Ideomotor response

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Ideomotor response

Postby patrick herring » Sun Jan 07, 2018 10:03 pm

I posted about this in a reply in Dowsing in the media, but would like a definite view.

Is there anything problematic with mentioning or agreeing with the ideomotor response being part of the dowsing process?

I see it mentioned in wikipedia as if it explains away the whole thing, but I don't see that it does anything like that. At most it introduces a possibility of getting the wrong response through small errors being amplified, but the various devices act against that through the centering being independent of the signal.

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Re: Ideomotor response

Postby Ian Pegler » Mon Jan 08, 2018 1:54 pm

Specifically using the "i" word will send googlers scuttling off to website resources authored by pseudo-skeptics. Wikipedia is a pseudo-skeptical resource, written by pseudo-skeptics and they control the dowsing page too.

Far better to speak in more general terms eg. the subconscious influence on the rods, also more correct because that way you aren't tying yourself to someone else's understanding (or misunderstanding) of the "i" word.

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Re: Ideomotor response

Postby patrick herring » Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:20 am

Well, you won't get cooperation or understanding by being so confrontational.
If you mean wikipedia is by default sceptical then that's right, that's the way it should be.
I've recently got a chunk added to the dowsing page without any complaints (story about the
first water dowse - both relevant and charming, and referenced), and I expect to do more on the same basis.
The trouble with "subconscious mind" etc is it's unnecessarily vague rather than more general.

Ideomotor response just means muscle tensions from having particular ideas in mind, plus their semantic equivalents.
People don't generally know about it because they're small, below the normal threshold of perception.
It has a currency in the literature so we can use it as a fact, simple as, end of.
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Re: Ideomotor response

Postby Ian Pegler » Tue Jan 09, 2018 12:31 pm

Well, you won't get cooperation or understanding by being so confrontational.


Who do you suppose I want cooperation from? In what way am I being confrontational?

If you mean wikipedia is by default sceptical then that's right, that's the way it should be.


No, that's not what I meant, and no it isn't that way.

The dowsing and several other pages are policed by organised groups of people representing or volunteering on behalf of atheist/humanist organisations in America, extolling a particular brand of skepticism, not true skepticism in the original sense of the word. True skeptics sit on the fence and never get off.

I've recently got a chunk added to the dowsing page without any complaints


So far it's lasted a week which is very good going, but you haven't said anything to sufficiently raise their heckles. Try saying that dowsing works.

Many dowsers have tried to modify the page but have had their comments deleted.

It has a currency in the literature so we can use it as a fact, simple as, end of.


This sounds like you're trying to curtail any conversation, it seems like you're now trying to answer your own question yourself. You were the one who invited comment, don't be surprised when someone does.

When you say "It has a currency in the literature" are you referring to books by dowsers?
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Re: Ideomotor response

Postby patrick herring » Tue Jan 09, 2018 10:35 pm

The dowsing and several other pages are policed by organised groups of people representing or volunteering on behalf of atheist/humanist organisations in America, extolling a particular brand of skepticism, not true skepticism in the original sense of the word. True skeptics sit on the fence and never get off.


Ah, I see, I didn't know. I have come across the anti-advert wikicops. I think the context was pottery, where you can't easily mention a glaze ingredient without using a brand name, particularly in America.

I've recently got a chunk added to the dowsing page without any complaints


So far it's lasted a week which is very good going, but you haven't said anything to sufficiently raise their heckles. Try saying that dowsing works.

Many dowsers have tried to modify the page but have had their comments deleted.
[/quote]

Well, it's not a discussion board.

It has a currency in the literature so we can use it as a fact, simple as, end of.


This sounds like you're trying to curtail any conversation, it seems like you're now trying to answer your own question yourself. You were the one who invited comment, don't be surprised when someone does.

When you say "It has a currency in the literature" are you referring to books by dowsers?


Do you know any? I see the original article by William Carpenter as neutral about dowsing as such.
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Re: Ideomotor response

Postby Ian Pegler » Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:49 am

Using Google Books, I did a search for "ideomotor" - it is used frequently in:

a) Books by pseudo-skeptics
b) Books on Psychology and Neuropsychology
c) Books ABOUT the "paranormal" and dowsing, not necessarily by pseudo-skeptics but very possibly influenced by them, but not books by dowsers.

If you seach for the exact phrase "Ideomotor effect" (including the quotes) the pseudo-skeptical works come more to the fore, exactly as I suspected they would.

If you then search for "ideomotor effect" dowsing you still get loads of pseudo-skeptic books. There is a listing for Christopher Bird's "The Divining Hand" but when I looked up the book "ideomotor" is actually not there.

I conclude that the phrase "ideomotor effect" (as opposed to the single word ideomotor) belongs to the pseudoskeptics, although its original use by Carpenter seems to have been applied to an explanation of table-tipping in order to show that the table was not being moved by a ghost. Its adaptation by pseudo-skeptics as an explanation for dowsing is therefore a bit of a misnomer.

