Science news on ESP and PK

Science News, Vol. 104

Excursion into ESP?

Sitting alone with Ping-Pong ball halves over my eyes, a red light shining in my face and earphones piping the sounds of the sea into my head, I must have looked as foolish as I felt. But I had asked for it. This was the ganzfeld setup in the parapsychology lab at Maimonides. My task was to think out loud for 30 minutes while someone on the outside listened but did not answer.

After about a five minute delay, while I tried to relax and think of something to say, I decided to tell a few sea stories. These led to other associations and, eventually, a rather disconnected stream-of-consciousness monologue that went something like this: “Now I see something – a white circle – a lot of boxes and strange lines and shapes – black, white, deep red. The circles are turning into things. I see faces, clocks. I have a strange floating sensation. I am tilted to the left. My sense of balance is gone, I feel disoriented. . . . Now I see something else – green. Everything else has been red, black or white. A bright green triangle – a Christmas tree. It’s squat and on its side. It’s only in my left eye. . . .” This kind of talk went on until someone said, “Time’s up. You’ve been talking more than a half hour.”

The aim of the experiment is to induce a slightly altered state of consciousness and then attempt to use ESP to transmit an image. While I was in the room, an experimental package was randomly selected. The package contained four View Master slides and instructions for a sender to look at and attempt to send the contents of one slide to me during a specified five-minute period.

When I came out of the room, my comments were read back and I was told to look at all four slides. (The sender had seen only one of them.) I saw 3-D pictures of Yellowstone Park, Superman, a collection of geological specimens and Ford’s theater. There seemed to be only a few pictures that corresponded to my images: a boat on a lake could have been related to one of my sea stories, the cartoon drawings of Superman were similar to the strange circle like faces I had seen. But nothing really struck me until I looked at the slide of the rock collection. One particular rock was bright green and triangular, exactly, like what I had called a Christmas tree. The vivid color and shape were so striking that, without hesitation, I ranked the rocks first as the most likely target.

The sender or agent was then called back into the room. He was the only person who knew what had been sent. That’s right, it was the rock slide. The time of sending corresponded with the time I saw the image of the Christmas tree.

Did I really receive a telepathic message? I think I did, but I wouldn’t try to talk anyone else into believing me. A single incident like this is only enough to convince the person involved. The parapsychologists know that thousands of reliable, controlled experiments are necessary before such findings become significant. And serious scientists are trying to do just this, not only at Maimonides, but at more than 30 universities and numerous research centers across the country.

My thanks to Pat Barker, Sharon Harper and David Torres – the young man who sent me a Christmas tree.

With visions Of ESP still fresh in my head, I saw something even harder to believe. At the invitation of the Isis Center in Silver Spring, Md., I interviewed Uri Geller – the Israeli psychic whose strange powers are being investigated by physicists at the Stanford Research Institute.

Geller is best known for his ability to bend or break metal objects without applying any visible physical force. During the interview, I held a heavy key between my thumb and forefinger. The key began to bend – too slightly to be perceptible – after Geller rubbed it lightly with one finger. The key was then placed on the desk and it continued to bend slowly for several minutes until it reached about a 20-degree angle. There was no obvious way the key I supplied could have been switched. Geller had no chance (by slight of hand or other trickery) to bend the key by force. And he didn’t have a laser up his sleeve, as some have suggested,

Geller claims to have other powers that I didn’t witness. He says, for instance, that he can sometimes dematerialise and materialise objects. He did, however, reproduce exactly a drawing that I did while his back was turned and his eyes were covered. It took 30 seconds.

When I relate this tale, most people think that I have been duped. But seeing is believing. Even the investigators at SRI have found no evidence of fraud and, though they draw no conclusions, they feel that further investigation is warranted.

-Robert J. Trotter

 

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