Waking precognition experiments: postmortem

I’ve now completed five experiments in waking precognition. In each experiment I tried to foresee the contents of a randomly selected book before reading it, and for each book I came up with 10 potentially precognitive images. The five books I used were:

  • The Poems of Giacomo Leopardi. Translated by Frederick Townsend.
  • The Letters of Lord Nelson to Lady Hamilton. Vol. II.
  • Edward Stewart White. The Westerners.
  • Laura Lee Hope. The Moving Picture Girls Under the Palms.
  • Max Pemberton. The Man Who Drove the Car.

The table below shows the results for each of these 50 images. The number 0 indicates a miss; 1 indicates a weak similarity to something in the book or in my life during the book-reading period; 2 indicates a moderate similarity; 3 would have been used to indicate a perfect hit if there had been any. One of the images is marked N/A because it was fulfilled by my seeing something which I had seen many times before and can therefore not be considered specifically precognitive.


Leo. Nel. White Hope Pem.
1. 0 0 1 0 0
2. 1 0 0 0 0
3. 0 1 0 0 0
4. 2 0 0 0 0
5. 0 0 0 0 0
6. N/A 0 2 0 0
7. 2 0 0 0 0
8. 0 0 0 0 0
9. 0 0 0 1 0
10. 0 0 0 0 0


So 84% of the images are complete misses, without even the slightest resemblance to anything in the books; and there is not a single instance of clear and unambiguous precognition. As for the smattering of ones and twos, it’s impossible to evaluate them in any statistically rigorous manner, since there is no control group and no way of determining how many such results ought to be expected to occur by chance under the null hypothesis that there is no such thing as precognition. However, my common-sense interpretation is that I have not demonstrated any precognitive abilities and that I have failed to replicate Dunne’s results.

I will not be doing any more of these book experiments, since my results thus far give me no reason to expect anything interesting to result from them.


Filed under Precognition / Prophecy, Statistics

3 responses to “Waking precognition experiments: postmortem

  1. My only suggestion is that if precognition was to be real, it would probably only apply to books which you wanted or needed to read – and not to ‘random’ books.

    Maybe next time you are about to read a book which you are very, deeply, interested to read – you could try the experiment again?

    The only time I recall anything at all like precognition of a book, although I tend to call it synchronicity or deja vu, would be in instances when there was a book I felt strongly I ought to read – something I felt drawn to.

  2. I understand your point, but the problem is that being deeply interested in reading a given book generally implies that I already know something about it before I begin reading. I will have discussed it with friends, read reviews, flipped through it a bit in the bookshop, etc.; and this prior familiarity with the book’s contents would tend to “contaminate” the results and make it harder to identify genuine instances of precognition.

    Flipping through the pages is the real problem, I suppose. Reviews and conversations will usually deal only with important points, and so would not affect precognitions relating to incidental details. In flipping through a book, though, you might notice anything, and supposedly precognitive images could easily be influenced by subconscious memories of what you’ve seen. That’s why I limited myself to e-books in my experiments.

    • Point taken. But this kind of research will never convince anybody but yourself anyway! (Since they will simply disbelieve or explain away anything they don’t want to believe.) So this is mostly for your own satisfaction. And if you had a very counter-intuitive, detailed and specific precognition about a book which – say – you knew only from a strong general recommendation or reference from a trusted source – that may be convincing.

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