Tag Archives: Parapsychology

The Scientific Evidence for Psychokinesis: Psi Phenomena, Part 4

Psychokinesis, telekinesis, move things with your mind, mind over matter, Part 1: The Scientific Evidence for Telepathy
Part 2: The Scientific Evidence for Clairvoyance
Part 3: The Scientific Evidence for Precognition

In today’s post, Part 4 of the series, I will recount the scientific evidence for psychokinesis, which is also referred to as telekinesis. These terms refer to one being able to move a physical object with one’s mind. In short, this particular term accounts for the “mind over matter” that people often refer to.

Much of the early research on psychokinesis involved one’s ability to influence the roll of a die. In these studies, a die face is chosen in advance, then the participant wishes for that face to land up. It’s probably one of the simpler studies one can conduct with regard to parapsychological research. Dean Radin and Diane Ferrari conducted a meta-analysis of all the experiments that had been done on die research from 1935 to 1987 and came to this conclusion:

The estimated effect  size for the full database lies more than 19 standard deviations from chance while the effect size for the subset of balanced, homogeneous studies lies 2.6 standard deviations from chance. We conclude that this database provides weak cumulative evidence for a genuine relationship between mental intention and the fall of dice.

Psychokinesis, telekinesis, move things with your mind, mind over matter, While the evidence from these earlier studies are not overwhelming, they at least lean towards support for the evidence and possibility of psychokinesis. Nowadays, the majority of research in this area is done with random-number generators (RNGs). These RNGs do exactly what it sounds like they do – generate a sequence of random numbers. In these RNG experiments, participants are usually asked to attempt to influence the outcome of the RNG to be higher than expected or lower than expected. With a random set of numbers, you can accurately predict what the dataset should look like, if there were no influences on it. The participants try to alter this by intending that the numbers are higher or intending that the numbers are lower. If you’ve read most of my posts in this series, then you know I have an affinity for meta-analyses.

In a meta-analysis conducted by Dean Radin and Roger Nelson of all of the RNG experiments conducted between 1959 (the first RNG experiment) and the mid-2000s:

Meta-analysis of 515 RNG experiments conducted by 91 researchers over a span of 41 years indicates the presence of a small magnitude, but statistically highly significant and repeatable mind-matter interaction effect.  The overall results cannot be attributed to chance, or selective reporting problems, or variations in design quality.  These studies indicate that there are ways in which mind and matter interact that support the plausibility of distant intentional healing.  Because modern RNG experiments can be conducted under tightly controlled laboratory conditions at relatively low cost, they may serve as a convenient model to help us better understand the relevant conditions and mechanisms of distant healing. [emphasis added]

Most research studies I’ve read about psychokinesis come to the same conclusion – it’s possible and it happens. While you won’t often see many accounts like this one, it seems that psychokinesis is a very real and present phenomenon. As I wrote in other The Intention Experiment: Using Your Thoughts to Change Your Life and the Worldposts about the power of words (Your words and thoughts have powerWords are more important than you may have thought; With love and gratitude), it seems that intention really has an effect on our reality. Since the body is made up of “physical” things, we could say that the evidence for the power of words could be used to support the evidence of psychokinesis. I understand that the studies I cited in those posts weren’t directly measure psychokinesis, but in a way, I think they were. More than that, there’s the work of Lynne McTaggart and her accompanying book The Intention Experiment.

The Scientific Evidence for Precognition: Psi Phenomena, Part 3

In the of this series of posts on the scientific evidence for psi phenomena, I discussed the myriad proof for telepathy. In , I talked about the evidence of clairvoyance (and remote viewing) and also mentioned that there are probably still lots of studies that were done by the government that have yet to see the light of day (and may never see the light of day). In this, part 3 of the series, I will talk about the evidence for .

Precognition is knowledge of an event that has yet to occur that can’t be deduced from ‘normally known data’ to be present. In short, precognition is an ability to know the future. Writing, in short-hand, about the scientific evidence of psi phenomena has become easier because in the last 20-30 years, there have been researchers who have done a lot of hard work. More accurately, they’ve summarized much of the data up to the point of their study and some have even written brilliant meta-analyses either critiquing or in support of the data. For precognition, there was a meta-analysis published in 1989 in the Journal of Parapsychology called: “‘.”

