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RE: Theos-World The Unpacking Method/Argument and the Cup & Saucer Incident

Mar 11, 2002 05:08 AM
by dalval14

Glass insulates even from psychic electricity. But a true Adept
knows how to overcome even that.



-----Original Message-----
From: Steve Stubbs []
Sent: Sunday, March 10, 2002 6:08 PM
Subject: Re: Theos-World The Unpacking Method/Argument and the
Cup & Saucer Incident


Unfortunately, it is the method of science to
eliminate every possibility of self deception and to
insist that experiments be replicated so as to
eliminate every possibility of scientific fraud.

Here is an example: The Rosicrucians teach an
experiment in which one floats a match stick on the
surface of a bowl of water, then attempts to make the
match stick move by will power alone. In his book
CONCENTRATION, Mouni Sadhu says a similar experiment
was used by Blavatsky to teach her students to develop
will power.

I never had much luck with that, but in the Temple one
night I saw another man actually make the stick move
without touching it or even coming close to it. I
have to say I was pretty amazed. These were all
people I knew well and respected and there is no
question of fraud here.

Sometime later, experimenters at the Rose+Croix
University in California got the idea of using a bowl
small enough that it could be covered by a bell jar.
A bell jar is a bell shaped glass bowl. The idea was
to rule out the possibility that air currents, set up
unconsciously by the experimenter's breathing, were
responsible for the match's movements. They brought
in a member who was quite good at this experiment,
asked him to try it with the bell jar, and voila!

He could not make the match move unless the jar was

There was therefore no question of "psychic energy"
causing the match to move. "Psychic energy" may
exist, but its existence is not demonstrated by this

That is not "aggressive skepticism" but just good
science. What is needed here is for some dedicated
person like yourself to work with this materialization
phenomenon until you can get at least some results,
then demo it under laboratory conditions. The
experiment will be set up in such a way as to
eliminate unconscious self deception, and we will see
if the phenomenon is real or not. I suspect poring
over hoary stories just won't lead to a satisfactory


--- Daniel Caldwell <> wrote:
> SUBJECT: The Unpacking Method/Argument and the Cup
> &
> Saucer Incident
> James McClenon in his book titled "Deviant Science:
> The Case of Parapsychology" has written about the
> skeptical strategy of "unpacking" ANY successful
> parpsychological experiment.
> "The goal of the critic using this strategy is to
> 'unpack' and examine in detail any experiment, and
> to
> demonstrate how methodological flaws COULD have
> entered into the experimental process, thereby
> producing an invalid results. . . . The critic
> ...thinks of some...methodological flaw that COULD
> have occurred. . . .His or her 'unpacking' of
> methodological assumptions tends to render the
> experiment into an anecdotal form. . . .This
> unpacking strategy makes the 'perfect' ESP
> experiment
> an impossbility. Sooner or later, the critic will
> ask
> for information that is no longer available, or for
> a
> degree of experimental control and exactitude that
> is
> desirable in principle but impossible in practice. .
> .
> .[Another] rhetorical ploy is to demand total
> perfection. It is ALWAYS POSSIBLE for critics to
> think
> of more rigid methodological procedures after an
> experiment has been conducted...The a priori
> arguments
> of the critics mean it is highly logical to
> assume that, within ALL experiments which
> successfully
> 'prove' the existence of psi, there must be an
> 'error
> some place'." Caps added.
> This unpacking method can ALSO be used on paranormal
> experiences and events such as the "cup and saucer"
> incident which has been discussed recently on this
> forum. In fact this unpacking method can
> successfully
> be used on any "normal" historical event.
> Dr. Ray Hyman, a psychologist and also a skeptic of
> the paranormal, has agreed that in using such A
> OF ARGUMENT, "it is ALWAYS possible to 'imagine'
> scenario in which [for example] cheating no matter
> how
> implausible, COULD HAVE occurred." Caps added.
> Using such a METHOD is "illegitimate" [as Dr.
> Marcello
> Truzzi, a sociologist and another skeptic of the
> parnormal points out] because by its use, "one can
> 'HYPOTHETICALLY' explain away ANY result [even]
> in science." Caps added.
> In effect, this TYPE OF ARGUMENT and the process of
> UNPACKING an experiment or a testimonial account
> becomes a game in which the skeptic cannot lose.
> Turning to the realm of normal historical inquiry,
> the
> historians Barzun and Graff point out:
> "If you receive a letter from a relative that [1]
> bears what looks like her signature, that [2] refers
> to family matters you and she commonly discuss, and
> that [3] was postmarked in the city where she lives,
> the probability is very great that she wrote it."
> "The contrary hypothesis would need at least as many
> opposing signs [of evidence] in order to take root
> in
> your mind---though the possibility of forgery. . .is
> always there."
> Please note that the hypothesis that the letter is
> really written by your relative is supported by
> three
> positive signs of evidence. But as Barzun and Graff
> point out, even in spite of all that, the
> there.
> A critic using the UNPACKING method could take the
> ball at this step and try to explain away the three
> pieces of evidence.
> For example, the skeptic could argue:
> "Isn't it possible or plausible that [1] the
> relative's signature was forged, and, isn't it
> possible or plausible that [2] some "forger" was
> somehow privy to family matters, and, furthermore,
> isn't it possible or plausible that [3] the forger
> could have mailed the letter in the city where your
> relative lives to throw you off the track?"
> And if you objected to such speculation, the critic
> might respond:
> "Prove to me that the three statements, I just
> listed,
> aren't possible or plausible! Didn't Barzun and
> Graff
> But one should point out that POSSIBILITIES and
> PLAUSIBILITIES [at step 2] are not to be confused
> with
> PROBABLITIES [at step 4]. Barzun and Graffe clearly
> enunciate an important dictum for the researcher:
> "The rule of 'Give Evidence' is not be be violated.
> .
> . .No matter how possible or plausible the author's
> conjecture [at step 2 in the 4 step process] it
> cannot
> be accepted as truth [at step 4] if he has only his
> hunch [which is not evidence] to support it. Truth
> rests not on possibility or plausibility but on
> probability. Probability means the balance of
> chances
> that, GIVEN SUCH AND SUCH EVIDENCE [at step 3], the
> event it records happened in a certain way; or, in
> other cases, that a supposed event did not in fact
> take place." Caps added.
> The above is given in the hope that some readers may
> ponder on the underlying issues raised.
> Daniel H. Caldwell
> "...Contrast alone can enable us to appreciate
> things
> at their right value; and unless a judge compares
> notes and hears both sides he can hardly come to a
> correct decision."
> H.P. Blavatsky. The Theosophist, July, 1881, p. 218.
> __________________________________________________
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