The Instigator
VenomousNinja
Pro (for)
Losing
12 Points
The Contender
Wayne
Con (against)
Winning
23 Points

Psi, or psychic powers, exist.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 6 votes the winner is...
Wayne
Started: 10/10/2008 Category: Science
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,500 times Debate No: 5695
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (41)
Votes (6)

 

VenomousNinja

Pro

Psi, or psychic powers, do exist.
I will let my opponent make the first argument, and will provide him or her with the following wikipedia links that will double as definitions.

http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://en.wikipedia.org...

Good luck.
Wayne

Con

The topic before us is "Psi, or psychic powers, exist."

Based on the wikipedia links my opponent provides, it is safe to say by "psi/psychic powers", he means the ability to do things that cannot be explained with the current scientific knowledge. This includes telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, and scores of other "special abilities".

By the word "exist", in this context, it should mean that there are human beings who do have these abilities.

Since the burden of proof lies with my opponent, I will just enumerate what my opponents must prove in this debate.

My opponent must cite experiments that would show the existence of psychic powers. These experiments must be legitimate, and follow the standards of science. This means that there must a near-impossible chance of error or deception. Usually, the standards of science entails the use of placebo, peer-review, double-blind, etc. Since this is an online debate, presumably, my opponent would be using online websites as a source of evidence. These websites also must be reliable sources. By that, I mean the websites cannot be intended for selling products, it must be ran by people who are reputable, and other conditions that may apply.
Debate Round No. 1
VenomousNinja

Pro

As I said in the comments, do not use the fact that I started this debate to make it easier for you.

I will provide one of what you requested, which is as follows: (paraphrased) "A study or research paper from a reliable source."

http://www.calder.net...

Project Scanate, A.K.A. Operation Stargate.
Scanate meant Scan By Coordinates, and that's exactly what they did. They gave 'psychics' the coordinates of certain places, and asked the psychics to describe them. The psychics would've had an unusually high success rate if it was simple luck that they were using. However, they would have an average success rate if they were using the psychic phenomena named 'Remote Viewing' which is exactly what they claim to have done, and exactly what they did.

You tell me which is more likely: Very high luck, or some largely undiscovered talent of the human brain being put to use.

Also, I want to leave you with a question, and two links. In these links you will find more links that will support my claim, however I right now am running out of time and don't want to risk losing what I have written so far.

Psipog.com
Psionicsonline.com

Now, tell me, why would a large group of people believe in something that didn't exist, especially if it was 'disproved' before their time? Why would humans believe in something that has no proof?
The answer is: Because there is proof. As I pointed out above, in Project Scanate, psychics are real, and successful. That is proof enough for some. It's proof enough for me, and for many others.
Wayne

Con

In this round, I will either quote or give a gist of my opponent's previous contentions, and then respond accordingly.

My opponent first said "do not use the fact that I started this debate to make it easier for you"

This is my opponent's response for my request that he provides evidence that "psychic powers" exist, and I added that the burden of evidence is heavier on his side. This is not taking an advantage of the fact that my opponent is the instigator of this debate. If he started the debate and his position was that psychic powers don't exist, I would not request him to provide hard evidence for that. Thus, this has nothing to do with the fact that he started this debate. The real issue here is that my opponent is claiming that something controversial as a fact, and that is why he has a heavier burden of proof. If elucidate this point, if I go about claiming tooth fairies exist, people would not feel the need to provide evidence to disprove that, but instead, would ask me for evidence instead. What this all boil downs to is that if my opponent fails to provide sufficient evidence, he should lose this debate. I on the other hand, only have to state that the lack of evidence is the evidence for nonexistence.

Moving on, the main evidence my opponent provides in support for the existence of psychic ability is the Stargate Project. However, there are severe problems with claiming that the Stargate Project proves the existence of psychic powers.

