Scientific Papers on Telepathy

Automated Tests for Telephone Telepathy Using Mobile Phones

Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing (2015), 11 No. 4, 310-319
by Rupert Sheldrake, PhD, Pamela Smart and Leonidas Avraamides

Objective: To carry out automated experiments on mobile phones to test for telepathy in connection with telephone calls.

Study Method: Subjects, aged from 10 to 83, registered online with the names and mobile telephone numbers of three or two senders. A computer selected a sender at random, and asked him to call the subject via the computer. The computer then asked the subject to guess the caller's name, and connected the caller and the subject after receiving the guess. A test consisted of six trials.

Interactions Evaluated: The effects of subjects' sex and age and the effects of time delays on guesses.

Main Outcome Measure: The proportion of correct guesses of the caller's name, compared with the 33.3% or 50% mean chance expectations.

MainResults: In 2080 trials with three callers there were 869 hits (41.8%), above the 33.3% chance level (P < 1 x 1015). The hit rate in incomplete tests was 43.8% (P=.00003) showing that optional stopping could not explain the positive results. In 745 trials with two callers, there were 411 hits (55.2%), above the 50% chance level (P=.003). Ananalysis of the data made it very unlikely that cheating could explain the positive results. These experiments showed that automated tests for telephone telepathy can be carried out using mobile phones.

Telepathy in Connection with Telephone Calls, Text Messages and Emails

Journal of International Society of Life Information Science (2014), 32 No. 1, 7-15
by Rupert Sheldrake
In English and Japanese | PDF

Telepathy in connection with telephone calls is the commonest kind of apparent telepathy in the modern world. It usually occurs between people who have strong bonds or emotional connections with each other, such as parents and children, husbands and wives, and good friends. In experimental tests in which subjects had to identify who, out of four callers, was calling, the average scores were very significantly above the 25% hit rate expected by chance. The callers were selected at random, and the subjects made their guesses before answering the call. These positive results were replicated independently at the universities of Amsterdam, Holland, and Freiburg, Germany. Similar telepathic phenomena seem to occur in connection with emails and SMS messages. Experimental tests using all these methods gave significantly above-chance results. Versions of telephone and SMS tests designed to detect precognition, as opposed to telepathy, gave results at chance level, suggesting that the positive results in the telepathy tests were indeed a result of telepathy rather than precognition. Automated telepathy tests using mobile telephones now enable anyone to participate in this research. These forms of telepathy have evolved in connection with modern communication technologies and probably occur because people's intention to call or send a message can be detected telepathically before the call has been made or the message sent.

An Automated Test for Telepathy in Connection with Emails

Journal of Scientific Exploration (2009), 23 No. 1, 29-36
by Rupert Sheldrake and Leonidas Avraamides

Can people sense telepathically who is sending them an email before they receive it? Subjects, aged from 12 to 66, registered online with the names and email addresses of 3 senders. A computer selected a sender at random, and asked him to send an email message to the subject via the computer. The computer then asked the subject to guess the sender's name, and delivered the message after receiving the guess. A test consisted of 6 or 9 trials. In a total of 419 trials, including data from incomplete tests, there were 175 hits (41.8%), significantly above the 33.3% chance level (p = .0001). Hit rates in incomplete tests were higher than in complete tests. There was no significant difference between hit rates with male and female subjects. The highest hit rates were with subjects in the 20-29 age group. The effect size in these tests was lower than in previous telephone and email telepathy tests, in spite of the fact that they were unsupervised. One reason may be that the subjects were being asked to guess who had sent them a message several minutes earlier, rather than thinking about them simultaneously.

Sensing the Sending of SMS Messages: an automated test

Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing (2009) 5, 272-276
by Rupert Sheldrake, Leonidas Avraamides, and Matous Novák
Full Text PDF

Objective: To carry out automated experiments to test for telepathy in connection with text messages.

Method: Subjects, aged from 11 to 72, registered online with the names and mobile telephone numbers of 3 senders. A computer selected a sender at random, and asked him to send an SMS message to the subject via the computer. The computer then asked the subject to guess the sender's name, and delivered the message after receiving the guess. A test consisted of 9 trials.

Interactions evaluated: The effects of subjects' sex and age and the effects of delay on guesses.

Main outcome measure: The proportion of correct guesses of the sender's name, compared with the 33.3% mean chance expectation.

Results: In 886 trials there were 336 hits (37.9%), significantly above the 33.3% chance level (p = .001). The hit rate in incomplete tests was 38.4% (p = .03) showing that optional stopping could not explain the positive results. Most tests were unsupervised, which left open the possibility of cheating, but high-scoring subjects were retested under filmed conditions, where no cheating was detected, with 19 hits in 43 trials (44.2%; p = 0.09).

Key words: SMS messages, telepathy, ESP, automated test, internet experiment.

A Rapid Online Telepathy Test

Psychological Reports (2009)Vol 104 957-970
by Rupert Sheldrake and Ashwin Beharee
Full Text PDF

In an automated online telepathy test, each participant had four senders, two actual and two virtual, generated by the computer. In a series of twelve 30-second trials, the computer selected one of the senders at random and asked him to write a message to the subject. After 30 seconds, the participant was asked to guess who had written a message. After the computer had recorded his guess it sent him the message. In a total of 6,000 trials there were 1599 hits (26.7%), significantly above the chance expectation of 25%. In filmed tests the hit rate was very similar. The hit rate with actual senders was higher than with virtual senders, but there was a strong guessing bias in favour of actual senders. When high-scoring subjects were retested, hit rates generally declined, but one subject repeatedly scored above chance.

An Automated Online Telepathy Test

Journal of Scientific Exploration (2007) Vol 21 No 3, 511-522
by Rupert Sheldrake and Michael Lambert

This paper describes an automated online telepathy test in which each receiver had four senders. In a series of 10 trials the computer picked on of the senders at random and asked her to write a short message to the receiver. At the end of the one-minute trial period, the receiver was asked to guess which sender had written a message, and she received the message only after this guess had been recorded by the computer. The receivers chose their own senders when they registered for the test. If they chose only two or three, the computer supplied virtual senders so that there were four senders altogether. In a total of 1,980 trials there were 581 hits (29%), significantly above the chance expectation of 25% (p = 0.000006). In tests with two real and two virtual senders, there were significantly more hts with real than virtual senders. Receivers had significantly higher hit rates with family members than with non-family members. Cheating seems unlikely, but it could not be ruled out, and for evidential purposes the hit rates can be regarded as suggestive only. Telepathy could provide on possible explanation for the above-chance results, but other forms of ESP could not be eliminated.

Testing for Telepathy in Connection with E-Mails

Perceptual and Motor Skills (2005), 101, 771-786
by Rupert Sheldrake and Pamela Smart
Full Text PDF

This study investigated possible telepathic communication in connection with e-mails. On each trial, there were four potential e-mailers, one of whom was selected at random by the experimenter. One minute before a prearranged time at which the e-mail was to be sent, the participant guessed who would send it. 50 participants (29 women and 21 men) were recruited through an employment web site. Of 552 trials, 235 (43%) guesses were hits, significantly above the chance expectation of 25%. Further tests with 5 participants (4 women, 1 man, ages 16 to 29) were videotaped continuously. On the filmed trials, the 64 hits of 137 (47%) were significantly above chance.

Videotaped Experiments on Telephone Telepathy

Journal of Parapsychology (2003) 67, 147-166
by Rupert Sheldrake and Pamela Smart
Full Text PDF

The authors tested whether participants (N = 4) could tell who was calling before answering the telephone. In each trial, participants had 4 potential callers, one of whom was selected at random by the experimenter. Participants were filmed on time-coded videotape throughout the experimental period. When the telephone began ringing, the participants said to the camera whom they thought the caller was and, in many cases, also how confident they felt in their guesses. The callers were usually several miles away, and in some cases thousands of miles away. By guessing at random, there was a 25% chance of success. In a total of 271 trials, there were 122 (45%) correct guesses (p = 10-12). The 95% confidence limits of this success rate were from 39% to 51%. In most trials, some of the callers were familiar to the participants and others were unfamiliar. With familiar callers there was a success rate of 61% (n = 100; p = 10-13). With unfamiliar callers the success rate of 20% was not significantly different from chance. When they said they were confident about their guesses, participants were indeed more successful than when they were not confident.

A Filmed Experiment on Telephone Telepathy with the Nolan Sisters

Journal of the Society for Psychical Research (2004) 68, 168-172
by Rupert Sheldrake, Hugo Godwin and Simon Rockell
Full Text PDF

The ability of people to guess who is calling on the telephone has recently been tested experimentally in more than 850 trials. The results were positive and hugely significant statistically. Participants had four potential callers in distant locations. At the beginning of each trial, remote from the participant, the experimenter randomly selected one of the callers by the throw of a die, and asked the chosen caller to ring the participant. When the phone rang, the participant guessed who the caller was before picking up the receiver.

By chance, about 25% of the guesses would have been correct. In fact, on average 42% were correct. The present experiment was an attempt to replicate previous tests, and was filmed for television. The participant and her callers were all sisters, formerly members of the Nolan Sisters band, popular in Britain in the 1980s. We conducted 12 trials in which the participant and her callers were 1 km apart. Six out of 12 guesses (50%) were correct. The results were significant at the p=0.05 level.

Investigaciones Experimentales En Telepatía Por Teléfono (in Spanish)

Revista Argentina de Psicología Paranormal 15 No.3-4, Julio-Octubre 2004
by Rupert Sheldrake
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Muchas personas afirman saber quien llama antes de atender el teléfono, o haber pensado en alguien sin razón aparente, y la persona luego llama. Llevamos cabo una serie de experimentos para testear si la gente podía o no decirnos realmente quien estaba llamando por teléfono. Cada participante tuvo cuatro posibles "llamadores" potenciales, y cuando el teléfono sonaba se les invitaba a decir quien estaba llamando antes que la otra persona hablara. La probabilidad estadística de éxito se calculó en un 25% de un total de 571 ensayos no videograbados, involucrando a 63 participantes. El resultado global fue del 40% con un 95% de confiabilidad dentro de los límites entre 36 a 45%. El efecto fue altamente significativo (p= 4x10-16 ). Investigamos subsiguientes pruebas con cuatro participantes bajo condiciones más rigurosas, de las cuales fueron videograbadas las sesiones experimentales, y estas videocintas evaluadas en forma independientemente por un sujeto a "ciegas" de los detalles experimentales. De un total de 271 ensayos videograbados, el rango de éxito fue de 45% (p= 1x10-12). El nivel de confiabilidad fue de un 95% dentro de un rango de éxito de entre el 39% al 51%. Los participantes tuvieron mucho más éxito con llamadas de familiares que con llamadas de extraños y esta diferencia fue estadísticamente significativa. No hubo efecto de declinación con la distancia, aún cuando algunos llamadores se encontraban a 18.000 km. de distancia. Estos efectos parecen ser inexplicables en términos de habiliades o fraude y produjo una fuerte evidencia de la realidad de la telepatía telefónica.

Experimental Research on Telephone Telepathy
Many people claim to have known who was calling before they picked up the telephone, or to have thought about someone for no apparent reason, and that person then called. We carried out a series of experiments to test whether or not people really could tell who was telephoning. Each participant had four potential callers, and when the telephone rang had to guess who was calling before the other person spoke. By chance the success rate would have been 25%. In a total of 571 non-videotaped trials, involving 63 participants, the overall success rate was 40%, with 95% confidence limits from 36 to 45%. This effect was highly significant statistically (p= 4x10-16). We then carried out further trials with four participants under more rigorous conditions in which they were videotaped throughout the experimental sessions, and the videotapes were evaluated independently by a person blind to the experimental details. In a total of 271 videotaped trials the success rate was 45% (p= 1x10-12). The 95% confidence limits of this success rate were from 39% to 51%. Participants were much more successful with familiar callers than unfamiliar callers, and this difference was highly significant statistically. There was no decline with distance, even when callers were 18.000 km. away. These effects do not seem to be explicable in terms of artefacts or cheating and provide strong evidence for the reality of telephone telepathy.

Experimental Tests for Telephone Telepathy

Journal of the Society for Psychical Research (July 2003) 67, 184-199
by Rupert Sheldrake and Pamela Smart
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Many people claim to have known who was calling before they picked up the telephone, or to have thought about someone for no apparent reason, who then called. We carried out a series of experiments to test whether or not people really could tell who was telephoning. Each participant had four potential callers, and when the telephone rang had to guess who was calling before the other person spoke. By chance the success rate would have been 25%. In a total of 571 trials, involving 63 participants, the overall success rate was 40%, with 95% confidence limits from 36 to 45%. This effect was hugely significant statistically (p = 4 x 10-16). We obtained similar positive effects when the calls were made at randomly chosen times, and when the calls were made at fixed times known to the subject in advance. With 37 participants, we compared the success rates with familiar and unfamiliar callers and found a striking difference. With familiar callers, 53% of the guesses were correct (n = 190; p = 1 x 10-16). With unfamiliar callers, only 25% of the guesses were correct, exactly at the chance level. This difference between the responses with familiar and unfamiliar callers was highly significant (p = 3 x 10-7). We also investigated the effects of distance between the callers and participants. With overseas callers at least 1,000 miles away, the success rate was 65% (n = 43; p = 3 x 10-8). With callers in Britain, the success rate was lower (35%). In most cases, the overseas callers were people to whom the participants were closely bonded. For the successful identification of callers, emotional closeness seemed to be more important than physical proximity.

Apparent Telepathy Between Babies and Nursing Mothers: A Survey

Journal of the Society for Psychical Research (2002) 66 181-185
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Some nursing mothers claim that when they are away from their baby they often know when their baby needs them because their milk lets down. Some are convinced that this response is telepathic. In order to find out more about this phenomenon, 100 mothers who had recently had babies were surveyed and asked a series of questions about their experiences when breastfeeding. 62% had experienced milk let-down when away from their babies and 16% had noticed that this seemed to coincide with their baby needing them. Most of these women breastfed their babies for more than six months. In addition, 3 women said they had felt there was something wrong with their baby when they were away from home, and found that it was indeed in distress because of a fall or other accident, and 5 women commented that they often woke up shortly before their baby needed them in the night.

The Anticipation of Telephone Calls: A Survey in California

Journal of Parapsychology (2001) 65 145-156
by David Jay Brown and Rupert Sheldrake
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200 randomly-selected people were surveyed in Santa Cruz County, California to investigate the frequency and nature of anticipations of telephone calls. 78% of the people surveyed said that they have had the experience of telephoning someone who said that they were just thinking about telephoning them. 47% of the respondents said that they had had the experience of knowing who was calling them when the phone rang without any possible cue. 68% of those surveyed said that they had thought about a person that they haven't seen for a while, who had then telephoned them that same day. A higher proportion of women than men gave positive answers to these questions. These results are in general agreement with two previous surveys in England, although there were several significant differences, which we discuss. These surveys reveal that seemingly telepathic experiences in connection with telephone calls are remarkably common. We suggest ways that this phenomenon can be investigated empirically.

Telepathic Telephone Calls: Two Surveys

Journal of the Society for Psychical Research (2000) 64 224-232
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Many people claim to have thought about a particular person who then calls them on the telephone. Through informal surveys I have found that seemingly telepathic telephone calls are common. Two telephone surveys were carried out in London and Bury to investigate the frequency of these experiences in a random sample of the population. In both surveys, half the respondents said they had felt that someone was about to telephone them just before they did. In Bury, 45 per cent of the respondents said they had thought about a person they had not seen for a while who then telephoned the same day, and two thirds of the Bury respondents said they had telephoned people who said they were just thinking about telephoning them. In Bury, 37 per cent of respondents who said they had know in advance who was calling without any possible clue said this happened often. In both surveys significantly more women than men gave positive responses, and in both surveys more pet owners than people without pets gave positive responses. In London significantly more people claimed to have anticipated telephone calls that to have had psychic experiences. Telepathic telephone calls may be one of the commonest kinds of psychic experience in the modern world, and I suggest ways in which they can be investigated empirically.

Related Research by Others
Do You Know Who is Calling? : Experiments on Anomalous Cognition in Phone Call Receivers

The Open Psychology Journal, 2009, 2, 12-18
by Schmidt S.; Erath D.; Ivanova Vm; Walach H.

