Telepathy – Mind Reading

The term “telepathy” was coined in 1882 by Frederic Myers, founder of the Society for Psychical Research, during his investigation into what was formerly known as “thought transference.”  Reports and documented cases of thought transference abound in almost every culture dating back for millennia, but during the 20th century, the scientific method was applied and repeatable experiments were performed which proved, with combined odds against chance of trillions to one, that telepathy is indeed a genuine phenomenon.

The most common method of testing perceptual-psi (ESP/telepathy) is to isolate a test subject from a hidden target object or person placed at a distance and see if the test subject can accurately describe the target or mentally influence the other person.  Hundreds of variations have been performed on experiments following this basic design:

A classic experiment in telepathy was reported in 1923 by Dr. H. I. F. W. Brugmans and his colleagues in the Department of Psychology at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands.  In this experiment, a 23 year-old physics student named Van Dam was investigated for his claimed telepathic abilities.  He was placed inside a curtained booth, blindfolded, and asked to place his arm under the curtain to select one square on a 6 x 8 checkerboard placed on a table next to the curtain.  The target square Van Dam was attempting to select was determined randomly by the experimenter on each trial.  An assistant experimenter knew the target square and tried to mentally influence Van Dam’s arm movements to guide him to select the correct target square … The results of the experiment were extremely significant, with 60 successes out of 187 trials rather than the 4 expected by chance.  That’s associated with odds against chance of 121 trillion to 1.”  -Dean Radin, “Entangled Minds” (82-3)

A second classic experiment that has withstood the test of time is the ESP card test, as popularized by J. B. Rhine’s Parapsychology Laboratory at Duke University.  This test involved cards imprinted with one of five symbols: circle, square, wavy lines, star and triangle … In a typical experimental run, the deck was thoroughly shuffled and then one person would select each card in turn and try to mentally send the symbol on that card to a distant person.  This technique made it possible to collect hundreds of trials quickly, in a wide variety of environments, and under controlled conditions … Rhine’s 1940 book, Extrasensory Perception After Sixty Years combined his 60 years of ESP research, 188 different experiments with thousands of trials, in which even the most highly controlled studies had odds against chance of 375 trillion to 1.”  -Dean Radin, “Entangled Minds” (84-5)

In 1933, Hubert E. Pearce Jr., a student of J.B. Rhine’s at Duke University introduced himself saying that he had inherited his mother’s clairvoyant abilities and would be willing to scientifically test and verify his skills.  For the next seven months, Rhine worked with Pearce devising, performing, and documenting the now famous Pearce-Pratt distance telepathy tests at his Duke Parapsychology Lab.  The experiment consisted of 700 runs through 25-card ESP decks with Pearce acting as the telepathic receiver while another student, Gaither Pratt, was the sender.  Pratt simply laid down one card per minute and concentrated on it, while Pearce, from another building on campus, attempted to telepathically read and/or clairvoyantly see each card.  After 1,850 trials, Pearce guessed the correct card 558 times (32%), which is 188 times above chance expectation (20%).  Though this 12% difference may not sound like much, it is associated with odds against chance of 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 to 1.

Another popular and often replicated psi experiment is known as the “Ganzfield” telepathy test.  In a ganzfield test, Participant A sits in a comfortable, reclining chair, wears headphones playing pink noise (peaceful waterfall sound), has halved ping-pong balls placed over their eyes, and a soft red light shined on them.  This type of sensory deprivation results in a dreamy state of awareness in which the subject becomes more open to mental suggestions/impressions.  Once Participant 1 is fully immersed in this “ganzfield condition,” Participant 2 sits in another room watching a freeze-frame picture on a TV screen and attempts to telepathically send that image to Participant 1.  Later, Participant 1 comes out of the ganzfield state, discusses their impressions, is shown 4 images, and must choose which one they think Participant 2 was sending them.

From 1974 through 2004 a total of 88 ganzfield experiments reporting 1,008 hits in 3,145 trials were conducted.  The combined hit rate was 32% as compared to the chance-expected 25%.  This 7% above-chance effect is associated with odds against chance of 29,000,000,000,000,000,000 (or 29 quintillion) to 1.”  -Dean Radin, “Entangled Minds” (120)

The modern ganzfield experiment is as close to the perfect psi experiment as anyone knows how to conduct.  Until recently, the ganzfield experiments were largely unknown outside of the discipline of parapsychology.  Then, in 1994, psychologists Daryl Bem from Cornell University and Charles Honorton from the University of Edinburgh published a meta-analysis of ganzfield studies in Psychological Bulletin, a well-regarded academic psychology journal.  That paper provided strong evidence for a genuine psi effect.  Bem and Honorton’s review of earlier ganzfield studies estimated an effect with overall odds against chance of 48 billion to 1.”  -Dean Radin, “Entangled Minds” (117-8)

In Upton Sinclair’s 1930 book Mental Radio he cataloged a series of picture-drawing telepathy experiments performed in collaboration with his ESP-gifted wife Mary Craig Sinclair.  During these tests Upton or friends/family would sketch a small object and then Mary, in another room, another house, or even miles away, would mentally perceive the image and reproduce the sketch herself.  Mental Radio contains scores of these sketches which show incredible similarities far beyond what anyone would expect by chance.  In conclusion to these experiments, Upton Sinclair wrote, “there isn’t a thing in the world that leads me to [write this book] except the conviction which has been forced upon me that telepathy is real, and that loyalty to the nature of the universe makes it necessary for me to say so … It is foolish to be convinced without evidence, but it is equally foolish to refuse to be convinced by real evidence.”

