Virtual reality gaming system tests for telepathy

Scientists at The University of Manchester have created a virtual computer world designed to test telepathic ability.

The system, which immerses an individual in what looks like a life-size computer game, has been created as part of a joint project between The University’s School of Computer Science and School of Psychological Sciences.

Approximately 100 participants will take part in the experiment which aims to test whether telepathy exists between individuals using the system. The project will also look at how telepathic abilities may vary depending on the relationships which exist between participants.

The test is carried out using two volunteers who could be friends, work colleagues or family. They are placed in separate rooms on different floors of the same building to eliminate any possibility of communication.

Participants enter the virtual environment by donning a head-mounted 3D display and an electronic glove which they use to navigate their way through the computer generated world.

Once inside participants view a random selection of computer-generated objects. These include a telephone, a football and an umbrella. The person in the first room sees one object at a time, which they are asked to concentrate on and interact with.

The person in the other room is simultaneously presented with the same object plus three decoy objects. They are then asked to select the object they believe the other participant is trying to transmit to them.

The system was designed by Dr Craig Murray of the School of Psychological Sciences, and implemented by Toby Howard and Dr Fabrice Caillette, from the School of Computer Science.

Dr Toby Howard said: “This system has been designed to overcome the many pitfalls evident in previous studies which could easily be manipulated by participants to produce an effect which looks like telepathy but is not.

“By creating a virtual environment we are creating a completely objective environment which makes it impossible for participants to leave signals or even unconscious clues as to which object they have chosen.”

The system has been designed to make the task as realistic as possible. In addition to selecting objects and hearing the sounds they make, participants are able to hold and move them within the virtual environment.

Project researcher David Wilde, of the School of Psychological Sciences, said: “By using this technology we aim to provide the most objective study of telepathy to date. Our aim is not to prove or disprove its existence but to create an experimental method which stands up to scientific scrutiny.”

The results of the experiment are expected to be published early in 2007.

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52 thoughts on “Virtual reality gaming system tests for telepathy”

  1. What a shame you took the signature so seriously – maybe you could lighten up a little. That phrase was on the front of a tee-shirt my wife bought for me years ago, and has been a family catch-phrase (and running joke) ever since.

    So putting that misunderstanding to one side.

    Have you Googled any of the names I gave? (just wondering – oh I shouldn’t need to “wonder” if I’m psychic though should I?)

    You say……

    “ALLEGED REAL pictures is proof of “ABSOLUTELY NOTHING”!!”

    So when one does a laboratory experiment. one records data. One has reliable independent expert witnesses, and one records outcomes as best as one can. So in the book I keep referring to (The Mediumship of Jack Webber by Harry Edwards), they go to extreme lengths to explain how the photographic plates were sealed by Kodak employees, the credentials of the witnesses. etc etc etc. These days one photo means nothing, in this the era of Photoshop, but in 1939 (when these photos were taken), Photoshop was not all that common. But the sworn affidavits from members of the police force, newspaper editors (etc) that were present at these sessions should account for something.

    If you’re actually interested in the facts, not just telling everyone that you’re right and everyone else (that doesn’t agree with you) is wrong, why not do what I keep suggesting. Have a look at this one book. It contains a painstaking account of how these photos were obtained. It is what you would have to call, very good scientific method (particularly for the day).

    And, should you decide to actually LOOK at the “evidence”, presented in this first book, then you may be interested in moving on through the rest of the list I provided.

    Again I repeat, you asked for “proof”. In response I gave you the details of a reservoir of data just waiting for you to peruse, but you still choose to say it’s all B.S. before ACTUALLY LOOKING AT THE FACTS. Not good science!!

    You berate me for not bringing something “real”, to this discussion.

    Well I beg to differ. I have, but so far you have chosen to not bother actually looking at it.

    And sentences like …. “But deep down you know that don’t you? coos you’re clever, aint ya?”. Don’t really display a desire for a friendly open exchange of information. (As I assumed this blog was all about). So far I offer information, and you make snide personal attacks in response. We don’t seem to be getting very far do we?

