testA 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.Β  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.


  1. G’day Richard

    I’d really have liked to have been involved in this experiment but the timing is impossible on the east coast of Australia. I need my sleep too much to wake up in the middle of the night to participate.

    Maybe the next experiment you devise will not require this immediate response.


    1. It seems to me that nobody has done there research on this experiment, Remote Viewing, has nothing to do with the paranormal , nor does it have to do with being Psychic, 30 minutes hardly gives the true remote viewer a chance to reach there brain wave state, you are merely getting guesses from those who are willing to play your game. And to call this scientific, just what part of this is a science matter, if science was indeed a part of this, you would have a selected few, maybe different sex, race, age, in a controled enviroment, document, every detail about them, allow them to relax in a remote viewing meditation, then see if they were able to select the location you were at. This is just a way to gain attention, shame on you !!!

    2. i don’t know if this has already been posted, did not want to read all 61 comments. but there is one problem i see in the study. if there are people capable of doing this remote viewing and people who can not then this test should be done individually at a testing center. the fact that you choose a “group” decision means that the people incapable of doing such a thing will effect the results of the study. although i am sure that this has already been posted and i don’t actually know if there is or is not a testing center that is doing exactly what i am suggesting. so this comment may be useless. but i hope it helps!

  2. Again, I’m glad this is being done, but the method is questionable.

    I think what you’ll find is that the most votes will go to the place that looks like a stereotypical random location (i.e., whatever people normally think of when you ask them to describe a location). Even if truly anomalous things are going on, they will be masked by this mundane effect.

    In other words, the study is already stacked against finding significant (by the standards of your strange alpha level) results. If you found them anyway, it would be interesting and meaningful. But if you find no significant result, little information is gained. I just hope this isn’t framed as “oh look, we did a study with THOUSANDS of people and found nothing! Therefore psychic abilities don’t exist!” That would be intellectually dishonest.

    I’m interested in seeing what happens, but bracing myself for some shoddy science reporting in it aftermath (if not from you, at least from the media). Please, please prove me wrong.

    1. Anyway, we all know that no amount of negative results will ever convince a psi-proponent that Psi doesn’t exist.

      So I’m sure it’s gonna be the same for this one: the psi-proponents will just do anything they can to bash it if it optains results they don’t like.

    2. Ideally a study shouldn’t be so easy to “bash” before it’s even run, and the results should be meaningful regardless of one’s existing biases.

      Also, presumably you mean a lack of results would be something that psi-proponents don’t like. In that case, there would be no need to bash the study; it would be a failure to prove a hypothesis, and ideally it would end there. It was a nice try, but nothing meaningful was learned one way or the other. We don’t interpret negative results in science.

      It might be spun differently by people who don’t really understand the scientific method, but I hope Richard doesn’t sink to that level.

    3. phronk,

      i have to say i’m on the same page as you, mostly.

      waiting for the big reveal at the end, when the real intent of the experiment is shown. “by the way, i wasn’t trying to do that. i was trying to do this: (points at chart with surprising research revelation on it)”.


    4. i was a little skeptic about this myself until i had dreams of the future. not all of my dreams are premonitions, i dont know why it’s not consistent, (im still doing a research about psychic abilities and the mind, i really wouldnt be researching this if i didn’t believe in it, coz i think it would just be a waste of time)
      but neways, i agree with venom, no amount of scientific data will convince skeptics (e.g. Phronk) if “it” didn’t happen to them

  3. Richard, one thing I am interested to know is whether or not the exact location will be revealed at any point. For example, today I opined that you were in the East-Midlands near water. Obviously the latter was kind of true, but I am unaware as to the accuracy of the former.

    Evidently this is not required information immeadiately after the cessation of each experiment, but it could be interesting overall.

    Or am I perhaps missing the point slightly? Are we just meant to make an abstract guess/RV? IE, are we supposed to state that you are in a coastal location, a forest, a lake etc rather than something specific such as, say, Earl’s Court tube station? (Well…I think we could tell from the photo if you were there, but you know what I mean!).

    Thanks, and all the very best for the rest of the experiment. I very much look forward to continuing to participate.

    Best wishes.

  4. Knowing that thousands of believers and skeptics will be viewing this site, I offer “Awakening The Soul: The Trilogy” soon to be re-titled “Awakening The Soul for 2012.”

