RPKP Update No.4

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

The Project will be fairly inactive for the next week or so, for personal reasons, so please be patient if your e-mail isn't answered immediately, or if nothing new appears on the Website for a while. There should be a sudden burst of activity in the last week of the month.

The most pleasing development of late, as you may have noticed already, has been the appearance of the "HotBits" random number generating webpage, put together by John Walker in Switzerland, and available at http://www.fourmilab.ch. Walker has been interested in this sort of thing for some time, but was recently inspired by the appearance of the RPKProject to make this valuable contribution to the emerging field of online psi-research. We shall continue to use the noise-based true-random number generator provided by Helmut Schmidt, but others WWW users who wish to create similar experiments could easily use this radioactive-decay based generator as a source of "raw" data. Schmidt, incidentally, has just gone on holiday until late July, so if you're planning to use one of our "mailto:" tags to send him a message, don't expect an immediate answer.

Dick Bierman at the Anomalous Cognition Project (Amsterdam University) has made a rather technical, though potentially very significant suggestion regarding experiment design. This concerns the much-discussed "decision augmentation theory" (DAT) of Edwin May, et. al. and possible ways in which the theory can be tested for in an experiment such as ours. Essentially, DAT suggests that all apparent psychokinesis is actually a subtle form of precognition. This is explained fairly lucidly in our recent interview with May. Bierman suggests that
"...if you generate the retro PK set (RNG has a priori p of 0.5 for `1') in such a way that half of the set is biased to 0.75 or so and the other half is completely unbiased (just run the RNG again over the `0''s in the first half) and you will let the pushbutton decide through computer time measurement where to enter the set (first half or second half) then DAT would naturally tend to give you biased entrypoints while PK would tend to give 0.76 and 0.51 as the a posteriori hit frequencies."
Those of you interested in these technical matters, as well as the wider-reaching implications of the PK vs. DAT debate should pay a visit to the prf mailing list where many theorists, experimentalists, and others have been discussing these matters in great depths. We are not intending to refute DAT (the data speaks for itself), but simply to help clarify the issue through running appropriate tests in conjunction with our experiments (this requires a carefully structured initial design of course) - we have observed that it is still far from clear in many parapsychologists' minds exactly what DAT is claiming to "explain".

Finally, we'd like to thank Klaus Scharff for bringing to our attention to "Destiny and Control in Human Systems (Chronotopology)" by Charles Muses (1984). Although this book may ultimately turn out to be entirely unrelated to the actual mechanism behind RPK phenomena, it is at the very least a fascinating work of pure speculation - and based on the small amount we've absorbed thus far it appears to be more than this. The concept of "retro-causality" is developed extensively, with many examples given. All we know about Muses is that he has published extensively in the past on a variety of topics, including articles in academic journals of mathematics and cybernetics, and that he created/discovered something called "hypernumbers". If anyone is familiar with Muses or his work, please get in touch, as we're very curious.

The RetroPsychoKinesis Project (http://www.fourmilab.ch/rpkp)

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