Saturday, April 07, 2007

Louie Savva

I found this blog by this guy Louie Savva who has nearly finished his PhD thesis on parapsychology from an evolutionary perspective. He has a blog entitled Everything is Pointless which is truly comprehensive.
He has an entry entitled "Why I quit Parapsychology" which is enlightening and reminiscent of Susan Blackmore's switching to the dark side.
At the beginning of my PhD I would describe myself as very much convinced by the empirical and anecdotal nature of psi (and specifically the body of evidence suggestive of precognition) although there was a great deal of parapsychological research which I was willing to dismiss outright (such as much of the survival research).
Employed for one year researching the ganzfeld effect, I had an opportunity to work on what is often declared the best evidence for parapsychology and at the same time conduct a range of other parapsychological investigations, including helping to develop a precognition test using visual-noise .
None of the spontaneous or evidential claims of the paranormal have ever impressed upon me a need for recourse to a paranormal explanation and in fact the very obvious is apparent; that any connection between events in our mental life can tally, with shocking coincidence, so much so, that those who are prone to magical thinking believes has a paranormal basis.
Finally, I had intended not to write up my PhD, in the light of the fact that there seems no apparent audience. The parapsychologists will continue to ignore null findings (on the basis already discussed) and the sceptics will say ‘so what’. I was finally motivated to finish it, in the hope that I might dissuade others who are interested in the question of the paranormal, from pursuing it any further.


upinVermont said...

Hey A!

Love the new look.

(I've been away on vacation.)

I checked out his blog. It doesn't surprise me that he has dismissed psi research. What interests me more are these other "researchers" who continue to investigate psi-phenomena. Are they in denial? Are they incredibly gullible (as James Randi has in fact demonstrated in some cases)? Are they aware that their research lacks evidence and continue for the sake of a plum university position? Are they con artists? Are they deluded? Is it possible, though I doubt it, that they are really finding *evidence*?

It's one thing to be a "believer", it's another to be a "researcher" who believes. That, it seems, takes a special kind of self-delusion or willful deception.

Aaron said...

Welcome back. I need a vacation too!

I think that how people look at psi evidence is a personality test in itself. One may ask, how can any reasonable person still believe in Christianity like Andrew Sullivan does? But Andrew is not insane or stupid. But I still scratch my head and mutter "how on earth can that guy believe that!?" I am more sympathetic to psi belief than Christianity. There is less reason to believe in Jesus' miracles than Sai Baba's and at least we know Sai Baba exists.

I don't disrespect Dean Radin. But recently he said he bent a spoon at a spoon bending party, and ummm... I sort of lost the credibility vibe he built with conscious universe. If he can believe this stunt, then that same gullibility may drive his interpretations. All you have to do is prepare the spoon before hand by weakening it at a specific point, then sleight of hand it into the room and just barely touching it will bend it.

On another matter, I've read some things recently about blind sight and the brain which sort of explain some of our feelings of ESP I think. People can look at a face and see nothing at all, completely blind. But they somehow "know" "just know" magically whether the person is smiling or frowning. Due to their particular brain damage their brain routes information that bypasses conscious experience and yet still enters their knowledge base. This gives them the sensation that they just magically know something even though they never experienced it. Maybe many of those "I just knew it" things happen in normal brains due to exactly the same thing.

Anonymous said...

If anyone is interested Louie Savva was recently interviewed on the "Dogma Free America" podcast.

Anonymous said...

Louie Savva is a complete fool. I don't particularly agree with any afterlife or god, i just get on with life and whatever helps people, helps people. But when I see clips of him being arrogant and in peoples faces about belief it angers me. He talks about science, using it to give weight to his arguments then makes a ridiculous comment that we are alone in the universe. Totally narrow-minded, given, we may never find other life, but considering the sheer vastness of space there is blatently something else. Maybe not paranormal.. or actually paranormal.. prove it, as he would add. Total dick