I’ve just been reading this article (link will open in a new window) on BBC news about a psychic challenge at Goldsmiths, University of London.
The gist of the test was that five volunteers sat hidden behind a screen, while two psychic mediums each had to write down one unique thing about each volunteer. The volunteers then had to try and match themselves to each of the statements.
The end result was one correct out of five, which is consistent with chance alone.
One of the psychics said that this proved nothing, that she needs to hear the person’s voice and/or see them in order to make a connection.
But Michael Marshall of the Merseyside Skeptics Society, who helped to organise the test, said it showed that claims to have special abilities “aren’t based in reality”.
My initial reaction was that what if the facts written by the psychic mediums about the volunteers were things that the volunteers had forgotten about, or weren’t even aware of (distance relative’s cause of death? a place they visited as a very young child that they’ve since forgotten?) - it’s hard to judge this without knowing what the statements are.
Secondly, what if the volunteers were all die-hard sceptics, determined to prove that the psychics weren’t psychic and insist they had got it all wrong? Where’s the control that the information being provided by the psychics was definitely true/false?
Thirdly, has anyone seen the Big Brother challenges on TV, where the participants have to organise themselves in a line according to various facts, as provided by Big Brother? They almost always fail to match themselves to the facts - and these are definitely REAL facts gathered by researchers.
BUT - and this is a big but - the psychic who was quoted in the article pretty much admitted that she hadn’t made a psychic connection. She said that the conditions weren’t right for ‘psychic energy’, which is as good as admitting that she guessed.
Would be interested to hear what the other psychic had to say!
I’m going to do a bit of googling later and see if I can find any more detailed information about the experiment.