© Aimee Morgana 2002

NEW   Testing a Language - Using Parrot for Telepathy
a new paper by Rupert Sheldrake and Aimee Morgana from the Journal of Scientific Exploration
Abstract Click here

The N'kisi Project is a series of controlled experiments and ongoing research in interspecies communication and telepathy conducted by Aimee Morgana and her language-using parrot N'kisi. The images shown above are stills from the video document "Initial Interspecies Telepathy Experiments", a research project with the collaboration and support of Dr. Rupert Sheldrake.

Interspecies Telepathy Experiments
N'kisi would often describe what Aimee was thinking about, reading, or looking at in situations where there were no possible ordinary clues. When Aimee saw Rupert Sheldrake's book Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home she contacted him, and they collaborated in designing an experiment to try to replicate and document this phenomenon under controlled conditions. Based on a pre-specified list of key words, a selection of photographs depicting items from N'kisi's unedited vocabulary was prepared, sealed in opaque envelopes, then randomized and numbered by an independent party. No one knew what image was in any of the envelopes, which is known as a "double blind" test. In a series of timed two minute sessions, Aimee was videotaped as she looked at these images, while another synchronized camera filmed N'kisi in his cage. Aimee was in an enclosed room on a different floor, with no possible line of sight for any 'cueing'. Their locations were approximately 55 feet apart, and separated by several solid walls. In responding to the tests, N'kisi generally put target keywords and descriptions in related sentences, and he often described a detail at the exact moment that Aimee noticed it. N'kisi appears to telepathically "surf" the leading edge of Aimee's consciousness, responding to the spontaneous moment of discovery rather than to any consciously projected thoughts. Aimee found that her state of mind was critical, and if she intentionally tried to "send" the information, it wouldn't work. N'kisi responded best when Aimee's full attention was genuinely immersed in exploring the images, without any thought of the experiments. Three independent transcripts were made of each test session, and there was a remarkably good agreement between the transcribers. These transcriptions were done "blind", meaning the transcribers did not know what pictures Aimee was looking at, nor when each trial period began and ended.

Analysis and Scoring of Experiment Results
"Hits" and "misses" were scored when at least two out of three transcribers verified that N'kisi had said one of the 19 key words used in selecting the images, such as "flower". N'kisi said one or more of these key words in 71 trials, and the statistical analysis is based on these tests. (We discarded several trials with the target "camera", as N'kisi often made direct comments about the cameras we were using). As an animal, N'kisi could not be expected to fully understand the experiment parameters, and there was no guarantee of his participation. Our experiment design left him free to say whatever he wished during the sessions. Non-scorable comments consisted of N'kisi's attempts to contact Aimee, or unrelated chatter about events of the day. "Hits" were key words corresponding to the image Aimee was looking at during a particular trial. As there was no way for N'kisi to understand the need to restrain his comments to the strictly timed two-minute test period for each image, many of the "misses" scored were his continued repetitions of "hit" comments from previous images in the session. Assuming N'kisi was saying these words at random, there would have been 7.4 hits. In fact, he scored 23 hits. This result is highly significant statistically. Using the standard binomial test, the odds against chance are one million to one. Statistician Jan van Bolhuis at the Amsterdam Free University also kindly carried out a Randomized Permutation Analysis for us, in which N'kisi's comments were randomly assigned to the test images in 20,000 different permutations run by a computer. Only 5 of these randomized permutations gave 23 or more hits. In this extremely objective method, the probability of the result we observed was less than 0.0005, or in other words, the odds against this result being due to chance were more than 2,000 to one. However, these strict scoring methods ignore many of N'kisi's most interesting responses. For example, in one image of a car, the driver's head was sticking out of the car window. Just as Aimee noticed this unusual detail, N'kisi said "Uh-oh, careful, you put your head out." Although this is clearly relevant, our scoring method allowed only the pre-specified target word, "car". Including these comments, possibly relevant responses were made in 32 of the 71 trials.

As this study was strictly controlled against cues from any normal sensory means, and chance coincidence has been ruled out, these experiments provide compelling evidence of interspecies telepathy. This phenomenon is currently unexplained within the dominant scientific model. We are continuing our research and documentation of this astonishing phenomenon, as Aimee and N'kisi's ongoing work exploring avian language use opens a fascinating new window into our understanding of the animal mind. The fact that these experiments statistically prove that N'kisi's use of speech is not random also gives evidence of his sentience and intentional use of language. Though our work is just beginning, N'kisi has already shown aspects of intelligence that animals were thought to be incapable of, particularly a species that shares so little genetic similarity with humans. Globally, parrots are the most endangered of all birds, with the greatest number of species currently facing extinction due to poaching and habitat destruction. We hope our work will help people to realize the amazing abilities and awareness of these intelligent birds, and encourage greater care of these precious beings and the planetary environment we share.

About N'kisi:

N'kisi is a captive bred, hand raised Congo African Gray Parrot. He is 4-1/2 years old, and his species has a life span similar to humans. He has received teaching in the use of language for 4 years. He is now one of the world's top "language-using" animals, with an apparent understanding and appropriate usage of over 700 words. Aimee intuitively taught N'kisi as one would a child, by explaining things to him in context. (This goes beyond typical interactions with a "pet", involving many hours per day of teaching and conversations.) He is treated as a member of the family. N'kisi was not trained like a performing animal, and does not just mimic or use speech "on cue". Instead, he has been allowed to develop his own creative relationship to language as a means of self-expression. N'kisi speaks in sentences, showing a grasp of grammar in formulating his own original expressions. He is capable of actual conversations. He often initiates comments about what we are doing, feeling, looking at, thinking, etc, which is how we discovered his ability to read minds. N'kisi often demonstrates telepathy in spontaneous situations, and also communicates love, compassion, and a keen sense of humor. Language-using animals are like "animal ambassadors" helping to bridge the worlds of other species with our own. In the wild, parrots live in large flocks with complex social interactions, which have yet to be studied.

About Aimee Morgana:

Since childhood, Aimee has had an intuitive connection with animals, and used these insights in developing her own techniques for teaching parrots to use language. Aimee has been working with parrots since 1985. Her goal is to establish a true communicative dialogue with a member of another species. Unlike laboratory researchers, Aimee decided to give N'kisi "dominance" in their relationship, relinquishing control to open the door for his creativity. She wanted to find out what a parrot might actually have to say, which would reveal fascinating information about how these animals think. Aimee's ongoing work with N'Kisi illustrates her concept of "partnership research," an approach which honors and explores the close relationships people can have with animals as friends and teachers. Aimee is part of an emerging group of conceptually based artists interested in exploring our human relationship with Nature in work dealing with animals, biology, environmental concerns, and quantum aspects of consciousness. In a dynamic cross-fertilization of approaches, some of these artists have begun collaborating with scientists in new-paradigm research projects that bridge the disciplines of Art and Science.

Forthcoming Research
... Another series of telepathy experiments, using videotaped source imagery
... An ongoing video surveillance project to record N'kisi's creative use of language, as well as spontaneous telepathy. (We are currently seeking funding for the necessary equipment and related expenses. Donations of any size would be gratefully appreciated. If you would like to help support this groundbreaking research project, please email Dr. Sheldrake at this website.)

The results of our telepathy study with N'kisi have been published in the Journal of Scientific Exploration (vol 17 issue #4, 2003), a peer reviewed journal.
Paper in Full

Hear N'Kisi speak!
    N'kisi Tape

Real audio of N'Kisi and Aimee in a typical language teaching session with text transcript

More materials and discussion of the N'Kisi Project

Rupert Sheldrake's Home Page