get into his car, but the damn key keeps bending. I'd like to see him trying to eat soup, too.

Slight of hand is a magical skill. If Geller is superb at doing it, good for him. He might be a total loser as far as morals go, but if P.T. still had a sideshow, Geller could earn a nice living working there. Randi has made it painfully clear over many, many years, for those who needed it in the first place, that paranormal abilities DO NOT EXIST. But, (try not to get too offended, kids) churches across the country are busy every Sunday afternoon counting the day's cash, so there are plenty of marks out there for any charlatan to fleece. It's just Darwin all over again.


InterestedOne
Posted 18 April 2007 at 11:26 am

misanthrope said: "Yeah, but it's a highly efficient way of categorizing paranormal claims. 100% accuracy so far too ;)"

I guess the point I was (evidently) dancing around in my comment is that any predilection- either that something is true or that it's false will skew the results of any experiment, leading us to the only conclusion we, in our deterministic predisposition are willing to accept. It's somewhat similar to the concept that a survey can be skewed by the questions themselves. E.g., you'll get different results from the following survey type questions:
1. Was Uri, A. Consistently and deliberately fraudulent in his telekinetic and physic claims, or B. A misguide individual that actually believed he had powers he could (at time) use?
2. Was Uri, A. Always honest in his telekinetic and other physic claims, or B. Sometimes dishonest in his claims - perhaps giving in to pressure to perform on cue.
The first statement is written like a skeptic and the second like a believer. I believe James Randi was not only a skeptic, but one with an agenda - that is to prove all psychic phenomena as staged and those demonstrating it as fakes. The scientific community calls this observer bias, and is one reason for the use of double blind tests. I believe the article mentions Uri passed "some" double blind tests, although not knowing the exact number of double binds to single blinds, I cannot say with certainty whether it's more probable he's a fake or not. There are many things (some of which I've seen first-hand) that I do not understand. If I automatically categorize everything I don't understand as fakes, I'd be just as narrow minded as those who say they're all true - the only difference would be my predisposition. When you think about it, it all comes down to faith. Do you have faith that something is true that it's false?


brienhopkins
Posted 18 April 2007 at 11:30 am

Techno-Kid said: "This is certainly DI. Pyschic or not, anyone capable of such powerful social manipulations (and able to make a living off of it to boot!) is an individual worthy of discussion.

I do agree that without being able to verify just how "double blind" his unexplained successes were we have to discount them entirely. Let us not forget Clever Hans the Math Horse -

http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=384"

Thats a really good point. Clever Hans the Math Horse allegedly answered simple mathematical queries by stomping his hoofs a particular number of times. For example, "Hans, what does 2+2 equal?" Hans would stomp his hooves four times. However, it was later discovered Hans was not a mathematician, but a horse with an adept ability at reading human facial expressions. Hans developed a sense to read the crowd's anticipation of the correct answer so he simply stomped until he read the crowd's, or the scientists', facial tells.

With that in mind, Geller could have easily accomplished a similar illusion.

Furthermore, I can't help but wonder: If Geller and a Horse fooled us, how easy would it have been for Jesus Christ to convince onlookers of his miraculous feats thousands of years ago. I don't want to incite a religious debate here, but who could help but allow a little confirmation bias upon meeting a man known as the son of God, the lord and savior, himself?

And with in mind, its worth noting Randi calls himself an atheist.


Thag
Posted 18 April 2007 at 11:30 am

DI!

No real point follows:

Having grown up in a home that encouraged these sorts of things (played that Kreskins ESP board game as a kid... no laughing!) these stories have always intrigued me. I became a skeptic at an early age largely due to the fact that I couldn't see through the girls locker room door. I have always payed attention as another evolution of telekewhatsis emerged and all have been sufficiently debunked in my eyes with one exception; Remote Viewing. Don't get me wrong, I am not a rabid supporter of the purported ability, but have seen a documentary (name eludes me) and done a bit of reading that keeps a flicker of interest alive.

Has some links to more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stargate_Project

I leave it to you to prove this to be true before my locker room viewing occurs at the retirement home... Uhhh I just made myself a little queasy.


Rinson Drei
Posted 18 April 2007 at 02:47 pm

Help! Someone else is forcing me to type this!


misanthrope7
Posted 18 April 2007 at 03:05 pm

InterestedOne said: "...the point I was (evidently) dancing around..."

I didn't miss it, you just mistook tongue-in-cheek for serious...


Charlene
Posted 18 April 2007 at 07:13 pm

smokefoot said: "In one of his books, Dr. Feynman (a Nobel winning physicist and trouble-maker) talked about meeting Geller and asking for a demonstration. Feynman caught him bending spoons against the table while Feynman was supposed to be distracted by something else. So at least one person has observed Geller cheating."

Actually, dozens of people have. Nothing he does is "unexplained", and the article is full of pseudoscientific bullshit. And yes, I did read it. It's still full of bullshit.


Hyperjon
Posted 18 April 2007 at 08:59 pm

Mike I said: "But, (try not to get too offended, kids) churches across the country are busy every Sunday afternoon counting the day's cash, so there are plenty of marks out there for any charlatan to fleece."

Hey, Mike. I'm not offended, but you do bring up an intriguing question; one that I've been doing a lot of thinking about lately. Namely, what is fact and what is fiction? I'm a Christian, have been all my life and I truly believe in what I practice. However, I've got the brain of an engineer (thanks, dad) and I typically question everything, including my own beliefs quite regularly. I can certainly see how folks can doubt the Bible, but what I'm curious about is what else is there that we can be any more certain about? Evolution, big bang, and the missing link are all theories and the definition of theory is an "educated guess". It takes just as much faith to believe in the big bang as it does God because right now, as it stands, neither one can be proved - or disproved. In addition, there are charlatans in every walk of life. For every priest and minister that uses the word of God to get rich or famous, there's a scientist that has used shaky science to advance his own agendas for the same purposes.

Coherent said: "No matter how much we want to believe, time proves all assertions one way or the other."

So, the larger question here is what kind of age are we living in? What facts do we truly have to stand on any more? If the only thing we have is a whole bunch of opinions, then no wonder why the US is in such upheaval. It's one thing to fight and die for what you believe in, but what happens to a culture that no longer believes in anything?


ConcernedCitizen
Posted 18 April 2007 at 09:03 pm

@charlene: can you back that up with examples, or are you just making noise to get attention?


ItsMrPants
Posted 18 April 2007 at 09:20 pm

DI article!

And Charlene, could you please explain to me how he did the picture mimmick and dice-in-the-can tricks? You should know since nothing he did is unexplainable.


Jeffrey93
Posted 18 April 2007 at 09:48 pm

Misfit said: "I wonder if he was able to smell the sugar cubes and etc. inside those metal boxes."

Sugar has a smell? Seriously. I've never thought of this before. I've never known sugar to produce any significant odour.

Haven't any of you ever thought of something and somebody else says the exact thing 5 seconds later?
Or maybe you think of somebody you haven't seen in some time...and suddenly you see them later the same day?

I think our brains are far more powerful than what we use them for. Humans have taught themselves to do many things....utilizing the full potential of our brains is something we haven't been able to do yet, maybe someday, but not yet.

Possibly, these individuals...although most of them are a scam, but just maybe a select few of them do possess the ability or skill to predict things or visualize things they have never seen. I'd like to believe that they can, but I also say to myself "If they truly have these abilities...they certainly are squandering them!"


crispi
Posted 19 April 2007 at 12:02 am

"Spoon!"


Bibliophile
Posted 19 April 2007 at 03:36 am

I met Uri when i was younger he was at a party my Aunt threw... anyhoo onto the point of the post, he bent a spoon for me and my brother, and i know it wasnt pre-prepared becaue we got in trouble for using old expensive cutlery that was irraplacable (oops!) and so it seems unlikely he would have a copy. I also drew a curved line and too straight ones on a piece of paper to get a rudimentary smilly face =) and he guessd an arrow so that was fairly close... At the time of only 13 i was fairly sckeptical and remember thinking perhapse he bent the spoon when we went looking but, i dont see how he could have guessed the picture. DI article and i think the idea of the chemistory of the brain being altered affecting the "power" is very interesting.


Dave Group
Posted 19 April 2007 at 03:42 am

Until scientists can identify A) the area(s) in the brain responsible for psychic ability and B) the medium of transmission, psychic ability will never attain legitimacy in scientific circles.


Byrden
Posted 19 April 2007 at 03:59 am

Dave Group said: "Until scientists can identify A) the area(s) in the brain responsible for psychic ability and B) the medium of transmission, psychic ability will never attain legitimacy in scientific circles."

I disagree. Those are follow-up questions.
The real barrier to psychic ability is that it hasn't been demonstrated.


Byrden
Posted 19 April 2007 at 04:05 am

Bibliophile said: i dont see how he could have guessed the picture.

Perhaps by watching your hand as you drew it?

Here's how Geller looks to someone with a very sharp mind: http://www.indian-skeptic.org/html/fey2.htm


Byrden
Posted 19 April 2007 at 04:10 am

Jeffrey93 said: Haven't any of you ever thought of something and somebody else says the exact thing 5 seconds later?

Yes, I have! Isn't that amazing? What are the odds of that?

No, seriously. What ARE the odds of that?

I'd say it is practically impossible to calculate the odds of that happening. Heck, I haven't even specified exactly what "it" is! How many people are around you at the time? How similar are their cultural backgrounds? How many years of your life are you allowed to search for such incidents? How long do the people get for talking? How similar to your thoughts do they have to be?

I bet that if we could calculate the odds of "that" happening in a lifetime, those odds would be very unremarkable indeed.


Bolens
Posted 19 April 2007 at 04:16 am

I would bend a spoon for you but I am busy reading tomorrow's Wall Street Journal.


Byrden
Posted 19 April 2007 at 04:17 am

Hyperjon said: Evolution, big bang, and the missing link are all theories and the definition of theory is an "educated guess".

OK, you are completely wrong here. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you are honest, you're simply repeating propaganda that has been fed to you. But with an "engineering mind" you should know how to bypass the nonsense and get to the real sources of information.

Here are the facts in a nutshell:

Science = believing the physical evidence.
Religion = believing certain words written by certain people.
Theory = has two meanings.
In common speech, it's a guess, as you said.
But in science, a "theory" is a consistent, logical model of reality that makes testable predictions.
(therefore, tests can be made and incorrect theories discarded).

"evolution" is a scientific theory. "creation" is not, because it makes no testable predictions.


Stead311
Posted 19 April 2007 at 05:48 am

This article made me angry until I learned that there were countermeasures taken by a magician of all people to disprove such fraud. This is much like what houdini did in his time by getting rid of all the jeeeerrrrks who take a great magic act and try to call it the real thing. Uri should have just been a magician not some UNIQUE guy from Israel of all places who claims he can bend ONLY his spoons when he wants. Its sad really.


stewin
Posted 19 April 2007 at 07:08 am

Mike I said: "... But, (try not to get too offended, kids) churches across the country are busy every Sunday afternoon counting the day's cash, so there are plenty of marks out there for any charlatan to fleece. It's just Darwin all over again."

Hey Mike, thanks for another good example of confirmation bias.

