Oct 31 2008
Bad news: Estonia got its own localized version of America’s Psychic Challenge.
Good news: Three of the contestants approached the Estonian Skeptics Society to have their abilities properly tested. No prizes, no media, just scientific testing.
The experiment began on a lovely summer evening. 19 different fairly common items had been brought together, all clearly distinguishable and from different areas of life. Inside a garden house sat a “transmitter” — a person whose job it would be to take a random item from the pile and to telepathically transmit information about the item to a test subject sitting outside. The telepathic transmitter was accompanied by a member of the skeptics who wrote down the objects that were being telepathically transmitted and communicated with another skeptic outside who was observing the test subject, about when the transmitter or the receiver was ready to proceed. Each of the three subjects tried to guess six items.
All mobile phones were far away and everyone participating in the experiment was searched with a metal detector to look for any electronic transmitters. None were found.
Guessing three out of six items was deemed to be evidence of paranormal abilities. Everyone participating in the test signed papers saying that they had understood and agreed to the rules.
Before the results were revealed the subjects testified that the experiment had been honest and that they were satisfied with the arrangements.
And the results were surprising for everyone. Out of all the eighteen tries the three psychics had managed to guess… zero.
With the psychic inside the garden house holding in her hands a small brush and trying to telepathically transmit its image, the receiving psychic instead described “a round smooth object, a ball”.
A small apple was received as “a bigger object, a toy, a teddy bear”.
A key was received as a drinking glass. A saw as a carrot. A training landmine as a leather wallet. A condom as a light bulb. A compass as a candle.
Though there was a small debate about the condom. It was argued that since spiritually sex has something to do with light, then perceiving a condom as a light bulb should count as a hit. Everyone else disagreed.
All in all, everyone agreed with the setup, everyone agreed with the results, everyone left on friendly terms, and stunning new evidence for telepathy was not discovered.
From left: psychic Teur, skeptics Raul and Martin, psychics Geit, Hannes, and Triin
Here’s the original blog post (in Estonian) about the test:
Selgeltnagijate tõeline tuleproov. Katseprotokoll ja pildid.
Translated by Elver Loho
Lugu ilmus ka James Randi Educational Foundation kodulehel:
Estonian Psychic Test Results
Written by James Randi
Randi kommentaarid ja märkused:
Esemete hulk oleks pidanud olema eelnevalt määratletud ja kõigile osalejatele enne testi teada antud. Sellisel juhul poleks tekkinud kahtlusi ega vaidlusi, kas pakkumine oli täpne või “peaaegu täpne”. Sellist testi nimetatakse “sunnitud valikuks” ning statistiline analüüs on lihtsalt ja kindlalt toimetatav. Kõik esemed on nimekirjas ja ainult täpne vastus läheb arvesse.
Loos polnud viidet sellele, kuidas saadetav ese “saatja” poolt välja valiti. Mõned esemed on silmatorkavamad ja on seetõttu sagedamini väljavalitavad. Peaks olema mingi meetod, näiteks sedelitega loos, et tagada tõeline juhuslikkus.
Kolmandaks oleks võinud olla rohkem kui üks “saatja”; võib ju tekkida vaidlus selle üle, et konkreetne saatja oli nõrk.