Blog 13 – Does evidence exist for Telepathy

In this blog, we examine the evidence for human/animal telepathy. It is the study of the ability to communicate non-locally with another person or animal. The standard protocol of telepathic research is to design a methodology that gives telepathy the best chance of happening and to rule out all other explanations. Therefore, the research aims to exclude any direct or indirect communication between the two people in the experiment or study.

Telepathy research became popular with Sinclair’s home experiments published in the 1930s called Mental Radio. Remarkably, the foreword was by Albert Einstein. Early investigations into telepathy involved testing whether drawing could be transferred using telepathy. However, this caused the issue of how to do you measure whether the experiment was a success. Since the 1970’s most of the telepathy experiments use a forced choice methodology, i.e., participants had to select a picture of what they thought they received. The test was whether participants chose the target picture more often than the random picture.

The most studied process of telepathy experiments is the Ganzfeld experiment. In this process, there are two roles, the sender and the receiver. The receiver is sensory deprived for around 20 minutes before the trial in an attempt to put the participant in an altered state of consciousness. When the experiment begins, the receiver will open a random picture and then attempt to send the information to the receiver. Near the end of the experiment, the receiver is then asked to select one of four pictures. The researcher will test whether more receivers pick the correct picture.

Hundreds of studies have been conducted into the Ganzfeld experiment. Instead of citing a few of the researchers, a technique called meta-analysis can create a statistical effect for all these studies. When the studies are combined results show a significant effect, i.e., there is statistical evidence for telepathy in humans. However, critics have said that the effect is small and may be due to methodological flaws. But there is a considerable variation in peoples performance on the task, i.e., some people can’t perform the task while others excel. The difficulty in this type of research assumes that every person can complete the task. However, this might not be the case.

The methodology can be compared to how an e-mail works, and there are several stages which can be broken down. There are three main stages

1, It is difficult to evidence whether the sender sends the information. In an e-mail system, we could just look in the sent inbox.
2, How the information is transferred. In telepathy, there isn’t a theoretical basis established on how the information gets transferred. If we don’t know the mechanism, it is difficult to assume that we are creating the correct conditions for telepathy to occur.
3, We have to no way of knowing if and when the receiver gets the information. At what point do they receive the information.

There are three common experiences of alleged telepathy in everyday life; (1) thinking of a person before they call, (2) in twins and (3) between human and their pets. We will look at these in more detail.

A common reported experience is that a person would think of someone, and then that the person would call. Many people experience this, and there are a few studies that appear to support this within phone calls and text messages. There was also a wide range in performance from people who could perform well, to those that couldn’t do the task. Although there is some experimental evidence, there isn’t enough to say this experiment has proven the concept.

The second commonly held belief is that twins, particularly identical, have a connection that is stronger than any other relationship. To some extent, this makes sense as they share the same genetics and share the womb where they developed into humans. There is evidence from self-reported accounts that there is a stronger relationship between identical than non-identical twins. The problem with twin research, is identifying the cause of the effect. Is it due to identical twins having similar thought patterns or through a telepathic connection? Although there is a commonly held belief that twins can be telepathic, there isn’t enough research to support this claim. It might be the case, but not enough evidence to say no way or another.

The third common perception of telepathy is between a pet and its owners. There are a few studies that looked at the behavior of dogs when their owner was out. When the dog owner was returning home, the dog would sit by the window/door more often than when the owner wasn’t returning home. The study does support the concept. However, only a few pieces of research have been conducted in this area, so we can’t be more conclusive.

There is evidence for humans to have the potential for telepathy. However, the mechanics have rarely been studied by parapsychologists; therefore, they are often testing telepathy with blindfolds. Also, we shouldn’t assume that everyone would be able to conduct telepathy. More research is known to focus on the influence of physiological systems at a distance. Although not technically telepathy, it is a similar methodology without less need for consciousness interpretation.

I will be presenting a series of blogs around the paranormal: The next topic is “Quantum Mechanics In Biological Systems.”

If your interested, you can buy my book at Amazon
Thanks for reading, Ian

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