Many people report that they know in advance who is on the phone when the telephone is ringing. Sheldrake and Smart [1, 2] conducted experiments where participants had to determine which one of four possible callers is on the phone while the telephone was still ringing. They report highly significant hit rates that cannot be explained by conventional theories.

We attempted to replicate these findings in a series of three experiments. In study one, 21 participants were asked to identify the callers of 20 phone calls each. Overall 26.7 % were identified correctly (mean chance expectation 25%, ns). In a second study a pre-selection test was introduced in a different experimental setting. Eight participants identified 30% of the calls correctly (p = .15). However one of the participants recognized 10 out of 20 calls correctly (p = .014). We conducted a third study with only this participant. In an additional 60 trials she could identify 24 callers correctly (p = .007). We conclude that we could not find any anomalous cognition effect in self-selected samples. But our data also strongly suggest that there are a few participants who are able to score reliably and repeatedly above chance.

Who's Calling At This Hour? : Local Sidereal Time and Telephone Telepathy

by Eva Lobach and Dick J. Bierman, University of Amsterdam
Paper presented at the Parapsychology Association Annual Convention, Vienna, August 2004

Can we guess who is calling us on the phone before picking up, and does local sidereal time (LST) affect how often we guess right? Reviews of anomalous cognition studies have shown that effect sizes are highest around 13.30 LST (Spottiswoode, 1997). A post-hoc analysis of telephone telepathy data of Sheldrake (2003) also showed a peak at that time. LST (peak or non-peak) was an independent variable in our prospective telephone telepathy study. Six women who indicated they often experienced telephone telepathy were selected to participate. Each participant chose four close friends or relatives to act as callers. All completed a total of 36 trials; six sessions of six trials each, three sessions at peak time (between 8.00 and 9.00 local time) and three at non-peak time (between 17.30 and 18.30 local time). One of the experimenters was at the participant's home during the sessions. The experimenter made sure no irregular communication was going on and logged times of the calls and responses of the participant. At a different location another experimenter used a dice to select a caller about five minutes before the scheduled trial. Then he or she contacted the caller who was asked to call the participant in five minutes and to concentrate his or her thoughts on the participant for the last two minutes before the call was made. When the phone rang at the participant's home, the participant guessed who she thought was calling before picking up. Analyses show a significant over-all scoring rate of 29.4% (p = .05). Almost all of this effect originates from the sessions at peak time with a scoring rate of 34.6%. Exploratory analyses show that a stronger emotional bond between particpant and caller is associated with a higher hitrate. It is concluded that results provide tentative support for the hypothesis that Local Sidereal Time is related to a phenomenon like telephone telepathy. In addition, the results are in support of the existence of telephone telepathy. Other explanations of the anomalous effect cannot be ruled out, such as precognition, retro psychokinesis by the experimenter or the participant so the dice throw would coincide with the particular caller the participant would guess, or clairvoyance of the dice throws. Future studies should aim at teasing apart the supposed effects of LST and local time on 'telephone telepathy.'

Revista Argentina de Psicología Paranormal. , . 15, No.3-4, Julio-Octubre 2004
by Rupert Sheldrake


Aparentemente la experiencia telepática con teléfonos es común. Mucha gente no encontró razón alguna para pensar en una persona en particular, entonces el teléfono suena y la persona está en línea. O también cuando el teléfono empieza a sonar tienen un saber intuitivo acerca de quién está llamando, y resulta ser correcto.

Tales experiencias son el tipo más común de telepatía en el mundo moderno (Sheldrake, 2000, 2003, Brown & Sheldrake, 2001). Sorprendentemente, los investigadores psíquicos y parapsicólogos parecen haber ignorado este fenómeno. Estudios en Gran Bretaña, Alemania, Estados Unidos y Argentina generalmente han mostrado que la telepatía telefónica por lo general ocurre entre personas que están estrechamente emparentadas, como los miembros de una familia y los amigos más cercanos (Sheldrake, 2003).

¿Podría ser la telepatía telefónica una cuestión de mera coincidencia? Quizá las personas tienen pensamientos sobre otros sin razón alguna. Acaso estos pensamientos suelen ser seguidos por una llamada telefónica de esa persona. Si las personas sólo recuerdan las veces que aciertan y se olvidan de las veces que se equivocan, podemos considerarlo una ilusión de telepatía por una combinación de coincidencia y memoria selectiva.

Una alternativa es que la persona puede estar esperando la llamada en un momento en particular de una persona en particular, pero puede ser inconsciente de esa expectativa. Para cuando la llamada llega, no hay ninguna necesidad de pensar que se trató de una telepatía porque podría explicarse por una expectativa inconsciente. El problema es que estas expectativas inconscientes son escurridizas. De hecho, ésta puede ser una hipótesis inconcebible, porque si las expectativas de llamadas telefónicas son inconscientes, ¿cómo se puede demostrar que realmente estén allí? ¿Y si realmente están allí, podrían ser entonces el resultado de telepatía, en lugar de una alternativa a este fenómeno?

La manera mejor de responder estas preguntas es por medio de pruebas experimentales que puedan evaluarse estadísticamente. He desarrollado un procedimiento simple en el que los participantes (presuntos receptores psi) reciben una llamada de uno de cuatro diferentes sujetos "llamadores." Saben quienes son los potenciales llamadores, pero no quien llamará en un momento dado, porque el llamador fue escogido al azar por el experimentador. Los participantes tienen que suponer quien de los llamadores es el que llama antes de que éste diga algo. La casualidad de que pudieran acertar es de una en cuatro, o sea el 25% de las veces. ¿Están los participantes significativamente en lo correcto por encima de lo que se esperaría por azar?

En este trabajo describiré los resultados de más de 800 ensayos. Los resultados fueron estadísticamente muy positivos y sumamente significativos.


En un experimento preliminar, mi ayudante en esta investigación, Pam Smart, sirvió como participante y yo como experimentador. Para los próximos experimentos, ella y yo convocamos a los participantes por medio de la sección del periódico de los anuncios de trabajo de jornada incompleta o a través de un sitio web llamado Intentamos deliberadamente encontrar a participantes que pensaban que tenían esta habilidad en la vida real. Nuestros anuncios decían: "¿Sabe usted quién está llamando antes de que usted descuelgue el teléfono?" Buena paga por divertirse en experimentos simples como parte de un proyecto de investigación psíquica."

Inicialmente ofrecimos un pago de £10 por una sesión de dos ensayos, y después £10 para una sesión de un ensayo. Les enviamos detalles del procedimiento de prueba a las personas que contestaron a estos anuncios, y les pedimos que nombren a las personas a cuyos llamados pensaron que ellos podrían contestar. Les pedimos que verificaran si estas personas estaban deseosas de formar parte, y les pedimos que nos proporcionaran detalles y números de teléfono de dichos contactos. También les pedimos a los participantes que nos dijeran cuando ellos podrían tomar parte en las pruebas, y verificar así que los llamadores podrían libremente llamarlos en esos momentos. Era responsabilidad de los participantes asegurar que sus llamadores estuvieran disponibles, y que no se les pagaría por un ensayo si las llamadas no se hacían. De hecho, en la mayoría de los casos todos los llamadores estaban disponibles, y si no fuese así, el ensayo sería cancelado.

Algunos participantes eran incapaces de completar la serie de diez ensayos por una variedad de razones, cambios en su vida personal, como empezar un trabajo de jornada completa, o porque uno o más de sus llamadores era incapaces de continuar el experimento. Con suerte, todos los participantes pudieron completar la totalidad de los 10 ensayos, y evitar la posibilidad de interrumpir de parte de aquellos participantes que no estaban puntuando los niveles esperados y que pudieran rechazar hacer más pruebas. Pero si esto hubiera pasado no habría sido raro en absoluto La mayoría de los participantes que no completaron la totalidad de los 10 ensayos se los desechó porque uno o más de sus llamadores era incapaz o no tenía voluntad continuar el experimento.

Los llamadores
Para algunos de nuestros experimentos, les pedimos a los participantes que nombraran a los cuatro llamadores. Esto restringió el número de solicitantes que pudieron participar, porque la mayoría era incapaz de encontrar a cuatro personas a quienes ellos imaginaban que podrían responder telepáticamente y quienes podían y querían tomar parte. En otros experimentos les pedimos a los participantes que nombraran un mínimo de dos llamadores, y les proporcionamos los otros, que eran desconocidos para los participantes. Este procedimiento tenía la ventaja de permitirnos reclutar más participantes, y también nos permitió comparar sus respuestas a los llamadores conocidos o no conocidos La mayoría de las personas nombró sólo a dos llamadores, pero algunos nombraron tres, y el número total de ensayos con llamadores conocidos fue mayor que con llamadores desconocidos.

Para cada ensayo, había cuatro llamadores potenciales. Los participantes supieron quienes eran y también supieron que uno de ellos sería seleccionado al azar arrojando un dado. Usamos dados de alta calidad comprados en Las Vegas. A cada uno de los llamadores potenciales se les asignó un número del 1 al 4, seleccionado por la tirada del dado que mostraba uno de estos números. Si el dado mostraba 5 o 6, se tiraba de nuevo hasta que diera un número entre 1 y 4.

Llevamos a cabo pruebas en las que algunos de los llamadores potenciales eran familiares o amigos, elegidos por los participantes. Otros eran personas (no familiares) cuyos nombres los participantes conocían pero con quienes ellos nunca se habían encontrado.

En todos los casos los participantes usaron teléfonos de línea sin sistema de identificación de llamada. Usamos cuatro procedimientos diferentes e involucramos simplificaciones progresivas y también un nivel de rigurosidad progresivo.

  1. En el Método 1, los participantes hacian dos ensayos por sesión. Las dos llamadas se seleccionaron al azar con dos tiros de dado (ignorando los números 5 y 6). Si el dado mostraba el mismo número dos veces, entonces la misma persona era llamador en ambos ensayos. También se seleccionaron al azar los números de los ensayos. No se dijo a los participantes en qué momento se harían las llamadas, aunque por supuesto, ellos sabían que ocurrirían dentro de la sesión de prueba. Las sesiones de prueba normalmente eran de una hora de duración, comenzando y terminando en momentos acordados de antemano con participantes y llamadores. Se escogieron los momentos de las llamadas al azar, la sesión fue dividida en 6, y el inicio de uno de estos periodos se seleccionó mediante el tiro de un dado. Por ejemplo, si la sesión de prueba fuera de 10 a 11am, los seis periodos empezarían con intervalos de 10 minutos comenzando a las 10.10. Así, si el dado mostrara 4, entonces la prueba con el primer llamador seleccionado sería a las 10.40. Se tiró entonces el dado de nuevo para seleccionar el tiempo de prueba con el segundo llamador seleccionado. Si surgía 1, éste sería a las 10.10am. El experimentador (Pam Smart o yo) telefoneamos a los llamadores seleccionados al azar de antemano, normalmente una hora o dos de antemano, y les pedimos que llamaran en el momento seleccionado. Les pedimos a los llamadores que pensaran en el participante durante aproximadamente un minuto antes de llamar. También llamamos a los llamadores que no habían sido seleccionados para decirles que ellos no estaban involucrados en esta sesión de prueba. Cuando el teléfono sonó, el participante recogía el tubo y inmediatamente indicaba su suposición diciendo el nombre de la persona. El llamador revelaba entonces su identidad, para que los participantes recibieran una realimentación inmediata. Minutos después de las pruebas, los experimentadores llamaron al participante para preguntarle cuál había sido su suposición, y en algunos casos también se les preguntó a los llamadores. En ningún caso, los llamadores y los participantes discreparon. Los experimentadores grabaron los resultados y anotaron abajo la fecha y el horario de cada ensayo, los llamadores y la suposición. Este método se usó en nuestro experimento preliminar y en nuestra primera serie con 17 participantes, en un total de 198 ensayos.

  2. El Método 2 fue similar al Método 1 pero involucró una simplificación del procedimiento a través del uso de horarios fijos para los dos ensayos en la sesión, por ejemplo a las 10.15 y 10.30 AM. Al primer llamador en ser seleccionado se le pidió llamar a las 10.15, y al segundo (con una posibilidad de 1 en 4 que fuera de nuevo la misma persona) que llamara a las 10.30. Se llamó a estas personas de antemano a la sesión de prueba y se les dijo que habían sido seleccionados y cuándo debían llamar. Se llamó a aquellos que no habían sido seleccionados y se les dijo que no habían sido seleccionados. Los experimentadores grabaron las suposiciones como en el método 1. Usamos este método en 87 ensayos.

  3. En el Método 3, había sólo un ensayo por sesión. Los experimentadores seleccionaron al azar al llamador 15 minutos antes del momento de la prueba arreglada de antemano. Por ejemplo, se le dijo al llamador que la hora de la prueba era 2.30pm, entonces se seleccionó al azar a las 2.15pm, y se lo notificó antes de las 2.20pm. Usamos este método con 37 participantes. Les dijimos a los llamadores que si no eran notificados 5 minutos antes del momento de la prueba, significaba entonces que no habían sido seleccionados. Esta simplificación hizo posible conducir una serie separada de ensayos en una única sesión rápidamente, normalmente 5 ensayos por sesión a intervalos de 15 minutos. Los experimentadores grabaron los resultados de las pruebas igual que en el método 1.

  4. En el Método 4, los cuatro llamadores estaban en la misma situación, junto con el experimentador, operadores de video independientes filmados continuamente al participante y a los cuatro llamadores. Las películas se editaron luego en un formato de pantalla dividida sincronizada en el que el participante puede verse a un lado de la pantalla y los llamadores al otro.

Ensayos videograbados
En los ensayos, se videograbó continuamente a los participantes durante la sesión experimental. La cámara de video estaba fija en posición como para que el teléfono sea claramente visto. Para los Métodos 1 a 3, los mismos participantes encendieron la videocámara al inicio de la sesión y lo apagaron después de terminar el ensayo. Cuando un tape terminaba, se enviaba por correo a Pam Smart. En todos los casos, los ensayos se filmaron en el video con la fecha y la hora codificada en la película.

Cuando el teléfono empezaba a sonar, el participante decía su afirmación (p.ej. "llama X") a la cámara antes de atender el teléfono. Además, en algunos ensayos, a los participantes se les pidió también valorar el nivel de confianza de su afirmación, siendo "seguro", "no muy seguro" o "adivinando." Inmediatamente al atender el teléfono de nuevo los participantes decían su afirmación en voz alta diciendo el nombre de la persona antes de atender. Los llamadores revelaban luego su identidad para que los participantes recibieran realimentación inmediata. En la mayoría de los casos, los participantes estaban solos en su casa o departamento durante los ensayos. Sin embargo, durante algunos ensayos con Sue Hawksley, su hija (de 8 años de edad), estaba presente en la casa, y en uno de los ensayos con Thomas Marcovici, su padre estaba en casa pero en un cuarto diferente. En el resto de los ensayos, Scott Reeves y Claire Morsman estaban solos.

Una persona independiente del experimento, que no sabia detalles de las pruebas ni tampoco sabía quién estaba llamando o cuando llamarían, evaluó los vídeos "a ciegas" con la hora codificada. Esta persona grabó las afirmaciones de los participantes y sus comentarios, y los horarios en que lo hicieron. También se ocupó de controlar si había alguna otra llamada telefónica, o si el participante salía de cámara, en cualquier etapa del experimento. Se inhabilitó cualquier ensayo en el que los participantes recibían otras llamadas o salían del rango de la cámara.

Para la comprobar la hipótesis de que el porcentaje de afirmaciones correctas estaría por encima del nivel de probabilidad de .25, o sea el 25%, usamos el test del binomio exacto (Siegel & Castellan, 1988). La hipótesis nula era que la probabilidad de que una afirmación debía ser de .25 o 25%.

En la comparación de los resultados de diferentes experimentos usamos el método de Stouffer (Rosenthal, 1991).

En la comparación de resultados con llamadores conocidos o no conocidos, o los resultados en los ensayos primero y segundo, usamos el test de exactitud de Fisher (Siegel & Castellan, 1988). Para comparar los rangos de éxito en los ensayos con la autoevaluación de la confianza del participante usamos el test de tendencia de Cochran & Armitage (Agresti, 2002).

Calculamos exactamente en 95% los límites de la verdadera probabilidad de una respuesta correcta, así descrito por Hahn & Meeker (1991).


