Consider the bilking experiment, and develop a self-consistent logical explanation for how bilking would or would not work. Write at most one 1.5-line-spaced typed page of your own analysis. (As far as I know a bilking experiment has not been carried out, and so is just a thought experiment at this point.)


You could consider as an example RadinÕs precognition experiment.  A viewer sits in front of a computer screen, and the computer decides in advance upon an evocative versus calming image, and displays it later.  The viewerÕs galvanic skin response is measured before the image is displayed, and shows a statistically significant preaction response.  In the bilking experiment, the computer measures the viewerÕs advanced response and changes its decision about what to display such that the image is set to produce the opposite effect of the advance response that has been measured.  Or you could consider Spottiswoode & MayÕs experiment (pp. 174-75 in RadinÕs book), or another of your own creation.


Would the viewerÕs measured response change to that of the newly set future, remain unchanged, or would something else break down? Justify your assertions.



Another description of bilking (from

The bilking argument is explained by Mackie (see section 2.2), with reference to a backward causal hypothesis that a drawing made by an alleged clairovoyant on Monday might be caused be a pattern made Tuesday: ŌBut on every occasion, after the drawing is made, it is possible that someone or something should intervene so that the corresponding pattern fails to be produced. Consequently, it cannot on any occasion be the pattern that is responsible for the details of the drawing: the precognition hypothesis must be false even for those occasions when the device is not stopped, when the pattern is actually produced and turns out to be just like the drawing.Ķ (1974, p. 178) So backwards causation is said to be impossible.


Up to course home page