    Ho Hum.


    Oh and for the record – the following automatic signature is intended as HUMOUR…….

    “you’re just jealous coz you can’t hear the voices”

  2. Hey Soundthinker…… ….I will never win the lottery! Geese, I hope I’m wrong; what a great thing to be wrong about!
    I say it’s highly unlikely that there is any existence after death. You’re born, you live whatever life you live & then you become un-born again, that’s it job done! I hope I’m wrong I really do. Some kind of existence after death? Wow, I’m all for it! What a great thing to be wrong about!

    I quote:

    “You’re just jealous coos you can’t hear the voices”

    EH?! What an illogical thing to say to a none-believer! How can I be jealous of something I can’t see, hear, touch etc?!
    Unfortunately its people like you who have this preaching approach that spoil your argument!! If you want me & others to believe then I’d suggest you come up with something better than this oh clever one! A very soulless, (I know best teen type) end to what I thought was an intelligent discussion. Maybe I have the power because this is exactly what I expected from someone like you! To be honest I’m glad I can’t hear the voices if you’re an example of what I’ll become!!

    Also: taking other peoples word for their experiences (no matter who they are) & ALLEGED REAL pictures is proof of “ABSOLUTELY NOTHING”!! But deep down you know that don’t you? coos you’re clever, aint ya?

    PS: Talk to me when you’ve got something REAL to bring to this discussion! Other than that don’t waist my time! Thanks.


  3. So I’ll just have another go.

    A true scientist (having formed a hypothesis regarding a particular question), goes out and gathers information on the topic, he does ”research”, he does not sit and wait for the research (or “proof”) to come to him of it’s own volition – that is not how science works.

    I offered a list of names in my reply to DC of people who PROVED beyond any hint of doubt that “supernatural” things exist, and can be demonstrated and repeated under absolutely controlled conditions. One of the names is Jack Webber.

    Have a look, but not just at this one site, if you can, get hold of the book written by Harry Edwards called “The Mediumship of Jack Webber”. The photographs in the book are unarguable.

    And, another name on my list – Arigo – ever heard of him? Get the book called “Surgeon of the Rusty Knife”, also contains amazing photos.

    The ”proof” you seek has been out there for many, many years, but you have to seek it. You can’t sit there and say bring me the proof. We have. The books have been there for the taking. But (as happened here), when somebody says “hey, go look at these people” the sceptic says, “bring me the proof”. I DID!!!! Did you Google even ONE of the names I listed? One? None?

    To me the cartoon caricature of the classic Sceptic is some-one with their hands clasped firmly over their eyes saying “show me, show me”.

    What of my claims about identifying dead relatives and capsicum allergies? No comment there. Why not? I’m either telling the truth, or I’m lying. What do you think?

    All your response focused on was YOUR perspective on what I said, how it related to you. Your perspective doesn’t really matter, neither does mine – as it never can in science. Just the facts.

    I gave you a set of datum to go and look at and you chose to ignore the datum and give us your opinions. Opinions are irrelevant in true science.

    You see the punch line is, that I’m a sceptic. I’m clairvoyant, I’m a Spiritual healer, but I’m a sceptic. Not a capital “S” Sceptic, like yourself, but a person who by nature will not take anything as true until proven. But with the research I’ve done, and what I have seen with my own two eyes, I know that things like clairvoyance exist, because I got off my butt and went to a lot of trouble look for the facts.

    You can’t go back to the boring old chant “all you have to do is prove it to me and I’ll believe it”, because you did what every Sceptic always does. I GAVE you all the proof necessary, you ignored it completely and said “all you have to do is prove it to me and I’ll believe it”……..

    “you’re just jealous coz you can’t hear the voices”

  4. Question: “Genetic vectors for it…even bigger bunch of arse!

    What use is a method of communication if you can’t use it with the vast majority of people you come across?”

    Some people, people with lots of letters after their names who are smarter than either of us, believe it is a trait that has evolutionary advantages and will become highly selected-for among humans.

