A discussion on a paper published by Joe McMoneagle and Edwin May on the possible role of Intention, Attention, and Expectation when remote viewing…
Date: December 9th, 2006
* Discussion held in the #PSC_Annex room on psionics.net (IRC)*
<Aphanas> (Discussion starting in the Annex about the paper posted here: http://archived.parapsych.org/papers/42.pdf if anyone’s interested…)
<john-afk> Just to check the article was only 8 pages long, right?
<Aphanas> *nods* That is correct.
<Jael> It wasn’t long, but the concepts are interesting.
<john-afk> yes they are.
<Jael> Let’s officially start the discussion.
<john-afk> the concepts might be an explanation why on some TV programmes that take a skeptically stance the psychics featured have trouble using their abilities to the fullest.
<john-afk> insert “about psychic abilities” after programmes.
<Aphanas> *nods* What does everyone think about the basic breakdown of the paper? Attention, Intention and Expectation… what did everyone understand the authors to be describing?
<Aphanas> (with those 2 concepts…)
<Aphanas> (Er… 3 rather, still tired here)
<RainTurtle> I beleive so, although I was somewhat surprised by his idea of what “Expectation” meant
<john-afk> Well, with attention I took it to mean focus or having your mind committed to one task, intention & Expectation combined is the same as the concept of will in some magical traditions.
<Jael> I found the part about attention interesting, especially in light of how many get easily distracted with the lack of immediate results.
<Jael> The Expectation definition seemed to involve some of the FCD’s part in the equation.
<Jael> sorry… file clerk dude aka subconscious (sp?)
<Aphanas> *nods* I thought the breakdown between Intention and Expectation useful, and helpful when looking at a common argument in psionics (about whether one needs to “believe” or not to make things work).
<RainTurtle> *nods* Including the concept of “fear of psi”, that Charles Tart has gone on about. No surprise that Dr. May would be familiar with Tart’s work in that regard
<Ally> I usually find that telling myself that I’m going to bomb at something consciously gets my subconscience to adjust to a higher level of confidence/expectation. Not sure why, but eh. Sorry if that comment is out of place =\
<Aphanas> No worries… that’s a common coping mechanism, actually. What do you think that does to your expectation when you tell yourself that?
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<john-afk> Hello DrH
<Ally> Gets it want to kick arse and prove m’self wrong.
<Jael> hello, dr.h
<Aphanas> (Hi DrHealex)
<Jael> That’s would make sense to me, Ally.
<DrHealex> Ahoy hoy
<RainTurtle> Ally: That’s an interesting way to approach the problem
<Jael> I am not sure that’s what would happen with my fcd though. I suspect I would become more afraid and lock up, more along the lines of the way the authors describe the lottery bit.
<Aphanas> *nods* Ally: Or perhaps you set a different conscious expectation for yourself (in this case, failure) and it changes something about your overall expectation for your results. The common description is you “remove the pressure” from yourself.
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<john-afk> I would be the same as Jael
<Ally> Not sure if that’s always the exact case, Aphanas, but I’m sure at times.
<Aphanas> Let’s jump back for a moment to look at Attention. The authors commented that they thought “Attention, however, is our candidate for a major component for the successes.” Why was that?
<Aphanas> (Page 3, first paragraph)
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<Aphanas> Hi Raven.
<Raven> Hi, just passing by, sorry.
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<john-afk> Well, Attention is needed in all activities even mundane stuff like crossing the road because without it a task can’t even be started properly.
<Jael> I thought the entire lab stopping and focusing seemed interesting. Wasn’t sure how that worked, or how to duplicate that in small arenas.
<john-afk> sorry, I forgot about the bit in the article to do with multiple person attention.
<Ally> Well, I certainly find it easier to concentrate/keep attention when everyone is doing the same thing than when people’s thoughts about who knows what are all buzzing around. Which makes the whole “let’s-stop-the-entire-lab-for-a-minute-here” thing a lot more logical.
<RainTurtle> The whole lab focusing on the one thing makes a certain amount of sense to me, if only in cutting down interference from stray thought-patterns. Conversely, it could cause worse interference if the “focusing” was on “what they thought the target was” or even just “this is never gonna work”
<Aphanas> *nods* The authors highlight the amount of dedicated/longer term attention focused on a project as one of the keys to success on page 3. Their contrast between the type of attention provided for military or intelligence targets vs when running an set of lab experiments. What does everyone think of that premise?
