ESP and Personality Patterns

By Gertrude Raffel Schmeidler; R. A. McConnell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
The Initial Experiment: Separating the Sheep from the Goats

IN VIEW of the published data supporting the ESP hypothesis, it may seem surprising that, when beginning her own experiments, GRS approached the problem without conviction. She cannot defend on intellectual grounds this reluctance to believe the evidence. In spite of having read the material with a critical attitude, searching with care for uncontrolled conditions or inadequate treatment of the data, she had been unable (in many cases) to find any weakness of consequence. This hesitation in accepting conclusions derived from good research with clear-cut findings (a hesitation which some readers may share) was due, of course, to the conflict between those conclusions and her own assumptions. To open the door to telepathy or clairvoyance meant re-examining basic concepts; and the process was sure to be so difficult and so uncomfortable that she put it off as long as possible.

The first experiment was undertaken in 1942 almost as if it were a wager made with herself: if extra-chance results were obtained from conditions which she knew at first hand to be impeccable, then she would resign her emotional opposition to the ESP hypothesis. And such results were obtained.

The arrangements for the first experimentation were as follows:1

Subjects. To be chosen "at random." In practice this meant asking acquaintances in the Harvard Psychology Department to act as subjects, and calling for volunteers from certain of the Harvard and Radcliffe elementary psychology classes.

Stimulus Material. The standard ESP cards, arranged in the usual decks of 25 were used because they facilitate comparison

____________________
1
The procedure was modified slightly when beginning the first formal experiment (below, pp. 24-27) and again for series 4-7 (below, pp. 32-33).

-21-

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