    The three-book series posits that all metaphysical/paranormal events are traits, characteristics or experiences of our spiritual nature, explains how we lost awareness of them — primarily through religious suppression — and provides instructions on how to get back in touch with your spiritual self.

    Best service from the publisher, authorhouse, and also available on amazon and barnes & noble, etc.

  5. This experiment demonstrates the importance of Twitter for analyzing human behaviour as a whole. It’s undoubtedly a fantastic tool for the Psychologist and I’m sure we’ll see more of these experiments.

    I’m pleased that people are starting to take the possibility of ESP a bit more seriously. Especially as we have been able to prove for the past 20 years (Alan Aspect experiment) that the universe is not local.

    So for those people that dismiss Remote viewing as voodoo nonsense, why don’t you Google ‘spooky action at a distance’, or just read any book on Quantum mechanics and you’ll realize that scientists who dismiss anything paranormal as nonsense (usually with a huge air of authority) can’t even confirm if a particle exists when we’re not looking for it, which in my opinion is far more mind blowing than ESP.

  6. Mmm… No stats heads at the University of Hertfordshire ? Or perhaps they’re all hiding πŸ™‚

    I’m not trying to pull the rug out from under the general idea of using twitter for research – I think that’s cool. But the analysis looks like it hasn’t received much thought at all which is a pity. And although I asked earlier about getting hold of the data to do some post-hoc playing, that’s not really kosher because of the danger of getting seduced by random vagaries in the data and structuring a post-hoc analysis around them.

    I’m beginning to hope that the experiment turns out to be a front for other questions as was suggested last night (by my time zone). I don’t mind being taken for a ride in the pursuit of interesting psychology / sociology. But if it’s actually attempting what it advertises then I hope this one can be a learning exercise for how to do later ones better. Any my vote would be to get a prior discussion happening about the analysis; come up with a range of really interesting a priori models to be tested; do some simple simulations to tweak the models; then go for it.

    10/10 for attracting public interest though – I think that’s great and would love to see much more participatory research on the internet.

  7. You need to leave the window open longer for these tests. Y

    You just screwed yourself out of thousands of participants as they look through the evening news in the US. I suggest you take a marketing class, since your unaware.

  8. Hi Mr. Wiseman,

    I’d love to participate too, but unfortunately I’ll be working with no access to the web at the time (EST). But I started to wonder and it made me laugh… aren’t you worried about all of these random people trying to read your mind at the same moment possibly causing your head to disintegrate in some fashion? If I were you, for the sake of my own amusement, I would need to be screaming and running in circles and possibly gyrating at that moment, but I would also surely have to be holding my hands as high as possible in the air. πŸ™‚

  9. G’day Steve,

    As I fellow east coast Australian I share your dissapointment, but you have to keep in mind that it would be near impossible to find a time where everyone in every country who’s interested in participating would be able to take part without inconvenience. Alas, we are the ones who get the misfortune of missing out but I personally am still glad the testing is being done with the transperancy it is – this means we can at least follow it as it progresses even if somewhat delayed.

    1. Hi Bastard Sheep (seen your name on a few skeptic blogs, tweets etc lately).

      We have so many great psychics in Australia (yeah right!). Hopefully Richard will figure out a way to remove the time zone block in a future exercise.


  10. How exciting! I would love to participate but I’m not sure what time it will be in my time zone in Arizona?

    Do you have a mailing list for this that we can join to get info?

    Oh yeah, and could you please change the background on your twitter page? I want to read your page but it makes me sick with all the motion on your page!

    Thanks Richard, this is very exciting!

  11. Interesting endeavor.
    I wonder if you have constructed this experiment with any input from the psi-proponents.

    Like Phronk was saying, this seems like an experiment stacked against finding significant results. It would be a worth while exercise if this experiment’s method is conducted in consultation with psi-proponents.
    With input from their methods, your results would have to be considered from both sides of the spectrum, believers and non-believers.

    This would help substantiate the findings and not thought of as a skeptics response to a wacko claim.

    Best of luck.

    1. A relatively straightforward way of approaching that is to do a Bayesian statistical analysis where it is possible to include a priori expectations that are other than ‘no effect’ in the model. Parallel analyses of the same data could be done: one with random expectation (non-informative or vague priors in the jargon) and another with priors built in consultation with remote viewing supporters.