<Aphanas> *They contrast between…
<Jael> That was interesting, though one thing I was wondering about was the way that McMoneagle can still have success even with all the TV stuff going on.
<Ally> Split attention, or blocking it out?
<RainTurtle> (or just really fluffin’ good at what he does…)
<Jael> *nods* He’s clearly good, but if attention is a huge component, this would almost imply that with enough experience, even lots of distraction could be countered.
<Jael> (at least as I read it)
<Jael> I wasn’t sure if there was another line of thought there though.
<RainTurtle> It reminds me of a certain world-class archer whose name eludes me. He was at a national competition, and shooting his final round, when a train went past.
<RainTurtle> the other archers were all put off their aim by the distraction. Later, when he was asked whether the train interfered with _his_ aim, he simply asked, “What train?”
<Jael> ah, yes, I recall you mentioning that in one of your classes.
<Aphanas> *nods* And apparently he considered the attention paid to the RV process during military/intelligence targeting to be rather different from some of their lab experiments (where the results weren’t as good). Perhaps the public spotlight focuses attention because of the pressure (don’t want to fail because everyone is watching)?
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<RainTurtle> Hmmmm. Could be. It would take a certain amount of self-discipline to keep from letting that public spotlight from interfering with the attention, of course…in the same way that sports folks and performers get distracted by an audience.
<Aphanas> *nods* And performing better when under pressure is also a characteristic of excellent sports folks and performers… I believe the common colloquial hypothesis is because it focuses their attention more on their results.
<Roy> sports folks and performers know ahead of time how to find their optimal level of relaxation
<Roy> which is different for each person, some require greater stress, while others need much less
<Roy> but there should always be a sweet spot between total relaxation and outright panic attacks
<Aphanas> *nods* It’s part of the skill of a professional in any discipline (whether performance, business, teaching, etc)… knowing how to relax under pressure.
<Jael> It seems like all of the high level folks have a certain level of expectation as well as an ability to block out distractions (aka good attention).
<Roy> i recall reading something from (i think) the CRV manual at firedocs where it states that you always want to end a session on success
<Roy> i guess it creates a psychological disposition to always expecting a hit
<Aphanas> *nods* And with those comments, let’s shift the discussion and start focusing on our last two issues (which the authors acknowledge as being rather intertwined). How do Intention and Expectation affect psionic results? Is it because they change something about the relative Attention, or for some other reason? What did everyone think the authors said?
<Jael> I understood them to say that a certain amount of expectation of success was required in order to have success. That’s true elsewhere… if you don’t think you can play the piano in a concert, you’re not going to do very well at it. Even if the intention is high.
<Jael> Required might be too strong a word.
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<Aphanas> *nods* The authors seem to propose in their paper that Expectation has a much stronger effect on the results than Intention does. What does everyone think about that idea?
<Jael> Many people have intentions, but the attention and expectation are harder to come by.
<Roy> expectation seems like it’s more of a meta-cognitive thingy
<RainTurtle> It is not a new idea that if the conscious and subconscious have different ideas about something, the subconscious tends to win the argument, also
<Aphanas> *nods to all 3 comments*
<Roy> expecting something to happen usually requires a meta-cognitive judgment
<Roy> for example, if you took a multiple choice test on something like chemistry, you could accurately determine which answers you got wrong and which you got right
<Roy> intending to do something seems to be a more conscious action, you create a goal and you try to fulfill, whereas it seems to me that when you expect something to happen, you’re making a judgment
<Roy> i guess a judgment about what you intend to do
<Roy> they’re almost the same thing, only one is goal-oriented and the other is evaluative
<Aphanas> *nods* That’s an interesting distinction, Roy. What is the judgement evaluating?
<Roy> the intention, or i guess in this guess, the probability of success in RV’ing
<Roy> *in this case
<Roy> you can intend to do well, but expect to do badly
<Aphanas> *nods* And as Rain pointed out earlier… a sub-conscious expectation will tend to have a stronger influence when those two are in conflict.
<Roy> i think that would all depend on which is based on empirical reality
<Roy> i take a piece of paper, and throw it through the air, i may expect it to hover if i believe i’m an uber-psion
<Roy> and my intention is to make it hover in the air via some PK effect
<Roy> in this circumstance, we’ll assume that i’m not an uber-psi and the piece of paper falls
<RainTurtle> That _might_ account for the apparently-common situation in which a beginner in RV does strikingly well the first couple of times, then their performance drops radically when they realise “Hey, I’m not supposed to be able to do this”
<Roy> ooh, good point
<Jael> Wasn’t there a researcher who had that experience with TP? Completely freaked out the participants, iirc.
