How to Make People Believe in Telepathy

Psyblog reports:

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Have you ever been thinking about someone and then moments later they’ve called you? Is that random coincidence or something more?

People love to believe in supernatural powers like telepathy. At least one-third of Americans report a belief in extra-sensory perception (ESP), with a further 40% refusing to rule out the possibility. Surveys in Europe reveal similar figures with one study finding that almost two-thirds of people believe in some form of ESP (further figures on the NSF website).

Psychologists are particularly interested in why people have these sorts of beliefs. One common explanation is that people’s natural desire to make sense of what is a fundamentally random and confusing world is so strong that patterns are seen where there are none. It’s like when we look at a visual illusion or watch a good magician: we’re easily tricked.

So what kinds of situations make us more prone to this magical thinking? This is the question that inspired Fred Ayeroff and Robert P. Abelson to carry out a classic social psychology experiment on a group of students at Yale University in the 1970s (Ayeroff & Abelson, 1976). They wanted to see if a simple experimental manipulation could be used to get people to act as though they believed in telepathy.

For their experiment they used 32 participants and a fairly standard set-up for a parapsychological ESP study. One participant, the sender, was sent to a soundproof room and told to transmit a series of images telepathically. The other participant, the receiver, was sent to another soundproof room and told to get ready to receive (this was the 70s remember!).

There were two experimental manipulations:

  1. Good vibe. Some receivers and senders were sat down before the telepathy started to ‘practice’ together. This was designed to get a ‘good vibe’ going between sender and receiver.
  2. Control. Some senders and receivers were allowed to choose which, from a set of cards, they actually used to transmit telepathically.

Then, once the experiment got under way, both sender and receiver were asked to say how confident they were that they had successfully transmitted (or received) each card. Participants weren’t told how they had done…

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  • http://www.myspace.com/thanaton John Gillanders

    All I can say to that is FUCK YOU. There have been tons of experiments into things like remote viewing that have demonstrated by the strictest of scientific protocols that telepathy is in fact a real phenomenon (look into it). Yes, we don't understand it very well, but it is real, and maybe if we say devoted more than 0.00000000001% of our scientific research to understanding it, we'd get it a little more than we do. So wow, you ran a shotty experiment that didn't demonstrate telepathy was real, without researching the fuckloads of succesful experimentation and learning from what they were doing. In a way, this experiment was intentionally designed to fail. There is such a ridiculous bias against any kind of psi research in the academic world it's ridiculous. This is a propagandist article to once again convince the public that telepathy is just some fairy tale that people believe in: “because they wish it were true”. Yeah, that's it. Again, I love disinfo, but you're supposed to be seeing through propaganda like this, not posting links to it. You know why I didn't pursue a P.H.D. in parapsychology like I'd planned on when I entered college? Because the more you look into it, you realize that it doesn't fucking matter what results you come up with, the mainstream scientific community will just completely ignore them unless they're demonstrating that what you're looking for isn't legitimate rather than the inverse. There is just such an enormous bias against the idea that humans can understand their own spiritual nature or higher level brain functioning. Great job science, thanks for fucking everyone over. Enjoy your apocalyptic obsession with materialism. And oh, by the way, if anyone else wants to bother to refute what I'm saying here. Do some research into legitimate psi research before you do, otherwise your argument is based solely on ignorance.

    • insideoutone

      You should probably be heading back to school for your phd but definitely not in “parapsychology”. Even the term makes me cringe. As far higher brain function, the more of us working on higher brain functioning through neuroscience, the sooner mainstream science's ability to deny reality because of the ways it allows for them to take advantage of the wo, the sooner these people that perpetuate nonsense they know isn't true will be reigned in and burned at the stake…

  • insideoutone

    This shit makes me giggle as a buddhist. There's account after account of people being together “in spirit” through time which is really just a way of saying “connected through mind” which is really just an explanation of ways organisms can exploit something in the quantum world known as non-locality with concern to human consciousness. Right now you can buy tickets to a talk with the dalai lama's main man and tibet's official channeler at alex grey's chapel of sacred mirrors. Mr Grey has made a life displaying the powerful way our imaginations are connected and is more than credible in the world of not only art but Buddhism in general. If he wasn't more than likely Tibet's main medium, the dalai lama's main man as far those things are concerned, wouldn't be speaking at the COSM. One of my favorite questions in life is how many “psychologists” that know these things exists and make an industry out of posturing and acting as if they don't aren't going to get sued for malpractice and possibly jailed once neurosociety has finally taken over life on earth and they can no longer pretend. This buddhist is definitely on his way to a neuroscience degree specializing in “forensic neuroscience” that will definitely make life very hard on these drug dealers that know they're making up problems to treat with drugs to make money for big pharma as an industry. My favorite forensic neuroscientist, much like Ram Dass, is a Maharishi Man. Your Guru knows all your thoughts, and eventually your neuroscientist will be translating every image your brain processes, saving it to a hard drive for later review, and therefore becomes your guru. Check and Check.

    insideout

  • insideoutone

    You should probably be heading back to school for your phd but definitely not in “parapsychology”. Even the term makes me cringe. As far higher brain function, the more of us working on higher brain functioning through neuroscience, the sooner mainstream science’s ability to deny reality because of the ways it allows for them to take advantage of the wo, the sooner these people that perpetuate nonsense they know isn’t true will be reigned in and burned at the stake…

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