An ESP Test
Frequently Asked Questions

What is ESP ?
ESP is the acronym for extra-sensory perception - a term that seems to have been coined by Joseph Banks Rhine in the 1920s at Duke University. It means the receiving of information by some means other than the five normal senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste or smell. Current researchers recognize at least these forms of ESP:

Rhine himself only dealt with the first three forms, and this test of mine only covers the first two.

How does your telepathy test work ?
After you connect to the server program, it checks to see if someone else on the internet has also connected, and is waiting for a partner. If so, the two of you become partners and alternate as sender and receiver. The receiver sees 5 images, one of which is the target (picked at random). The sender sees only the target image. The receiver guesses which image the sender is now seeing. If the receiver has no strong perception, he/she may pass. The session has 20 total trials - 10 guesses for each person, with a 30 second time-limit. The clock in the top right corner appears on the right. and takes 30 seconds for one complete revolution. When all trials are completed a report of the entire session, with probability analysis, is presented. Here is a sample report. If no one is currently waiting for a partner, then you will wait for someone. After 15 seconds of waiting, you have the option of starting the clairvoyance test instead.

How does your clairvoyance test work ?

target image is hidden
under the grid

receiver has moved the grid
to peek at the target image
In this mode, you are presented with 5 images in each trial, and try to guess the target image that the computer (the server program) has picked at random. The target image is hidden under a grid in the top right corner of the applet rectangle. The grid is moveable, so you can peek at the target image, but if you peek, the trial is ignored. Sample top right corners appear on the right. Here is a sample report.

If I'm the receiver in a telepathy test, how do I know that I'm not really getting the target information by clairvoyance ?
There is really no way to know. This has been conceded by many ESP researchers, e.g. Charles Tart. Sharp theoretical definitions sometimes turn out to be fuzzy in practice.

What kind of images do you use ?
It's always 5 images with a common theme. One group is the famous Zener cards (circle,square,waves,cross,star) that Rhine asked his colleague Karl Zener to design. There also groups of astrological symbols, animals, hieroglyphics, etc. I am open to other suggestions.

How long does a test take ?
In the clairvoyance test, you can take as long as you like. In the telepathy test, the receiver must make a guess in 30 seconds. Since the telepathy test has 20 trials, it works out to 10 minutes, though usually it's less.

Why a time limit ? It might make me feel rushed.
I thought it would be better if the sender does not have to concentrate on the target image indefinitely. I also thought that some people would like to reserve a block of time for the test when they can concentrate on the test only, and be free from distractions. Knowing the test takes at most 10 minutes would help to reserve that block. In the future, I may make 30 seconds a parameter, at connection time.

If I get tired of the test, can I quit in the middle ?
Yes, by pressing the Disconnect button, or simply going to a new page. In the telepathy test, your partner will be notified that you disconnected. If the session ends before the last trial is completed, no results are saved and no report is generated.

Can I communicate with my partner ?
No - not through my server program anyway. Of course, there is nothing to prevent two friends from connecting at a prearranged time, and with predecided nicknames. Those two friends will probably become partners in the telepathy test.

Since my partner is anywhere on the internet, he/she could be thousands of miles away. Won't that make telepathy impossible ?
No. Rhine and subsequent researches often emphasized that ESP was not affected by great distances, and that psi forces therefore were outside known physical laws.

What are the requirements for my computer ?
You must have a browser that is Java 1.1 enabled. It has been tested with Netscape Navigator 4.7 and Internet Explorer 5.0. In the latter, it is OK to set security to High, since this Java applet does not request any special privileges. If Java is not enabled, you will see a message. Java-enabling instructions are available. No cookies are set by the test.
To display all the images properly, your browser window must be maximized, and your graphics card must be set to 800x600 pixel resolution or higher, and to 16-bit color or higher.

Have other machines been used for ESP testing ?
Yes. The first significant one was VERITAC (1962) built at the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories. There was also the ESP Teaching Machine (1974) designed by Russell Targ, and the Ten Choice Trainer (1976) designed by Charles Tart. For more of this history, see the book by C.E.M. Hansel and two articles by Martin Gardner.

You say the test is anonymous. What exactly does that mean ?
The test only gets one piece of data from you - a nickname - and nothing else. You can change the nickname from one test session to the next.

How long will you store the test results ?

Are you going to use the test results - for a paper or something like that ?
No. The controls are much too lose for anything like that. This test is for entertainment only.

FAQ last updated May 20, 2001

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