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Arguing "backward time"

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deedlebee
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http://www.rednova.com/news/display/?id=126649#121

The details on the actual process of these experiments are completely vague, and while they claim to keep using scientific methods, they only discuss the results. Has anyone else heard of this notion of backwards time? The whole idea is incredibly disturbing and fatalistic, but that is of course, not pointed out. Frankly, this entire article reads of quackery to me.

Strange as it may seem, though, there's nothing in the laws of physics that precludes the possibility of foreseeing the future.

It is possible - in theory - that time may not just move forwards but backwards, too. And if time ebbs and flows like the tides in the sea, it might just be possible to foretell major world events. We would, in effect, be 'remembering' things that had taken place in our future.

'There's plenty of evidence that time may run backwards,' says Prof Bierman at the University of Amsterdam.

'And if it's possible for it to happen in physics, then it can happen in our minds, too.' In other words, Prof Bierman believes that we are all capable of looking into the future, if only we could tap into the hidden power of our minds.

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I have heard of a way to think of a particle interacting with its antiparticle as the same particle traveling forward and backward in time, but I don't think that physicists literally believe that's what's happening-- and it's a far cry to 'unleashing the power of our minds to remember the future,' that's for sure.

I suppose that in a certain sense, humans fortell the future all the time-- using theories (scientific or more common-snese based) to predict what will happen in a given system. However, this probably isn't what the good professor was thinking of.

There' a big problem with the idea that it's possible to remember the future. If you could remember the future, and you act to change it, did you really remember it?, etc. So on the face of it, this theory either contradicts the existence of volition or causality. That, along with statements like this:

For what his experiments appear to demonstrate is that while we may all operate as individuals, we also appear to share something far, far greater - a global consciousness. Some might call it the mind of God.

'We're taught to be individualistic monsters,' he says. 'We're driven by society to separate ourselves from each other. That's not right.

it's pretty clear that we shouldn't take these 'scientists' seriously, since they obviously have some kind of religious/social axe to grind.

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The “research” described is idiotic collectivism, and I’m somewhat (but not too) surprised to see so many otherwise sane people give it serious consideration. It’s also a great example of the scientific corruption that can be caused by statistical empiricism.

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I agree with David, and I can't understand how such an article could be given any credence. Suppose I tell you that the page is a complete fabrication and forgery. Can anyone find anything in that web page to suggest that it has a tenth of an iota of credibility? Who the heck are these people? Where is the underlying research that they are implying must exist? What dusty library ar the university of Edinburgh are they talking about? What scholarly journals have these "results" been published in? I have a theory that these quacks are putting this kind of nonsense out there to test exactly how gullible the public is. I have it on good authority that Alan Sokol is one of the lead authors on this article.

The real question is, where is James Randi when we need him.

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I have a theory that these quacks are putting this kind of nonsense out there to test exactly how gullible the public is.

I think it's been working for a long time. I ended up having a rather lengthy debate with the person who sent this article to me. I tried to offer up all sorts of examples as to why there is no reason to take this sort of silliness seriously (hypothetically leaving out the fact that none of the actual processes were described). My science and mathematics are not as sure as they could be, so feel free to laugh at any misunderstood attempts :dough: (Maybe we both sound like idiots, but I certainly hope not. The conversation was light-hearted enough that towards the end I conjectured that somewhere, two physicists at the FBI were having a grand old time.)

(The below quote is a sample of that conversation. Due to the speed of the conversation, there are grammatical errors, especially capitalization. I am posting it mostly for the sake of amusement but, as always, welcome factual criticism.)

Him: the bumps [from the aforementioned "black box"]are interesting because the standard deviation is skewed significantly

Me: but the bumps are to be expected!  It's random!  Hence it will RANDOMLY make random deviations!

Him: I understand what you're saying

Him: but

Me: no buts!

Him: no, I draw graphs with perl

Me: random != pattern!

Me: random != meaning!

Him: pattern != std dev

Me: random != average!

