Random numbers and scientific method

Feb 13, 2005 19:43 · 190 words · 1 minute read

A bunch of people appear to be linking to this article: RedNova News – Can This Black Box See Into the Future? which talks about the “Global Consciousness Project”: scientists who are using random number generators to try to tap into some aspect of a shared global consciousness. While I’m sure that there are things we do not yet understand, and possible capabilities of the human brain that we have not yet come to appreciate, this looks like baloney science. Sadly, people don’t seem to be linking to this article which points out the particular flavor of baloney science that this appears to be. Humans are good at picking out patterns in things. Carl Sagan’s Demon Haunted World even guesses that this is something hardwired into the brain. It’s easy to look back and say “wow! those spikes in the data really correlate with these important events”, ignoring the spikes that correlated with nothing in particular, or the events that passed without spikes appearing in the data.

It’s great to test out new and off-the-wall ideas. But, they need to be truly tested in order for learning to take place.