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    Telepathy - purported vicarious transmission of information

    Variousmag
    Friday, October 18, 2019 Last Updated 2019-10-18T10:07:24Z
    Telepathy is the purported vicarious transmission of information from one person to another without using any known human sensory channels or physical interaction.

    The term was coined in 1882 by the classical scholar Frederic W. H. Myers, a founder of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR), and has remained more popular than the earlier expression thought-transference.

    Telepathy experiments have historically been criticized for lack of proper controls and repeatability.

    There is no convincing evidence that telepathy exists, and the topic is generally considered by the scientific community to be pseudoscience.

    In the late 19th century, the magician and mentalist, Washington Irving Bishop would perform "thought reading" demonstrations. Bishop claimed no supernatural powers and ascribed his powers to muscular sensitivity (reading thoughts from unconscious bodily cues).

    Bishop was investigated by a group of scientists including the editor of the British Medical Journal and the psychologist Francis Galton. Bishop performed several feats successfully such as correctly identifying a selected spot on a table and locating a hidden object.

    During the experiment Bishop required physical contact with a subject who knew the correct answer. He would hold the hand or wrist of the helper. The scientists concluded that Bishop was not a genuine telepath but using a highly trained skill to detect ideomotor movements.

    Another famous thought reader was the magician Stuart Cumberland. He was famous for performing blindfolded feats such as identifying a hidden object in a room that a person had picked out or asking someone to imagine a murder scene and then attempt to read the subject's thoughts and identify the victim and reenact the crime.

    Cumberland claimed to possess no genuine psychic ability and his thought reading performances could only be demonstrated by holding the hand of his subject to read their muscular movements. He came into dispute with psychical researchers associated with the Society for Psychical Research who were searching for genuine cases of telepathy.

    Cumberland argued that both telepathy and communication with the dead were impossible and that the mind of man cannot be read through telepathy, but only by muscle reading.

    Parapsychological studies into dream telepathy were carried out at the Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York led by Stanley Krippner and Montague Ullman. They concluded the results from some of their experiments supported dream telepathy.

    However, the results have not been independently replicated. The psychologist James Alcock has written the dream telepathy experiments at Maimonides have failed to provide evidence for telepathy and "lack of replication is rampant."

    The picture target experiments that were conducted by Krippner and Ullman were criticized by C. E. M. Hansel. According to Hansel there were weaknesses in the design of the experiments in the way in which the agent became aware of their target picture. Only the agent should have known the target and no other person until the judging of targets had been completed, however, an experimenter was with the agent when the target envelope was opened. Hansel also wrote there had been poor controls in the experiment as the main experimenter could communicate with the subject.

    An attempt to replicate the experiments that used picture targets was carried out by Edward Belvedere and David Foulkes. The finding was that neither the subject nor the judges matched the targets with dreams above chance level. Results from other experiments by Belvedere and Foulkes were also negative.
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