Byrden said: "OK, you are completely wrong here. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you are honest, you're simply repeating propaganda that has been fed to you. But with an "engineering mind" you should know how to bypass the nonsense and get to the real sources of information.

Here are the facts in a nutshell:

Science = believing the physical evidence.
Religion = believing certain words written by certain people.
Theory = has two meanings.
In common speech, it's a guess, as you said.
But in science, a "theory" is a consistent, logical model of reality that makes testable predictions.
(therefore, tests can be made and incorrect theories discarded).

"evolution" is a scientific theory. "creation" is not, because it makes no testable predictions."

Your facts aren't so factual.
"Science" is not about believing, but about discovery, testing, and proving.
"Religion" has a couple of meanings: (1) a set way of operation based upon fear; (2) man's way of reaching God (as opposed to relationship, which is God's way of reaching man).
"Theory" is a belief based upon observance, it is not necessarily logical nor reality; and, as you said, evolution is a theory and creation is not.


Byrden
Posted 19 April 2007 at 08:04 am

>> "Science" is not about believing, but about discovery, testing, and proving.

All these activities are predicated on one fundamental belief: i.e. that the universe is not trying to fool us.

If the universe was conscious and was willing and able to pull tricks on us (e.g. make gravity go up when we're not looking), then Science would have to be called off. Experiments would be meaningless. We could never get the truth by examining the evidence. Discovery and testing could not happen.

So, I repeat, "Science is believing the physical evidence"; all else follows from that.

>> "Religion" has a couple of meanings:
>> (1) a set way of operation based upon fear

I disagree.
People react to tyrants, earthquakes, and the big drunk next door by "operating based on fear". But none of these things are Religion.

>> (2) man's way of reaching God

Which god? There are so many, I lose track of them all...

How do you know there's a god? Have you seen one? And I don't mean a 'vision' that might be the product of a brain problem... have you seen a god that we can reliably examine?

I bet the only information that you have about your particular god, is some words written in a book. Which goes back to what I said: Religion is "believing certain words written by certain people".

>> "Theory" is a belief based upon observance, it is not necessarily logical nor reality;

What dictionary are you reading? I thought the whole point of a theory was that you don't believe it; it's a proposed model that might or might not be correct. So how could it be a belief?

And if it's based upon observance, then isn't it a model of reality just like I said?

Anyway, I was defining the meaning of the word 'theory' within the field of science. Scientific theories are logical, consistent, and make testable predictions.

Some religious people like to confuse the common-speech word 'theory', which means 'hypothesis', with the formal concept called a Scientific Theory. Since deliberate confusion is dishonest, I can only deduce they will go to hell. :)


Radiatidon
Posted 19 April 2007 at 09:34 am

Byrden said: ">> "Scientific theories are logical, consistent, and make testable predictions. "

Um… no.

Science method
Physics
Quantum Physics

Gives results that at times disproves an actual event. Such as (simplified):

1. Harmonic vibrations created by the humble bumblebee’s wings should destroy the wing membrane. Yet it does not.

2. Is light a particle or is it a wave? Experiments have proven beyond a doubt that it is a wave and not a particle. Experiments have also proven beyond a doubt that it is a particle and not a wave. Both experiments work yet disprove the other. How?

3. In Quantum Physics micro-entities can occupy two different, independent states at the same time. Micro-entities can also traverse two points without moving through the space between them. Say move from here to Alpha Centauri in an instant (oops, there goes the light limit) without traveling through the space that exists between those two points.

Experiments in Quantum Physics have “proven” that photons, neutrons, and even atoms can behave like a particle, then like a wave, and yet seem to have no form until an experiment is used to measure them. Now here is the kicker, the measurements once made can also be erased, changing the outcome of a repeated experiment with each measurement.

They have also shown that a measurement of one quantum entity can instantaneously influence another somewhere else. Also that this unusual and non-Newtonian behavior occurs not only in the submicroscopic realm but even up to objects large enough to be seen with the unaided naked eye.

Difference between particle and a wave.

Particle – shotgun blast into a target. Individual holes and particles do not interact.
Wave – Toss a rock into a pond. Waves move out rebound from other objects and interfere with each other causing distortions, minor wavelets, etc.

Just wanted to toss a wrench into the works. Now lets get off the theological vs. science debates. Religion vs. science, and political debates have their place and that is not here guys.


Inti
Posted 19 April 2007 at 10:49 am

Above all the discussions about science, relgion, and such, I am amazed about Uri Geller's live history. This person profitted and became rich with just a big lie on one hand and a good amount of shameless on the other. All this with support of the media, and boosted by the incredible stupidity and ingnorance of the populace. Uri Geller is the epitome of the beguiler and bluffer, and a great offence to logic and truth.

Amen.


Random5
Posted 19 April 2007 at 11:29 am

Religion:
Religions arose from primitive humans who did not understand their world and were frightened by it. All you believers are blindly following the superstitions of long dead humans who saw miracles in every unexplainable event and the work of god in every weather pattern. Modern religions have discarded most of these as we learned that atmospheric pressure causes milk to go sour, not the disfavour of the gods, that lighning is the dissipation of a clouds built up electrical charge. Now religions are almost entirely based around the one thing people can't understand and rationalize: Their own deaths. We don't want to die and cease to exist, and so people try to change such a death to a rebirth into some kind of afterlife, reincarnation or so on.

There are many contradicting religions in the world today. Most contradict each other in some way or another, often all (Compare say Christianity to the beliefs of the Australian Aboriginals there's virtually no overlap). How can you accept ANY part of ANY religious text as proof? Is it because a lot of other people believe in it? That's a great reason, we all know how many people believed the world was flat.

Go on, tell us WHY you are right to believe what you believe in! I can back up my every belief with logic, reason and evidence. Every religion on the other hand (though I use the word every loosely) is based on some written account of 'miraculous' events which occurred a long time ago, in a time where a trick with magnets could gain you a legion of followers believing you had divine power.

If there was a god who wanted us to know of its existence and worship it, it would let us know, leave no doubt. But there isn't. You're going to die for good so fucking deal with it and get on with enjoying life instead of wasting it on your knees


Gha-lo
Posted 19 April 2007 at 12:04 pm

Random5 said: "Religion:

Religions arose from primitive humans "

ZZZzzzzZZZZzzzz...

Random5 u be boring.

No care you for write. Not subject. Good site u go. http://www.religiousZealotsVSclosedMindedAssholes.org

They joy u comment. No joy u comment here.

More talk story main.

Most preciated Gha-lo


Byrden
Posted 19 April 2007 at 01:18 pm

>> Harmonic vibrations created by the humble bumblebee’s wings should destroy the wing
>> membrane. Yet it does not.

I would be very surprised if even our best computers could accurately model harmonics moving through the intricate structure of a bee's wing. Where did you read this?

>> 2. Is light a particle or is it a wave? Experiments have proven beyond a doubt that it is a wave and
>> not a particle. Experiments have also proven beyond a doubt that it is a particle and not a wave. Both
>> experiments work yet disprove the other. How?

What makes you think it has to be either one or the other?

>> 3. In Quantum Physics micro-entities can occupy two different, independent states at the same time.
>> Micro-entities can also traverse two points without moving through the space between them. Say
>> move from here to Alpha Centauri in an instant (oops, there goes the light limit) without traveling
>> through the space that exists between those two points.

This is essentially a repeat of question 2. You are claiming that something is wrong because the micro-world is not a scaled-down version of the macro-world. But the only problem is your expectation.


auntieem
Posted 19 April 2007 at 01:49 pm

I believe in everything, it make life much more fun.


Radiatidon
Posted 19 April 2007 at 02:58 pm

Byrden said: "I would be very surprised if even our best computers could accurately model harmonics moving through the intricate structure of a bee's wing. Where did you read this?”

Mathematical model based on various aspects of the wing structure, frequency of oscillation of the wing beat pattern, micro structure flaws in construct of wing material, fiber attachment to body mainframe including muscular.

Hypothesis derived from mathematical model created from various facts and observations during experiment.

Advanced Physics College course.

Byrden said: " 2. Is light a particle or is it a wave?

What makes you think it has to be either one or the other?”

So you have developed a theory of your own? Upon what hypothesis can you base your knowledge of this? For year’s scientist have debated on just what the basic nature of light is, either a wave or a particle. Having experience working with light, lasers, and other electromagnetic frequencies plus performing the various experiments that shows light works as both a wave and a particle.

Follow this link as it discusses the basic aspects of light -- http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/mod1.html

Advanced Laser, Optics, and electromagnetic College courses.

Byrden said: “This is essentially a repeat of question 2. You are claiming that something is wrong because the micro-world is not a scaled-down version of the macro-world. But the only problem is your expectation."

No, ever since Quantum Physics was let out of the closet the scientific community has been trying to explain it.

What I was pointing out is that your quote that "Scientific theories are logical, consistent, and make testable predictions." is a flawed and incorrect statement. Science is not perfect and experiments performed in the same manner in the best-controlled environments can, and do provide different results.

As far as “where did I read that”, well, my wall is covered with pretty documents outlining my degrees. My knowledge base has been used and requested by various industrial entities including NASA, DOD, and DOE, not to mention that I have been offered employment by various foreign entities.


SKate
Posted 19 April 2007 at 04:55 pm

This article was. Although well written, it's "hands off" approach to Geller's claimed abilities is unjustified. The claim that "some of the handiwork exhibited by Geller and his spoon-bending contemporaries remains a mystery" is credulous to a fault. While some might claim that you can call Geller's act a mystery as long as it is a mystery to sombody, I'd disagree. The only mystery to Geller's act is why people believe him--and even that isn't really a mystery.

Geller's claims that he can bend objects with his mind are extraordinary. If true, his claimed ability would change physics as we know it. Such extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence to be credible because they contradict centuries of sound evidence. Science demands real evidence, not the unsupported claims of psychics, astrologers or quacks. On the other hand, the human abilities to lie and trick by slight of hand are fully proven phenomena and well established to exist for millennia. So, in what possible world does one assume that the extraordinary and contradictory ability must be real but the known, and reasonable explanation of simple trickery and slight of hand dismissed?

There is no real mystery in how Geller performs his act anymore than there is a mystery to how a cell phone works. Just because you can't build a cell phone or explain exactly how it works doesn't make it mysterious. And just because you can't perform Geller's act doesn't make it mysterious, either.

The idea of equal "balance" in an article is only justified when there are genuine equal and opposing sides to an argument; however, Science and Bullsh*t are not equal and opposing sides. Geller falls in to the latter.

Unfortunately, this article casts doubt on the credibility of Damn Interesting. While giving a token nod to skeptics, the article ultimately dismisses them with it's claim that "some of the handiwork exhibited by Geller and his spoon-bending contemporaries remains a mystery." Clearly, Damn Interesting has come down on the side of bullsh*t.

jcuempire says: "Ultimately, who cares if it's real?"

You should, for one. If psychic powers were real, they would dramatically change how our world works. But one finds proof in the pudding. Science has lead to the germ theory of disease, the discovery of DNA, modern civil engineering, telecommunications, mechanized transportation. Alleged psychic powers have led to a few bent spoons and many bad leads in missing persons cases. Curious that any and all psychic claims are within the ability of mere non-psychic humans, isn't it? Ever seen Geller bend a spoon without anyone, including himself touching it? Nope. Funny how his mind can't bend things unless he can get his hands on them.