The Divining Hand does discuss the work of Jan Merta and his science experiments aimed to show that:

"one of the principal muscles involved in the rod's movement might be the carpi radialis flexor in the wrist area of the forearm"


So we can talk about these things intelligently without borrowing the i-word and moreover we might end up with a more complete explanation that talks about the involvement of consciousness. Bear in mind also that some dowsers don't even use rods, so saying things like "dowsing is the ideomotor effect" doesn't even come close to covering it.

I seen no benefit to the adaptation of pseudo-skeptical terminology in dowsing books/discussions and the end result will be the spreading of a pseudo-skeptical meme.
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Re: Ideomotor response

Postby patrick herring » Sat Jan 13, 2018 8:24 pm

Thanks. I couldn't find the term in any of the books I have, including Elizabeth Brown and Arthur Bailey. They seem to go out of their way not to use it. The best quote is from Arthur Bailey: "The dowsing instrument is basically an amplifier of muscular movement." but that doesn't include "in response to having particular ideas in mind".

But I think it's too late, the best approach would be to agree, since it's true anyway. Apart from the dowsing wikipedia page it seems to be in the public awareness. I watched a recent Have I Got News For You (catching up!) and it was in that (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Io3sxOJeVfc) after Sally Le Page's exploits. Paul Merton made an intelligent comment.

A big advantage of going with ideomotor is that it establishes that dowsing is psychological not physical, and the experiments that got a null result were based on the physical theory, that it's a slight physical effect with abnormal human detection ability.

We're stuck between objective knowledge and the entirely subjective, in that we make objective claims on a subjective basis. Scientific Method can't cope with anything subjective (because it's one source of error) but they won't admit that that includes understanding language and anything that needs skill and experience like driving cars, in fact the normal world. The page on Qualia is most interesting.
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Re: Ideomotor response

Postby Ian Pegler » Sun Jan 14, 2018 8:45 am

Thanks. I couldn't find the term in any of the books I have, including Elizabeth Brown and Arthur Bailey. They seem to go out of their way not to use it. The best quote is from Arthur Bailey: "The dowsing instrument is basically an amplifier of muscular movement." but that doesn't include "in response to having particular ideas in mind".


Because it isn't "in response to having particular ideas in mind", that's why. Once you've set the question you remain passive and allow the response to come through. Perhaps you should ask Elizabeth Brown why she didn't use it?

But I think it's too late, the best approach would be to agree, since it's true anyway. Apart from the dowsing wikipedia page it seems to be in the public awareness.


Oh good grief, a more negative defeatist attitude would be hard to find. There are plenty of things in the public awareness which are complete bunk, and if you're agreeing with the pseudoskeptical understanding of dowsing then you might as well give up. Putting their world view into the public awareness has been the game of the pseudo-skeptics since the formation of CSICOP in the 1970s and they are very good at doing it. Just don't expect me to believe it because it is "out there". I might as well get my opinions from the tabloids.

A big advantage of going with ideomotor is that it establishes that dowsing is psychological not physical, and the experiments that got a null result were based on the physical theory, that it's a slight physical effect with abnormal human detection ability.


Nothing has been established except that the experiments the pseudo-skeptics have been doing don't work. The pseudo-skeptics don't have a theory of dowsing because they don't believe that it works. They just went ahead to try and test this rather vague and ill-defined notion of "dowsing works". The old rules page for the now defunct Randi prize (you could probably find it on the Wayback machine) specifically said that they didn't want to be burdened with theories of dowsing etc.

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Re: Ideomotor response

Postby patrick herring » Sun Jan 14, 2018 9:24 pm

Thanks. I couldn't find the term in any of the books I have, including Elizabeth Brown and Arthur Bailey. They seem to go out of their way not to use it. The best quote is from Arthur Bailey: "The dowsing instrument is basically an amplifier of muscular movement." but that doesn't include "in response to having particular ideas in mind".


Because it isn't "in response to having particular ideas in mind", that's why. Once you've set the question you remain passive and allow the response to come through.


That's an additional aspect to your muscles tensing plus an idea. Entirely valid I agree, but additional. "In response" just means "in conjunction with", to me. The other one that the sceptics omit is why left or right, and why do they often make a meaningful sequence.

Perhaps you should ask Elizabeth Brown why she didn't use it?


I imagine she preferred to avoid too many technical terms. Would she help in this? Do you have a contact email?

But I think it's too late, the best approach would be to agree, since it's true anyway. Apart from the dowsing wikipedia page it seems to be in the public awareness.


Oh good grief, a more negative defeatist attitude would be hard to find. There are plenty of things in the public awareness which are complete bunk, and if you're agreeing with the pseudoskeptical understanding of dowsing then you might as well give up. Putting their world view into the public awareness has been the game of the pseudo-skeptics since the formation of CSICOP in the 1970s and they are very good at doing it. Just don't expect me to believe it because it is "out there". I might as well get my opinions from the tabloids.


