GANZFELD STUDIES AND ESP
ESP (extra sensory perception) perception outside normal 5 senses – e.g. telepathy,
clairvoyance and precognition.
Early experiments used Zener cards.
They can be used for precognition and telepathy.
Design an experiment.
Control extraneous variables
Probability and the interpretation of significance
Reliability and validity
The value of pilot studies
Need 3 people, sender, receiver and experimenter. Why 3?
A way to separate the sender and receiver
2 stopwatches to coordinate timings
What is chance?
What is needed for 5% significance?
How do you ensure cards randomly presented?
What other factors could you test?
Why might the results lack significance – how could they be explained away and still support
Watch video of Ganzfeld experiment
Explain why set up like this?
Homework. Describe what happens, and why, in Ganzfeld technique.
Sergent study read handout, highlight key points. Write a summary about what he did and
Auto ganzfeld studies – separate sender, receiver and researcher all separate.
Material to be sent selected automatically by a computer.
Why is this a more scientific method?
The receiver describes the image sent, the description is quite wordy and there is scope for
subjective interpretation into what counts as a match.
Evidence of researcher bias – sceptical researchers didn’t encourage ‘receivers to elaborate
their images believers did leading to more positive results.
Most reports were reviews of a meta analysis, results change if some studies removed – file-
Sheep – goat effect – sheep tended to score above chance. There is an interaction between
subjects beliefs, the researchers beliefs and the results
The assumption that psi explains a significant result is mistaken. Other factors could explain
result, e.g. poor design, fraud etc. If psi exists why were results not 100%
Hyman argued insufficient proof due to flaws: security, statistical analysis and /or procedure
See researcher bias and application p 261
Action of the mind on animate matter, ability to provoke the deformation or displacement of
an object without any physical contact.
Dice rolling experiment
PK can be split into 2 distinct areas – macro PK (clearly observable effects) and micro PK (not
always noticeable to the naked eye, statistically significancant). Most research has been on
Micro PK – Schmidt’s electronic coin flipper 1960’s
The system worked on random decay of radioactive particles, as they decay rays are given off
that are not affected by temperature, air pressure, magnetism etc. Schmidt asked subjects to
influence mentally the falling of a coin. The system makes fraud impossible. A statistically
significant deviation from chance was witnessed.
But not all the participants achieved the task, suggesting PK abilities and the methods of
testing them are not foolproof. The main benefit is that later random-event generators were
based on this.
One of the longest established labs at Princeton Uni uses a random event generator (REG), it
is essentially a kind of electric coin flipper producing equal number of heads and tails over a
number of coin flips. Volunteers are asked to influence REG to come up with e.g. more heads
Jahn reported results of 12 year study. The effect sizes of for individuals very small,
marginally better than chance, but the combination of scores for all trials effect size was large
– exceeding probability of 1 in 103 . also found effects occur when operators are at some
distance from machines and when machines not working. The effects also increased when 2
volunteers worked together and had a close emotional attachment.
AO2 good that it can be tested under controlled conditions, but the results violate well
established laws of physics and most scientists would require more than the weak effects
Bieman analysed large number of studies done over long period and concluded there had
been a steady decline in effect size. Normally expect the opposite – if there is a real effect we
should get better at spotting it and controlling extraneous variables. i.e. suggests phenomena
Batcheldor claims people often feel self conscious about displaying macro PK. Dealt with this
by beginning training with fake levitation then building up belief during a number of sittings.
Claimed this led to impressive displays of levitation. Believed most people had the
ability/power but needed some way to prevent conscious mind interfering.
Uri Geller – studied at Stanford research institute in 70’s thought he was very gifted –
invented the term ‘Geller effect’ he has performed in front of thousands. Bending spoons,
stopping clocks etc.
He appeared on Carson show where the magician J. Randi set tasks e.g bending spoons,
saying which non transparent beaker had water in it. Uri and his staff had had no prior
contact with equipment. Uri was unable to complete the tasks saying he did not feel strong
needed more time. AS Randi says if his abilities were exceptional he should be able to
perform them regardless.
Validity of macro PK is challenged by the frequency such feats are performed by magicians.
Randi arranged for 2 magicians to be tested they fooled the scientists for 4 years (160 hours
(one criticism often levelled at research is that it didn’t include a magician as an observer)
Controversy over psychic powers will continue for some time Anomalistic psychology is
waiting for an Einstein to revolutionise the area of study.