What's DAT All About Anyway?
by Jack Sarfatti
aka "Doctor Why"
(415) 487 4376
May 24, 1996
I comment on two papers by Ed May and co-workers which appeared in The
Journal of Parapsychology, Vol 59, September, 1995 i.e., "Applications
of Decision Augmentation Theory" pp 221-250 (with James P.
Spottiswoode, Jessica M. Utts and Christine L. James) and "Decision
Augmentation Theory: Toward a Model of Anomalous Mental Phenomena" pp
195-220 (ditto sans C.L. James).
These papers like Hal Puthoff's "CIA-Initiated Remote Viewing Program
at Stanford Research Institute" in the Journal of Scientific
Exploration, Vol 10, No 1, pp 63-76 (1996) are formidable challenges
for any objective honest skeptics (e.g., Martin Gardner, Vic Stenger,
Murray Gell-Mann, Carl Sagan) who claim there is no good evidence for
precognition (i.e., accessing information from the future in violation
of the, by now sacred, principle of "Einstein Causality" that causes
are before their effects absolutely in all frames of reference).
Furthermore, this research of Ed May's was supported by the Central
Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Department of Defense under much more
stringent monitoring than conventional experimental work in high energy
physics or even medical research. It must be taken seriously by
professional debunkers of parapsychology if they wish to be taken
seriously by the public, most of whom already believe in "psychic
phenomena". If May's et-al extraordinary claims survive further
testing, it means that a great restructuring of theoretical physics
from "modern" to "post-modern" is in the offing. The new "anomalous
cognition" data presented at the recent "Tucson II" consciousness
conference at the University of Arizona presented data whose import for
21st Century Post-Modern Physics is comparable to the import of
radioactivity, black body radiation, and the inability to detect motion
relative to the aether for 20th Century Modern Physics.
The bottom line from this hard-nosed experimental study by empirical
"hands-on" raw-data oriented Faraday types who hold "high falutin"
quantum theories of mind in disdain is that:
"In fact, DAT leads to the idea that there may be only one underlying
mechanism of all anomalous mental phenomena, namely a transfer of
information from future to past." p. 198
This finding can be compared to that of Michelson and Morley toward the
close of the 19th century that the motion of the Earth through the
"aether" could not be detected. For the record, based on my "high
falutin" quantum theory of the mind-matter interaction, I have been
arguing for this conclusion for many years before I knew of these
papers. Ironically, Ed May admonishes me in his cover letter of May
22, 1996 in the package that included his papers:
"Both James (Spottiswoode) and I believe theories that do not
quantitatively describe data are not just wrong, they are bad
The key word is "quantitatively". Ed has stated the case too
strongly. Any physical theory that can in principle not describe
significant data at all is, of course, a bad theory. But the
mind-matter problem is a special situation since, until recently, it
was widely believed that there was no fundamental theoretical object in
modern physics that could possibly be a testable representation of
"qualia" (i.e. subjective mental experiences). My theory gives a
theoretical candidate for qualia in qualitative agreement with May's
experimental finding. The qualia are excitations in the macroscopic
coherent quantum Bohm mental "pilot wave" attached to the mater
ial vibrations of pumped "Frohlich collective modes" of electric
dipoles in the microtubules inside living cells. Ed May, as well as
Doctor Mulhauser et-al, has protested that "interactive decoherence"
does not permit such long-lived spatially extended coherent quantum
states to exist. There are three arguments against that premature
conclusion. First, the Vitiello mechanism of an energy gap in the
Frohlich modes one hundred times greater than room temperature. Second,
the quantum Carnot effect in which the negative temperature of the
population-inverted Frohlich mode creates a thermal shield of ordered
water in a skin of a few nanometers thickness around the microtubule.
Third, the role of error-correction codes for quantum computers now
under intensive study by several independent research groups of
well-trained physicists. But it is not my purpose to defend my theory
here, but, rather, to heroically and selflessly, with uncharacteristic
humility, defend May's experiments in spite of the fact that he insults
One can immediately see why the U.S. Defense Intelligence Community is
rightly interested in this sort of thing. Aside from the use of
psychically sensitive agents to get the edge on the enemy's actions
before they themselves are even aware of what they will do, or to use
precognition "quantum computing chips" to make money on the swift
fluctuations in computer transfers of money in world markets, May et-al
"noisy diodes, radioactive decay, and other random sources...
piezoelectric strain gauge(s) ... three-axis accelerometers, calibrated
microphones, electromagnetic and nuclear radiation monitors ... air
This is a time when the USAF and the Naval Air Force is developing
virtual reality head gear for fighter pilots directly controlled by
their brain waves. Electronic equipment is getting increasingly
delicate, and if a deviant brain wave in some undetected psychic could
trigger an unauthorized nuclear missile launch, accidentally or by
intention, by what May et-al call "anomalous perturbation" (AP) then we
had better damn well understand the physics involved! Now I should make
clear at this point that May claims that AP does not happen. What does
happen is "precognition" hidden under the euphemism "DAT". We will
examine this distinction in detail. May's conclusion is therefore very
very important because it suggests that "loose cannon" psychics could
not accidentally trigger World War III though they could see it coming!
