Roe, C. A. (2012) What have we learned from experimental tests of dream ESP? In: Bierman, D. (ed.) Aquém e Além do Cérebro: Sono e Sonhos (Behind and Beyond the Brain: Sleep and Dreams): 9º Simpósio da Fundação Bial. Porto: Bial Foundation. 9789729928642. pp. 115-126.
Approximately two thirds of all reported spontaneous cases of extrasensory perception (ESP) occur while the experient was in an altered state of consciousness, particularly while dreaming (Rhine, 1962). Early experimental attempts at the Maimonides sleep laboratory to elicit ESP by monitoring participants and waking them during REM sleep were remarkably successful, with an overall hit rate after 450 trials of 63% (where MCE = 50%) that has odds against chance of 75 million to one (Radin, 1997, p. 72). Attempts to replicate this promising finding have been limited by the prohibitive costs of maintaining a sleep laboratory and difficulties in recruiting participants for studies that require them to stay overnight. However, some researchers have continued to investigate dream ESP using cheaper and less labour-intensive methods. In this presentation I outline some of the methods adopted by teams working post-Maimonides and consider recent reviews of this database (Roe & Sherwood, 2009; Sherwood & Roe, 2003) to draw conclusions as to whether an effect has been demonstrated. I will pay particular attention to conceptual and methodological weakness in later replications and make recommendations for future work.
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