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ShadowOfLight
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Scientific Psychic fundamentals
09/16/10 at 05:14:35
 
Scientific Psychic fundamentals

The word "psychic" is synonymous with "mental" and is also used to refer to a person who is apparently sensitive to nonphysical forces. Psychic science is a broad subject that includes occultism, mysticism, metaphysics, parapsychology, and consciousness. It is not considered a "hard science" and sometimes not even a "science" by many scientists because almost nothing that it covers is verifiable, observable, or reproducible. Yet there are many believers and practitioners in these subjects. Are they all wrong or is this something beyond the reach of our technology?

It is certainly true, that as science has advanced, old beliefs have fallen by the wayside. Even though the earth looks flat, we no longer think of it as flat. We may verify this in a couple of days by flying eastward around the globe to get to our original destination. In the last 500 years, science has systematically expanded its frontiers into the furthest reaches of the universe to offer reproducible and verifiable answers to many of mankind's questions. Yet many questions remain. It is only within the last few years that methods have been devised for visualizing the functions of the brain at work. These studies have already had a significant impact in determining the locations in the brain where specific functions are carried out. But this knowledge is at a very general level. Although we may know that a specific portion on the left side of the brain is associated with language processing, it is still not known what happens within this part of the brain in detail. We may never be able to completely determine this because like every fingerprint, each brain is unique, and what is true for one person may not be so for another. The technology used to study the brain is sometimes used to make life or death decisions. Doctors use electroencephalograms, for example, to determine whether a person in a coma is "brain dead" before turning off life support systems.

It is no secret that modern society thinks of psychics as slightly crazy or less than normal. Reputable scientists have expressed dismay at the growing trend in pseudo-science, mysticism and magic. Scientists deride accounts of astrological predictions, extraterrestrial UFOs, remote cutlery warping, spiritualism, and the doctrine of special creation of man by God because of the lack of any credible objective or experimental evidence. Neither scientists not the general public are ready to accept the hearing of voices or the seeing of visions as a desirable skill comparable to the ability to solve mathematical problems. Carl Jung, who was one of the fathers of analytical psychology and who had great interest in the paranormal, wrote his doctoral thesis "On the Psychology and Pathology of So-Called Occult Phenomena". In general, people who claim to have paranormal powers are treated not as prophets or seers, but as deranged individuals in need of psychotherapy or medical treatment. Many of these individuals, when given medication, change and become "normal". Drug therapy has become a way of dealing with bipolar disorder, depression, and many other mental problems or discomforts.

The fact that science and scientific philosophy have had great impact on our society fails to explain why psychic hot lines have become so popular in the United States and in many other countries. Obviously, there are a lot of people who would like to believe that someone else can look into their future and give them worthwhile advice. Are these psychics only interested in exploiting gullible individuals, or do they have any genuine insights to offer? The problem that psychics have always had is one of communication and credibility. Since psychic experiences occur within the mind of the psychic, other people have to rely on the psychic's own statements for the revelations, insights, predictions, etc. Nothing can be verified. Believing anything that a psychic predicts is an act of faith. But what if a psychic's predictions come true? Is this proof? Some researchers in parapsychology are making an honest effort to find out if there is any verifiable evidence. They have the gruesome task of screening the crazies and charlatans from the "normal" people who report psychic experiences or psychic "powers". One account indicates that 60% of psychic experiences occur in dreams, 30% are waking impressions and a portion of the remainder appear as hallucinations such as seeing visions or hearing voices that appear to be real.

What is a psychic? Traditionally, a psychic is a person who has extraordinary extrasensory and nonphysical mental processes. These mental processes may include clairvoyance, synchrony, dreams, déjà vu, healing, empathy, telekinesis, telepathy, and spiritualism.

   * Clairvoyance comes from the French meaning "clear seeing" and is sometimes used as a synonym for psychic or remote viewing. However, clairvoyance is usually considered being able to tell what is happening in a remote place at the present time, rather than being able to see into the future. Remote viewing is supposed to access subconscious and universal mind information in space and time so that present, past, and future events are revealed.
   * Synchrony is an experience that happens at the same time that we are thinking it or talking about it.
   * Dreams have been believed to foretell portentous events since the dawn of man. Because dreams are often obscure in meaning, psychics (and psychiatrists) often try to interpret their meaning.
   * Déjà vu, French for "already seen", is the experience of feeling that something that we are experiencing has happened before. Such feelings are often interpreted as evidence of reincarnation and experiences in previous lives.
   * Healing is the ability to cure or improve manifestations of illness.
   * Empathy is being able to feel and share the moods and pain of other people as if they were your own.
   * Telekinesis is the ability to move or be able to affect the behavior of objects from a distance.
   * Telepathy is the ability to communicate thoughts from a distance with another person.
   * Spiritualism is the ability to communicate with "spirits" of dead persons.

What is a scientific psychic? A scientific psychic would be a person who explores psychic phenomena using scientific methodology to discard the verifiably false and explore the potentially possible. A scientific psychic would seek to use the laws of science as an explanation for any phenomena that fall within the scope of the scientific method and to critically study phenomena beyond those boundaries using subjective criteria. This would require the systematic application of perception, logic, imagination, intuition, an incorruptible standard of honesty, and proofs than that can be independently verified by documentary evidence.

Rules for Psychics.

