A little while ago I wrote an article about tests on esp run by Daryl Bem of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York that showed that people can predict what’s going to happen next.
Here’s your chance to take a test based on the same procedure. Follow this link and see how you score – and only then read my comments below as I don’t want to give too much away!
How did you do and what do you think?
It’s almost impossible to design a test that has no flaws, but I’m not entirely convinced that this test is the best measure of psychic ability.
First, good test design means you can be pretty sure that the test is measuring what you want to measure.
Bem’s research revealed that in stage two of the test, after memorising a list of words, people were more able to recall words they were about to see in stage three.
But is this a test of precognition or your ability to remember words? Or is it precognition versus the importance of personal meaning, in that you might be more likely to remember a word if you focused on an image with an intense emotional personal meaning for you. If you are nuts about dolphins, for example, that word is going to jump out of the page and embed itself in your short term memory! Or maybe if you were absolutely starving you remembered the food related words more easily than those to do with occupations.
Along with that, is it a test of precognition or the ability to follow instructions? One of my friends sheepishly reported that blew the test by skipping over stage two by accident as she pressed a button on her computer by mistake, making her results null and void in terms of the test but proving that she (in her own words) just can’t get along with computers.
All that aside, is this the kind of test I would use in my recruitment process for psychic readers who work for my company? Absolutely not! It goes nowhere near towards being designed to measure what I’m looking for, no more than anyone’s ability to accurately predict symbols on cards turned over or any other of the popular ‘psi’ test designs would persuade me that they had what it took to join my team.
Psychic abilities and gifts come in all shapes and forms and someone might be brilliant at predicting shapes on a card and flounder when it comes into tuning into the psyche of another person.
Predicting words in a computer based test tells us nothing about the kind of psychic or intuitive ‘hits’ that we all get on a daily basis – the little gut instincts and feelings that steer us one way or another that we pay attention to or not, according to our own choice!
It’s also more difficult to design a good test to measure psychic ability because no matter what kind of psychological test is being done, when it’s being done in lab conditions psychologists understand that people simply don’t behave in the same way that they do in their everyday life, even when they are trying hard to act naturally.
Overall, the one conviction I’m left with is that we’ve got a long way to go before we arrive at a true and fair way of testing psychic ability. I can’t help wondering if the solution isn’t going to come in from left field, from the arena of quantum physics. There is a whole new exciting field called Quantum Interaction that explores how quantum theory can be put to use in fields we might not necessarily associate with physics. So far, for example, a lot of people seem to be agreeing that there are very useful ways of applying quantum thought onto how we use language and to how we think as we really do make quantum leaps to conclusions or solutions rather than travelling linear routes. I truly believe that further breakthroughs in quantum science are going to make other areas of research explode!
Anyway, apparently Bem has also done a few tests involving erotic imagery. I’m going to see if I can dig them out and see if they are also fit for posting here!
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