<RainTurtle> There were several of those, Jael….Quite so
<Jael> heh… okay
<RainTurtle> Tart was one of them.
<Roy> there is always a set of information that expectation draws from, the accuracy of information determines the accuracy of the expectation
<Roy> first-time RV’ers may intend to do well, but expect they’ll do horribly for lack of experience, and they’ll have a great session
<Aphanas> *nods* Ryzl, a student of Kafka, in the Soviet research, noted the same problem, I believe. One sec…
<RainTurtle> “Running screaming and jibbering into the night” probably isn’t overly conducive to continued success
<Roy> because maybe they’re a natural at it, but because they’ve never done it before, they can logically conclude that they won’t do so well
<Roy> the feeling of knowing effect when you take a quiz shows that expectation derives from the individuals factual-knowledge base
<Roy> they have a very good sense of what they got wrong and what they got right because they’re drawing directly from their own memory
<Roy> of course they’re not always 100 percent correct, but more likely than not, they are
<Roy> *correct in their feeling of knowing
<Aphanas> From “Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain” by Ostrander and Schroeder, about Ryzl’s observations in this area:
<Aphanas> “One volunteer, a premedical student at Charles University, astounded Ryzl as he tried to lead him into ESP. On the first try, the boy correctly identified all twenty-five hidden ESP cards! [cont]…”
<Aphanas> “His performance was so amazing that I decided to give him a post-hypnotic suggestion to remember what he’d done. That was my big mistake. [cont]”
<Aphanas> “He was horrified! Psychic things aren’t supposed to happen. It was impossible. How could I make him do such an unnatural thing? He couldn’t get away from me fast enough. I never saw him again.”
<Aphanas> [Pg 336 in that book, in the 10th printing of the Bantam edition paperback]
<Jael> so it seems like the balance (or lack there of) between intention and expectation are critical.
<Jael> heh… but both of those have to be combined with skill in order to result in success.
<Jael> (otherwise all of the fluffs would be uberpsions when they learn about psionics theory.)
<Aphanas> *nods* Just expecting to play a concert piano piece isn’t going to give you the skill to do so (for most of the population). However, if you do have the skill, I expect ( ) that an expectation of failure would indeed prevent you from playing the piece…
<Roy> expectation should be derived from previous experience
<Roy> there is probably a difference between a “real” expectation and one you try to force yourself into thinking
<RainTurtle> “Ladies and Gentlemen, Tonight we should like to play for you La Pathetique. … We’d like to, but we can’t. So, we’re going to play Chopsticks, instead”)
<Roy> like a reverse psych-out
<Jael> lol, Rain
<Roy> i think a forced expectation could be described as self-delusion
<Roy> again, with my example as an uber-PK psion, i can tell myself that i’m going to move this fork that’s sitting next to my laptop
<Roy> and pretend it’s my expectation, but if expectation is something that is meta-cognitive, then it wouldn’t form by telling myself to believe something
<RainTurtle> Hmmmm…..what about an expectation imposed by someone else…? such as by post-hypnotic conditioning?
<Aphanas> *nods* Unless you were in a highly suggestive state (which is what Ryzl was experimenting with, in the aformentioned quote).
<Roy> then the suggestion would create an information set that an expectation can draw from
<Roy> if the suggestion is there, it’s something that can be referenced
<Jael> hm… but would that result in the skill being able to be performed?
<Roy> i don’t think so, or else all these hypnosis tapes and cd’s that are guaranteed to “make you psychic in 30 days or less” would work
<Aphanas> *nods* It would only work if the ability was already inherently there, I would think… and being blocked by the current meta-cognitive judgement…
<Roy> this borders on that insane argument that was constantly thrown around the Pog forums a while back, where “anything is possible if you believe it”
<Roy> well not borders, but is reminiscent of
<Jael> (would you be able to define meta-cognitive for the log?)
<Roy> anomalous cognitive skill + properly applied attention = psychic feat, and previous successful experience leads to positive expectations
<Roy> lol, i’ll try
<Roy> i guess it just refers to a set of processes that are above our conscious awareness, and allows us to make judgments about what we think
<Roy> i should probably note that it can’t be accurately described as subconscious, because we are aware of these processes
<Roy> if you give me a minute, i’ll grab my cog-psych textbook and give a better definition
<Aphanas> *nods* No hurry… we’ll wait.
