The True Costs of Winning a Million Dollar Skeptic Challenge

By unwitting guest contributor Dean Radin, PhD…

How to Summon a Supernatural Dimwit

Let’s say we want to win a million dollar prize for rigorously demonstrating something psychic in a scientifically acceptable way.

One of the best candidates at present is the ganzfeld telepathy experiment…

A session typically takes about an hour for the two participants. For the investigator it takes another hour to prepare and to close down the session…

First, we do a power analysis to determine how many repeated sessions we have to run. Let’s say for a million dollars we are required to achieve results associated with odds against chance of a million to one. That seems like a reasonable criterion for success…

We’ll design an experiment that is run in three phases, where each phase has the same parameters: p(chance) = 0.25, p(hypothesis) = 0.32, alpha = 0.003, power = 0.99. This means that if we assume that telepathy gives us a hit rate of 32%, then if we run this experiment we’ll have a 99% chance of getting a final p-value of 0.003 or better, i.e. good evidence for telepathy.

The power analysis tells us that we need to run N = 1,147 trials to achieve this result. So now we will run this same experiment two more times, get a result each time at least as good as p = 0.003, and then the combined p-value over all three phases will be one in a million or better, or odds against chance of at least a million to one.

This requires that we run a total of 1147 x 3 = 3441 sessions.

Continue reading The True Costs of Winning a Million Dollar Skeptic Challenge

Four Lies and One Martial Arts Fact

The meme works as follows. You post five things about yourself. Four are untrue. One is true. All are so outlandish, implausible or ridiculous that no one would be inclined to believe that any of them are true. And despite the pleas from your readers, you never divulge which is true and which are fabrications. You then tag five other people (four seriously and one person you are pretty sure would never participate).

1. I once challenged more than twenty members of a rival Kung Fu school. Continue reading Four Lies and One Martial Arts Fact

Precognition and Psychic Martial Arts: A Scientific Perspective

Recognizing the tremendous importance of timing, Japanese martial artists classify their responses into three types:

  • Go no sen refers to a late reaction, initiated after the attacker’s movement has begun. Late reactions are unreliable, relying on extraordinary motor speed for their successful application.
  • Sen no sen describes a response launched roughly in time with its attack. While obviously superior to go no sen, some practitioners consider this an intermediate level of skill.
  • The ultimate timing, sen-sen no sen, responds to an attack that has yet to be launched, one that has only just formed within the opponent’s mind. An expert in sen-sen no sen might use this timing to guide his assailant into a futile and vulnerable position, or launch a preemptive strike.

Martial legends aside, how does science explain this seemingly paranormal ability? Is it possible that high-level martial artists have used precognition and other psychic abilities to enhance their effectiveness? Or are they all just very quick? Continue reading Precognition and Psychic Martial Arts: A Scientific Perspective

Chi: Real Energy or Martial Art Myth?

Welcome to the third edition of Qigong and Energy Arts Forum. This main topic of this edition is science and skepticism.

Feature articleChi debunked? by Bob Patterson (Striking Thoughts)
Martial Development has a challenge for skeptical martial artists: Prove that chi is scientifically impossible. Naturally, since I consider myself to be an open-minded skeptic and a martial artist, I had to take a crack at this one.
From a scientific perspective, “chi” has not made it past the hypothesis stage…

Clearing the Air on George Dillman and Chris Thomas by Rick Fryer (Kicks Boxes)
Char-la-tan (n.) a person who pretends to be an expert in something or to have more skill that is really the case; quack; fake. That’s how Websters defines the word charlatan, but many martial artists on websites and forums like or would like to define it as ‘George Dillman,’ or as my instructor, ‘Chris Thomas’… Continue reading Chi: Real Energy or Martial Art Myth?