Sunday, 6 April 2014

Why Psychics Don't Win Lotteries

     Readers of this blog will be aware that I consider there to be adequate evidence for extra-sensory perception (ESP), or clairvoyance. So this raises the question - the $64,000 question - which skeptics always introduce: how come these "psychics" never seem to win the lottery? Is there some special dispensation to the rest of us that they are unable to use it for their own advantage? Well, apart from the possibility that some of them might just be doing so, the short answer is: the skeptics are mostly right. 90% - perhaps 99% - of professional psychics are either outright charlatans or self-deluded. But what about the small residue of genuine cases? To answer that, just look at the claims. The most plausible psychic anecdotes - the ones most likely to be true - fall into two categories. The first involves sudden flashes of insight, usually involving danger or disaster. The second involves vague impressions induced by the presence of a person or an object - sufficient to predict being decorated by the King some time in the indefinite future, but not good enough to determine whether you will gain the latest promotion, let alone next week's winning lottery numbers. To put it bluntly, nobody's psychic powers are that strong. If you don't believe me, just ask the U.S. intelligence services
     Hearing rumours of Soviet psychic discoveries, and fearing they might be left behind, in 1972 the U.S. started looking at the possibility of ESP, and from 1977 employed a team of "remote viewers", as they were called, until the program petered out in the early 1990s. You may have heard about them being employed by the CIA, but this is only partly true. The CIA looms high in everybody's consciousness, but the U.S. has an alphabet soup of spy agencies, and the remote viewers found themselves shunted from one to another as interest and funds fluctuated. Only a minimum screening for psychic abilities was performed - mostly questions about their experiences and beliefs. By and large, they were just ordinary (G.I.) Joes cultivating a potential probably inherent in all of us. An analogy is musical skill; some of us are woeful, a few are naturally gifted, but most people can at least hold a tune. Also, despite what experimental psychic research would lead you to believe, their powers did not wane with time. And, no, the U.S. spymasters were not so stupid as to rely on ESP as such. They treated it as merely another source of data for the big jigsaw puzzle, to confirm or be confirmed by other information, and to suggest leads.
     They did have some remarkable successes, and in the process, made a lot of observations - unsystematic, to be true, and therefore not strictly speaking scientific - on the scope and limitations of the phenomenon. Although they did not say so, I would suggest the observations provide an illuminating glimpse at what an advanced technology may be capable of doing, and what, I strongly suspect, otherwordly technologies are already using.
"Once you discover that space doesn't matter [one of them told a reporter], or that time can be travelled through at will so that time doesn't matter, and that matter can be moved by consciousness so that matter doesn't matter . . . well, you can't go home again."
     The first constraint was the weakness of the "signal" or, more likely, the weakness of our senses to detect it. It was like attempting to piece together a picture from sudden pin-prick glimpses. The signal appeared to be largely subliminal, that is, it came in below the level of the conscious mind to detect. They learned to get around this by seeking to defer interpretation until the latter parts of the observation. Initially, they would concentrate on raw data, such as incoherent drawings of the image accessed, along with general impressions such as "dry", "steep", or "sharp". Only towards the end, when several members of the team had pooled their impressions, would analysis begin.
