Do psi phenomena violate any of the known laws of physics?

Do psi phenomena violate any of the known laws of physics?


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    13
#5
A pretty good blog post I read recently about this very issue by Jacob Jolij, Assistant Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Groningen:

https://thewinnower.com/papers/is-psi-truly-impossible
Thanks.

Here's the bottom line according to Jacob Jolij:

Does psi violate physics?

Well, as it seems, not necessarily. There are interpretations of physics that do allow for psi-like effects to occur. However, these interpretations are not your main-stream ones, and do take some background in physics to fully comprehend.

(source: "Is psi truly impossible?" by Jacob Jolij, published in "The Winnower")
 
#6
I thought it was a defining feature of psi phenomena that they seem to be impossible in some fundamental sense.

For example, in Daryl Bem's Feeling the Future paper, he purports to show that people can predict the immediate future. There is nothing impossible or remarkable about that- usually. But in his experiments he took care to create circumstances under which it should be impossible and that was the whole point of the paper and what made the effect a psi effect.
 
#7
I thought it was a defining feature of psi phenomena that they seem to be impossible in some fundamental sense.

For example, in Daryl Bem's Feeling the Future paper, he purports to show that people can predict the immediate future. There is nothing impossible or remarkable about that- usually. But in his experiments he took care to create circumstances under which it should be impossible and that was the whole point of the paper and what made the effect a psi effect.
Why should precognition be impossible?
 
#10
I will try to stimulate a little conversation on this topic; I am surprised that there has been so little response to this question.

I would say that psi can be viewed to violate some known laws of physics depending on how one interprets the nature of our world and our consciousness.

Here is an example: if one views our consciousness as purely epiphenomenal from material interactions, then this means consciousness is a local phenomenon in spacetime. With this view, the ability to communicate across any distance through telepathy would seem to violate Special Relativity. It would also be very difficult to explain how that information could be communicated anyway, since a local mind would need some sort of signal to transmit the information. I would argue that panpsychism runs into the same problem.
 
C

Chris

#11
Thanks - it looks as though there are a number of interesting posts about psi in that blog:
http://www.jolij.com/?cat=3
I thought this objection to precognition in the post entitled "Is psi a legitimate topic of study?" was interesting:

"Well, there is a second problem. Even if we accept that information in extraordinary circumstances can travel backwards in time, presentiment potentially creates time paradoxes. The best-known example is the grandfather-paradox. Suppose you have a time-travelling machine, and travel back in time to when you grandfather was a child. And you shoot him. Apart from that being quite cruel in the typical circumstance where you have a loving grandpa, it creates a paradox: if your grandfather dies before he fathered one of your parents, how can you exist and travel back in time to shoot him?

The same thing applies to presentiment. Technically, it is possible to build a presentiment detector if the effect is real: Bierman and Radin (1997), for example, report an anomalous increase in galvanic skin response before presentation of an unpredictable emotional stimulus compared with the baseline response to neutral stimuli. If you sample a participants GSR to stimuli for a sufficient number of trials, it is well possible to estimate a participant’s typical baseline to neutral stimuli and estimate whether the baseline response on a given trial is typical of a subsequent neutral or subsequent emotional stimulus. That would allow you to predict the future: by a quick analysis of anticipatory GSR activity you should be able to guess (not perfectly, though) whether the upcoming stimulus will be emotional or neutral. And this is where the paradox arises: if your analysis is quick enough, you can quickly switch of the monitor, blindfold the participant, or even change the upcoming stimulus before the stimulus is presented and thus prevent the participant from seeing the stimulus that would trigger the emotional reaction. Effectively, this is the same as shooting your grandfather in the grandfather-paradox: if you erase or change the event that triggered the presentiment response in the first place, how can it trigger presentiment?"

http://www.jolij.com/?p=101

It seems to me that this would be a problem for a form of precognition with 100% reliability, but no problem at all for precognition which manifested itself probabilistically. Ironically, the same author says in another post that the Randi Prize doesn't make sense because 100% reliable psi doesn't exist:

"Randi’s challenge does not make sense because it operates on a straw man argument: it makes a caricature of psi and then shoots at it. No, there are no such things as seeing in the future, telekinesis, or mind reading. No matter how sad it makes me to admit this, Professor X and Jean Grey DO NOT EXIST (come on, you all at least fantasized about being able to read minds and get the remote and/or your beer and pizza without having to leave your couch!) Period. Does not work, cannot work – not according to the laws of physics, not according to present theories on psi. What might exist, though, are weak, anomalous effects that if they exist, may only be detected in high-powered studies involving a large number of subjects set up in a very specific manner ..."

http://www.jolij.com/?p=230
 
#12
"Randi’s challenge does not make sense because it operates on a straw man argument: it makes a caricature of psi and then shoots at it. No, there are no such things as seeing in the future, telekinesis, or mind reading. No matter how sad it makes me to admit this, Professor X and Jean Grey DO NOT EXIST (come on, you all at least fantasized about being able to read minds and get the remote and/or your beer and pizza without having to leave your couch!) Period. Does not work, cannot work – not according to the laws of physics, not according to present theories on psi. What might exist, though, are weak, anomalous effects that if they exist, may only be detected in high-powered studies involving a large number of subjects set up in a very specific manner ..."

In fairness, the Randi challenge claimants (and psychics generally) are not presenting themselves as having weak, anomalous effects. They can only test what's in front of them.
 
C

Chris

#13
In fairness, the Randi challenge claimants (and psychics generally) are not presenting themselves as having weak, anomalous effects. They can only test what's in front of them.
I think the point that's being made is that the rules of Randi's challenge exclude "high-powered studies involving a large number of subjects". That's why they can't test the kind of psi that's generally studied in the lab.
 
#15
Here is an example: if one views our consciousness as purely epiphenomenal from material interactions, then this means consciousness is a local phenomenon in spacetime. With this view, the ability to communicate across any distance through telepathy would seem to violate Special Relativity. It would also be very difficult to explain how that information could be communicated anyway, since a local mind would need some sort of signal to transmit the information. I would argue that panpsychism runs into the same problem.
Does quantum entanglement violate special relativity?
 
C

Chris

#19
Does anyone have any thoughts about Jolij's suggestion that precognition would lead to paradoxes, similar to the grandfather paradox, as summarised in the paragraphs I quoted above?
 
#20
The question in the OP is a bit too vague to attract skeptical attention, I think. We need to figure out the 'Laws of Psi' before deciding whether they confound any Laws of Physics.

Remember it tends o be the 'proponents' who consider consciousness itself to be unexplainable with physics.

I've noticed that the skeptics are more open to the idea of new laws of physics, yet to be discovered. Proponents dismiss this as 'promissory'...
 
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