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Guide to a trainee skeptic

Posted on Aug 21, 2008 in Parapsychology, Research | 4 comments

The following post was originally posted on our Skeptiko forum but I liked it so much that I though of reposting it here. It was written by David Bailey, a regular on the forum and a proponent to the existence of psi phenomena.
Following much discussion on the forum and frustrated by how some skeptics lead the dialog, he posted the following hilarious post, written as an imaginary letter to a trainee skeptic.


Letter to a trainee skeptic – The Screwtype e-mails

You are now well advanced on your training to become a professional skeptic. If you perform well, this job can bring you many perks, such as appearances on television, and the opportunity to write a bestseller book. However, it is extremely important to learn throughly some simple rules that can help you in your craft. Remember, that while success will be rewarded well, failure will not be tolerated.

All being well, your first few efforts at debunking will be easy. There are, after all, a lot of crazy people in this world, and a fair few of them believe they have psychic powers. However, do not let these easy victories lull you into a false sense of security – sooner or later, you will come into contact with an altogether more tenacious kind of scientific heretic – one who has learned the ways of science and uses them against us! A careless encounter with one of these individuals can be utterly catastrophic:

Dialogues and Controversies – Controversies – The Telepathy Debate

or

http://www.sheldrake.org/realaudio/atkins_sheldrake.ram

If you fail an encounter with one of these people, you will be cast out of respectable scientific circles, and you career as professional skeptic will be over, so take extreme care to prepare for all such encounters.

These loathsome individuals perform actual experiments with controls and blind procedures, and statistical analysis – a shocking mockery of real science.

Let us take as an example the issue of dogs that know telepathically when their owners are coming home. Of course, you as a professional skeptic will state categorically that telepathy is against the laws of science, and so impossible in principle. This may well be sufficient for an unsophisticated audience, and you should never offer a more detailed explanation unless forced to do so. Your first line of defence should always be to point out that your busy schedule does not leave you time to debate with such deluded individuals – or even to read their ‘scientific papers’ in detail. If you use this tactic, it is, however, essential that you do read their ‘papers’ extremely thoroughly, or you will be caught out.

If you absolutely need to examine such a claim in detail, it is almost useless to analyse one of the ‘scientific papers’ that these vile creatures produce for statistical flaws – they are much too cunning to make mistakes like that. However, here are a few more subtle techniques to instill a decent respectable doubt in your audience. Remember – you only need to introduce doubt in your audience, nobody is going to actually test anything you say provided you sound vaguely plausible.

Let us say you have examined your opponent’s ‘data’ purporting to show the said telepathic link, and you can’t fault it on obvious grounds – enough tests have been done to prove statistical significance, any subjective assessments have been performed blind, etc. This is where you, as a professional skeptic, are supposed to show your worth in the job! Suggest something outrageous, such as the idea that the owner unconsciously leaves more dog food in the dish if he/she is going to be away for a longer period of time. Since your opponent will not have any information regarding the weight of food in the dish at the time of the experiment, this technique can be used to discard a large swathe of otherwise troublesome ‘data’. Remember, each time you can find a reason to discard a portion of your opponent’s precious ‘data’ you are lowering the statistical significance of what remains.

At this point, it may be tempting to accuse your opponent of incompetent science because he did not weigh the dog food in the dish, but if used at all, this ploy should be used very subtly. A side remark about how “genuine scientists always try to record all the relevant experimental data” is as far as you can safely go unless you have an unusually cooperative helpful audience. Even a highly skeptical audience usually likes to feel that you have dispatched your opponent in a fair and honorable manner!

Over time, many of our brethren have made great creative use of the idea that our opponents get their ‘results’ by cheating. You may very well feel that loathsome scientific heretics of this sort, are almost certain to cheat. However, once again, if you feel the need to use this ploy, your best approach should be indirect. You might, for example, comment that you were shocked to discover only after reading the ‘paper’ that the owner had entered his pet at Crufts. Anyone reading a sentence like that will be left with a vague sense of unease that the owner had an ulterior motive. Note that it does not really matter if a statement like this is true or not – if your opponent contests it, you can subsequently make very useful casual references to the ongoing uncertainty relating to this experiment.