    That is: yer on the way out, kiddo! ;)

    ~~maggie in virgina~~

  5. what do skeptics think about the world in your view then?

    Believers have the ability & skeptics do not, this is why they are skeptics yes? So how do you expect skeptics to believe if they do not have the ability? Believers make the claims so it’s down to believers to prove themselves right & NOT down to the skeptics to prove YOU wrong! & to be honest I find it an insult when you suggest non-believers are “closed minded” & have no idea of what goes on in our world!! You eat, drink, have somewhere to live, probably own a pc, drive a car & live quite comfortably compared to most on this planet I’d assume? No psychic phenomenon involved here matey!
    You do not need to be a psychic to make all this possible! There are many many people around who know exactly how life works without being a psychic my friend!
    If the running of this planet was left to psychics, waiting for messages to come through etc, we would all be dead!!! You suggesting skeptics are closed minded makes me laugh & only proves to me that it’s YOU that has no idea!. …. still, you know best I guess!

    It’s not my fault I’m a Skeptic! The reason I’m still a skeptic is because I’ve had no reason to think otherwise! Or are you going to be “the one” that changes the skeptics view?


  6. You supported the possibility of psychic abilities quoting ENTIRELY appropriate comparisons of preternatural vision due to retinal cones, preternatural hearing due to superior frequency range of the specific individual (you left out “super-tasters” by the way – they are people with ten times the number of taste-buds we have – they are also amazing!!!). It’s a great analogy because we ALL have a degree of psychic ability, but some individuals have more.

    BUT. “To the sceptic no explanation is possible, to the believer, no explanation is necessary”.

    I’ve occasionally been to drawn to responding to some of these style of chats, but always give up in exasperation. A sceptic is often SO PROUD to be as closed minded as they are. It defines them, and what they think about the world.

    So, I am a Clairvoyant and, to give you one example out of hundreds, in one reading with one person I…..

    1. Identified that this certain person was allergic to the capsicum family. – this was the only allergy this person had, and was the only one I mentioned. (having never met the person before, and had NO prior knowledge)

    2. Correctly identified the same person’s deceased Uncle as being named “Paulo” (this was the only name I gave, I did not try 6 or 7 till I got one right!!)

    So in the above reading with one individual I identified (he tells me) one of the rarest allergies around (score? – 100 to 1?), but how about the fact that nobody told me had had an allergy at all – I offered the information out of the blue – make that 300 – 1? I identified a fairly unusual name – for this country – (score? 200 – 1?) But nobody told me had an Uncle – how about 600 – 1? The session continued with an endless stream of “hits” that put the statistical likelihood of successful guessing “off the scale”. This is what I do every day. I have a skill that we all have, but I was born with a bit more than most, but then went on to train and nurture this skill for ten years of formal classes.

    BUT. To those of you that read this that ALREADY believe, you will say – cool. But to the sceptics that read this, if nothing else can be proven, then I’m just a liar, plain and simple, no other explanation works.

    Yawn. Been there done that. Open your eyes and you may see something!!!!!!

    Go away and research;- Harry Edwards, Jack Webber, Estelle Roberts, Arigo, Daniel Dunglas Holme, the list goes on. Having then studied these people for 30 years (as I have), THEN come back and tell me I’m wrong. If you’ve never heard of most of the names I’ve listed, then are you really qualified to comment on this field at all? I think perhaps not…..



  7. Hello. I quote:

    “three world class physics geniuses who have expressed openness to the possibility of telepathy”

    I see the word “possibility” here. You are using this statement as ammunition……this statement can also work the other way round too! Many tests etc have been carried out on telepathy & related subjects over many years as far as I know…. Please correct me if I’m wrong? So to me, in the year 2006 & all the experience of life & technology the human race has accumulated; the fact that three world class physics geniuses “still” think it a “possibility” kinda sums it all up in my feeble opinion, for what it’s worth?

    Thanks for the interesting chat Sir.

