How Good Are Your Hunches? (Apr, 1949)

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How Good Are Your Hunches?

If you’ve ever suspected you had psychic powers, here’s a chance to try the famous Duke University tests on yourself and your friends.

By Dr. J. B. RHINE
Director, Duke University Parapsychology Laboratory

A YOUNG graduate student at Duke University dropped in to see me at the Parapsychology Laboratory one afternoon.

“Like to try your ESP?” I invited.

He nodded and I shuffled a deck of special test cards, then cupped my hand to screen them from his sight. We made a . few “trial runs” to test his mood. At first he missed every card and I teased him about doing so poorly. Bridling a bit, he named three of the next five cards correctly. Then, just for fun, I began betting that he would not get the cards right. Without looking at the cards, which were all face down on a table, I said, “I’ll bet one hundred dollars you can’t call the top card!” The student looked off into space a few seconds.

“Circle,” he said.

“Right,” I told him, holding up the card for him to see.

I then returned it to the deck, which I shuffled again.

“A hundred on the next one.” “Square.”

“Right.” Again the shuffle. “The next one?”



Again and yet again we continued until we had made 25 trials. The student made 25 straight hits! This was the first perfect score of 25 ever recorded in the ESP researches—studies of telepathy, clairvoyance and other psychic powers. ESP, as you undoubtedly know, stands for Extra-Sensory Perception.

There were 25 cards in the deck, five of each symbol, and the mathematical chances against getting 25 hits in a row by sheer luck are about 298 quadrillion to one! Working 24 hours a day, it would take over a billion years to call that many cards.

The same student performed amazingly well in later trials. “Luck” was not the answer. He was an exceptionally clairvoyant individual.

Possibly every one is clairvoyant in some degree. It is one of the “extra-sensory” powers that may affect each of us far more deeply than we know. Careful experiments have been in progress at the Duke Laboratory for more than 18 years and have been carried out in many other institutions in the U. S. A. and in Europe. They have convinced reliable investigators that the human mind can reach out beyond the barriers of space, time and substance. In transcending basic physical barriers they have even given a clue to that nonphysical part of man that we commonly call the soul.

The test just described was a clairvoyance test. Clairvoyance is the extra-sensory perception of an object. Telepathy is another of these extraordinary powers. It is the ability to perceive another person’s thought without the use of the senses. Other capacities have been investigated; for example, precognition (knowledge of an event before it occurs) and psychokinesis (mental influence exerted on a material object). Telepathy, clairvoyance and precognition are grouped together under the general heading of “extra-sensory perception,” or ESP. ESP with psychokinesis, or PK, we now call psi-phenomena.

Under other names this knowledge of ESP and PK is as old as the human race. There have always been hunches, prophecies, dreams, inspirations and coincidences hinting of powers far beyond the known senses. But conservative minds have always questioned the evidence. The possibility of error and falsehood, deliberate or unintentional, has been too great.

Today, however, modern research brings these mysterious capacities into the laboratory and studies them objectively. In doing so, investigators have devised many kinds of tests, some of them basically simple, and easy enough to be tried out at home.

As I mentioned before, the special ESP deck consists of 25 cards. There are five 5-card suits of simple, bold markings— stars, circles, squares, wavy lines and plus signs.

For home use, a similar deck can be made up or obtained from one of the research laboratories where ESP tests are going on. A Self-Testing Club has been started by the Parapsychology Laboratory at Durham, N. C, and will help anyone who is interested in trying ESP experiments.

Telepathy tests involve a “sender,” who concentrates on a card, and one or more “receivers,” who try to read the correct card from the sender’s mental “broadcast.” For home tests, the procedure can be as simple as a parlor game.

In the version thus far followed you may use the 13 cards of one suit of a deck of ordinary playing cards. Each receiver gets a slip of paper that has 13 spaces on it. The sender holds a card so the others can-not see him. He concentrates on it for ten seconds, then calls “Time!” and “broadcasts” the next card. Receivers note their guesses in the spaces provided on their slips. After all 13 cards have been “broadcast,” the sender reads off the correct sequence. Each receiver then checks the number of hits on his slip.

Since there are 13 cards, the odds against each guess being right are 13 to one. By chance alone, each receiver would average one hit in each run.

In the long run, this law of chance holds true. It can be easily tested. Lay out one suit of a bridge deck in any order you wish. Leaving this as the “master” sequence, thoroughly shuffle the rest of the deck. Now turn up the cards one at a time and place them in equal rows below the master sequence, a separate row for each suit. These are the “guesses” of the master sequence, as made by pure chance. If you repeat this 100 times, the average will be one card in each suit-row corresponding with a card in the master sequence—or one “hit” in every 13 tries.

In tens of thousands of tries, with every combination of “good” and “poor” senders and receivers, hits in the Parapsychology Laboratory tests have averaged 33 per cent above the score expected from chance. A similar percentage was obtained at the Univesity of Colorado by Drs. Martin and Stribic and more recently by Soal and Goldney in London. There have been several perfect scores, and a great many near-perfect. Sustained performances averaging ten hits per run of 25 cards are not uncommon. Several different investigators have obtained such scores.

The clairvoyance test is equally simple. The operator shuffles the deck without looking at it. Then, holding the cards face down behind a large book or screen, he removes the top card and places it face down on the table. Participants are given five to 10 seconds to write down what they think it is. The card is then placed in a box, still without anyone knowing which it is. After all the cards have been thus “displayed,” they are removed from the box and recorded. The subjects records are then checked against this card record and the scores obtained. In the laboratories, clairvoyance scores run about the same as those for telepathy.

Simple home experiments with precognition can be made up as one goes along. Writing down the first five cards that will be dealt from a deck after shuffling can yield surprising results. The laboratories ask subjects to predict the whole sequence of an unshuffled deck as it will be after shuffling.

Distance experiments in telepathy have shown that the psychic power is unaffected by space. Investigations in precognition show it to be equally independent of time. Subjects have predicted the order of cards as they would be days ahead, with a consistency that could not be explained by chance.

The age-old “mind-over-matter” controversy also has been examined in the laboratory. In the psychokinesis tests, the dice are shaken in a mechanical mixer, then automatically tumbled down a chute onto a flat surface. Subjects concentrate on a given face of the dice. Chance does not account for the frequency with which gifted subjects “force” their chosen number to appear.

While no conclusion should be drawn about ESP or PK without good experimental evidence, we may get some good working ideas of what they are like from the everyday psychic experiences with which we are all familiar. We welcome firsthand reports of them. I refer to hunches, intuitive impressions of things we could not ordinarily know, dreams of future happenings and the like.

An increasing number of psychiatrists are reporting that they find ESP, especially of the telepathic type, cropping up in their treatment of patients. This does not mean that the mentally ill are more likely than the healthy to have such experiences, but it suggests that the close understanding typical of the patient-psychiatrist relation may favor telepathy.

All professional ESP investigators agree that the subject’s mental attitude is important. Young children make excellent subjects because they make a game of it. Self-consciousness, boredom and fatigue all work against success in ESP experiments. A relaxed, open-minded, cooperative spirit makes for the best results. To make a good showing, you must really try.

If you do, you may be surprised at what your home-made experiments will reveal— and how good your “hunches” may prove. Patient laboratory work already has opened up a new concept of the scope and power of the human mind and given a hint of even greater things still beyond our knowledge.

  1. jtobako says: March 15, 20074:28 pm

    ‘lucky’ no, observant, yes. you could see threw the cards used on this test.

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