Perhaps Geller's greatest power is the Lawsuit, which he uses to threaten critics. Note that James Randi has never had to pay Geller a cent, in spite of being his leading critic and being the author of the expose, "The Magic of Uri Geller." Go figure...

Now Geller reportedly has been getting embarrassing video clips of himself pulled of YouTube by falsely claiming to be the copyright holder of tv shows programs he appeared on. You wouldn't think a "real" psychic would have any "embarrassing" moments to worry about. Curiously, Geller does.

Separating what is true from what appears to be true is critical to our understanding of the world and how to live in it. Credulously accepting ridiculous claims is to take us back to medieval times, when bad humors were thought to cause disease and witches were put to death.


Hyperjon
Posted 19 April 2007 at 06:33 pm

Random5 said: "Religion: Go on, tell us WHY you are right to believe what you believe in! I can back up my every belief with logic, reason and evidence."

Howdy Random. I really wasn't out to start a religious debate last night. No one can ever win a religious debate because one's religion is very personal by nature and it usually requires faith (which, of course means it can't be proven). If you're interested, however, in religious debate, take a look at this recent chat between one of America's foremost atheists versus one of the more popular pastors right now: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17889148/site/newsweek/from/ET/

The point I was making, however, is that science is becoming the new religion of our day. As Radiatidon so eloquently pointed out (thanks, by the way), science can and does refute itself every bit as much as religion does. And science can and has been wrong. Are you familiar with the "proof" that scientists used to use to debunk religion before the big bang theory came along? When the first law of thermodynamics was conceived in the 1800's, it said, essentially, that matter cannot be created nor destroyed. Because matter was thought of as indestructible and permanent, then there was no room for a God that created the universe. But, then in the early 20th century, scientists discovered that the universe is expanding; that stars are moving slowly outward. In addition, the second law of thermodynamics (the entropy law), implied that the universe was in the gradual process of "evening out". These ideas lead inescapably to the premise that the universe was not eternal, as was thought, and indeed had a beginning and is working towards its end. Thus the big bang theory was born and, interestingly enough, scientists hated the theory at first. In fact, the term "big bang" was originally a derisive term coined by Fred Hoyle, a British astronomer, to characterize the beginning of the universe. Supposedly, even Einstein fiddled with his equations to avoid the conclusion that the universe had a beginning.

So, getting back on topic, my original premise was to point out that while many aspects of religion cannot be proven, science is also guilty of the same. These days, science is thought of as being irrefutable, but it's not. Take the theory of evolution. For centuries, man has, through selective breeding, produced many variations of dogs and other domesticated animals. We have also developed cows that give more milk, chickens that grow bigger drumsticks and sugar cane that yields more sugar. So, the natural selection portion of evolution seems to be accurate. However, what man has never been able to do, either through selective breeding nor through modern genetic experimentation is turn one species into another (ie, a dog into a cat). We have never seen it happen, cannot cause it to happen and have no evidence that it has ever happened. Even the fossil record cannot irrefutably bear out the theory. Just because two animals have striking similarities is not proof that one mutated into the other. Evolution is a theory, based on some observations and backed up by *some* facts, but it cannot be proven one way or the other.

I'm talking about this stuff on this thread, because of what Uri Gellar represents. He epitomizes the charlatan that can make people believe what he wants them to believe through slight of hand and by getting you to look at one hand while he's doing the trick with the other. Politicians, religious zealots and, yes, even scientists do the exact same thing. They throw out a few things that look and sound accurate such as theories and ideologies, but they conceal the trick that's going on in the other hand which is the lack of irrefutable proof. And I think modern people have, by and large, become so used to people trying to deceive them that we have now entered an age where we have just stopped believing in anything. So, again I return to my original thought. If I can't prove my religion and you can't prove your science then what exactly are we basing our morals, ethics and beliefs on? And is it dangerous (or even possible) for a society to function without solid beliefs that can be proven and accepted with certainly?


SKate
Posted 19 April 2007 at 08:50 pm

" If I can't prove my religion and you can't prove your science then what exactly are we basing our morals, ethics and beliefs on? And is it dangerous (or even possible) for a society to function without solid beliefs that can be proven and accepted with certainly?"

What balderdash. This attempt at equivocation between science and religion is thin as air in space. Generally, religion starts out with an imutable premise and demands demands that you believe in that premise in spite of all evidence to the contrary. The stronger the evidence you ignore, the "stronger" your faith is considered. Ignorance is praised as enlightenment.

Science is a systematic method of analyzing the world around us that separates what seems to be true from what is true. It creates testable theories proven over time through analysis and proven through utility. Science creates new understandings about how the world works. Proof of the utility of science is in all the new things science has created. What new things has religion created? None. Religion is about stagnation and ignorance that feels like enlightenment.

Sam Harris put it better than I could in his answer to Andrew Sullivan,

"You beckon me to a world in which George Bush and James Dobson have an effortless bead on the deepest conceivable truth; meanwhile, 93 percent of the members of the National Academy of Sciences may well be doomed for eternity by their skepticism. It's hard for me to imagine that this scenario seems even remotely plausible to you--but this is Christianity at a glance."

Science is process, not any particular answer or theory, based on the best available evidence. Religion is, usually, a particular answer that is given in spite of the best possible evidence.

Back OT, Geller is not science.


S0122017
Posted 20 April 2007 at 01:04 am

Gha-lo said: http://www.religiousZealotsVSclosedMindedAssholes.org

I thought I was already on that website? Oh wait, you are right, this is the damninteresting.com website. Could have fooled me!!!


S0122017
Posted 20 April 2007 at 01:08 am

Stead311 said: " Uri should have just been a magician not some UNIQUE guy from Israel of all places who claims he can bend ONLY his spoons when he wants. Its sad really."

What is that supposed to mean. "A unique guy from Israel of all places" Is that an attempt at rascism or just bad English? I dont get it.


HiEv
Posted 20 April 2007 at 05:34 am

Radiatidon said: "Mathematical model based on various aspects of the wing structure, frequency of oscillation of the wing beat pattern, micro structure flaws in construct of wing material, fiber attachment to body mainframe including muscular.


Hypothesis derived from mathematical model created from various facts and observations during experiment."

Well, looks like the model and/or some of those observations were flawed. I did some Googling and couldn't find anyone who agreed with your assessment that "bumblebee wings harmonics should make them self-destruct." Honestly, almost all of the well known "science says bees can't fly" story is a myth:

The Straight Dope: Is it aerodynamically impossible for bumblebees to fly? (5/4/1990)
http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a5_045.html

Byrden said: "2. Is light a particle or is it a wave?

What makes you think it has to be either one or the other?”

Radiatidon said: "So you have developed a theory of your own? Upon what hypothesis can you base your knowledge of this? For year’s scientist have debated on just what the basic nature of light is, either a wave or a particle. Having experience working with light, lasers, and other electromagnetic frequencies plus performing the various experiments that shows light works as both a wave and a particle."

You managed to totally misunderstand his point despite already knowing the answer. You stated that there was a contradiction between it being a particle in some situations and a wave in others, his point was that it doesn't have to be one or the other, it can be both, as you just stated yourself. Your argument was like saying that it's a contradiction to claim that H2O is a solid in some cases and a liquid in others. It's not a contradiction, it just acts differently depending on the circumstances.

Radiatidon said: "No, ever since Quantum Physics was let out of the closet the scientific community has been trying to explain it."

Huh? Quantum Physics is the explanation, and it wasn't in a "closet" anyways.

Radiatidon said: "What I was pointing out is that your quote that "Scientific theories are logical, consistent, and make testable predictions." is a flawed and incorrect statement. Science is not perfect and experiments performed in the same manner in the best-controlled environments can, and do provide different results."

I'm failing to see where Byrden ever claimed that science was perfect, but it's fairly clear that it's the best means we know of for understanding the world around us. If results aren't reliable then those are your results. Over numerous tests a statistical average and standard deviation should appear. If you fail to get consistent results then either your environment isn't "best-controlled" despite what you may think or that inconsistency should be part of the expected results.

Radiatidon said: "As far as “where did I read that”, well, my wall is covered with pretty documents outlining my degrees. My knowledge base has been used and requested by various industrial entities including NASA, DOD, and DOE, not to mention that I have been offered employment by various foreign entities."

Neither intelligence nor education is protection from error. Just take a look at Linus Pauling and his nutty vitamin C claims. Or, better yet, take a look at the self-assured scientists who fell for Uri Geller's tricks. ;-)


S0122017
Posted 20 April 2007 at 07:50 am

Inti said: "Above all the discussions about science, relgion, and such, I am amazed about Uri Geller's live history. This person profitted and became rich with just a big lie on one hand and a good amount of shameless on the other. All this with support of the media, and boosted by the incredible stupidity and ingnorance of the populace. Uri Geller is the epitome of the beguiler and bluffer, and a great offence to logic and truth.


Amen."

Why oh why is everyone making it sound like he is some sort of bad apple? He became rich by giving people what they wanted. Advertisement is almost allways a lie, there really is no "Axe effect", Mentos doesnt cool you down on a hot day and toothpastes are all the same. Yet, it is socially accepted that big compagnies lie and deceive people to make a profit, but individuals arent?

Get angry at Uri Geller al you want. He did what most western people want: he made a fortune and took the rest of his life off. Isnt that the American dream? And he did so by making people believe he could BENT SPOONS WITH HIS MIND :0 That guy should get respect, not hatred.

If you want to hate someone, why not hate the hundreds of Gurus that squeeze money out of poor people in India, by making them believe they will be healed by doing so. THAT is something to complain about and very different from Uri's well presented commercial entertainment.


Rinson Drei
Posted 20 April 2007 at 08:04 am

After the cold fusion fraud of the 90's, I know all I need to know about "science".

I knew a guy who died in an accident because he was wearing his seatbelt. Now I know that the "safety experts" are really trying to kill me.

Hey! This is fun. It's much easier than respectfully examining someone's beliefs. From now on, I'll just cherry-pick the bad and ridiculous and extrapolate from there. Save my brain juice for video games.

In the mean time, I'll just spit on those Salvation Army bellringing charlatans and feel proud. Me Ubermensch!


Radiatidon
Posted 20 April 2007 at 08:50 am

HiEv said: "Well, looks like the model and/or some of those observations were flawed. I did some Googling and couldn't find anyone who agreed with your assessment that "bumblebee wings harmonics should make them self-destruct."

Which was the point I was trying to make. Not all experiments will have a valid outcome. No matter how carefully you work out the mathematical models, you can miss various vital portions. That still does not disqualify the experiment since others can take the procedures and results and “discover” where there was more data needed or what error was performed. It is the mistakes made that help find the true solution.

HiEv said: “Honestly, almost all of the well known "science says bees can't fly" story is a myth:”

Sorry, but I never said that the bumblebee could not fly, just that the stress factors involved in flight should damage the wing structure. The myth that bees should not fly was due to a scientist during the first part of the Twenty Century using mathematical models based on fixed wing aircraft and trying to use those on the common Bumblebee. Since that model is based on the shape of the wing, not the dynamics of the use, the formula was flawed.

