Re: What Makes Psychology Different?

From: Stevan Harnad (
Date: Wed Oct 18 1995 - 14:45:07 BST

> From: "EMMA FLETCHER" <>
> Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 12:43:10 GMT
sh> There have been experiments to see how the mind might fit into this
sh> world of matter: These experiments have been done by
sh> parapsychologists, to show that sometimes you can move things just by
sh> willing it. I described a big upright pinball machine, like a Japanese
sh> Pachinko machine, that spits balls up in the air and then they come down
sh> various paths, usually the middle, sometimes a little to the left,
sh> sometimes a little to the right, to make, on the average, a bell-curve
sh> shape). Human subjects were asked to try to make the machine "skew" the
sh> bell curve leftward or rightward (i.e., make more of the balls go to the
sh> left or the right) using only their minds (not their hands -- the
sh> machine worked automatically; they just sat there concentrating on
sh> influencing the direction balls went).
> Where did this experiment take place, and who conducted it?

It was done in the Engineering Anomalies Lab at Princeton University,
and was done by Robert Jahn and colleagues. References with Abstracts
follow this message.

> (The first seminar was extremly useful, I don't know about everyone
> else, but it has made me realise that I must be precise in what I
> say, and that I must have proof, or should I say overwhelming
> evidence, to support my claims).

Glad you caught that distinction! Proof is unlikely in this subject
matter. But besides evidence, there is one other thing: argument. I
don't mean the kind where you fight about something. I mean rational
argument, as in giving reasons for believing this is true rather than
that. Remember we ended on the topic of "reasons"? More about that next

Nelson, R. D.; Jahn, R. G.; Dunne, B. J.
Operator-related anomalies in physical systems and information processes.
Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 1986 Apr, v53 (n803):261-285.
ABSTRACT: Describes the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research
program, which addresses topics in consciousness-related anomalous
phenomena of possible relevance to modern engineering. Using
conventional instrumentation and data-processing equipment and
techniques, the program tries to identify those engineering devices,
systems, and processes most likely to display operator-related
anomalies in their performance. Three sectors of effort are involved:
(1) the design, implementation, operation, and interpretation of
experiments in a low-level psychokinesis; (2) the development of
analytical methodologies for quantitative assessment of precognitive
remote-perception data; and (3) the development of theoretical models
useful for correlation of the experimental data, design of better
experiments, and explication of the phenomena on fundamental grounds.

Dunne, Brenda J.; Bisaha, John P.
Precognitive remote viewing in the Chicago area: A replication of the
Stanford experiment.
Journal of Parapsychology, 1979 Mar, v43 (n1):17-30.
ABSTRACT: The ability of untrained individuals to describe a remote
geographical site where an agent will be at a future time, before the
target location has been determined, was investigated in 8 separate
trials using 2 female percipients who had no claim to extraordinary
psychic abilities. The transcripts of their descriptions were matched
and ranked against the various target locations by 8 independent judges
who had no other connection with the experiment. Results of this
matching indicate a high degree of accuracy. The fact that this paper
represents a replication of an earlier experiment (H. Puthoff and R.
Targ, 1976) suggests that remote viewing as an experimental design
provides additional evidence substantiating the existence of
extrasensory perceptual and communication channels.

Jahn, R. G.; Dunne, B. J.; Jahn, E. G.
Analytical judging procedure for remote perception experiments.
Journal of Parapsychology, 1980 Sep, v44 (n3):207-231.
ABSTRACT: In an effort to provide more quantitative assessment of
free-response data, the authors have developed a computational judging
procedure based on a code of 30 binary descriptors in which each target
and perception may be characterized for subsequent machine comparison
by a variety of scoring recipes. The program acknowledges the a priori
probabilities of the descriptors in the target pool, includes various
possibilities for normalization of the perception scores in terms of
perfect scores and chance scores for the same targets, and ultimately
yields rank orderings of each perception against all targets in the
pool, the series distribution of proper target ranks, and the
corresponding statistical parameters. Applied to a variety of past and
contemporary experimental data, this method indicates highly
significant degrees of information transfer; applied to dummy random
input data, and to less successful experiments, it yields appropriately
insignificant results.

Dunne, Brenda J. Co-operator experiments with an REG device.
IN: Cultivating consciousness: Enhancing human potential, wellness,
and healing.; K. Ramakrishna Rao, Ed. Praeger Publishers/Greenwood
Publishing Group, Inc, Westport, CT, US. 1993. p. 149-163.
ABSTRACT: (from the chapter) human consciousness can participate
actively the establishment of physical reality (as demonstrated
through the use of a microelectronic random event generator (REG));
(reexamined some) physical presumptions and have proposed a rudimentary
model that represents reality as the product of the interpenetration of
consciousness and its environment; in this approach, all physical
theory is regarded as an attempt by human consciousness to describe its
experience of its physical environment; following this path, we have
invoked the concepts and formalisms of quantum wave mechanics via
metaphor to describe such cooperative reality.

Jahn, Robert G.; Dunne, Brenda J.
Consciousness, quantum mechanics, and random physical processes.
IN: Bergson and modern thought: Towards a unified science. Models of
scientific thought, Vol. 3.; Andrew C. Papanicolaou, Pete A. Y. Gunter, Eds.
Harwood Academic Publishers, New York, NY, US. 1987. p. 271-303.
ABSTRACT: (from the chapter) deals with the subject of paranormal
psychology, an area of much interest to Bergson, who was elected
president of the British Society for Psychical Research; like Bergson
whose neuropsychological theory allows for the possibility of
non-sensory contact, they draw the broad outlines of a model based on
quantum-mechanical notions which will hopefully render
parapsychological data intelligible; but as the basic concern of the
scientific community with respect to parapsychology is with the
reliability of the phenomena and less with explanatory schemes for such
phenomena, they provide a detailed summary of experimental data
collected in their laboratory on psychokinesis and remote perception.

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