RPKP Update No.2

May 20th, 1996
This was originally sent out to members of the RPKP mailing list. If you would like to receive future updates, please e-mail


Alas, still no experiments. While we have a very good idea of the content, the form is still being debated. Some have suggested that "Shockwave" would be more appropriate than Java, but we know nothing, as yet, about Shockwave. Also, Helmut Schmidt has pointed out that in many cases, subjects should perform better when they're strictly off-line - experiments run in the WWW environment may possibly be less successful, as subjects are (at least subconsciously) aware of the accumulating cost of their connection time, and this may disrupt psi abilities. Obviously not all potential subjects will be paying for their connection time, as a large sector of WWW users aren't, but in any case it seems sensible to set up offline experiments. The disadvantage is that these aren't as user-friendly, and involve downloading and running programs, which is perhaps beyond some "click, click,click"-style Websurfers. The obvious advantage would be that if the programs (originally written in C++, modelled on some of Schmidt's own) were compiled for DOS and MAC, then virtually almost noone on the Internet would be excluded from participation. The most sensible thing at this stage seems to be to include both online and offline options.

Bill Tschumy of Otherwise in Austin, TX who volunteered to write our initial Java applet has had to withdraw his offer due to unforeseen circumstances, so if there's anyone out there who specialises in Java, Shockwave, or the general field of "programming for the Internet", PLEASE get in touch as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the C++ source code is still on its way from Schmidt, so we'll just have to wait. At present we have compiled binaries of the C++ programs which will run in DOS, so if any potential subjects would like to start practicing, please e-mail and we'll arrange to send them to you. These will basically be in the same form as the experiments we'll be eventually be running, but we won't be able to monitor the results.

Edwin May, whose interview with the RPKProject appeared at our Website this week, has been consulted regarding the inclusion of tests for his "decision augmentation theory" (DAT). This theory has attracted quite some interest since the posting of this interview, as it presents an entirely precognition-based model of psi phenomena, and can supposedly be validated with a statistical analysis of a sufficiently large database. If our experiments are properly designed, we will be able to contribute to this ever-expanding database. The RPKProject is still absorbing the implications of DAT, and is neither seeking to "prove" or "disprove" its validity. Similarly we neither "believe" nor "disbelieve" in the existence of psi, but merely wish to make the testing of such claims more publically accessible.

New Features

More articles and links are being added to the site every day, as you may have noticed. We've added a section devoted to Brian Josephson, who may well be the most "high profile" physicist defending the validity of experimental PK results. Prof. Josephson won a Nobel Prize for physics in '73, and is gradually developing a "Mind-matter unification theory", which is related to similar theories emerging from Penrose & Hameroff, Stapp, Nanopoulos, et. al. Articles he has written for The Times have been linked, as well as a fascinating article on "Biological Utilisation of Quantum Nonlocality". The latter deals with the possibility that life may distinguish itself from other matter via some form of self-organisation which results from exploitation of certain quantum mechanical effects. He also makes the very interesting point that (rephrased in very simple terms) "randomness" is relative to what one is looking for - the concept of "meaning" must be introduced into the picture. As he (quite seriously) observes:
"...the activities of living organisms are governed by predominant principles (survival, and optimality of the conditions of life) different to those of the scientist (conformity to certain restrictions that are considered necessary for "good" science)."
Although it may not appear so at first, this work is very closely related to retroPK-type phenomenon. Brian Josephson has recently acknowledged the "increasing importance" of parapsychology, and added new links to his homepage.

The most outspoken proponent of Josephson-type mind-matter theories on the WWW may well be the controversial American "theatrical physicist" Jack Sarfatti. Sarfatti has pulled together certain bits of theory including Chalmers "qualia", Bohm's 1952 "pilot wave" interpretation of quantum mechanics, certain ideas about microtubles (tiny brain structures) and large protein molecules existing in quantum superimposed states due to "thermal shielding", in order to model the "mind" as a "pilot wave" subject to a kind of feedback (which allows adaptation and learning, it seems) which he calls "back-action". Sarfatti argues that Josephson, Penrose, Nanopolous, Stapp, et.al. are all using something like his "back-action". Futher, he believes that the data May reported in his recent interview provides confirmation of this theory, as it predicts that the primary anomalous effect associated with the "manipulation of random data" should be precognitive. Sarfatti is very enthusiastic about the fact that his model allows information to flow backwards from the future. Sarfatti, May, Josephson, and others were all in attendance at the recent Tucson II conference on consciousness, where these ideas were debated (debate continues in the appropriate regions of the Web). We hope to add a Tucson II section to the RPKP Website very soon, as many ideas presented there are extremely important to our work.

An article "What is back-reaction?" (sic), originally from the QUANTUM-D group, has been linked from our site, and covers most of these topics quite comprehensively.


It's been suggested that we should first submit our experimental design to a high-profile sceptical statistician before running the experiments. This saves us having to defend the design against sceptical attack if we start getting results. Persi Diaconis, the Harvard professor of statistics, and member of CSICOP, seems to be the obvious candidate. Unfortunately, he doesn't have an e-mail address (sceptical of the Internet?), so if anyone has any suggestions of other possibilities, do let us know.

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