My opponent first claimed that they had a success rate that was notable. This is very debatable (and because the results were so inconclusive, the project was canceled eventually). What happened was, after gathering all the results from the project, the CIA submitted their data to American Institute of Research for evaluation. The two people appointed by AIR who analyzed the data were Jessica Utts and Ray Hyman. While Utts said that the psychics were able to make predictions 5 to 15 percent accurate above mere chance, Hyman said that to claim psychic power exists from this project "is premature, to say the least". They both concluded that more investigation would be necessary to "legitimately claim the existence of paranormal functioning". Finally, the evaluation by AIR recommended a higher level of critical research and tighter controls of the project, and it is as this point that the project was terminated.

Indeed, the Stargate Project was not a well conducted experiment at all. There was not a "control" group, in which people make random predictions so that the "psychic predictions" and the random predictions could be compared. This really is a major problem, since random predictions could be count as "accurate" if it is general enough. In fact, a lot of the predictions made by the psychics were very general, makings "accurate hits" not very impressive. Utts herself admitted that "subject reports included a large amount of irrelevant information, and when reports did seem on target they were vague and general in nature".

From these facts, we surely CANNOT assert that this project "proves" psychic powers exist. My opponent asks me, "which is more likely: Very high luck, or some largely undiscovered talent of the human brain being put to use". I will respond to his question with another question of mine. What is more likely? A poorly conducted research produced unreliable results, or that our currently mainstream scientific understanding of biology and psychics is wrong? At the very least, we can say that the project gives evidence that suggest the existence of psychic powers, but we cannot say it "proves" psychic powers existence, considering how weak the evidence really is.

Lastly, my opponent made the argument that many people believes that psychic powers exist, therefore psychic powers exist. I quote my opponent, "Why would humans believe in something that has no proof? [...] The answer is: Because there is proof".

My opponent might rethink this argument if he actually realizes how many "facts" we humans once believed in great numbers, yet no one believes in them now. One example is the "flat earth theory". It was a widespread belief that the earth is flat prior to the 4th century BC. However, we now all know that the earth is round. What this shows is that we should not judge how "true" something is by counting how many people believed it. We should instead, focus on the evidence. In this case, there are other reasons why people would believe in the existence of psychic powers other than the fact that there is evidence for it. People might believe it because they had personal experiences that they would take as evidence, they might believe it because they would like to believe they can have psychic powers, etc. Regardless, if there really is good evidence for the existence of psychic powers because of EVIDENCE, most people who should believe in this should be scientists (although the opposite is the reality), and the study of the psychic phenomenon wouldn't be considered as pseudoscience to the mainstream scientific community.

So to wrap up, I have showed that "Project Stargate" does not prove psychic's power's existence. I have also showed that just because there are people who believe psychic powers does that mean there are evidence. In order for my opponent to win this debate, he should provide better evidence that I cannot refute, and counter my argument successfully that the number of people who believes a statement to be true is irrelevant as evidence.

my resources:
http://www.harrisinteractive.com...
http://www.time.com...
http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 2
VenomousNinja

Pro

This is my opponent's response for my request that he provides evidence that "psychic powers" exist, and I added that the burden of evidence is heavier on his side. This is not taking an advantage of the fact that my opponent is the instigator of this debate. If he started the debate and his position was that psychic powers don't exist, I would not request him to provide hard evidence for that. Thus, this has nothing to do with the fact that he started this debate. The real issue here is that my opponent is claiming that something controversial as a fact, and that is why he has a heavier burden of proof. If elucidate this point, if I go about claiming tooth fairies exist, people would not feel the need to provide evidence to disprove that, but instead, would ask me for evidence instead. What this all boil downs to is that if my opponent fails to provide sufficient evidence, he should lose this debate. I on the other hand, only have to state that the lack of evidence is the evidence for nonexistence."
Sorry, bud, but that's wrong.
You must prove me wrong.
I must prove me right.
Burden of proof is equal. I don't care who's making the claim.

Your tooth fairy argument is null, because this does not describe everybody. Instead, it simply describes what you think(That people wouldn't prove you wrong and would simply ask for proof instead).

"My opponent first claimed that they had a success rate that was notable. This is very debatable (and because the results were so inconclusive, the project was canceled eventually)."
Sorry, nope.

From Mind Wars, By Ron McRae:
"Convinced? Not yet, demurred V1. Perhaps Puthoff had listened to the tape and then selected a corresponding target. For the third test, V1 sat alone with his eyes shut and his ears covered, and both he and the team at the site made recordings and sketches. The sketches and recordings were exchanged before anyone said anything.