    Good luck & peace to you.


  8. It’s an open, contentious question. Many “objective” scientists have strong theoretical predispositions to not accepting the evidence, some of which would be quite compelling in other contexts.

    Clearly there are a lot of fraudulent claims of psychic phenomena, and other claims that are based on bad science. But there are many, many claims that have never been disputed. The only honest attitude a scientist can take is to keep an open mind.

    One more point: It’s curious that the people who claim there are reasons from physical theory to deny the possibility of telepathy are never physicists – and frequently they are psychologists. Physicists realize just how open-ende physical theory is, and don’t deny that there are possibilities consistent with known physics.

    Three world-class physics geniuses who have expressed openness to the possibility of telepathy: Brian Josephson, Roger Penrose, Freeman Dyson.

  9. If I were to claim I can beat the javelin world record at least 5 times in 10 throws then all I have to do is invite the relevant people to witness it; job done!

    So here are my questions:

    How is it that after all these years STILL no one has actually sat down in front of scientists & non-believers & blown them away?

    Why is it after all these years all subjects along these lines are STILL classed as: “unexplained phenomena”? Why is this do you think? Just out of interest.

  10. “What use is a method of communication if you can’t use it with the vast majority of people you come across?”

    Erm… well.

    Anyway, Rupert Sheldrake has repeatedly, scientifically, proven the existence of a phenomenon that is usually referred to as telepathy. A great majority of scientific community has found many ways to deny his findings. Some counter-arguments have been valid, and tests have been modified accordingly. The remaining counter-arguments are schoolbook examples of spastic denial, often associated with a hysterical form of religion called Concensus Science.

    When concensus tells us that some of our perceptions and experiences really don’t exist at all, it’s time to question that concensus. Fortunately Gödel’s incompleteness theorems already deny science its absolute validity, and do that from within science, so it’s only logical to welcome this kind of study of perceived, experienced phenomenon!

    “Is the denial you experience right now rational or emotional?”

  11. Dude, you have obviously never spent time with two foreigners whose language you don’t speak. I grew up next to two twins who both spoke ukranian. Those girls would do it all the time.

  12. Emotional context. Right now they keep doing experiments with objects which will hold no emotional conveyance between individuals. Naturally telepathy would first develop as remote emotional/state of mind preception, when someone is in danger, when someone is feeling up or down, etc.

    There would be no reason for us to first develop “object recognition” telepathy, so why try to jump ahead and instead focus on something that would be wider spread naturally throughout the human race?

  13. Telepathy…..What a bunch of arse!

    Genetic vectors for it…even bigger bunch of arse!

    What use is a method of communication if you can’t use it with the vast majority of people you come across?

    Perhaps the genes persist just in case they turn out to be useful sometime….that would be a telepathic complex.

  14. My mother woke (screaming) from a nightmare of my father asleep at the wheel of his truck. Simultaneously he awoke, actually asleep at the wheel; many miles away, with the sound of her screaming in his head.

    I’d like to know the mechanism, but the existance of the phenomenon is beyond the point of simple speculation or derision.

    Studies do not change people’s minds. They exist to teach the young. Their elders die unconvinced & ignorant; making room for new beliefs.

  15. You believe that the greater fields of science are going to remain stable for quite some time?

    That is laughable from a historical perspective. After all, Einstien’s relativity didn’t even make it a century before Quantum physics came along. Compare that to the time that Aristotle’s ideas held sway.

    The major flaw in your arguement “that is drastically different from an entirely new way” is that, if telepathy exists, it ISN’T an entirely new way. It is just a way un-noticed until now.

    You are correct about the obvious flaw in the studies methods, but only if the “telepathic” ability they are researching is not hereditary. It is entirely possible that telepathy does exist among certain members of the population, and that it is transmitted on genetic vectors. If so, then family studies might be the only way to ever get enough telepaths into a study to allow for the gathering of enough data.

