Recently in the comments on another blog, there was discussion that science has plenty of evidence that there is an immaterial part of us. I was directed to the following video which describes these things. I am pretty skeptical of the whole thing, but I figured I would give it a look and a fair shake. I think I'll just watch it and comment as I go. Hopefully this will make an interesting blog post, it's an experiment! Let's give it a go.
I decided to put my overall reactions here and leave my running commentary below. My overall impression is that this guy has some pretty crazy ideas. He thinks that our minds are fields that extend past our skulls and he thinks that there is telepathy for example. All of this sounds pretty out there to me, and for most of what he was talking about there seems to be simpler answers to the questions.
That being said, he also seems to be very good at putting experiments together and it sounds like he has some pretty interesting data. I am intrigued by it and do plan on following up and looking into some of his work.
I'd also like to add that the experiments he described don't prove that these fields are real. His ideas are consistent with the data, which is really interesting. However, it is certainly possible that there is another explanation.
One more thing I will add, this guy seems very genuine. I have seen people peddle these kinds of ideas before who had something to gain and it seemed like they didn't really believe what they were saying. This guy is not trying to take money from anyone (as far as I can tell) and he is really believes what he is saying. He is trying to advance his ideas and is doing a lot of work to gather data to prove his point. You have to respect that.
2:42 Our minds spread out beyond our brains in a similar manner to the way magnetic fields spread out
3:08 He uses vision as an example and talks about this for a few minutes. One idea is that light bounces off of things, has an effect on the rods and cones in your eyes, and your brain interprets this to create a picture in your brain. If you look at the sky, there is a picture of the sky in your brain, so your mind is as big as the sky. So it must be more than just in your skull. This seems like utter nonsense to me. Why couldn't there just be a smaller representation of the sky in your brain? He is also arguing that your picture of something in your mind is right there with that thing. So if you are looking at someone the representation of that person is not in your skull, your mind is over there where they are.
6:15 Can you affect something simply by looking at it? He argues that you can and cites the common experience of feeling like you are being watched. I would argue that there are other senses involved (subtle sounds and such) rather than psychic phenomena.
8:10 He describes an experiment to test this idea. Two people are back to back and one randomly looks or doesn't look and the blindfolded person has to guess whether they are being looked at. I'd be curious to see the experimental design.
9:10 Another experiment involving closed circuit TV, very interesting.
10:25 "Private detectives know that when they are shadowing people they shouldn't stare at their back because the person is likely to turn around, catch their eye, and blow their cover" Wouldn't an alternate explanation be that if you are not staring and they happen to look back it wouldn't be suspicious?
13:09 "No one has ever seen a thought or an image inside a head...I'm suggesting our minds reach outside our brains" Yeah, no one has ever seen that either.
13:36 This also happens with animals, they can tell they are being looked at, just ask a hunter or a wildlife photographer. The much simpler explanation is that animals have really good senses and they can hear you or smell you. Also, the idea that an animal feels you looking at them, you'd have to compare how often they move for no reason other than staying in one place could be bad for them. I'm imagining an experiment where we have some video cameras on some wildlife and have people look at the animals and see if they move. We can have some people with a live feed and some people watching recordings from earlier and see how they shape up, I'm guessing no difference.
15:40 Flocks of birds and schools of fish move in formation and change it up quickly. He suggests the best explanation is their minds influence one another directly, instead of the birds simply having really good sense and the ability to move very quickly.
21:30 Another common phenomenon is that dogs and cats know when their owners are coming home and are waiting by the window. I remember reading about this a while ago. Someone tried to replicate it and found that the dogs would wait by the window frequently throughout the day. There wasn't a significant difference for when the owner was actually coming home. (Note from later, he claims this was James Randi and that is was BS. This shows how important having a source is)
31:20 Telephone telepathy. This is when you think of someone right before they call. This is so easily explained, usually the people this happens with are people you think about a lot. You remember the hits (when it happens) and forget the misses (when you think of them and they don't call). Also, there are plenty of times they call when you hadn't just thought of them.
33:00 Looks like he addressed this very complaint with an experiment. Interesting. This study actually looks pretty cool, I'd be interested to look at the paper that goes along with it. He describes a few related experiments that all sound very interesting. I am planning on looking into this more closely at some point soon.
48:00 QA starts
49:08 What about the million dollar challenge? He pretty much just attacks James Randi, don't care for that. Although he did address what I said above about the dog experiment, doesn't sound great toward Randi. I wonder what the real truth is there.
58:15 Q: What is you change the order to try to find precog? A: I tried that and it gave chance levels. This is interesting as it might eliminate certain biases in the experiment.
73:30 Q:What factors can affect this stuff?
79:00 He says he has had papers rejected out of hand without being looked at. That is too bad as it seems like he does interesting stuff, but it is not surprising as editors of scientific journals are very short on time. You simply can't examine and find the faults in every paper that sounds like it is from a crank.
1:23:50 It is asked how to measure this field in other ways, he says he has worked on that but it wasn't covered in this talk. I'd like to see some of this, he said there is some on his website, I'm happy about that.