Not only does this study (which appears to be considered truly scientific by any standard) demonstrate psychic phenomena, it hints at exciting things regarding the nature of time and destiny. And I’m not blowing it out of proportion. Read on…
In one of the studies, college students were given a list of words and after reading the list, were given a surprise recall test to see how many words they remembered. Next, a computer randomly selected some of the words on the list as practice words and the participants were asked to retype them several times. The results of the study showed that the students were better at recalling the words on the surprise recall test that they were later given, at random, to practice. According to Bem, practicing the words after the test somehow allowed the participants to “reach back in time to facilitate recall.”
In another study, Bem examined whether the well-known priming effect could also be reversed. In a typical priming study, people are shown a photo and they have to quickly indicate if the photo represents a negative or positive image. If the photo is of a cuddly kitten, you press the “positive” button and if the photo is of maggots on rotting meat, you press the “negative” button. A wealth of research has examined how subliminal priming can speed up your ability to categorize these photos. Subliminal priming occurs when a word is flashed on the computer screen so quickly that your conscious brain doesn’t recognize what you saw, but your nonconscious brain does. So you just see a flash, and if I asked you to tell me what you saw, you wouldn’t be able to. But deep down, your nonconscious brain saw the word and processed it. In priming studies, we consistently find that people who are primed with a word consistent with the valence of the photo will categorize it quicker. So if I quickly flash the word “happy” before the kitten picture, you will click the “positive” button even quicker, but if I instead flash the word “ugly” before it, you will take longer to respond. This is because priming you with the word “happy” gets your mind ready to see happy things.
In Bem’s retroactive priming study, he simply reversed the time sequence on this effect by flashing the primed word after the person categorized the photo. So I show you the kitten picture, you pick whether it is positive or negative, and then I randomly choose to prime you with a good or bad word. The results showed that people were quicker at categorizing photos when it was followed by a consistent prime. So not only will you categorize the kitten quicker when it is preceded by a good word, you will also categorize it quicker when it is followed by a good word. It was as if, while participants were categorizing the photo, their brain knew what word was coming next and this facilitated their decision.
These are just two examples of the studies that Bem conducted, but his other studies showed similar “retroactive” effects. The results clearly suggest that average “non-psychic” people seem to be able to anticipate future events.
There are a few things to get tingly about here. First, the fact that this study was conducted in such a way as to be considered valid and valid enough to be published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. So we shouldn’t expect any of the usual poo-pooing (well I suppose we should, because some people just can’t accept anything psi-related) of the methodologies that have dogged other serious researchers like Rupert Sheldrake or Dean Radin. Second, this kind of research can be replicate in so many ways, further honing in on the phenomena – much more will be learned after this. Third, the implications of the nature of time are profound. Fourth, this study just happens to be coming out around the same time as another study conducted by physicists on particles that essentially demonstrates the same thing! It’s being demonstrated that particles behave differently in the present depending upon what happens to them in the future. THAT is trippy.
Now the question is, how soon before someone creates an iPhone app based on this?