Experimentos que no fueron videograbados
En un total de 571 ensayos no videograbados, con 63 participantes, el porcentaje de éxito global fue de 40%, con 95% de confiabilidad en el rango límite entre el 36 al 45%. Este efecto era estadísticamente muy significativo (p= 4x10 -16 ) y se pueden encontrar mayores detalles en otro artículo publicado en inglés (Sheldrake & Smart, 2003a).

En los ensayos del Método 1, se seleccionaron los horarios en que las llamadas fueron realizadas al azar, y los participantes no sabían cuando ocurrirían las llamadas. Diseñamos este procedimiento para simular una situación de la vida real en la que las personas normalmente no reciben llamadas en momentos arreglados de antemano. En los otros ensayos, los siguientes Métodos 2 y 3, las llamadas se hicieron en momentos prestablecidos, sabiendo de antemano quienes eran los participantes. El uso de tiempos preestablecidos simplificó el procedimiento experimental, aunque era más artificial. Para averiguar qué efecto provocó esta diferencia del procedimiento en los resultados, comparamos los resultados globales del Método 1 con aquellos de los Métodos 2 y 3 (Tabla 1). y no hubo ninguna diferencia significativa. El porcentaje de éxito era casi idéntica con ambos métodos: 39.9% correcto con horarios al azar, y 40.3% correcto con horarios fijos conocidos de antemano por los participantes.


(MÉTODOS 2 Y 3).

Método Ensayos Aciertos % de Aciertos p
Horarios al azar 198 79 39.9 3x10-6
Horarios fijos 355 143 40.3 4x10-15
Total 553 222 40.1 4x10-15

En los métodos 1 y 2, los participantes recibieron dos llamadas durante cada sesión experimental, y los se notificó a los llamadores antes que comenzara la sesión. Ahora bien, el primer llamador podría darle alguna pista plausible al participante acerca de la identidad del próximo llamador, aunque les habíamos pedido específicamente a los llamadores que no lo hicieran. Por ejemplo, cuando el mismo llamador había sido escogido para ambas llamadas, podría haber indicado que estaría llamando de nuevo pronto. O quizás el primer llamador podría haber indicado consciente o inconscientemente que alguien más estaría haciendo la próxima llamada. En este caso, los participantes habrían estado escogiendo de entre 3 potenciales llamadores, en lugar de 4, y así las probabilidades de éxito de las afirmaciones serían más altas.

Comparamos los resultados con el primer y el segundo llamador en aquellos experimentos en los que se llevaron a cabo los Métodos 1 y 2. Los datos se presentan en la Tabla 2. Si por alguna razón hubiera habido una fuga de información de parte de los primeros llamadores, el porcentaje de éxito en las segundas llamadas debió haber sido más alto que las primeras. De hecho, fue ligeramente más alta, 43% contra 35%. Sin embargo esta diferencia no fue estadísticamente significativa (por el test de exactitud de Fisher, p= .10). También, cualquier fuga de información entre el primer y el segundo ensayo no debería considerarse por los éxitos en los primeros ensayos que estuvieron significativamente por encima de lo esperable.



Ensayos Ensayos Aciertos % de Aciertos p
Primero 145 51 35 0.004
Segundo 138 60 43 2x10-6
Total 283 111 39 1x10-7

Los datos representan el total de los 24 participantes (incluyendo el experimento preliminar con P.S.). En unos pocos casos el segundo ensayo no tuvo resultados, en cambio hubo más resultados en el primero que en el segundo ensayo. El posible problema de fuga de información no se descubrió con el Método 3, cuando hubo sólo una llamada por sesión. Llevamos a cabo 186 ensayos por este método en el cual 79 (42%) fueron aciertos (Sheldrake y Smart, 2003b). Este resultado fue estadísticamente muy significativo (p= 1x10-7).

Los efectos de la distancia
Para averiguar si la distancia puede tener algún efecto en la habilidad de los participantes de identificar a los llamadores, seleccionamos a los participantes en el extranjero, como amigos o miembros de la familia. Los llamadores extranjeros estaban a 1.500 km. (en Grecia) y a 18.000 km. (en Australia).

Estos participantes tuvieron éxito con llamadores en el extranjero, con 28 afirmaciones correctas de 43 (65%), un resultado sumamente significativo (p= 3x10-8). Con llamadores en Gran Bretaña, el porcentaje de éxito fue más baja (35%). En la mayoría de los casos, los llamadores en el extranjero eran las personas con quienes los participantes estaban más estrechamente relacionados, como madres y novios, considerando que éste no fue el caso con la mayoría de los llamadores en Gran Bretaña. Este resultado implica que para la identificación exitosa de los llamadores, la cercanía emocional era más importante que la proximidad física (Sheldrake y Smart, 2003a).

Comparación de llamadores familiares y no familiares
Con 37 participantes, comparamos los resultados con llamadores familiares y no familiares. En conjunto 101 de un total de 190 (53%) de las afirmaciones con llamadores familiares fueron correctas (p= 1x10-16), mientras que con los llamadores no familiares, sólo 33 de 132 (25%) afirmaciones resultaron correctas (Sheldrake y Smart, 2003a). Esta diferencia entre las respuestas con llamadores familiares y no familiares fue muy significativo (p= 3x10-7)

Experimentos Videograbados
En total, administramos 294 ensayos de telepatía telefónica videograbados, de los que se eliminaron 23 porque los participantes salieron de la cámara en algun momento o recibieron llamadas no esperadas durante el periodo experimental. De los 271 participantes de los ensayos restantes, 122 (45%) tuvieron éxito por encima del nivel de probabilidad del 25%. La importancia estadística de este resultado es enorme (p= 1x10-12). El 95% de confiabilidad fue el resultado de este porcentaje de éxito entre los rangos límite de 39% a 51%. Estos ensayos se describen en detalle en Sheldrake y Smart (2003b).

La participante con quien más experimentamos fue Sue Hawksley (SH), quien participó en varios métodos diferentes de ensayos videograbados controlados. Con llamadas en horarios elegidos al azar (Método 1) Sue obtuvo éxito en 18 de 32 ensayos (56%; p= .0002). Con dos llamadas por sesión en horarios fijos (Método 2), obtuvo 28 respuestas correctas de 64 (44%; p= .0005). Con una llamada por sesión (Método 3), obtuvo 30 respuestas correctas en 70 ensayos (43%; p= 0.0008). Y con el Método 4, con cuatro llamadores en el mismo lugar, siendo los llamadores filmados continuamente, obtuvo 8 respuestas correctas de 17 (47%; p= .04).

Además experimentamos con otros tres participantes usando el Método 3, y dos de ellos tuvieron un puntaje significativo por encima de lo esperado por azar (Tabla 3).



Participantes Ensayos Aciertos % de Aciertos p
SH Método 1 32 18 56 0.0002
SH Método 2 64 28 44 0.0005
SH Método 3 70 30 43 0.0008
SH Método 4 17 8 47 0.04
S. Reeves 30 12 40 0.05
C. Morsman 30 10 33 0.20
T. Marcovici 28 16 57 0.0003
Total 271 122 45 1x10-12

Confianza y éxito
Después de que Sue Hawksley había iniciado la primera serie de ensayos videograbados, nos dijo que a veces se sentía más segura sobre sus afirmaciones que en otros momentos. Para explorar si estos sentimientos se relacionaban con la exactitud de sus afirmaciones, le pedimos que diga a la cámara cuanta confianza sintió cuando hacía sus afirmaciones. Había tres calidades de confianza, "muy segura," "no muy segura," y "simplemente adivinando." En total, Sue dijo la confianza que sintió en los 144 ensayos. Sus evaluaciones de confianza se transcribieron del vídeo.

Los resultados mostraron que cuando Sue pensaba que simplemente estaba afirmando, de hecho alcanzaba sólo el 29% de éxito, no significativamente más alto que el nivel de probabilidad del 25%. Cuando decia que no estaba segura, tuvo la razón en 35% de las veces, significativamente más alta que la probabilidad, pero no mucho más. Cuando ella se sentía segura del éxito espectacular que tenía, acertaba el 82% de las veces, con una probabilidad de billones contra uno (Tabla 4) de que estos resultados se deban solamente al azar.

La diferencia entre su tasa de éxito, cuando estaba "muy segura," "no muy segura" y "simplemente adivinando", era muy significativa (usando el test de Cochran y Armitage, p= .00003).



Confianza Ensayos Aciertos % de Aciertos p
Muy Segura 28 23 32 3.6x10-10
No Muy Segura 95 33 35 0.02
Simplemente adivinsndo 21 5 29 n.s.

* Entre su confianza y su éxito en aquellas afirmaciones acerca de quién estaba llamando en los 144 ensayos videograbados.

Llamadores familiares y no familiares
De acuerdo a los resultados de los ensayos no videograbados, los participantes tuvieron más éxito con los familiares como llamadores que con los no familiares. En las pruebas con Sue Hawksley se usó el Método 3. Hubo dos llamadores familiares y dos no familiares. Con los llamadores familiares, Sue acertó 25 de 35 veces (71%; p=1x10-8). Con los llamadores no familiares acertó sólo 5 de 35 veces (14%), lo cual no fue un resultado significativo. Cuando se probó con el Método 4, Sue tuvo nuevamente mayor éxito con llamadores familiares, acertó 7 contra 13 veces (54%; p= .02); con su llamador no familiar acertó solo 1 de 4 ensayos, siendo el nivel de probabilidad de 25%.

Los otros participantes también resultaron más exitosos con los llamadores familiares que con los no familiares, como se presenta en la Tabla 5. Los detalles completos se encuentran en otro artículo (Sheldrake y Smart, 2003b). Desde un punto devista global, del total de 100 llamadas de los llamadores familiares, 61 fueron correctos (61%). De un total de 75 llamadas no familiares, sólo 15 fueron correctas (20%). Esta diferencia fue muy significativa (p= 1x10-7).



Participantes Familiar % de Aciertos No Familiar % de Aciertos p de la diferencia
SH Método 3 71 14 0.000001
SH Método 4 54 25 n.s.
S. Reeves 47 31 n.s.
C. Morsman 41 23 n.s.
T. Marcovici 78 20 0.005
TOTAL 61 20 0.0000001

Una Repetición Televisada
En el 2003, el Canal 5 de la TV británica, me pidió una repetición filmada de mis pruebas de telepatía telefónica. Los productores de TV querian dirigir el ensayo con celebridades de la TV. Yo señalé que las celebridades debían conocerse muy bien entre si; la telepatía no funciona bien con extraños. Convocaron a cinco miembros de un conjunto de musica, las hermanas Nolan, que fueron bien conocidas en Gran Bretaña en los años ochenta. Estas hermanas están estrechamente relacioandas a nivel emocional y estuvieron durante meses trabajando juntas en la plenitud de su fama. Aun viven cerca nuestro, a unos pocos kilómetros.

Para este experimento, las hermanas Nolan, Ana, Maureen, Linda, Denise y Colleen, y yo nos encontramos en un pub en Poland Street, en el Soho de Londres, la mañana del Domingo 27 de Abril del 2003. El pub se alquiló especialmente para este propósito, y no estaba abierto al público en ese momento. Los ensayos se llevaron a cabo según el Método 4, antes desrito (ver detalles completos en Sheldrake, Godwin y Rockell, 2004).

En cámara, les expliqué a las hermanas Nolan cómo iba a realizarse el experimento. Todos estaban familiarizados con casos de telepatía telefónica y la mayoría aparentemente había tenido experiencias telepáticas. Sólo Ana era escéptica de su realidad. Les pedí que escogieran cuál de ellas serviría como participante y escogieron a Colleen, la más joven, que fue llevada en automóvil a un cuarto privado, alquilado para este propósito, en el Strand Palace Hotel, aproximadamente a 1 km. de distancia. Para este experiment, usamos líneas directas sin identificadores de llamadas. El teléfono en el cuarto del hotel era una línea directa que no pasaba por el panel de distribución en la conserjería del hotel.

Durante los ensayos, algunos miembros del equipo de producción estaban en el pub con las cuatro llamadoras y yo. Otros estaban en el cuarto con Colleen en el Strand Palace Hotel. En ambas locaciones, los cameraman, sonidistas y el resto del personal de televisión dieron testimonio de lo que pasó. A nadie se le permitió usar teléfonos móviles durante los ensayos experimentales.

Ante cada ensayo, las cuatro llamadoras potenciales y yo nos sentamos alrededor de una mesa en la que había un teléfono. A cada una de las cuatro llamadoras se les asignó un número del 1 a 4. Yo escogí a la llamadora al azar, tirando un dado.

Cuando seleccionamos a la llamadora, las otras tres hermanas y yo salimos y fuimos a un cuarto arriba, donde charlamos sobre otros asuntos e intentamos evitar pensar en Colleen. Las tres hermanas estuvieron continuamente conmigo, y no hicieron ninguna llamada telefónica. La llamadora seleccionada pensó en Colleen, y se le pidió llamarla en un momento determinado. En el momento especificado, la llamadora marcó el número del cuarto de Colleen en el Strand Palace Hotel. A Colleen no se le dijo a que hora exacta se haría la llamada. Cuando su teléfono sonó, ella dijo quién pensó que estaba llamando, y se le pidió hacer esto antes de atender el teléfono. Se filmaron a la llamadora y a Colleen continuamente en un videotape con el horario codificado.

Se realizaron ensayos con aproximadamente 5 minutos de intervalos entre las 2.30pm y las 3.40pm. Como se había acordado de antemano, llevamos a cabo doce ensayos en total. De los 12 ensayos realizados, Colleen identificó correctamente quién estaba llamando en 6 (50%; p= .05).


Los resultados de estas pruebas de telepatía telefónica parecen ofrecer fuerte evidencia experimental en favor de la telepatía. Sin duda, los escépticos considerarán los datos como demasiado buenos para ser verdad. Así que habrá muchos parapsicólogos que están acostumbrados a efectos mucho más pequeños y a resultados menos significativos. Esto inevitablemente levantará sospechas de que mis resultados podrían haberse debido a posibles dispositivos ocultos, o incluso al fraude deliberado.

En todos estos ensayos, los llamadores y los participantes estaban en edificios separados, y a menudo a cientos o incluso miles de kilómetros de distancia. No había ninguna posibilidad de fuga de información por vista u oido, o a través de otros medios sensoriales normales.

La posibilidad que algunos de los resultados podrían explicarse por deficiencias en el proceso de aleatorización se han controlado chequeando las aleatorizaciones pre-pruebas con el dado. No encontré ninguna desviación estadística significativa (Sheldrake y Smart, 2003a, 2003ab).

Posible Fuga de Información o Fraude
La objeción más seria a los resultados positivos que obtuvimos es que podría haber habido una fuga de información de los llamadores a los participantes a través de las llamadas telefónicas hechas, o incluso por fraude deliberado.

Una posibilidad de fuga de información estuvo presente en los ensayos llevados a cabo en los Métodos 1 y 2. Las sesiones experimentales se practicaron con dos ensayos, y los llamadores supieron de antemano si estarían involucrados en ambos o en sólo uno de estos ensayos. De ahí que los llamadores, en los primeros ensayos, podrían consciente o inconscientemente haber transmitido insinuaciones acerca de si ellos habrían o no llamado en el segundo ensayo. En este caso, el porcentaje de éxito en los segundos ensayos debía haber sido significativamente más alta que en los primeros. Éste no era el caso, como se discutió anteriormente. En los primeros ensayos, no hubo ninguna fuga de información que pudo haber ocurrido, no obstante las proporciones de éxito de los participantes estuvieron más allá de las probabilidades.Y ninguna fuga de este tipo podría ocurrir en los ensayos de los Métodos 3 y 4, qué incluso dieron resultados muy positivos y significativos.

¿Qué hay acerca del fraude deliberado? En los ensayos no videograbados, quizá los participantes y sus llamadores mintieron sobre las afirmaciones y dieron falsamente las incorrectas como correctas. O quizá después que los llamadores potenciales habían sido informados que fueron escogidos, ellos llamaron o mandaron emails al participante para pasar esa información. Pero aun cuando los llamadores que no habían sido seleccionados le hubieran dicho esto al participante, las opciones se hubieran reducido, y de hecho, la probabilidad de afirmaciones exitosas aumentó.

