Experiments in telepathy

16th May 2020. Reading Time: 11 minutes General, Paranormal Investigation, Paranormal Theories. 1798 page views. 0 comments.

Parapsychologists for decades have been testing people to see if there is some merit to the thought that a person can transmit their thoughts telepathically. There are 3 significant experiments held by parapsychologists that made waves trying to prove that our mind was not only capable of sending thoughts to another, that it could indeed manifest its very own spirit. What does this mean for the way we approach our paranormal research?

For decades parapsychologists have been testing people to see if there is some merit to the thought that a person can transmit their thoughts telepathically. There are 3 significant experiments held by parapsychologists that made waves trying to prove that our mind was not only capable of sending thoughts to another, that it could indeed manifest its very own spirit. 

Zener Cards

It began with Zener Cards.  Otherwise known as ESP Cards or Rhine Cards, these were developed in the early 1930s by Karl Zener. They were used for experiments conducted with Mr Zener’s colleague, parapsychologist J.B Rhine. The deck consists of 5 cards of 5 distinct symbols (making a deck of 25). The symbols themselves are very distinct so that they could not be confused. The aim of the cards was to test mental telepathy.

There are 5 cards of each symbol. The deck is shuffled. There are 2 people which participate in the experiment and a third who act as a moderator. The participants are the sender and the receiver. The aim is quite simple. The sender picks a card from the deck. They then try to mentally send the image to the receiver. The receiver then concentrates and says the first image which comes to mind. This continues over a certain amount of time and then an overall success rate is calculated.  The experiment is not without its flaws. As there are 25 cards in the deck with 5 cards of each symbol, there is a 20 percent chance that someone would correctly guess the symbol at random. It was also acknowledged by Rhine that his experiment could not determine if the receiver was guessing randomly, if they were receiving the image telepathically or if they were receiving the image through clairvoyance (such as a medium receiving the message). This meant that even if there was a high percentage of the cards being guessed correctly, there was no way to prove it was through ESP.

Rhine himself claimed to have tested over 90,000 subjects with this experiment and came to the conclusion that ESP had been demonstrated and existed. Rhine copped quite a lot of criticism for making such a bold claim and some even claimed that there was some cheating involved. Over time his methods of controlling the experiment improved, but like anything in the paranormal, people were skeptical, and the scientific and skeptic community were not convinced that it was anything more than a random game of odds. The results themselves indicated that certain people were capable of getting results well above the baseline which a lot of researchers believe is an indication of ESP ability being present.

To read more detail https://llifs.com.au/blog/zener-cards/

Ganzfeld experiment

Parapsychologists continued their work with telepathy and in the 1970s, the Ganzfeld trials began.  Ganzfeld is coined from the term ‘total field or whole field’. Ganzfeld is german for ‘complete field’. In the same vein as the Zener trials, the Ganzfeld experiment aimed to prove if a person could mentally transmit an image to another person.  The difference here is that a form of sensory deprivation was used.  It was based on the studies of German psychologist Wolfgang Metzger who in the 1920s and 1930s found through his experiments that when subjects focused on a particular field of vision that was plain with no features, that they would start to hallucinate and see images that were not there and their brain activity also changed during this time. It works on the assumption that psi abilities are perhaps blocked by an outside influence, in this case, our surroundings both sound and visual. Was it just the brain hallucinating or was it allowing the psi abilities to present themselves in the form of visions?

There were three people used in the original experiment. A sender, a receiver, and an experimenter. The receiver was placed in a comfortable chair in a soundproof room. Headphones were worn that play white or pink noise. Over the eyes, cut in half ping pong balls were used with a red light shining on their face. Before the testing began, a relaxation tape was played to put the receiver in a relaxed state. The experiment then begins. The receiver is asked to say out loud what they are seeing or feeling as they are to keep their eyes open. They are asked to do this for a few minutes before the room is sealed shut. They are asked to keep verbalizing what they see and feel. The experimenter has direct communication with this room and can see and hear everything and they can communicate to the receiver if needed.

The sender is in another room which should be soundproofed. They have 4 clear packets that are called a target. The packets contained either a picture or a short video and should be very different from one another. The sender is to concentrate to try and see if they can telepathically send the image or video to the receiver in the other room. It is up to the sender to randomly select which packet they choose to 'send'.  The whole process took around 15-30 minutes per session. At the end of the session, the receiver is then shown all 4 of the targets. They were then asked to rate which one matches any mental pictures they received during the time they were under sensory deprivation. Because there was a ¼ chance they could randomly guess the correct target, a 25% success rate was a baseline figure.  Between the years of 1974 and 1981, 42 Ganzfeld experiments were conducted that were reported or published. Parapsychologists Charles Honorton was one half of the couple who were the first to lead the charge with these experiments and adapt them to parapsychology. 55% of the studies came back with positive results with a successful hit rate of 38% correctly identifying the correct targets.  While this result was criticized due to the testing conditions, the second set of trials were conducted 1983 through to 1989 by Dr. Rick Berger called the ‘autoganzfeld experiments’ which helped to learn from the mistakes of the first study. Instead of the targets being randomly picked by the sender, the process was automated so that no pattern in selection could be predicted. In this study, there was a hit rate of 34% when again 25% was the baseline. In both cases, you have a figure above the baseline reading indicating successful results.