This time, V1 had to concede, 'My God, it really works.' His taped impressions and drawings obviously depicted the
target, a playground merry-go-round four miles from the SRI.'"
Page 99 of Mind Wars, First Edition.

That doesn't sound debatable. In this case, V1 was the viewer in this remote viewing test. He was the one seeing everything, and he had reason to believe in ESP, too. In the middle of the fifties, he was a CIA case officer in Germany. One day, he was assigned to alarm one of the spies working for him or a higher up that he had been discovered. He also had to do this without notifying any German authorities.
You try it.
All he knew was that he bought a new Mercedes. He didn't know anything else.
Well, he found him all right. He found a new Mercedes, went into the nearest hotel, and then went straight to the spies door. He didn't know if that was the spies room or not, but it turned out it was.
An incredible stroke of luck, or a spontaneous demonstration of ESP?

V1 credits the above as an ESP demonstration.

The rest of that argument, I am unsure of. However, I would like to present the quote "My God, it really works." from V1. I think that is proof enough that you are wrong.

Now, for your argument about how general the views were. Well, I can say that I don't know if there weren't any very general views, but I know that there were some very descriptive, and very right, views, also.

Again, from Mind Wars. "Swann correctly described a previously unknown Soviet installation, sketching buildings and rail lines, and noting an 'unusually high proportion of women' among the personnel. A U.S. Spy satellite verified Swann's report three months later."
Page 101, Mind Wars, First Edition.

Swann also correctly described the Soviet/French weather research station on the island of Kerguelen, without the use of a map. Sure, some might call his description general, but the fact that he said it's a rocky island with mathematically laid out orange buildings and two white cylinder tanks is pretty impressive, especially since those aren't characteristics of any average island, except maybe the rocky terrain.

" What is more likely? A poorly conducted research produced unreliable results, or that our currently mainstream scientific understanding of biology and psychics is wrong?"
What's more likely is that our understand of biology and psychics are incomplete, and therefore are wrong.

"My opponent might rethink this argument if he actually realizes how many 'facts' we humans once believed in great numbers, yet no one believes in them now. One example is the 'flat earth theory'."
The flat Earth theory had not proof, it was simply pure speculation. Right now, we have proof for Psychics.

"most people who should believe in this should be scientists (although the opposite is the reality),"
Are you so sure? Maybe some scientists just don't want to put their reputations on the line. That is what happens when you say you believe in psychics. Many people, including other scientists, don't, and your reputation will be hurt for that.

My source:
Mind Wars, By Ron McRae, First Edition.
Wayne

Con

Now that we have reached the last round, I'll explain to the voters why I have won this debate.

First, my opponent never presented good evidence that psychic powers exist. He cited a research study (Stargate Project) and used that as his only evidence. I have explained in the second round why that was not a scientifically sound experiment, and cannot be used as evidence. To reiterate, there was not a control group used in the experiment. The "predictions" were often general enough to be easily hit. Their experiment was not replicated by another group of researchers. Lastly, the AIR, responsible for evaluating the research, concluded that the experiment must be carried out again with better scientific procedures in order to draw conclusions from it. In essence, the experiment does not "prove" in any way that psychic powers exist. In science, in order to prove something, tons of experiments must be done by different groups of researchers, and then submit their results for peer review. My opponent simply cited a single research that was poorly conducted.

My opponent failed to rebut this in his last round, as he simply cited TWO instances that would support his case. As I have already said, in order to prove something in science, experiments must be done in certain ways, and a anecdotal piece of evidence (which is what my opponent has given in his third round) is useless in science. Someone who claimed to have a psychic experience cannot get their story verified if it didnt happen in a laboratory condition.

Second, my opponent tried to make the case the psychic powers exist from the fact that there are many people who believe psychic powers exist. My opponent never rebut my counter argument, in which I said that there were many "facts" we humans once believed in great numbers, yet no one believes in them now", and that a scientific claim cannot be judged on its validity based on the number of people who believe it to be true, but instead, based on actual evidence. Lastly, I said that if there really is good reasons to believe that psychic powers exist, why do most scientists deny it. My opponent said that "Maybe some scientists just don't want to put their reputations on the line". He does not realize that if there IS good evidence, then scientists wouldn't risk their reputation if they believe it. They only risk their reputation because there AREN'T good evidence for it.

