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No. 10: Spring 1980

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Bend Interferometers Not Spoons

Because spoon-bending and similar purported mental feats involve so much legerdemain and trickery, scientists generally avoid psychic research. Taking a different tack, R.G. Jahn, at Princeton, has been experimenting with microscopic psychic effects, such as raising the temperature of a thermistor by a few thousandths of a degree or changing the separation of interferometer mirrors by a hundred-thousandth of a centimeter.

Quite unexpectedly (at least to the conventional physicist) the mind seems able to cause such changes at will under controlled conditions. The changes are minuscule to be sure, but cause-and-effect is clear-cut according to Jahn. But don't say that psi power has now been scientifically proven. The effects vary from person to person and, for the same individual, from time to time. The fact that one cannot predict the occurrence of the effects has led Jahn to speculate that the phenomena are inherently statistical.

(Anonymous; "Dean Justifies Psychic Research," Science News, 116:358, 1979.)

Comment. In other words, the effects resemble radioactivity where the behavior of a single atom is unpredictable but en masse the atoms follow the law of radioactive decay.

From Science Frontiers #10, Spring 1980. � 1980-2000 William R. Corliss