The bee, and most insects, obtains flight through various factors. The first is called a “leading edge vortex” created on top of the wing, which is basically a swirling tunnel of air, or a mini tornado so-to-speak. Since air pressure inside the funnel is lower than outside pressure, higher pressure below the wing pushes it upward. The second is the constant change in pitch of their wings. By flapping back and forth, insects create trailing whirlpools of air behind the wing. By rotating its wing before the return stroke, the overtaking wake of the whirlpool of air actually lifts the wing. An example would be how a motorboat will lift up in the water when it stops or slows down; it is lifted by the following wake. The method used by the insect is called “wake capture.” This one perplexed researchers since the insect seemed to obtained lift when the wing paused before the return sweep. Once it was realized what was truly happening it only made sense. Also it is a very ingenious method for capturing energy that normally would be wasted.

Finally the third factor is how the insect will rotate its wing near the end of the backstroke. This creates what is dubbed “rotational circulation”, which creates a backspin of air that lifts the wing. Just as a spinning baseball obtains lift through the same dynamics.

These methods were only realized when large model wings were built and observed in mineral oil. Using fluid dynamics the “secret” of how insects do it came to light.

Sources for the above information

Dickinson M, Lehman F_o, Sane SJ Science – 1999:284:1954-1960
Ellington CP, Van Den Berg C, Willmott AP, Thomas ALR. Nature – 1996:384:626-630.

This may have solved how they stay aloft, but raises the question of how they can fly. The constant change in pitch, rotation, etc. requires a fast yet complex control system. Now the mind comes into play. Just how do insects interpret forces and position in order to control flight? Another interesting fact about the bee is that with just 0.01% the neurons that the average human has, they can recognize a human face for around two days.

HiEv said: “You managed to totally misunderstand his point despite already knowing the answer. You stated that there was a contradiction between it being a particle in some situations and a wave in others, his point was that it doesn't have to be one or the other, it can be both, as you just stated yourself.

Okay sometimes it is hard to see the forest for all the trees.

HiEv said: “I'm failing to see where Byrden ever claimed that science was perfect

Why from his statement

Byrden said: "Scientific theories are logical, consistent, and make testable predictions."

. I pointed out that this was a flawed statement. Scientific theories are not always logical and at times the experiments cannot validate the theory though in nature it occurs.

HiEv said: “Neither intelligence nor education is protection from error. Just take a look at Linus Pauling and his nutty vitamin C claims. Or, better yet, take a look at the self-assured scientists who fell for Uri Geller's tricks. ;-)"

I apologize for the “Peacock” display of my background. I was only attempting to validate my knowledge base. I have also in past posts on this site made errors that I myself have caught and have apologized and corrected for. My interests are wide and varied. So at times I am reaching into the dark cobwebby recesses of my mind to post and do make mistakes. Also I try to “simplify” things from the convoluted morass of mathematical models and $20 words. So I will also make errors in sentence structure and verbal usage misrepresenting what I truly meant to say.


Tink
Posted 20 April 2007 at 10:04 am

Misfit said: "I wonder if he was able to smell the sugar cubes and etc. inside those metal boxes."

Very good question!

Just ask anyone who has ever worked in a doughnut or candy shop, about the smell of sugar.
Usually when hired, the shop keeper asks you to eat all you want for as long as you want.
In three days you will be sickened at the smell, and recognise it the rest of your life.
Almost ruined this chocoholics addiction.
Still some 40 years later can not eat more thn one sugary bread without getting ill.
:)


Byrden
Posted 20 April 2007 at 12:32 pm

>> Scientific theories are not always logical

Could you give an example please?

>> at times the experiments cannot validate the theory though in nature it occurs.

As Karl Popper pointed out, experiments can never validate a theory. They can only invalidate it.


Byrden
Posted 20 April 2007 at 12:45 pm

>>>> 2. Is light a particle or is it a wave?
>>>What makes you think it has to be either one or the other?”

>> So you have developed a theory of your own?

Why would I need to? There's nothing wrong with the quantum theory as far as we know. Where is this 'debate' you speak of?


Hyperjon
Posted 20 April 2007 at 08:13 pm

OK, I guess I'm not doing a very good job of getting my point across. I don't want a religious debate. You can't win (or lose) a religious debate and no one here wants to see one. So let me try a different tact. Is it fair to say that there have ever been scientific theories or ideas in the past that have been disproved by later science? Is it also fair to assume that there are current theories and ideas that could be disproved by future science? I think anyone except the most ardent of science apologists can say yes to these statements. So, if we can agree that science is indeed fallible, then it's a start.

I was thinking more about this today while I was watching a news show. The president had made some speech yesterday and the show I was watching had two political pundits on talking about it. The first guy, a Democrat disagreed with most of what the prez had said and the other, a Republican was in agreement - which is to be expected. But the funny thing is that each of them tried to twist, or "spin" things the prez had said to fit the particular argument that they were each making. It's one thing to mis-characterize what someone said hundreds of years ago, but they had just played a clip of Bush's speech before the debate. I guess it just brought home exactly what we've been discussing on this board and made it even more clear to me that we live in an age of no truth.


HiEv
Posted 21 April 2007 at 04:06 am

Radiatidon said: "Which was the point I was trying to make. Not all experiments will have a valid outcome. No matter how carefully you work out the mathematical models, you can miss various vital portions. That still does not disqualify the experiment since others can take the procedures and results and “discover” where there was more data needed or what error was performed. It is the mistakes made that help find the true solution."

But your conclusion was invalidated immediately because the evidence was already available that the observations did not match your conclusion. It showed that your model was flawed in some way immediately, thus was not a valid scientific model. A valid model must match the observed results, and yours did not. I fail to see how that proves anything, since it was never a valid scientific model to begin with.

Radiatidon said: "Sorry, but I never said that the bumblebee could not fly, just that the stress factors involved in flight should damage the wing structure."

Ergo the bumblebee should not be able to fly. Still, your model was not valid, so that would not be a valid scientific claim. If I make a model that predicts that things should fall up, that is not a valid scientific model since things don't normally fall up. There is more to a theory than just making one up, it must survive testing, and a simple test that bumblebee wings aren't damaged after flight keeps your hypothesis from becoming a scientific theory.

HiEv said: “I'm failing to see where Byrden ever claimed that science was perfect"

Radiatidon said: "Why from his statement"

Byrden said: "Scientific theories are logical, consistent, and make testable predictions."

Radiatidon said: ". I pointed out that this was a flawed statement. Scientific theories are not always logical and at times the experiments cannot validate the theory though in nature it occurs."

I'm sorry, but I don't read his statement as saying that science is "perfect" from that, merely that the theories are meant to match the observations and make testable predictions. We may make new observations that contradict a theory that previously was consistent with known observations, so then the theory will either need to be corrected or replaced. That's the error correcting method of science, and what makes it so powerful in understanding our universe. People try to portray that as a problem of science, when it's actually a major source of science's strength.

Now, you say that "Scientific theories are not always logical" but I disagree, in that a real scientific theory is logical because it is supported by evidence. If it is not logical then it is not a scientific theory (though some may claim it is.) Some scientific theories may be counterintuitive, but that is not the same as not being logical. If you would care to provide and example of what you are referring to then maybe we can see where our interpretation differs here.

Furthermore, if "at times the experiments cannot validate the theory though in nature it occurs" then it is not a theory it is a hypothesis. A theory is not merely an "educated guess" as is commonly believed, it is a well tested explanation for certain observations. First you form a hypothesis, then you must try to invalidate that hypothesis, and if it can withstand attempts at invalidation then it may become a theory. If you cannot test the hypothesis, as you refer to above, then it cannot become a scientific theory.


HiEv
Posted 21 April 2007 at 04:45 am

Hyperjon said: "Is it fair to say that there have ever been scientific theories or ideas in the past that have been disproved by later science? Is it also fair to assume that there are current theories and ideas that could be disproved by future science? I think anyone except the most ardent of science apologists can say yes to these statements. So, if we can agree that science is indeed fallible, then it's a start."

I don't think anyone says science is infallible. Your "science apologists" are figments of your imagination. (Disagree? Point me to some of them.) Science's error correction mechanism is not a problem, it's one of its strengths.

The problem with your statements is that you equated a scientific theory with an "educated guess," which, while commonly believed, is just wrong. A regular "theory" may mean that, but scientific theories are supported by tons of evidence and testing, make accurate predictions, and have resisted attempts at invalidation. You equated that kind of thorough examination to believing in God, which just isn't a valid comparison at all. What observations are there that support a god that do not better support some simpler materialistic explanation? How can gods be tested or disproved? They can't, and that's why they are believed through faith, not scientific evidence.

Simply put, science is not a religion. Not even close. Religions depend on blind faith, supernatural beings, and untestable claims to explain the universe; while science depends on well supported theories, rigorous testing, peer review, and careful observations to understand the universe. I think it's really sad when people falsely equate observation-based science with faith-based religion in an attempt to justify their belief in religion. If you want to believe your particular religion, fine, I don't care, but don't pretend it's just as valid as science.


Random5
Posted 21 April 2007 at 08:58 am

Gha-lo said: "ZZZzzzzZZZZzzzz…

Random5 u be boring.

No care you for write. Not subject. Good site u go. http://www.religiousZealotsVSclosedMindedAssholes.org
"

Nicely done, you insulted both sides of the argument :) I smell an agnostic.

I just don't like giving up a good discussion because it's been taken out of the context it was started in. Freedom of expression and all, y'know?


thehandmn
Posted 21 April 2007 at 04:45 pm

"...some of the handiwork exhibited by Geller and his spoon-bending contemporaries remains a mystery"

Much in the same way that where some of Charles Ponzi's money came from remains a mystery, or EXACTLY how Piltdown Man came to be remains a mystery. How Uri Geller faked some of his tricks is only a "mystery" because the people watching either weren't smart enough or weren't honest enough to uncover the truth. However, what happened to Uri Geller's credibility is no mystery. It disappeared with his first fake.


HiEv
Posted 22 April 2007 at 02:22 am

FYI - Two other links people might want to check out:

Wikipedia: Spoon bending
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spoon_bending

SkepticReport: Uri Geller & Spoon Bending
http://www.skepticreport.com/psychicpowers/urispoon.htm

The second one includes video and shows exactly how Mr. Geller bent the spoon using misdirection. Remember, there's more than one way to bend a spoon, so just because you can rule out one trick does not mean you've ruled out all kinds of trickery. The Wikipedia article explains several different ways to pull off the same trick of "spoon bending."

Honestly, I don't know why anyone would be impressed by "spoon bending" since it's something almost anyone can do quite easily with their hands on most spoons. You will note that there are no spoon benders that don't have someone handling the spoon while it bends. That alone should make anyone suspicious. Sadly, it doesn't. :-(


Radiatidon
Posted 23 April 2007 at 12:51 pm

HiEv says” But your conclusion was invalidated immediately because the evidence was already available that the observations did not match your conclusion. It showed that your model was flawed in some way immediately, thus was not a valid scientific model. A valid model must match the observed results, and yours did not. I fail to see how that proves anything, since it was never a valid scientific model to begin with.”