      Of course, to do that you would still need to address the points made by Phronk and others about the experiment’s present design.

    2. @ Michael:
      What you suggest seems a fair approach. I hope its taken forward and implemented.

      It would definitely make the results more palatable.

  12. The way I was formally trained in remote viewing, this would never work. Sounds more like a test of averages in psychic abilities of the human race. Not a scientific approach to remote viewing. I believe It would take me longer than 30 minutes to perform a remote viewing session, analyze my data and report any information. Its only enough time to relay ‘hunches’.

    Why are you doing this?

  13. This, and similar mass trials, could only detect if the subscribed population were in some way on avergae ‘psychic’. This is very different from the claim made by made psychics that they personally can do better – indeed, if there were ‘true’ psychics (whatever that might mean) in the population sample, their presence would be averaged out by the rest. That needs to be made clear, especially if the results are negative – there is a strong pro-psychic hypothesis which is not eliminated.

    1. Perhaps an alternative example is useful in thinking this through – one that has nothing to do with psychic phenomena but that involves similar experimental issues.

      Imagine that Richard was using twitter to detect ‘perfect pitch’ perception. He directs us to online audio where we hear a note played on a piano. We then select the note’s name from a list of five that Richard supplies (having promised not to cheat in any of the many possible ways πŸ™‚

      It is well established that some people do have perfect pitch; most of us don’t but do have varying degrees of relative pitch perception; and some folks are tone deaf.

      What could Richard reasonably expect to extract from an analysis of the data tweeted to him in a single run of this experiment ?

      He wouldn’t be able to comment on the existence of perfect pitch perception because of the ‘dilution’ problem pointed out be Ken and others here.

      He would be able to detect weak average ability and, if there were enough tweets, relate this to gender and other simple data gathered from tweeps. And rather than just scoring responses as right/wrong, Richard would cannily realize that being close to the right note is a better result than being far from it and do his analysis to look people’s performance in that way.

      To detect the existence of gifted indviduals the experiment would have to involve repetition with tagging of responses to individuals. With a bit of prior work you can calculate how many times the experiment should be repeated to detect different degrees of ability.

  14. Why 3 hits out of 4 trials ? Why only 4 trials ?
    Totally unscientific. There’s a strong double standard bias against psi-hypothesis. With expectation at 1 hit out of 5 trials, an effect begin at, for example, 2 hits out of 5 trials. There is a strong difference with your arbitrary alpha level, as Phronk said.

    You cannot call this a scientific experiment on remote viewing. It’s just another funny debunking with brand new flashy internet-related tool. Perhaps can you relativize a little, saying for example it’s just a technical tentative or a small pilot experiment with nothing to conclude at end of it ?

    1. The “double standard” against Psi is based on the fact that the Prior Plausibility of the existence of such a thing is very low.

      Parapsychologists have failed so far to prove that it exist (all they’re experiments suffer from a replication issue), and there is no plausible explanation for how it could work.

      In this circumstance, of course the treshold for the test should be high. 75% of hits (3 out of 4 tests) is fair enough for an unplausible phenomena.

      This is clearly a scientific test. The psi-believers can whine as much as they want, it’s not gonna change. They should hope that the results would be significant, because that would be a blow to the skeptical community.

      That’s the funny thing: the psi-believers are arguing based on the fact that they expect this experiment to fail. Ironic, isn’t it?

    2. The scientific method doesn’t change depending on whether the results are plausible or how much the researcher or his supporters will enjoy the results. Science is science. Prior plausibility should play some role in the impact of a study, but not its design. Some genuine problems have been pointed out in this study, and the implausibility of psi isn’t an excuse for poor experimental design.

  15. Hello Richard,

    My name is Carole Giorux and I am from the Toronto area in Canada. I have been a VIEWER for almost 15 years, being trained to do so by a teacher up here in Toronto. Unfortunatley due to illness my teacher was no longer able to proceed RV teachings.

    I became a very qualified Viewer, with her techniques, and would be very interested in participating in any up coming projects. Please contact me with info concerning any up coming projects I may be able to participate in with your projects.

    Carole aka Karoli

  16. The first thing that comes to mind is that I hope you had the foresight to remove or alter the EXIF data from the images you post. Many digital cameras store this data by default, and some of this data, including the time and date, can be used to “cheat”, and skew your results. If you’re using a film camera, then the scanner you use to digitize the photos might store EXIF data as well.

