Telepathy: a new way of seeing
1st September, 2005
Far from being a cranky relic of a pre-Enlightenment dark age, belief in telepathy would seem to be confirmed by contemporary science and might even help secure the planet’s survival.
An empty room. Nothing in it but two chairs, one behind the other, and a computer screen that has been positioned between them. A brown-haired woman enters, and sits down in the front chair to await the beginning of the trial. Seconds later, a man silently follows her in. He too sits down, in the chair placed a few feet behind the woman. Between them the computer screen flickers, lighting up the man’s face with a pale imitation of fire.
A command flashes silently on the computer screen, instructing the man whether or not to stare into the back of the woman’s head; all she has to do is state whether she believes he is or is not staring at her; the man inputs what happens into the computer. They repeat the trial 30 times, before getting up from the chairs and leaving the room. Two more subjects take their places.
This surreal ritual has been going on in a science museum in Amsterdam since 1985. By 2002, more than 18,700 couples had taken part. The results are staggering. It seems that people really can tell when they are being stared at, despite being unable to see whether they are or not. So often have people been right that the chances of it being simply a matter of chance are...
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