    Finally, there is currently a lack of empirical evidence for telepathy. However, one way to remain sure that there is always a lack of empirical evidence is to never conduct a proper study to see if there is any empirical evidence. Lack of proof does not refute, it merely doesn’t confirm.

  16. You have just been describing already existing means of sensing things which are just extra-sensitive for some people.

    This is drastically different from an entirely new way of sensing things in a comprehendable manner from someone else nearby. Since you suggest this could be a physical phenomenon (which I say is the only thing it could be if it existed) I would think that by now we would have detected at least the precursor to whatever is carrying the information/signal from one person to another. Whether it be chemical, electro-magnetic, etc. we have a fairly good understanding of the ways in which energy is moved about the universe on the macro level and we have seen no evidence showing any macro-level information transfer beyond what we already know (sight, sound, touch, etc).

    There could be something happening on the quantum level, but for us to comprehend anything like that as a concept in our minds from someone else, those quantum occurrences would have to be happening in such a great quantity to make up a complex enough thought that we would see effects at the macro level.

    Often family members think of the same thing at the same time with no prior communication not because of telepathy, but rather since their minds are wired similarly from growing up in the same environment.

    Yes our science is not perfect and is continually improving, but the advances are happening within the greater fields of science that we believe will remain fairly stable for quite some time. There aren’t going to be many more advances as drastic as those that you described since we know so much MORE than we used to. There is just no empirical evidence for telepathy at all so far and I don’t believe this will come up with anything either unless its from bias and/or explained otherwise (what I said about family members/friends and similar upbringings).

  17. I knew you would say that.

    Just because it’s not commonly perceived doesn’t mean it’s not perceivable by some, and not yet understood.

    50 years ago we didn’t know there were rare people with 4 kinds of retinal color cones. Now we know this small percentage see distinguishable hues the rest of us have no biological means of perceiving.

    Many people can’t hear much above 10K Hz or 15K Hz. Others hear up to 26K Hz and beyond. So, some of us are hearing twice as much of the audio spectrum as the majority do. These highly sensitive folks tend to be the ones complaining about noise from lights and the surrounding electronic environment.

    People have different degrees to which they have dark-adapted vision at night. It disappears with age and lack of long exposure to truly dark night times. Those with exceptional dark vision can see much fainter stars and other night sky phenomena better than average people.

    There may be a reasonable, physico-chemical basis for something we’ve called ‘telepathy’ but few of us have the adequately developed biological substrata to use it effectively, and not yet on a consistent basis. It may be that the troubling term ‘telepathy’ turns out to be cover for dozens of different types of ways of transferring reactions, impressions, symbols across transmission systems and processes we haven’t yet identified.

    There was a time we thought explaining illness using the four humours was real science…Aristotelean science. “Meloncholy” comes from that era. Now we know of brain chemistry, stress and auto-immune responses, and other factors which can result in people feeling mildly to deeply depressed.

    The micro-organism world has expanded in recent years to include retro-viruses, crypto-virii, prions and other exotica, all which were unknown to biosciences prior to late 1970s. Talk of invisibly small particles that could harm anyone would have seemed silly and against the laws of Nature in past centuries.

    Give them a chance. And then if something is found, see if anyone cares to replicate the study. Seems like that’s scientific method.

  18. “Perhaps the genes persist just in case they turn out to be useful sometime”

    Not so – the genes for any trait exist as long as they pass from one parent organism to any offspring. So long as nothing selects and kills off anyone with a specific trait (which almost never happens in our stable, safe little world nowadays) that trait will continue (persist) indefinitely through generations, it just won’t become dominant in a population because it doesn’t confer a survival advantage over others.

    I’d think with the masses of people packed in close quarters in jobs that either keep them thinking hard or are so mindless and repetitive that they don’t require brain-power at all (therefore causes the mind to wander constantly), it’s only a matter of time before some form of telepathy develops.

    Might as well keep an eye out for it, eh?

  19. That’s a fair point, better to test for some kind of communication other than recognition of objects. It’s unlikely any form of telepathy has developed to the point where someone could pass an image directly to someone else.

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