Darn, I was hoping that my occasional Twittering had some cosmic significance.
But an article in New Scientist, "First Twitter experiment probes belief in the paranormal," describes a study that showed a lack of metaphysical ability among 7000 people who signed up for a scientific use of Twitter.
The formal part of the study, which took place over four days, tested both whether the group as a whole was psychic and whether believers outperformed disbelievers. On each day I travelled to a randomly selected location and asked everyone to send tweets describing their thoughts and impressions about the location.
In the judging phase, participants were presented with five photographs, one showing the location and four decoys, and asked to select the target. The photograph that received the most votes was taken as the group's decision. If the group were psychic, the majority would vote for the correct target.
They didn't. Which doesn't mean that no one in the group had a remote viewing ability, though I am deeply skeptical that such exists.
An interesting finding was that in a first trial, study participants who were believers in the paranormal claimed a high level of correspondence between their thoughts of a location before it was revealed to them, and a subsequently-seen photograph of the location.
Yet when this "correspondence" was put to a scientific test, there was no difference in remote viewing ability between believers and skeptics. The study leader, Richard Wiseman, says:
This fits with something I read in Owen Flanagan's book "The Really Hard Problem" this morning. Intuitions are fine. But they aren't always true. So it's important to cast a critical eye on our own insights, whether they be about morality or anything else.
Generally I have not been overly impressed with psychics with a few exceptions.
One psychic desribed in detail, several years in advance, a location where I would live that I had no idea of at the time. This property had several unique features which would not fall into any generic category, so this was an accurate clairvoyant perception in my opinion.
Another psychic described ten years in advance my future family in detail down to hair color, age difference, sex and number of children, temperment, location, circumstances, and other aspects that could not be attributed to chance or lucky guess.
I have personally had several visions that turned out to be accurate although I do not consider myself to be psychic or inclined to the paranormal at all.
I think psychic/clairvoyant perception exists in the same way waves appear at the beach...not every day, or in a consistently predictable pattern or quality, but sooner or later the waves show up.
Posted by: tucson | June 17, 2009 at 11:24 PM
I was going to say what Tucson said and it's why going to a psychic, who charges, can be fun but not usually productive. They might have a gift but they cannot turn it on and off because someone paid; so if it doesn't come, they have to say something and hope whatever came out will be helpful. Those kind of insights come when they come and some of my best ones have been casual from friends who had the gift or even myself and not when I requested it.
Posted by: Rain | June 18, 2009 at 06:33 AM
Brian, you can be skeptical all you want, that's just an opinion based on little more than personal bias, not science. BTW, speaking of bias, you failed to mention that this experiment was run by Richard Wiseman, a man who has publicly admitted to skewing research data in the past to favor his own skepticism of psi.
Remote viewing is a skill correctly practiced by few. Getting 700 or so random people to attempt something that requires years of training to do is a bit disingenuous.
It is a well-known fact that during Jimmy Carter's presidency, the CIA used remote viewing to locate a down military spy plane as a last resort when no other method of recognizance was working. The remove viewer found the plane instantly. I think I still have an audio clip of Carter talking about the incident.
Posted by: Marcel Cairo | June 25, 2009 at 10:27 PM