Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

An ESP Experiment with the Sequential Card Search Task

Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

An ESP Experiment with the Sequential Card Search Task

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT: Sequential card search (SCS) is a variant of a forced-choice ESP task, in which participants search for 1 card symbol (target) from among a finite set in an array of concealed cards. The participants are asked to continue the search until the symbol is found or remains undiscovered on the last card. The task is appealing and well accepted even by participants who otherwise feel discouraged by experimental tasks with an overt ESP component. Also, the experiment provides a rich data structure as the probability of a chance hit varies with the number of alternatives. A simple test of the null hypothesis is based on the expected distribution of average search run length (ASRL), that is, the number of subtrials needed, on average, to find the target.

The first SCS study was conducted by Copenhagen in 2000 with 26 participants recruited from 2 subpopulations: (a) clairvoyants, participants practising ESP in their community sessions (Group C, n = 11), and (b) controls, participants not claiming any ESP abilities (Group N, n = 15). A software implementation of the SCS task (program jcards) on a portable computer was used to run the experiments at participants' homes. Five classic Zener symbols were used. Each participant completed 1 run consisting of 100 complete trials.

The ASRL statistics showed no significant departure from the mean chance expectation (MCE) in either Group C or N; the difference between the groups was also not significant. …

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