As part of the research I am conducting into my book The Future of Consciousness (yes, it’s the same book as The Great Mind Shift, only retitled) I am outlining evidence for the existence of Integrated Intelligence (INI). INI is the deliberate employ,net of the extended mind – mind which extends beyond the brain – to solve problems. Perhaps the strongest evidence for ESP in recent years comes from Rupert Sheldrake’s telephone and electronic media telepathy experiments. The results that Shekdrake has managed to glean are extremely impressive. I. This blog post I am going to outline some of the experiments, why I feel these could become the gold standard of ESP experiments. I am also going to address the perplexing question of why such potentially groundbreaking research is not be embraced and relocated, nor widely shared in scientific and popular media.
The Telephone Telepathy Experiments
The experience of apparent telepathy is the strongest of all such ESP in today’s society. People often have the experience of thinking about someone before they call them. Or they may have a strong feeling about who is calling when the phone rings. The obvious skeptical viewpoint is that people may simply be unconsciously extrapolating who is calling based on experience or statistical likelihood. Perhaps your mother usually calls in the evening on the weekend every few weeks, for example. If it has been a few weeks since she has called, and it is a Saturday evening, it would be natural to “feel” that it is your mother on the other end of the line. Clearly this has nothing to do with telepathy.
So what Sheldrake has done is put this urban myth to the experimental test, and with extraordinary findings.
Sheldrake and Pam Smart have conducted hundreds of trials to test the idea. The genius of the experiments is their simplicity. Each participant receives a call from one of four different callers. They are aware of who the possible callers are, but they do not know which one will be calling at any given time, as they are randomly selected. The person answering the phone has to guess the identity of the caller before they answer. This gives the caller a 25 percent chance of stating the correct name. In many of these trials, the participants were videotaped. (Sheldrake 2014, 29%)
While some participants scored at the chance level, many scored well above chance. The first series contained 570 trials with 63 subjects, and was not filmed. The average hit rate was 40 percent. The four best subjects were then tested and filmed under more rigorous conditions,. A total of 271 further trials produced an average hit rate of 45 percent, which represents an extremely significant result and at odds against chance of (p < 1 × 10-13).
The Importance of Confidence
As I have often pointed out in my books and workshops, intuition is usually most reliable when the feeling is very strong, either for or against a decision that is to be made. Sheldrake and Smart’s experiment add support to this idea. Some participants felt more confident about some guesses than others, and they were more often right when they were confident. Sheldrake and Smart then asked a female subject to record over 134 videotaped trials and state how confident she felt about her guesses before answering the phone. There were three grades of confidence: “confident,” “not very confident,” and “just guessing.” When confident she had a hit rate of 85 percent, but only 34 percent when not very confident. When she was just guessing, her success rate was merely 28 percent. This suggests that we should all learn to trust our strong gut feelings.
Empathy and INI
As with other ESP tests of this kind, it was found that personal and empathic connection was a key component in telepathy. Sheldrake and Smart conducted a series of trials where the participant knew only two of the callers. The other two were strangers whom they only knew by name. The results were remarkable.The participants managed a hit rate of over 50 percent with those they knew, whereas with strangers the results were at close to chance level.
Distance is no Barrier to INI
Telephone telepathy experiments also add credence to the claim that extra-sensory perception is not constricted by a distance decay effect. Again, this is consistent with some previous research on other kinds of telepathy, both with people with people, and with animals such as dogs, cats, and parrots.
Sheldrake and Smart found that experiments conducted within Britain were not any less successful with greater distance. To test this result further, the experimenters recruited recent arrivals to England from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and other distant countries. They then compared local hit rates with friends and family members overseas. Remarkably, the hit rate for callers overseas averaged 61 percent, while with friends in Britain it was but 36 percent. Sheldrake suggests that this difference might have occured because the majority of overseas callers were people with whom participants were closely emotionally bonded, such as mothers. This is further evidence that personal and meaningful connection is a key condition in telepathic phenomena.
Email and SMS Telepathy
In 2002 Sheldrake began testing for e-mail telepathy with Pam Smart. The process was based on his telephone telepathy tests, again using friends or family members. The participants had to guess from four possible senders before checking the sender’s actual identity. Sheldrake tested 50 participants for a total of 552 trials, with an average hit rate of 43 percent. Again, this is very significantly above the chance. (p < 1 × 10-18). The 5 highest-scoring participants were tested again while being filmed, with an average hit rate of 47 percent, again very significantly above the 25 percent rate expected busy chance.