La hipótesis del fraude es implausible por tres razones principales.

Primero, es muy improbable que la gran mayoría de los participantes hubiera cometido fraude. Es quizás concebible que algunos casos pudieran haberlo hecho, pero unos pocos fraudes no podrían producir el resultado que observamos en los que la mayoría de los participantes puntuaron por encima de la probabilidad.

Segundo, sabemos que nosotros mismos no cometimos fraude, y que los llamadores no familiares no hicieron trampa. Si algunos de los llamadores familiares hubiera cometido fraude informando a los participantes que no habían sido seleccionados, la probabilidad de adivinación de un llamador no familiar habría aumentado. Aún así los puntajes de los llamadores no familiares no fueron más allá del nivel de probabilidad anteriores.

Tercero, en los ensayos videograbados, los participantes dijeron su afirmación a cámara antes de atender el teléfono, y de hecho no pudieron haber mentido sobre los resultados. También seleccionamos al azar sólo al llamador después que la filmación había empezado. En lo referente a si el participante hubiera recibido cualquier otra llamada telefónica o emails antes de la llamada del ensayo, nos habriamos dado cuenta de ello. Un observador independiente evaluó los videos a ciegas, y en algunos ensayos en los que el participante recibió una llamada extra-experimental o estaba fuera de cámara, aunque fuera brevemente, ese ensayo hubiera sido inhabilitado. A pesar de todas estas formas en los que los posibles fraudes quedaron descartados, los datos de estos ensayos videograbados dieron resultados positivos altamente significativos.

Además, en los datos de la serie sucesiva de ensayos con los participantes que estudiamos con principal interés, Sue Hawksley, también está contra la hipótesis de fraude. Sus primeros 30 ensayos estuvieron sin filmar, y confió en sus propios informes de lo que pasó y los de sus llamadores. Obtuvo un 47% de aciertos. En sus ensayos videograbados en los Métodos 1, 2 y 3 (que eran progresivamente más rigurosos) sus porcentajes de éxito fueron de 56%, 44% y 43% respectivamente (Tabla 3). En el Método 4, el más riguroso de todos, también se filmó continuamente a los llamadores y se observó que el porcentaje de éxito fue del 47%.

Hay sin embargo, una probabilidad importante de fraude que necesitamos tener presente. El participante podría tener un cómplice, no visible en la cámara que hizo señas visuales. Este cómplice podría recibir mensajes confidenciales de los llamadores, por ejemplo, mensajes de texto a un teléfono móvil para comunicar si habrían sido o no escogidos. De hecho, un examen de los videos no muestra ninguna señal de que los participantes hayan tenido un posible cómplice que reciba señales. Pero un crítico tenaz podría decir que el participante, el llamador y el cómplice ocultaron con gran habilidad. Pero trabajamos con 5 participantes diferentes en ensayos videograbados y parecería bastante improbable que todos hubieran inventado algo independientemente en forma tan detallada y lo hubieran puesto en práctica. Ninguno de los participantes nos conocía, y todos vivían en diferentes partes de Inglaterra. Pero, con todo, no es imposible.

La única manera de estar seguro era tener un testigo que observara al participante, aparte de la cámara de video. Nosotros lo hicimos. Cuando empleamos el Método 4 con Sue Hawksley un operador de video independiente estuvo continuamente presente en su casa, pero no vio a ningún cómplice, y no había nadie presente, excepto Sue y el operador. El porcentaje de éxito de Sue fue de 47% similar a sus otras pruebas. lo mismo era verdad acerca del experimento con las hermanas Nolan, donde los llamadores y el receptor estaban bajo observación continua. El porcentaje de éxito fué del 50%. Esta evidencia refuta la hipótesis del cómplice.

Posibles Aparatos Cronometrando
Una posible fuente de información que podría dar lugar a resultados positivos en algunas de las pruebas es el cronómetro de llamadas. En experimentos usando los Métodos 2 y 3, los participantes sabían cuando se programaban las llamadas. Por ejemplo, si uno de los llamadores fuera una persona que llegaba habitualmente tarde, entonces, si las llamadas llegaban tarde, el participante podría haber inferido que este llamador estaba en línea.

En los ensayos videograbados, he explorado esta posibilidad examinando los tiempos exactos en los que las llamadas se recibían, así como las grabadas en videotapes. En tres de los cuatro participantes no había ningún modelo sistemático de desvios del tiempo fijado con llamadores diferentes. Además, el modelo de errores no mostró ninguna relación con el cronometrado exacto de las llamadas lo cual indicó que los participantes no estaban infiriendo los nombres de algunos llamadores cuando se recibían las llamadas más temprano, y con otros llamadores cuando éstas llegaban un poco más tarde. Había sólo una excepción: en el caso de Thomas Marcovici (ver Tabla 3) los llamadores normalmente estaban 2 o más minutos demorados, y esto indicaría plausiblemente indicios de este llamador en particular con éste participante.

En todos los otros casos, los llamadores hacían las llamadas puntualmente, y unas pocas llegaban más de dos minutos temprano o tarde. Por ejemplo, en los experimentos con Sue Hawksley con el Método 3 (Tabla 3), el 91% de las llamadas ocurrieron dentro de los dos minutos del tiempo fijado, y el 78% dentro del minuto. Si Sue hubiera estado detectando indicios de llamadas inusualmente tardes o tempranas, su porcentaje de éxito con estas llamadas impuntuales debería haber sido más alto que con las llamadas puntuales. Pero de hecho, su el porcentaje de éxito con las llamadas que ocurrieron dentro del minuto de tiempo fijado fue del 50% y con las llamadas que llegaban más de un minuto temprano o tarde, el porcentaje de éxito era sólo del 26%, cercano al nivel de probabilidad. De modo que los datos no apoyan la idea de que los resultados se pueden explicar en términos de aparatos cronometrados.

En todo caso, la hipótesis del aparato cronometrado no puede explicar los resultados altamente significativos que se dieron al usar el Método 1. Las llamadas se hicieron en horarios al azar y los participantes no supieron cuándo había que esperarlas. En los experimentos no filmados, el porcentaje de éxito con cronómetros al azar fue del 40%, igual que con cronómetro fijo (Tabla 1). En los ensayos videograbados, el porcentaje de éxito con cronómetros al azar fue del 56% (Tabla 3). Por otra parte, en experimentos que empleaban el Método 4, las llamadas no se hicieron en momentos fijos conocidos por los participantes, y aquí también los resultados fueron positivos y estadísticamente significativos: 47% con Sue Hawksley (Tabla 3) y 50% con las hermanas Nolan.

Así que con la posible excepción de uno de los llamadores para uno de los participantes, el éxito de estas "telepatías telefónicas" no se puede explicar en términos de artefactos cronometrados.

Comparación de llamadores familiares y no familiares
En ambos tipos de ensayos, los videograbados y los no videograbados, había una diferencia muy notable entre el éxito de los participantes con llamadores familiares y no familiares. Sin embargo, en la mayoría de los participantes había también cierta tendencia a contestación en favor de los llamadores familiares, en los que dijeron los nombres de los llamadores familiares más a menudo que cuando recibían llamadas de estas personas.

La razón por la cual ésto puede afectar la comparación de los rangos de éxito entre llamadores familiares y no familiares puede ser considerado si imaginamos un caso extremo donde un participante siempre ha adivinado los nombres de llamadores familiares, y nunca los nombres de llamadores no familiares. En un caso en donde había dos llamadores, uno familiar y otro no, si no hubiera ocurrido ninguna telepatía, habría un porcentaje promedio de éxitos del 50% con llamadores familiares y 0% con llamadores no familiares. Por supuesto, el porcentaje de éxito global estaría en el nivel del azar, o sea el 25%, pero la mayor diferencia entre el éxito con llamadores familiares y no familiares sería completamente explicado por la tendencia de la respuesta en cada caso.

Una manera simple de corregir esta tendencia es expresar el rango de éxito en base al número de afirmaciones en relación a personas familiares y no familiares, en lugar de hacerlo en base al número de llamadas de estas personas (Sheldrake y Smart, 2003c). Aplicando este método a los ensayos videograbados y no videograbados, la diferencia entre los llamadores familiares y no familiares disminuyó, pero todavía es muy significativo (p = .006).

En los ensayos videograbados corregimos la tendencia a responder de manera más sofisticada y usamos un análisis de permutación aleatorizado para los datos de cada participante (Sheldrake y Smart, 2003c). Estas permutaciones se llevaron a cabo de manera tal que el número de llamadas de los diferentes llamadores seguía siendo el mismo, y de igual manera el número de afirmaciones del nombre de cada llamador, pero las afirmaciones se asignaron al azar a las llamadas en 30.000 combinaciones diferentes. Este análisis mostró que cuando la tendencia de la contestación se tuvo en cuenta, el éxito con llamadores familiares todavía era significativamente mayor que con los llamadores no familiares (p= .0003). De modo que cuando se tuvo en cuenta la tendencia de la contestación, los participantes eran mucho más exitosos con los llamadores familiares que con los no familiares. Esta diferencia apoya una interpretación en términos de telepatía que típicamente tiene lugar entre las personas que comparten lazos sociales y emocionales (Gurney, Myers & Podmore, 1886; Stevenson, 1970; Schouten, 1982; Sheldrake, 1999, 2003). También está en conformidad con el hecho de que la telepatía telefónica en el mundo real ocurre principalmente con familiares (esposos, compañeros de trabajo, familiares y amigos) (Sheldrake, 2003).

El Efecto de la Distancia
Los casos espontáneos de telepatía parecen ocurrir más allá de las distancias, centenares e incluso miles de kilómetros (p. ej. Gurney, Myers & Podmore, 1886; Stevenson, 1970; Sheldrake, 1999, 2003), lo cual sugiere que la influencia telepática no disminuye con la distancia. Sin embargo, la investigación experimental en telepatía se ha dirigido principalmente sobre distancias relativamente cortas, a veces dentro del mismo edificio o en edificios adyacentes, como los estudios de adivinación de cartas en la Universidad de Duke, y también en la mayoría de los experimentos de telepatía en sueños y en los experimentos ganzfeld (una excelente revisión se puede leer en Radin, 1997). Una excepción fue el experimento de telepatía con ensayos a 1,700 km de distancia dirigido por L.L. Vasiliev en Rusia (Braude, 1979).

En la investigación experimental con perros que saben cuando sus dueños están regresando a su casa, donde se estudia la influencia telepática de las intenciones de los dueños en los perros (Sheldrake y Smart, 1998, 2000a, 2000b), pruebas efectuadas a 8 a 70 kms. de distancia no muestran ninguna indicación de declinar con la distancia.

Usando teléfonos es relativamente fácil de conducir experimentos de telepatía a cualquier distancia hasta un máximo de 20.000 km. En nuestros ensayos con llamadores en el extranjero no encontramos ninguna sugerencia contraria de que el efecto telepático decayera con la distancia hasta 18,000 km de distancia, de acuerdo con observaciones e investigaciones anteriores.

Telepatía y Otras Formas de Psi
Los resultados de los experimentos mencionados en este informe no parecen ser explicables en términos de aparatos, fuga de información o indicios sensoriales. ¿Pero la telepatía es la única explicación posible? Hay personas que podrían querer defender que estos resultados se apoyan en psi, pero no en la telepatía en particular. Quizá anticiparse llamadas telefónicas podría ser más una cuestión de precognición o clarividencia que de telepatía. Pero en este caso, sería dificil explicar por qué la precognición o la clarividencia no funcionaron con llamadores no familiares, sino sólo con familiares. La precognición y la clarividencia no parecen depender de lazos sociales, considerando que la telepatía sí puede. La diferencia es muy significativa en los resultados con llamadores familiares y no familiares de acuerdo a la hipótesis de la telepatía.

En términos de telepatía una posible explicación sería que los llamadores casi inevitablemente enfocan su intención en la persona que están llamando. Antes de hacer la llamada, tienen que pensar en la persona que a quien llaman. Mientras se preparan para hacer la llamada, su intención se dirige hacia la persona a la que llaman. En ese momento, esta persona puede empezar a pensar en el llamador, o tener una intuición de que esa persona está llamando cuando suena el teléfono.

En pruebas más amplias deberíamos poder distinguir experimentalmente entre telepatía telefónica y precognición. Se les preguntó a los participantes si podrían suponer quien estaba a punto de llamar antes que los llamadores fueran seleccionados al azar. El éxito en ensayos como éste hablaría a favor de una explicación en términos de precognición.

La Investigación de la Telepatía Telefónica y su Potencial
Si la telepatía telefónica existe, ¿porqué entonces las personas no aciertan siempre? En los experimentos antes descritos, el promedio de éxito estaba por debajo del 50%, en otras palabras, el promedio de fracaso estaba por encima del 50%. Los participantes respondieron a algunos llamadores familiares más que a otros (Sheldrake y Smart, 2003a,b). Algunos participantes eran más sensibles, otros menos (Tabla 3). Pero incluso los participantes más sensibles no siempre tenían razón.

La naturaleza artificial de estas pruebas puede haber debilitado la influencia de la telepatía. En la vida real, la telepatía no involucra una elección consciente entre cuatro llamadores igualmente probables que no tienen ninguna necesidad emocional para llamar. Ni ocurre cuando realmente se necesita. No obstante, a pesar de las condiciones antinaturales impuestas por este protocolo experimental, la comunicación telepática ocurre todavía a una magnitud muy significativa.

Hay varias posibles razones para que estas pruebas tuvieran más éxito que la mayoría de los otros experimentos parapsicológicos. Primero, las duplas estaban estrechamente relacionadas en los momentos de aparente telepatía en el mundo real. Éste no es el caso con los procedimientos experimentales como el ganzfeld (p. ej. Radin, 1997), qué es muy artificial, y no corresponde a ninguna situación familiar en la que la telepatía ocurre espontáneamente.

Segundo, nosotros convocamos a participantes que pensaban que habían experimentado telepatía telefónica en la vida real y se consideraban psíquicos. Nosotros estábamos trabajando con una muestra seleccionada por nosotros mismos de la población que probablemente tengan la habilidad por encima del promedio. Para la mayoría de nuestros experimentos filmados también seleccionamos participantes que funcionaran bien en las pruebas iniciales no videograbadas, y quiénes, por consiguiente tenían una buena oportunidad de hacerlo bien.

Tercero, les pedimos a los participantes que escogieran a amigos íntimos o miembros de la familia como llamadores. En la vida real, la telepatía telefónica, como otros tipos de telepatía, tiene lugar normalmente con personas conocidas, no con desconocidos o extraños (Sheldrake, 2003). Las pruebas descritas en este informe confirman que los puntajes son mejores con familiares que con extraños.

Cuarto, llevamos a cabo nuestros ensayos bajo las condiciones más naturales y relajadas posibles, en la mayoría de los casos con participantes que lo hacian en sus propias casas.

Muchos experimentos parapsicológicos en telepatía, por el contrario, usaron participantes no seleccionados que pueden tener pobre habilidad telepática. Normalmente usaron emisores y receptores extraños. Y esto generalmente ocurre en situaciones de laboratorio artificiales, que algunos participantes encuentran intimidante.

Nuestros experimentos de telepatía telefónica han dado resultados significativos, repetibles, y con resultados positivos. Si otros investigadores pueden reproducir estos hallazgos, las pruebas de este tipo podrían sostener una fuerte evidencia sobre la existencia de psi, y también abrir nuevas posibilidades para la investigación de los procesos a través de los que opera.


Agradezco a Pam Smart su asistencia en esta investigación, y al Dr. Jan van Bolhuis de la Universidad Libre de Amsterdam por su ayuda con el análisis estadístico. Este trabajo fue posible gracias al apoyo financiero de la Fundación Lifebridge de Nueva York y la Fundación Bial de Portugal.


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Psychological Reports (2009), 104, 957-970 (2009)
by Rupert Sheldrake and Ashwin Beharee

The commonest kinds of seemingly telepathic experience occur in connection with telephone calls. Most people claim to have thought of someone for no apparent reason and then received a call from that person (Sheldrake, 2003). Skeptics routinely dismiss this phenomenon as a result of chance coincidence combined with selective memory (e.g., Marks, 2000): people remember when someone rings soon after being thought about, creating an illusion of telepathy, but forget when their thoughts about others are not followed by a call. This selective memory hypothesis has now been tested experimentally. The procedure typically involves four potential callers. For each trial, one of the callers is selected at random, and is asked to call the subject. The randomly selected caller then telephones the subject, who has to guess who is calling, before answering the phone. The details of all trials are recorded, so there is no possibility of selective memory. The probability of being right by chance is 1 in 4, or 25%.