How many times have you heard the claim "I predicted that." and wondered whether it was true or not? Was a prediction done really ahead of the event, or was the claim of the correct prediction only stated after the event? Ex post facto revelations are not predictions. Texts on social psychology define "hindsight bias" as a common mental error that many individuals make when they think that they could have predicted something after it has already happened.

   * Rule Number 1: All predictions must be recorded in ink, dated, and notarized or published to prevent false claims.

There are also trivial predictions. "Sales in your store will increase dramatically" is a trivial prediction just ahead of the Christmas season. It is common knowledge that the Christmas season accounts for almost 25% of sales of many businesses. "You will hear from an old friend", is almost guaranteed to happen just before your birthday. "You will overcome a conflict with your boss" could almost be a routine prediction for anybody who is not self-employed. In any conflict with the boss, you will think of your mortgage, of your children, of your debts, and if you are not antagonistic enough, you will not get fired and the conflict will be resolved; you will yield. "An earthquake will shake San Francisco this year", is also a very safe prediction, knowing that San Francisco is along the very active San Andrea's Fault and not stating the magnitude of the earthquake. Trivial predictions are those that have a large probability of happening or those that list all possible outcomes. "When I flip this coin, it will either show heads or tails" covers all the possible outcomes, except for the very small possibility of the coin landing on its edge.

   * Rule Number 2: Predictions should be as specific as possible, should not be trivial, and should not be subject to interpretation.

Any parlor tricks involving manipulation of objects, use of assistants, concealed magnets, cameras, strings, microphones, loudspeakers, etc. do not validate psychic abilities. Time and time again, so-called "psychics" have resorted to the use of these methods for bending keys, guessing cards, eavesdropping on conversations, or gathering information that is very impressive when presented to unsuspecting persons, but none of these techniques remotely qualify as "psychic". The use of instrumentation to gather data is valid, but to claim that the knowledge is from "psychic" abilities is false. Telekinesis falls into this category. In a later chapter we will examine the amount of energy that can be generated by the human brain and show that it is not enough to physically move anything of substance. Some individuals sometimes think that they have control over events when coincidence is interpreted as correlation, which is in reality an illusory correlation. Telepathy is doubly suspect. Not only is the energy generated by the brain minuscule, but also, any "thought waves", whose existence has never been demonstrated, would have to be decoded by another person with completely different brain structure. Spiritualism and communication with the dead are even more incredible than telepathy. At least in telepathy there are two live persons with working brains trying to send messages to each other, but how can a cadaver that has decomposed and has no functioning structures send or receive a message? Spiritualism requires the belief in "spirits" which exist independently of the physical body and whose existence cannot be proved objectively. Even though the dead may not be able to send messages, it does not mean that we are not influenced by people who have been dead for a long time. Our society and technology is built upon the ideas of our ancestors, and the ideas and philosophies of people such as Moses, Aristotle, Euclid, and Jesus are a part of our daily lives today. You can talk to the dead, but the dead cannot talk back.

   * Rule Number 3: Parlor tricks are not permitted.

Along with these three rules we need a system for keeping score. We need to come back after some time to each prediction and evaluate to see if it was fulfilled. Here is where Rule Number 2 is very useful. If the prediction was very vague, it may be possible to say that it was fulfilled, when indeed it was not. A prediction that does not specify time limits or quantitative detail has a greater chance of being fulfilled. Vague predictions generally need to be interpreted, and the interpretations may be influenced by events that happened after the predictions. Nostradamus in the 16th century was very clever at making very enigmatic predictions that a lot of people have interpreted as having come true. However, Nostradamus wrote figuratively, so it has never been clear what he was predicting. It has always been necessary to "interpret" what he wrote, but it will never be clear whether the interpretations associated by other people with Nostradamus' predictions really coincide or are ex post facto adaptations.

   * Rule Number 4: All predictions must be tallied.


In order to get a fair estimate of predictive ability, all predictions whether correct or incorrect must be tallied. It would be biased to only count correct predictions whether you are guessing coin tosses or Oscar nominees three years in advance.


More to follow...  please forgive as this is rather lengthy...
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ShadowOfLight
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Re: Scientific Psychic fundamentals
Reply #1 - 09/16/10 at 05:17:50
 
Anatomy and Structure of Human Sense Organs

As far back as the 1760's, the famous philosopher Immanuel Kant proposed that our knowledge of the outside world depends on our modes of perception. In order to define what is "extrasensory" we need to define what is "sensory". Traditionally, there are five senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing. Each of the senses consists of specialized cells that have receptors for specific stimuli. These cells have links to the nervous system and thus to the brain. Sensing is done at primitive levels in the cells and integrated into sensations in the nervous system. Sight is probably the most developed sense in humans, followed closely by hearing.

...

Sight.

The eye is the organ of vision. It has a complex structure consisting of a transparent lens that focuses light on the retina. The retina is covered with two basic types of light-sensitive cells-rods and cones. The cone cells are sensitive to color and are located in the part of the retina called the fovea, where the light is focused by the lens. The rod cells are not sensitive to color, but have greater sensitivity to light than the cone cells. These cells are located around the fovea and are responsible for peripheral vision and night vision. The eye is connected to the brain through the optic nerve. The point of this connection is called the "blind spot" because it is insensitive to light. Experiments have shown that the back of the brain maps the visual input from the eyes.

