Telepathy research in a Virtual Reality game

Scienceblog reports about a virtual reality system built by scientists at the University of Manchester as a collaboration between the University’s School of Computer Science and School of Psychological Sciences.

The aim of this project is to test scientifically whether telepathy exists by using scientific methods and the connection between the relationship between people and the strength of their telepathic connection (if exists). About 100 participants are planned to take part in the research. Here is how it will be conducted:

The test is carried out using two volunteers who could be friends, work colleagues or family. They are placed in separate rooms on different floors of the same building to eliminate any possibility of communication.
Participants enter the virtual environment by donning a head-mounted 3D display and an electronic glove which they use to navigate their way through the computer generated world.

Once inside participants view a random selection of computer-generated objects. These include a telephone, a football and an umbrella. The person in the first room sees one object at a time, which they are asked to concentrate on and interact with.

The person in the other room is simultaneously presented with the same object plus three decoy objects. They are then asked to select the object they believe the other participant is trying to transmit to them.

The virtual design of the system eliminates some of the real pitfalls of other test methods where the participants could use some other non-telepathical clues to transfer information, even unintentionally. Project researcher David Wilde, of the School of Psychological Sciences, said:

“By using this technology we aim to provide the most objective study of telepathy to date. Our aim is not to prove or disprove its existence but to create an experimental method which stands up to scientific scrutiny.”

The results of the experiment are expected to be published early in 2007. We’ll have to wait.