Hundreds of telephone tests of this kind have shown positive, statistically significant hit rates (Sheldrake & Smart, 2003a, b; Lobach & Bierman, 2004; Sheldrake, Godwin, & Rockell, 2004). In filmed experiments, where participants were videotaped continuously, the average hit was 45%, compared with 25% expected by chance (p < 1 x 10 11) (Sheldrake & Smart, 2003b). In similar tests with emails, the hit rates were also highly significant. In filmed email experiments, the hit rate was 47%, significantly above chance levels (p = 1 x 10 7 ; Sheldrake & Smart, 2005).

These telephone and email telepathy tests were organized by experimenters who carried out randomizations and gave instructions to the callers or emailers one trial at a time. In a new procedure, developed by Sheldrake and Lambert (2007), telepathy tests were automated and carried out online. As in the telephone and email telepathy tests, the participant had to guess which of four potential senders was sending him a message. The test was designed to take place rapidly, and each of the ten trials in a test lasted only one minute. In a total of 1,980 trials there were 581 hits (29.3%), significantly above the chance expectation of 25%. In some tests, there were only two actual senders and two virtual senders, generated by the computer. There were higher hit rates with actual than virtual senders, with whom no telepathy would be possible.

The present paper describes a new online telepathy test in which the procedure was even more rapid, with each trial lasting only 30 seconds. In all tests there were two actual and two virtual senders. The use of virtual senders inevitably diluted any possible telepathic effect, but previous research had shown that reducing the number of actual senders from four to two made it easier to find participants. With two virtual senders, the maximum hit rate that a perfectly telepathic subject could achieve would be 75%. He would be able to identify each of the actual senders and also identify when there was no actual sender. But he would not be able to distinguish between the two virtual senders and would have to guess. The purposes of the present experiment were, first, to replicate the previous online telepathy test on a more extensive scale, with 6,000 trials rather than under 2,000 and, second, to investigate whether telepathy could be studied effectively through an even more rapid procedure.

An obvious advantage of an online test over laboratory-based studies is that the internet-based procedure enables a wide range of people to participate in many different locations. It facilitates the investigation of variables such as the ages of subjects, their relationships to senders and the distance between senders and subjects, who can be thousands of miles apart. On the other hand, it is more difficult to supervise the tests and hence to rule out cheating. There is no evidence from previous automated telepathy tests, or from non-automated telephone and email telepathy tests, that any of the participants were in fact cheating, but this possibility cannot be ignored. However, automated online tests can be carried out under rigorous, videotaped conditions, as we show in this paper.


The test was based on a previous procedure programmed by Michael Lambert with ten 1-minute trials per test (Sheldrake & Lambert, 2007) but the coding was modified by the second author in such a way that the test consisted of a series of twelve 30-second trials, in which the computer selected one of four potential senders at random. Two were actual people nominated by the receiver, and two were virtual senders generated by the computer, called Virtual Sender 1 and Virtual Sender 2.

The coding was carried out in Hypertext Preprocessor Protocol (PHP) version 4.4.4-8: an HTML-embedded scripting language widely used on the internet for generating web pages dynamically, often using a database for the source data. Randomization for the experiment was provided by the system-level randomizer supplied with the Linux operating system running on the web server. This randomizer is technically represented by the /dev/random1 device, and generates random numbers based on an "entropy pool" of random numbers. New randomness was added to this pool when unpredictable events happened, such as the pressing of a key by the user at a particular time. This randomizer was used to select the sender at each trial. Data were stored on a MySQL database, version 5.0, which could be accessed online by the experimenter with the use of a password.

In order to carry out the test, a participant had to register the group in advance, choosing a group name and a password. When registering, participants gave their own name, sex, age, city and country of residence, and email address. Participants also provided the name, sex, age (within a preset age range, such as 10-14, 15-19, 20-29, 30-39, etc.) and email address of each sender, also stating each sender's relationship to them (e.g., friend, mother, colleague) and the approximate geographical distance between them and the sender. They also gave their estimate of which sender they were most likely to be telepathic with. In order to do the test, the participant and the senders logged on to the experiment at the same time. They did this through the web site of the first author, using their group name and password that had been registered in advance.

In a series of twelve trials, each lasting 30 seconds, one of the four senders was selected at random and asked by the computer to compose a message for the target participant in a special message box. At the end of the trial period, the sender sent this message to the computer. The participant was then asked which of the four senders (including the two virtual senders) he thought the message was from. All four names were presented (in the same order each time) and he indicated his guess by clicking beside one of these names. After he had made his guess, the message was delivered, and hence he received immediate feedback as to whether the guess was a hit or not. Another trial then began. When all twelve trials had been completed, all the participants received a message giving the number of hits.

Participants were given the following instructions prior to registering:

How telepathic are you?

Have you ever had the experience of knowing who's on the phone before you pick it up? Or you think about someone - maybe for the first time in a while - and soon afterwards an email arrives? We want to find out if this is just a matter of coincidence, or whether telepathy is involved.

All you have to do is guess which one of four people is sending you a message. By the laws of chance, you'll be correct about 25% of the time, but our findings in similar experiments show that some people are correct much more often than that, which suggests that telepathy is involved. Are you one of these people?

The experiment

The experiment involves a subject (you) and two senders. You know that you will get a message at a fixed time, and you know it will be from one of these senders, or from one of two virtual senders generated by the computer. The sender is picked at random. Just before the message is due to be sent to you, you will be asked to guess who it is going to be from. You do this twelve times. The whole thing takes 15-20 minutes.

What you have to do

Choose your experimental group. This will consist of yourself and two close friends or family members - your senders. You are more likely to be successful if you choose people you are close to emotionally, but physical distance is not a problem. They can be anywhere in the world. The computer will generate two virtual people to make the number up to four.

Choose a time (immediately or in the future) when everyone can be available at the computer for up to 20 minutes.

Register the details of your experimental group online at
You and they log on at the agreed time, making sure that everyone's sound system is activated.
For each of the trials, the computer will pick one of the senders at random and will ask them to think about you and write you a message. You will be alerted when you are about to receive a message, and you indicate who you think is about to send it. You will either be right or wrong. (You will probably do better if you don't think too much about it and go with the first thought that comes to you.) After all twelve trials, you will be given your results in a form which you can print out if you wish.

Most of the participants were recruited by work scholars in the UK and USA. Several of the work scholars were 17- and 18-year old students at a girls' high school in London, and as a result there were more female than male participants. A summary of the results of all tests, both complete and incomplete, was accessible online to the experimenter, with the use of a password. The experiment was terminated at a predetermined point when the number of complete tests reached 500, giving a total of 6,000 trials.

Videotaped Tests
Some participants who had achieved hit rates above chance were re-tested under videotaped conditions. The experimenter set up the camera in such a way that the subject and the computer screen were in full view. Before the filming began, subjects were asked to turn off their cell phones and any instant messaging systems and they were videotaped continuously throughout the experiment. All videos were dated and time-coded. Having set up the video camera, the experimenter left the room, and made sure than no one else entered it while the test was in progress.

The videos were evaluated by the first author's research assistant, who was given no details about the subjects or their hit rates. In her evaluation she checked to see if at any stage the subjects went off camera, received telephone calls, text messages, instant messages, or if anyone entered the room. She found no evidence in any of the tests of possible cheating by these means.

Statistical Analysis

The data were analysed by the exact binomial test; the expected probability of a hit by chance was 0.25. The null hypothesis was that hit rates would be at the chance level. One-sided tests were used. The comparison of data from different groups (e.g., male and female subjects) was carried out using the 2x2 chi-squared test (Campbell, 1989). Cohen's effect size d was calculated according to the formula:
d = p (hits observed) - .25/square root (.25 x .75).


Overall Results

In the 500 completed tests of twelve trials each, there were 1,599 hits out of 6,000 trials (26.7%), significantly above the chance level of 25% (p = 0.002). The 95% confidence interval of this hit rate is from 26% to 28%. The effect size in terms of Cohen's d was 0.03.

In the incomplete tests, there were 118 trials altogether, with 26 hits (22.0%), not significantly different from the 25% chance level. When all trials were included, complete and incomplete, the overall hit rate was 26.6% (p = 0.005). In the following analysis of results, only data from complete trials were included.

Supervised Tests

Some tests were videotaped, and the films were evaluated blind to make certain that participants were not receiving any emails, text messages, instant messages or other communications during the test sessions. In these filmed tests the hit rate was 128 out of 468 trials (27.3%), similar to the hit rate in the unfilmed tests.

Actual and Virtual Senders

In the 500 completed tests, there were approximately equal numbers of trials with actual and virtual senders. The hit rate with actual senders was 33.7%, very significantly higher than the hit rate with virtual senders of 19.5% (Table 1). There was a strong guessing bias in favour of the actual senders: in 3,775 out of 6,000 (62.9%) of the trials the subjects guessed the names of actual senders, while the senders were actual in only 50.2% of the trials. When the hit rates were expressed on the basis of guesses rather than trials, they were almost the same: 26.9% with actual senders and 26.2% with virtual senders (Table 1). This difference was not statistically significant.



Senders Trials Guesses Hits Hits % trials Hits % guesses
Actual 3016 3775 1017 33.7 26.9
Virtual 2984 2225 582 19.5 26.2

Sex of Subjects

There were 162 tests with male participants, with 502 hits out of 1944 trials (25.8%), and 338 tests with female participants, with 1097 hits out of 4056 trials (27.0%). Thus the hit rate with female subjects was slightly higher, but this difference was not significant statistically.

Age of Subjects

Subjects' ages ranged from below 10 to 69. The number of trials and hit rates with the different prespecified age groups are shown in Table 2. The hit rate was highest in the 15-19 age group, significantly higher than in the 20-29 group. The hit rate was lowest in the 30-39 group, where it was at the chance level.



Age Trials Hits Hits %
10-14 228 60 26.3
15-19 1,968 550 27.9
20-29 696 182 26.1
30-39 768 193 25.0
40-49 1,032 271 26.3
50-59 900 236 26.2
60-69 408 108 26.5

Participants' Predictions of Success

When registering for the test, participants indicated with which of their two senders they were more likely to be telepathic. When their hits were expressed on the basis of trials, they were indeed slightly more successful with those they ranked more likely, with a hit rate of 518 out of 1496 trials (34.6%) as opposed to 495 out of 1509 trials (32.8%) with the "less likely" senders, but this difference was not statistically significant. They also showed a guessing bias towards the "more likely" senders: when the hit rates were expressed on the basis of guesses, the difference was even smaller: 518/1896 guesses or 27.3% with the more likely and 495/1863 or 26.6% with the less likely. Again this difference was not significant.

Relationships between Senders and Participants

The effects of different sender-participant relationships are shown in Table 3. In all cases there was a guessing bias in favour of the sender, so the hit rates were lower when expressed on the basis of guesses as opposed to trials. On the basis of guesses, the highest hit rates were with mothers, spouses, and other family members (a category that included cousins, aunts, nephews, etc). Overall there were slightly higher hit rates with family members than with people who were not family members, but these differences were not statistically significant.



Brother 110 36.4 25.0
Sender Trials Hits % trials Hits %guesses
Mother 157 34.3 28.0
Father 53 41.5 26.1
Sister 146 34.2 27.2
Brother 110 36.4 25.0
Daughter 112 32.1 25.7
Son 75 26.6 22.9
Spouse 143 33.6 28.4
Other family 248 34.6 29.5
Family total 1053 34.1 26.9
Friends 1539 34.2 26.9
Colleagues 194 33.0 25.5
Others 230 29.6 27.8
Nonfamily total 1963 33.5 26.8

Effects of Distance

The effects of the distance between sender and participant are shown in Table 4. In all cases the hit rates on the basis of guesses were lower than on the basis of trials, because of the general response bias in favour of actual as opposed to virtual senders. There highest hit rates were those at the greatest distances, over 500 miles, and the next highest were those when senders and participants were closest. At intermediate distances, between 11 and 500 miles, the hit rates on the basis of guesses were slightly below the chance level. On the basis of guesses, the hit rates were significantly (p = 0.04) higher for distances over 500 miles than for distances between 11 and 500 miles.



Miles Trials Hits % trials Hits % guesses
<1 1426 35.0 27.8
1-10 852 33.7 26.8
11-50 267 27.3 24.2
51-100 170 31.2 23.7
101-500 140 30.0 22.3
501-1000 180 34.4 30.0
>1001 181 37.6 28.5

Repeated Tests

Some subjects spontaneously carried out the test more than once; and some of those who had been recruited by work scholars were asked to do the test again to study the effect of repeated testing, especially if they had relatively high hit rates. The hit rates in repeated tests are shown in Table 5. The high hit rate in the first test reflects the fact that there was a preponderance of high-scoring participants in this sample. When tested a second time, the average hit rate dropped from 45.2% to 35.2%, but it was still highly significant statistically. However, by the third test, the hit rate had dropped to the chance level, and in the fourth test it was below chance, although not significantly so.



Test Trials Hits Hits %
Test Trials Hits Hits %
1 372 168 45.2****
2 372 131 35.2^^^
3 131 32 24.4
4 84 13 15.5
**** p = 1 x 10-7
*** p = 1 x 10-5

An Unusually Sensitive Subject

In the prototype version of this experiment (Sheldrake & Lambert, 2007), one of the subjects, AF, a 15-year-old girl attending school in North London, had an unusually high hit rate. With two actual and two virtual senders she had a total score of 17/25 (68%), very significantly above the chance level of 25% (p = 1 x 10-5). AF described herself thus: "I have been quite familiar with psychic phenomena from a young age due to the influence of my mother who always had a strong interest in the subject. My mother and myself [sic] would often practise various psychic mind-reading exercises."

AF took part in the experiment described in this paper. In her first test her hit rate was 8/12. In response to asking her how she felt during the test, she replied, "The only way I could tell it was a virtual sender was when I felt no incoming energy from either of the two individuals involved. But selecting either virtual sender 1 or 2 was a matter of guessing".

She subsequently took part in a further series of tests, supervised and filmed in her family home. The hit rate in these tests was 17/36 (47%, as opposed to 25% by chance, p = 0.003) (Table 6). She also took part in three control tests, in which there were no actual senders, with a hit rate not significantly different from chance (Table 6).



Test Real Virtual Total
  Trials Hits Trials Hits Trials Hits Hits % p
Unfilmed 3 3 9 5 12 8 66 0.003
Filmed 1 4 2 8 1 12 3    
Filmed 2 5 3 7 3 12 6    
Filmed 3 5 3 7 5 12 8    
Filmed Total 14 8 22 9 36 17 47 0.003
Control 1 5 0 2 1 7 1    
Control 2 3 1 9 4 12 5    
Control 3 7 2 5 1 12 3    
Control Total 15 3 16 6 31 9 29 NS


In the 500 complete tests, the overall hit rate of 26.7% was significantly above the chance level of 25% (p = 0.002). When incomplete tests were added to this total, the overall hit rate of 26.6% was also significantly above the chance level (p = 0.005). The findings are not the result of "optional stopping" or the "file drawer effect," where only positive data are published: all the data from this test are reported.

In a previous version of this online test the hit rate was higher (29.3%; Sheldrake & Lambert, 2007). This difference between the two versions was significant at the p = 0.02 level, according to the 2x2 chi-squared test. The earlier and the present versions of the test differed in two main ways:

First, in the present test, all subjects had only two actual senders and two virtual senders. In the previous version, participants had up to four actual senders. Since telepathy by definition involves mind-to-mind communication it is not possible with virtual senders generated by the computer. So the use of two virtual senders inevitably diluted the effect. Even if a participant could feel from the absence of telepathy that neither of the actual senders were involved, and hence that there must be a virtual sender, he could not feel which virtual sender was involved. The choice between virtual senders could therefore be only a matter of guessing, as the most sensitive participant, AF, explicitly observed.