    It looks like you’ve designed the experiment well enough that it might not be an issue, since all the possible locations and decoy images were taken in advance. But still, it’s a variable you might want to look into, if you haven’t already.

  17. Yawn… nearly midnight here in Sydney and though I’m becoming more and more convinced that we’re being sucked in like classic experimental bunnies, I still find myself sitting here waiting for Richard’s GO πŸ™‚

  18. railroad crossing in the countryside, grass fields, some wild flowers, yellows purples, dirt road, buildings near by, faded red, barn maybe?

  19. So I did it today, and it was strange because my notes could be related to more than one of the options provided. I wrote down the following items on a sheet of paper during the experiment:

    vertical line
    gray color
    woods on perimeter
    height (underlined)

    The building option provided matches up with vertical line (I imagined the corner of a building), rooftop and height. The path in the woods option matched up with ‘woods on perimeter’ and ‘grassy?’

    Curious to see how all of this pans out. I guess landscapes and straight lines are things we may expect to see, so maybe it’s nothing. But it’s fun to consider that remote viewing may be real in some way.

  20. I’d be really interested to see the comparison of success rates between those who believe in psychic ability and those who don’t, those who believe they HAVE psychic ability and those who believe they don’t.

    Technically, if the group who claimed psychic ability fared significantly better than those who had none, that would be a more telling result – if you were to suppose for a moment that they are indeed psychic, to take the group decision as a whole might hide the psychic-minority’s correct visions amongst the random guesswork of the non-psychic-majority.

    Purely Devil’s advocate!

  21. My experimental tweets…

    # chrisconway1969Yesterday I thought about this and thought about a round thingy, a wheel. Maybe I can see into the future? Writing it down just in case.about 1 hour ago from web

    # christopher conwaychrisconway1969First thoughts: vertical line, gray color, edge of building or structure? Grass. Woods on perimeter? Roof top? Still feel very stupid.about 1 hour ago from web

    # christopher conwaychrisconway1969Participating in the twitter remote viewing experiment right now. Feel like an idiot.about 1 hour ago from web

  22. What pictures are several people referencing? I thought that he simply tweets a message that he has arrived to his destination, and then we are to tweet our impressions about where he is? Are we actually supposed to be choosing from a selection of images?

    1. There was a tweet’d link to a survey that contained 5 images and a few questions. We picked one of the five images.

  23. I did not understood it.I thought you were going to ask us to guess were you were just by thoughts.
    The incredible thing is that yesterday at 3 o’clock i picture you walking by some kind of water place and kicking it.To my surprise you then showed that picture.
    Today though i couldn’t visualize you and for some reason thought about a lamber mill and horses.But today you wanted us to pick a location form a set of photos.Now, to me that does not show anything as you are conditioning us to a pre-set requirement. Its more about probability’s rather than psychic connection.Can you explain, please?

  24. Just a thought,

    I read an article from SRI, that stated…
    “”Free response” remote viewing, in which subjects describe a target, was much more successful than “forced choice” experiments, in which subjects were asked to choose from a small set of possibilities.”

    Just wondering if after this experiment, maybe you can try another one with free response. Where we email you scanned images/sketches….or just provide words, feelings thoughts….or something to that effect.

  25. I really want to be part of this, however, I am on the West Coast of the US. I did not realize what time the tweets would be coming… I think 7:30am West Coast time = 3:30 PM UK time? I work nights, however, I will try to catch it. I have been working on OBE for the last 8 years. I would like to try this. Namaste

  26. i agree with the comments about the true scentific nature of this experiment, but i’m just going along with it for fun (although i am taking it seriously).

    the world will always be divided about psychic abilities anyway, i dont think this will change a thing.

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  30. I beilive in everything about the soul. I really dont know how to xplain or how to make a.good comment. But many things landed in my head, from hearing voices ,lucid dreams demons and angels in my dreams. Mind traveling to other places… But theres something that confuses me and used to make me feel bad.. Feeling other people soul on my body,,, males and females… It esde to b weird but im adapting to it.. It always happend. But no body seems to know about the line that connect us to all living forms. I got my own theory. Well after all I went thrue w my mind.. Please somebody dirrect me to people that knows a lot more that I knoe

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