A forced-choice precognition experiment is where the experimenter gives the participant a number of options (for a future event) where the participant has to select from those options. This can be contrasted with those studies that were done called free-response studies. A free-response study is one in which the range of options/targets for the participant are seemingly unlimited. A good meta-analysis of free-response studies (). There is one other kind of methodology that is used in testing for precognition: unconscious perception. In this method, the participant’s precognitive ability is being tested, in a sense, without their knowledge. The precognitive abilities are tested through skin conductance and EEG activity. I’ll talk about that a little later on in the post. Let’s talk about the results from the forced-choice experiments.

In the forced-choice meta-analysis, Honorton and Ferrari were able to gather 2,000,000 individual trials by more than 50,000 participants. Most of these studies involved participants guessing Zener cards after the deck was thoroughly shuffled (and some obscure randomized factor done through computers or by cutting the deck to the temperature of a distant city). . Yes, a septillion. That’s 10 with 24 zeros after it. To purport that the results do not support the evidence for precognition would be preposterous.

One of the critiques of precognition studies (and parapsychology in general) is that the . However, in the study I was just referencing, the one about forced-choice, the researchers took a closer look at the methodologies used by the studies they reviewed. Stunningly, what they found, when the quality of the methodology improved, so too, did the precognition results. Meaning, as the methodology got better, so did the results for precognition.

Earlier, I mentioned that I was going to talk about skin conductance and EEG tests of precognition. Some of the research that is coming out of tests of these nature can be simply — mind-boggling. Rollin McCraty and researchers at the Institute of HeartMath were attempting to find evidence for intuition through electrophysiological means. Meaning, they wanted to see if the body had foreknowledge of an event before the mind did. To do this, they used skin conductance, EEG, and ECG, to measure the response in various areas of the body before an image was shown to the participant. These images would either be emotionally arousing or not. The participant had no conscious foreknowledge of what image was to be shown to them.

The researchers found that participants’ body knew when the participant was to see an image that was emotionally arousing. The reactions of the participants’ body prior to seeing an emotionally arousing image versus the reactions prior to seeing a calm image were significantly different. In fact, they found that this information was received by the heart before it was received by the brain. You can read the papers written by the researchers:

As was stated in the conclusions of these articles: “Overall, we have independently replicated and extended previous research documenting prestimulus responses.” Meaning, these studies are not the only studies of its kind — offering evidence for precognition. There are other studies () that claim the same.

I have a hard time differentiating my favorite from my non-favorites with regard to psi phenomena and the Big 5, but there’s a special place in my heart for precognition. Particularly because of what it means for us as humans and our interpretation of time. There’s a fantastic two-part episode of Star Trek called that does a wonderful job of depicting a possibility when it comes to the directionality of time.

Of course, we think that time moves from the past to the present to the future — but what if this were not true? Albert Einstein is , “. . . for us physicist believe the separation between past, present, and future is only an illusion, although a convincing one.” Another good on this matter: “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” And one more from : “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” Whether or not you believe in the possibility of or the inherent direction of the , it is clear that from our (movies and books), there is some part of humanity that is fascinated by the idea.

The Scientific Evidence for Clairvoyance: Psi Phenomena, Part 2

In , I talked about the scientific evidence for telepathy. From my perspective, there is so much evidence for the presence of such a phenomena that those who deny its existence are doing so for reasons outside of science. In this post, I will discuss the scientific evidence for clairvoyance, which is often closely associated with remote viewing. Let’s start off with some definitions.

Clairvoyance is often confused with other parapsychological terms, sometimes telepathy and other times precognition. We learned in Part 1 that telepathy is akin to reading someone’s mind. Loosely, precognition is being able to predict the future. An aspect of clairvoyance known as remote viewing, is when someone is able to perceive a distant geographical location. , however, is when a person is able to acquire information about an object (person or place included) or event that cannot be perceived by other means (5 senses). One could see how this might be confused with telepathy as telepathy is a means of acquiring information from someone’s mind (which could, theoretically, contain information about an event or object). As well, remote viewing is like a specific kind of clairvoyance. Some mistake clairvoyance for being able to see the future, but this is really precognition, not to be confused with retrocognition, which is being able to see acquire information about the past through means other than “normal.” Is your head spinning from parapsychological terms, yet? All you need to know is that we’re talking about clairvoyance today and clairvoyance is being able to acquire information about something without the five senses.