The brain combines the input of our two eyes into a single three-dimensional image. In addition, even though the image on the retina is upside-down because of the focusing action of the lens, the brain compensates and provides the right-side-up perception. Experiments have been done with subjects fitted with prisms that invert the images. The subjects go through an initial period of great confusion, but subsequently they perceive the images as right side up.

The range of perception of the eye is phenomenal. In the dark, a substance produced by the rod cells increases the sensitivity of the eye so that it is possible to detect very dim light. In strong light, the iris contracts reducing the size of the aperture that admits light into the eye and a protective obscure substance reduces the exposure of the light-sensitive cells. The spectrum of light to which the eye is sensitive varies from the red to the violet. Lower electromagnetic frequencies in the infrared are sensed as heat, but cannot be seen. Higher frequencies in the ultraviolet and beyond cannot be seen either, but can be sensed as tingling of the skin or eyes depending on the frequency. The human eye is not sensitive to the polarization of light, i.e., light that oscillates on a specific plane. Bees, on the other hand, are sensitive to polarized light, and have a visual range that extends into the ultraviolet. Some kinds of snakes have special infrared sensors that enable them to hunt in absolute darkness using only the heat emitted by their prey. Birds have a higher density of light-sensing cells than humans do in their retinas, and therefore, higher visual acuity.

Color blindness or "Daltonism" is a common abnormality in human vision that makes it impossible to differentiate colors accurately. One type of color blindness results in the inability to distinguish red from green. This can be a real handicap for certain types of occupations. To a colorblind person, a person with normal color vision would appear to have extrasensory perception. However, we want to reserve the term "extrasensory perception" for perception that is beyond the range of the normal.


...

Hearing.

The ear is the organ of hearing. The outer ear protrudes away from the head and is shaped like a cup to direct sounds toward the tympanic membrane, which transmits vibrations to the inner ear through a series of small bones in the middle ear called the malleus, incus and stapes. The inner ear, or cochlea, is a spiral-shaped chamber covered internally by nerve fibers that react to the vibrations and transmit impulses to the brain via the auditory nerve. The brain combines the input of our two ears to determine the direction and distance of sounds.

The inner ear has a vestibular system formed by three semicircular canals that are approximately at right angles to each other and which are responsible for the sense of balance and spatial orientation. The inner ear has chambers filled with a viscous fluid and small particles (otoliths) containing calcium carbonate. The movement of these particles over small hair cells in the inner ear sends signals to the brain that are interpreted as motion and acceleration.

The human ear can perceive frequencies from 16 cycles per second, which is a very deep bass, to 28,000 cycles per second, which is a very high pitch. Bats and dolphins can detect frequencies higher than 100,000 cycles per second. The human ear can detect pitch changes as small as 3 hundredths of one percent of the original frequency in some frequency ranges. Some people have "perfect pitch", which is the ability to map a tone precisely on the musical scale without reference to an external standard. It is estimated that less than one in ten thousand people have perfect pitch, but speakers of tonal languages like Vietnamese and Mandarin show remarkably precise absolute pitch in reading out lists of words because pitch is an essential feature in conveying the meaning of words in tone languages. The Eguchi Method teaches perfect pitch to children starting before they are 4 years old. After age 7, the ability to recognize notes does not improve much.


...

Taste.

The receptors for taste, called taste buds, are situated chiefly in the tongue, but they are also located in the roof of the mouth and near the pharynx. They are able to detect four basic tastes: salty, sweet, bitter, and sour. The tongue also can detect a sensation called "umami" from taste receptors sensitive to amino acids. Generally, the taste buds close to the tip of the tongue are sensitive to sweet tastes, whereas those in the back of the tongue are sensitive to bitter tastes. The taste buds on top and on the side of the tongue are sensitive to salty and sour tastes. At the base of each taste bud there is a nerve that sends the sensations to the brain. The sense of taste functions in coordination with the sense of smell. The number of taste buds varies substantially from individual to individual, but greater numbers increase sensitivity. Women, in general, have a greater number of taste buds than men. As in the case of color blindness, some people are insensitive to some tastes.

...

Smell.

The nose is the organ responsible for the sense of smell. The cavity of the nose is lined with mucous membranes that have smell receptors connected to the olfactory nerve. The smells themselves consist of vapors of various substances. The smell receptors interact with the molecules of these vapors and transmit the sensations to the brain. The nose also has a structure called the vomeronasal organ whose function has not been determined, but which is suspected of being sensitive to pheromones that influence the reproductive cycle. The smell receptors are sensitive to seven types of sensations that can be characterized as camphor, musk, flower, mint, ether, acrid, or putrid. The sense of smell is sometimes temporarily lost when a person has a cold. Dogs have a sense of smell that is many times more sensitive than man's.

...

Touch.

The sense of touch is distributed throughout the body. Nerve endings in the skin and other parts of the body transmit sensations to the brain. Some parts of the body have a larger number of nerve endings and, therefore, are more sensitive. Four kinds of touch sensations can be identified: cold, heat, contact, and pain. Hairs on the skin magnify the sensitivity and act as an early warning system for the body. The fingertips and the sexual organs have the greatest concentration of nerve endings. The sexual organs have "erogenous zones" that when stimulated start a series of endocrine reactions and motor responses resulting in orgasm.



Beyond our five senses.