Second, in the previous version, there were ten trials per test, each lasting one minute. In this version there were twelve trials lasting 30 seconds each: the test proceeded faster. It is possible that this procedure was too fast both for subjects and for senders. Senders were asked not to think about the subject until requested to do so, and then after the 30-second trial period to switch off again. This requirement may have been unrealistic: senders had to continue to pay attention to the instructions on the screen to see if they were selected for a new trial. Because they were so continuously involved in the test, most senders may not have been able to empty their minds and stop thinking about the subject in trials in which they were not selected. The greater frequency of trials in this new version of the test required even more sustained attention. If senders who were not selected for a given trial were nevertheless thinking about the test, and hence about the subject, then the subject may have received confusing telepathic influences from both of the actual senders whether or not they had been selected. This is an inherent problem in any telepathy test that requires the continuous attention of senders, and it may have been exacerbated by speeding up the procedure. In previous telepathy tests involving telephone calls and emails the effect sizes were much greater. In videotaped tests with telephone calls, the effect size, expressed in terms of Cohen's d was 0.46 (Sheldrake & Smart, 2003a) and in videotaped tests with emails 0.50 (Sheldrake & Smart, 2005). In the present experiment, Cohen's d was only 0.03. One reason for this small effect size could be that the senders were required to pay continuous attention to the test. In the telephone and email telepathy tests, there were intervals of ten minutes between trials, and senders were not required to pay attention to the test until they were needed: they simply continued with their normal life until they received a telephone call or email asking them to take part in a trial. They then had several minutes to think about the subject before calling or emailing him.

Possibility of Cheating

Most of the tests were unsupervised, and hence it is conceivable that some participants could have cheated. First, the subject and one or more of his senders could have been in the same room and the senders could have told the subject when they were selected. Secondly, one or both of the senders could have informed the subject when they were selected by instant messages, or by email, or by telephone.

However, we think cheating was minimal. Participants had no motive or incentive to cheat. Moreover, if cheating were widespread, then the overall hit rates would have been much higher. Nevertheless, to control for this possibility, some of the tests were supervised and videotaped in such a way that any of these forms of cheating would have been detected, but in no case was there any evidence of cheating, and the hit rates were similar to those in unsupervised tests. Also, in the case of the highest-scoring participant, AF, the hit rates in filmed trials were very significantly above the chance level. Hence although we cannot rule out the possibility that a few people cheated in unsupervised tests, this cannot be a full explanation for the above-chance hit rates in this experiment.

Actual and Virtual Senders

There was a strong guessing bias in favor of actual senders (Table 1), which in itself raised the hit rates with actual senders and reduced those with virtual senders. In the most extreme case, if a subject always guessed the name of an actual sender he would have a hit rate of 0% with virtual senders, and, by pure guessing, a hit rate with real senders of 50%. The overall hit rate would of course be at the chance level of 25%. In fact, in 62.9% of the trials, the subjects guessed the name of a real sender, while only 50.2% of the trials actually had real senders. To correct for this guessing bias, the hit rates were expressed on the basis of guesses rather than trials. On this basis there was no significant difference between the hit rate with real (26.9%) and virtual (26.2%) senders. A similar response bias occurred in the earlier version of this automated online experiment in tests with two real and two virtual senders (Sheldrake & Lambert, 2007).

At first sight, any above-chance hit rate with virtual senders seems unlikely in a telepathy test, since telepathy would not be possible with these non-people. However, if a subject can detect real senders telepathically, then it should also be possible to detect the absence of a real sender telepathically, since in this situation absence of telepathy is itself a kind of telepathy. But with two virtual senders, a perfectly telepathic participant could not distinguish between the two. Thus, as discussed in the Introduction, a perfectly telepathic subject would score 100% with real senders and 50% with virtual senders, with an overall hit rate of 75%, as opposed to 25% by chance. In some of her tests, AF approached this theoretical maximum (Table 6).

Characteristics of Senders and Subjects

There was no significant effect for sex of participant. The highest hit rates were found among 15-19 year-olds (Table 2). There were higher hit rates when senders and participants were family members (Table 3), but this effect was not statistically significant. Subjects had higher hit rates with the senders they thought they were more likely to be successful with, but they also had a stronger response bias towards these senders, and when this was taken into account the difference was not significant. These findings are in general agreement with the results of the earlier version of this experiment (Sheldrake & Lambert, 2007).

The highest hit rates occurred when the senders and subjects were furthest apart, over 1000 miles (Table 4). Again, a similar effect was found in the earlier version this experiment (Sheldrake & Lambert, 2007). The available evidence suggests that apparent telepathic communication does not decline with distance (Sheldrake, 2003), but it would be surprising if it increased. A possible explanation for this effect could be that subjects chose senders who were far away only if these were people they knew well, such as family members. Telepathy seems to occur most effectively between people who know each other well (Sheldrake, 2003), and closeness of relationship may be a more important factor than physical proximity.

Effects of Repeated Testing

When high-scoring subjects were tested again, their hit rates fell from 45.2% to 35.2%, still very significantly above chance. But when tested for a third or fourth time, the hit rates were no better than chance (Table 5). By contrast, AF's scores showed no such general decline, although in the first of her filmed tests her hit rate was also at the chance level (Table 6). How can this decline be explained? If the high scores in the first tests were simply due to chance, then the scores in the second tests should immediately have reverted to the chance level, but they did not. Instead, the results suggest that most of the participants progressively lost their previous sensitivity the more often they were tested. Why should this have happened? One possibility is that the subjects became more nervous and/or anxious and/or self-conscious when re-tested, and this nervousness or anxiety or self-consciousness may have interfered with their telepathic ability. The fact that AF's hit rate was at the chance level in her first filmed test may have a similar explanation: indeed she said at the time that she was feeling nervous. But the difference between AF and the other subjects was that she had taken part in many previous telepathy tests with her mother, and was more experienced in functioning under the artificial conditions of randomized testing.

Telepathy and other psychic phenomena are often described as "elusive". For skeptics, this is an argument against their very existence: if the phenomena cannot be demonstrated repeatedly and on demand, then they should be treated with the utmost suspicion (Hyman, 1989). However, if one of the reasons for the elusiveness of psychic phenomena is that they are inhibited by nervousness or self-consciousness, then there seem to be two ways forward. One is to work with sensitive subjects, like AF, who are frequently tested; but such subjects are very rare. Another is to test people under relaxed conditions that give rise to relatively little nervousness or anxiety. The present experiment enables people to do the test at home in more relaxed conditions than in a laboratory. Yet our attempt to increase its rigor through repeated testing and filming have run into the all-too-familiar problem of elusiveness. This problem is made worse by the small effect size. Telepathy tests that show larger effect sizes, such as tests with telephone calls and emails, have so far proved easier to repeat under more rigorous, filmed conditions.

Telepathy or Other Kinds of Extrasensory Perception

Parapsychologists distinguish between three kinds of extrasensory perception (ESP): telepathy, clairvoyance, and precognition (Wolman, 1977). Could the above-chance results observed in the present experiment have been due to clairvoyance or precognition, rather than telepathy? If subjects were clairvoyant, they would have known which senders the computer had selected without the need for senders to think about the subjects, or indeed without the need for senders at all. If they were precognitive, they could have anticipated the message they were about to receive, and thus identified the sender in advance.

The best way to distinguish between the effects of telepathy and other forms of ESP is to run control experiments without real senders, thus eliminating the possibility of telepathy but still leaving open the possibility of clairvoyance or precognition. We did such control tests with AF (Table 6). The hit rates were not significantly different from chance, implying that AF's above-chance hit rates in tests with real senders were indeed a result of telepathy rather than clairvoyance or precognition.

Further Research with Automated Tests

This rapid, automated online telepathy test seems to have been over-ambitious. It has a lower effect size than the slower version of this test, suggesting that speeding up the test procedure is not helpful. But even the slower previous version, with trials just over a minute apart, had a much lower effect size than yet slower tests, such as telephone and email telepathy tests, with trials about ten minutes apart. Perhaps slow tests have two advantages. First, they enable the participant to relax between trials and do something else. And secondly, they do not require the continuous involvement of senders, who can therefore get on with other tasks until they are selected to take part in a trial, which might be only after 30 or 40 minutes. We conclude that in designing new automated telepathy tests, it will be better to space trials further apart to enable the senders to detach themselves from the test when they are not required. Automated versions of telephone telepathy and email telepathy tests would meet these criteria.


This work was supported by the Perrott-Warrick Scholarship, administered by Trinity College, Cambridge; by a grant from the Institute of Noetic Sciences, Petaluma, California; and by the generosity of Mr Addison Fischer, of Naples, Florida. We thank Gregory Gibbs, Mary Anne Kae, Robert Kenney, Ruth Kidson, Brenda Lau, Monica Liu, Sophie Newton, Ann Ryan and Logan Yonavjak for their help in recruiting and testing participants.


Campbell, R.C. (1989) Statistics for biologists (3rd ed.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

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Marks, D. (2000) The psychology of the psychic. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books

Sheldrake, R. (2003) The sense of being stared at, and other aspects of the extended mind. London: Hutchinson.

Sheldrake, R., Godwin, H. & Rockell, S. (2004) A filmed experiment on telephone telepathy with the Nolan sisters. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 68, 168-172. Sheldrake, R,, & Lambert, M. (2007) An automated online telepathy test. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 21, 511-522.

Sheldrake, R. & Smart, P. (2003a) Videotaped experiments on telephone telepathy. Journal of Parapsychology, 67, 187-206.

Sheldrake, R. & Smart, P. (2003b) Experimental tests for telephone telepathy.Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 67, 184-199.

Sheldrake, R. & Smart, P. (2005) Testing for telepathy in connection with emails. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 101, 771-786.

Wolman, B.B. (ed.) (1977) Handbook of Parapsychology. Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York.

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Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 68, 168-172 (2004)
by Rupert Sheldrake, Hugo Godwin and Simon Rockell


Apparent telepathy in connection with telephone calls is common. Many people say that they have known who was calling when the phone started ringing, or that they have thought of someone for no apparent reason, and that person called soon afterwards (Sheldrake, 2000, 2003; Brown & Sheldrake, 2001).

Is this just a matter of coincidence? Sheldrake & Smart (2003 a, b) have developed a simple experimental procedure for testing whether people really can tell who is calling, under conditions in which they could not know by any "normal" means. A participant receives a call at a prearranged time from one of four potential callers. He or she knows who these callers are. The experimenter chooses the caller at random by throwing a die, and then tells the caller that he or she has been chosen to call at a given time in the near future.

When the telephone rings the participant has to say who is calling before picking up the receiver. These tests are, of course, carried out using telephones without caller identification systems.

By chance, if telepathy played no part, the success rate would be about 1 in 4, or 25%. In fact in a total of more than 850 trials involving a 65 participants, the average success rate was 42% (p= 1x10-26) (Sheldrake, 2003).

The present experiment was carried out in an attempt to replicate the telephone telepathy phenomenon for a television show called "Are You Telepathic?" made by 20/20 Productions and broadcast in the UK on Channel Five Television on June 19, 2003. The participant and her four callers were sisters, who had for years worked together in a girl band, the Nolan Sisters, popular in the UK in the 1980s.

In most of the previous trials, the callers were in different locations from each other and were not filmed. But in one previous experiment, all four callers were in the same location, and the callers as well as the participant were filmed continuously. In that test, carried out in Wakefield, Yorkshire, the participant was 1.5 km away from the four callers. She guessed correctly in 8 out of 17 trials (47%; p = 0.04) (Sheldrake & Smart, 2003a). The present experiment followed the same design as the Wakefield test.


The filming and all practical arrangements were supervised by a team from 20/20 Productions. The producer was Kate O'Driscoll, and Simon Rockell and Hugo Godwin were the researchers. The producers and researchers invited the Nolan sisters to take part, and made all the practical arrangements for the experiment, which took place in London on Sunday, April 27, 2003.

Rupert Sheldrake (RS) and the five of the Nolan sisters, Anne, Maureen, Linda, Denise and Colleen, met in a basement bar in Poland Street, Soho, in the late morning. The bar was rented specially for this purpose, and was not open to the public at the time.

On camera, RS explained to the Nolan sisters how the experiment would be conducted. All were familiar with stories about telephone telepathy and most had had apparently telepathic experiences themselves. Only Anne was sceptical about their reality.

RS asked the sisters to choose which of them would serve as the participant. They picked Colleen, the youngest. Colleen was then taken by car to a private room, hired for the purpose, in the Strand Palace Hotel, about 1 km away. For the experiment we used landlines without caller identification displays. The telephone in the hotel room was a direct line that did not go through the hotel switchboard.

During the trials, Kate O'Driscoll and Hugo Godwin were in the Soho bar, with Rupert Sheldrake and the four callers. Simon Rockell was with Colleen in the Strand Palace Hotel. In both locations cameramen, sound recordists and other television personnel witnessed what happened. No one was allowed to use mobile telephones during the experimental trials.

Before each trial, the four potential callers and RS sat around a table, on which there was a telephone. Each of the four callers was assigned a number from 1 to 4, and RS picked the caller at random by throwing a die, using a casino-quality die and ribbed dice cup, purchased in Las Vegas. If the die showed numbers 5 or 6 it was thrown again.

When the caller had been selected, RS and the other three sisters left and went to a room upstairs, where they chatted about other subjects, trying to avoid thinking about Colleen. The three sisters not chosen for the trial were with RS continuously, and did not make any telephone calls.

The selected caller thought about Colleen, and was asked to call her at a specific time, according to a watch on the table in front of her. At the prespecified time, the caller dialled the number of Colleen's room at the Strand Palace Hotel. Colleen was not told exactly what time the call was due. When her telephone rang, she said who she thought was calling, and was asked to do this before picking up the phone. Both the caller and Colleen were filmed continuously on time-coded videotape.

Trials were conducted at approximately 5 minute intervals between 2.30pm and 3.40 pm. As agreed in advance, we carried out twelve trials altogether.

The videotapes of Colleen throughout the entire series of trials were evaluated "blind" by a third party, Pam Smart, who was not present during the experiments and did not know any details of the trials. She viewed the videotape of Colleen and from the time code on the film noted exactly when the phone rang and what Colleen said. She also recorded whether or not Colleen made her guess before picking up the receiver. Her account of Colleen's guesses perfectly matched the record RS made at the time. Pam Smart confirmed that Colleen received no other phone calls during the experimental sessions.


The results of the 12 trials are shown in Table 1.

Table 1
The 12 trials with Colleen Nolan as participant, with the exact times at which the telephone started ringing.

Trial Time (hr:min:sec) Caller Guess
1 14:35:35 Maureen Maureen
2 14:40:19 Anne Linda
3 14:45:04 Maureen Linda
4 14:55:08 Denise Denise
5 15:00:20 Anne Maureen
6 15:05:14 Linda Linda
7 15:10:00 Denise Maureen
8 15:15:25 Denise Maureen
9 15:21:08 Anne Anne
10 15:25:06 Linda Linda
11 15:32:22 Anne Maureen
12 15:38:03 Denise Denise

Out of the 12 trials, Colleen correctly identified who was calling in 6 (p = 0.05, both by the binomial and the chi-squared tests).

Colleen's scores with her four callers are shown in Table 2. The lowest success rate was with her eldest sister, Anne, who was sceptical about telephone telepathy. With Linda, who described herself as Colleen's favourite sister, she was right in both trials; with Denise and Maureen her success rate was 50%. However, she said "Linda" four times altogether, and was wrong twice, and said "Maureen" five times, and was wrong four times. Although she said "Anne" only once and "Denise" twice, she was right each time she said these names.

Table 2

Colleen Nolan's guesses in response to calls from her sisters Anne, Denise, Linda and Maureen.

Caller Trials "Anne" "Denise" "Linda" "Maureen" % right
Anne 4 1                   0 1 2 25
Denise 4 0 2                   0 2 50
Linda 2 0 0 2                   0 100
Maureen 2 0 0 1 1                   50
Total 12 1 2 4 5 50

In Pam Smart's evaluation of the videotapes of Colleen, she noted that on two occasions (trials 8 and 12) Colleen picked up the phone before making her guess, contrary to her instructions. However, during the brief period before she made her guess, the sisters calling her said nothing. Nevertheless, it could be argued that subtle cues, such as breathing patterns, could have been audible to Colleen, and hence that these two trials should be excluded form the total. In one she was right, and in the other wrong. Excluding both, her score becomes 5 out of 10, still 50%.


Colleen Nolan's above-chance success rate cannot be explained in terms of "normal" sensory clues: there is no way she could have seen or heard which of her sisters was calling her from a basement 1 km away.

The positive result could simply have arisen by chance, but the odds against this explanation are 20:1. The effect observed here was consistent with previous experiments on telephone telepathy (Sheldrake & Smart, 2003a, b), and closely replicates them.

There could be two other "normal" explanations for this effect. The first is cheating. Perhaps one of the sisters in the Soho bar or one of the other people present directly or indirectly sent secret signals to Colleen through electronic devices, such as concealed mobile phones set to vibrate rather than ring. But all the people involved were under our direct observation throughout, all experiments were filmed continuously, and all the tapes of Colleen were evaluated blind, without any sign of cheating. Moreover, the Nolan sisters had never taken part in an experiment of this kind before and did not know the exact procedure before they came to be tested. It is not plausible that they prepared a cheating strategy in advance. We are confident that no deception was involved.

Second, in tests of this type, if the participant knows exactly at what time the call is expected, the timing of the call could conceivably give clues about the caller's identity. For example, some people are habitually punctual, and others habitually late. So if the call came late, the participant might guess that it was a caller who was habitually late.

This argument seems unlikely to explain the results of these tests with the Nolan sisters. The callers were sitting at a table under continuous observation and were asked to make a call at a particular time, usually only two minutes in the future, so there was no possibility for them to forget or be late. In addition, Colleen did not know exactly when the calls would come, although she was aware that they would be roughly 5 minutes apart. Even if she had known exactly when the call was due, she was not watching a clock that would have enabled her to tell if a call was slightly early or late. Moreover, an examination of the exact timings at which Colleen's phone started ringing shows no discernible pattern (Table 1). There was a break between trials 3 and 4 because the TV crew needed to check that the filming was proceeding satisfactorily. In some trials (9, 11 and 12) the calls were not made at the usual 5-minute intervals, but this was not because the callers chose to make the calls late, but rather because the trials started later as a result of delays in setting them up. An explanation in terms of the use of conscious or unconscious clues through the detailed timing of the calls seems very improbable.

We conclude that the results support the hypothesis of telepathic communication. Of course, further replications will be needed, and in future tests it would be desirable to rule out the possibility of cheating using mobile phones. This could be done, for example, by using a mobile phone detector that would reveal whether any mobile phones in the vicinity were switched on.


We are grateful to 20/20 Productions and to Channel Five Television for making this experiment possible, to the Nolan sisters for their participation, and to the Lifebridge Foundation, New York and The Bial Foundation, Portugal, for financial support for Rupert Sheldrake.


Brown, D and Sheldrake, R. (2001) The anticipation of telephone calls: A survey in California. JP 65, 145-56.

Sheldrake, R (2000) Telepathic telephone calls: Two surveys. JSPR 64, 224-32.

Sheldrake, R. (2003) The Sense of Being Stared At, And Other Aspects of the Extended Mind. London: Hutchinson.

Sheldrake, R. & Smart, P. (2003a) Videotaped experiments on telephone telepathy. JP 67, 187-206.

Sheldrake, R. & Smart, P. (2003b) Experimental tests for telephone telepathy. JSPR 67, 184-199.

Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 67, 184-199 (July 2003)
by Rupert Sheldrake and Pamela Smart


Seemingly telepathic experiences with telephones are common. Many people have found that for no apparent reason they start thinking about a particular person, then the phone rings and that person is on the line. Or else when the telephone starts ringing they have an intuition about who is calling, and turn out to be correct. Usually such calls are from people whom the person knows well.

Such experiences are the commonest kind of apparent telepathy in the modern world (Sheldrake, 2001, 2003; Brown & Sheldrake, 2002). Surprisingly, psychic researchers and parapsychologists seem to have ignored this phenomenon.

Could apparent telephone telepathy merely be a matter of coincidence? Perhaps people often have thoughts about others for no particular reason. By chance, these thoughts may sometimes be followed by a telephone call from that person. If people only remember the times they are right and forget the times they are wrong, an illusion of telepathy may be created by a combination of coincidence and selective memory.

Alternatively, a person may be expecting a call around a particular time from a particular person, but may be unconscious of this expectation. So when the call comes there is no need to invoke telepathy because an unconscious expectation could explain it instead. The trouble is that unconscious expectations are elusive. Indeed, this may be an untestable hypothesis, because if the expectations of telephone calls are unconscious, how can anyone prove that they are really there? And if they are really there, then might they be a result of telepathy, rather than an alternative to it?

The best way to resolve these questions is by means of experimental tests that can be evaluated statistically. We have developed a simple procedure in which participants receive a call from one of four different callers. They know who the potential callers are, but do not know which one will be calling in any given test, because the caller was picked at random by the experimenter. They have to guess who the caller is before the caller says anything. By chance they would be right about one time in four, or 25 per cent of the time. Are they right significantly more often than would be expected on the basis of random guessing? In this paper we describe the results of 571 such tests. The scores were very significantly above chance levels.

We also compared the participants' responses to calls from strangers and from people they knew well. We also explored the effects of distance, with callers up to 11,000 miles away.


Recruiting participants
In a preliminary experiment, one of us (P.S.) served as participant and the other (R.S.) as experimenter. For subsequent experiments, we recruited participants through advertisements in the Part-time Work section of newspapers or through a recruitment website called Our advertisements read: "Do you know who is ringing before you pick up the phone? Good pay for fun and simple experiments as part of psychic research project."

We initially offered a payment of £10 per two-trial session, and later £10 for a 1-trial session. We sent details of the test procedure to the people who replied to these advertisements, and ask them to nominate people to whose calls they thought they might respond. We asked them to check that these people would be willing to take part, and asked them to supply us with their contact details and telephone numbers. We also asked participants to tell us when they would be able to take part in tests, and to check that their callers would be free to call them at those times. Because it was the responsibility of the participants to ensure that their callers would available, and they did not get paid for a trial if the callers were not, in most cases the callers were indeed available. If the randomly-selected caller was not available, the trial was cancelled.

Some participants were unable to complete the ten-trial series for a variety of reasons, including changes in their personal circumstances, such as starting a full-time job, or because one or more of their callers was unable to continue taking part. Ideally, all participants would have completed all 10 trials, as they had agreed, to avoid the possibility of optional stopping, whereby participants who were not scoring above chance levels might have declined to do more tests. But if this happened at all, it was rare. Most participants who did not complete all 10 trials did not do so because one or more of their callers was unable or unwilling to continue taking part.

Participants in the first series of experiments were mainly recruited through local newspapers in the north of England. For the second series, most were recruited through When we wanted to find participants with callers overseas, we advertised in free newspapers aimed at young Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans living in England (TNT and Southern Cross).

In our first series of experiments, we asked participants to nominate all four callers. This restricted the number of applicants who were able to participate, because most were unable to find four people to whom they thought they might respond telepathically and who were also able and willing to take part.

In our second series, we asked participants to nominate a minimum of two callers, and we supplied the others, who were strangers to the participants. This procedure had the advantage of enabling us to recruit more participants, and it also enabled us to compare their responses to familiar and unfamiliar callers. Most people nominated only two callers, but some nominated three, and hence the total number of trials with familiar callers was larger than with unfamiliar callers.

Test procedures
For each trial, there were four potential callers. The participants knew who they were and also knew that one of them would be selected at random by the throw of a die. For the throw of the die, we used high-quality casino dice and a ribbed casino-style dice cup, purchased in Las Vegas. Each of the potential callers was assigned a number from 1 to 4, and was selected by the thrown die showing one of these numbers. If the die showed 5 or 6, it was thrown again until a number between 1 and 4 came up. We used three different procedures, involving progressive simplifications. In all cases, when a trial was taking place, when the participant picked up the telephone he or she immediately indicated the person guessed by saying that person's name. The caller then revealed his or her identity, so the participants received immediate feedback.

  1. In Method 1, participants took part in two trials per session. The two callers were selected at random by two throws of the die (ignoring 5 and 6). If the die showed the same number twice, then the same person was the caller in both trials.
    The times of the trials were also selected at random because we wanted to test the idea that people can tell who is calling even if the calls are at random times. Participants were not told at what time the calls would be made, although of course they knew that they would occur within the test session.

    Test sessions were usually an hour long, beginning and ending at times agreed in advance with participants and their callers. To pick the call times at random, the session was divided into 6, and the beginning of one of these periods was selected by the throw of a die. For example, if the test session was from 10-11 am, the six periods began at 10 minute intervals, starting at 10.10. Thus if the die showed 4, then the test would be at 10.40. The die was then thrown again to select the time for test with the other caller. If 1 came up , this was 10.10 am.

    The experimenter (either R.S. or P.S.) telephoned the randomly selected callers in advance, usually an hour or two beforehand, and asked them to call at the time selected. We asked callers to think about the participant for about a minute before calling. We also rang the callers who had not been selected to tell them that they were not involved in this test session.

    A few minutes after the tests, the experimenter rang the participant to ask what his or her guess had been, and in some cases also asked the callers. In no cases did callers and participants disagree. The experimenter recorded the result, noting down the date and times of each trial, the caller and the guess.
    This method was used in our preliminary experiment and in our first series with 17 participants, for a total of 198 trials.

  2. In Method 2, we simplified this procedure by using fixed times for the two trials in a session, for example at 10.15 and 10.30 am. The first caller to be selected was asked to call at 10.15, and the second (with a 1 in 4 chance that it would be the same person again) to call at 10.30. These people were called in advance of the test session and told they had been selected and when to call. Those who had not been selected were called and told they had not been selected. The experimenter found out and recorded what the guesses had been as in Method 1. We used this method for the last 5 participants in our first series of experiments and the first 3 in the second series, who took part in a total of 87 trials.

  3. In Method 3, there was only one trial per session. The experimenter (P.S.) selected the caller at random less than 15 minutes before the prearranged test time. Say, for example, the test time was 2.30 p.m., then the caller was selected at random at 2.15, and notified before 2.20. We used this method with 37 participants in our second series or experiments.

    To start with (Method 3A) the experimenter (P.S.) also called the three people not selected to tell them so. Starting on 15.11.01, this step was eliminated (Method 3B) by telling the callers that if they had not been notified at least 5 minutes before the test time, then they had not been selected. This simplification made it possible to carry out a series of separate, one-session trials in rapid succession, typically at 15 minute intervals. The experimenter found out and recorded what the guess had been as in Method 1.

    In the second series of experiments, we tested 34 participants using this method, in a total of 268 trials.

For the testing of the hypothesis that the proportion of correct guesses would be above the chance level of 0.25, or 25%, we used the exact binomial test (Siegel & Castellan, 1988). The null hypothesis was that the probability of a correct guess is 0.25 or 25%. For combining the results of different experiments we used the Stouffer method (Rosenthal, 1991).

For the comparison of results with familiar or unfamiliar callers, or the results in first and second trials, we used the Fisher exact test (Siegel & Castellan, 1988). We calculated exact 95% confidence limits for the true probability of a correct response as described by Hahn & Meeker, (1991).


A preliminary experiment
In a preliminary experiment, started in April 1999, P.S. was the participant and R.S. the experimenter. P.S. did not claim to have any special psychic powers, but she had noticed that she sometimes seemed to know who was ringing before she answered the telephone. There were 5 potential callers, of whom only 4 took part in any given trial, depending on their availability. P.S. was informed before each trial which 4 callers would be taking part. The potential callers were Angie and Cathie (her sisters), Muriel (her mother), her close friend Polly, and R.S. Apart from R.S., who was in London, 250 miles away, the others lived within a 10-mile radius of P.S.'s home in Ramsbottom, Greater Manchester.

We conducted 30 trials according to method 1. In each trial there was a 1 in 4 chance of P.S. naming the caller correctly by chance. In other words, if P.S. were just guessing without the help of telepathy, she would have been right about 25% of the time, an average of 7.5 correct guesses in 30 trials. In fact 13 out of 30 of her guesses were correct (43%), significantly above chance (p = 0.02).

The results with individual callers are shown in Table 1. The highest proportion of P.S.'s correct guesses (67%) was with R.S. as caller, who was furthest away.

Table 1
Pam Smart's responses to calls from 5 different callers: her sisters Angie and Cathie, her mother Muriel, her friend Polly and R.S., Rupert. Only 4 potential callers took part in a given trial, and was told in advance which 4 callers were involved. (Method 1).

Caller Calls Right % right
Angie 4 1 25
Cathie 3 1 33
Muriel 6 1 17
Polly 8 4 50
Rupert 9 6 67
Total 30 13 43

The first experimental series
To find out if these results were replicable, we carried out a series of experiments with 21 participants recruited through local newspapers in the north of England (in Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Yorkshire). We ask all of them to take part in 10 trials, and we then asked some who completed 10 trials to do a further 10 or 20 trials. All the experiments in this series involved two trials per session. Most followed method 1, as in the experiment described above. With 5 of the participants we used Method 2, which involved fixed times for the calls, known to the participants in advance, rather than randomly selected times not known to the participants in advance, as in Method 1.

Nine participants completed the prearranged number of trials, and some agreed to do a second series of 10 trials. Two did a third series as well. As shown in Table 2, these participants took part in a total of 146 trials. In 59 (40%), their guesses were correct. This result was highly significant statistically (p = 0.00003).

Out of these 9 participants, all but one made more than 25% correct guesses. The p values for each participant's results are shown in Table 2. As an alternative way of calculating the significance of the overall result, the individual results were combined by the Stouffer method. By this more conservative procedure, the result was still very significant (p = 0.001).

Table 2
Scores of 9 participants who completed at least 10 telephone telepathy trials each, following Method 1. One participant was male (M) and the others female (F).

Participant Begun Trials Right % right p
PD m 12.11.99 11 4 36 0.28
JB f 30.11.99 10 5 50 0.08
LP f 18.1.00 30 14 47 0.008
LE f 9.2.00 10 3 30 0.47
JP f 6.3.00 19 7 37 0.18
SH f 9.3.00 30 14 47 0.008
MJo f 4.9.00 10 6 60 0.02
MJa f 1.11.00 10 3 30 0.47
GB f 27.3.01 16 3 19 0.80
Total   146 59 40 0.00003

Twelve of the original 21 participants did not complete the initial 10 trials. They withdrew for a variety of reasons, most commonly because they could not persuade all 4 potential callers to agree to be available at the same times. Some completed only 2 trials. Altogether, these 12 participants took part in 55 trials, and 16 out of the 55 guesses were correct (29%). This result was not statistically significant at the p = 0.05 level.

It could be argued that the results from all 21 participants should be combined. In this case, the total score was 75 correct guesses out of 201 (37%), a highly significant result (p = 0.00007). The 95% confidence limits of this success rate were from 31% to 44%.

Of the two participants who completed 30 trials, one, L. P., had 8 potential callers altogether, of whom only 4 took part in a given trial, depending on their availability. (She was, of course, informed in advance which 4 would be participating in each trial.) This did not permit a meaningful comparison of her success rates with different callers. But S.H. had the same 4 callers throughout, and her results with these callers are shown in Table 3. She was much more successful with some callers than with others, which was also the case with P.S. (Table 1).

Table 3
S.H.'s responses to calls from her friends Gayle, Jayne and Kay, and her mother Emma. (Method 1).

Caller Calls Right % right
Emma 8 5 63
Gayle 8 2 25
Jayne 7 5 71
Kay 7 2 29
Total 30 14 47

Sam Bloomfield' s data
In November and December, 1999, at R.S.'s request, Sam Bloomfield, a student at University College, London, carried out some telephone telepathy tests following Method 1. Through an advertisement in a local newspaper in North London (the Camden New Journal) he recruited 4 participants who nominated 4 callers each. Unfortunately none of the participants was able to complete the prearranged series of 10 trials. Altogether, they carried out 18 trials, and made 9 correct guesses (50%). This positive result was statistically significant (p = 0.02).

The second experimental series
In March 2001, we started a second series of experiments in which the participants were asked to name only two or three out of the four potential callers. We did this for two reasons. First, many people could not find four familiar people able to take part in the trials. Hence it was easier to recruit participants when they had to find only two or three familiar people.