     Equally, some targets were easier to see than others. Anything with religious, supernatural, or paranormal significance tended to stand out to the inner eye. So were visually dramatic objects which were fixed and of long standing. But, of course, what particularly interested the spymasters were new objects, and people moving around.
     More to the point, alpahnumeric details, such as the numbers of a lottery ticket or a name on a dossier, were especially difficult to observe. Only one member of the team was in any way proficient at it. The rest couldn't even count the items they were viewing. One of them, Joseph McMoneagle, was asked to "go into" a huge Soviet building. In a trance, he saw an absolutely gigantic submarine with a very large number of missile tubes. But he was completely unable to count them. Instead, he chose to draw the sub, and came up with a double line of nine or ten tubes: eighteen or twenty missiles in all. His  superiors were skeptical, but four months later, more conventional information confirmed that a massive submarine had been launched, and it had twenty missile tubes.
     At one point, they performed some tests by using a computer to vary the probability of selecting targets. It might be arranged for a 66% probability of target one being selected, and 34% target two. Or it could be 99% target one, and 1% target two. It turned out that, not only were the remote viewers best able to see objects which were spatially fixed and of long standing, they were more likely to see the most probable of the outcome. No doubt this can tell us something about reality, if we could only work it out. In any case, it explains why extremely improbable events, such as next week's winning lottery numbers, are almost impossible to predict.
     It doesn't mean that gambling is impossible using ESP. Binary categories, such as red and black, or up and down, are easier to predict. Hal Putoff, the head of the unit, and his wife used to use it at Las Vegas. However, it is clear that they treated gambling the way it should be treated: it was a game, and money was only how they kept score. If they won more than they lost, well and good, but basically, it was  entertainment, for which they were prepared to pay a price. The idea was to bet on a sequence of reds and blacks on a roulette wheel after the wheel landed to one of the green '00' markers. But first, up in their room, they would do their remote viewing, and only go down after they had converged on a specific sequence. They didn't always win, but on many occasions they won back the cost of the trip, plus some.
     After leaving the unit, two of the members, Targ and Harary formed a company called Delphi Associates to play the silver futures market. On a Sunday, Targ would pick two targets in the San Francisco area, and decide that, if the market went up on Monday, he would take his associate to (say) the Transamerica skyscraper. If it went down, he would take him to (say) Fisherman's Wharf. Harary would not be told of these choices; he would just be asked to visualise where he would be on Monday. If, for example, he sensed salt air and seagulls, Targ would conclude it was Fisherman's Wharf, and advise the client to bet on the market going down. Some clients made real money this way, but pulled out after a couple of false predictions. Just the same, Putoff and his wife tried the same scheme when they needed $25,000 to set up a private school. They trained a number of board members in remote viewing (see, anyone can do it!) and made the $25,000 in a month. (I note that this has recently been confirmed by experiment.)
     Would you be able to use this method to pick race horses? Who knows? Perhaps it would be best to at first hone down your investigations to the horses must likely to win. And there's the rub. There are much better ways to predict race results. In fact, some people are so expert at it, they are able to make a living by it. They are called bookmakers.
     Take my advice: if you want to get rich gambling, then learn how to read the form guides. Or learn how to count cards at blackjack. But if you consult a psychic about next week's lottery, you will be wasting your time and money.
     At least, that's my prediction.