In addition to sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing, humans also have awareness of balance, pressure, temperature, pain, and motion all of which may involve the coordinated use of multiple sensory organs. The sense of balance is maintained by a complex interaction of visual inputs, the proprioceptive sensors (which are affected by gravity and stretch sensors found in muscles, skin, and joints), the inner ear vestibular system, and the central nervous system. Disturbances occurring in any part of the balance system, or even within the brain's integration of inputs, can cause the feeling of dizziness or unsteadiness.

Kinesthesia is the precise awareness of muscle and joint movement that allows us to coordinate our muscles when we walk, talk, and use our hands. It is the sense of kinesthesia that enables us to touch the tip of our nose with our eyes closed or to know which part of the body we should scratch when we itch.


Synesthesia.

Some people experience a phenomenon called synesthesia in which one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another. For example, the hearing of a sound may result in the sensation of the visualization of a color, or a shape may be sensed as a smell. Synesthesia is hereditary and it is estimated that it occurs in 1 out of 1000 individuals with variations of type and intensity. The most common forms of synesthesia link numbers or letters with colors.


More to come... please forgive, but not quite as lengthy now as it was Grin
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Re: Scientific Psychic fundamentals
Reply #2 - 09/16/10 at 05:18:46
 
Inputs into the body.

If we look at the human body from an engineering point of view, we notice that it has many types of inputs and outputs. The traditional five senses process stimuli from outside the body, or exogenous signals. However, because the body is a very complex structure, there are also endogenous or internal signals that can be perceived by the senses. Many of these stimuli cannot be detected immediately, but only after they have had an effect on the body. Sometimes the effect of these stimuli is on the brain, and if this causes decreased mental function it may prevent us from becoming aware that we are affected.

Breathing.

The very act of breathing, which we have to do several times per minute, brings air into our lungs and whatever else is in the air. Our nose hairs filter out insects and some dust, but gases like carbon monoxide, vapors, smoke, pollens, bacteria, viruses, and small dust particles are carried into the lungs. The body has many self-cleansing mechanisms to keep the lungs clean, but constant exposure to air pollutants eventually take their toll on the lungs or other organs of the body. The tar and chemicals carried in the smoke of cigarettes has been linked to many types of respiratory disorders and nicotine has an addictive effect on the brain. Carbon monoxide produced by gasoline motors or charcoal fires in enclosed places interferes with the oxygen-carrying function of the blood and is responsible for many deaths each year. Paint solvents and gasoline fumes can damage the liver. Gases like nitrous oxide and vapors like ether affect the nervous system and are used as anesthetics.


Eating and drinking.

We have to eat and drink to sustain our life, but what we ingest can carry not only nutrients, but also substances that can adversely affect our health and mental processes. There are regions in the United States where there is a great prevalence of kidney stones that are associated with the hardness of the water. The "goiter belt" is another region where the soil has a deficiency of iodine that would result in thyroid gland problems were it not for iodized salt. Grain tainted with ergot fungus, which has an LSD component, has been theorized to have caused hallucinations responsible for the witch hunts in Salem, Massachusetts.

We cook foods to make them more digestible and to kill harmful microorganisms and parasites. However, cooking may decrease the nutritional value of the food and charring during grilling may create nitrosamines that have been associated with some cancers. Our mass markets require the preservation of food by the use of food additives. Many of these preservatives were discovered by analyzing foods, such as cheese, which don't readily spoil. Other food additives are only used to improve appearance, e.g., artificial colors. Not all additives are harmful, but some people prefer to buy "natural" or "organic" products because they do not want to eat residual pesticides used in agriculture. Some "natural" and "organic" products may be quite harmful. Opium, coca leaves, marijuana, and tobacco are all natural products with addictive or mind-altering properties. This does not mean that they may not have legitimate medical uses. Opium has been the source of morphine, which is a powerful pain killer.

Caffeine, which occurs naturally in coffee, tea, and chocolate, is a nervous system stimulant and also a diuretic. Large amounts of caffeine can cause tremors or shaking. Caffeine can be addictive for some people even in small amounts. It is not by coincidence that soft drink manufacturers use caffeine as an additive. If you drink more than one cup of coffee, tea, chocolate, or cola drink per day you may be addicted to caffeine. This can be easily verified by abstaining from caffeine-containing foods or drinks for a couple of days. Restlessness, sinus pressure, or headaches are common withdrawal symptoms.


Medicines and drugs.

Medicines and drugs may be administered orally, by injection, inhalation, etc. The purpose of medicines is to help the organism return to a healthy state. However, sometimes medicines are prescribed to maintain a "normal" state. Antibiotics fall into the first category. Once an infection has been eliminated, the medication can be stopped. Diabetes is in the second category. It is necessary to take insulin all your life in order to live normally. With the large number of drugs available, it is not surprising to find that some of them interact or interfere with each other. Some women on birth control pills have become pregnant while taking some types of antibiotics. Also, grapefruit has been found to elevate levels of some medicines to toxic levels.

"Recreational" or illegal drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and LSD are mind-altering drugs that affect the brain adversely, sometimes permanently. Certain non-prescription medicines, such as cough suppressant syrups with dextromethorphan, act on the brain and can dull thinking and creative abilities. "Ritualistic drugs", such as peyote, have hallucinogenic properties and are used in certain religious ceremonies. Alcohol is the most frequently abused mind-dulling drug. It acts as a brain intoxicant that reduces reaction times and impairs the motor functions of the body. Drugs used in psychiatry also modify the way in which the brain works. When used to treat depression or other debilitating mental conditions these drugs actually help to restore the normal functions of the brain, but generally not without side effects.


