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Twitter's psychic experiment
In the first scientific experiment to be conducted via the social messaging service, experts will investigate "remote viewing" - the psychic ability to identify distant locations. Members of the public will be asked to "tweet" their impressions of a randomly chosen spot in the UK visited by one of the researchers. Then they will vote for which of five photographs on a website shows where the visitor was standing.
The trial will be repeated with visually different locations four times.
If at the end of the experiment the votes correctly identify at least three targets, it will support the existence of extra-sensory perception.
These locations have been chosen to be maximally different from one another to make the judging as easy as possible (more about that later).
When I analysed believers and sceptics separately, the results were the same, with no difference between the groups. So the study didn’t support the existence of remote viewing, and suggested that those who believe in the paranormal are good at finding illusory correspondences between their thoughts and a target .
Update: I have just looked at the data from those who claimed some kind of psychic ability, and had a high confidence in their choice of target. This sub-group of participants also scored zero out of four.
In short, this study did not yield any evidence for remote viewing, but did show that the perceived correspondences between a participant’s thoughts and the target in uncontrolled remote viewing trials could be due to confirmation bias, and that individuals who believe in the paranormal are especially prone to this bias. The study also showed that Twitter can be used as a new form of research tool, and can be an effective way of recruiting and running participants. It seems that the nature of Twitter makes it especially well suited for studies that require an immediate response from a large number of participants, and that would benefit from giving participants
We look forward to other experimenters utilising
this tool in creative ways.