Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

Does Precognition Foresee the Future? Series 2, a Laboratory Replication and Series 3, a World Wide Web Replication

Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

Does Precognition Foresee the Future? Series 2, a Laboratory Replication and Series 3, a World Wide Web Replication

Article excerpt

FIONA STEINKAMP [1]

Abstract: An earlier postal experiment by Steinkamp (2000) examined whether true precognition was possible by comparing 2 conditions. In the clairvoyance condition, targets were selected by a pseudorandom number generator before participants did the trials at home; in the true precognition condition, targets were selected using an algorithm on prespecified stock market and temperature figures on a prespecified future date. It was thought unlikely that participants could use either psychokinesis or other real-time psi to perform successfully in the true precognition condition. Results were significant in the clairvoyance condition (p = .04, one-tailed) and only at chance in the true precognition one. The difference in performance between the 2 conditions was significant (p = .01, one-tailed). This article presents 2 replication studies using different settings. The 1st, in the laboratory, gave almost significantly high scores in the precognition condition (p = .06, two-tailed) but only chance scores in the cla irvoyance condition, with no significant difference between the 2 conditions. The 2nd, conducted over the World Wide Web, produced scores tending toward psi missing in the precognition condition (p = .08, two-tailed), chance scores in the clairvoyance condition, and an almost significant difference between the 2 conditions (p = .07, two-tailed). Differences are discussed.

The long-standing controversy in parapsychology about whether results from precognition experiments are due to people looking directly into the future or whether they are due instead to real-time psi and/or calculation (see, e.g., Morris, 1983) was addressed in a free-response postal experiment by Steinkamp (2000). This experiment is henceforth referred to as Series 1. Series 1 used two conditions. In the clairvoyance condition, the computer had already selected the target using a pseudorandom number generator (PRNG) and had stored the choice directly onto disk by the time that participants made their guess. However, nobody knew until the later time of feedback which target the PRNG had selected. Here, then, participants could either psychically look directly to their future feedback to guess the target correctly or use real-time psi (e.g., by psychically obtaining the information about the target from the computer)

In the true precognition condition, the target was determined by using a prespecified algorithm on prespecified temperature and stock market figures from a prespecified future date. Here it was hoped that participants could gain information about the target only by looking directly into the future. It seems unlikely that they could get the information psychically about which stock would later determine their target and then use their psychokinesis (PK) to affect that stock's performance, because too many other people's livelihoods depend on the performance of those stocks. Even just a 1-point change in the stock market figures can mean a loss of thousands of dollars for some investors. Thus, investors would have far more of an incentive to use PK on the stock market than either the participant or the experimenter. Also, because the closing price of any given stock depends on so many human decisions, it is unlikely that anyone could calculate what all those decisions would be and what precise effect they woul d have on the closing price or interaction with a possible world temperature figure. It was consequently hoped that successful results in the precognition condition would provide strong evidence in favor of true precognition.

Series 1 obtained statistically significant results in favor of clairvoyance (ES = .20, p = .04, one-tailed), whereas the ones for precognition were at chance (ES= -.08, p = .25, one-tailed). There was a statistically significant difference between the two conditions (p = .01, one-tailed), indicating that there was a difference in performance between the two conditions. …

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