Skin absorption.

The skin acts as a protective barrier for the body, but it is not impervious. Many substances pass through the skin and can affect various organs of the body. When the skin is exposed to harsh chemicals, such as chlorine bleach or detergents, there may be just a local irritation or chemical burn. Organic solvents such as gasoline, mineral spirits, and dry cleaning fluids can be absorbed through the skin and reach toxic levels in the body. The liver is the organ most frequently damaged as it tries to detoxify these substances.


Radiation/Light.

Electromagnetic radiation can be good and it can be bad for the body. It depends on the type of the radiation and the duration of the exposure. Infrared radiation, which is low-frequency radiation, is felt as heat. Sitting by a fireplace or a pot-bellied stove on a cold winter night can feel comforting without any harmful effects. Excessive doses of infrared radiation can result in burns. Normal skin produces Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight for brief periods of time. When exposed for long periods of time, the skin reddens and becomes painful to the touch. Repeated exposure to sunlight stimulates the skin to produce a protective dark pigment called melanin. Chronic exposure to sunlight eventually breaks down the cellular structure of the skin and can result in wrinkling, cancerous melanomas, or other skin disorders.

The amount of light to which the body and eyes are exposed may affect the central nervous system. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that includes feelings of sadness, tiredness and cravings for carbohydrates. It is believed to be related to the decreased sunlight in winter and the release of melatonin. Melatonin is usually produced by the pineal gland at night and induces sleep. Besides sunlight, the body may also be exposed to moonlight, which is sunlight reflected off the moon. The light of the moon is weak, but it enabled early humans to have some nighttime activities before the invention of fire and artificial lighting. The word "lunatic" is derived from the Latin for "moon". At one time it was believed that the influence of the moon triggered mental disorders.

The use of artificial lighting has introduced some problems that did not exist before its invention. Some people are sensitive and can get headaches from the flickering of fluorescent lights. The flickering is particularly noticeable in the peripheral vision. Flashing images from television or strobe lights can also cause harmful effects to the nervous system and can trigger seizures. A Japanese television cartoon program that used flashing pictures to simulate an explosion sent several hundred children to the hospital with various neurological symptoms.

High-energy radiation such as ultraviolet light, X-rays, or Gamma rays can destroy cells. X-rays and Gamma rays have greater penetration than ultraviolet light and are used medically for diagnostic imaging and to burn tumors. Ultraviolet lights, also called "black" lights, are used in hospitals and grocery stores to kill bacteria, but sometimes they are misused for entertainment in bars or other dark places because ultraviolet light makes some substances fluoresce.

Cosmic rays, which are high-energy particles, normally do not penetrate the earth's atmosphere. However, astronauts have reported seeing flashes of light that have been attributed to the effects of cosmic rays either on the eyes or the visual cortex of the brain.


Sounds.

Our bodies respond to sounds in fairly mechanical ways. Sudden noises can cause a person to jump away from the noise, or turn the head in the direction of the noise. Soothing, rhythmic noises such as the sound of the sea, a gurgling brook, or the beating heart in a mother's breast are well known for their calming effects. Buzzing sounds close to the ears cause us to wave the hands by our ears as if to repel insects. Certain high-pitched noises such as scratching fingernails on a blackboard or the noise of a pencil on paper can "make your skin crawl", which is an erection of the hairs on the skin. Loud repeated noises can reduce the sensitivity of the ears and eventually cause hardness of hearing or even deafness. Boilermakers that used noisy riveting equipment were particularly prone to deafness as an occupational hazard. In the era of high-fidelity sound equipment with powerful amplifiers, many young people are losing their hearing by listening to music at very loud levels.


Bacteria and Viruses.

Bacteria and viruses come into the body principally through the eyes, the mouth, the skin, and the nose. Some bacteria actually have a beneficial effect. The "normal flora" that are found in the mouth release substances that prevent more harmful bacteria from getting established. Other bacteria aid in digestion or produce vitamins and nutrients that the body can use. Bread, yogurt, beer, wine, vinegar, and many types of cheeses are produced by using specific types of non-harmful yeasts, bacteria, or fungi.

Disease-causing bacteria release toxins that interfere with normal body processes. Viruses, which are much smaller than bacteria, work against the body by re-directing the synthesis of normal cell components into replication of the virus. The body tries to fend off bacteria and viruses by generating chemical antibodies and by increasing body temperature. Fever creates a more hostile environment for bacteria but can result in delirium and other forms of mental changes. Some diseases like rabies or polio attack directly the nervous system. Learn more about Bacteria and Viruses.


Insect bites and stings.

Insect bites and stings are unpleasant inputs to the human body. Insect stings inject toxins into the body that may elicit allergic reactions accompanied by nausea, pain, and swelling. The bite of the black widow spider is sometimes fatal. Some blood-sucking insects inject saliva at the point of the bite. Insect saliva may cause swelling and itching, but it may also carry bacteria or parasites. Bubonic plague, the so-called "black plague" of the middle ages, which is a bacterial disease, is transmitted by flea bites.


Parasites.

Parasites come into the body through many mechanisms. Inhale the dust of a soiled bed linen, and you may get pinworms. Take a dip in a lake or river and get schistosomiasis. Get bitten by a mosquito and get malaria or sleeping sickness. Hug your mother and get follicle mites. Eat uncooked pork and get trichinosis. Eat food contaminated with fecal matter and you may get roundworms. Roundworms generally inhabit the intestine, but because of their complex life cycle, sometimes they end up in other parts of the body, including the brain.


