Experiments to Test for Psychic Effects

Helmut Schmidt

General Remarks

Research in Artificial Intelligence with all its impressive achievements has made us more acutely aware of a basic difference between human minds and computers. To the best of our knowledge computers are not self conscious and do not have feelings, even as basic and down to earth as toothaches. This suggests that the mind is something different from a mere computer. A directly measurable indication that the mind is more than a computer comes from the observation of "psychic phenomena".

While such phenomena as telepathy, precognition, or psychokinesis have been reported throughout the centuries, the use of electronic equipment and computers has made psychic phenomena more accessible to critical scientists.

With the present programs you can explore your own psychic abilities and at the same time contribute to an ongoing research project. The programs have the form of games of chance. These games are on purpose very simple so that you do not have to think about strategies but can fully focus on the psychic task of guiding "chance" in a certain direction (the process is called psychokinesis) or -in some cases- to predict the outcome of chance events (what we would call precognition).

While the existence of psychic effects in situations like the present one have been well documented, the nature of the effects still appears rather mysterious. With the present experiments we hope to find out more about the underlying psychic mechanism, the best psychological conditions, and the question of whether there might be particularly gifted persons who can produce the effects reliably and to a stronger degree than the average person.

Data Evaluation

Most games (with the exception of "Crash") display at the end a "Standard Score" that lets you easily compare your success rates on the different games. By pure chance, positive and negative Standard Scores are equally likely, while your goal is directed towards positive scores. These scores are normalized so that, in mathematical language, a score of 100 corresponds to one standard deviation. A reliable evaluation is possible only after a reasonably large number of scores have been collected. Assume, for example, that you have accumulated a number M of scores (from one or several games, with the exception of "Crash"), and let the score values be

Sc(1), Sc(2),...,Sc(M)

From these values, calculate a Total Standard Score, TSS:

TSS = [Sc(1)+Sc(2)+...+Sc(M)]/Sqr(M),

where Sqr() means the square root.

Then one can use conventional statistical tables to calculate from TSS the "odds against chance", i.e. the odds against obtaining the observed or higher value for TSS by pure chance. The higher the odds, therefore, the more likely the effect was produced by something other than chance, i.e. by some mental action. The following table gives the odds against chance for some TSS values:

TSSOdds against Chance
16520 : 1
21750 : 1
233100 : 1
3091000 : 1
37110000 : 1
426100000 : 1
4751000000 : 1
The evaluation of the results from the program "Crash" is discussed in the file Crash.Txt.

Brief Description of the Games

Color: The screen shows a large circle that gradually changes colors. You select a target color, red, green, or blue, and then try to keep the circles's color near the target color.

Sparks: You see fireworks of colored sparks. You want the sparks to fly as high as possible, and new sparks emerging as fast as possible.

Move: A large colored rectangle moves randomly towards the right or the left. You select a target side and then try to make the rectangle stay mainly on that side.

Swing: You see a pendulum swinging from side to side. Your aim is either to have the pendulum swing with maximal amplitude over the whole screen, or to keep the pendulum nearly at rest at the center.

Slalom: The display reminds you of a skier slaloming around a long row of trees. Your goal is either to make wide swings, far away from the trees, or to keep the skier passing around the trees as narrowly as possible.

Crash: The display looks similar to the Slalom case, but now there is a possibility for the skier to crash into a tree. The goal is either to have the skier safely pass a very large number of trees, or to have the skier (your opponent) run into a tree as fast as possible.

Psychological Matters

Psychic performance is a rather elusive ability, comparable to creativity. One cannot give specific general rules of how to become creative or psychic on demand. And yet, one can gently cultivate such abilities. You will most likely not succeed by pure "willpower". Rather, you have to explore different mental and emotional approaches to see what works best for you.

Before you start a run, relax and "tune in". Look forward to the run as a pleasant, interesting experience. During the run, be aware of your feelings and emotions. Try to combine feelings from real life situations with the task. Vividly evoke a winning feeling you may have experienced in the past. Some games suggest a list of possible attitudes, but you may find that there is a much richer variety of emotions to explore. Emotions might well be the driving force for psychic effects. If success comes to you easily in life, an easy going approach in the games might work best, but if you have to struggle for each success in life, you might have to approach the games more seriously focussed. Depending on your personality you might do better when quietly alone or when you have an applauding audience.

With emotions playing such a great part, you have to watch that you don't react too strongly to negative ("bad") scores. Even for the best performers, the psychic effort can push chance only slightly in the desired direction so that there will still be plenty of "bad" scores. Discouragement cannot only cancel psychic effects, but even direct the effects in the wrong, unwanted direction. (In the game "Crash" you may see this particular effect quite explicitly). Therefore, take a break after a bad score to regain your mental balance. You might also try a very detached viewpoint: This is not about winning or losing. Rather you are exploring how a certain mental approach affects the outcome. If you produce many bad scores, that is interesting and suggests the need for some changes in your approach.

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