This post reviews the history of ESP research from 1871 to 1997. It is based on information in The Conscious Universe by Dean Radin unless otherwise noted. (Many prominent pseudoskeptics, including Richard Wiseman, Chris French, Ray Hyman, Donald Hebb, and George Price, admit evidence for ESP meets the scientific standard of proof but they refuse to believe ESP is real because ... they don't want to.)
- In 1889, Charles Richet, winner of the Nobel prize in physiology and medicine, conducted experiments where hypnotized subjects were able to identify the contents of sealed envelopes with the odds against chance explaining the result of 25,000 to 1 (Reference: Entangled Minds by Dean Radin).
- In 1927 George Estabrooks at Harvard University conducted tests of telepathy between students in adjoining rooms. He obtained positive results that were highly significant. The odds against these results occurring by chance was greater than a million to one.
- 1930: Mental Radio was published. In this book, Upton Sinclair described his wife's ability to duplicate a sketch that someone else had drawn without her having to see it. After the book was published, Dr. Walter Franklyn Prince did an independent analysis of the data and concluded the results could not be explained by chance or by any other natural means.
- 1920s - 1965: Professor Joseph Banks Rhine and colleagues at Duke University conducted ESP tests using a deck of 25 cards with one of five possible symbols on each card. They found that subjects were able to guess the symbol on a card more frequently than could be explained by chance. One study of all similar card tests from various experimenters from 1882 to 1939 found the odds against chance were more than a billion trillion to one.
- 1966 - 1972: Montague Ullman and Stanley Krippner conducted dream telepathy experiments at Maimonides Medical Center. In these experiments, one person looked at a picture while another person was dreaming. The dreamer was then awakened and described her dreams. The descriptions were judged and it was found that the picture was included in the dreams often enough so that the odds against chance explaining the results were 75 million to one.
- Mid 1970s: Charles Honorton began the Ganzfeld experiments. In these experiments a subject was put into a relaxed state for a period of time while listening to white noise with translucent plastic covering her eyes to help reduce mental "noise". While this was happening, a second person looked at a picture. Afterward, the subject was shown four different pictures, one of which was the picture the second person had looked at. The subject was able to identify which picture had been looked at a frequency greater than could be explained by chance. When the results of several experiments were combined they obtained odds of ten billion to one against chance.
Remote viewing is a type of experiment where a subject attempts to mentally view a remote location.
- 1973 - 1988: Edwin May reviewed all remote viewing experiments conducted at Stanford Research Institute (SRI). The experiments were successful overall, with combined odds against chance of more than a billion billion to one.
- 1989 - 1993: Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) obtained positive results that could not be explained by chance.
- 1978 - 1987: Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) remote viewing experiments produced positive results with odds against chance of 100 billion to one.
- 1989: Charles Honorton and Diane Ferrari analyzed all "forced-choice" precognition experiments conducted by sixty two different investigators that were conducted from 1935 to 1987. In a these experiments, a test subject tried to predict which of a fixed number of objects would be selected at a later time. For these experiments, Honorton and Ferrari calculated odds against getting the same results by chance was 1025 or ten million billion billion to one.
- Early 1980s: Holger Klintman conducted experiments where he showed a subject a color patch and asked the subject to name the color. Then the subject was shown a word for a color and asked to read the word. Klintman found that when the patch and the word were the same color, the reaction time for saying the color of the patch was faster even though the word for the color had not yet been displayed. He calculated the odds against chance for these results were 500,000 to 1.
- Before the publication of The Conscious Universe was published in 1997, Dean Radin explored a similar phenomenon by measuring the skin conductivity of a person (which is an indicator of sweat gland activity) as a series of images were shown. Sweat gland activity always increased just before an image was shown to the subject as the subject was waiting to see the next image. However, Radin found that if the image was one that would produce an emotional reaction, sweat gland activity increased more than for other images. He called this phenomenon "presentiment". Professor Dick Bierman reported replicating this phenomenon in 1996.
- William Crookes tested the psychic Daniel Dunglas Home in 1871 and proved telekinesis is real. Crookes tested Home under laboratory conditions that prevented fraud. Crookes described these experiments in his book: Researches into the Phenomena of Modern Spiritualism.
- 1935: J. B. Rhine, Lousia Rhine, and colleagues at Duke University began experiments to see if mental intention could influence dice rolling. In 1989 Dianne Ferrari and Dean Radin analyzed the combined results of fifty two investigators from 1935 to 1987. They found mental intention could influence dice rolling, and they calculated the odds against obtaining the result by chance was more than a billion to one.
- 1959 - 1987: In 1987 Roger Nelson and Dean Radin combined the results of experiments in which a test subject tried to alter the results of a random number generator. They considered 832 studies (597 of which were conducted at PEAR) and found a positive result. They calculated the odds against obtaining this result by chance were more than a trillion to one.
In The End of Materialism Dr. Charles Tart writes:
For many years, when talking about parapsychological findings, I referred to the "big four," the four psi phenomena for which there was so much accumulated evidence that we could take them as the foundational findings of the field: three forms of ESP (telepathy, clairvoyance, and precognition), plus PK. Each had hundreds of well-controlled experiments supporting its existence. In the last two decades, though, enough positive studies of psychic healing have been published (see www. stephanaschwartz.com for an extensive, current bibliography, with abstracts) that I now speak of the "big five."The bibliography Dr. Tart mentions is Therapeutic Intent/Healing Bibliography of Research Compiled by Larry Dossey, M.D., and Stephan A. Schwartz
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