I am not being negative or defeatist, thanks. It goes much further back than CSICOP, back through the Vienna circle and the logical positivists, Kant v Hume, Descartes' Rationalism, the mediaeval problem with negative numbers, back through to classical times with irrational numbers and why they were called that. The whole "squaring the circle" thing was about trying to tame the wild. We'll not remove this basic fear of the uncontrolled & uncertain with one example. It reminds me of the trouble psychology had in being accepted as a science. They did it with statistics but we'll have to use experience I think. Ideomotor is a neutral scientific term that is not owned by sceptics. If more used by them who's fault is that? Writing it off as belonging to them is what I call being negative and defeatist.

A big advantage of going with ideomotor is that it establishes that dowsing is psychological not physical, and the experiments that got a null result were based on the physical theory, that it's a slight physical effect with abnormal human detection ability.


Nothing has been established except that the experiments the pseudo-skeptics have been doing don't work. The pseudo-skeptics don't have a theory of dowsing because they don't believe that it works. They just went ahead to try and test this rather vague and ill-defined notion of "dowsing works". The old rules page for the now defunct Randi prize (you could probably find it on the Wayback machine) specifically said that they didn't want to be burdened with theories of dowsing etc.


They do have a theory, they think the physicalist one is the only one that counts, and it doesn't work as we know. They think game over. They need convincing that there are other theories to consider, which are a lot more difficult to prove or disprove.
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Re: Ideomotor response

Postby patrick herring » Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:20 am

Thanks. I couldn't find the term in any of the books I have, including Elizabeth Brown and Arthur Bailey. They seem to go out of their way not to use it. The best quote is from Arthur Bailey: "The dowsing instrument is basically an amplifier of muscular movement." but that doesn't include "in response to having particular ideas in mind".


Because it isn't "in response to having particular ideas in mind", that's why. Once you've set the question you remain passive and allow the response to come through.

That's an additional aspect to your muscles tensing plus an idea. Entirely valid I agree, but additional. "In response" just means "in conjunction with", to me. The other one that the sceptics omit is why left or right, and why do they often make a meaningful sequence.


Another thing they say is that the effect is slight, therefore flakey and subject to other input, e.g. subconscious detection of contextual clues. "flakey" is difficult to counter. We all know when a pendulum seems unable to make up its mind. L-rods almost always give a definite signal, but why are we so sure of that?
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Re: Ideomotor response

Postby Ian Pegler » Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:41 am

I am not being negative or defeatist, thanks.


What you are doing is employing a term most commonly used by pseudo-skeptics and your rationale for doing so is to suggest the term is "neutral" and amenable to dowsing and the big problem with that is that its meaning (as used in the common parlance of the pseudo-skeptics) is anything but neutral. This may not be a problem for you BUT when you come to try and explain it to other people the first thing they will do is try and look it up somewhere and invariably land on a skeptical resource which may give a slightly different angle to the one you would like them to understand, for example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMtuWymUzz4

Using the term "ideomotor effect" makes it sound like you are making concessions to skeptics because as employed by them it means something different to the way in which you want to use it.

I note with some irony that in order to make my point I have had to link to a resource provided by skeptics! I didn't want to.

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Re: Ideomotor response

Postby patrick herring » Mon Jan 15, 2018 9:22 pm

What you are doing is employing a term most commonly used by pseudo-skeptics and your rationale for doing so is to suggest the term is "neutral" and amenable to dowsing and the big problem with that is that its meaning (as used in the common parlance of the pseudo-skeptics) is anything but neutral. This may not be a problem for you BUT when you come to try and explain it to other people the first thing they will do is try and look it up somewhere and invariably land on a skeptical resource which may give a slightly different angle to the one you would like them to understand, for example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMtuWymUzz4


Yeah, but Randi doesn't say it much and instead implies the poor sap doesn't know it either and instead talks about the lack of stability in his arms, which is true actually. He's basically mocking the amateur for amateurishness. I don't know why the dowser thinks he has to keep the rods perfectly level, it's a gift to Randi that Randi doesn't mention.

Using the term "ideomotor effect" makes it sound like you are making concessions to skeptics because as employed by them it means something different to the way in which you want to use it.


The question is whether there is a neutral way of describing dowsing. I think there is. In general I have to ignore when people in the dowsing community indulge in too much pixie talk, just as I have to when listening to skeptics (however you spell it!). I'm basically of the Arthur Bailey mold, who was before the Richard Dawkins/James Randi talk-show took hold. I live for the day when dowsers are much more scientifically literate, and for when the science fans know much more about how science works and doesn't work. Did you know the Scientific Method puts driving a car in the same category as woo-woo, because it relies on subjective judgment for turning corners correctly?

Anyway, my original question was based on whether I could use ideomotor in wikipedia in describing dowsing, and I guess I'll just have to and see what happens.

I note with some irony that in order to make my point I have had to link to a resource provided by skeptics! I didn't want to.


I hope you've recovered after that nasty shock. :)
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Re: Ideomotor response

Postby Ian Pegler » Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:05 pm

An older thread from a couple of years ago...

"How does the ideomotor effect debunk dowsing ?"

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=3729

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Re: Ideomotor response

Postby Ian Pegler » Thu Jan 18, 2018 6:02 pm

Another old thread:

"The trouble with Wikipedia"

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=631
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