A member of our parapsychology forum , advised using FEC (Forward Error Correction) codes in psi experiments. This should help, in his opinion, create a more remarkable result out of psi test. Here’s an edited excerpt of his post (a little technical):


Most ESP tests show only a slight (but consistent) deviation from the expected results (e.g. in a test where the nominal chance of a hit is 50%, someone consistently scores 52%). In the long run, such an effect is statistically significant, but it is by no means “impressive” by human measures. BUT, consider these:

3. …So, instead of trying to apply ESP on “raw” tests (e.g. testing telepathy with Zener cards), and just comparing the results with the expected hits, why not make the objects (e.g. the Zener cards) code some digital data (the “message”), protected with a heavily redundant error-correction code (e.g. one that increases data size to 1500%, but only needs 10% of the transmitted, protected data to recover the original). As the “receiving” subject senses the cards, assuming that we are witnessing actual psychic ability, the received results will likely contain enough signal (that is, receptions produced by ESP, not by random chance, i.e. noise) to recover the original message.

If you’re not familiar with FEC, here’re a couple of real examples which I gave later in the forum. I studied some of it in university but it was quite a few years ago so I might not be 100% accurate, so beware.

A basic example would be a Compact Disc. You know that even if it has scratches in a moderate amount, the player will still play it will. This is since it can reconstruct the correct information using data that is still available (if there’s enough of it).

A more basic example of actual ECC would be transmitting everything 3 times. Then, if one of 3 is received with error it’ll still be able to select the right result (2 of 3). Of course, there are much better ways.

Since I liked his idea I decided to email Dr. Dean Radin, one of the leading parapsychologists today. His first reply on the topic was as follows:

Use of error correcting coding has been successfully applied in a number of psi tests. Both words and strings of digits have been decoded using such methods. One problem with the fringe status of parapsychology is that hardly anyone outside the field has paid close attention to the published literature, so it’s not too surprising that this may not be known.

And later, when I asked for specific references, I’ve got the following list from him:

Brier, R. and Tyminski, R. (1970a) Psi application: Part I. A preliminary attempt. Journal of Parapsychology, 34, 1-25.

Brier, R. and Tyminski, R. (1970b) Psi application: Part II. The majority-vote technique – Analyses and observations. Journal of Parapsychology, 34, 26-36.

Carpenter, J. (1982). An elaboration of the repeated-guessing technique for enhancing ESP information efficiency. In W. Roll, R. Morris & R. White (Eds.), Research in parapsychology 1981, Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, pp. 111.

Dean, D. and Taetzsch, R. (1972). Psi in the casino: Taetzsch method. In W. Roll and R. Morris (Eds.), Proceedings of the Parapsychological Association 1970, pp. 14-15.

Morgan, K. & Morris, R. L. (1991). A review of apparently successful methods for the enhancement of anomalous phenomena. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 58, 1-9.

Puthoff, H. (1985). Calculator-assisted psi amplification. In R. White and J. Solfvin (Eds.), Research in parapsychology 1984. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, pp. 48-51.

Puthoff, H. May, E.C. & Thomson, M. J. (1986). Calculator-assisted psi amplification II: Use of the sequential-sampling technique as a variable-length majority-vote code. In D. Weiner & D. Radin (Eds.), Research in parapsychology 1985. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, pp. 73-77

Radin, D. I. (1990-1991). Statistically enhancing psi effects with sequential analysis: A replication and extension. European Journal of Parapsychology, 8, 98 – 111.

Ryzl, M. (1966). A model for parapsychological communication. Journal of Parapsychology, 30, 18-31.

Taetzsch, R. (1962). Design of a psi communications system. International Journal of Parapsychology, 4, 35-67.

I recommend this subscription site: Lexscien Library of Exploratory Science as a way to get many of these papers.

There was also a new thread started in the forum on this topic, where you can discuss this at: Error Correcting Codes.

I know it might be too technical for most people, not all posts here will like that but I thought some might find interest in this.