Finally, remember that to become a truly great skeptic, you not only need to dispatch your opponent, but you should do it in style. Think of those melancholic pieces of classical music that come to an end in a paradoxical burst of optimism. When you are sure that your opponent is totally spent, jump up and shake his hand and offer him best wishes for his future research. It may be helpful at this point to explain that the only thing that keeps you in your career is the hope that one day you will finally encounter genuine evidence for paranormal phenomena, and that if your opponent can come up with such evidence you will, of course, be keen to examine it!

I hope these notes will help you prepare for battles to come.

Above all, put your trust in science, and I wish you a long and fruitful career!

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Jeff Mishlove covers scientific studies of reincarnation

Posted on Aug 11, 2008 in Mediumship, Parapsychology, Research | Comments Off

Dr. Jeff Mishlove, Ph.D. in Parapsychology, whom I interviewed more than 2 years ago, posted on his blog article about scientific studies of reincarnation.

He summarizes 13 different published studies on reincarnation with test cases all over the world.
Read his report at: http://Jeff.gaia.com/blog/2008/8/scientific_studies_of_reincarnation

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Dr. Colin A. Ross goes for the $1 Million prize

Posted on Aug 10, 2008 in Energy, Parapsychology, Research | Comments Off

Dr. Colin A. Ross, M.D., founder of the Colin. A. Ross institute applied for the $1 Million dollar prize of James Randi Educational Foundation. He claims he can make a tone sound out of a speaker using nothing but an energy beam that he sends out through his eyes.

Preliminary tests of the claim will hopefully take place in the near future, once the test protocol is agreed upon. To date, no one has passed the preliminary tests on the way to the $1 million prize.

Dr. Ross, founder of the Colin A. Ross Institute, is the author of over 135 scientific papers and 18 books, many of them dealing with psychological trauma and multiple personality disorder.

In a forthcoming book entitled Human Energy Fields, Dr. Ross explains a new science and medicine of human energy fields in detail.

“Once this energy is identified and captured, as I have done, then it can be studied and used for many applications in medicine and other fields,” said Dr. Ross.

Dr. Ross plans to use the $1 Million to develop scanning equipment for medical use and to carry out research on therapeutic uses of human energy fields.

Source: MarketWatch

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Yan Xin qigong

Posted on Aug 5, 2008 in Energy, Qigong | 2 comments

Below is a guest post by Phil, who promotes Yan Xin Qigong method and Yan Xin Qigong audio cassette tapes. After the article, there’s a link to his Ebay store with the tapes. Previously, drew hempel, who contributed various article to this site, has also written about this qigong method on the article: The Highest Technology of All Technologies: The Yan Xin Secret.

Yan Xin Qigong is a qigong that was developed from traditional Chinese qigongs by Dr. Yan Xin. Dr. Yan Xin is one of the most popular qigong masters in both China and the United States and is often credited with achieving seemingly “miraculous” feats. In addition to many healings he has participated in scientific experiments some of which are presented in this paper in the Literature Review chapter. Unlike many qigongs, Yan Xin qigong’s Nine Step Child Longevity method utilizes an audio tape to accompany training that consists of Dr. Yan Xin instructing the proper steps and methods to take in entering the “qigong state.” Most practitioners I have communicated with only do the first step of the nine step method. It can be practiced alone or in a group but, in group practice better results are believed to be obtained. In all cases the practice method consists of listening to the tape and following along (as Dr. Yan Xin is speaking Chinese in the background, while being simultaneously translated into English on the tape, this can be quite an interesting feat for non-Chinese speakers). The reason for this is that it is believed that Dr. Yan Xin can “transmit” qi and information via his voice which helps training progress faster.

