Psychic powers may sound like superstition, but science reveals evidence that humans may have some ability to see into the future.
A supernormal phenomenon called “precognition” intrigued Professor Daryl Bem, of Cornell University, and led him to conduct an eight-year study with nine different experiments, involving more than 1,000 participants.
“Of the various forms of ESP or psi, as we call it, precognition has always intrigued me the most because it’s the most magical,” Bem told the Cornell Chronicle in December 2010. “It violates the plus our notion of how the physical world works. The phenomena of modern quantum physics are equally mind-boggling, but they’re so technical that most non-physicists aren’t familiar with them.”
Bem, who studied physics before becoming a college professor of psychology, may have some psychic researchers satisfied with his study, but this has baffled other more dubious researchers, who are troubled by Bem’s methods – although they are common and widely accepted in the scientific world. community.
He became interested in the study of precognition when asked to find flaws in the successful experiment of a psychic researcher, but he couldn’t.
“The research and this article are specifically for my fellow social psychologists,” Bem said. “I designed the experiments to be compelling, simple, and transparent enough to encourage them to try and replicate these experiments on their own.”
Cleverly, he devised a method that involved taking “well-known phenomena in psychology and reversing their evolution over time.”
Typically, scientists first presented the stimuli and then measured the response. But for his experiment, Bem did the opposite, taking readings before the stimulus was applied. He hooked the participants up to equipment similar to a polygraph to measure their emotional response. Each, seated in front of a computer screen, saw randomly selected images; most of which were normal, but some were erotic or extremely negative imagery, like the aftermath of a bloody murder scene.
“Your physiology jumps when you see one of these images after watching a series of landscapes or neutral images,” Bem said. “But the remarkable finding is that your physiology jumps before the provocative image actually appears on the screen – even before the computer decides which image to show you. What this shows is that your physiology can anticipate an upcoming event, even if your conscious self cannot.
Participants in all nine experiments were shown to be able to predict future events. In another experiment, subjects were presented with a list of words on a monitor and then asked to retype them from memory afterwards. The computer then randomly selected some of these words; participants were asked to retype those they remembered during a practice session. The results revealed a strong match with the computer-generated words, indicating some form of perception of future events.
Only one of the nine experiments failed to validate Bem’s hypothesis that psychic phenomena exist. He said the odds that these results were simply the product of chance were 1 in 74 billion.
The psychology professor, who arrived at Cornell in 1978 and retired in 2007, said he rarely worked on a single topic for eight years, as he did this time, “but this one was a big deal and seemed like an appropriate thing to end my career with. The journal it will appear in is the same journal that published my very first article 50 years ago,” he added.
He set out to study the supernormal because current research strongly supports that it is real. “I went into optimism that I would be able to find it with these experiments,” he said. “After I started seeing positive results, my undergraduate research team seemed intrigued by my enthusiasm and said, ‘But didn’t you tell us you thought this would work?’
“I said yes, but when I see them working it’s very different.”