A big thank you to everyone who took part in the test trial of the experiment today. It was great to try out the timing and technology, and we learned a few lessons that will feed into the experiment proper. For those of you who were unable to see the target location properly, there is a photograph of it on the left.
There has also been a surprisingly large amount of media coverage of the experiment, with pieces in The Guardian, The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, Sky News, Nature Online and Fox News. All of these have helped increase participant numbers, which is great.
I also wanted to give some more information about the actual method that will be used in the 4 formal trials…..
Five possible target locations have already been chosen and photographed for each trial. These locations have been chosen to be maximally different from one another to make the judging as easy as possible (more about that later). In addition, they have already been photographed to cut out any possible cues from weather, time of day, etc.. (e.g., if it is an especially sunny day tomorrow, and I take a picture of the actual location then and the decoys the day before, participants might select the target one because it is sunnier than the others).
A bit before 3pm UK time I will randomly choose one of the five locations as the target. To help prevent possible bias, this will be carried out using this site. This offers true random numbers based on unpredictable atmospheric noise.
I will then travel to the chosen location and, at 3PM, tweet with….
“OK, at target location NOW. Post the thoughts, feelings, impressions, and images in your mind. You have 30 mins. Everyone GO!’
This is a predetermined message to prevent the location somehow affecting my message and giving a clue. I have increased the time at the location from 20 mins to 30 mins to give as many people as possible a chance to participate.
After 30 mins, a second predetermined message will give the URL of the website that everyone needs to visit to vote. Please be patient! The voting will be open for an hour, so everyone should have a chance to vote. You will first be asked to state your sex, belief in the paranormal, and whether you believe you have psychic abilities. You will then be presented with 5 locations (the actual target and four decoys). You will be asked to look at each picture and choose the one that best matches your thoughts and feelings. As noted above, these have been chosen so they are very different from one another. Hopefully this will make the judging as easy as possible.
After an hour, the judging site will be closed and I will send another tweet stating that I am just about to post a photograph of the actual location on this blog as feedback.
For each trial I will find the photograph that has received the most votes and this will count as the group’s decision. So, let’s imagine that we get something like:
Location A: 10%
Location B: 20%
Location C: 40%
Location D: 20%
Location E: 10%
Then the group will have chosen Photograph C (this is to avoid what statisticians refer to as a ‘stacking effect’).
If I was at Location C then this would be a hit. If not, the trial will count as a miss. For any one trial, there is a one in five chance of getting a hit. There is a 1 in 37 chance of getting three out of four hits (thanks Charlie!). If this happens, then I would consider the experiment significant, and suggestive that something strange is going on. This would not prove remote viewing exists. As with any new scientific procedure, the result would have to be replicated for that to be the case (this is especially the case when one is dealing with something as controversial as psychic ability). It would, however, certainly be curious and deserving of future research.
Someone will film me at each location to show that I was actually there!
I will try to get the results out next week. In addition to getting an overall result, we can also carry out post hoc analyses looking at people who believe in the paranormal vs skeptics, men vs women, etc..
So, there we go. All very exciting, especially as we are all making history by carrying out the first scientific experiment on Twitter. Again, thanks for your support and I am looking forward to Trial 1.