# Parapsychology

Date: Sat Apr 20 1996 - 13:05:02 BST

A lecturer attached to Duke University, J.B. Rhine, set out to
investigate scientifically, using large numbers of tests, random
subjects and statistcal analysis, the so-called phenomenon of
psychokinesis. He published a series of papers regarding his results
over a 25-year period, and many of his results were re-analysed by other
statisticians.
His original test was using dice. Two dice were thrown and the
thrower attempted to will the dice to fall in a combination which would
add up to more than seven. Of thirty-six possible combinations, fifteen
are greater than seven. According to the laws of probability, out of
6744 throws the target should have been achieved 2810 times. In fact it
was achieved 3110 times. The average rate of scoring on target should
have been 15 out of 36 throws over the entire test; in fact it was 16.5. This
level of deviance from the laws of chance occured against chances of over a
billion to one. [1]

An english mathematitian repeated the test with dice loaded with
lead so as to reduce the frequency of scoring to five in 36 throws: and
came up with 3042 scores out of 6744, and an average of 16.2 not five.
The chances according to the laws of probability against this are even
larger. [2]

Further tests demonstrated that when subjects were aiming for a
particularly pleasing target (eg. double six) results were better [3],
and his re-analysis of an extremely large test (200,000 throws) involving the
co-operative effort of a man and a woman an independent statistitian
declared that their scores could not be attributed to 'biased dice,
wishful thinking, recording errors or any other realistic
counter-hypothesis'. [4]

In order to eliminate such counter-hypotheses Rhine worked with
a physicist from Pittsburgh to develop a machine which shook and threw the
dice, photographed and filed the result without ever informing the
subject of the test of the results. The only human input to the test was
that the subject pushed a button to initiate each throw, and thought
about the target score. In tests of 170,000 throws he achieved less likely
results even than the original test, and when he did a control
experiment where the machine had a self-starter which eliminated human
input he got results precisely according to the laws of chance. [5]

These tests were done strictly according to the methods of
lunch, and returned results which seem to indicate that there is some
other causal force than the laws of physics. What price Parapsychology?

[1] Rhine, L.E., 'Mind over Matter', Macmillan, London, 1970

[2] Knowles, E.A.G., 'Reports on an Experiment Concerning Mind over
Matter', Journal of Parapsychology, 13: 186, 1949

[3] Reeves, M.P., 'The Psychokinetic Effect: a Study', Journal of
Parapsychology, 76, 1943

[4] Pratt, J.G., 'Lawfulness of the Position Effects in the Gibson Cup
Series', Journal of Parapsychology, 243, 1946

[5] McConnell, R.A. 'Wishing with Dice', Journal of Experimental
Psychology 50: 269, 1955

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