A second example of picture-drawing experiments is described in the book Mind to Mind, published in 1948, by French researcher Rene Warcollier … Warcollier was already convinced that telepathy existed through the work of Rhine and others, so his books primarily explored how it worked … He noted that images were not transmitted like photographs but were ‘scrambled, broken up into component elements which are often transmuted into a new pattern.’  What Warcollier demonstrated is compatible with what modern cognitive neuroscience has learned about how visual images are constructed by the brain.  It implies that telepathic perceptions bubble up into awareness from the unconscious and are probably processed in the brain in the same way that we generate images in dreams.  And thus telepathic ‘images’ are far less certain than sensory-driven images and subject to distortion.”  -Dean Radin, “Entangled Minds” (92-93)

A third picture-drawing experiment was conducted in 1941 at Cambridge University by psychologist Whatley Carington.  He recruited 250 students to attempt to replicate sketches in a series of 5 experiments, with 10 drawings each, for a total of 50 targets.  By the end of the study Carington had collected 2,200 student sketches which he then cross-matched with the original 50 possible targets.  Amazingly he found 1,209 drawings (55%) were similar to the targets!  And this is from 250 different students with no particular ESP gifts or previous experience.

Another telepathy test that has been scientifically investigated for nearly a century is the sense of being stared at.  In a typical study of this sort, Participant 1 stands with his back turned to Particpant 2, who stands a few meters behind him.  Next Partcipant 2 flips a coin to decide whether he will stare at the back of Participant 1’s head for 10 seconds, or look away for 10 seconds.  After the 10 seconds pass, Participant 1 records their impression, yes or no, and the coin is flipped again for the next trial.

British biologist Rupert Sheldrake has popularized experiments based on this simple design … and under more controlled conditions, such as those involving use of blindfolds, no trial-by-trial feedback, and even more secure conditions such as having [participants] stare through a window from a distance.  I found 60 such experiments involving a total of 33,357 trials from publications cited by Sheldrake and others.  The overall success rate in these experiments was 54.5% where chance expectation is 50%.  The overall odds against chance are a staggering 202 octodecillion (that’s 20,200,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) to 1.”  -Dean Radin, “Entangled Minds” (127)

In over a dozen scientific experiments over the last 45 years, using EEG and MRI brain scanning technology, pairs of identical twins have been separated into different rooms, and one of them subjected to visual or emotional stimulus which is then found to register on both of their brains simultaneously.  This has also been shown to happen (with a lower correlation rate) between family, friends, and complete strangers as well.

The design used in these electroencephalograph or ‘EEG correlation’ experiments asks, in effect, whether poking one person will produce an ouch response in a distant partner.  It’s not recommended to poke people in the brain, so instead we use a stimulus like a flashing light to cause one of the brains to jump electrically in a predictable way, and then we look at the other, distant brain to see if it’s jumping at the same time.”  -Dean Radin, “Entangled Minds” (136)

Psychophysiologist Jacobo Grinberg-Zylberbaum and his colleagues from the National Autonomous University of Mexico reported a series of studies in which they claimed to detect simultaneous brain responses in the EEGs of separated pairs of people.  One of their studies was published in the journal Physics Essays, stimulating another round of replication attempts.  In 2003, a successful replication was reported in Neuroscience Letters by EEG specialist Jiri Wackermann and his colleagues … Wackermann’s team concluded that ‘We are facing a phenomenon which is neither easy to dismiss as a methodological failure or a technical artifact nor understood as to its nature.  No biophysical mechanism is presently known that could be responsible for the observed correlations between EEGs of two separated subjects.’ Another successful replication, this time reported by Leanna Standish of Bastyr University and her colleagues, was recently reported in the medical journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine.  They conducted an EEG correlation experiment with the receiving participant located in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner … They found a highly significant increase in brain activity (odds against chance of 14,000 to 1) in the receiving person’s visual cortex (in the back of the brain) while the distant partner was viewing a flickering light.  The same group later successfully replicated this finding.”  -Dean Radin, “Entangled Minds” (137-8)

The man who invented the EEG, Hans Berger, actually became interested in the brain and the powers of the human psyche after a telepathic experience he had in early adulthood.  It began when one day, as a soldier during a military training exercise, he was thrown off his horse and nearly trampled by a horse-drawn cannon:

Miraculously, the driver of the artillery battery managed to stop the horses just in time.  The accident left Hans thoroughly shaken but without serious injury.  At that very moment, many miles away in his family’s home, Hans’s older sister was suddenly overwhelmed with an ominous certainty that something bad had happened to Hans.  She anxiously insisted that their father contact him, and so he did via telegram.  That evening, when Hans received the telegram, he was initially concerned, as he had never before received a telegram from his father.  Then, upon reading his sister’s urgent concern about his well-being, he knew that his feelings of intense fear earlier in the day had somehow reached his sister.  Many years later, Hans wrote, ‘This is a case of spontaneous telepathy in which at a time of mortal danger, and as I contemplated certain death, I transmitted my thoughts, while my sister, who was particularly close to me, acted as the receiver.’”  -Dean Radin, “Entangled Minds” (22)

If telepathy is a real fact, it is very possible that it is operating at every moment and everywhere, but with too little intensity to be noticed, or else it is operating in the presence of obstacles which neutralize the effect at the same moment that it manifests itself.  We produce electricity at every moment, the atmosphere is continually electrified, we move among magnetic currents, yet millions of human beings lived for thousands of years without having suspected the existence of electricity.  It may be the same with telepathy.”  -French philosopher and Nobel laureate Henri Bergson in presidential address to the Society for Psychical Research in London, May 1913


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