The latest New Scientist contains an article about the Edinburgh
"Ganzfeld" experiments of Chuck Honorton and Robert Morris. Honorton
died last year, but Morris has continued his work in the Edinburgh
Psychology dept. Noted skeptic Ray Hyman has also been involved in
the design of the experiments. Here is a brief summary:
A "receiver" is placed in a shielded room. The receiver wears
earphones which play white noise and has a half ping-pong ball taped
over each eye. Red light is shone on the ping-pong balls. This
creates a uniform visual field.
A "target" image is picked by a computer containing a random number
generator. The target is shown to a "sender" who attempts to transmit
the image to the receiver for one minute. The receiver is encouraged
to describe any mental images during that minute. These are taped and
videoed. These descriptions are fed back to the sender by a 1 way
The sender and receiver are usually relatives. "Star" psychics are
not used. Most subjects only contributed to one experimental session.
After the session the receiver and a researcher together are shown
four images, one of which was the one shown to the sender. The
receiver must attempt to pick the correct image. The researcher is
also unaware of which image was shown, and is present to point out
matching points which the receiver might have missed.
The "images" are of two sorts: static and moving.
The static images have given purely chance results (25%), but the
moving images have given a remarkable 40% hit rate, with a probability
of chance of 2e-6.
Some flaws have been noted.
o A faulty solder joint resulted in a very slight leakage of the
soundtrack onto the white noise in the receiver's headphones. This
was not audible, but subliminal cues have been suggested.
o The time taken for the video player to rewind could be giving
conscious or unconscious clues to the researcher who helps the
receiver pick the image.
o It is possible that a dishonest researcher has been cheating by
looking at the video tape counter (obscured by a piece of card taped
to the video).
Susan Blackmore, a noted UK skeptic, has commented that there are
three possibilities: a remarkable experimental flaw, fraud, and
Attempts at replication are now being carried out at Cornell, the
Institute of Parapsychology in North Carolina, and the Paraspychology
Institute in Utrecht, Netherlands.
Does anyone have any more information?
This will probably make it into the FAQ at some point.
Reference: New Scientist, vol 138, no 1873. 15 May 1993. Published
by IPC magazines.