What is an important point to remember when observing the above results, is that the participants were everyday people and not psychic mediums.  It leans toward the theory that we are all in some ways capable of psychic ability.  So when you start delving into the possibilities that telepathy entails, it does make you wonder, if we can send information to another person using our mind, what else can we do?  Could we make our own ‘ghost’ just by thinking about it?

To read more detail and how you can conduct your own Ganzfeld experiment visit: https://llifs.com.au/blog/the-ganzfield-experiment/

The Philip Experiment

In 1972, the Philip Experiment was conducted where a group of Canadian parapsychologists met on a weekly basis for over a year with the thought that just by focusing on pictures and a story about a made-up 'ghost', that you could manifest this ghost just with a group of people focusing on this information. The experiment was lead by a world-renowned self-proclaimed expert on poltergeists, Dr. A.R.G Owen. His goal was simple. Create a group of people (none of which were mediums or sensitive to the paranormal) and have them use their collective thought to see if they could conjure a ghost to appear.

Initially, the group put together to conjure Philip would meet on a regular basis in an informal setting. They would sit around, with the lights on and talk about Philip. They had his picture and notes about his life and talked about him. They used his picture and focused on it. They used meditation techniques and tried to imagine Philip in their mind to see if they could make him 'appear. They tried this for a full year starting in September 1972. This brought no results apart from a couple of members saying they felt a presence.

Not willing to give up, Dr. Owen decided to change the approach of the group as, after a year of sittings, their methods were clearly not working. They decided to incorporate elements of the 'Singapore Theory' to bring him forward. Each member would bring in a trigger object of an item that they think Philip might have liked. They brought in pictures of the castle and imagined that this was the Castle that Philip might have lived in. They sang songs that they thought Philip may relate to, the most notable being '99 Bottles of Beer'. One of the most important changes they felt was successful in the experiment was that they duplicated what would be a typical ‘séance’ atmosphere, dimmed some lights, lit some candles, and called upon Philip to come forward. It seemed this new method worked. Whilst Philip did not come forward as a full-bodied apparition that they could see, what they did receive appeared to be intelligent knocking responses (known as rapping) on the seance table they were using. They used the one knock for yes and twice for no method. So how did they know it was Philip responding to them? Their evidence was that they asked 'Is this Philip?' and received one knock meaning yes.

After the initial contact, it seemed with every session, Philip's communication became stronger. They felt they learned a lot about Philip from his knocking responses. What they found to be interesting was that Philip did not seem to know the questions to answers that they did not know - which convinced them that it was indeed Philip they had conjured from their collective consciousness. Simply put, if they didn't know the answer, Philip wouldn't either. As Philip became stronger, he was able to start moving the table and was apparently capable of levitating the table. Sitters reported seeing a mist over the table that they would see move across the room when someone entered the room as if it was greeting them. He was also capable of dimming the lights on command. In order to 'prove' this to the world, there was a final seance held in front of a live audience of 50 people and a documentary was broadcast on National television. Supposedly the table levitated during this session but it was not caught on camera. Here is a link to the video.

The experiment itself has been heavily criticized for relying on spiritualist techniques that can be manipulated by a person such as table rapping and table-turning. Dr. Owen however, felt it was a success. So much so that more experiments followed. A new group of sitters and new fictional characters were created. There was Lilith a French Canadian spy, Sebastian a medieval alchemist, and Axel a time traveller from the future. All were successful in their minds. What is worth noting, in these experiments is that they did not work on the first try. It took 5 weeks for Lilith to come forward. Perhaps it really did work. Let's not forget the group of sitters were not just your average person that was interested in the paranormal. They were parapsychologists who look for the rational. They experienced things they claimed they could not explain. They thought it worked so well to the extent that they recreated this experiment several times. When I talk to investigators about the experiment, pretty much everyone I have spoken to has said there is some merit to it. When they have tried elements of this experiment during an investigation out on the field, they have had results. While it is not to the detail of the above, they seemingly were able to get it to work within a night. It doesn't work every single time of course, but when it does work, it has them scratching their heads with excitement.

To read more about Philip: https://llifs.com.au/blog/the-phillip-experiement/

A possible connection with paranormal investigating ...

While many may feel that telepathy does not necessarily have much to do with ghost hunting or paranormal investigating, I too used to think the same many years ago.  I was of the belief that a spirit was the soul or consciousness of a person who was once living.  That was what I was focusing my investigations on.  As my research changed, so did my viewpoint, and more than ever I could see a connection between telepathy and paranormal investigating.  If we are capable of mental telepathy, we are capable of projecting our thoughts.  What if we didn't know we were doing it?  What if we creating our own Philip and not even aware of it? I often use Black Rock House which is a location I run paranormal tours from, as an example to get my point across. We take our guests into a room and explain that this is Annie's room and that she was around 56 years old and passed away in her sleep. She was a servant and liked to cook bread etc. I have a room of people now focused on her story. We start asking questions like “Annie did you bake some bread today?” Is the activity that follows happening because Annie is in the room trying to communicate with us, or is it because we are so focused on her story we are unknowingly making it happen?  Is the ghost of Annie really just us?  

Annies room ...

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