Magnetic fields.

We live immersed in the magnetic field of the earth. The human body is generally not affected and cannot detect this magnetic field. Homing pigeons, however, have been shown to use the earth's magnetic field as one means for returning home. In principle, however, the electrical activity of the nervous system could be affected by strong magnetic fields, and recent experiments suggest that magnetic fields may help to reduce certain kinds of pain.


Gravity.

Our sense of equilibrium in the gravitational field of the earth is provided by the semicircular canals in the ear. These canals are lined with filaments that are stimulated by calcium carbonate crystals suspended in a fluid. The rotation of the moon around the earth every 27 1/3 days creates tidal forces that affect many living organisms, but is not known to have a significant effect on humans. Some fish are known to spawn in the beach at high tide when the moon is full. The human menstruation cycle of approximately 28 days may be a legacy of our ancestral origins in the sea. See The Geologic and Biological Timeline of the Earth.


Air pressure.

We can sense changes in air pressure as pain or discomfort in our ears, sinuses or bones. The nerves surrounding the body cavities that contain enclosed pockets of air detect volume changes caused by external air pressure.


Endogenic inputs.

Endogenic inputs come from within the body to the brain. When we start exercising, carbon dioxide builds up in the body. This buildup acts as an endogenic signal for the heart and the lungs to work harder. When the level of glucose in the blood drops, we get hungry. Hunger, thirst, pain, fatigue, kinesthesia are all inputs to the brain from the body itself.

Some physiological cycles like menstruation may trigger feelings of fatigue, irritability, and depression as the hormone levels change. Exercise has been credited with stimulating the body to generate endorphins that create a feeling of well being. Emotions such as fear release adrenaline into the bloodstream, which triggers many systemic reactions. Several studies have found that what you think can affect your health. Constant worry can create stress that lowers the body's ability to fight diseases, whereas positive thoughts and laughter can actually improve your health.


Verbal inputs.

Verbal communication might have been included under sounds. However, the effect of verbal input on the mind is so different from that of the wind blowing or other noises encountered in nature that it is considered separately. Imagine that your boss calls you to his office and says something neutral like: "In two weeks we are having a meeting to discuss the progress of our new project". Your reaction may be one of anticipation or apathy. Not much is required from you except your participation. However, if the boss says something negative like: "You made several mistakes in your last report and I am very dissatisfied with your work". You may become angry or scared, your heart may start racing and you may want to justify what you did. Words have the power to make you laugh or the power to make you cry because they are not only sounds. Words have meanings that get to the root of your emotions.

Since ancient times words have had mystical power because they could represent objects, feelings, curses, etc. The word "abracadabra" was supposed to have magical powers against disease or disaster, and sometimes it was carried in an amulet. Prayers were more than just words; they provided a way of communicating with the deities.

Much can be deduced about the state of mind of a speaker from their speech. The tone of the voice can convey authority, fear, doubt, and many other different emotions.
Non-verbal sound inputs.

If analyzed carefully, this category could also be grouped under other senses. However, there are some inputs that connect to the fears or desires deep within our brain and establish a special kind of non-verbal communication. The snarl of a dog, a cat rubbing against our legs, a gentle massage, or the wink of an eye are all special kinds of communication. These are more than just simple sounds or visual or tactile inputs. They are meaningful messages for the brain.

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Re: Scientific Psychic fundamentals
Reply #3 - 09/16/10 at 05:41:31
 
The Scientific Method.

The scientific method is a process for creating models of the natural world that can be verified experimentally. The scientific method requires making observations, recording data, and analyzing data in a form that can be duplicated by other scientists. In addition, the scientific method uses inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning to try to produce useful and reliable models of nature and natural phenomena. Inductive reasoning is the examination of specific instances to develop a general hypothesis or theory, whereas deductive reasoning is the use of a theory to explain specific results. In 1637 René Descartes published his Discours de la Méthode in which he described systematic rules for determining what is true, thereby establishing the principles of the scientific method.
      Modern Scientific Laboratory
The scientific method has four steps