You assume that I decided to prove the physical world incorrect. I did not create this hypothesis; it was given to me as an assignment, first to test my ability to use physical events and mathematical models to form a theory, and second to show that not all experiments will have a beneficial outcome. I was also limited to the equipment within our labs due to this was a mental exercise and not fundable by “other” sources. The final paper received high marks based on how I came to the solution, the soundness of the mathematical models, even though the experiment was doomed to failure since the hypothesis could not deny the physical evidence.

HiEv says”Ergo the bumblebee should not be able to fly. Still your model was not valid, so that would not be a valid scientific claim. If I make a model that predicts that things should fall up, that is not a valid scientific model since things don't normally fall up. There is more to a theory than just making one up, it must survive testing, and a simple test that bumblebee wings aren't damaged after flight keeps your hypothesis from becoming a scientific theory.

Once again (sighs) I never stated that the bumblebee couldn’t fly, or that the wings would disintegrate on taking off, just that the harmonics of the wings oscillations would damage the fabric of the wing over a period of time. For some odd reason you keep interjecting your point of view as my stated face. If you still wish to state I said this PLEASE POINT IT OUT.

HiEv says” you say that "Scientific theories are not always logical" but I disagree, in that a real scientific theory is logical because it is supported by evidence. If it is not logical then it is not a scientific theory (though some may claim it is.) Some scientific theories may be counterintuitive, but that is not the same as not being logical. If you would care to provide and example of what you are referring to then maybe we can see where our interpretation differs here.

This theory states that we can only find around 10% of the matter in the universe. Where is the other 90%, well they call it Exotic Dark Matter. Can we detect it? No. It does not emit any form of radiation that we can detect. It does not block any energy that we can detect. There are no large dark blobs blocking starlight or other electromagnetic energy to attest to this “Exotic Dark Matter.” Yet the speed that other galaxies are moving away from us means that they must weight more than we can account for. Thus the “Exotic Dark Matter Theory.” Can we prove it? No.

One hypothesis to support Dark Matter is called WIMPS (weakly interacting massive particles). These exotic but massive elementary particles interact very weakly with matter. So weak that even our most sensitive detectors have not detected them. WIMPS have to have mass though, so they could produce a weak gravitational field. In large numbers they can produce a collectively strong gravitational field. Yes this is only a hypothesis since we cannot detect them, but it is used to support the also unverifiable Dark Matter theory.

For years’ scientist have concluded that neutrinos have no mass. Has that stopped anyone from proving otherwise? No, in Japan the Super-Kamiokande just may have proved that neutrinos really do have mass. This has cosmologists already re-examining currently accepted theories.

Maxwell's 1873 Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism, which for its time was regarded as a well-founded theory, is based on the idea that electric and magnetic fields represent tensions in a physical medium, the ether, in which we no longer believe. Isaac Newton himself believed in the ether theory.

Another theory based on observable physical evidence was that all planets moved around the earth. This theory was thrown out in 1514 by the Copernican view (also based on observations but no physical evidence), which placed the sun at the center. Now that theory was “improved” in the 1600s by Johannes Kepler, when he proved that the planets moved in elongated orbits and not in circular motion.

As far as light, there has been a debate for centuries on its basic properties. That is, wave or particle. For example Isaac Newton, he favored particles or “corpuscles” as he referred to them. On the opposite side was Robert Hooke who preferred the wave theory. Both had heated debates over this as well as other theories.

Though light does exhibit both a wave and a particle manner, it cannot exist as both. According to Quantum theory, both light and matter consists of particles that can exhibit wave-like patterns but only when the mass of a particle gets small enough. The reason light cannot be a wave is due to the nature of waves. The energy of a wave is related to the intensity or amplitude of that wave. For instance in water the bigger the wave the greater the energy associated with that wave. Small waves lap at your belly but large ones knock you over.

Knowing this, it is simple do disprove the light is a wave theory. Using the photoelectric effect, which is when a certain amount of light is placed on metal, after a certain binding energy is met, an electron is emitted from the metal traveling at a specific speed.

So then if light is a wave, why when the intensity of light is increased the kinetic energy of an electron in the photoelectric effect remains unchanged? Yet if the intensity of the wave increases, the kinetic energy should equal that. The only answer is that light is a particle. When you increased the light you increase the number of particles that would all share the same kinetic energy. Thus the emitted electron would display the same kinetic energy no matter how bright the light, unlike a wave where the amplitude would have to increase thus subjecting the emitted electron with a larger kinetic energy.

Then it was discovered that when the frequency was increased, the kinetic energy of the electron increased. This also disproved the wave theory, since an increase in frequency should increase the amount of electrons (which remained constant at this point) but not affect the kinetic energy.

Using this, the mathematical model “Planks Constant, h = 6.63 × 10-34 J · s” was developed. This in turn developed the mathematical model Ephoton = h ν which is consistent with light being a particle not a wave.

"Just because the results happen to be in agreement with observation does not prove that one's theory is correct" (Dirac 1987, p. 196).


HiEv
Posted 23 April 2007 at 03:50 pm

HiEv says: "But your conclusion was invalidated immediately because the evidence was already available that the observations did not match your conclusion. It showed that your model was flawed in some way immediately, thus was not a valid scientific model. A valid model must match the observed results, and yours did not. I fail to see how that proves anything, since it was never a valid scientific model to begin with."


Radiatidon said: "You assume that I decided to prove the physical world incorrect."

I assume no such thing. Byrden stated that, "Scientific theories are logical, consistent, and make testable predictions. " As a counterexample you claimed, "Harmonic vibrations created by the humble bumblebee’s wings should destroy the wing membrane. Yet it does not." However, my point was not that you had tried to "prove the physical world incorrect," but that your argument in no way contradicted Byrden's because it was not an example of a logical or consistent scientific statement because it's testable hypothesis failed to match reality. As a counterexample to Byrden's statement it failed on all three points.

Radiatidon said: "Once again (sighs) I never stated that the bumblebee couldn't fly, or that the wings would disintegrate on taking off, just that the harmonics of the wings oscillations would damage the fabric of the wing over a period of time. For some odd reason you keep interjecting your point of view as my stated face. If you still wish to state I said this PLEASE POINT IT OUT."

Actually, you strongly implied exactly that. Based on your statement that I just quoted above, your other claim that "the stress factors involved in flight should damage the wing structure," and the fact that that a bee could most likely not fly with damaged wings, none of that indicated you were talking about something that would happen "over a period of time" as you have just stated. If I say, "Don't turn on your stereo or your speakers will blow," one does not assume that I mean "eventually," one naturally understands that I mean "immediately." Perhaps I misunderstood you, but since you were not particularly clear in your writing I don't think I'm entirely to blame for that. I'm sure I'm not the only person here who (mis)interpreted your statements that way.

Radiatidon said: "This theory states that we can only find around 10% of the matter in the universe. Where is the other 90%, well they call it Exotic Dark Matter. Can we detect it? No."

Actually, we can. How else to you think that we arrived at the conclusion that it must exist? And have you forgotten this?:

Damn Interesting: The Dark Tale of Colliding Superclusters
http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=652

Clearly we can detect non-baryonic dark matter (or "Exotic Dark Matter" as you call it.)

Radiatidon said: "Can we prove it? No."

Generally speaking, science can't prove most things (especially outside of the mathematical arena,) it merely helps us find the most accurate explanations that are consistent with the evidence, and so far it's the best method we know of for doing that.

[snip another "peacock" display]

And all of that long list of bits of scientific history was to prove exactly... what? Scientists do the best they can with the data available. Some theories may seem complex, counterintuitive, or hard to understand, but that does not mean that they aren't logical, consistent with the current data, or unable to make testable predictions. Nor does this mean that scientists won't continue to test the theories for errors. As new data comes along or errors are found, theories are modified or replaced. As such I fail to see the point of that rambling demonstration of your knowledge of science history, since it does nothing to prove your claim that "scientific theories are not always logical." Are they found to be in error or incomplete sometimes? Sure! I never said they weren't. But that doesn't mean that they weren't logical at the time when they were thought to be valid or complete.

The point of science is to be logical by providing useful explanations of how the universe works that are consistent with the observations. Science may not do that perfectly yet, but fortunately it includes a mechanism to help us get it ever closer to that goal. The errors you point out were discovered by science as well, and scientists are currently working to fix those problems and come up with better theories. This just reinforces to me the fact that scientific theories are indeed "logical, consistent, and make testable predictions" just as Byrden said, and so far nothing you've said contradicts that point.

Radiatidon said: "Though light does exhibit both a wave and a particle manner, it cannot exist as both."

If I have a card that is black on one side and white on the other, it is both black and white, but normally you can only see it as one or the other depending on which side of the card you are looking at. Light may act as a particle in one situation and a wave in another, just as the card may look black in one situation and white in another. This is not a contradiction, merely a part of its properties. It may be complex and hard for us to understand based on what we see in the macroscopic world, but it is a consistent feature of light. A scientific theory uses that consistency to logically create a method for understanding and predicting its behavior. The fact that we are now able to predict and control the behavior of light so accurately shows the power of science.


Hyperjon
Posted 23 April 2007 at 07:39 pm

Hey, HiEv... Sorry - I took the weekend off.. :-)

Generally speaking, science can't prove most things (especially outside of the mathematical arena,) it merely helps us find the most accurate explanations that are consistent with the evidence, and so far it's the best method we know of for doing that.

OK, now that's more like it. That's what I've been hoping to see someone admit. Science is a tool used for discovering the truth of our existence but it is not infallible and is not truth in and of itself. I think that fact is lost on many people these days who take science hypothesis and theory as irrefutable fact. Now, as to the religion side of things, I can honestly say that my beliefs make more sense to me than many of the currently accepted scientific theories. And I say this as someone who does not accept things just because someone says it's true. It's fascinating to me that people of faith are thought to be gullible, stupid or even just mislead. I believe in God and I believe in Christ and yet I still consider myself to be a pretty smart guy. I've read a lot of the scientific evidence out there and I see more "logic", if you will, in the beliefs of Christians than I do in what science is currently saying. In fact, a point that most people don't think about is that over 2000 years, science has been slowly proving, not disproving, what the Bible says. You're going to ask me to show you that proof but I'm not going to bring that stuff here for two reasons. The first is that if you're truly interested in this, all you have to do is just Google "Proof of the Bible" or something similar to see lots of sites that compare the Bible with science. And second, and most important, if you don't believe the Bible now, then nothing I can put here will possibly change your mind. Besides, as I've said before, I'm not interested in debating religion because there's no point in it. What I am interested in exploring is the idea that we each see truth based on our own experiences. I was born into a Christian household and I've grown up seeing my life prove my faith almost each and every day. I've shared my experience with others and others have shared their experiences with me and every time I hear more about how God works, I grow in my confidence that my beliefs are correct. Now, you're probably going to counter this with a statement from your own life where you see the opposite. In your life, you may see only things that disprove religion and further concretes your own beliefs that I, and all of the other Christians (and people of all faiths) are misguided boobs. I was initially inspired to start posting here when I read the message early on that spoke of "confirmation bias". This really intrigued me and I've been doing a lot of thinking about this over the past week. Is it possible that my entire life and everything I believe in is just a lie or a cruel hoax? Am I really the ignorant boob that folks dismiss Christians as being? Have I just been seeing only the things that I want to see to confirm my own beliefs?