Second, spontaneous telepathic experiences with telephone calls are usually with very familiar people, like best friends, mothers and spouses. Our hypothesis was that if participants were able to identify callers telepathically, this effect would show up with familiar callers, but with unfamiliar callers the scores would be more or less at the chance level.

The unfamiliar callers were P.S. and Carole Macaulay, who lives in London, or in some cases R.S. Although the participants had not met the unfamiliar callers, they knew their names, and of course knew which 4 potential callers would be taking part in a given trial. With the first 3 participants in this series we used Method 2, in which there were two trials per session at fixed times. With all the other participants we used Method 3, in which there was only 1 trial per session at a fixed time, and the caller was selected at random only 15 minutes before the trial.

As in the first series of experiments, some participants were unable to complete the 10 trials they had originally agreed to do. Sixteen participants did complete 10 trials, and some went on to take part in further trials (Table 4). All 16 of these participants made more than 25% correct guesses. In total, they were right 98 times out of 232 trials (42%), with a very high statistical significance (p =7 x 10-9 ).

As shown in Table 4, with these 16 participants, the success rate with familiar callers was 75 out of 138 (54%) and with unfamiliar callers 23 out of 94 (24%), a highly significant difference (p = 4 x 10-6).

Table 4
Scores of 16 participants who completed at least 10 telephone telepathy trails in series 2. There were 9 female (F) and 7 male (M) participants. The figures for the total numbers (T) of right (rt) guesses are shown first, together with the p values. Then the figures for right and wrong (wr) guesses are shown separately for familiar (F) and unfamiliar (UF) callers. The first 2 participants in this list were tested by Method 2 and all others by Method 3.

Participant Begun Trials T/rt p F/rt F/wr UF/rt UF/wr
EK f 12.3.01 36 15 0.02 10 10 5 11
AP m 2.4.01 10 4 0.22 4 2 0 4
FL m 14.05.01 17 7 0.11 3 6 4 4
SR m 16.5.01 11 5 0.12 4 2 1 4
YC f 14.11.01 10 3 0.47 3 4 0 3
EL f 19.12.01 11 6 0.03 6 4 0 1
AC m 26.11.01 10 4 0.22 3 2 1 4
DL m 28.11.01 14 6 0.11 6 1 0 7
CM f 11.12.01 16 8 0.03 5 5 3 3
LH f 20.1.02 30 11 0.11 8 8 3 11
TA f 20.1.02 17 8 0.04 6 4 2 5
SA f 5.2.02 10 3 0.47 3 4 0 3
GC f 11.2.02 10 3 0.47 3 7 0 0
EB f 19.2.02 10 5 0.08 4 1 1 4
TM m 4.3.02 10 7 0.004 6 1 1 2
HH m 5.3.02 10 3 0.47 1 2 2 5
TOTAL   232 98 7x10-9 75 63 23 71
% right     42   54   24  

There were 21 participants who did not complete 10 trials. Altogether, they were correct in 36 out of 90 trials (40%), a very significant result (p = 0.001). Again scores were higher with familiar people: 26 out of 52 correct (50%). With unfamiliar people only 10 out of 38 (26%) were correct. This difference was statistically significant (p = 0.02).

Taking the overall results for the second series of experiments, including 16 participants who completed 10 or more trials (Table 4) and the 21 who did not, 37 participants took part in 322 trials and made 134 correct guesses (42%). This overall result was extremely significant statistically (p= 5 x 10-11). The 95% confidence limits of this success rate were from 36% to 47%. Altogether, 101 out of 190 (53%) guesses with familiar callers were correct (p = 1 x 10-16.). With unfamiliar callers, only 33 out of 132 (25%) guesses were correct, exactly at the chance level. This difference between the responses with familiar and unfamiliar callers was highly significant (p = 3 x 10-7).

Comparison of tests with calls at randomly-selected and at fixed times
In the trials conducted by Method 1, the times at which the calls were made were selected at random, and the participants did not know when the calls would come. This procedure was designed to simulate the real-life situation in which people do not usually receive calls at prearranged times. In the other trials, following Methods 2 and 3, the calls were made at fixed times, known to the participants in advance. The use of fixed times simplified the experimental procedure, although it was more artificial. In order to find out what effect this difference in procedure had on the results, we compared the overall results from Method 1 with those from Methods 2 and 3 (Table 5). There was no significant difference. The success rate was almost identical with both methods: 39.9% correct with random times, and 40.3% correct with fixed times known to the participants in advance. Thus there appears to be no disadvantage in using fixed times.

Table 5
Comparison of participants' success in trials with calls at randomly-selected times (Method 1) with calls and fixed times known to the participants in advance (Methods 2 and 3).

Method Right Wrong Totals % right
Random times 79 119 198 39.9
Fixed times 143 212 355 40.3
Totals 222 331 553 40.1

Comparison of results in first and second trials in two-trial sessions
In Methods 1 and 2, participants received two calls during each experimental session, and the callers were notified before the session began. Hence the first caller could conceivably have given the participant some clue as to the identity of the next caller, even though we had specifically requested callers not to do so. For example, when the same caller had been picked for both calls, he or she might have indicated that he or she would be ringing again soon. Or perhaps the first caller might have consciously or unconsciously indicated that someone else would be doing the next call. If so, participants would have been choosing from among 3 potential callers, rather than 4, and thus the chances of success by random guessing would be higher.

We compared results with the first and second callers in all experiments that involved Methods 1 and 2. The data are shown in Table 6. If for any reason there had been a leakage of information from the first callers, the success rate on the second calls should have been higher than with the first. It was, indeed, slightly higher, 43% as opposed to 35%. However this difference was not statistically significant (by the Fisher exact test, p = 0.10)

Table 6
Comparison of participants' scores in the first and second trials, following Methods 1 and 2. The data represent totals from 24 participants (including the preliminary experiment with P.S.). In a few cases the second trial did not take place, and hence there were more first than second trials.

Trials Right Wrong Totals % right
First 51 94 145 35
Second 60 78 138 43
Totals 111 172 283 39

Only in the case of one participant, L.P., was there a striking and statistically significant difference (p = 0.005) between the success rate with first and second calls. With the first calls she was right 3 times out of 15, slightly below the chance level; with the second calls she was right 11 times out of 15, a 73% success rate. This raises the possibility of leakage of information in this particular case. But if this participant's data are excluded from the results summarized in Table 2, the overall result is hardly affected: the success rate is 39% rather than 40%, and the result is still very significant statistically (p = 0.0007).

In any case, a possible leakage of information from first callers cannot possibly explain the success rates on first calls themselves (Table 6). A total of 51 out of 145 guesses with first calls were correct (35%), significantly above the chance level (p = 0.003).

This possible problem did not arise with Method 3, when there was only one call per session. The great majority of the data in Tables 4 were obtained with Method 3; only 2 participants were tested according to Method 2 (E.K. and A.P.). If the data from these participants are excluded, the results from the other participants show the same percentage success as before (42%), and the effects are still highly significant statistically (p = 1 x 10-7).

The effects of distance
In order to find out if the distance had any effect on the participants' ability to identify callers, we recruited participants with friends or family members overseas. Table 7 compares their success rates with overseas callers and with familiar callers living in Britain. The overseas callers were at least 1,000 miles away, and in one case in Australia, 11,000 miles away.

Table 7
Comparison of participants' scores in telephone telepathy trials with familiar callers overseas and in Britain. Ten of these participants were female (f) and one male (m).

Participant Overseas
callers in
Overseas Britain
right wrong right wrong
TA f Nigeria 4 1 2 3
DA f Yemen 4 2 0 1
HH m Iceland 1 1 0 1
RH f South Africa 1 1 1 1
EL f Greece 2 2 4 1
MM f South Africa 4 0 0 0
CM f Australia 4 3 1 3
KM f South Africa 3 1 0 4
KP f South Africa 1 1 0 0
MT f South Africa 2 0 0 1
JW f South Africa 2 3 0 0
% right
15 8

These participants were very successful with overseas callers, with 28 correct guesses out of 43 (65%), an extremely significant result (p = 3 x 10-8). With callers in Britain, the success rate was lower (35%). In most cases, the overseas callers were people to whom the participants were closely bonded, such as mothers and boyfriends, whereas this was not the case with most of the British callers. This result implies that for the successful identification of callers, emotional closeness was more important than physical proximity.


Combining the results of all our experiments, and adding in the trials conducted by Sam Bloomfield, there were 63 participants altogether. They made 231 correct guesses in 571 trials, a success rate of 40%, well above the mean chance expectation of 25% (Table 8). The 95% confidence limits of this result are from 36% to 45%. This effect was robust and repeatable and was hugely significant statistically (p = 4 x 10-16). Not all participants scored at levels above chance, but the great majority did so.

Table 8.
Summary of data from all telephone telepathy trails described in this paper.

Experiments Calls Right % right p
Preliminary 30 13 43 0.02
Series 1 201 75 37 0.00007
Series 2 322 134 42 5 x 10-11
S. Bloomfield 18 9 50 0.02
Totals 571 231 40 4 x 10-16

These results rule out the hypothesis that apparent telephone telepathy is merely a matter of chance coincidence and selective memory. They rule out the hypothesis that it depends on unconscious expectations about the times at which familiar people are likely to call. They also rule out normal sensory cues: in most cases the callers were miles from the participants, sometimes thousands of miles away.

Possible artefacts
One possible objection to the data presented in this paper is that some of the participants failed to complete the 10 trials they undertook to do. This raises the possibility of "optional stopping", whereby participants might stop if their results were poor, and continue if they were good, thus creating artefactual positive results. In fact most participants who stopped did so because their callers were unable or unwilling to continue. Nevertheless, there could have been an element of optional stopping in some cases. In the first series, the fact that the 12 participants who did not complete all 10 trials (and were thus excluded from the summary of data in Table 2) scored on average only 29% might support this view. But in the second series, the 21 participants who completed less than 10 trials had an average success rate of 40%, which does not agree with the idea of optional stopping. Nor do Sam Bloomfield's data, where the 4 participants had a success rate of 50%. Even if there was some optional stopping by some of the participants in the 55 trials excluded from the first series of experiments, this could not explain the highly significant positive results from the remaining 516 trials described in this paper.

The most serious objection to the positive results we obtained is that there might have been a leakage of information from callers to participants through telephone calls themselves, or even by e-mail.

One opportunity for a deliberate or unintentional leakage was present in the trials conducted by Methods 1 and 2. The experimental sessions involved two trials, and the callers knew in advance whether they would be involved in both or only one of these trials. Hence callers in the first trials could have wittingly or unwittingly conveyed hints as to whether they would or would not be calling in the second trial. In this case, the success rate in the second trials should have been significantly higher than in first trials. This was not the case, as discussed above. Only with one participant was there a strikingly higher success rate in the second trials. In any case, in the first trials, where no such leakage of information could have occurred. the participants' success rates were well above chance.

What about deliberate cheating? Perhaps participants and their callers simply lied about the guesses, falsely reporting incorrect guesses as correct. Or perhaps after potential callers had been informed that they had been picked, they rang or e-mailed the participant to pass on this information. Even if callers who knew they had not been selected told this to the participant, the choice would have been narrowed, and hence the chance of successful guessing increased.

The cheating hypothesis is implausible for three main reasons. First, it is very improbable that a large majority of the participants would have cheated. It is perhaps conceivable that a few might have done so, but a few cheats could not have produced the pattern of results we observed in which most participants scored above chance levels.

Second, we know that we ourselves did not cheat, and that the unfamiliar callers involved in series 2 did not cheat. If some of the familiar callers had cheated by informing participants that they had not been selected, the chance of guessing an unfamiliar caller would have been increased. Yet the scores with unfamiliar callers were not above chance levels (Table 4).

Third, as we describe in a separate paper (Sheldrake & Smart, 2003), we carried out further series of experiments in which the participants were filmed continuously on time-coded videotape, starting 15 minutes before each trial. We selected the caller at random only after the filming had started. Hence if the participant had received any other telephone calls or e-mails before the test call, this would have been observed. The videotapes were evaluated blind by an independent observer, and any trials in which the participant received an unrelated call or was off camera, however briefly, were disqualified. Also, the participants spoke their guess to the camera before picking up the telephone, and hence could not lie about the results. The data from these videotaped trials gave extremely significant positive results. The overall success rate was 133 correct guesses out of 292 trials (46%; p = 1 x 10-12). The 95% confidence limits of this success rate were from 39% to 51%.

One final possibility for a leakage of information remains. In all trials described in the present paper, the participants picked up the telephone before making their guesses. It is therefore possible that they heard characteristic background noises, electronic hisses or other sounds that enabled them to identify the caller. But in our filmed experiments this possibility was eliminated because the participants made their guesses before they picked up the telephone. If background noises and hisses could explain the results in the unfilmed trials, the positive effect we observed should have disappeared in the filmed trials, but it did not.

The videotaped trials showed the same patterns of response as the experiments reported in this paper, with scores well above chance with familiar callers, with a success rate of 60% (n = 102; p = 1 x 10-13). With unfamiliar callers the success rate was not significantly different from chance.

The results of the experiments reported in this paper do not seem to be explicable in terms of artefacts, information leakage or sensory clues. These findings support the hypothesis of telepathy. The positive scores with familiar callers and chance-levels scores with unfamiliar callers (Figure 1) also support this explanation, since telepathy typically takes place between people who share social and emotional bonds, and not with strangers (Gurney, Myers & Podmore, 1886; Stevenson, 1970; Schouten, 1982; Sheldrake, 1999, 2003).

Some people might want to argue that these results support ESP or psi in general, but not telepathy in particular. Perhaps the anticipation of who is calling before picking up the phone is more a matter of precognition or clairvoyance than telepathy. But in this case it would be hard to explain why precognition or clairvoyance did not work with unfamiliar callers, but only with familiar ones. As far as we know, precognition and clairvoyance do not depend on social bonds, whereas telepathy seems to, and hence the difference in results with familiar and unfamiliar callers appears to provide a means of distinguishing between these different kinds of ESP.

An explanation in terms of telepathy would agree with the fact that the caller is almost inevitably focussing his or her intention on the recipient of the call. Typically, when A decides to call B, first he or she thinks about B, often in response to some need; then A may need to look up B's telephone number; then A picks up the phone and dials the number. All this time A's intention is directed towards B. Meanwhile, B may start thinking about A, or may have an intuition that A is calling when the telephone rings.

Spontaneous cases of telepathy can occur over distances of hundreds or even thousands of miles (e.g. Gurney, Myers & Podmore, 1886; Stevenson, 1970; Sheldrake, 1999, 2003), suggesting that telepathic influences do not fall off with distance. However, most experimental research on telepathy has been conducted over relatively short distances, often within the same building or in adjacent buildings, as in the classic card-guessing studies at Duke University, and in most dream telepathy experiments and ganzfeld experiments (for an excellent review, see Radin, 1997). One exception was a telepathy experiment conducted in Russia by L.L. Vasiliev with trials at distances up to 1,700 km (Braude, 1979).

In experimental research on dogs that know when their owners are coming home, we have done tests at distances from 5 to 45 miles, with no indication of any decline with distance in telepathic influence of the owners' intentions on the dogs (Sheldrake and Smart, 1998, 2000a, 2000b).

Using telephones, it is relatively easy to carry out telepathy experiments over any distance up to a maximum of 12,500 miles, at the antipodes. In our trials with overseas callers from 1,000 to 11,000 miles away, there was no suggestion that the telepathic effect fell off with distance (Table 7), in agreement with previous observations and research.

If telephone telepathy exists, then why are people not right every time? In the experiments described in this paper, the average failure rate was 60%. Participants responded more to some familiar callers than others (Tables 1 and 3). Some participants were more sensitive, others less so (Tables 2 and 4). But even the most sensitive participants with the most effective callers were not always right.

The artificial nature of these tests may have weakened the influence of telepathy. In real life, telepathy does not involve a conscious choice between four equally probable callers, who have no emotional need to call. Nor does it happen on demand. Nevertheless, despite the unnatural conditions imposed by this experimental design, telepathic communication still seems to take place to a very significant extent.


We are grateful to Drs Jan van Bolhuis, of the Free University of Amsterdam, for his help with statistical analysis. This work was made possible by grants from the Lifebridge Foundation, New York, the Institute of Noetic Sciences, California, and the Bial Foundation, Portugal.


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