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Discounts Most Attacks Against the Mathematics of the "ESP" Trials in "American Scholar"


Discounting all attacks against the mathematics of the Duke extra-sensory perception experiments, Edward V. Huntington '95, professor of Mechanics, in is it Chance or ESP?, an article in the Spring issue of the American Scholar, explains the mathematical basis for the Duke tests.

Concerning the current experiments in mental telepathy-Huntington says, "The implications involved in the existence of ability to obtain knowledge of external facts through channels other than the usual five senses are clearly of startling importance for all our scientific and philosophic thinking."

A typical Duke experiment involves the use of "ESP" cards. Now readily available at book-stores, these cards display five characteristic symbols: "square," "circle," "star," "plus," and "wave." A "pack" consists of 25 cards.

The "operator" after shuffling the cards asks the "subject" to "call" them one after another through the pack as they are laid, face down upon the table. The number of "hits" made in any "run" through the pack is called the "score" for that run.

If the subject makes a high average score on a succession of runs he is said to possess a large measure of "ESP" ability. The mean average of "hits" according to Duke psychologist Dr. Rhine is five. Huntington by mathematical analysis arrives at approximately the same figure.

Backing up Huntington is a statement from Burton H. Camp, president of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics: "Dr. Rhine's investigations have two aspects, experimental and statistical. On the experimental side mathematicians of course have nothing to say.

"On the statistical side, however, recent mathematical work has established the fact that, assuming the statistical analysis is essentially valid, if the Rhine investigation is to be fairly attacked it must be on other than mathematical grounds."

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