→ Statistics → Spr15 ME50 → ESP Lab
Updated 11 Jan 2015

ESP Lab (Due on 21 Apr)

Copyright © 2002–2015 by Stan Brown

Summary: Do you have ESP? ESP (extra-sensory perception) is the transmission of information from one person to another without any known physical means such as sound, sight, motion, and so forth. In this lab, you’ll pick a partner and use statistics to test whether one of you can receive images that the other sends.

Your partner may be a classmate or someone outside the class, even a non-student (minimum age 18). If both of you are MATH200 students, do the experiment twice. This will give each MATH200 student a completely separate set of data to analyze and hand in.


Pick five distinct objects in a category — five colors, five models of car, five foods, five names of your kids, five sports teams or logos or players, five supermodels, whatever. Make sure you pick five objects that both sender and receiver can readily distinguish: if you’re a car nut but the other person never gets beyond “big and blue”, don’t use cars.

Take two sheets of paper. Write “SENDER” and the sender’s name at the top of one; write “RECEIVER” and the receiver’s name at the top of the other. Then in a row at the top of both papers write the names of the five objects or colors you chose. On the “SENDER” paper only, number the objects from 1 to 5.

On both papers, write the numbers 1 to 100, leaving space for the answers, because you are going to make 100 trials.

Turn on your TI-83, which you will use to make sure you send images in random order. In preparation, compute randInt(1,5) — to do this, press [MATH] [] [5] to select “randInt(”, then press [1] [,] [5] [)] [ENTER].

The Experiment

One of you will be the sender, and the other will be the receiver. (Usually the sender is a MATH200 student, but this is not mandatory.) In 100 trials, the sender will concentrate on one of the five objects or colors (in random order), and the receiver will try to get the signal. Make sure you both understand the instructions before you begin the experiment.

Instructions to both: Pick a time and place with no distractions, to make the most favorable conditions for ESP. Sit comfortably where you can’t see each other’s paper, back to back for instance. Don’t compare answers in any way during the experiment.

Instructions to receiver: Your partner will call out a trial number 1–100, and then send you a mental image of one of the five things at the top of your paper. You should concentrate and try to receive the image your partner is sending. Write it down in the numbered space, and say “Ready”. Don’t try to think about it, just write down the first one of those five images that pops into your head.

Instructions to sender: Press [ENTER] to get the next random number. Look at the top of your sheet for which object has this number, and write down the object name (not the number) in the next numbered space. Announce “sending trial” and the trial number (1–100), and concentrate on sending an image of the object or color to your partner. When he or she says “Ready”, get another random number and do the next trial, till you’ve done this 100 times.

After the 100th trial, compare papers. Using a different colored marker, mark each trial where the receiver and sender wrote down the same object name. (Do this on either the sender’s paper or the receiver’s; you don’t have to do it on both.) Count up the number of these successes and write it at the bottom of the data sheet: “___ successes out of 100”. This is the key result of your experiment.

The data sheets may be a little messy, but that’s fine. In an experiment you always save your original data sheets, and never rewrite them, because that could bring in copying errors.

Things to Think About

What hypothesis are you testing? “My partner and I have ESP.” How can you frame that in statistical terms? Remember that your hypotheses must be in this form:

(population parameter symbol) (relational like =, >, ≤) (number)

Here are three questions to help you set up your hypotheses in correct symbols:

Use a significance level of 0.01. (Since people have strong opinions about ESP, you don’t want to get into it on a significance of merely 0.05.)

You may remember from class that sometimes it’s appropriate to do something extra after a hypothesis test. If you do, you’ll get a couple of extra-credit points.

It may be a good idea to discuss your data analysis with your instructor or a Baker Center tutor before turning in your report, to make sure you’re on the right track. Baker Center writing tutors can also help if your English skills are shaky.

What to Hand In

Your report may be word processed or neatly and legibly handwritten. Include all elements mentioned in the grading rubric below, in order please.

Omit the customary description of how the experiment was conducted, since everyone is doing the experiment the same way.

Don’t hand in these instructions, and don’t use any kind of report cover. Just staple your report, with your original data sheets at the back, before you come to class.


The lab counts 50 points, divided as follows:

Introduction (10 points)
3Experiment’s purpose described clearly and concisely
In a few words, what are you trying to decide?
2Specific data type
3Case number (2 pts) and description (1 pt) from Inferential Statistics: Basic Cases
2Date of experiment, partner’s full name. Which was sender and which was receiver?
Hypothesis Test (30 points)
1All HT steps in order and numbered
8Hypotheses correctly stated in symbols (4 pts) and English (4 pts)
“English” doesn’t mean just restating what the symbols said. It should relate to the purpose of the experiment.
3Adequate justification for choice of relational in H1
(You chose <, ≠, or >. Why that rather than one of the others?)
5Demonstration that requirements are met
7p-value computation clear, in order, and correct for your H0
Show all TI-83 inputs and outputs including screen name.
2Correct conclusion for your p-value, stated in statistical language
4Correct and concise English-language conclusion, based on your p-value and H0/H1
General (10 points)
5Standard English spelling and grammar
3Professional appearance (Neat handwriting won’t count against you; scratch-outs will.)
2Original data sheets set up per Preparation and attached at end
You must attach them or the lab can’t be accepted.
−5(Deduct 5 if report not neatly stapled)

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