  1. Observation and description of a phenomenon. The observations are made visually or with the aid of scientific equipment.
  2. Formulation of a hypothesis to explain the phenomenon in the form of a causal mechanism or a mathematical relation.
  3. Test the hypothesis by analyzing the results of observations or by predicting and observing the existence of new phenomena that follow from the hypothesis. If experiments do not confirm the hypothesis, the hypothesis must be rejected or modified (Go back to Step 2).
  4. Establish a theory based on repeated verification of the results.
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The subject of a scientific experiment has to be observable and reproducible. Observations may be made with the unaided eye, a microscope, a telescope, a voltmeter, or any other apparatus suitable for detecting the desired phenomenon. The invention of the telescope in 1608 made it possible for Galileo to discover the moons of Jupiter two years later. Other scientists confirmed Galileo's observations and the course of astronomy was changed. However, some observations that were not able to withstand tests of objectivity were the canals of Mars reported by astronomer Percival Lowell. Lowell claimed to be able to see a network of canals in Mars that he attributed to intelligent life in that planet. Bigger telescopes and satellite missions to Mars failed to confirm the existence of canals. This was a case where the observations could not be independently verified or reproduced, and the hypothesis about intelligent life was unjustified by the observations. To Lowell's credit, he predicted the existence of the planet Pluto in 1905 based on perturbations in the orbits of Uranus and Neptune. This was a good example of deductive logic. The application of the theory of gravitation to the known planets predicted that they should be in a different position from where they were. If the law of gravitation was not wrong, then something else had to account for the variation. Pluto was discovered 25 years later.

~~~ Real science hops from failure to failure, from several falsifiable hypotheses in confused competition to the next set, until a consensus evolves around a surviving paradigm that often uses aspects of its predecessors, adding unexpected novel ideas that lead to productive questions and more definitive tests, as disparate data starts to fit an overall unifying view. — R. Murray ~~~

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Galileo's journal entries describe the positions of the moons of Jupiter starting January 7, 1610.

The apparatus for making a scientific observation has to be based on well-known scientific principles. The telescope, for instance, is based on magnification of an image using light refraction through lenses. It can be proved that the image perceived through the telescope corresponds to that of the object being observed. In other words, you can trust observations made through telescopes. This is in contrast to magic wands, divining rods, or other devices for which no basis in science can be found. A divining or dowsing rod is a "Y" shaped branch of a tree, which is supposed to be able to help to identify places where there is underground water. The operator holds the divining rod by the top of the "Y", and the single end is supposed to dip when the operator passes over a section of land where there is water. What is the force that makes the divining rod dip? How does the divining rod "sense" the water? A scientist would try to answer these questions by experiments. Place the divining rod on a scale, for example, and then put a bowl of water under the divining rod. Is there a change of weight that indicates force? In another experiment the scale with the divining rod may be placed over a place known to have underground water, and over another place known to be dry. If these experiments show no force being exerted on the divining rod, we have to conclude that divining rods cannot be used as instruments for detecting water. We also have to conclude that any movement of the rod is accomplished by the hands of the person holding it, no matter how much the person denies it.

The scientific method requires that theories be testable. If a theory cannot be tested, it cannot be a scientific theory. Step 2 involves inductive reasoning, as described above. This approach can be used to study gravitation, electricity, magnetism, optics, chemistry, etc. Sometimes more than one theory can be proposed to explain observable events. In such cases, different predictions made with each theory can be used to set up experiments that select one theory over another. In the 17th century there were competing theories about whether electromagnetic radiation, such as visible light, consisted of particles or waves. At the beginning of the 20th century Max Planck postulated that energy can only be emitted or absorbed in small, discrete packets called quanta. This seemed to favor the particle theory, particularly after Einstein demonstrated that light behaves like a stream of particles in photoelectric cells. However, diffraction experiments with electrons, which were considered particles because they had a measurable weight, showed all the characteristics of waves. In 1926, Erwin Schrödinger developed an equation that described the wave properties of matter, and this became the foundation for the branch of physics called quantum mechanics.

How can waves behave like particles and particles behave like waves? Some scientific facts are very hard to comprehend. Yet, these are observable phenomena verified over and over again by many people all over the world. The behavior of the speed of light is another physical fact that is hard to understand. The speed of light in a vacuum is approximately 299,792 kilometers per second. The speed is reduced by about 3% in air and by 25% in water. A famous experiment conducted by Michelson and Morely at the end of the 19th century showed that the speed of light was the same perpendicular to the orbit of the earth and parallel to the orbit of the earth. The orbital speed of the earth of 29 kilometers per second could not be detected in the measurement of the speed of light. Einstein's theory of relativity is based on the constancy of measurement of the speed of light for all observers. A train has its headlight on. The speed of the light emanating from the train is the same whether the train is moving toward you or not! It is hard to accept, but many experiments for over one hundred years have come to the same conclusion.


Limitations of the Scientific Method

Science has some well-known limitations. Science works by studying problems in isolation. This is very effective at getting good, approximate solutions. Problems outside these artificial boundaries are generally not addressed. The consistent, formal systems of symbols and mathematics used in science cannot prove all statements, and furthermore, they cannot prove all TRUE statements. Kurt Gödel showed this in 1931. The limitations of formal logical systems make it necessary for scientists to discard their old systems of thought and introduce new ones occasionally. Newton's gravitational model works fairly well for everyday physical descriptions, but it is not able to account for many important observations. For this reason, it has been replaced by Einstein's general theory of relativity for most celestial phenomena. Instead of talking about gravity, we now are supposed to talk about the curvature of the four-dimensional time-space continuum. Scientific observations are also subject to physical limits that may prevent us from finding the ultimate truth. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle states that it is impossible to determine simultaneously the position and momentum of an elementary particle. So, if we know the location of a particle we cannot determine its velocity, and if we know its velocity we cannot determine its location. Jacob Bronowski wrote that nature is not a gigantic formalizable system because to formalize it we would have to make some assumptions that cut some of its parts from consideration, and having done that, we cannot have a system that embraces the whole of nature.

