Nov. 13th, 2010

lederhosen: (Default)
So, this story about Daryl Bem's alleged experimental evidence for precognition has been doing the rounds.

I was going to launch into a lengthy post about the problems with this experiment, but four Dutch researchers have already produced a very good response that covers all the points I was going to make and several more.

In brief: when you have a large long-running experiment and you get to chose the analysis techniques, exclusion criteria, and the stopping point after looking at the results, it is really easy to find 'significant' patterns.

One of my favourite demonstrations of this is Brendan McKay's 'Bible Code' work, in which he shows how 'Moby Dick' predicted the assassinations of Indira Gandhi, JFK, Rene Moawad, Leon Trotsky, MLK, Yitzhak Rabin, and others.

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