Thursday, May 05, 2005

Does Psi Exist?

A topic that's interested me since my first eager perusal of the "Encyclopedia of the Occult" in my junior high library is the existence or non-existence of the phenomenon variously known as telepathy, precognition, ESP, and psi. Essentially, this is the ability to accurately perceive locations, images, thoughts, and objects without the involvement of the known senses. While this purported ability has been the subject of much controversy, and is looked upon with scorn in many academic circles, a substantial body of work has accumulated over the past several decades suggesting that it may in fact be real.

Perhaps the most persuasive studies are those using the Ganzfeld technique, a method for achieving nearly total sensory isolation of the individual attempting to demonstrate psi abilities. In a Ganzfeld experiment, a sender attempts to transmit an image to a receiver in sensory isolation; following the sending period, the receiver attempts to pick the correct image from a selection of candidates, generally four, one of which is the target.

According to Daryl Bem of Cornell University, results achieved across a number of Ganzfeld trials yielded a hit rate of around 35%, when random guessing ought to have produced results in the 25% range. In Bem's article on the subject, he notes that the odds of achieving a 35% hit rate at random are over 1 billion to one. Remarkably, a group of artistically-gifted receivers recruited from the Juilliard School achieved a hit rate of 50%, suggesting that psi abilities might be closely linked to creativity.

Needless to say, Ganzfeld research has provoked quite a bit of controversy and skeptical rejoinders, which are nicely encapsulated in this article. Its defenders, however, have pointed out that continued Ganzfeld experiments have consistently yielded results that deviate significantly from chance. Dean Radin's article "Thinking About Telepathy" does a good job of summing up the evidence in favor of psi, and pointing the way towards possible explanations - for instance, in the phenomena of non-locality found in quantum physics. But all that's beyond the scope of this little blog entry - if you're interested in this sort of strangeness, there's no shortage of online material on the subject to help you reach your own conclusions.


Blogger Donald said...

It's not funny because it sounds stupid, on the contriar I believe in such to a extent that one could not believe.
I also believe that by indulging oneself to other with the ablities waters it down. So when I dream something, it may not happen for years or it may happen the next day. I can perceive what someones thinking, regardless of what they say you can tell when you hit it on the dot, sometimes it comes across incorrectly. Auras, well I can't see'em I don't think one can see them but more so feel them. Today I started delving into the chakras I was doubting myself until I was given a sign. CSI is on, it's talking about exactly what I was speaking of. I had changed the channel but the felt the urge to change back since I don't really feel like watching it. Then it popped up talking about what I had been studying and doubting.
I feel that this is a conenction and that it is a sign of some sort not from "God" but more so from the universe telling me to stay on the track that I have found myself interested in. I don't beleive this is a use for the world but more for oneself to help one understand the world and not to impress others by saying hey guess what I can do.

7:20 PM  

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