Sunday November 15 2009 - The Preliminary demonstration is finally going to take place, after an over two-year long process where I worked to bring the experience I have of perceiving health information, into a testable version and design an acceptable test procedure around it. When you read about the process that takes place between other paranormal claimants and their Skeptical organization that has offered to test them, it is often either a lengthy and complicated process, or short and irreconcilable. But the process between me and the IIG was surprisingly swift and uncomplicated, once we got started again when after the study I brought a narrowed-down claim and a well-thought-through test protocol suggestion. If the claim is genuine, and there are no tricks to it and nothing to hide, I believe it could be just as simple for all paranormal claimants.
Then there are many others who simply make paranormal claims, but refuse to test them, either because they do not want to get caught as having no abilities, or because they state that they do not believe in the skeptical method. I am not sure what type of category of paranormal claimant I belong to. My claims are based on a genuine experience that I actually see and feel health information when I look at people, the question only is, how accurate is it, and can I really perceive information that should not be available to ordinary senses. My claim is not a choice or an invention of mine, and I do not share or express those perceptions to others other than carefully within this investigation, and I do not make any money off of it. My motives for having a test are simply to find out if I can do under a test setting and repeatedly, what should not be possible for anyone to do, and what I have seemed to have done in the past.
The Preliminary is still a week away, and I am right in the middle of schoolwork and exams, and it hasn't quite hit me yet that my paranormal claim is soon given the chance to show what if anything it can do. It requires a rather elaborate set-up to arrange for this, and both the IIG and I have worked hard to put this together. And my paranormal claim might, after two years of quarreling about it with internet skeptics, actually reach a conclusion based on evidence that we can both embrace, by next weekend. I say "might", because if I pass all the trials in the Preliminary, it does not produce a conclusion because it would not be enough to verify the claim, and obviously did not falsify it either. If I fail the Preliminary, it concludes that there is no paranormal or extrasensory ability involved.
I am very pleased with the test procedure for the Preliminary. It is mostly based on the protocol suggestion I submitted, and I have had to make very few if any compromises. None of what my claim requires in order to perform, has been taken away. And nothing has been added, that would inhibit it. The conditions of the Preliminary, will also ensure that I am comfortable. In many cases, it is of course difficult to arrive at a protocol that both Skeptical organization and paranormal claimant agree to which does not involve some issues and complaints from the claimant. They will enter the test thinking that the conditions are not the best, and after failing such a test they will be left wondering whether they would have done better under different circumstances. I am relieved to know that there are no aspects of the Preliminary ahead of me that make me worry about whether I could do my very best. The compromises arise when a claim needs to be adapted to a test setting that would only let through something that is truly paranormal, and when other things are involved, claims cease to function. My Preliminary still allows for some extent of cold reading, however. But the only consequence of that is that passing the Preliminary does not prove anything, and an improved procedure would then be designed for the following formal test. But the Preliminary is a wonderful start.
If you read about how Natasha Demkina was tested, by CSICOP, Testing Natasha, with a similar claim, in her test, the subjects who had health information for her to identify, were all standing and facing her. There was no partial screen, faces were not concealed, and although Natasha could not see into their eyes since the subjects were wearing dark glasses, the subjects were still able to see Natasha and many of the various forms of nonverbal communication that takes place between people whether we think we are doing it or not, was definitely available. Just think about how easy it is to judge a person's emotional state or state of health by looking at their faces, body posture, and how they move, and based on subtle microscopic signs we can instantly tell that they are happy, sad, stressed, or uncomfortable. Humans communicate so well in these ways.
Anyhow, I am a great supporter of the Demkina test, because at the expense of some of the rigour of a test, it allowed for Natasha to be comfortable with the procedure, and she failed to meet the agreed upon criteria for success and the claim was concluded on as falsified. Even a poorly designed test can falsify a claim. If you are in the chemistry lab, there are simple quick procedures you can do to eliminate the obvious, and then if you think you might have something worthy of further investigation, then do you invest in additional more elaborate and detailed work. Kind of like you don't have to go all the way to Mt. Everest to find out that you can not climb it, just start by trying to walk a couple of miles.
And my Preliminary kind of works in that same way. It is not perfect, in the sense that a real test would be, but it is perfect as a Preliminary screening, or demonstration. But even with the conditions of this Preliminary, no one is expected to pass the trials that I have ahead!
How am I preparing for the Preliminary? I have so much schoolwork this week, that it is hard to put my mind into preparation. I don't even have much time to get excited yet, I am busy learning about chemical reactions and physics equations. I will attend next week's monthly local FACT Skeptics meeting, and Dr. Carlson, who is the person involved in my claimed experience of detecting that a kidney was missing, has promised to let me practice seeing that his kidney is missing, although I already know how many kidneys he has, so it is like playing with a crossword puzzle that someone has already filled in. There's less point when you already have the answer, but it will help me prepare. I have also been looking more into people's backs, confirming to myself whether I feel their kidneys and how quickly and how.
Less than a week away. And then it's either all over, or really begins, depending on the outcome.