He spent 20 of his 36 years at the university as its Director of Graduate Studies in Psychology and chaired the department from until his death in Meanwhile, Joseph Banks Rhine, more commonly known as J.
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Rhine, had previously arrived at Duke in Indeed, throughout the s, Zener operated one of the only Pavlovian conditioning labs in the United States. But during this time, he also connected with J. Rhine, who had begun his own series of experiments in which participants attempted to guess numbers or letters written on cards sealed in envelopes.
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In order to account for this bias, Rhine determined that he needed a new deck — one with which none of his participants would have any degree of familiarity. The symbols included in the original deck were a star, a circle, a cross, a set of three wavy lines and a rectangle, although the rectangle was later changed to a square. Together, Rhine and Zener began using these cards in their experiments in the hopes that it would stamp out the issues brought on by using standard decks of 52 playing cards.
Employing a system created by statistician R. For a typical clairvoyance test, the deck of Zener cards would be shuffled and hidden from the participants, either by a screen or by sealing them in envelopes. The participants would then guess the order of the cards, one by one, until they had worked through the full deck of 25 cards. As they made each guess, their responses were recorded by a researcher; then, after the participants had finished all their guesses, the researcher checked the order in which the participants believed the cards had been dealt against the actual order while the participant looked on.
The receiver would then try to guess what the sender was attempting to communicate with them. As Atlas Obscura noted, the probability of guessing the first card correctly was one in five; however, the probability of guessing 10 or more cards correctly was only about one in Between and , Rhine and Zener identified and studied eight participants who had seemingly demonstrated extraordinary results — like, for example, AJ Linzmayer, a sophomore at Duke who guessed cards correctly out of 1, Chance accounted for about of those correct guesses, leaving as what the researchers believed might be evidence of extra-sensory perception, or ESP.
So: How were the cards supposed to work? But how does ESP work, more broadly? Some believe that everyone has the capacity for ESP — and, indeed, that we often access these abilities without realizing it all the time. Others believe that only some people — psychics, mediums, and the like — have these kinds of abilities, and that they must enter a trance-like state in order to access them, similarly to how mediums conducted seances during the height of the Spiritualist movement.
And still others think the answer is somewhere in the middle — that everyone has the capacity for ESP, but that some people are more sensitive to it than others. The 33 original studies conducted by Rhine and Zener are often pointed to as evidence.
One of the biggest problems, for example, was sensory leakage — that is, the participants who guessed a high number of cards correctly could have received the information in any number of standard ways, even inadvertently, as opposed to through ESP. Continues the resource:. When not so observed, his scores were significantly higher. Rhine also just kept finding ways to explain away some of the less-than-stellar results. He had a tendency to shape the facts such that they fit his beliefs, rather than letting his beliefs be informed by what the facts were saying.
If we calculate the results according to probability, most people — around 79 percent — will get between three and seven cards correct. The probability of guessing at least eight cards correctly is The chances of getting 15 cards correct are about one in 90,, while the chances of getting 20 out of 25 correct are about one in five billion. If you guess all 25 correctly — as Huber Pearce claimed to have once — then congratulations: You had a chance of about one in quadrillion of doing so, and you did it. There are no tricks, but surely we understand each other with looks.
It always happens. The results of many tests using Zener cards fit with a typical normal distribution. Probability predicts these test results for a test of 25 questions with five possible answers if chance is operating:.
Rather than applying Ockham's razor and accepting the null hypothesis for non-results parapsychology has invented many post-hoc constructions to explain away failure, for example: . From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
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