Statistical Studies of Psychic Phenomena

Correlation does not mean causation
The above example shows that correlation does not mean causation. Statistics only show correlation. A positive correlation only indicates a possibility of a causal connection. Whether such a connection really exists depends on the underlying causal theory (if one exists).

Prayer Studies

(July 6, 2022) This study demonstrated that prayer did not work when tested under the LRD (Lordified, Revealed, Dualist) paradigm assumptions.

This study was funded by the Templeton foundation. The LRD religious paradigm assumes prayer words somehow get transmitted to a personified deity and then that he (or she if Virgin Mary) was agreeable to fulfilling the request. Then that deity could somehow interfere with the laws of physics.

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This experiment studied prayer in relation to the recovery from heart bypass operations. About 1200 patients received prayer from nuns for 14 days, half being told they would receive prayer and half being told that they may or may not get prayer. Another 600 were the control group and did not receive prayer even though they were told they may or may not be prayed for. The result made no difference in the survival rate (Benson, and all 2006).​ This confirmed an experiment done by the Mayo Clinic (Aviles and all, 2001).

A study which might have a chance of showing something would involve testing if emotional propagation works apart from the social network demonstrated by Christakis and Fowler (2009). This would require:

  1. The people doing doing a healing ritual have some sort of emotional connection to the victims either directly or via a close friend.

  2. Focused feelings (considerations) were generated

  3. The healing involved something which is also affected by the placebo effect.


Aviles JM, Whelan SE, Hernke DA, et al. (December 2001). "Intercessory prayer and cardiovascular disease progression in a coronary care unit population: a randomized controlled trial". Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 76 (12): 1192–8. doi:10.4065/76.12.1192. PMID 11761499.
Benson, H. and all (2006) Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP) in Cardiac Bypass Patients: A multicenter randomized trial of uncertainty and certainty of Receiving Intercessory Prayer. American Heart Journal 151:4 pages 934-942.
Christakis, N.A. and Fowler J.H (2009) Connected, How Your Friends’ Friends’ Friends’ Affect Everything You Feel, Think, and Do . Little, Brown & Co. New York

Remote Psychic Viewing

(July 6, 2022) Remote Psychic Viewing has never been shown to exist.

Studies of remote viewing demonstrate the power of perceptual bias more than anything else. A recent study using “Twitter” was used to test clairvoyant claims of remote viewing involving 5,000 people over five trials (Wiseman & Watt 2010). The first trial was a test of perceptual bias. The admittedly skeptical psychic sender went to a location, told the listeners to focus on the scene he was seeing, and after 20 minutes sent them a digital picture of the location and asked them to rate how closely their mental image matched the actual image.​

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The lowest level of correspondence was reported by the skeptical group who did not believe anyone had psychic abilities. Of these, 53% reported a very low level of image correspondence while only 4% thought their mental image had a high correspondence. In contrast the open minded group who believed that psychic abilities might exist showed a normal Gaussian distribution (bell curve) with 31% indicating a medium correspondence and about 17% indicating either a very low or very high image correspondence. This trial really shows the effect of confirmation bias. The skeptic group was determined to nullify the idea that visual telepathy exists. The open minded group showed a response typical of pure randomness.​

The other four trials were a more objective test of image telepathy although they had the weakness of group-think bias because all participants could see everyone else’s choices as they came in on the Twitter feed. About 1000 participants had to guess which one out of four digital images represented the location of the psychic sender. The group as a whole did not identify any image correctly and neither did the group who claimed to have psychic ability and were confident about it. The only group which managed to identify one image correctly (just above chance level) was the group which claimed psychic ability but were not confident about their choice.

Remote psychic viewing has never been proven. Even the classified Stargate project run by the U.S. security establishment could find no evidence for its existence. That project began in 1978 and it was closed in 1995 with its information declassified. (


Wiseman, R. & Watt, C. (2010) Twitter as a New Research Tool: A Mass Participation Test of Remote Viewing. European Journal of Parapsychology. Online at:
Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR)
Image logo for Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR)

Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab

(July 6, 2022) The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) was a research center at Princeton University that studied psychokinesis and remote viewing. It was established in 1979 by then Dean of Engineering Robert G. Jahn and shut down in February 2007 after not having found anything.

The problem with this sort of research is that it assumes it knows the conditions under which such phenomena can be made to appear. These conditions are not known because no theory of consciousness is generally accepted. All the anecdotal evidence of telekinesis and psychic events in general indicates that they occur at unexpected times. Those "psychics" who claim they can do this phenomena at will are a good study of the power of self-delusion.

A list of PEAR's publications are here:

Its old website is here: