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THE EXPERIMENTER EFFECT
by VICTOR J.
‘experimenter effect’ – refers to a situation
where the experimenter, willfully, or on an unconscious
level, influences the results he/she wants to obtain.
of testing the paranormal (psi) and afterlife evidence,
it is critically important to fully understand the very
serious implications of the ‘experimenter effect’
as so far it has shown that professional psi experimenters
have become victims of their unconscious (perhaps even conscious)
negative partiality when conducting psi experiments.
result is that the public around the world is being misinformed,
misguided and misdirected.
is it that a negatively entrenched experimenter always gets
negative results when investigating psychic phenomena (or
psi as it is called)? Very simple. Obtaining positive results
will make a skeptical experimenter and his supporting debunking
organization look absolutely ridiculous, irrelevant and
someone who has been debunking psi and afterlife evidence
for over twenty years cannot be expected to oversee a psychic
experiment which produces results which show that the ‘debunker’
has been wrong for the last twenty years.
this ‘negative’ experimenter tries to do, inevitably
the results are going to be negative. That is the history
of these negative psi experimenters outlined in an excellent
article in the March 2002 Journal of Parapsychology
by Caroline Watt and Claire Brady.
confronted with the high probability of results not consistent
with the debunker’s expectations, the closed minded
debunker would feel enormous anxiety – and go into
denial and rejection and use all kinds of tricks –
including verbal and written ‘sleight of hand’
to produce results consistent with his/her own skeptical
exaggerating the issue, the analogy I use is that of a Ku
Klux Klan Wizard trying to ‘objectively’ and
empirically investigate whether African Americans are racially
equal to ‘white’ people.
a situation which I myself – and others - studied
in the recent past involving a negatively minded psi high
flying experimenting psychologists - two British, one American:
they are psychologists deeply entrenched in materialism,
• they’ve been doing experiments for over twenty
years and have never found in favor of the paranormal,
• they have written articles against the validity
of the paranormal,
• they are a members of an American materialist organization
(CSICOP) which itself is anti-psychic, anti- paranormal,
anti-afterlife and anti-anything which cannot be produced
in a laboratory,
• the British psychologist is on record for manipulating
circumstances during experiments to ensure that the results
will never be in favor of psi,
• these negatively entrenched psychologists have each
been given the title of ‘Fellow’ by CSICOP for
their services against the paranormal, against the evidence
for the afterlife, against the possibility that psi has
• In the past they have demonstrated expertise in
‘verbal sleight of hand’ (see below) to willfully
skew psi results against the validity of psi.
would an informed level-headed non-committed, impartial
observer ever accept that these negative experimenters are
in a position to be ‘objective’ when conducting
psi experiments? Of course not!
an intelligent, informed empiricist – and others familiar
with ‘verbal sleight of hand’ accept that these
negative experimenters could actually cause errors –
perhaps unconsciously so that the results will be consistent
with their own negative bias? Of course he/she would!
classic experimenter effect was demonstrated by Professor
Marilyn Schlitz and Professor R Wiseman (1997 and 1999)
in collaborative studies into whether or not a person can
detect when someone is looking at them from behind.
informed will immediately predict that the more objective
Prof Marilyn Schlitz obtained positive results whereas negatively
inclined Prof. Richard Wiseman consistently obtained negative
results. That’s exactly what happened! This was true
even when they used the same experiment and the same subjects.
