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Telepathy And Clairvoyance: Testing Against Chance

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1 Telepathy And Clairvoyance: Testing Against Chance
Jasper Robinson & Jonathan Stirk

2 Introduction Aims Objectives To learn something about parapsychology
To learn how to test against chance Objectives You will conduct two experiments testing the theorised ability of either telepathy or clairvoyance against chance

3 Organisation of the session
Introduction Organisation of the session What is parapsychology and why should we study it? How can we test claims of psychic ability? Choose an experiment and conduct it on yourself and a partner Analyse the results Make an interesting modification to the experiment (one that you think will increase your chances of finding a significant result) What should you put in your write up?

4 What Is Parapsychology?
Parapsychology – the scientific study of paranormal phenomena (aka psychical research) Psi – the object of study: PSI Telepathy Clairvoyance Precognition Psychokinesis (PK) ESP GESP

5 Why Investigate psi? Anecdotal evidence suggests that humans can obtain information outside the normal five senses and outside accepted laws of physics (cf. The Aberfan disaster). Over the last 60 years experimental evidence has been amassed that has lead some researchers to accept that some form of ‘anomolous cognition’ does exist (Bem & Honorton, 1994). “[Parapsychology] represents an excellent opportunity to evaluate and develop the methods used by science to decide upon the reality of reported phenomena”, (Wiseman, 1996). “…If we could free the mind from the absolute restriction of the mechanism of the senses, the effect upon the science of the mind – psychology – and upon man’s whole view of himself would be almost too great to conjecture.” (Rhine, 1938).

6 Anecdotal Evidence: The Aberfan Disaster
On 21 October, 1966, the coal tip on the mountain overlooking the welsh mining town of Aberfan slid down the mountainside burying a school killing 128 children and 16 adults. Several premonitions of this event were recorded in front of witnesses, some up to fourteen days before the event.

7 Experimental Evidence: Forced Choice
The Pearce-Pratt distance-series ESP tests:74 runs through a deck of Zener cards produced a hit rate of 7.1 out of 25 when chance would give 5/25 (MCE- Mean Chance Expectation). The probability of this happening was p<10-22 ZENER CARDS (ESP CARDS) (25 cards/deck)

8 Experimental Evidence: Forced Choice
Helmut Schmidt’s random event generator (REG): Parapsychology experiments have been criticised for the use of non-random processes. Schmidt therefore created a machine that chose one of four outcomes on the basis of random electron emission from a radioactive particle. In a forced choice experiment subjects had to precognise which of four lights would activate (p<10-10) or clairvoyantly report a pre-determined order of lights (p<0.0001).

9 Experimental Evidence: Free Response
Free response dream experiments: At the Maimonides lab (NY) researchers studied the effects of telepathy through dream imagery during REM sleep. The sender would focus on a picture during the night (such as the ‘the descent from the cross’ – right). Subjects’ dreams would be noted after each period of REM and in the morning. Judges would then try to match their descriptions against the pictures.

10 Experimental Evidence: Free Response
Remote viewing (RV) – statistically significant results have been found for the reporting of unknown locations (Targ & Puthoff, 1977). Ganzfeld experiments – Honorton (1978) reported that over 50% of Ganzfeld experiments reported significant results. Conclusion? Though all parapsychology experiments are open to criticism (at the very least on the level of fraud), the evidence is suggestive that there may be something of interest in the results. (The American government certainly thought so as it sponsored RV research for several years).

11 Now It Is Your Chance To Test psi
The experiments chosen for today’s practical are forced-choice tests where the stimuli are sampled randomly with replacement. To test either telepathy or clairvoyance there are specific experiments of the same name. Have a practice before doing it for real. To test precognition, have your subject write down the forty answers in order before you start the ‘clairvoyance’ experiment. You should be aiming to get significantly higher than 25 % (as there are four options that you can choose from in the study).

12 What To Put In Your Report
Two tailed hypothesis – psi missing? Don’t pad your results section Discuss the comparisons between the different tests you conduct Constructive methodological criticism No outlandish conclusions that go beyond your data Give evidence of wide reading in your discussion and introduction

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