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Humans may have psychic powers

22nd November 2010

A study into the ability of humans to predict or influence future events sheds possible light on claims about clairvoyance, telepathy and extra-sensory perception.

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The study may cause a few waves among traditionally minded scientists, who typically dismiss paranormal, or psi, phenomena.

But it could be linked to low-level everyday occurrences like knowing who is calling before picking up the telephone.

Respected psychologist and physicist Daryl Bem of Cornell University in New York State, carried out nine different experiments involving more than 1,000 volunteers.

Bem, who is also a part-time illusionist, designed an experiment in which students were shown a list of words to memorise.

Later, they were asked to recall as many as they could. In a final stage of the experiement they were given a random selection of words to type out.

Some words appeared easier to remember than others, perhaps not surprisingly.

However, those words also tended to be the words that they would later be asked to type.

Bem said that the future event had potentially affected their ability to remember.

Students were also shown an image of two curtains on a computer screen. They were told that one concealed an erotic picture, but the computer only allocated the picture to the two windows randomly once the choice had already been made.

Nonetheless, the report published in the New Scientist said that the students chose the curtain hiding the naughty picture slightly more often than would be expected merely by chance.

Some have concluded that the students were influencing future events in a manner not yet understood.

In a third test, the students were asked to rate two photos as pleasant or unpleasant.

One was a menacing pit-bull terrier, and the other was a bowl of fruit.

Their reaction times for the ratings were carefully timed.

After making their choice, they were shown a word such as luscious or menacing, which might match or not with the picture they had just seen.

Their reaction times before they had been given the non-matching words slowed, even before they knew the words would not match the picture, the study found.

Bem concluded that the odds against the combined result being down to mere chance or being a statistical fluke were 74 billion to one.

He called on the scientific community to have a more open mind toward the possibility of paranormal phenomena.

Some sceptics have reacted favourably, finding no fault with Bem's methodology.

Others have tried to repeat his experiment online, and declared it to be unrepeatable.


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Comments

Anonymous

Sunday 21st November 2010 @ 22:22

Until this study is consistently replicated, I will still be a sceptic concerning all things ESP and precognition. The very nature of the experiments makes them difficult to understand- from a linear time perspective. The specifics of all 9 of Bem’s experiments are detailed here (this website helps clarify the nebulous order of proceedings): http://somerandomstuff1.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/an-explanation-of-the-experiments-within-bems-esp-study/
Richard Wiseman has suggested that the 2 word recall experiments may have involved a subjective bias relating to the scoring methods. Wiseman claims that this may be due to the computer program used not recognising misspelt words and hence the experimenters potentially biasing the experiment. He elaborates on this possible bias here: http://richardwiseman.wordpress.com/2010/11/18/bems-esp-research/
Bem has claimed that the failed replication attempts are due to variables that have been neglected by those attempting to replicate the study (making it a confirmation study as opposed to replication study.) These potential post hoc criticisms may drag out the scientific consensus pertaining to this experiment.

sophie boyce

Tuesday 23rd November 2010 @ 12:14

I feel that it definitely depends on what you wish to believe. there are ways to access your intuition and understand clairvoyance - with websites like www.thepsychicweek.com helping you access these specific intuitions, but I feel that you have to be open to wanting to learn more about this.


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Article Information

Title: Humans may have psychic powers
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 16759
Date Added: 22nd Nov 2010

Sources

The Daily Mail

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