In a series of experiments revealed by a paper by Professor Daryl J Bem of Cornell University,claims to have produced results suggesting that humans are capable of such feats as precognition and premonition.
Prof. Bem of Cornell University, New York State, carried out a series of nine different experiments involving over 1,000 volunteer students, and has published the results in a paper entitled “Feeling the Future: Experimental Evidence for Anomalous Retroactive Influences on Cognition and Affect”, which will appear in the peer-reviewed Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Bem defines psi as “anomalous processes of information or energy transfer that are currently unexplained in terms of known physical or biological mechanisms”, and chose to study “precognition (conscious cognitive awareness) and premonition (affective apprehension) of a future event that could not otherwise be anticipated through any known inferential process”. His methodology was simple, testing for “anomalous retroactive influence of some future event on an individual’s current responses” by “time reversing” well-established psychological effects “so that the individual’s responses are obtained before the putatively causal stimulus events occur”.
One experiment involved the students being shown a long list of words and being asked to remember as many as possible. They were then asked to type a selection of words randomly selected by computer from the original list. In an apparently striking example of causality seemingly working in reverse, the students proved significantly better at recalling words they would later type.
The Porn Link.
In another experiment, devised to test precognition, Bem provided his volunteers with the following instructions: “This is an experiment that tests for ESP. It takes about 20 minutes and is run completely by computer. First you will answer a couple of brief questions. Then, on each trial of the experiment, pictures of two curtains will appear on the screen side by side. One of them has a picture behind it; the other has a blank wall behind it. Your task is to click on the curtain that you feel has the picture behind it. The curtain will then open, permitting you to see if you selected the correct curtain. There will be 36 trials in all. Several of the pictures contain explicit erotic images (e.g., couples engaged in nonviolent but explicit consensual sexual acts). If you object to seeing such images, you should not participate in this experiment.”
Which curtain covered an image was selected randomly by computer, which should have given subjects a 50 per cent chance of correctly locating the image. The results were interesting, to say the least, with subjects achieving an overall hit-rate of 53.1 per cent for the pornographic pictures; while this may not sound all that impressive, statistically speaking it is significantly above chance. Their hit-rate on the neutral, non-erotic pictures was 49.8 per cent. Similar above-chance results were found in eight of the nine experiments, and across all nine an average ‘affect size’ of 0.22 was obtained.
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- The term psi denotes anomalous processes of information or energy transfer that are currently unexplained in terms of known physical or biological mechanisms. Two variants of psi are precognition (conscious cognitive awareness) and premonition (affective apprehension) of a future event that could not otherwise be anticipated through any known inferential process. Precognition and premonition are themselves special cases of a more general phenomenon: the anomalous retroactive influence of some future event on an individual’s current responses, whether those responses are conscious or nonconscious, cognitive or affective. This article reports 9 experiments, involving more than 1,000 participants, that test for retroactive influence by “time-reversing” well-established psychological effects so that the individual’s responses are obtained before the putatively causal stimulus events occur. Data are presented for 4 time-reversed effects: precognitive approach to erotic stimuli and precognitive avoidance of negative stimuli; retroactive priming; retroactive habituation; and retroactive facilitation of recall. The mean effect size (d) in psi performance across all 9 experiments was 0.22, and all but one of the experiments yielded statistically significant results. The individual-difference variable of stimulus seeking, a component of extraversion, was significantly correlated with psi performance in 5 of the experiments, with participants who scored above the midpoint on a scale of stimulus seeking achieving a mean effect size of 0.43. Skepticism about psi, issues of replication, and theories of psi are also discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).