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No. 117: May-June 1998

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Ability To Detect Covert Observation

In SF#115, experiments by R. Sheldrake seemed to show that people could somehow sense when they were being stared at. One particularly sensitive individual was able to do this 90% of the time. But other experiments say otherwise.

"A study was conducted to evaluate persons' purported ability to detect hidden observers. Anecdotally, most people (87%) report that covert observation can be detected. A total of 140 college students individually sat in a room with a two-way mirror and videomonitor camera. They were told that they might be observed for any or all of the subsequent 5 min. Participants noted whether they felt a hidden observer watched them during each minute of the 5-min. session. After the session, students reported if a possible hidden observer watched via a two-way mirror or video camera or if they were not watched. Students were unable to detect observation beyond chance."

(Rosenthal, Gary T., et al; "Ability to Detect Covert Observation," Perceptual and Motor Skills, 85:75, 1997.)

From Science Frontiers #117, MAY-JUN 1998. 1998-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987