PSI Experiments Spin Time

October 23rd, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

Social psychologist Dr. Daryl Bem of Cornell University has been conducting experiments on the human potential to anticipate future experiences. In other words, he’s trying to figure out if we can really see into the future or not.

Over the course of 9 experiments, soon to be published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Dr. Bem took commonly accepted effects like ‘studying improves memory’ and ‘priming decreases response time’ and turned them upside down. The results are intriguing.

In one of the experiments, a group of college students were given a list of words to read over.  When they finished reading the list they were given a surprise recall test to determine how many words on the list they could remember.  When the test was done, a computer randomly generated a selection of words from the list of tested words.  These words were given to each student as ‘practice’.  The students were asked to retype the practice words several times.

Now here’s the fun part …. in the original surprise recall test, the students did better on the practice words randomly selected by the computer after they took the test than they did on the words the computer didn’t pick and they didn’t retype.

It kind of spins your head, but as Psychology Today reports, “According to Bem, practicing the words after the test somehow allowed the participants to ‘reach back in time to facilitate recall.'”  That’s pretty wild stuff.

I’ll be interested to see how the scientific community responds to Bem’s study.  The comments posted after the Psychology Today article might give us a taste.


If you’d like to read more about PSI experiments, and even some of Dr. Bem’s work, I recommend Dean Radin’s books Entangled Minds and The Conscious Universe. Also excellent is Dr. Diane Hennacy Powell’s The ESP Enigma.  Donnaleigh and I had a chance to speak with Dr. Powell on Beyond Worlds in July.  Listen here to the fascinating interview.

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