Monster Sand Critics
Wed, 14 Feb 2007 08:20 CST
A laboratory set up at Princeton University, N.J., to study ESP and telekinesis will close this month, ending an awkward 30-year relationship with the scientific world. Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research lab (PEAR) was set up in 1979 to examine how the human mind can affect computers and machines.
Founder Robert Jahn, 76, said the lab, despite ageing equipment and dwindling finances and the ridicule of the scientific community, did what it needed to, showing statistically significant results. Jahn, former dean of Princeton's engineering school and an emeritus professor, told the New York Times, 'For 28 years, we've done what we wanted to do, and there's no reason to stay and generate more of the same data. If people don't believe us after all the results we've produced, then they never will,' BBC Online reported Tuesday.
In a typical PEAR experiment, a person sat in front of an electric box that flashed numbers just above or below 100 and would be told to 'think high' or 'think low' as they watched the display. Researchers concluded that people could alter the results about two or three times out of 10,000.
PEAR says such effects could be 'functionally devastating' in aircraft cockpits, surgical facilities and even ICBM missile silos. 'Venues that appear to be particularly conducive to such field anomalies include small intimate groups, group rituals, sacred sites, musical and theatrical performances, and other charismatic events,' it adds.
Due to the scientific community's dismissive attitude, the lab was funded by private donations instead of grants awarded through peer-reviewed research. 'It's been an embarrassment to science, and I think an embarrassment for Princeton,' Robert Park, a University of Maryland physicist, told the Times. 'Science has a substantial amount of credibility, but this is the kind of thing that squanders it.'
PEAR said on its website that the lab will transfer to International Consciousness Research Laboratories, a nearby non-profit group.