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Many people report that they know in advance who is on the phone when the telephone is ringing. Sheldrake and Smart [1, 2] conducted experiments where participants had to determine which one of four possible callers is on the phone while the telephone was still ringing. They report highly significant hit rates that cannot be explained by conventional theories.
We attempted to replicate these findings in a series of three experiments. In study one, 21 participants were asked to identify the callers of 20 phone calls each. Overall 26.7 % were identified correctly (mean chance expectation 25%, ns). In a second study a pre-selection test was introduced in a different experimental setting. Eight participants identified 30% of the calls correctly (p = .15). However one of the participants recognized 10 out of 20 calls correctly (p = .014). We conducted a third study with only this participant. In an additional 60 trials she could identify 24 callers correctly (p = .007). We conclude that we could not find any anomalous cognition effect in self-selected samples. But our data also strongly suggest that there are a few participants who are able to score reliably and repeatedly above chance.