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2016 Vol. 80(1) 37-44

John A. Palmer, Ph.D.
Parapsychology Press


Varvoglis, M. and Bancel, P. A. (2016). Micro-Psychokinesis: Exceptional or Universal? Journal of Parapsychology, 80(1), 37-44.


Micro-Psychokinesis: Exceptional or Universal?

Mario Varvoglis and Peter A. Bancel

Most psychokinesis studies fall within either an elitist research tradition, involving exceptional participants and focusing on directly perceptible, macro-PK effects; or a universalist approach, exploring subtle micro-PK effects through massive data collection from unselected participants. However, Helmut Schmidt’s highly significant body of micro-PK research was mostly elitist, involving intensive work with small numbers of selected individuals. We contrast his approach to that of the PEAR laboratory, with nearly 100 unselected participants and a highly standardized protocol. Although PEAR’s 12-year benchmark study did produce significant cumulative results, a carefully designed replication, involving three laboratories, was nonsignificant. We argue that this apparent failure to replicate was due to the erroneous assumption that the original PEAR data were homogeneous across participants, when in fact they were dominated by two extreme outliers who contributed nearly a quarter of the total data. By ignoring this, the replication employed an overestimation of the effect size for the original study and underestimated the power needed to replicate. We conclude that research generally supports the view that micro- PK is not widely distributed, but exceptional, and that it is unproductive to attempt to tease extremely weak effects out of unselected volunteers. Like Schmidt, investigators should focus on optimizing testing conditions and work intensely with selected participants.


micro-PK, RNG research, Schmidt, PEAR, experimenter effects

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