Sheldrake has also been very successful in gleaning significant results from having people guess the senders of SMS messages. In one such experiment were three senders. So with random guessing, subjects would be expected to be correct right around 33.3 percent of the time. Sheldrake has run 800 trials with an average hit rate of 37.9 percent. Although this result is not as startling as some of his other experiments, they are nonetheless statistically significant. As previously, Sheldrake retested participants with the highest scores and under filmed conditions. The hit rate was then an impressive 44.2 percent.
Animals and Telephones
Sheldrake has also collected reports of animals that appear to know who is calling on the phone. His database includes 141 cases, including 67 dogs, 60 cats, 13 parrots, cockatoos, and other members of the parrot family, and 1 pet pigeon.
Sheldrake cites the case of Sheila Geddes, of Yaxham, Norfolk, England.
”Our cat, Mr. Softy, always seemed to know when I was going to phone home, and he would go and sit on the phone seat and purr. Once when I was in Australia, he went up onto the telephone seat one afternoon when it would have been 1: 00 A.M. in Canberra. My husband knew how late it was in Canberra, and told Mr. Softy, “It’s no good, we won’t hear from her now.” But I had woken up suddenly, felt very far from home, and realized it would be early evening there, so five minutes later, the phone rang beside him. He was delighted to hear my voice. The distance between Sheila and her cat was about 11,000 miles.”
Such cases are report-based and thus subject to human misrepresentations, but fascinating nonetheless.
Telepathy or Precognition?
As a fascinating addendum to the telephone telepathy tests, Sheldrake decided to test a rogue possibility. What if the success of the tests was not due to telepathy, but precognition? In the latter case, in correctly guessing who is calling, the participants might be tapping into the future. To test this hypothesis, Sheldrake got the subjects to guess who was about to call them or send an SMS message before the computer selected the sender at random. The telephone tests yielded 240 hits out of 722 trials, or 33.2 percent. There was a similar result with the SMS messages, with 110 hits out of 339 trials, representing 32.4 percent. The results were not significant, given the chance level of 33.3 percent. The clear conclusion is that no precognition was occurring in these kinds of tests. Rather, it seems that telepathy was.
However, there is a “positive” conclusion which can be gleaned from the failed precognition tests. That the results were negligible is further indication that something was happening in the previous successful telephone telepathy trials, and that this positive result was not merely some anomaly, such as poor experimental method or cheating. If the latter had been the case, both sets of experiments would have produced similar results.
Real Life vs Experimental Telepathy
Sheldrake makes an important point about his experiments. Despite their striking success, they probably produce weaker telepathic effects than those which occur in real life situations. Firstly, under natural conditions people will have a precise motivation or requirement for calling. This will in turn bring emotionality and intentionality into the situation in a greater way than a dull experiment can, enhancing intuition. Secondly, the experiments probably made the participants self-conscious as they had to deliberately think about their guesses and the identity of the possible caller. As Sheldrake notes, thinking probably inhibits human intuition, as intuitive intelligence is neither reasoned nor analytical. Thirdly, there was a fear factor. The participants were sometimes afraid of making the wrong choice. When they did choose in error they tended to doubt their intuitive capacities, bringing forth negative emotionality which may have inhibited their integrated intelligence.
Thanks to people like Sheldrake and Pam Smart, we are now starting to understand the kinds of conditions that best facilitate the positive testing of Integrated Intelligence. Just a few important factors include providing meaningful situations for participants, using motivated individuals, having emotional connectivity, ensuring there is novelty and avoidance of boredom and excessive repetition, and we must also encourage relaxed states of consciousness and avoid pressuring those being tested. Further, it is likely that in the near future we will identify other factors, including the subtle.
A Platform for the Future
The innovative and adventurous research of people like Sheldrake and Smart provides a wonderful base for other scientists and organisations to step in and take us forward. That leap represents not just potential progress for science, but for the entire human species. It potentially revolutionises the way we see our species, our societies and our place in nature and the cosmos.
Why then, is science not coming on board and building on this research? That will be the subject of my next blog post.