Does Controversial Study Prove ESP is Real?

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(CBS) It's not every day that a respected medical journal publishes research which suggests extra sensory perception, or ESP, is real. Although one might imagine, if it's true, the psychics saw this coming.

According to the New York Times, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology plans to publish the results of nine experiments in which students seemed to beat chance in their knowledge of events yet to unfold.

The paper has already leaked to the web. You can find it here.

The experiments, run by well respected Cornell professor of psychology Daryl Bem, were conducted over a decade and involved more than a 1,000 students, presumably none of whom wore velvet capes or used crystal balls.

In one of them, as described by the Times, students were asked to choose which of two curtains on a computer screen hid a photograph. When the pictures were erotic, students beat chance 53 to 50 percent of the time. Boring pictures seemed to have no effect. Clearly because psychics can only sense really alluring content.

The other experiments weren't quite as titillating and Bem wanted it that way. He says he designed them to mimic classic memory experiments only with reversing the order to see if students could "remember" things before they happened.

It doesn't take a psychic to guess that many psychologists are up in arms. One group wrote a rather nasty rebuttal to Bem's study demanding that experiments like this one use stricter standards of evidence than other studies.

"In order to convince a skeptical audience of a controversial claim, one needs to conduct strictly con?rmatory studies and analyze the results with statistical tests that are conservative rather than liberal," they wrote.

In essence, if you don't like the results, change the test. On the other hand, they rather smartly point out, that weather agencies don't hire clairvoyants.

Yes, but if only they could find them.