How to be a Psychic spy: Derren Browns third event.
So Derren Browns next trick will be to turn us into psychic spies you can take part in his experiment on remote viewing here. For those not familiar with the term remote viewing wikipedia provides the following definition:
Remote Viewing (RV) is the purported ability to gather information about a distant or unseen target using paranormal means or extra-sensory perception. Typically a remote viewer is expected to give information about an object that is hidden from physical view and separated at some distance. The term was introduced by parapsychologists Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff in 1974.
Some of you may be aware that this is not the first mass remote viewing experiment conducted this year, indeed a certain Prof. Richard Wiseman became the first person to run an experiment on Twitter exploring the validity of claims that remote viewing worked. If you read through Richards blogs then you will find a few interesting phrases (in light of Derrens previous endeavours)…
As explained in this post, the photograph that receives the greatest number of votes on each trial will be taken as the group’s decision (think of the ‘Ask the audience’ segments in the ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’ quiz show!). This is called ‘majority voting’ and is similar the well known wisdom of the crowds concept.
Which for those of us pushing the bloody minded thesis that all the disappointment of the events will come together in some glorious messianistic finale is perhaps a boon. As it’s a spurious connection to the lottery debacle… Anyway besides such spurious conjecture for mentioning the twitter experiment was to share with you the results.
all four trials were misses.
When I analysed believers and sceptics separately, the results were the same, with no difference between the groups. So the study didn’t support the existence of remote viewing, and suggested that those who believe in the paranormal are good at finding illusory correspondences between their thoughts and a target .
Which suggests that if remote viewing exists it does not exist on a grand scale (which raises the question: how impressive is Derrens next event going to be?) although Wiseman doesn’t appear to have done any analysis of the folk who got four out of four (but given the number of participants involved you would expect at least a few folk would succeed in this just by chance.) but still for our purposes quite how Monsieur Brown will spin this into an hour long show is interesting…
The most likely thing would be to discuss the history of remote viewing which, like mass hypnosis and subliminal messaging, the CIA and KGB flirted with during the cold war. Which is fascinating not so much in that it investigations was known as project stargate, but to my knowledge had nothing to do with the Cheyenne Mountain Complex or Richard Dean Anderson. I urge you to look up the history of research into remote viewing if nothing else you’ll eventually discover James Randi’s Alpha Kids conning parapsychologists into believing in remote viewing – an instructive lesson in credulity and deception for researchers of paranormal claims.
My conclusion is that Derrens experiment will either involve some process of suggestion via the internet experiment – that the site is designed to try and “force” an object on the participant via it’s layout. Someone over on another forum drew the same thing as me, which was a boat, and reckons there were pictures on the Science Museum wall looking a bit like portholes, the railing looking a bit like your looking onto a deck, the swirling motion of the coffee in the cup suggesting the sea, the papers on the site looking like we’d see on a captain’s table in a period piece etc.. And that was just off the top of his head from looking at the website earlier.
Or perhaps Mr Brown will simply take the most commonly drawn shape from the internet experiment – reproduce an approximation of it and then replace the drawing at the science museum with that image. Which might be considered cheating and would again probably rely on “impossible sleight of hand”.
Alternatively Derren might simply choose an image that people are statistically likely to draw when prompted to draw such things. In which case we can probably look forward to the reveal of a big hairy cock and balls.
What do folks think?