Sacred Texts  Parapsychology  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

Extra-Sensory Perception, by J. B. Rhine, [1934], at


Suggestions to Those Who May Care to Repeat These Experiments 1

It is hoped that others will repeat these experiments or, better still perform more advanced ones. Much depends upon the conditions of the tests as to whether success or failure will follow. The following suggestions along with the discussion in Chapter 12, may help to avoid failures:

1. The subject should have an active interest in the tests and be fairly free from strong bias or doubt. These would, of course, hinder effort and limit attention. An open-minded, experimental attitude is all that is required. Positive belief is naturally favorable but not necessary.

p. 167

2. The preliminary tests should be entered into very informally, without much serious discussion as to techniques, or explanations or precautions. The more ado over techniques, the more inhibition is likely; and the more there is of explanation, the more likely is introspection to interfere. Playful informality is most favorable.

3. If possible to do so honestly, it is helpful to give encouragement for any little success but no extravagant praise is desirable, even over striking results. The point is that encouragement is helpful, apparently, but only if it does not lead to self-consciousness. If it does, it is quite ruinous. Many subjects begin well, become excited or self-conscious, and then do poorly.

4. Some begin more easily with P.T. and some with P.C. It depends upon personality, I think, but I cannot explain it except to link sociability with P.T. preference. However, both conditions should be tried, following the subject's preference in the beginning.

5. It is highly important to let the subject have his own way, without restraint, at first. Later he can be persuaded to allow changes, after he has gained confidence and discovered his way to E.S.P. functioning. Even then, it is better for him to have his way as far as experimental conditions can allow. It is a poor science that dictates conditions to Nature. It is a better one that follows up with its well-adapted controls and conditions.

6. It is wise not to express doubts or regrets. Discouragement seems to damage the delicate function of E.S.P. Here again no doubt personalities differ. One subject, I know, has worked in the face of doubt expressed; but she is exceptional in this.

7. Above all, one must not, like several investigators, stop with only 25 or 50 or even 100 trials per subject. Most of my good subjects did not do very well in the first 100. With few exceptions, the first 50 to 100 trials give the worst scores. With all my major subjects this is true. Several different occasions or sittings, too, should be allowed, for there is with most subjects an adjustment phase at first that may take some time.

8. It is best at first to have the subject alone with the agent in P.T. and in P.C. to leave him alone entirely. If not, he may be inhibited from the start; but, once he has a start, he can gradually work back to other conditions. When he has observers present, the experimenter should do all he can to put the subject at ease.

9. Simple cards with 5 suits seem best as a compromise of several features of concern: easy calculation, easy recall, easy discrimination of images, etc.

p. 168

10. Short runs are desirable, say 5 at a time, with a check-up after each 5. Then it is best to go casually and quietly on without too much discussion of results.

11. It is advisable not to bore or tire the subject. When he wants to stop, or even before he expressly wishes to, it is better to stop work.

12. It is best to try good friends for P.T. at first—or couples, single or married, who feel certain they have thought-transference; and, above all, to try those people who say they have had "psychic" experiences or whose ancestors conspicuously have had.

These are suggestions, not rules, for we do not yet know enough of the subject to lay down rules. They will help toward success, without endangering conclusions. One can always tighten up on conditions before drawing conclusions later. But any investigator must first of all get his phenomena to occur—or exhaust the reasonable possibilities in trying to.


166:1 The views of Mrs. Sinclair given in Mental Radio and already mentioned should be read by those interested in this phase. See also the abstract and discussion of Mrs. Sinclair's report by Dr. Prince, in B.S.P.R. Bulletin XVI.

Next: Second Appendix to Chapter 15.