The Ganzfeld Experiment is a controversial research project that is said to determine a person’s telepathic capabilities. Originating in the 1930’s, Ganzfeld Experiments did not became a popular research method until the 1980’s, and to this date have yet to accepted by the majority of the parapsychology field.
Telepathy, also known as ESP (extra-sensory perception), is the ability to pick up on the thoughts of another person or entity. Simply put, the ability to “read minds”. It is said that a person with ESP is also more in tune with the spiritual world. Mediums, for instance, would be likely to succeed in a Ganzfeld Experiment.
The Ganzfeld Experiment is a 3-person process. There is a ‘receiver’, a ‘target’ and an ‘experimenter’. The receiver is sent telepathic messages from the target, while the experimenter records the data.
A typical Ganzfeld Experiment would have the receiver lie down in a relaxed state for a period of thirty minutes. While half-spheres (like a golf ball cut in two) are placed over the receiver’s eyes while a red light is shone onto them. The receiver also wears headphones with a low level of static, or white noise, played.
The target is in a separate room and sends random though wave images to the receiver. A random image is chosen and given to the receiver to focus on. Throughout the Ganzfeld Experiment, the receiver will speak, describing any images they see in their mind’s eye.
The experimenter is also in a separate room from the receiver and target, and is able to hear the responses of the receiver. This person will record all information. There will also be an audio device recording all responses.
When the session is complete, the receiver is given 4 target images to choose from, leaving a 25% chance of randomized success. The receiver will look at these images and choose which best fits the mental images they experienced during the Ganzfeld Experiment.
Between the years of 1974 and 2004, there were 88 Ganzfeld Experiments held. Out of 3,145 tests, there were 1,008 successful results. That’s a success rate of 32.05%, only marginally higher than the expected, random success rate of 25%.
Because of the relatively low success rate of Ganzfeld Experiments, there is much debate as to whether they are conclusive, or simply random. There has been some controversy as to the way such experiments have been held, as well.
Susan Blackmore observed a Ganzfeld Experiment in 1979 and found evidence that subjects were being induced to choose the target image. According to Blackmore’s report, a Ganzfeld Experiment conducted by Carl Sargent had a number of inappropriate methods, including “pushing” the receiver towards the correct target image.
The correct target was chosen, and recorded as a success by Carl Sargent, resulting in heavy criticism from Blackmore and, after publishing her findings in the Journal of the Society of Physical Research, much of the parapsychology field as well.
It has been concluded that much more research, and certainly more strict guidelines as to the randomness and uniform reports, will need to be conducted before the medical society will accept the accuracy of Ganzfeld Experiments.