Extra Sensory: The Science and Pseudoscience of Telepathy and Other Powers of the Mind
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Extra Sensory is a pop-science look at the untapped abilities of human beings, from ESP to Telekenesis and other real life sciences that are currently being studied today, from physicist Brian Clegg.
We'd all love to have 'psi' abilities like telepathy, telekinesis, and remote viewing. But is there any solid evidence to back up these talents, or are they nothing more than fantasy? We still only understand a small percentage of the capabilities of the human brain―and we shouldn't dismiss such potential powers out of hand. Although there is no doubt that many who claim these abilities are frauds, and no one has yet won James Randi's $1M prize for demonstrating ESP under lab conditions, we still have a Nobel prize winner suggesting a mechanism for telepathy, serious scientists researching the field and university projects that produced potentially explosive results. What's the verdict? By looking at possible physical mechanisms for ESP and taking in the best scientific evidence, the reader can discover if this is all wishful thinking and deception, or a fascinating reality. The truth is out there.
correct answers out of 25. But on any particular run, the result would be expected to be 5, 6, or 7, and would occasionally be even further away from the expected value. Now imagine that the person undertaking the test wanted to cheat. If the subject was responsible for collecting the test results, she could easily do so. All that would be necessary would be to keep all the printouts from runs that scored more than 6 and to discard a few of the printouts from runs scoring less than 6. Such
trials should have been free from the suspicion of cheating by the subjects. No magicians were needed here to see if the subjects were fooling the scientists. Unfortunately, though, there was no provision to check up on the scientists themselves. Levy’s colleagues, perhaps a little surprised by the psi abilities of eggs that had yet to form a nervous system, kept a hidden watch on his experiments and witnessed the scientist pulling the plug out of the recorder on occasion to prevent it from
mere chance. Some of those taking part as subjects—Hubert Pearce, and Sarah Ownbey and George Zirkle, spring to mind as obvious examples—could well have been cheating at least some of the time. Similarly, some but not all of Rhine’s assistants might have felt the urge to tweak results to get something positive out of their long effort (and perhaps even to ensure they made the grade for their degree or doctorate). Throw in the sometimes loose approach to statistics and the obvious inclination to
stick with a particular way of doing things. By constantly presenting new opportunities to get around their controls they just made cheating easier, should Geller desire to do so. And the third problem? What is never made clear in the Nature paper or anywhere in Targ and Puthoff’s descriptions of the experiments is that Geller’s longtime stage co-artist Shipi Shtrang was present in the outer room during the experiments. One psychologist observing the tests commented that Shtrang was “constantly
met—whims that often seemed suspiciously like opportunities to cheat. Even though it lacked the controls that should be applied in a lab, a more effective judgment was made when Geller demonstrated some of his abilities in the office of Time magazine in 1973. Unknown to him, one of the journalists present was the magician James Randi. Geller performed feats of two of his hallmark abilities—telepathy and metal-bending telekinesis. The telepathy came in two parts. In the first, Geller attempted