Reference: Jim Schabel (1997), Remote Viewers. The secret history of America's psychic spies. Bantam
PS. While I have your attention, my original scientific research was done on koala behaviour 40 years ago. I have now written up a popular account of it on another blog, so if any of you want to read about Australia' favourite marsupial, you may do so here.

6 comments:

  1. Great article. It should be noted that Edgar Cayce, America's "sleeping Prophet", early on discovered he could psychically predict the rise and fall of certain stocks in the stock market. Although Cayce himself never profited from his psychic gift, some people who received stock market readings from Cayce made fortunes while others won horse races using Cayce's psychic gift. On occasion, he pointed to the location of oil wells, and correctly foretold a real estate boom in the Norfolk-Newport area of the United States. One reading Cayce gave revealed the location of oil in Bade County, Florida, where everyone was instead thinking only of oranges. Cayce gave advice to businessmen who were worried about the stability of their stocks. One stockbroker lost his fortune, achieved through Cayce, when he persisted in playing the market contrary to Cayce’s advice. One man who had won on horse races by misusing Cayce's gift ended up in mental institution. In April of 1929, six months before the stock market crash, Cayce warned people to sell everything they owned in the market. Many who had followed Cayce before, failed to pay attention to his warning and lost everything.

    But Cayce's own readings stressed repeatedly that his gift was not to be used for financial or personal gain. In fact, Edgar Cayce himself found early on in his career that if he did attempt to make money from the information he received in his trances, he would suffer for it physically. Whenever he read subconsciously for gain, his own or somebody else’s, he suffered severe headaches and stomach upsets; and in extreme cases, it would cause him to lose his voice. One notable example of this occurred when he had given a test demonstration by describing to doctors in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the exact movements of a real estate operator in New York as he climbed up to his office, smoking a cigar and whistling "Annie Laurie." Because Cayce accurately revealed his exact movements, the realtor immediately saw an opportunity. He took the next train to visit Cayce and offered to make him a fortune on Wall Street. After discussing the matter with his wife and being reminded how ill he would get if he abused his power, Cayce turned down the offer but instead gave him a reading. When Cayce awoke from his trance, the realtor had already left - with an armful of notes. That night, Cayce was unable to sleep because of a horrible headache. Later in the week, Cayce learned that the realtor had taken advantage of Cayce while in trance, picked Cayce's subconscious mind, and made $20,000 on the stock market in one day.

    So, Edgar Cayce is one exception to the rule. However, he paid dearly for it.

    Kevin Williams
    http://www.near-death.com/cayce.html

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  2. I had a psychic give me the winning 3 digit number for the evening lottery...ironically it was the same number of the flight we took to italy, so why not play it? I did and won 3,000.00....not too shabby for a psychic that supposedly knows diddly squat about everything else she told me about. Like the 5 kids (all boys) she said I was going to have) or that I was going to marry someone with the name beginning with "D", close it was "F". :)

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  3. One more observation I need to add. Some people who are able to have out-of-body experiences (OBEs) and/or near-death experiences (NDEs), have successfully read and remembered numbers while out-of-their body under conditions that would be impossible for them to read and remember unless they were indeed outside of their body. The phenomenon is called veridical perception and I will site the most interesting examples.

    (1) Dr. Charles Tart, one of the founders of the field of transpersonal psychology, studied a woman who could induce out-of-body experiences at will. Dr. Tart placed a 5-digit number in a location she could not read while conscious and in her body and asked her to read and remember it while out-o-body. She correctly read and remembered the 5-digit number. The odds of correctly calling such a number is (P = 10^-5) or an odds of 1 in 100,000. He published this study in the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research which you can read here: http://near-death.com/tart.html

    (2) Dr. Norma Bowe, a professor from Kean University, spent two decades working in emergency rooms, intensive care, and psychiatric wards before coming to Kean University, where she has taught classes on mental health, nursing, and public health. She has documented evidence of a particular patient of hers who was brought into the E.R. in a near-death state and who successfully read and remembered the 12-digit number of the respirator's serial number after she was revived. The patient was a woman who has obsessive compulsive disorder involving a serious "counting problem" which explains why she would be interested in the number in the first place. At the time, Dr. Bowe was skeptical of the woman's revelation about the number because many patients of hers have described having an OBE which she believed to be hallucinations. But she decided to verifiy whether or not the woman correctly read that number. To read the respirator's number requires a ladder because the number is located at the top of the ladder. To her complete surprise, the serial number was indeed the correct one. Here is a YouTube video of Dr. Bowe describing the incident: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bh1ToUuYkJQ#at=63

    (3) Other documented evidence of veridical perception that are not anecdotal and do not involve numbers can be read at these links:

    A. Pam Reynold's veridical NDE perception of the operating room: http://near-death.com/experiences/evidence01.html

    B. Dr. Raymond Moody's study involving veridical NDE perception: http://near-death.com/experiences/evidence02.html

    C. Vicki Umipeg, a woman born blind, sees for the first time during her NDE: http://near-death.com/experiences/evidence03.html

    D. Dr. George Ritchie's veridical NDE perception of an event thousands of miles away: http://near-death.com/ritchie.html

    E Dr. Pim van Lommel's patient who had veridical NDE perception of his dentures: http://near-death.com/experiences/research11.html#a03d

    F. And finally, Al Sullivan, who had veridical NDE perception during surgery of the O.R.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5_x8U7SR0I

    These are just the best examples of veridical perception in both OBEs and NDEs that I know of. There are many others not included in this list. Altogether, these cases provide scientific evidence suggestive of the reality of: mind/body duality; nonlocal consciousness existing independant of the brain; and survival of consciousness after death.