<john-afk> Is it like when you have an empty mind but you are aware of the emptiness? *See I have been following this conversation*
<Roy> this is from Fundamentals of Cognitive Psychology, 7th ed.
<Roy> The origin of the term metacognition has often been attributed to John Flavell, who has largely explored metacognition in the context of cognitive development. In general, metacognition refers to people’s “cognition about cognitive phenomena.” [cont’d]
<Roy> The idea is that some cognitive states and processes are about (or act upon) other cognitive states and processes. “Meta” can refer to any aspect of cognition, such as metalanguage and metacomprehension.
<Roy> i think it’d be easy to think of metacognition has a “higher” set of mental processes
<john-afk> so it is like when I will spontanously think something nasty about a person and then stop myself when another part of me has realised that I’ve just thought the original thought.
<Roy> it makes a lot more sense in the context neo-dissociation theory
<Roy> yes, some metacognitive processes monitor, others control
<Roy> to get a full understanding of the phenomenon, you have to shed the Cartesian duality of conscious and subconscious operations
<Jael> The meta would not be the originator of the thought (using john’s example), correct?
<Roy> originator, yes, i believe so
<Roy> errr, wait, i misread that
<Roy> there may be a metacognitive process that bridges thoughts in working memory
<Roy> and references the cues in previously held memory
<Roy> this would fall under metamemory, if i’m correct
<Roy> “originator” is sort of a vague description
<Roy> i see consciousness as a big chain of thoughts, a stream of consciousness, so all thoughts inspire later thoughts
<Jael> So would the meta cognitive bits be stopping the psychic skills from being utilized properly, because they don’t expect the psychic skills to work (presuming the person has the skillset)?
<Jael> or is that simplifying too much?
<Roy> the metacognitive component would be required to create a realistic, or any, expectation
<Aphanas> *nods* We have some data on that, actually.
<Roy> i’m sure that self-doubt has an impact on performance
<Aphanas> From Ostrander and Schroeder’s book again, with reference to the discussion on whether abilities will work if the expectation is there… Ryzl did some experimentation with results from post-hypnotic suggestion:
<Roy> it’s really all about, in my opinion, the sources the metacognition draws from to create the expectation
<Aphanas> “Most of Ryzl’s volunteers wound up with just the five senses they started with. He reports that fifty of the five hundred people he tried to train did develop ESP. Thirteen of these people showed psychic ability on a level with Josefka’s [Aphanas’ note: she was one of his best students] – telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, and traveling clairvoyance. [cont…]”
<Aphanas> ‘That figure of five hundred trainees is a little misleading. I had to include in that everyone I worked with, even people who only showed up for two or three sessions. It took a year of training before Josefka could manipulate her own clairvoyance.’“
<Aphanas> [Ostrander and Schroeder, “Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain, pg. 340 of the Bantam paperback]
<Aphanas> So… if his results are any indication, that kind of meta-cognitive interference may be happening in at least 1/10th of the population in Russia (to some extent).
<Roy> why would it be interference if they were successful ?
<Aphanas> Their meta-cognitive judgement was interfering with their psionic ability before the “teaching”…
<Roy> oh oh, but that’s assuming they had an innate talent to begin with
<Aphanas> Or, that they were able to “learn” through the process of Ryzl’s teaching. He was primarily just adjusting their meta-cognitive judgement through hypnosis, I believe.
<Roy> well, if he was just using hypnosis, then you have to consider that certain people are more susceptible to hypnosis
<Jael> hm… that would _almost_ imply that those ‘learn psychic skills in 30 days” tapes would work, if they promised it in a longer time frame.
<Roy> oddly enough, the only somewhat valid, physical indicator of receptiveness to hypnosis is how far you can roll your eyeballs back into your head
<Roy> i guess over time you can become more amenable to hypnotic suggestions
<john-afk> I can’t do roll my eyeballs back at all and when I was “hypnotized” for a stage show all that happened was I felt really relaxed, relaxed enough to make believe in front of an audience of over a hundred fellow villagers.
<Roy> but either way, i’m pretty sure that the suggestion would just be another set of information for their metamemory to draw from
<RainTurtle> The variations required in the leading (or however you want to call it) in the induction of hypnosis and the phrasing of the suggestions might result in any given recording being useful only for about a fifth of the people who try it (judging from the effectiveness of other commercial recordings,…)….
