A Lunar Modulation Effect on ESP, too?

In my last post, I described a study that found possible evidence to suggest that retro-PK effects may be modulated by certain phases of the lunar cycle. By sheer coincidence, another study has just been published in the latest issue of the Journal of Scientific Exploration that may also have found evidence to possibly indicate that ESP is modulated by lunar cycles while attempting to reproduce another finding related to ESP: the apparent relation between improved ESP performance and a certain moment in local sidereal time.

When astronomers want to tell the time, they usually do not go by the solar clock that we are used to. Instead, they use a clock that shows the sidereal hour. Sidereal time is determined not by the sun but by the apparent motion of the other fixed stars around the earth. These stars are the beacons of the Milky Way galaxy and reveal the location in the sky of the galaxy relative to the location of the earth. The sidereal day is also 24 hours in length, the hours being slightly shorter than the solar hours (the difference between solar time and sidereal time is about four minutes).

To roughly conceptualize sidereal time, let us take this simple (yet tasty) illustration: If you compare the Milky Way galaxy to a pizza, the earth can be found close to the edge of the pizza. At 12:00 and 24 hours, the bulk of the pizza is at the horizon of the earth, thus exposing the earth more to empty space. At 18:00 hours, most of the pizza (the area surrounding the galactic center) is directly overhead.

Nearly a decade ago, James P. Spottiswoode (1997a) of the Laboratories for Fundamental Research had examined performance on free-response ESP tests (e.g., ganzfeld telepathy, remote viewing) in relation to local sidereal time (LST), finding that the combined ESP result was best in the hour around 13:30 LST. Soon after, Spottiswoode (1997b) found in a follow-up study that the apparent inverse relation between ESP and the activity of the Earth’s magnetic field (ESP increases as the Earth’s magnetic field activity decreases) seemed to be centered around 13:30 LST.

In this latest study, Spottiswoode attempted to reproduce the ESP-LST finding again with Professor Peter Sturrock, an astrophysicist at Stanford University, using Spottiswoode’s original data along with data from recent ESP studies. Applying a complex series of algorithms that are designed to measure certain time-based patterns, they found a slight indication of the ESP-LST relation in this latest data, although it was not as strong by statistical standards of significance (the result had odds against chance of about 100 to 1, whereas Spottiswoode’s original finding had odds of about 1,000 to 1). Other algorithms they used found no sign of the relation, perhaps suggesting the possibility that the ESP-LST relation might actually be a statistical artifact. It is not clear either way, so the status of the actual nature of the relation remains up in the air (Sturrock & Spottiswoode, 2007).

But then some of the algorithms found that ESP performance may be modulated by lunar effects, following a time pattern similar to that of twice the lunar orbit around the Earth (the length of which is equal to the time for the moon’s phases). Sturrock and Spottiswoode (2007) are not exactly sure what the nature of the correlation they’ve found translates to (they suggested that it might be related to fluctuations in the Earth’s magnetic field that are in time with the moon, but further exploration did not seem to support this too strongly), so, as with the ESP-LST finding when it was initially uncovered, it not clear as to what the effect really represents, and we must be cautious. Still, along with retro-PK study by Etzold and the casino study by Radin and Rebman that I described in my last post, some evidence may be mounting to suggest that the effects of the moon on psi performance may be more evident than previously thought. Again, we’ll have to wait and see.

– Bryan


References (in order of text citation):

Spottiswoode, S. J. P. (1997a). Apparent association between effect size in free response anomalous cognition experiments and local sidereal time. Journal of Scientific Exploration 11(2), Summer. pp. 109 – 122.

Spottiswoode, S. J. P. (1997b). Geomagnetic fluctuations and free-response anomalous cognition: A new understanding. Journal of Parapsychology 61(1), March. pp. 3 – 12.

Sturrock, P. A., & Spottiswoode, S. J. P. (2007). Time-series spectrum analysis of performance in free response anomalous cognition experiments. Journal of Scientific Exploration 21(1), Spring. pp. 47 – 66.