Some of the earliest tests for clairvoyance were in . One person draws an image and then a distant partner is supposed to draw the same image. These sorts of tests wouldn’t pass for science with today’s standards as the images selected by the participants weren’t “random” and the inherent shared biases between people in these experiments allowed for a certain sense of similarity to their image selection. Meaning, if two people had just been to the beach, there would obviously be a higher probability of a selection of water in the image drawn. Keeping this in mind, there were still some rather amazing studies written about by . The book’s preface was written by Albert Einstein who wrote: “I have read the book of Upton Sinclair. . . and am convinced that the same deserves the most earnest consideration, not only of the laity [public], but also of the psychologists by profession.” Another book on the picture-drawing experiments to check is by .

In 2003, researchers and published an article in the that summarized 25 years of research on remote viewing at the called: “.” The article had four purposes:

1) to present for the first time in archival form all results of some 25 years of remote perception research at this laboratory; 2) to describe all of the analytical scoring methods developed over the course of this program to quantify the amount of anomalous information acquired in the experiments; 3) to display a remarkable anti-correlation between the objective specificity of those methods and the anomalous yield of the experiments; and 4) to discuss the phenomenological and pragmatic implications of this complementarity.

The meta-analysis of the article concluded that (from page 219):

The overall results of these analyses leave little doubt, by any criterion, that the PRP perceptions [remote viewing data] contain considerably more information about the designated targets than can be attributed to chance guessing.

As Radin quotes in , the results of these studies are at odds against chance of 33 million to 1. The meta-analysis by Dunne and Jahn is more than enough evidence that clairvoyance/remote viewing exists. When people unfamiliar with the terms in this area talk about ESP, they are often referring to remote viewing.

Remote viewing is probably one of the more popular of and I would bet that this is attributable to the US government getting involved in this research. From the ‘s website:

In the 1970s and 1980s SRI was contracted by a U.S. government agency to research some aspects of remote viewing. As this work was performed for clients, SRI no longer has the records relating to the research. All such records were returned to the clients.

Some of the research has been published, but interestingly, as said by :

Some of the results from RV [remote viewing] are not yet publicly accessible.

There has been a lot written about remote viewing and clairvoyance both in the scientific community and for the public. One of the more interesting depictions of this research was in a recent film called: . The film had some heavy hitters (in terms of actors): George Clooney, Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges, and Ewan McGregor. The movie was adapted from a by the same name.

The Scientific Evidence for Telepathy: Psi Phenomena, Part 1

telepathy, esp, psychic, fortune teller, psi, I’ve touched on psi phenomena in a couple of other posts (What if we were all telepathic? and Would you take a pill to make you smarter?), but I didn’t really go into the details of what Charles Tart calls, “The Big Five.” In doing research for an upcoming series of posts on my thoughts of American public policy (which I briefly touched on here), I thought it might be good to also do a series of posts covering ‘the big 5,’ which are: telepathy, clairvoyance or remote viewing, precognition, psychokinesis, and psychic healing. I thought because I’d already touched on telepathy back in January, it would be best to start with it.

Let’s start with a definition. Telepathy is the scientific term for what some may call “mind-reading.” It is being able to pick up information from someone else’s mind. Some of the first scientific studies done in order to measure telepathy (in the 1930s) were done by J.B. Rhine, who is considered to be the father of modern parapsychology. He would have participants “read his mind” and guess the shape that was on the card he was holding (known as Zener cards). Rhine’s studies produced statistically significant results, time and time again. The one downfall to this method of experimenting is that it’s hard to know whether or not Rhine was measuring telepathy or clairvoyance (it is possible that the participants were divining the future [what card will turn up next?])

The second set of experiments conducted (starting in the mid-70s and still going on today) to test for telepathy are known as the Ganzfeld experiments. In these experiments, the participant would be subjected to sensory deprivation. To do this, the participant sits in a relaxing chair in a sound-proof room. The participant wears ping-pong balls that have been halved (and there is a red light that is shone on them). Ganzfeld Experiment, sensory deprivation, The participant also puts on a pair of headphones that play white noise. While in this state of sensory deprivation, another participant (the sender), will be shown random images that they will then try to mentally send to said participant. During the sensory deprivation period, the (receiver) speaks out loud and describes what they see. At the conclusion of the experiment, the participant is removed from the  sensory deprivation state and is then shown a number of random images and asked to identify the image that they were being sent. To insure internal validity, the two participants have no way of physically contacting each other during the experiment. Meaning, the sender can’t hear what the receiver is saying out loud. The results from these Ganzfeld experiments have, like the Zener cards before them, produced statistically significant results.