Then, yesterday afternoon, I attended one of the first meetings of a new group that is being formed in my area. It's a volunteer organization consisting of local churches and civic organizations and is being formed to help local folks who need groceries, car repairs, home maintenance, etc. As I looked around the room, I saw both men and women, poor and rich, young and old, Democrats and Republicans and multiple races. But we were all Christians and we were all there because we wanted to help people. I also knew that God was there amongst us. I can't prove that. I can't irrefutably say that with facts to back it up. But I knew it in my heart. That's part of the truth that I know. Your truth may be different, but is your truth better then mine? Can you prove that I didn't feel God in that room yesterday? This is exactly what I'm talking about. We live in a world where truth is not a constant. It's more of an opinion that is constantly in flux. Or am I wrong?


misanthrope
Posted 24 April 2007 at 06:57 am

For someone who doesn't want to bring religion to the table, you're doing an awfully good (and consistent) job of doing exactly that...

Hyperjon said: I can't irrefutably say that with facts to back it up. But I knew it in my heart.

This is all you need say, this is the nub of religion. You need to know; you can't know; you 'know it in your heart' instead, because it is a need that must be satisfied. The scientific don't have a need, they have a want. This, in the bigger picture, allows them to resist the temptation of the easy answer. IMHO, at least.


HiEv
Posted 24 April 2007 at 03:00 pm

HiEv said: "Generally speaking, science can't prove most things (especially outside of the mathematical arena,) it merely helps us find the most accurate explanations that are consistent with the evidence, and so far it's the best method we know of for doing that."


Hyperjon said: "OK, now that's more like it. That's what I've been hoping to see someone admit."

It's not like it's a secret. No matter how many times in a row I let go of a pen in mid-air and it falls to the floor, that doesn't prove that that's what will happen the next time. However, it only has to fail to fall once to disprove the hypothesis that letting go of a pen in mid-air will always cause the pen to fall down. Proving some things is impossible so you must instead try to prove it wrong, this is why the ability to falsify a hypothesis or theory is a requirement in science. Also, a hypothesis that can't be falsified is useless because no result can contradict it, thus it makes no useful predictions.

Hyperjon said: "Science is a tool used for discovering the truth of our existence but it is not infallible and is not truth in and of itself. I think that fact is lost on many people these days who take science hypothesis and theory as irrefutable fact."

I'm sorry, but nobody does that, and in my experience, only people who misunderstand the scientific method and/or resent its implications claim that anyone believes such nonsense. Seriously, you're attempting to vilify science by inventing straw-men. Some people may have a good deal of trust in the scientific method, but they have a good reason for that trust. It's a mistake to confuse that trust in the scientific method with people thinking it's infallible. I challenge you to produce even one person who does what you describe.

That aside, while science is not perfect, it's most certainly the best method we've ever found for understanding our universe. If you have a better method, let's hear it.

Hyperjon said: "I've read a lot of the scientific evidence out there and I see more "logic", if you will, in the beliefs of Christians than I do in what science is currently saying. In fact, a point that most people don't think about is that over 2000 years, science has been slowly proving, not disproving, what the Bible says."

I can only guess that you feel the need to take this discussion off topic and turn this into a religious discussion because you feel that science somehow threatens your beliefs, and thus you must publicly defend that belief. It's quite ironic that you first attack science and then turn around and try to use science to prop up your beliefs. It seems like your opinion of science has more to do with whether it supports your conclusions or not than its methods. You favor science when it supports your beliefs and disparage it when it contradicts them, which tells me that you are letting your personal bias color your opinion instead of judging it fairly even when you disagree with its results.

That being said, you are quite wrong about science "proving ... what the Bible says." While a few locations have been found to be historical, many important events have left no mark on the historical record outside of the Bible. There is no evidence of Noah's worldwide flood, plus there is plenty of evidence that it is derived from other flood myths. The universe is older than the Bible indicates, the Earth orbits the Sun instead of the other way around, and there is almost no evidence of the Exodus, just to name a few.

Instead of science proving the Bible, it is rather that the believers of the Bible have begun struggling to make it conform to the findings of science. When that fails they try PR campaigns to confuse people about the science (i.e. creationism/Intelligent Design.) Science is winning, and they know it, so it's no wonder you feel threatened enough by science to turn a science discussion into a "defense of religion" discussion.

Hyperjon said: "And second, and most important, if you don't believe the Bible now, then nothing I can put here will possibly change your mind."

Well, here I can clearly say that not only are you totally wrong, but in this case it is you who are most likely guilty of what you are accusing me of: being close-minded. I believe in the scientific method, and as such I try to make sure that my beliefs can be falsified. If you have a religious belief you'd like to name I can come up with a list of some things that would change my mind about that belief. I have seriously researched the supernatural to see if there is good scientific evidence supporting it, which would falsify my own beliefs, and so far I haven't been able to find any. Can you say you've done the same regarding your beliefs? Before you make further inaccurate and hypocritical insults to other atheists I recommend reading this:

Ebon Musings: The Theist's Guide to Converting Atheists
http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/theistguide.html

Hyperjon said: "Besides, as I've said before, I'm not interested in debating religion because there's no point in it. What I am interested in exploring is the idea that we each see truth based on our own experiences. I was born into a Christian household and I've grown up seeing my life prove my faith almost each and every day."

I also was born into a Christian household and I've grew up seeing my life prove my faith for many years. I was a strong believer for about a decade. But then I looked more closely, bit by bit I examined and tested my beliefs, and I discovered that I could not actually justify my beliefs. There were naturalistic explanations for everything I saw, and many things I was told did not appear to actually be true under further examination, no matter how much I would have liked them to be true. I overcame my confirmation bias and converted myself from a Christian, which I had really only believed because I was brought up believing it, to an atheist.

Hyperjon said: "I was initially inspired to start posting here when I read the message early on that spoke of "confirmation bias". This really intrigued me and I've been doing a lot of thinking about this over the past week. Is it possible that my entire life and everything I believe in is just a lie or a cruel hoax? Am I really the ignorant boob that folks dismiss Christians as being? Have I just been seeing only the things that I want to see to confirm my own beliefs?

Then, yesterday afternoon, I attended one of the first meetings of a new group that is being formed in my area. It's a volunteer organization consisting of local churches and civic organizations and is being formed to help local folks who need groceries, car repairs, home maintenance, etc. As I looked around the room, I saw both men and women, poor and rich, young and old, Democrats and Republicans and multiple races. But we were all Christians and we were all there because we wanted to help people. I also knew that God was there amongst us. I can't prove that. I can't irrefutably say that with facts to back it up. But I knew it in my heart. That's part of the truth that I know. Your truth may be different, but is your truth better then mine? Can you prove that I didn't feel God in that room yesterday?"

It is not my job to prove that. You are the one making a positive claim, so it is up to you to justify that claim if you want others to believe it. However, you yourself admit that you can't back it up with facts. You also ignore the fact that people in almost every religion can feel the same thing, and that people can even be made to feel a presence in a room by electromagnetic brain stimulation (see here.) There are several more probable materialistic explanations for your experience, however it seems exactly like it's your confirmation bias that makes you choose the one you prefer over those other more reasonable options. You've thrown Occam's Razor aside in favor of your religious beliefs.

Hyperjon said: "This is exactly what I'm talking about. We live in a world where truth is not a constant. It's more of an opinion that is constantly in flux. Or am I wrong?"

No, you're wrong. Just because you don't know what the truth is does not mean that the truth is in flux. If I roll a die inside of an opaque box then is the truth of the result in flux? No, it is not (and please, nobody bring up Schrödinger's cat, quantum indeterminacy does not easily scale up beyond a couple of atoms.) Even if you believe that the die came up as a six, and then later as a three, the actual value that was rolled does not change. Your opinion may change, but the truth does not. Science is about objectively determining the truth, and that is why it is superior to biased and untested opinions.


Silverhill
Posted 24 April 2007 at 05:23 pm

Hyperjon said: "Now, as to the religion side of things, I can honestly say that my beliefs make more sense to me than many of the currently accepted scientific theories.

Perhaps you refer to the counterintuitive nature of Nature, at the fundamental level, as described by quantum theory. But, as Robert Heinlein put it, "The Universe has a way of not caring what you believe."

I can, however, recommend a good book: Where Does the Weirdness Go? Why Quantum Mechanics Is Strange, but Not as Strange as You Think.

"...and most important, if you don't believe the Bible now, then nothing I can put here will possibly change your mind."

Not even solid evidence? I (believe that) I would believe such....

"What I am interested in exploring is the idea that we each see truth based on our own experiences."

Or at least we believe that we see truth; we must beware of such things as the aforementioned confirmation bias, as well as the possibility that, from a portion of the truth, we believe we have the whole. An excellent illustration of this was produced by the American poet John Godfrey Saxe, in The Blind Men and the Elephant.


Hyperjon
Posted 24 April 2007 at 10:04 pm

"It's not like it's a secret."

But it sure took forever to hear you admit it.

"I'm sorry, but nobody does that, and in my experience, only people who misunderstand the scientific method and/or resent its implications claim that anyone believes such nonsense... I challenge you to produce even one person who does what you describe."

Are you kidding me? Popular culture and politics are rife with it. How many television shows and movies (especially science fiction - which i love) do we see every week that takes the theory of evolution (and all other current theories) and treats them as absolute fact? Our culture has become so enveloped in naturalism and secularism that it's a testament to God himself that any Christians even still believe.

"That aside, while science is not perfect, it's most certainly the best method we've ever found for understanding our universe. If you have a better method, let's hear it."

I do. And you have heard it. You rejected it, though because it can't be proven. But the funny thing is - you're willing to accept a big bang theory that has not be proven. You're willing to accept a theory of evolution that has not been proven. And you're more than willing to dismiss all of the evidence that points to a God along with everyone else that shares that belief - all because it also cannot be proven.

"I can only guess that you feel the need to take this discussion off topic and turn this into a religious discussion because you feel that science somehow threatens your beliefs, and thus you must publicly defend that belief."

Actually, I began this very on-topic by posing a question as to the nature of truth in the modern age which directly ties in with the article in question. And I've tried to redirect every post back to that question. Its has been you and others that have been continually dragging this conversation further into the realm of a religious debate - which, I might add, I have already stated, numerous times, cannot be won or lost.

"Can you say you've done the same regarding your beliefs?"

I'm no expert either on science or religious matters, which certainly makes me a very poor advocate for my faith. However, to answer your question... Yes, I do read a lot about science. And beside the fact that my argument here has been to show that science is not and has never been 100% accurate, I actually do believe that most science is. It's that last 1 or 2%, though that makes all the difference in the world (no pun intended). :-)

"I recommend reading this: Ebon Musings: The Theist's Guide to Converting Atheists"

I did, actually, and I thank you. It was very enlightening and has given me a lot more insight into atheism.

