AN ENGINEERING APPROACH TO PSYCHIC RESEARCH The results of an experiment by four Ph.D.s to measure the psychic power of telekinesis

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While working at the Air Force Rocket Propulsion Laboratory I was fortunate to meet Dr. Robert Jahn, then the Chairman of the School of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering at Princeton University. Dr. Jahn was, at that time, arguably the world authority in electric propulsion for space and respected world wide for his expertise in that field and for possessing a superior intellect.

Out of curiosity, he began wondering if there might be a scientific method for proving the existence of psychic (specifically telekinetic) powers. After twelve years of research the following paper published by Dr. Jahn and three other researchers was released:

Contributions to Variance in REG Experiments: ANOVA Models and Specialized Subsidiary Analyses, R. D. Nelson, R. G. Jahn, Y. H. Dobyns, B. J. Dunne, Volume 14, Number 1, page 73, 2000 in the Journal of Scientific Exploration.


This paper can be read in its entirety on the website:

If that link fails, try this one:

What I'd like to offer here is a simplified paraphrasing of that paper. Before preceding, I must emphasize that in spite of my engineering degrees I am a lay person in this field. Although I was careful in formulating my explanation of the methodology and results in this paper, it is possible that I misinterpreted some of the text. I encourage visitors to this page to review the original text for themselves.

A comment about my personal prejudices: I do not believe in psychic powers. But, I admit that I could be wrong and for that reason am posting this page so that others may evaluate the data and decide for themselves.

The paper cited above was based on research conducted at Princeton from 1979 to 1991. Over that period of time 108 operators preformed 1338 tests. In these tests, subjects were asked to concentrate on an electronic random number generator and strive to skew the numbers produced by the generators so that they were no longer random. Three different types of generators were used and many physical parameters were varied to make sure that environmental effects were not influencing the results.

The results were that almost every subject tested was able to influence the generators by 1 part in 10,000. While this amount of influence is very small, it was consistent and four times the size of the error inherent in the experiment. Test subject exhibited a success pattern that showed positive results at first, then decreasing, then increasing back to the original level of influence. Differences between men and women were detectable but not significant. Distance between the test subjects and the random number generators did not significantly alter the results.

Conclusion: Dr. Jahn and his associates successfully demonstrated that an unbiased technique for measuring telekinesis could be developed and that this technique showed that this ability, though extremely weak, does exist.

My one complaint about the original paper is that in striving to be technically rigorous it uses so much scientific language that to a lay person like me it almost sounds like the writer was purposely using complex language to evoke credibility.


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