Him: math is nuts

Him: you can take a "random sample" and evaluate the standard deviation and find, it’s not that random at all..

Him: there's a pattern..

Him: and find there is some binding factor..

Him: some "predictable element"

Him: some "stability in chaos"

Me: those are two different things.

Me: I can throw a bucket of paint on a canvas (random sample) and then "find" the average length of the splatter by measuring it.  Does that measurement mean anything about the construction of the splatter?  No.

Me: It was still splattered!

Him: but it will give you clues to approximate or predict the coverage of the next splatter

Him: so you can get the right size canvas

Me: no it won't.

Me: It only tells you the average length of THAT splatter.

Him: true, but you can use that to predict the next outcome

Him: I do it all the time..

Him: a first draft to feel out the effect..

Him: then based on that sample.. adjust the parameters to achieve the desired effect..

Me: You'd have to measure the velocity from which the paint was flung, the distance to the canvas, the viscosity of the paint, the direction you were looking, the shape of the canvas, the material of the canvas, the ambient temperature of the room, and the paint, the precise wind flow .... etc.. THEN you can make some kind of assumption about the next splatter.

Me: Taking an average measurement of a randomly created activity does not tell you about its construction.  It only gives you a mathematically irrelevant number.

To conclude on a more intellectual note, what is the significance or purpose (if any) of finding "standard deviations" from randomly created phenomena?

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To conclude on a more intellectual note, what is the significance or purpose (if any) of finding "standard deviations" from randomly created phenomena?

It's unlikely that there are any truly 'random' phenomenon - most will be covered by a probability distribution of some kind. Taking measurements allows you to hypothesis which distribution is generating the individual results, which may allow future events to be predicted more easily. In any case, a collection of individual random events can combine to form an orderly whole (Brownian motion is an example of this) - no individual event can be predicted, but if you take a lot of them together, the results are entirely deterministic and can be predicted with high degrees of accuracy (a bit like the distribution of prime numbers in mathematics, or some things in quantum physics). Indeed there is a whole branch of mathematical statistics geared towards studying this kind of thing - google for 'stochastic processes' if youre interested.

This particular study sounds like abject nonsense however, and I find it mindboggling that this is being put out by a team of Princeton scientists. It's certainly possible that the researchers did find certain patterns in their results, but its not hard to find structure in seemingly random phenomenon if you're prepared to look hard enough. The human mind has a tendency to organise data into orderly chunks whether or not these actually exist (consider how easy it is to see pictures in the clouds, or a face appear in steam, and so on). It's impossible to comment further without full details of the methodology used, which the website doesnt seem to provide.

Edited by Hal
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  • 4 weeks later...

It is relevant here to note that some of the individuals responsible for the "research" described in the above article have been guests on the "Coast to Coast" program. For those who are unfamiliar with the show, it is a popular nationwide US radio show that deals with, among other things, aliens, bigfoot, ghosts, psychics, the occult, prophesy, vampires, angels and demons, alternate dimensions, consiousness expansion, government conspiracies, alternative medicine, and whatever other mystical insanity you can think of. The hosts of the show, formerly Art Bell and now George Noory, believe in or pretend to believe in virtually all of this nonsense, and their guests, with few exceptions, are raving lunatics.

I listened to the program on the "Global Consiousness Project," and all I can say is that their "future-predicting" machine is such pathetically transparent quackery that it's almost astonishing any of them were ever employed by an academic institution at all, let alone by Princeton.

Sadly, knowing modern academia, it is in fact not astonishing at all.

In fact many of the "Coast to Coast" guests have advanced degrees or have held academic positions.

Edited by amagi
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Well two of those things you listed above Amagi I am willing to give some credence to two of them, bigfoot and aliens. Yet, the time travel thing even though I am working on a possible fantasy series dealing with Time Travel, i know that in reality it is impossible to travel through time. As my quote says, the Past is Dead, and the Future is yet to be. One can't travel to something that is dead and one can't travel to something that has yet come into existence.

Edited by Richard Roark
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