"Science is winning, and they know it"

I'm going to surprise you here and agree with you. You're absolutely right. Science, secularism, naturalism, humanism.. are all winning. The church is in decline in every part of this country. And many churches are lowering the bar for what they consider Christian beliefs so low that I'm not even sure if they can still call themselves Christians anymore. The Bible is being so watered down that it's barely authoritative in many religious circles. I guess they figure, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. But science is not winning because it has a better idea. And it's certainly not winning because it offers a better way of life. If you put a chart on the wall showing the decline of Christianity and then a second line showing the decline of morals, values and ethics in the country, a funny thing will happen: they'll line up. We wonder why we have Columbines and VA Tech shootings. Eh, it couldn't be the decline of Christianity, though. We're way too enlightened to believe that.

"I overcame my confirmation bias and converted myself from a Christian, which I had really only believed because I was brought up believing it, to an atheist."

And that's why this debate - and all religious debates - are a waste of time. Hm, maybe that's too harsh. I won't say this was a waste of time because I have been educated quite a bit. However, from the standpoint of one side or the other changing their mind and converting to the alternate point of view, it was - and usually is - pointless. But you also have to acknowledge that your journey has also been undertaken in the reverse many, many times... The most ardent and faithful Christian I have ever met was a man I knew down in Cary NC (suburb of Raleigh) when I lived there. He grew up in a home where there were no beliefs and he spent most of his life searching for what made the most sense to him. He had some job (not sure what) that allowed him to travel to all parts of the world and he sampled most of the world's religions and only became a practicing Christian when he was in his 40's. I knew him in his 50's and I admired him so much because he had answers to every question posed of him. He knew all the answers because he had researched all of the other possibilities and had rejected each one for various reasons. He's one of the biggest reasons why I post to boards like this and read articles like the one you posted to me. And it's why sites like DI are, well, so damned interesting to me. As I said in the beginning, I have an engineer's mind and I'm not afraid to question my own faith. I have one final thought to pass along before I wrap this post - and this conversation - up. Before you get too wrapped up in your idea that all religious people must be lame-brained or mislead, take a look at this wiki article on Blaise Pascal: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blaise_Pascal. Speaking of DI, this guy was truly interesting. He was a 16th century French mathematician, physicist, philosopher and, yes, Christian.... It was Pascal that first uttered the following: "Belief is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He exists."


Lista
Posted 25 April 2007 at 01:40 am

I believe.


hsuf
Posted 25 April 2007 at 02:24 am

toxicroach said: "I lost a lot of respect for this site because of this post.

Geller is a fraud and his blind reading tricks are standard parts of a magician's bag of tricks. So is the watch trick, the spoon bending, and the rest of the stuff he does. Entirely normal tricks that have been around for a long time.

Short version of the other side of the story: http://www.randi.org/encyclopedia/Geller,%20Uri.html"

How can you say you've lost respect for DI, when even randi.org/encyclopedia don't explain the blindfolded trick ? Not on the URL you gave there, nor here : http://www.randi.org/encyclopedia/blindfold%20vision.html

I think in this situation, DI has taken the correct neutral stance - not siding with Geller, nor with Randi's fans.
(seeing your reaction, I'm really, really tempted to write "Randi fanboys" instead. But I digress... oops :) )


misanthrope
Posted 25 April 2007 at 05:23 am

HiEv: Thank you, thank you, thank you. Ebon Musings is everything I've had stuck in my non-literary head for all these years, and more besides. I will be busy for weeks!

Speaking of which:

Hyperjon said: "Before you get too wrapped up in your idea that all religious people must be lame-brained or mislead, take a look at this wiki article on Blaise Pascal: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blaise_Pascal. Speaking of DI, this guy was truly interesting. He was a 16th century French mathematician, physicist, philosopher and, yes, Christian…. It was Pascal that first uttered the following: "Belief is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He exists.""

http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/wager.html


sulkykid
Posted 25 April 2007 at 09:35 am

Hyperjon said: "... If you put a chart on the wall showing the decline of Christianity and then a second line showing the decline of morals, values and ethics in the country, a funny thing will happen: they'll line up. ..."

Please cite sources and statistics so we can make these charts. Maybe we can do charts for Buddist countries, Muslim countries, and Hindu countries, to see which religion really is most moral and ethical.


HiEv
Posted 25 April 2007 at 05:14 pm

Hyperjon said: "… If you put a chart on the wall showing the decline of Christianity and then a second line showing the decline of morals, values and ethics in the country, a funny thing will happen: they'll line up. …"


sulkykid said: "Please cite sources and statistics so we can make these charts. Maybe we can do charts for Buddist countries, Muslim countries, and Hindu countries, to see which religion really is most moral and ethical."

He's not actually telling the truth, he's just saying what he wants to believe is true.

If you want an actual study, start with this one:

Journal of Religion & Society: Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies (2005)
http://moses.creighton.edu/jrs/2005/2005-11.html

One can see that of the countries surveyed, the US and Portugal have the two highest percentages of people who believe in God, but they also have the highest rates of homicides and child mortality (here notes that those who maintained religious involvement from childhood to adulthood had more sexual offense convictions, more victims, and younger victims, than those who were less religious. Other studies have shown that conservative Christians have a significantly higher rate of divorce than atheists or agnostics. See here:

ReligiousTolerance.org: U.S. divorce rates for various faith groups, age groups, & geographic areas
http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_dira.htm

I've also seen statistics before that show that there is a smaller ratio of atheists and agnostics in prisons than in the rest of society, indicating that they were actually less likely to commit crimes than the religious, but I cannot find those statistics right now. See also:

Creationism versus Science: Atheist Morality: Crime and Divorce
http://www.creationtheory.org/Morality/CrimeAndDivorce.shtml

Still, I guess it all depends how you define your "morals, values, and ethics." At the time when the Inquisition was putting "heretics" to death for not believing in Christianity, most Christians defined that persecution as "moral." Saying someone who isn't in your religion is less moral is easy if simply not being a part of your religion automatically makes them less moral.

P.S. To misanthrope: You're welcome, it's a good website. :-)


HiEv
Posted 25 April 2007 at 05:19 pm

(Sorry for the double-post here, but a less-than sign screwed up the first post, even though it looked fine in the preview. Please ignore the previous copy.)

Hyperjon said: "… If you put a chart on the wall showing the decline of Christianity and then a second line showing the decline of morals, values and ethics in the country, a funny thing will happen: they'll line up. …"

sulkykid said: "Please cite sources and statistics so we can make these charts. Maybe we can do charts for Buddist countries, Muslim countries, and Hindu countries, to see which religion really is most moral and ethical."

He's not actually telling the truth, he's just saying what he wants to believe is true.

If you want an actual study, start with this one:

Journal of Religion & Society: Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies (2005)
http://moses.creighton.edu/jrs/2005/2005-11.html

One can see that of the countries surveyed, the US and Portugal have the two highest percentages of people who believe in God, but they also have the highest rates of homicides and child mortality (less than 5 yo), and are among the lowest life expectancies. Conversely, Japan has the lowest percentage of people who believe in God, and it is among the lowest homicide rates and child mortality, and has the highest life expectancy. Obviously there are other factors involved, but the homicide statistics certainly seem to contradict Hyperjon's assertions.

Another study mentioned here notes that those who maintained religious involvement from childhood to adulthood had more sexual offense convictions, more victims, and younger victims, than those who were less religious. Other studies have shown that conservative Christians have a significantly higher rate of divorce than atheists or agnostics. See here:

ReligiousTolerance.org: U.S. divorce rates for various faith groups, age groups, & geographic areas
http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_dira.htm

I've also seen statistics before that show that there is a smaller ratio of atheists and agnostics in prisons than in the rest of society, indicating that they were actually less likely to commit crimes than the religious, but I cannot find those statistics right now. See also:

Creationism versus Science: Atheist Morality: Crime and Divorce
http://www.creationtheory.org/Morality/CrimeAndDivorce.shtml

Still, I guess it all depends how you define your "morals, values, and ethics." At the time when the Inquisition was putting "heretics" to death for not believing in Christianity, most Christians defined that persecution as "moral." Saying someone who isn't in your religion is less moral is easy if simply not being a part of your religion automatically makes them less moral.

P.S. To misanthrope: You're welcome, it's a good website. :-)


HiEv
Posted 25 April 2007 at 08:05 pm

Hyperjon said: "But it sure took forever to hear you admit it."

Nice spin. I didn't bring it up earlier for the same reason I haven't brought up a million other things earlier, I didn't think it was relevant or necessary. Please stop asking like people are afraid to admit this, they aren't.

Hyperjon said: "Are you kidding me? Popular culture and politics are rife with it. How many television shows and movies (especially science fiction - which i love) do we see every week that takes the theory of evolution (and all other current theories) and treats them as absolute fact?"

LOL. I challenge you to produce a single individual who "take science hypothesis and theory as irrefutable fact" and you refer me to fiction? And you don't name even one specific example? TV and movies aren't reality. Don't you find it odd that you can't seem to name one real person who actually believes that?

Hyperjon said: "Our culture has become so enveloped in naturalism and secularism that it's a testament to God himself that any Christians even still believe."

Then it must be a testament to Vishnu that any Hindus even still believe. And a testament to Raël that any Raëlians still believe. ;-) In other words, believers do not equal evidence of what they believe.

HiEv said: "That aside, while science is not perfect, it's most certainly the best method we've ever found for understanding our universe. If you have a better method, let's hear it."

Hyperjon said: "I do. And you have heard it. You rejected it, though because it can't be proven."

All you've described is faith and subjective experience, and they are a notoriously flawed method for understanding our universe.

Hyperjon said: "But the funny thing is - you're willing to accept a big bang theory that has not be proven. You're willing to accept a theory of evolution that has not been proven. And you're more than willing to dismiss all of the evidence that points to a God along with everyone else that shares that belief - all because it also cannot be proven."

I really wish you'd quit telling me what I'd be willing to believe, you aren't very good at it. Honestly, I'm still not too sure about the exact origin of the universe, but I'm not the kind of person who substitutes "I don't know" for "goddidit" as an explanation. Still, I go where the evidence and the strongest theories point. Evolution, is both a fact and a theory. Evolution has been demonstrated in numerous ways, such as in fruit fly and flatworm breeding studies to evolve longer lived organisms. Scientifically speaking, evolution is one of the most well supported theories we have. On the other hand, there is no objective evidence that I've ever seen that supports the existence of any god that is not better explained with a materialistic explanation. I try to make sure my acceptance of things is based on evidence, regardless of what I want to believe is true.

Hyperjon said: "But science is not winning because it has a better idea. And it's certainly not winning because it offers a better way of life. If you put a chart on the wall showing the decline of Christianity and then a second line showing the decline of morals, values and ethics in the country, a funny thing will happen: they'll line up."

Actually, science absolutely has a better idea, at least in the arena of finding the truth, and I'd say that's exactly why it is winning. No other method has so rapidly advanced our understanding of the world around us. Also, one can apply the methods of science to determine what things bring about a better way of life. Medicine is just one way it has already done so, but it's methods can be applied to sociology as well. And when you do so, you discover that religion and morals don't line up like you claim above. In fact, as I pointed out in my other post, religion and morality apparently have an inverse relationship when it comes to homicides and sexual offenses. Further scientific study is required though to determine exactly what the relationship is between religion and criminal behavior.