However, some of May's former co-workers warn that AP can happen.
Indeed, there is no apriori reason why both AP and DAT cannot happen.
Finally, let us not forget the "Butterfly Effect" instability of
classical chaos theory now amplified by the practically instant
information transfers through cyberspace on the Internet.
May et-al distinguish four possible mechanisms for their data.
1. "Mean Chance Expectation" (MCE) for data from an "unperturbed
parent distribution with unbiased sampling".
2. "Anomalous Perturbation" (AP) expected in "an interaction of a
'force' type ... from a perturbed parent distribution with unbiased
3. "Decision Agumentation" (DAT) in which "Nature is unchanged, but
the measurements are biased; that is, AC (Anomalous Cognition) has
'distorted' the sampling ... we have measurements from an unperturbed
parent distribution with biased sampling."
4 "Combination ... biased sampling from a perturbed parent
They consider a continuous random variable X with a normal probability
distribution of given mean and variance. Suppose n unbiased measures
and compute the new variable Y as the simple average over the n
measures. They claim that the new random variable Y also has a normal
probability distribution with the same mean as X but with a smaller
variance than X by a factor 1/n. The quantity z is then defined as
z = (Y - common mean of X and Y)/squareroot of variance of Y
This z is supposed to satisfy a normal probability distribution with
zero mean and variance = 1. The normalized equation for this is
p(z) = (1/squareroot 2pi) e^-z^2/2
So that expectation values of any function f(z) are the integrals from
- to + infinity of f(z)p(z)dz.
They do a similar analysis for a discrete Bernoulli probability
distribution with a given probability po to "observe a one". A
discrete z score after n samples is then defined in analogy to the
continuous normal case above etc. The mathematics looks fine to me, but
I am no expert. I doubt that the professional psi debunkers will be
able to punch holes in their mathematics at this stage.
The DAT model of "precognition" for z requires both a biased shift in
the mean away from zero and a biased distortion in the variance away
from 1. Similarly, the AP "force" model of "psychokinesis" for z only
requires a shift in the mean i.e., "an AP effect size". There is no
distortion in the variance in the case of force-like psychokinesis.
Let's discuss this before we go further with their analysis. The AP
scenario is active in that some kind of mental force literally reaches
out from the observer and perturbs the external objective physical
process which could be the decay of a single radio active nucleus, the
arrival of a single photon at a particular point on a photographic
plate, the tunnelling of an electron through an energy barrier etc. In
contrast, the DAT scenario, on the surface, is much more conservative
and plausible because it is passive. There is no psychokinetic force on
the objective external physical process, rather, there is precognition
of information transmitted from that external process. This information
need not come in the form of electromagnetic signals. No claim of that
kind is made by DAT or AP. They are both top-down "black-box" purely
empirical or phenomenological orderings of statistical data with no
necessary connection to any bottom-up fundamental physics theory. This
is both their strength and their weakness.
My quantum pilot wave theory of anomalous cognition (AC) is consistent
with DAT and not with AP. There is a shift in the mean and a distortion
in the variance of the quantum probability sampling distribution of the
brain substrate of mind away from the orthodox Born MCE distribution by
back-action which enables the "precognition" as shown, for example, by
Valentini. But this biased sampling shift and distortion is inside the
observer and has nothing to do with the external "parent distribution".
I am not claiming that AP is not ever possible. There may be
exceptional circumstances in which a thermally protected mental quantum
pilot wave of a material brain substrate can become
Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen "entangled" with a quantum state of some
external physical process in which the effective back action deviation
from orthodox quantum mechanics is large. In such a case AP is
possible. Therefore, the US Defense-Intelligence Community would make a
grave error in not continuing their support of these fringe areas of
"the New Physics". All I am saying is that I am satisfied that AP was
not happening in the large amounts of data analyzed by May,
Spottiswoode et-al. Their results IMHO, though not their manners, are
impeccable. But,then again, who am I to complain like "Pot calling
Kettle black!" :)
The original papers should be consulted for a large database of details
that should be sifted through with a fine tooth comb by the
professional psi debunkers. I accept these papers as factual. These
papers are qualitatively backed up in independent studies of AC by
Professor D. J. Bem (firstname.lastname@example.org) a former psi skeptic and stage
magician at the Cornell University Department of Psychology presented
as paper 432 at Tucson II, The ganzfeld: a procedure for obtaining
replicable evidence for an anomalous process of information transfer".
Thus, to summarize where we are so far: Skeptics like Cal Tech's Nobel
Physics Laureate, Murray Gell-Mann call all claims of AP or DAT
"pseudoscience" and any attempt to use quantum mechanics as a theory is
"The Story Distorted" (e.g., Ch. 12, The Quark and the Jaguar).
Opposing Gell-Mann is another Nobel Physics Laureate, Brian
Josephson,of England's venerable Cambridge University, who says that
paraphysical phenomena are statistically well-established scientific
facts. The small paraphysics community is now split between DAT and AP,
as well as whether quantum mechanics is essential or irrelevant to the
"anomalous cognition" phenomena. That's the way it is this day of May
24, 1996 on Planet Earth.