The latest New Scientist contains an article about the Edinburgh +quot;Ganzfeld+quot; expe

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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: The Experiment: 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 audio link. 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 Results: 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 psychic communication. 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.


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