RPKP Update No.3

June 3rd, 1996
This was originally sent out to members of the RPKP mailing list. If you would like to receive future updates, please e-mail.

There's not too much to report this time. Last update's appeal for volunteer programmers attracted a sufficiently enthusiastic response to dampen our frustration with the delays. Helmut Schmidt's C++ source code is currently being converted into Java, according to the previously stated plan. Unfortunately (for us!) Schmidt's going on holiday soon, until the end of July, so we hope to reach some sort of agreement on experiment design before he leaves.

Bierman and Houtkooper's 1975 article "Exploratory PK tests with a programmable high-speed RNG" is now available at the site. This is apparently the first published retroPK work. Dick Bierman is based at the University of Amsterdam and has been running online experiments for some time. He has raised an interesting point concerned with the validity of May, et.al.'s "decision augmentation theory" (DAT). It seems that repeated observation of prerecorded random data can increase RPK effects. This possibility takes some time to digest, for we have repeatedly stressed that RPK works only when we have unobserved random data to be influenced. Surely, once displayed and observed, no further "influence" can be exerted on the data, one might think. But there is the "fuzzy" issue of what it means to "observe". If the data is presented to a cat, to a baby, to someone entirely unfamiliar with what it represents, to someone in a semi-conscious state, or at an incredibly high speed, it seems that there may still be a possibility of further "influence". The data can be presented again, to the same subject or another, perhaps rearranged so as not to be detected by any subconsious mechanisms, and allegedly, better results can be obtained. According to DAT, this shouldn't happen.

As DAT is an important concern for this project, we hope to have come to terms with these matters before a final experiment design is chosen.

Bierman presented a statistical meta-analysis at the recent Tucson II conference on consciousness, and a data-only version of this is available at the Amsterdam University Anomalous Cognition site. This has now been linked from the RPKP site, and we welcome comments from the statistically-minded amongst you.

DAT is being thoroughly debated on the "prf" mailing list, and we hope to include relevant excerpts from this debate - a sort of freeform DAT FAQ.

Various other peripheral discussions regarding the philosophical & theoretical physics implictions of RPK are under way, and although time-consuming and perhaps distracting, we consider them to be an integral part of the development of this project.

A recent letter to the journal Nature from Prof. Brian Josephson, together with a most interesting rejection note, has been linked from the site. This is certainly worth a look, if you're interested in the mechanism which seems to be preventing a serious debate on psi from taking place in the scientific mainstream.

As DAT suggests that "there is no psychokinesis, retro- or otherwise" but still maintains that there are anomalous mental phenomena, and they are characterised by a flow of information backwards through time, we have considered whether our Project name should be changed. It could be argued that "The Retrocausality Project" would be more appropriate. However, DAT leaves many questions unanswered, and we have been informed that Libet's data (often quoted by Penrose) suggests that "short term intent (range of order about one second) is retro PK action of future mind on past brain substrate". We shall look into this data, and include links if appropriate. It is becoming increasingly evident that the topic of retrocausality, which initially appeared to be a mere curiosity to be explored for its own sake, could possibly be a major issue in a newly emerging physics of consciousness. We support no particular theory, but wish to promote debate in this area.

Still no sign of funding...

Thanks to everyone for their interest and support,

The RetroPsychoKinesis Project (http://www.fourmilab.ch/rpkp/)

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