I participated in a Yan Xin Qigong practice at the University of Southern Mississippi on Good Friday, April 10, 1988, from seven p.m. to approximately ten-thirty that night. The fact that it was Good Friday was important to Yan Xin practitioners as they believe that when practicing in a group session on holidays better progress can be made as there are many people in approximate mental states or outlooks. The group was smaller than usual I was told, due to the holiday, and was composed of five people: two females and one male from Taiwan, one female from Thailand, and one older female white American (who was Catholic and had just gotten back from church) with the group being composed of people of various experience levels from beginner to many years. The session was led by the group leader, one of the females from Taiwan, and began with a discussion which consisted of us helping the girl from Thailand translate some of Dr. Yan Xin’s speeches into Thai. We had copies of the speech in the original Chinese and a translation into English which was an interesting process and exercise in linguistics.

The next phase of the session was listening to an audio recording of one of Dr. Yan Xin’s qi-emitting lectures. These are lectures in which Dr. Yan Xin emits qi to those in the audience and he tailors each lecture to his specific audiences “needs” as he “senses” them and as well qi can be transmitted by the audio recording. I have serious reservations about the ability of qi to be transmitted by audio tape, however, as I have now been practicing qigong for a long enough time to sense or feel the manifestation that is called qi, I must admit that I did “feel” a strong qi presence or effect that was not there before or after the tape was played. Possibly this could have some relation to subliminal messages, the power of suggestion etc., which are widely believed to have an effect in people when they are implanted in audio recordings. The recording was in Chinese but the group leader translated it for us. For those of us who were non-Chinese speakers it was at times a humourous situation as Dr. Yan Xin likes to jump around to different topics, which often involved the tape being stopped so that we could be further informed of what exactly he was talking about.

Next, we progressed to the practice of the first step of the Nine Step Child Longevity method and our group sat in a circle. The method involves the playing of an audio tape and following the instructions and visualizations. In this qigong you can stand, sit on the edge of a chair or sit or lie down on the ground. Then your hands are placed facing upwards in a specific manner depending on your gender. Your tongue is then placed in various locations in the mouth depending on certain diseases or health states. You are then led through a series of visualizations in which you are to imagine yourself as a young child at different ages depending on your gender. Then progressive visualizations are added. The process reminds me very much of deepening techniques in hypnosis (see 1964 Elman). Thus, if you wished to look at qigong as a form of self-hypnosis then Yan Xin Child Longevity Qigong would most likely produce one of the deeper and more profound states of self-trance when all nine steps are able to be visualized. The ending procedure slowly brings one out of the “qigong” state and involves some additional visualizations and rubbing and massage of the body. There is a supplementary closing exercise for those that are having trouble coming out of the state. When the closing was completed everyone in the group had a profound sensation of heat and one individual had even removed his shirt, which is not recommended by Dr. Yan Xin. The American female, a newcomer to the group, had told me before the session that she had never had any sort of sensations during practice, however, during this session she as well felt the profound heat. This was one of the more powerful qigong sessions I have personally “felt” or experienced during a first time practice of a method among the various qigongs I have practiced or been exposed to.

Yan Xin (Yan Shin) Qigong: One of the most popular forms of qigong practice in China and worlwide. It represents the traditional Chinese qigong. It is an ideal art and technique to treat illness, preserve health, achieve longevity, improve efficiency, develop special human body functions, etc. There are hundreds of methods in Yan Xin Qigong, all have been refined over a long time and proven effective by millions of practitioners.

Nine Step Method (Child Longevity Nine Step Qigong): A very popular method in Yan
Xin Qigong, safe and practical. In modern China, millions have been practicing the method for years with promising results. Practicing it’s first step is a starting point for the learning of all other Yan Xin Qigong methods.

Yan Xin Qigong Advanced Methods: Master Yan Xin has conducted training workshops in which he taught many special advanced methods in very unique ways. Due to the unconventional energy level of these methods, workshop participants are required to keep these methods confidential. The Nine Step Method is a popularized version of an advanced method in traditional Chinese Qigong.

