About the Psychic Abilities Test
- Written by Frederick Gimino Frederick Gimino
Karl Zener, a Swiss Psychologist, and his associate J.B Rhine,designed the original psychic abilities test during the 1930's, at Duke University. Designed to test an individual for psychic ability or ESP (Extra Sensory Perception) the test used a specialized set of cards called Zener cards. Zener cards tested for many different types of psychic abilities like the ability to perceive objects or events that already exist or have occurred, but are not known to you (clairvoyance), the ability to see the future (precognition), and the ability to transfer thoughts or feelings via a medium other than the five senses(telepathy).
The Zener deck consisted of twenty-five cards made up of five subsets of identical cards. The pictures on the cards consisted of a cross, waved lines, a hollow circle, a hollow star, and a hollow square. Originally, Dr. Zener made the cards out of flimsy opaque materials. The translucence of these materials, however, allowed individuals to see the shapes through the cards. Therefore, subsequent decks utilized a thicker card stock to eliminate the bias and lend credibility to the statistical data.
The test for clairvoyance consisted of the person conducting the test, test subject, and third party witnesses. The person conducting the experiment shuffled the deck of cards then selected a card in the deck looked at it asked the subject what it was and recorded the data. The individual conducting the test repeated this process until no cards remained, in the deck. Further revisions of the test added additional experimental controls like the use of partitions and separate rooms for the tester and subject. This helped minimize cheating during testing.
As the data set grew larger statistical analysis of the tests outcome commenced. The overall probability of getting the correct answer by chance would be 1 in 5 or about 20%. Several testing sessions of a subject helped to maintain a normal distribution. For example: on one test set an individual guesses 50% correct but on the next six test sets the individual averages 10% this would identify the first test as being anomalous and either thrown out or averaged in with the other six tests diminishing its statistical impact. For example the six runs at 10% would be 85.7% of the weight in the average and the 50% would be 14.3% of the average so 10 * .857=8.57 + 50*.143=7.15%= an avg. of 15.72% accuracy. Therefore, continually scoring higher than 25% on the Zener card test indicates a statistically significant variation from the normal distribution.
In conclusion, most consider Dr. Zener and Rhine (especially Rhine and his wife) the founders of modern day Para-Psychology. Dr. Karl Zener invented a world-renowned test with Zener cards, which to this day people still use to test for psychic abilities.