<john-afk> sorry for that off-topic comment.
<Roy> yup, entertainers who use hypnosis count on that, john
<Aphanas> *nods* The use of hypnosis may be a limiting factor (if it only works well with people that are easily susceptible to those methods). That would imply that other methods may more effectively work with a different section of the population. His results do indicate that the method of hypnosis _does_ work with at least 1/10th of his subjects to bring out psionic abilities (ostensibly by modifying their meta-cognitive judgement).
<Roy> on the opposite end of the spectrum, John, my friend Scott can roll his eyeballs all the way back until all you see is white
<Roy> and he did volunteer once for a stage hypnotist, and he has no recollection of the event
<john-afk> the funny thing was after the show my speech impediment disappeared for the night, I went back to see the same guy do the same act a year later & then the show did seem a bit longer so maybe when I went “to sleep” I did zone out a bit.
<Aphanas> So… what does this indicate as an area of study for us? Do we have some suggestions on how we could test the influence of Expectation factors on successful psionic performance (or development of psionic abilities)?
<Roy> take a group of people, screen them for who’s susceptible and who isn’t
<Roy> separate them into two groups, and toss in a control group for good measure
<Roy> actually, three sets of three groups
<Roy> one set is taught only via hypnosis, another only via some introductory information and a “just do it” philosophy
<Roy> and the third utilizes both
<Roy> that’s a lot of people, lol
<Jael> One of the pieces that would be important to look at is _how_ other skills are trained, even when people don’t expect to be able to learn it.
<RainTurtle> *idly wonders whether the results would be any different if teaching pk as opposed to the “psychic” skills*
<Jael> This might require a bit of study into child psychology, since they are the largest group of humans being taught skills. Children and those recovering from strokes/nerve damage, actually.
<RainTurtle> Hmmmmm. Good point, Jael. As a counter-example, if you try teaching it the same way most junior-high teachers teach algebra, we might be able to predict close to a 0% effectiveness….
<Roy> early in child development, up to the age of 7 about, they’re cognitively inclined to believe and put full faith in authority figures
<Aphanas> *nods* So you think that looking into how we learn would be revealing, Jael.
<Jael> I would expect that to be helpful, anyway.
<Roy> this is no doubt an evolved psychological mechanism that keeps them out of danger when mama and papa tell them not to do something that would incur harm
<Aphanas> *nods* True, Roy. Which should affect our meta-cognitive judgement results, then.
<Roy> if you teach a child at that age that they’re capable of…
<Roy> yup, that’s the stuff
<Aphanas> *nods* That’s an interesting question on PK, Rain. The results very well may not be the same.
<Jael> The negative works as well, which complicates matters tremendously.
<RainTurtle> Roy: what limitations are you thinking of, in terms of the child’s age?
<Roy> neurological development
<Roy> emotional development
<Roy> the same things that would keep a young child from doing whatever adults do with the same skill
<Jael> (The negative = teaching a child they can’t do something they ‘should’ be able to do, or that something is bad when it isn’t, etc.)
<Aphanas> That kind of study (all of the ones mentioned) would require some serious funding and a proper lab to run… need to finish getting my Neurosciene degree.
<Aphanas> *Neuroscience, rather
<Roy> hurry it up, i’d like to brag to my friends that I know a neuroscientist
<Aphanas> Heh… As a side note, the Chinese are already taking this approach. They are running studies on school children to see if they can bring out reliable psionic abilities by modifying their expectations (and using other training methods). Check out “China’s Super Psychics” by Paul Dong for an interesting read on the topic (even though the name sounds really hokey, it actually has some good content).
<john-afk> I’d better head to bed because it is coming for 4 am, good night all
<RainTurtle> be well, John
<Roy> parapsychology research, in and of itself, is one big quagmire
<Roy> take care john
<john-afk> Thanks for a stimulating debate
<Jael> Goodnight, john. Thanks for stopping by.
<Aphanas> Take care, John. Stay safe.
<Jael> sleep well.
<Aphanas> Alright… does anyone have any other comments before we bring this discussion to a close?
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<Roy> that is all
<Roy> this was fun, i enjoyed it
<Jael> It’s a fascinating area.
<Aphanas> Heh… noted. We’ll make sure it’s included in the logs.
<Aphanas> Thanks for coming, everyone. I don’t think we have a date for the next discussion, but we’ll announce on the website when we do.