The application of the scientific method is limited to independently observable, measurable events that can be reproduced. The scientific method is also applicable to random events that have statistical distributions. In atomic chemistry, for example, it is impossible to predict when one specific atom will decay and emit radiation, but it is possible to devise theories and formulas to predict when half of the atoms of a large sample will decay. Irreproducible results cannot be studied by the scientific method. There was one day when many car owners reported that the alarm systems of their cars were set off at about the same time without any apparent cause. Automotive engineers were not able to discover the reason because the problem could not be reproduced. They hypothesized that it could have been radio interference from a passing airplane, but they could not prove it one way or another. Mental conceptual experiences cannot be studied by the scientific method either. At this time there is no instrumentation that enables someone to monitor what anybody else conceives in their mind, although it is possible to determine which part of the brain is active during any given task. It is not possible to define experiments to determine objectively which works of art are "great", or whether Picasso was better than Matisse. So-called miracles are also beyond the scientific method. A person has tumors and faces certain death, and then, the tumors start shrinking and the person becomes healthy. What brought about the remission? A change in diet? A change in mental attitude? It is impossible to go back in time to monitor all variables that could have caused the cure, and it would be unethical to plant new tumors into the person to try to reproduce the results for a more careful study.

Critical Thinking

The scientific method relies on critical thinking, which is the process of questioning common beliefs and explanations to distinguish those beliefs that are reasonable and logical from those which lack adequate evidence or rational foundation.

Arguments consists of one or more premises and one conclusion. A premise is a statement that is offered in support of a claim being made. Premises and claims can be either true or false. In deductive arguments the premises provide complete support for the conclusion. If the premises provide the required degree of support for the conclusion then the argument is valid, and if all its premises are true, then the conclusion must be true. In inductive arguments the premises provide some degree of support for the conclusion. When the premises of inductive arguments are true, their conclusion is likely to be true. Arguments that have one or more false premises are unsound.

Fallacies

Arguments are subject to a variety of fallacies. A fallacy is an error in reasoning in which the premises given for the conclusion do not provide the needed degree of support. A deductive fallacy is a deductive argument where the premises are all true but reach a false conclusion. An inductive fallacy consist of arguments where the premises do not provide enough support for the conclusion. In such cases, even if the premises are true, the conclusion is not likely to be true.

Common fallacies are categorized by their type, such as Ad Hominem (personal attack), and appeals to authority, belief, fear, ridicule, tradition, etc. An example of an Ad Hominem fallacy would be to say "You do not understand this because you are American (or Chinese, etc.)". The national origin of a person (the premise) has nothing to do with the conclusion that a person can understand something or not, therefore the argument is flawed. Appeals to ridicule are of the form: "You would be stupid to believe that the earth goes around the sun". Sometimes, a naive or false justification may be added in appeals to ridicule, such as "we can plainly see the sun go around the earth every day". Appeals to authority are of the form "The president of the United States said this, therefore it must be true". The fact that a famous person, great person, or authority figure said something is not a valid basis for something being true. Truth is independent of who said it.

Types of Evidence
Evidence is something that provides proof concerning a matter in question.

Direct or Experimental evidence. The scientific methods relies on direct evidence, i.e., evidence that can be directly observed and tested. Scientific experiments are designed to be repeated by other scientists and to demonstrate unequivocably the point that they are trying to prove by controlling all the factors that could influence the results. A scientist conducts an experiment by varying a single factor and observing the results.

When appropriate, "double blind" experiments are conducted to avoid the possibility of bias. If it is necessary to determine the effectiveness of a drug, an independent scientist will prepare the drug and an inert substance (a placebo), identifying them as A and B. A second scientist selects two groups of patients with similar characteristics (age, sex, etc.), and not knowing which is the real drug, administers substance A to one group of patients and substance B to the second group of patients. By not knowing whether A or B is the real drug, the second scientist focuses on the results of the experiment and can make objective evaluations. At the end of the experiment, the second scientist should be able to tell whether the group receiving substance A showed improvements over those receiving substance B. If no effect can be shown, the drug being tested is ineffective. Neither the second scientist nor the patients can cheat by favoring one substance over another, because they do not know which is the real drug.

Anecdotal, Correlational, or Circumstantial Evidence. "Where there is smoke, there is fire" is a popular saying. When two things occur together frequently, it is possible to assume that there is a direct or causative relationship between them, but it is also possible that there are other factors. For example, if you get sick every time that you eat fish and drink milk, you could assume that you are allergic to fish. However, you may be allergic to milk, or only to the combination of fish with milk. Correlational evidence is good for developing hypotheses that can then be tested with the proper experiments, e.g., drink milk only, eat fish only, eat fish and milk together.

There is nothing wrong with using representative cases to illustrate an inductive conclusion drawn from a fair sample. The problem arises when a single case or a few selected cases are used to draw a conclusion which would not be supported by a properly conducted study.

Argumentative Evidence consists of evaluating facts that are known and formulating a hypothesis about what the facts imply. Argumentative evidence is notoriously unreliable because anybody can postulate a hypothesis about anything. This was illustrated above with the example about the "channels" of Mars implying intelligent life. The statement "I heard a noise in the attic, it must be a ghost" also falls in this category.

Testimonial Evidence. A famous football player appears on television and says that Drug-XYZ provides relief from pain and works better than anything else. You know that the football player gets paid for making the commercial. How much can you trust this evidence? Not very much. Testimonials are often biased in favor of a particular point of view. In court proceedings, something actually experienced by a witness (eyewitness information) has greater weight than what someone told a witness (hearsay information). Nevertheless, experiments have repeatedly demonstrated that eyewitness accounts are highly unreliable when compared with films of the events. The statement "I saw a ghost last night." is an example of testimonial evidence that probably cannot be verified and should not be trusted. On the other hand, the statement "I saw a car crash yesterday." can be objectively verified to determine whether it is true or false by checking for debris from the accident, hospital records, and other physical evidence.

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