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The Sense of Being Stared At

Discussion in 'The Pub' started by Bravus, Dec 8, 2006.

  1. A biologist named Rupert Sheldrake has done some interesting work on the 'sense of being stared at' - the human ability to know when someone is looking at us. He claims that his experiments show, in a way that means it's not just chance, that we do actually know, and look for the source of the stare.

    His stuff is interesting to anyone who's interested in 'weird science' (and his proposed explanation is fairly weird), but I'm more interested in its practical implications. I know I already look hard at any driver I think is planning on pulling out in front of me. But if we made a conscious habit of this (without ignoring whatever else we need to be looking at, of course), maybe we can (in some cases, not all) *force* the inattentive driver to pay attention.

  2. And the link to his studies is???????
    His name sounds familiar,I think he has been on a ABC Radio national segment called "all in the mind"which is on every week.Im being to lazy to :google:
  3. Shhh Bravus, someone is watching you......Yeah I know what you mean, I get the felling often. :shock:
  4. Thanx for being so quick with the link, Rod, that's great. There's a book as well - my daughter actually did his experiment (in a modified version) for a science fair project... and did find statistically significant results too.
  5. I'm not sure that we're telepathic enough to *force* someone to look at us. I mean for one thing, most of the time when you experience that sensation of someone staring at you its usually on a train or something when you aren't really doing anything. - there's a lot of other things going on when you're in a car to sap your awareness/concentration.

    Secondly, as you drive past you probably have no more than a second or two to eyeball the driver, (through your visor, I might add) which probably isn't long enough for them to get the message.
  6. The Wikipedia entry on Sheldrake.

  7. I try to attract attention of cagers by moderating my speed; more often slowing down than speeding up. So as to "register" in their attention.
  8. Yeah, I should probably disclaimer this thread a bit, along the lines of 'here's an interesting idea to kick around' not 'ZOMG THIS IS TEH TURE SCINCE!!1!one' ;)

  9. Are you going to get right into doing stoppies now? :p
  10. So thats why women always seem to know when I'm perving on them even though they are walking infront of me :LOL:
  11. OK, I'm going to share a secret shame here - for amusement value!

    I was walking along with some music cranked on my mp3 player behind three women, at least one of whom I know fairly well from our department. All three were in either jeans or tight slacks, and all their butts were looking luscious. I said to myself 'Yummy!' But here's the thing - because I had the music up loud, I have this horrible suspicion that my inside voice might have got outside... BUT I DON'T KNOW! The one I know turned around and smiled and said 'Hi', and didn't slap me... but that might also have been due to the sense of being stared at. And she's smiled and been normal ever since, so maybe the fear is ill-founded. But it'd be nice to know...
  12. Yes. :p
  13. I think women have a much heightened sense of when they are being looked at.

    No matter how discreetly and how crowded your observatory position is, they will always turn and find you exactly out!!

    Can the girls please confirm this!!!!!

  14. :LOL: :LOL: :LOL:

    I think your in the clear as she didn't slap you. Either that or she's keen.
  15. Ok, here's a confession. My 'hobby' is an interest in scientific skeptical analysis. I am a (junior) member of the New England Skeptical Society, and although I have not read this guys work, I have read about his work, and more to the point I have read some critiques. For the "some scientists" stated above, read ALL scientists who actually apply the scientific method. His arguments apparently fail because they depend on a number of common logical fallacies i.e.

    Ad ignorantum The argument from ignorance basically states that a specific belief is true because we don't know that it isn't true. Defenders of extrasensory perception, for example, will often overemphasize how much we do not know about the human brain.

    Argument from authority Stating that a claim is true because a person or group of perceived authority says it is true. But the truth of a claim should ultimately rest on logic and evidence, not the authority of the person promoting it.

    Argument from final Consequences Such arguments (also called teleological) are based on a reversal of cause and effect, because they argue that something is caused by the ultimate effect that it has, or purpose that is serves.

    Argument from Personal Incredulity 'I cannot explain or understand this, therefore it cannot be true'. Creationists are fond of arguing that they cannot imagine the complexity of life resulting from blind evolution, but that does not mean life did not evolve.

    Confusing association with causation This assumes cause and effect for two variables simply cause they are correlated. e.g. more people die in ambulance than any other vehicle, therefore ambulances are the most dangerous vehicle to be in.

    Any one of the above would move the conclusions from the realm of science to pseudoscience.
  16. I think I indicated in the first post that I consider his proposed explanation 'weird'... but that doesn't explain away the empirical results, which have been replicated independently. Maybe the mechanism that makes it happen is still to be elucidated, but it seems as though there's fairly good evidence that it does happen.

    (I also have an interest in science and the nature of science.)
  17. Nice girls always know someone somewhere is checking them out.

    Just ask Black Magic. :p
  18. Apparently not, see Argument from final Consequences.
  19. Mmm, not sure there's a teleological argument for the sense of being stared at, though. Such an argument would be about the purpose of the 'sense' (i.e. this ability)... and that would be pretty much a non-empirical matter.

    Can you describe the flaw in the methodology? Which is basically to have subjects being either stared at or not stared at by people they can't see. They indicate whether they believe they are being stared at at a given time. Again and again the results are greater than can be accounted for by chance (statistically speaking) of a correlation between the actual stare and the feeling recorded by the subject. This occurs when the experimenters are pro- or anti- the phenomenon.

    So is your argument that it just simply does not happen, and the experiment is flawed, or that it happens but we have no idea why or how? The latter statement I'd agree with.

    Anyway, not to get into a huge debate... I was more using the idea to prompt a discussion about how we get attention/get noticed in traffic, and particularly in the case of those we fear are not paying attention.

    But what the heck, some science and skepticism is always fun!