If telepathy and precognition are real abilities, why is it that nobody has cashed in on them by using their ‘psi’ talents to predict or mind-read sporting results, casino games, or changes in stock markets? It’s a common criticism leveled by skeptics, but there is actually research out there showing that people *have* done exactly that – and made some serious money!
The most recent example is an experiment into the validity of using ‘remote viewing‘ – that is, the practice of attempting to use extrasensory perception (ESP) to ‘see’ targets at a distance (geographically, and/or in time) – to predict the stock market. Published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Scientific Exploration (Vol. 28, No. 1) under the title of “Stock Market Prediction Using Associative Remote Viewing by Inexperienced Remote Viewers” (PDF), the study was carried out as part of a class project (in a course entitled “Edges of Science”) at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The ten ‘remote viewers’ were neophytes, nine of them being students and one a professor.
The experiment went like this: Firstly, two visually distinct ‘target’ images were selected and printed out from a pool of pictures depicting objects and scenes. A coin toss was used to decide which target was going to symbolise the market going up, and which would be down. The two target images were then sealed in dated envelopes by an independent party (to keep participants and judges blind to the targets as much as possible).
Then, every few days the study participants were tasked to remotely view one of the pre-selected targets during class, the identity of which would be revealed to them at the beginning of the next remote viewing period a few days later. The remote viewers were given five minutes to quickly describe on paper and sketch the image they would be shown in the future. Afterwards, judges compared each remote viewing session to the two targets, selecting the one they thought matched the session best. See the image below showing the two targets, and the remote viewing session notes by one RVer.
If the majority of the ten viewers’ sessions were judged to most accurately describe the Up target, that was taken as a prediction that the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) would close up at the end of the next market day. If the majority were judged to describe the Down image, that would be a prediction that the DJIA would close down. At the beginning of the next market day, the experimenter purchased DJIA options according to the prediction, then just before the close of the market, he would sell the options and actualize any loss or gains.
The experimenters – Christopher Carson Smith, Darrell Laham and Garret Moddel of the Department of Electrical, Computer, & Energy Engineering at the University of Colorado – repeated the procedure for seven trials using the same 10 remote viewers. The result? Of the seven trials performed, all seven resulted in correct predictions, showing statistical significance at p < .01. More tangibly, however:
Regarding the financial results, on an initial investment of $10,000 we gained approximately $16,000 with a total of $26,000 at the end of trial 5. The first five trials were conducted on days of large market swings, therefore the potential gains were very large. Trials 6 and 7 happened on days of small market changes and, despite resulting in correct predictions, produced small losses because of the mechanics of the options trading vehicle. A timing issue in the trade of trial 7 resulted in an additional monetary loss of approximately $12,000. However, it is important to stress that this was in spite of the prediction itself being correct. (Without this timing error, total
cash at the end of the project would have amounted to $38,000, or a return of almost 400% on the investment in a span of about two weeks.)
The study concluded that remote viewing “appears to be a reasonably accurate way to predict the future of binary outcomes… RV has dramatic implications for how we view time and our ability to perceive the future”.
This is not, however, the first time someone has made money through remote viewing research. The paper discusses some previous history, including a study conducted by pioneering remote viewing researcher Hal Puthoff in 1982, in which a series of 30 RV trials attempted to predict the outcome of the silver futures market. Financially, the trials netted a profit of approximately $250,000 for their investor, “of which Puthoff’s share was ten percent, or more than $25,000, which he used to help fund a new Waldorf School”. And in that same year, researchers Russell Targ and Keith Harary also used remote viewing to predict silver futures in an attempt to raise funds for their research, with their first experiment yielding $120,000.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to practice some remote viewing for a while…