Whether it is telekinesis, psychic healing, and astral projection, seeing auras, or detecting water, or even talking with the dead. I see dead people. People claiming to have supernatural powers are all around us. But is there any merit to these types of claims, and can you test them scientifically to know for sure? Most psychics agree that their powers can be tested.
Before we started filming, Joe agreed in principle to undertake a scientific test. If psychic waves of energy actually healed people, moved objects, or allowed for remote viewing that’s something we can test. Let’s examine a few ways this can and has been done.
A psychic claims that they can see other people’s unique auras even glowing through walls. You work with the psychic to devise an experiment that you both agree upon to test that claim. You find an opaque wall that they claim they can still see people’s unique auras through, have an unbiased third party randomly place people behind the wall in a specific order, then have those people come forward, and have the psychic place them in the correct order based on their auras.
A group of water dowsers claims that they can psychically detect the location of water using various types of dowsing rods. You work with them to devise an experiment to test it that they’re happy with. You bury ten pipes a meter apart. The water diviners examine the entire mechanism, test it to make sure it’s clear of any interference prior to running water through the pipes, and any prior objections that they have been listened to and accommodated for. One does get a residual effect for some time afterward.
Talking with the Dead
Someone claims they can talk with the dead. This type of claim is harder to test, due to a large number of clues given away in a cold reading. One method would be to place someone on one side of an opaque curtain with the psychic on the other side, so that the psychic can’t pick up on things like their gender, age, ethnicity, marital status, etc. Record the reading, but don’t allow the sitter to respond or give any kind of feedback. Then, analyze the reading afterward and compare it to the results you would expect to get by chance.
Procure a large sample of individuals suffering from a non-lethal ailment that the psychic claims she can cure supernaturally. Divide your sample into three groups.
- The first is a control group and won’t receive any treatment.
- The second will receive the psychic healing procedure.
- The third group receives the placebo.
Make sure that the psychic keeps a distance of at least a foot or two to prevent them from secretly administering any kind of medication. If they insist on touching the patient, search them prior to the procedure and have them thoroughly wash and disinfect their hands. They’re also told they’re receiving a psychic healing treatment, but instead of a psychic, have an actor in a long white robe wave spirit fingers over the patient while thinking about Toy Story 2. Make sure the experiment is performed double-blind in other words, every patient assumes they’re being seen by an actual psychic and the doctors administering the test are kept in the dark as to which one is the actor.
Now just measure the recovery rates of all three groups. If the psychic healer actually has psychic powers, there should be a statistically significant difference in recovery rates between the “healer” and the actor, well outside the margin of error, and it should be higher than the control group.
A great number of self-proclaimed psychics truly believe that they have supernatural powers and sincerely wish to demonstrate them. For them, an honest scientific test like the ones above should be sufficient. But the downside to testing psychic claims in a lab is that scientists aren’t usually trained in dealing with deception, and some psychics actually are skilled liars or magicians and can be pretty deceptive! Most lab technicians aren’t used to their subjects trying to manipulate them.