2018, Vol. 82, Suppl., 118-146
Utts, J. (2018). An Assessment of the Evidence for Psychic Functioning. Journal of Parapsychology, 82, Suppl., 118-146. http://doi.org/10.30891/jopar.2018S.01.10
An Assessment of the Evidence for Psychic Functioning
University of California, Davis
Research on psychic functioning, conducted over a two-decade period, is examined to determine whether the phenomenon has been scientifically established. A secondary question is whether it is useful for government purposes. The primary work examined in this report was government-sponsored research conducted at Stanford Research Institute (later known as SRI International) and at Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). Using the standards applied to any other area of science, it is concluded that psychic functioning has been well established. The statistical results of the studies examined are far beyond what is expected by chance. Arguments that these results could be due to methodological flaws in the experiments are soundly refuted. Effects of a magnitude similar to those found in government-sponsored reasearch at SRI and SAIC have been replicated at a number of laboratories around the world. Such consistency cannot be readily explained by claims of flaws or fraud. The magnitude of psychic functioning exhibited appears to be in the range between what social scientists call a small and a medium effect. It is thus reliable enough to be replicated in properly conducted experiments, with sufficient trials to achive the long-run statistical results needed for replicability. A number of other patterns have been found, suggestive of how to conduct more productive experiments and to produce applied psychic functioning. For instance, it does not appear that a sender is needed. Precognition, in which the relevant information is known to no one until a future time, appears to work quite well. Recent experiments suggest that, if there is a psychic sense, it works much as our other five senses do, by detecting change. Physicists are currently grappling with an understanding of time, and it may be that a psychic sense scans the future for major change, much as our eyes scan the environment for visual change or our ears allow us to respond to sudden changes in sound.