Zener cards are often used to test psychic ability. There are five different cards: a star, a square, a circle, a plus sign and three wavy lines. A deck of 25 Zener cards consists of five of each symbol. You might find a deck of Zener cards at a New Age store, from the American Society for Psychical Research or you can make your own. Go here to print out a set of cards on your printer. Once you have the cards, you can begin testing psychic ability.
Difficulty Level: Easy Time Required: 5 - 15 minutes
Conduct the experiment:
- Select a "subject" and a "sender." The subject will be the person whose psychic ability is being tested. The sender is the person who is looking at the cards to be guessed.
- Select an "experimenter." A third person can act as the experimenter to oversee the test and make sure it is conducted fairly and properly.
- Decide on the number of trials you will conduct. With your deck of 25 Zener cards, the subject and sender should decide how many trials they will conduct in the test; that is, how many times they will go through the complete deck. The more times you go through it, the more significant will be the results.
- Situate the sender and subject. The sender and subject can be in the same room although it's preferable that they cannot see one another. Putting the subject in another room is better. This will prevent the subject from accidentally seeing the card the sender is concentrating on, either directly or through any kind of reflection (such as the sender's glasses). It also prevents the sender from signaling the type of card through any kind of unconscious or subliminal movements.
- Eliminate distractions. The rooms should be as silent as possible. No TV noise or music should be heard.
- Shuffle. The experimenter should shuffle the deck thoroughly before giving it to the sender.
- Begin the trial. Beginning with the deck face down, the sender takes the top card and looks at it, again being careful that the subject can in no way see it.
- Concentrate. The sender concentrates on the symbol on the card. The sender must be completely silent throughout this test to avoid any unconscious signaling.
- Guess. The subject attempts to "guess" or psychically receive the symbol.
- Record the answers. For each card, the experimenter records whether or not the guess was a hit or a miss.
- Complete the trial. The sender continues through the complete deck of cards, one card at a time, for as many trials as agreed upon. The experimenter should shuffle the cards between each trial.
Analyze the Results:
Analyzing the results to see if they are scientifically significant requires a little math and perhaps the aid of a calculator, so perform this part carefully. Here's how to calculate the results of your test.
- Calculate your odds of being correct. Because there are five different symbols to choose from, the odds of guessing a card correctly strictly by chance is 1 in 5... or 1/5 = .2.
- Write down the total number of guesses made. We'll call this number g. (For our example, let's say g = 100 guesses.)
- Write down the number of right guesses that the subject made. We'll call this number r. (For our example, let's say r = 28 right guesses.)
- Calculate the average score by multiplying the number of guesses made by .2... or g x .2 (For example, 100 x .02 = 20) We'll call this number a.
- Calculate the result of: 1 minus your odds of being correct... or 1 - .2 = .8
- Now multiply this result by your odds of being correct... or .8 x .2 = .16 We'll call this number b.
- Now multiply this result by the total number of guesses made... or b x g (For example, .16 x 100 = 16) We'll call this result c.
- Use a calculator to figure the square root of c. (For example, the square root of 16 = 4). We'll call this number s.
- Now subtract the average score from the number of right guesses... or r - a. (For example, 28 - 20 = 8). We'll call this number d.
- Finally, divide this result by s... or d/s. (For example, 8/4 = 2) We'll call this number m.
m is your magic number - what the statisticians call the "critical
- If m is less than or equal to 1.96, the results are considered not very significant.
- If m is above 2.58, the results are considered significant.
- If m is above 3, the results are considered very significant.
- Remember that significance works both ways. In other words, if your m score was higher than chance or much lower than chance, the results are significant.
- Again, remember that the more trials you conduct in a session, the better the test of abilities becomes.
- Try performing the test at different times of the day to see if this seems to make a difference.
- Try other variables, such as just after eating, just after
awaking from sleep, for example, to see if there is a significant difference