    Kevin Williams, B.Sc.
    www.near-death.com

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  4. So, the answer is...no, psychics do not have the ability to predict lottery numbers?

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  5. While many psychics are on record for predicting that a particular person would win the lottery or "win big money" (see +++ EXAMPLES below), finding a psychic who can accurately predict the numbers of a lottery are hard to find. However, there is the case of Dr. Milan Ryzl, a biochemist at the Czech Institute of Biology, who spent years trying to interest the Czech government in supporting psychic research -- all with very little success. So Ryzl continued his own studies which involved hypnotic techniques for developing ESP subjects. After practicing on some 500 individuals, Ryzl claimed to have found fifty with very strong, testable psi abilities. Ryzl used his psychic subjects to predict the winning numbers in the Czech public lottery. He was successful for weeks in a row winning the equivalent of several thousand dollars. However, as it was with Edgar Cayce, Ryzl's psychical research successes also proved to be detrimental to his safety. The Czech regime became very interested in his work and he soon found himself constantly followed by secret agents. Even his manuscripts were stolen. Eventually the regime forced him to spy on his scientific colleagues in other countries. They made it very clear they were interested in the development of psi techniques for espionage purposes. The Czech government controlled Ryzl's life to such a point that he had no choice but to either comply or defect. His escape from Czechoslovakia was a masterpiece in precise timing. He actually contrived to leave the country with his entire family in three automobiles and many valuable possessions including his prized library. Ironically, Ryzl recalls that the details of his defection had been predicted for him fifteen years earlier by a psychic who had been a friend of the family. Researchers in socialist countries have continued the emphasis on the practical applications of ESP initiated by scientists such as Ryzl. Since Ryzl's defection, western psychical research has become somewhat more oriented toward practical uses. Dr. Ryzl shared his personal experiences as a researcher in the best-selling book "Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain." One of Dr. Ryzl's subjects was able to identify each digit of a 15 digit number through clairvoyant perception. More about Dr. Milan Ryzl can be found here: http://mankindresearchunlimited.iwarp.com/whats_new_27.html and here: http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/ciencia/ciencia_psycho07.htm

    +++ EXAMPLES of psychics who predicted a particular person would win the lottery or "big money":
    (1) A Psychic Who Predicted Own Lottery Win: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7Ny5gt8zkk
    (2) Psychic Predicts Lotto Win: https://au.news.yahoo.com/qld/a/13508535/psychic-predicts-lotto-win/
    (3) Couple Scoops £3m Lotto Win After Psychic's Premonition: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1027222/He-dreamt-predicted-Builder-scoops-3m-Lotto-win-psychics-premonition.html
    (4) Psychic Wins Lottery: http://www.psychic-junkie.com/psychic-wins-lottery.html
    (5) Psychic Helps Woman Win $6.8M Lottery: http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2007/02/28/3676880-sun.html
    (6) Psychic Sisters Win the Lottery: http://voices.yahoo.com/psychic-sisters-win-lottery-1421999.html?cat=11
    (7) NZ Lotto Win Follows Psychic Prediction: http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-world/nz-lotto-win-follows-psychic-prediction-20101117-17wmu.html
    (8) Carole Dakin - Psychic Wins Lottery - Finally!: http://web.archive.org/web/20120107003521/http://www.biglotterywinners.com/2009/05/carole-dakin-psychic-wins-lottery.html
    (9) $14 Million Lotto Winner Says Psychic Told Him He’d Win: http://www.citynews.ca/2009/01/26/14-million-lotto-winner-says-psychic-told-him-hed-win/
    There are more articles but I'm limited in space to provide them.

    Kevin Williams
    www.near-death.com

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  6. please read early book by 'dannion brinkley' - he won what he wanted and
    stopped because of greedy fair weather friends.
    buddy here could tell time on clock in another room, understand conversations
    in other cars on highway and shot perfect scores on targets. he quit shooting.
    I guess it is like being able to move your ' in flight ' golf ball with your thoughts.
    one kinds of looses interest after a few holes ;-))
    love all - jim .
    .

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