Hyperjon said: "We wonder why we have Columbines and VA Tech shootings. Eh, it couldn't be the decline of Christianity, though. We're way too enlightened to believe that."

Right. And 9/11 wasn't inspired by religion at all I suppose? ;-) Don't forget, the VA Tech shooter likened himself to Christ. "I die like Jesus Christ, to inspire generations of the weak and defenseless people." - Cho Seung Hui. Funny how you blame his rampage on the decline of Christianity, when he was clearly a Christian and, if Australia is any guide, the real problem appears to be weak gun control laws in the US.

Blame the non-religious if it makes you feel better, we're used to being made scapegoats, but that's certainly not a rational or objectively supported claim.

Hyperjon said: "It was Pascal that first uttered the following: "Belief is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He exists.""

This has to be around the 100th time I've had some form of Pascal's Wager thrown in my face, and it's no more valid an argument now than it was the first time I heard it. Please do read the "Criticisms of Pascal's wager" section of that Wikipedia page I just linked to. You will note that Pascal's Wager never specifies which god, it just assumes the Christian God (along with several other poor assumptions.) However, if you pick the wrong god, and he/she/it happens to be a jealous one, then you've screwed yourself. If you don't pick, then you might be safe in that case. But I could also make the "Gremlin Wager" where I say that if you believe in gremlins then they'll be less likely to harm you, so it's best to believe in gremlins just in case I'm right. You can see where that kind of illogical thinking leads.

If you want to convince people, provide objective evidence, not shoddy philosophy and wishful thinking.


Random5
Posted 26 April 2007 at 01:19 am

What really gets me about religion is that the believers are critical of every other religion, witchcraft, UFOs and so on, but not their own.

For the followers:
Do you believe in the god described by your religion?
Do you agree with the entirety of your religious texts?
Have you read the religious texts of any other religion?
Have you tried praying to the god of another religion to see if you experiences the same feeling of the presence of a god?

Or all wrapped into one: WHY is every follower of every other religion wrong about their god/s and what makes you right?
I bet it will come down to your feelings, and confirmation bias of chance occurrences. Your feelings? Heh, when people pray they feel god. When people watch horror movies they feel that there's someone there in the dark room.


misanthrope
Posted 26 April 2007 at 07:24 am

Random5: Or as Stephen Roberts put it: "I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."


SweetViolet
Posted 28 April 2007 at 01:04 am

The article was DI.

Most of the comments were not.


sulkykid
Posted 28 April 2007 at 06:31 am

SweetViolet said: "The article was DI.


Most of the comments were not."

An insults are?


danwseers
Posted 29 April 2007 at 10:07 am

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

yawn


Skytree
Posted 02 May 2007 at 04:28 pm

misanthrope said: "Puthoff and Targ ("The Laurel and Hardy of PSI") were big admirers/believers before they even started, and I'd be willing to bet there's a lot bigger proportion of tests that weren't double-blind than you imply.

This is incorrect. In Puthoff and Targ's book "Mind Reach", first published in 1977, they implicitly state that they were neither "big admirers" nor "believers", and were skeptical of Geller at the onset of the Stanford experiements. The double-blind nature of these experiments, if you have read the entirety of the above text, was extremely well developed and adhered to throughout all processes.

Puthoff and Targ were never able to sufficiently demonstrate true psychokenetic ability, via Geller or any other supposed "psychic". The experiment noted in the article, involving a scale, bell jar, and metal weight, did produce "intriguing" results, but ultimately was inconclusive.

What was conclusive, however, were more indirect experiments primarily involving "remote viewing". According to the findings of the Stanford Research Institute, every individual tested (psychic and non-psychic alike) was able to sufficiently demonstrate remote viewing ability, within an extremely significant probability. After viewing the various data sheets from these experiments, I've concluded that remote viewing is a genuine phenomenon. Often, the statistical significance in favor of remote viewing was in excess of 20,000:1, and seldom dipped below 100:1.


binx
Posted 08 May 2007 at 10:22 am

It is fun to think that there is something mysterious out there just waiting to be discovered. I think the arguments made here by the readers are DI, and seemed heated, did any of your cups dance?


Bedrock
Posted 20 May 2007 at 01:37 am

Hey, if you want to know something interesting, I can tell you about how a diviner/sorcerer was messing with me. It includes telepathy, brainwashing, and telling the future. Whatever is true, I know firsthand that there are spiritual powers. It isn't as interesting to others as it is to me because all the cool yet very unpleasant stuff didn't happen to them, but I'd still like to talk about it some. And if you want religious proof you can buy the movie Mountain of Fire from http://www.baseinstitute.com and check out the Rock of Horeb.


Rockadilly
Posted 21 May 2007 at 07:46 am

HiEv said: "If I have a card that is black on one side and white on the other, it is both black and white"{/quote]


HiEv you seem to miss radiatidon’s point either purposefully or otherwise. Your conversation reminds me of an adult and a child. The little one points to various animals, Zebra, donkey, mule, horse, deer, elk, and so forth. Each time the child will say “Pony!” and the adult will try and correct the child to no avail. Though the more experienced adult knows that there is a difference the less experienced child knows without a doubt that any and all these animals are foremost a pony. Mate not everything is black and white like your card example except to the simple mind of a child.


darkbhudda
Posted 29 May 2007 at 01:11 am

Most of these so called double blind studies are easy to replicate. Get someone to think of a tool, most people will think of a red hammer. Same thing with cars. Get someone to think of a symbol on a card, most people think of a star. Think of the symbol of a face, most people will think of a happy face. It's easy to pick objects and colours most people associate together.

The drawings would easily be replicated with:
Think of a flying object.
Think of a face, what expression does it have?
Think of a moving vehicle.


imahoe
Posted 29 May 2007 at 09:32 am

mikayla is not the bomb im the bomb u hoe...

everyone loves me IM A HOE
=]]]
HOE HOE HOE
..what did santa say to the 3 blonde's.?
HOE hOE hOe


imahoe
Posted 29 May 2007 at 09:34 am

fish monkeys are the bomb i guess...? what is a fish monkey...? huh.? idk blahblhablah im bored and have to PEEE like a mo-fo u be-ouch


imahoe
Posted 29 May 2007 at 09:35 am

/ i sdjfhlhfuisdhhdbjf jklxshcuilsf sildug uhiurehuihifuddjilsiluthuiwerhuruururururil h audno;herohtuiaehu erhaoperuoepasou (Tiffany is a hoe and smokes pot)uohgeruohoprzheaytoueepruat9uh4ouiperjiopnjuwerdijfaghihyugiodbilabioehibijrnhijfiaushfijhifuehfjsdbfjhaweuhgfioesdnv;jnsdopauthrsdihnfjohosdjhaosdhopghsophmnvjodanoejoggg


JoshDestardi
Posted 24 October 2007 at 01:53 pm

Radiatidon said: "Mathematical model based on various aspects of the wing structure, frequency of oscillation of the wing beat pattern, micro structure flaws in construct of wing material, fiber attachment to body mainframe including muscular.

Hypothesis derived from mathematical model created from various facts and observations during experiment.

Advanced Physics College course.

What makes you think it has to be either one or the other?”

So you have developed a theory of your own? Upon what hypothesis can you base your knowledge of this? For year’s scientist have debated on just what the basic nature of light is, either a wave or a particle. Having experience working with light, lasers, and other electromagnetic frequencies plus performing the various experiments that shows light works as both a wave and a particle.

Follow this link as it discusses the basic aspects of light — http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/mod1.html

Advanced Laser, Optics, and electromagnetic College courses.

No, ever since Quantum Physics was let out of the closet the scientific community has been trying to explain it.

What I was pointing out is that your quote that "Scientific theories are logical, consistent, and make testable predictions." is a flawed and incorrect statement. Science is not perfect and experiments performed in the same manner in the best-controlled environments can, and do provide different results.

As far as “where did I read that”, well, my wall is covered with pretty documents outlining my degrees. My knowledge base has been used and requested by various industrial entities including NASA, DOD, and DOE, not to mention that I have been offered employment by various foreign entities."

You might have lots of pretty wall"paper", but you're not staying current with them:
How do bees fly, indeed.

http://mr.caltech.edu/media/Press_Releases/PR12772.html


Radiatidon
Posted 25 October 2007 at 02:25 pm

JoshDestardi said: "You might have lots of pretty wall"paper", but you're not staying current with them:

How do bees fly, indeed.

http://mr.caltech.edu/media/Press_Releases/PR12772.html"

Um... did you try reading comment #87?


HiEv
Posted 25 October 2007 at 11:49 pm

HiEv said: "If I have a card that is black on one side and white on the other, it is both black and white"
Rockadilly said: "HiEv you seem to miss radiatidon's point either purposefully or otherwise. Your conversation reminds me of an adult and a child. The little one points to various animals, Zebra, donkey, mule, horse, deer, elk, and so forth. Each time the child will say “Pony!” and the adult will try and correct the child to no avail. Though the more experienced adult knows that there is a difference the less experienced child knows without a doubt that any and all these animals are foremost a pony. Mate not everything is black and white like your card example except to the simple mind of a child."

So, rather than presenting an argument showing how I'm wrong, you just try to belittle me? Sorry, but I never once claimed that everything is black and white, so you can take your strawman arguments and empty insults elsewhere.

I was just using that as an analogy for light, as I said above, "Light may act as a particle in one situation and a wave in another, just as the card may look black in one situation and white in another." There is nothing "childish" about my insistence that light exists as both a particle and a wave, because my reasoning is based in science, not stubbornness.


Yardvark
Posted 18 December 2007 at 11:36 am

maguffin said: "All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand."

Hoo-hah! High-end funny.


somethingawful
Posted 29 June 2008 at 02:11 pm

maguffin said: "All those who believe in telekinesis, raise my hand."

I just did.


wayno@oz
Posted 04 March 2009 at 06:37 pm

Im able to move large leaf plants in a controlled setting i.e. closed room, no wind. I do this by tensing my hand and then slwly moving the hand too and away from the leaf, all the while not touching it. After a few seconds the leaf moves in unison with the hand. I have considered air thrust from the movement of my hand but as the leaf is large i just dont see how the miniscule amount of air thrust my hand would create can affectthe leaf to such a degree. Also, if i dont tense my hand nothing happens. I was shown this trick (i consider it to be just that) by an old hippie. She coudnt explain why it happens but gave me a spiel about earthforce, lifeforce and some other B.S. As you can guess im a skeptic but as i am able to do this on almost every occasion i try and all witnessess can confirm i never touched the leaf and no amount of wind was sensed im a little confused by it all. Is it something to do with an electrical current produced when i tense my hand? or is it really a form of physcokintec power? Any info would be great!


Mirage_GSM
Posted 05 March 2009 at 09:09 am

My first idea would be electrostatic energy from thick carpets or something similar.
You could start scientific testing by having your witnesses trying it themselves, then noting who is able to replicate the effect and who isn't; then examining the differences between the two groups (synthetic clothing, etc.)
Then move on to testing with other kinds of plants.
Or simply wait until someone here presents you with the explanation ;-)


END OF COMMENTS
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