A prominent psychological journal is expected to make history later this year when it publishes what is believed to be the first scientific paper arguing that humans can predict the future.
But that doesn’t mean you should rush out to the betting parlors just yet: While the research (PDF) shows statistically significant numbers to prove that people are capable of some degree of “precognition,” the effect has to be repeated by other researchers many times before it becomes accepted scientific knowledge.
And not even the researcher who carried out the experiment can explain how the future can affect past events.
Researchers who have reviewed Cornell University psychologist Daryl Bem’s paper say it’s scientifically sound, reports New Scientist.
“My personal view is that this is ridiculous and can’t be true,” says Joachim Krueger of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, who has blogged about the work on the Psychology Today website. “Going after the methodology and the experimental design is the first line of attack. But frankly, I didn’t see anything. Everything seemed to be in good order.”ADVERTISEMENT
“In one experiment, students were shown a list of words and then asked to recall words from it, after which they were told to type words that were randomly selected from the same list,” New Scientist reports. “Spookily, the students were better at recalling words that they would later type.”
To create experiments that a skeptical scientific community would believe, Bem decided against setting up questionable “tests” of soothsaying, and instead “reversed” existing psychological tests, running test subjects through them backwards. Science Daily reports:
[M]any studies have found that people are slower to decide a picture is pleasant if they’ve seen a negative word right before looking at the picture. So someone reading the word “ugly” before seeing a picture of a lovely sunset will be slower to call the picture pretty than someone who just read the word “beautiful.” This phenomenon is called “priming.”ADVERTISEMENT
Bem reversed that experiment, presenting the picture, then the response, and finally the priming word. And what do you know? He found something that looked very much like retroactive priming, in which people who would eventually be shown negative words were slower to say positive things about the pictures.
In another test, subjects were told they were about to see an erotic image in one of two poses, and asked to predict the pose. Subjects predicted the result 53.1 percent of the time. That may seem like little more than the 50 percent one would expect in a random sample, but as New Scientist notes, “well-established phenomena such as the ability of low-dose aspirin to prevent heart attacks are based on similarly small effects.”
Bem told New Scientist that he took eight years to conduct the experiments and used more than 1,000 test subjects to gather enough evidence to publish his report.
“I purposely waited until I thought there was a critical mass that wasn’t a statistical fluke,” he said.
All the same, criticisms are inevitably beginning to mount. New Scientist reports:
One failed attempt at replication has already been posted online. In this study, Jeff Galak of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Leif Nelson of the University of California, Berkeley, employed an online panel called Consumer Behavior Lab in an effort to repeat Bem’s findings on the recall of words.ADVERTISEMENT
Bem argues that online surveys are inconclusive, because it’s impossible to know whether volunteers have paid sufficient attention to the task. Galak concedes that this is a limitation of the initial study, but says he is now planning a follow-up involving student volunteers that will more closely repeat the design of Bem’s word-recall experiment.
Bem’s paper is scheduled to appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Watch Rachel Maddow broadcast ‘exclusive story’ that undermines Mike Pence’s claims
MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow on Monday presented an "exclusive story" -- that undermines public claims by the Trump administration.
Vice President Mike Pence has been among the biggest defenders of the detention camps the administration is running near the southern border.
Pence has described the treatment of detainees as "compassionate" and "excellent."
But that was not what Maddow reported on Monday.
"You haven’t seen this anywhere else," she introduced. "This is the first time this has been broadcast."
The story was an exclusive interview NBC News correspondent Julia Ainsley conducted with a child refugee from Guatemala who was held in one of the camps for eleven days.
WATCH: 10 videos show massive flooding hitting Brooklyn and New Jersey after torrential downpour
A massive flood is once again striking parts of New York City and New Jersey Monday as the heatwave gave way to a torrential downpour.
The storm moved through after 6 p.m. EST, dropping several inches of rain in a short period and causing immense flash flooding during rush hour. Commuters reported unusually large crowds on subway platforms, water flowing down subway stairs and huge leaks in the ceilings.
Airports were also dealing with the storm blowing through with time delays at LaGuardia, JFK and the Newark Airports.
Some folks took the flood in stride, bringing out pool toys to ride the waves:
Protesters take to the streets outside judge’s home after he approves controversial jail sentence for black judge
On Monday, angry crowds of people came to the neighborhood of Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Patrick Dinkelacker after he ordered former judge Tracie Hunter to serve a six-month prison sentence for mishandling a confidential document.
The scenes from the courtroom were dramatic, with Hunter's supporters screaming as she collapsed upon Dinkelacker upholding the sentence, and officers dragging her limp figure from the courtroom: