Perceptual Research


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Perceptual Research

There is an accumulated body of evidence suggesting we have perceptual abilities beyond information gained from our five sense organs.  This sensing capacity is often referred to as extrasensory perception or ESP.  Precognition, telepathy, clairvoyance, and intuition are some examples.  While there are many books written on this subject, much of the following information is from Dean Radin’s book, The Conscious Universe.

ESP Cards

The Rhine Center, founded by J. B. Rhine on the Duke University campus, conducted much early research. Rhine used ESP cards to test telepathy, clairvoyance, and precognition.  In the movie, Ghostbusters (1984), a scene early on depicts a test for ESP. Bill Murray’s character sits in front of two students, a male and a female.  Bill picks up an ESP card with one of five shapes on it (wavy lines, circle, triangle, star, or square).  He then asks one of the subjects to guess which hidden shape appears on the card.

Since there are five shapes, one would expect a subject to guess the correct shape 1 out of 5 times, on average.  On individual tests, there will be variability as some people correctly guess more accurately than others. Millions of tests have been administered by various researchers over the decades.   Their findings show that the guessing success rate is higher than 1 out of 5 times when there are five shapes.  Given the number of trials run, the results are statistically significant – people can make more accurate guesses than 1 out of 5.  Is there some 6th sense employed here?


Ganzfeld refers to a somewhat altered state of mind.  Radin notes on page 74 of his book, The Conscious Universe,

“The basic idea (behind Gansfeld studies) was that if a person was placed in a condition of sensory deprivation, the nervous system would soon become “starved” for new stimuli, and the likelihood of perceiving faint perceptions that are normally overwhelmed by ordinary sensory input would improve.”

To achieve a Ganzfeld state, a subject’s eyes are covered, and headphones transmitting white noise are placed over the subject’s ears. This procedure creates a sort of sensory deprivation environment.

The Ganzfeld experiments’ purpose is to test whether a subject (receiver) in this state of mind can enhance his/her ability to perceive information sent from a second participant (sender) located remotely.   Once the receiver has been in the sensory deprivation state, the information sending exercise begins.  A computer presents a picture to the sender at regular intervals.  When this picture or a short video appears on the computer screen, the sender mentally conveys an image of that picture or video to the receiver.

The sending period lasts about 15 to 30 minutes, after which the receiver is brought out of the Ganzfeld state to normal sensory awareness.  The receiver is then shown four pictures and asked to rank the pictures from 1 to 4 according to how closely each picture compares with what the receiver experienced during the experiment’s sending portion.  Only one picture is of the four used during the experiment, the other three decoys. If the receiver ranked the experiment picture with a 1, it is considered a hit.  A different ranking is a miss.

If there was no form of communication between the sender and receiver, one would expect the receiver would get a hit (ranking the actual sent picture a 1) in 25% of the experimental sending sessions (1 in 4).  Randomly picking 1 of 4 images correctly over a large number of sessions should result in 1 out of 4 being a hit.  A greater hit rate than 25% is then statistically measured to determine the chance likelihood of doing better than 25%.

The initial experiments indicated a better than 25% hit rate.  Other researchers attempted to replicate the experiments. The subsequent research contributed more trials, improving statistical analysis. In 1982 two researchers, Charles Honorton and Ray Hyman, examined the reported experimental results for 28 studies.  They calculated the likelihood of beating the 25% random success rate to be 10 billion to 1.

In subsequent years experimental design improvements were introduced though similar hit results were obtained.  As Radin reports on page 91 of his book, the hit rate of 2,549 sessions was 33.2 %.  The odds against a chance of this success rate over that many sessions is “beyond a million billion to one”.

“We are fully justified in having very high confidence that people sometimes get small amounts of specific information from a distance without the use of the ordinary senses.  Psi effects do occur in the ganzfeld.”

Subconscious Forecasting

Our human skin is a conductor of electricity.  The degree of conductivity varies, though it can be measured and influenced by our emotional state.  Our skin is less conductive in a calm state of mind than when we are in a heightened emotional state.  This measurement is one of the measures used in lie detector tests.  The theory is that when we lie, our emotional state causes our skin conductance to rise.

An interesting experiment is described in Dean Radin’s book, “Entangled Minds.”  A participant sits in front of a computer screen, with skin has sensors attached to measure conductivity.  Half the pictures have emotional content – when someone first sees the picture, it evokes an emotional response.  Examples of emotional content images include the scene of a bad car accident, a child crying in distress, a scene from a war, or a pornographic picture.  The other half of the images are more neutral and not intended to produce a strong emotion.  Examples might include a view of the night sky or a picture of a mountain lake.

The participant presses a timer button, and 6 seconds later, the computer randomly selects a picture from its database of 1,000’s. Skin conductivity is measured from when the participant presses the timer button until a few seconds after the computer displays the image.  It is no surprise that if the picture has emotional content, the skin conductivity increases considerably.  If the image has neutral content, there is a slight increase in conductivity but much less than when the emotional content pictures are displayed.

What is interesting is the measurement of conductivity in the 6-second interval after pushing the button, but before the picture displays.  It turns that during the waiting period, conductivity is higher if an emotional picture subsequently appears.  Somehow there seems to be a subconscious awareness of the image content before it is displayed.

Staring Studies

Have you ever had a feeling that someone was staring at you?  In his book, “The Conscious Universe,” Dean Radin mentions research that indicates we have an ability to sense someone is looking at us.  In these studies, one individual sits calmly in a room, and their skin conductivity is measured.  In another room there a 2nd participant seated in front of a display monitor.  There is a one way, closed-circuit video system that, when turned on, shows a live image of the 1st participant.  A computer randomly turns the video system on for several seconds.  When the test participant’s video appears, the 2nd participant stares at the image of the test person.  This staring process repeats while the skin conductivity of the test participant is continuously measured.

The results show higher skin conductivity when staring is occurring more often than when no staring takes place.  A statistical analysis show “the result in odds against chance of 3.8 million to 1″.

Mediumship Research

Are some people able to acquire information about deceased individuals?  There have been a variety of TV programs relating to mediums that have been popular in recent years, raising awareness of this subject.  The Windbridge Institute has conducted blinded studies to test the hypothesis that some individuals can accurately report deceased individuals’ information.  Their work has been published in a variety of professional publications.  If you are interested in reading about their research, please visit their website 

One Mind by Larry Dossey

The book “One Mind” proposes that we are all connected through a greater consciousness.  While we live our daily lives as individuals with separate conscious identities, Dr. Dossey provides numerous examples that provide evidence there is a broader consciousness that connects us all.  Here are two examples from his book

String of Numbers

Some visitors to this site might be familiar with the concept of ‘remote viewing’.  There is evidence suggesting we can acquire information about a distant location.  One researcher, Russell Targ conducted a research project to see if individuals could use remote viewing techniques to forecast silver commodity futures.

Silver Commodities