RPKP Update No. 1

May 12th, 1996
This was originally sent out to members of the RPKP mailing list. If you would like to receive future updates, please e-mail.


Firstly, if you've been looking forward to participating as a subject and have visited the webpage recently, you'll have noticed that experiments aren't yet available. The experiment design is in its final stages at this moment, having been carefully put together with the advice of veteran psi researcher Helmut Schmidt, and occasional help from Roger Nelson (PEARlab), Dean Radin (CRL), and Edwin May (CSL/LFR). Bill Tschumy has volunteered to write the necessary Java applet (should be ready soon). Here's a simplified description of what to expect:

An "experiments" link from the homepage will take those interested to a page three options: DEMO, SUBSCRIBE, and LOGIN.

* DEMO launches a Java "applet" which will allow users to see what's involved, or to practice, before joining the actual experiment. Although the visual feedback display (a 1-dimensional "pendulum", or simple harmonic oscillator, moving on the screen and continually shifting its amplitude) will be reading prerecorded random data, the results will not be monitored or recorded from our end.

* SUBSCRIBE calls up a form with which the volunteer can submit an ID and password. These will allow her/him to gain access to the actual experiment at any later time via

* LOGIN. This monitors the number of runs which the subject has completed, as well as the times of each run, and the results. In this way subjects can be prevented from attempting more than 5 runs in any 24 hour period. Although the runs are roughly one minute each, Schmidt has advised us that the best results are obtained when subjects don't "overdo it", and this was his recommended limit. In exceptional circumstances, subjects feeling particularly able can arrange to have this limit altered.

The same applet which appeared in the DEMO option is launched on the subjects machine, but this time the results are securely monitored at our end. Because we are working with a purportedly "retrocausal" influence on prerecorded data, nothing needs to be "sent back" from the subject's computer to the Project. We maintain secure copies of all of the data-to- be-influenced, thereby eliminating any possibility of cheating or malevolent hacking.

Subjects are asked to login only at times when they feel capable, and to complete a total of 40 runs at their leisure. During this time we shall keep an eye on the their scores and maintain an encouraging dialogue via e-mail. Several experienced researchers have commented on the importance of the experimenter maintaining a certain degree of "human contact" with the subject, so we shall do our best. Although there's no deadline, three weeks should be sufficient for most subjects. 40 runs should be adequate to filter the very good subjects from the not-so-very-good using statistical analysis. Talented subjects will be encouraged to participate in further experiments, whilst those whose results weren't quite good enough will be free to try again. The best subjects, if they are willing, will eventually be used in attempts to "channel" evidence of the effect to outside observers. We hope to (confidentially) involve respected and established physicists, psychologists, etc. in this "independent observer" role, which requires very little effort, everything being carried out via e-mail.

We hope that before too long, new feedback applets will be available (both for practice and experiment). At the beginning of each run the subject will then be able to choose from a number of possible displays, depending on her/his mood. The applets will all have essentially the same format, reading unobserved, random binary data and displaying it terms of something accessible to the senses. Possibilities thus far suggested have included:

Initially we shall make do with the "pendulum" display, as recommended by Schmidt. Imaginative Java programmers may be interested in contributing applets of their own devising to the library.

New Development: Decision Augmentation Theory

The Project has been in contact with Edwin May of the Cognitive Sciences Laboratory (Palo Alto) for some time now. You may have visited the CSL/LFR website via our link - they're the ones who were involved in over two decades of US Government psi research, some of it secretly sponsored by the CIA (although none of the extensive PK work was specifically retroPK as erroneously claimed in our first mass-mail - thanks to Dick Bierman for pointing this out). His work has led him, along with several colleagues, to develop a model of psi called "Decision Augmentation Theory". This is apparently based on a statistical analysis of a database involving a very large number of PK experiments, and essentially claims that "psychokinesis" does not exist as a "forcelike" phenomenon, "influencing" random events, but is in fact a very subtle form of precognition. Although it takes some time to absorb this, the basic ideas are reasonably simple. At least two technical articles on DAT have been published, and many researchers (though not all) agree that it seems very plausible. An interview which we conducted with May has now been posted on our webpage, specifically at http://www.fourmilab.ch/rpkp/may.html, for those of you would like more information on this. May has encouraged us to build tests for DAT into our design, and we shall be working with him in this regard. As certain other researchers have expressed doubts about DAT, various reactions to May's hypothesis could possibly appear at the site before too long.

The RPKP would like to stress that we do not adhere to any particular theory of psi, PK, or in particular, RPK, nor do we aim to promote any particular ideology, or application of the effect. The purpose of this project is simply to raise awareness of a purported anomalous phenomenon, to encourage intelligent debate regarding its origins and implications, and to establish a WWW-based mechanism whereby RPK can be tested for remotely in a completely secure way.

Random Number Generator

As mentioned on the webpage, we now have a noise-based true-random number generator. It is one of three built by David Phillips, a precision optical engineer and occasional psi researcher, and was kindly loaned to the project by Helmut Schmidt. If you are interested in conducting your own RNG-based PK experiments, and would like to obtain such a device, contact Phillips via dphillip@west.net. Schematics for constructing your own RNG should be appearing at the website before too long.

Contact with the Public

The RPKP homepage is averaging about 75 visits per day, having reached about 2000 by now. This in itself isn't terribly important, but the diversity of individuals who have expressed an interest is encouraging. We've been contacted by professional and amateur parapsychologists, sceptics, philosphers, physicists, psychologists, programmers & engineers, "physics of consciousness" researchers, kabbalists, mystics, new-agers, students, organisations devoted to planetary transformation, and curious Websurfers.

Links to the RPKP site have started appearing on pages with similarly diverse orientations, also write-ups and requests for articles. Without attracting too much advance publicity and anticipation of wildly spectacular results, we hope to establish a healthy base of interest, largely amongst those intelligent members of the Internet community who had previously not given too much serious thought to these ideas.

An article on the RPKP should be appearing in the next edition of "Psi News on the Net" editted by Jannine Rebman of the Consciousness Research Labratory in Las Vegas.


Nothing's come through on this front so far, but we shall manage for the time being. If anyone's got any suggestions, please let us know.

Philosophy of Statistics Discussion

Although Helmut Schmidt has pointed out that there are enough practical problems to deal with before we get too caught up in this sort of abstraction, we'd still be interested in discussing with anyone interested some of the basic philosophical problems of statistical inference which might relate to psi phenomena. These include the problem of defining randomness, and the problem of explaining the ubiquity of certain statistical distributions in the world of experience. Philosophers, statisticians, or anyone else interested in these matters, get in touch and we'll establish a little discussion group.

That's all for this week. Thanks to everyone for their support and interest. Your questions and comments are very welcome.

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