2016-3-1 UPDATE

Can the power of intentions change reality?

“Such an experiment could never possibly work!”
Could it be that the skeptical attitude of non-believers actually cause parapsychological experiments to fail?

When parapsychologists who research psychic powers perform experiments to study clairvoyance or precognition, the assumption is that the test subject possesses some kind of ability beyond the ordinary five human senses. If the experiment shows a significant result beyond the level ascribable to chance, this ought to prove the existence of paranormal powers, at least in theory. The experiments are rigorously designed, careful measures are taken so as not to let any kind of irregularities slip through, the results of the experiments are made public, and answers prepared to the expected criticism from skeptics and others who deny the existence of paranormal phenomena.

However, in a parapsychological experiment the mental states of the people involved play a huge role, and there is characteristically a dramatic gap between successes and failures. In the case of natural science experiments, things are much simpler. If an experiment is repeated in the same way under the same conditions, the same result should be obtained. But in the case of parapsychological experiments, exactly the same experiment performed on the same test subject under the same conditions may lead to very different results. This is a serious problem. Why does it sometimes work and sometimes not?

One idea is that the consciousness of people who totally deny the existence of paranormal phenomena somehow interferes with the experiment. “What a load of rubbish,” you may think, but remember the basic assumption of parapsychology mentioned above. If somebody has an “ability beyond the ordinary five human senses,” it is not so strange to imagine that that ability might also work so as to hamper the experiment itself. Parapsychological experiments tend to succeed more often when surrounded by people who understand the aims of such research, but if there is a single committed skeptic among them, the experiment is more likely to fail. This might perhaps be brushed aside as a persecution complex on behalf of the experimenters, but consider the following example.

At work, a group of employees have been assembled to execute a certain project. What they have been asked to do is clearly extremely difficult, and all of them grumble that it is downright impossible. It certainly isn’t easy. However, by joining their efforts and working hard together, they actually manage to pull off the seemingly impossible task. Succeeding by striving towards the same goal as with a single mind… This is something we have all experienced, isn’t it. One explanation for this phenomenon is that strongly focused intentions have the power to affect the real world.

If, on the other hand, the members of the group don’t manage to unite their minds and the project subsequently fails, there is invariably somebody who speaks up and says, “I for one never believed it would work.” Maybe it was that person’s intentions that actually prevented the project from succeeding!

Surely nobody denies that a strong determination is essential in order to accomplish anything. However, perhaps determination doesn’t mean only long and hard work, but even more the ability to attract success.