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ESP Experiment

Below is a definitive experiment based on what fragments of statistics knowledge I have left which will definitively prove or not prove (it's impossible to disprove) the existence of extra sensory perception. It was designed by John Moser 06:45, 2 Oct 2004 (UTC)

The experiment involves the teacher of a class randomly shuffling a deck of a predetermined mixture of four classes of cards, then cutting a small portion of the deck out, and using that for the experiment. Students will attempt to predict what is on the cards.

This experiment will not prove what form ESP is taking on during the experiment; but rather, whether or not it exists. In the experiment, one of two things could indicate that the hypothesis is valid. The first case would be the expected one: the students learn to read the teacher's mind. The second case is more simplisitc but also easily overlooked: The teacher may learn to project the image of the card into the students' minds subconciously. Either will prove the existence of ESP.


26 cards with blue "Star" outlines on them
26 cards with blue "Circle" outlines on them
26 cards with blue "Square" outlines on them
26 cards with blue "Triangle" outlines on them
1  sheet of gridded marking paper per student


Decks of 104 cards assembled in the above manner are distributed to each teacher involved in the experiment. This is equivalent to two decks of casino playing cards containing four suits each containing ten numbered cards and three face cards.

Before each class, the teacher shuffles the decks together repetedly, several times, to randomize their organization. He then counts out the top thirty cards without looking at them or changing order. These are to be used in the experiment. (1)

When the students come to class the first time, they are informed of the experiment. The below dialog is suggested to convey the necessary information:

   Your class has been selected as part of an experiment group.  Each day
   when you come in, there will be a sheet of paper on your desk with a grid
   of thirty rows and four columns.  Each column is headed with a circle,
   triangle, square, or star.

   At the beginning of class, you will sit quietly while the teacher draws
   thirty cards and looks at them.  [S]he will look at each card for fifteen
   seconds before stacking it face down.  The entire excercise will take
   approximately seven and one half minutes.

   You are to indicate on your paper one of the four symbols for each card.
   Make only one mark, and chose whichever you feel comfortable with.  Do not
   erase your marks or change your answer.  Do not simply follow a
   predetermined pattern.

   The thirty cards are from the top of a deck approximately three and a half
   times larger.  This deck is shuffled before these cards are extracted off.
   Do not attempt to count the cards; it can't be done.

   Papers will be collected at the end of the excercise.  Remember to put
   your name and the date on each.  Papers will not be returned, and no grade
   will be taken.  The experiment will last until May 1, at which point a
   detailed report of your accuracy over the entire course will be given to

The teacher will perform the following procedure each day, not repeting the above speech.

The teacher will draw each card one at a time from the 30 on his or her desk, and stare at the image for approximately fifteen seconds. The timing does not have to be exact; in order to avoid mental clutter, simply stare for a comfortable period. After this time, the card is to be placed face down on the desk, stacking up in reverse so that the students may not see it. As the teacher reads cards, the students mark which they think the card is on their papers.

After all cards have been drawn, papers are taken up. The teacher must ensure that the name and date is on each paper. The deck may be rubberbanded for later review; however it is preferable for the teacher to travers the deck and mark his or her own sheet bottom up. This will be used to check each student's paper later.

Accuracy for each day is taken and graphed, both individually and on average. Individual graphs and if desired full details are returned to the students at the end of the class term.

This experiment may and should be continued for many years. It would be interesting to start it in high school in freshmen year and continue until graduation.

(1) The procedure used for separating the thirty cards to be used ensures that card counting is impossible and that order is unpredictable.


It would be a fallacy to evaluate the averages of all students over the course of the experiment. Some students may manifest ESP by continuously *avoiding* the correct card; it is entirely possible, though unlikely, for the average graph to be fairly flat. The average is still interesting, though.

Statistical anomolies in individual graphs are of great interest. Two individual graphs must be considered: The students' and the teachers'.

Students' graphs are fairly straightforward. If any student gradually becomes more or less accurate over time, with consistency, that student is likely affected by ESP. It is unlikely for a continuous increase or decrease in accuracy to occur in such a large experiment; more likely would be that accuracy would fluctuate in either direction and regress to a fairly straight and level line.

Teachers' graphs can be produced by averaging all students working with a particular teacher for the tests done with that teacher. If that teacher is projecting his or her thoughts-- particularly, the image on the card-- into the students' minds, the entire body of students working with the teacher at that time will likely display an increase in accuracy. This would allow pinpointing of such a teacher, as the same students may perform differently under other teachers yet *consistently* *more* *accurate* with the given teacher.

As a major point, an individual graph which remains fairly level yet consistently averages significantly more (or less) than 25% accuracy indicates a student effected by ESP. Probability would give each guess by each student approximately a 1/4 chance of chosing the correct card; the deck can practically be almost all one card, so the effect of "removing" a card is dampened. Furthermore, each individual card is an individual event. This leaves any individual evaluation as having a 25% chance of accuracy.