What is it?
Used in the field of parapsychology to test people for extra-sensory perception (ESP), the Ganzfield Experiment (German for “entire field”) uses homogeneous and unpatterned sensory stimulation to produce a kind of sensory deprivation.
Parapsychologists Dean Radin and Daryl Bem have said that Ganzfield Experiments have given results which deviate to a significant degree from random results, that they present strong evidence for the existence of telepathy. However, some critics such as Susan Blackmore and Ray Hyman have stated that these results are inconclusive calling for further study before they can be scientifically accepted. Such is the norm in the paranormal field though!
Here is a Little History
Wolfgang Metzger devised the technique back in the 1930’s during his investigation into the Gestalt theory. Then later in the 1970’s Charles Honorton decided to use the Ganzfield method to achieve a state of sensory deprivation in which it is believed that psi can work.
Since Honorton and Harper published the first full experiment in the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research in 1974, the experiment remained a big part of Parapsychological research.
A Rough Outline of a Typical Method
A ‘receiver’ is left in a room relaxed in comfort, with halved ping-pong balls (yes I am serious) over their eyes, with a red light shone on them. They also wear headphones playing white noise. In this state the ‘receiver’ is in the state of mild sensory deprivation for half an hour. At this time the ‘sender’ observes a randomly selected target (perhaps a photo) and tries to mentally send the information to the ‘receiver’. The ‘receiver’ speaks out loud during the half hour, describing what they see. This is recorded by someone who is unaware of the target. Following this the ‘receiver’ is taken out of the Ganzfield state and given a set of targets, from which they must identify the one the ‘sender’ communicated to them.
My Experience with the Ganzfield Experiment
As soon as I began overnight investigation of certain locations I wanted to bring some of my own research into these investigations. The Ganzfield Experiment was something I had been aware of for a while and had read quite a bit about, but as I began my own investigations I saw the opportunity to bring this lab based experiment out into the field somehow. Given the scenario of an overnight investigation I always knew that the success of this was limited as a key element was the ability for the ‘receiver’ to reach a relaxed state, which could be difficult in the midst of an investigation. However I continued to try it several times at various investigations with different people and approaches. The most successful of which occurred when I took a team to Royston to investigate a building there. We set up the ‘receiver’ in a room on the first floor in the sensory deprivation state outlined above, then the ‘sender’ sat in the HQ for the investigation and thought of simple things to draw. What was interesting was during this experiment I listened live to the ‘receiver’ as she said out loud the things that came to mind. At one point she said the word ‘boot’ as the ‘sender’ was half way through drawing a ‘boot’, which was remarkable. The ‘sender’ couldn’t hear what the ‘receiver’ was sending. What’s interesting is that both in this experiment were good friends and worked together, so there was a lot of time spent together building the probable telepathic connection. However the question then became which one was the true ‘sender’ or ‘receiver’.
I hope to continue to do further experiments using the Ganzfield Experiment or similar approaches.