X-Message-Number: 18098
Date: Thu, 6 Dec 2001 10:04:49 -0800 (PST)
From: Scott Badger <>
Subject: Re: CryoNet #18084 - #18092

To Wm Henderson:

Yes, science's way of "knowing" (loose term) involves
repeatedly testing hypotheses. A theory isn't
considered valid unless the outcomes are sufficiently
reliable. Why so much emphasis on reliability and
repeatability? One word ... "Variance". Quite simply,
we humans often make errors in our perception, errors
in our interpretation, and errors in our communication
regarding the world around us. Even when someone calls
her/himself a scientist and attempts to use controls
and sound statistical procedures to investigate a
phenomenon, other scientists are duty bound to be
skeptical and vigilant for mistakes in methodology,
interpretation, or conclusions.

George Smith gives us a good example.

George Smith (Hi George!) wrote:

>So the evidence DOES exist.

>Though "rare."

>How very interesting.

>I understand it only requires ONE white crow to prove
>that not all crows are black.

I believe the essential point here is "How sure are we
that there really was a white crow? and if the crow
does appear to be white, what is the most reasonable
and parsimonious explanation for it's existence?" 

Besides, science would never say that all crows are
black. Absolutes are unwise. Just read scientific
literature and you can soon become annoyed with the
repeated use of words like "seems", "may", and

I also don't think of science as being contemptuous of
the efforts of others working outside the domain of
science although "individuals" in science may do so at
times. But science can't, for example, state that
there's no such thing as telepathy. Proving that
something doesn't exist simply isn't possible. Science
does, however, advise against jumping to conclusions.

To stretch George's example a bit, consider near death
experiences (and I really hope a thread doens't start
here on this topic - please email me privately if you
must respond - this is just an axample). My readings
suggest that about 25% of those who deanimate and are
then resuscitated subsequently report one or more
attributes of an NDE. So we are left to wonder:

Do 3/4 of these people forget their ND experiences?
Do 3/4 have NDEs but refuse to report them?
Do 1/4 misinterpret their perceptions?
Do only 1/4 have the capacity to experience NDE's?

How do we figure out the truth here? 

Well, we can't. I try not to have an opinion on such
matters because of the ambiguity, but many tend to
have the need to form opinions on things (i.e.
cognitive closure). This includes scientists and
non-scientists. Some may accept the validity of NDE's
because they believe it supports their other beliefs
(e.g. the existence of an afterlife). I find it
interesting that those who claim to rely on faith
often try to point to evidence which they believe
supports their faith. If they found enough evidence,
it couldn't really be called faith anymore, could it?

As for telepathy, I'd actually like to see scientists
take a greater interest in it but that's unlikely for
the foreseeable future. But this isn't due to the
nature of science, it's due to the culture of the
humans doing science. I know the military showed some
interest in remote sensing at least. Better not let
them know about your abilities, William.  :-)

Best regards,

Scott Badger

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