One of the more recent (and different) studies being conducted on telepathy is being done by Rupert Sheldrake. It is affectionately known as telephone telepathy. A common lay-person example of telepathy is knowing who is on the phone before you answer the phone. Sheldrake took this idea and made it into an experiment. In fact, you can even sign-up and do this experiment yourself! The experiment works like this:

  1. Register as an experimenter.
  2. Add friends.
  3. Call to initiate the experiment.
  4. A random friend is selected.
  5. Friend calls the experiment system.
  6. System calls the experimenter.
  7. Experimenter enters a guess.
  8. Call is connected.

Sheldrake says that the average success rate is 42%, “which is hugely significant statistically.” And he’s right. By sheer chance, in the way that Sheldrake has organized the experiment, you’d expect a success rate of 25%.

Sheldrake on Telepathy:

My research on telepathy in animals (summarized in my book Dogs That Know When Their Owners are Coming Home and published in detail in a series of papers (listed here) led me to see telepathy as a normal. . . aspect of communication between members of animal social groups. The same principles apply to human telepathy.

Rupert SheldrakeSheldrake also provides links to opportunities to contribute to the research of telepathy with both online and offline experiments (one of the offline experiments I mentioned above, telephone telepathy).

Because of the sheer volume of skepticism towards the field of parapsychology, the field has been subjected to extremely high standards. In all that I have read about telepathy (both from supporters and skeptics), it is clear to me that telepathy is not a fluke or a one-time event. Telepathy is a very real phenomenon. More than that, I believe, we all possess the ability to be telepathic.

What if we were all Telepathic?

Consider for a moment that everyone on the planet is . No, really, I want you to consider what it would be like living in a planet where everyone was able to know everyone else’s thoughts. Walking down a crowded street, people no longer have the feeling of anonymity. Every other person walking near them would be able to ‘hear’ their thoughts. Having a conversation with a significant other and ‘leaving out’ details would no longer work as the significant other would just ‘hear’ those miscellaneous details that weren’t mentioned.

If we think about how this human ability has been reflected in film, we needn’t look any farther than the 2000 film, . In it, our protagonist, played by Mel Gibson, is electrocuted and as a result, has the ability to hear the thoughts of women around him. Initially, he uses this skill to his advantage. He unwittingly manipulates his co-worker and boss, in an effort to get ahead at work. Eventually, he gets what he thought he wanted – a promotion. When he does get what he thought he wanted, the promotion, he realized that he had been treating his co-worker very poorly and he regretted his actions.

While this is just a film, I think that it shows an interesting perspective on what it might be like if we were all telepathic. Yes, in the movie, Mel Gibson’s character was the only one that was telepathic, so he could use it to his advantage, but I think initially, that’s what many of us would attempt to do if we were telepathic. We would use this skill, just as we would any other skill, to help us get what we want. It’s not that we’re not thinking about other people, it’s just in our nature to be concerned with the well-being of ourselves.

So, if you could read my thoughts and I could read your thoughts, that would change some things on the planet, don’t you think? No longer would there be ‘idle’ chit-chat among people. Awkward hello’s and goodbye’s could be infinitely more awkward. Keeping secrets from people would become increasingly difficult. Business transactions would have a whole other minefield to navigate. It’s an interesting possibility to think about, isn’t it?

Telepathy isn’t really a skill that’s altogether ‘out there’ either. I’m sure you or someone you know has had an experience where they were talking to someone and they had a thought, an impression, or an idea about what the person they were talking to was thinking. Quickly revealing this to the other person, they confirm that their inkling was true. I know I’ve had more than a couple of these instances and I’m sure you have, too. These instances are not random.

Statistically speaking, skeptics will tell you that these times in your life where you had ‘telepathic experiences’ are random. They’ll tell you that, by chance, eventually, one will be able to ‘fluke’ their way into having a telepathic experience. While at some point, yes, there are times when these experiences are fluky, I can’t help but be persuaded by the overwhelming evidence presented by Dean Radin in and . In these books, Dean Radin addresses many parapsychological phenomena from an objective standpoint – presenting the research from both sides – and leaving the reader left to decide for themselves. After picking up one of these books and seeing the countless studies conducted that support the evidence for telepathy, it’s hard to disagree with him.