Qigong (Chee- gong): A form of meditation and cultivation practice that is very popular in China. It is a holistic method for healing the body and the mind as well as for promoting the human potential. There are some similarities among qigong, tai-chi, martial arts, transcendental meditation, yoga, and zen. However, the true concept of qigong is beyond simple meditation.

Qi: A Chinese character which means air, atmosphere, vapor, and gas such as oxygen. In qigong and traditional Chinese medicine, qi has a broader meaning, involving intangible substances and abstract concepts, and is considered to exist as an energy field in myriad of things.

De: A Chinese character which literally means virtue and morality. De is a grounding concept in all qigong practice and cultivation. To make progress in and to keep the benefits of qigong practice, it is crucial to always hold the a moral standard.

External Qi: Well trained qigong masters and practitioners can emit qi to others through special ways. Usually, this type of qi is very productive in qigong therapy and qigong training.

Internal Qi: Qigong practitioners are able to feel certain substances flowing inside their bodies during practice and in other situations, which help the practitioners improve qi circulation among channels and acupuncture points.

Channels or Meridians: In the view of traditional Chinese medicine, the Qi and other
substances circulate inside one’s body through these certain routes. Many of them originate from internal organs and end at fingers, toes, or certain acupuncture points.

Acupuncture points: Over a hundred of special points in human body that serve intricate functions and are critical in many acupuncture therapy. Many of them are located on the head and along the spine. Some examples are:

Bai Hui (accumulation) acupuncture point: located on the top of the head,
Tian Mu (heavenly eye) acupuncture point: located between the two eye brows,
Shen Que (spirit’s palace) acupuncture point: located at the navel, and
Yong Quan (sprouting spring) acupuncture point: located at the center of the foot.

Opening: Almost all methods have particular opening positions to prepare the mind and the body to enter a qigong state. It is important that the opening method is followed exactly to maximize the benefits of qigong practice.

Lotus: An aquatic plant, native to southern Asia, having large leaves, fragrant, pinkish flowers, and a broad, round, perforated seed pod (The American Heritage Dictionary). The lotus flower has a long relationship to Chinese philosophy and is commonly used to symbolize virtue and morality.

Spontaneous movements and sounds: During qigong practice, some people may feel that certain parts of the body have the tendency to move or may want to make sounds. The movements can be either gentle, such as stretching arms and waving hands, over very dynamic, such as running and trembling. The sounds can be either soft, such as whispering and singing, or very loud, such as laughing or crying. These qigong reactions are usual and helpful to the practitioners and their family members. It is very important to keep good thougths and positive attitudes should such reactions occur. Follow the spontaneous reactions naturally whenever the body perceived, and do not panic. However, do not use force to intentionally induce such movements and sounds.

Thought Adjustment and Mind Cultivation: In qigong practice it is very important to keep good hopes, optimistic attitudes, considerate thoughts, benevolent wishes, etc. Constantly think of the good side of life, and forget all past regretful mistakes, unfortunate incidents, miserable experiences, and sorrowful feelings. Always forgive, pardon, understand, and sympathize other people and things, regardless of what happened in the past. Indeed, holding high virtue and morality is the fundamental principle of all qigong practice. Regarding everyone and everything as teachers and treating all as kins are criteria for thought adjustment and cultivation.

Breath Adjustment: As in all other meditation methods, qigong practice also requires suitable breathing control. Deep, long, subtle, and smooth breathing is most favorable. When, at certain point, holding the breath is needed, it is extremely advantageous to hold the breath as long as possible. Other forms of breathing can be achieved gradually with systematic training.

Ending: This last part of a qigong method helps to maintain the effects of each practice. It cannot be neglected since it is an important part integrated into the method. Good results often come out during the ending procedures. It is also intended to seal the Qi energy inside the body and to protect the individual from any undesired feelings.

Yan Xin Qigong – Audio Cassette Tape
Child Longevity Nine Step Qigong
Step by Step instructions with the Voice of Dr. Yan Xin
Rare collectors item.
Perfect condition.
No refunds allowed, Exchange Only,

http://www.stores.ebay.com/yanxinqigong

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