They didn't see that coming: Psychics fail scientific test


Richard Hall
Thursday 01 November 2012 01:00
Kim Whitton, left, and Patricia Putt took part in the scientific test at Goldsmiths, University of London
Kim Whitton, left, and Patricia Putt took part in the scientific test at Goldsmiths, University of London

Two mediums who claimed to have psychic powers were unable to demonstrate their ability under laboratory conditions.

Scientists from Goldsmiths, University of London, challenged Kim Whitton and Patricia Putt – psychics with more than two decades of experience – to identify characteristics of five randomly selected people who were hidden behind a screen. The volunteers were then asked to try to identify themselves from these psychic readings. The aim was to investigate whether professional mediums could prove their psychic powers in a controlled setting. But in a result they perhaps should have seen coming, the pair were only successful in identifying characteristics of the volunteers at a rate of one in five, an outcome "entirely consistent with the operation of chance alone," according to Professor Chris French, of the university's Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit and organiser of the study.

"The conclusion is that we have yet to find any plausible evidence that psychics can do what they say they can do," he said. However, both psychics hit back after being told of the results, with Mrs Putt claiming the experiment "doesn't prove a thing".

"I am sorry that I appear to have failed, but not really surprised. What I would like to point out is that the work I do is always done face to face so working 'blind' is extremely daunting for the medium," she said.

She argued that the test was designed to prove the scientist's preconceptions. "Scientists are very closed-minded," she told the BBC.

Kim Whitton said: “I feel the test was fair, however far more difficult to do under the circumstances so I think it’s great that I picked up information on one person accurately and I know the results were not high scores on the other readings, but having since spoken to some of the other sitters involved there were pieces of information they too could relate to such as countries from where they were raised. This cannot just be chance as was mentioned by those who initiated the experiment.”

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