I am citing just four cases (out of many other cases by
the same ‘negative’ experimenter) to illustrate
how ‘the experimenter effect’ played a big part
when a negatively entrenched experimenter tried to conduct
experiments thinking he was or that he can be objective
– and in all of them he inexorably, produced negative
case: Wiseman’s involvement in allegedly ‘testing’
of psychic, medical intuitive Natasha Demkina is considered
by a number of professionally informed people to be one
of the most blatant injustices done to a gifted psychic
in history. Why? Because the whole conduct shows that there
were too many fundamental irregularities which were not
consistent with scientific method. Whether consciously or
unconsciously. he skewed positive results which otherwise
had the potential to destroy his reputation, severely weaken
his career, lead to the loss of funding and more likely
than not end his involvement in psi research. Two most fundamental
‘transgressions’ which appear to be consistent
with Wiseman’s prior conduct are that he changed the
experimental protocol without notice and misinterpreted
the results. Blind Freddie could have predicted negative
results in the important Demkina case. Read more …
case: Chris Robinson, author of The Psychic Detective, http://www.dream-detective.com/
complained to me that when Wiseman tried to test Robinson’s
psychic skills, Wiseman 'tricked' him, 'fooled' him by changing
the agreed protocol without notice – a most heinous
violation by any empiricist during empirical testing. Inevitably
and unfairly the results were presented to the public as
being negative. Chris Robinson was and is still very angry
at the way Wiseman was able to publish the experimental
results as Chris having failed to show legitimate paranormal
activity – especially when Chris Robinson insists
that Wiseman changed protocol without notice and willfully
misreported the psi results.
O’Neil, in an article to the “Paranormal Review”:
the Magazine of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR)
in 2001 gives more instances of how Wiseman has used his
skills as a magician to confuse the public in a series of
high profile tests aimed at debunking the areas of psychic
research considered by former skeptic Carl Sagan in 1995
to have produced impressive results.
case: Wiseman’s ‘Mind Machine’ experiment,
launched with great media fanfare in 1999, was an attempt
at predicting or influencing a random number generated (RNG)
coin toss. However, O’Neil points out that it employed
pseudo, not true RNGs whereas in 1997 Jahn et al, the leading
exponents of Sagan’s recommended study, had reported
significance of one in a trillion using true RNGs but no
effect with pseudo RNGs. O’Neil makes the point that
“most journalists can’t be expected to be aware
of the importance of such subtle differences.”
case - the “World’s Largest ESP Experiment Ever”
at London’s Museum of the Unknown’ Wiseman announced
to the media of the world that he was going to set up an
experiment to test telepathy. The experiment involved 10
trials where groups of ‘senders’ tried to telepathically
transmit an image to a distant ‘receiver’. The
receiver then had to try to choose the correct image from
a set of four. Carl Sagan was impressed that numerous researchers
around the world have found evidence that it really does
work. However, as O’Neil points out, statistically
it usually requires at least 100 trials to reveal itself.
O’Neill, suspicious of Wiseman, taped the event and
claims that with only 10 trials “the experiment could
hardly have been better designed to fail” whether
ESP exists or not.
then, according to O’Neil, Wiseman had to engage in
either deliberate or unconscious manipulation.
the most crucial moment of the day, just after the crowd
succeeded on the first and just before the other large outdoor
trial, Wiseman committed five serious irregularities, including
inconsistencies and breaches of the protocols & precedents
laid down by previous experimenters to prevent undue influence.
Wiseman doesn’t dispute that any of the five irregularities
took place. The most blatant irregularity was that at 7
p.m. he described some 1971 experiment results as “one
was not bad and the other was absolutely dreadful”
whereas at the 4 p.m. trial, he had said of exactly the
same results “one was fairly successful, one wasn’t”.
scientist could describe these results using Wiseman’s
7 p.m. descriptors. Worse still, he omitted to mention that
the ‘absolutely dreadful’ result was a ‘control’.
The irregularities dramatically show the subtle ways Wiseman
seems to have subconsciously undermined the crowd’s
confidence. If he influences a large public gathering like
this, heaven help any individual who manifests ESP in the
privacy of his laboratory”.
Experts tell us that the negativity the debunkers go into
to produce negative psi results is mostly sourced on an
‘unconscious level’. When confronted with positive
results supporting the paranormal debunkers go into ‘cognitive
dissonance’ and what exponents of NLP call ‘deletions’;
they unconsciously - or consciously - delete critical evidence
to maintain their own internal consistency and produce negative
you really give credibility to any experimenter in highly
publicized media supported paranormal testing when they
are highly placed members of the debunking and negatively
entrenched CSICOP group AND - these same negative debunkers
- have been obtaining negative results for the last twenty/thirty
Who are they kidding?