So as you can see, I have countered all my opponent's arguments, and because he cannot fulfill the burden that I have given him, in which he was supposed to give good and reliable scientific evidence, I strongly urge the voters to vote CON!
Debate Round No. 3
41 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by VenomousNinja 5 years ago
VenomousNinja
I never said the study was scientific, however. I just said it was a study.

And I really don't recall you telling me what site you got your conclusions from.

(P.S. Did you use a spellchecker?)
Posted by Wayne 5 years ago
Wayne
"It is YOUR responsibility to explicitly show me where you got each conclusion, you can't just list a few sites at the end of your argument and expect most people to go searching through all of them to find each and every piece of evidence. You have to show them exactly where it came from, or at least which site your evidence came from."

this goes back to the burden of proof, if you wish to use an experiment to prove your point, it is your responsibility to show that the experiment is scientific. you do not just assume everyone will take your word for it. and i DID say which site (and specifically which PAGE) i got my conclusion from.
Posted by VenomousNinja 5 years ago
VenomousNinja
"No, you needed to prove that psy powers exist."

The successful results it yielded do prove that psi powers exist.
Posted by Lightkeeper 5 years ago
Lightkeeper
No, you needed to prove that psy powers exist. If you relied on a project that did not conform with the scientific method, that was your choice. I can go into my garage now and invoke the Spirit of the Pink Elephant and subsequently publish the results. I won't blame anyone for failing to accept that my experiment proves the existence of pink elephants.
Posted by VenomousNinja 5 years ago
VenomousNinja
However, I needed not to prove that the project was scientific, just that it yielded successful results.
Posted by Lightkeeper 5 years ago
Lightkeeper
Remember, now, "The debate was about whether(right word?) psychic powers exist, not if project scanate was a scientific experiment or if it was even successful."

Correct. And you sought to use the project to prove that such powers exist.
Posted by VenomousNinja 5 years ago
VenomousNinja
"if the project did not follow the standards of science, it doesnt prove anything exists."
Really now?
I request that you use a spell checker in your next comment.

"you was explicitly said in the sources i gave, plus, it is not my responsibility to show that the experiment had a control group, that is YOUR responsibility."
However, again, I'm not going to search through a wall of text to find the sentence where you got your conclusions from. It is YOUR responsibility to explicitly show me where you got each conclusion, you can't just list a few sites at the end of your argument and expect most people to go searching through all of them to find each and every piece of evidence. You have to show them exactly where it came from, or at least which site your evidence came from.
Posted by VenomousNinja 5 years ago
VenomousNinja
Lightkeeper: Remember, now, "The debate was about whether(right word?) psychic powers exist, not if project scanate was a scientific experiment or if it was even successful."
Posted by Lightkeeper 5 years ago
Lightkeeper
Let's sum this up.

Pro seeks to prove that psychic powers exist. Con seeks to prove they do not.

There was some argument about where the burden lies. I believe it always lies with the instigator (unless stated otherwise at the outset). There are those who disagree but I can argue about burden another time. I'll leave burden aside in this brief analysis in any event.

To support his argument, Pro relied on CIA sponsored research. The research had been discontinued and he showed no evidence of it being carried on by subsequent studies with any success.

Con points out that the research was not scientifically sound as there was no control group. Pro does not counter this argument. It is known that the scientific method requires a control group if an experiment is to be valid.

Pro contends that scientists might be worried aboutthe reputation. Imagine the fame a scientist would gain if (s)he were to conclusively prove scientifcally the existence of psy powers. Nobel prize material, I suggest.

Cites from Mind Wars were less than helpful as they were not put in any context. It read like part of a novel.

Con had better better argument, better conduct, better language.
The use of resources was close enough to equal to constitute a tie, in my opinion.

Nice debate, gentlemen.
Posted by Wayne 5 years ago
Wayne
you was -> it was

sorry, i had to fix a typo
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