In order to accurately test for the existance of telepathy (and not be made fun of by other scientists) the researchers at The University of Manchester have created a virtual computer world to control for variables normally outside of their control:
The system, which immerses an individual in what looks like a life-size computer game, has been created as part of a joint project between The University’s School of Computer Science and School of Psychological Sciences.
Approximately 100 participants will take part in the experiment which aims to test whether telepathy exists between individuals using the system. The project will also look at how telepathic abilities may vary depending on the relationships which exist between participants.
The test is carried out using two volunteers who could be friends, work colleagues or family. They are placed in separate rooms on different floors of the same building to eliminate any possibility of communication.
Participants enter the virtual environment by donning a head-mounted 3D display and an electronic glove which they use to navigate their way through the computer generated world.
Once inside participants view a random selection of computer-generated objects. These include a telephone, a football and an umbrella. The person in the first room sees one object at a time, which they are asked to concentrate on and interact with.
The person in the other room is simultaneously presented with the same object plus three decoy objects. They are then asked to select the object they believe the other participant is trying to transmit to them.
Sounds like a good plan. There’s always a lot of hucksterism in paranormal circles so using normal people and placing them in a virtual world is a good control system. There really isn’t another way to make scientists pay attention to the possibility of ESP and other abilities.
Personally, I think it’s pretty obvious that humans have psychic abilities. Whenever I’m staring at a beautiful girl from across the room she almost always feels my gaze and looks at me. As long as people aren’t really distracted (i.e. talking to someone else, reading, working) you can usually get them to look at you after staring at them for only a dozen seconds or so, even if they didn’t know you were there and there was no line-of-sight. Try it next time you’re at the mall.
Whether this experiment will be able to “prove” telepathic abilities exist is an open question. From the sound of it, they were more concerned with not being made fun of by other scientists. It’s good that they’re trying, but you have to wonder if they’re taking the right approach. Scientists really hate the idea that there’s something out there that they can’t explain, can’t be accurately measured or predicted and behaves in a way that can only be described as irrational. My question is: Why do you expect the universe to be easily explainable, rational and predictable? What evidence do you have that states that reality (all of it) should play by your rules?
until the 20th century, reality was everything humans could touch, smell, see and hear. since the inital publication of the charged electromagnetic spectrum, humans learned that what they can touch, smell, see, and hear… is less than one millionth of reality. — Incubus, “New Skin”
What if “reality” doesn’t play by your rules?