Gary E. Schwartz, Ph.D. Draft 2.1. 11.15.02 Revision submitted to the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research Page 16 of 17
1. Controlled Experiment Evaluating Precognitive Dreams
in a Highly Skilled Subject
Gary E. Schwartz, Ph.D.
Human Energy Systems Laboratory
The University of Arizona
Gary E. Schwartz, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology, Surgery, Medicine, Neurology, and Psychiatry
Director, Center for Frontier Medicine in Biofield Science
Director, Human Energy Systems Laboratory
The University of Arizona
Phone (520) 621-3248
Fax (520) 621-3249
This paper provides a preliminary report of a ten-day precognitive dream experiment conducted with Mr. Christopher Robinson (CR), a British citizen, in August 2001 in the Human Energy Systems Laboratory at the University of Arizona. A few days before CR left England, the primary experimenter (PE) selected twenty possible locations in southern Arizona. PE placed the name of each location in an envelope, sealed and shuffled the envelopes, and mailed the envelopes to a secondary experimenter (SE) in Rancho Sante Fe, California. SE, who was blind to the locations, selected a tertiary experimenter (TE) whose identity was kept secret from PE and CR for the duration of the experiment. TE shuffled the envelopes and numbered them from 1-20. Envelopes 11-20 were treated as control locations, 1-10 became the experimental locations. For ten consecutive nights, CR went to sleep, dreamt about the next day’s location, and recorded his dreams. In the mornings, PE interviewed CR, recorded the primary theme information, and then called SE who instructed TE to open the respective envelope, revealing the location to be visited for a given day. SE called PE; the information was kept secret from CR until the location was reached. CR’s overall accuracy was surprisingly high. Blind judging rules out rater bias as an explanation for the findings. The findings provide evidence consistent with CR’s claim that he has the ability to obtain precognitive dream information about specific locations. Future experiments are needed that include double-blind data collection to establish the veracity of the precognitive dream hypothesis. Narrowing the time window to the locations per se will simply the process of data collection, analysis, and interpretation.
The purpose of this controlled blinded experiment was to determine if Mr. Christopher Robinson (CR), a British citizen who claims to have the ability to receive information about future events in his dreams, could dream specific details – and in particular, patterns of details – about ten different locations that he would be taken to, one location per day, for ten consecutive days.
In a book published in England, (Robinson with Boot, 1994), CR recounts his personal history from having been a television repairman to becoming an uncover agent for Scotland Yard and British Intelligence. The book claims that CR is able to predict the occurrence of serious crimes, terrorist acts, and natural disasters through messages received while he sleeps. CR has carefully recorded the preponderance of his nightly dreams in diaries for over fourteen years. He has also demonstrated his purported precognitive dream ability on more than a dozen television shows. The author (GES) has spoken with two separate police officials in England who confirm CR’s longstanding collaboration in law enforcement activities and their satisfaction with his information.
CR contacted GES in April 2001, claiming that he had precognitive dreams (regularly used by local and governmental officials in England), and that he wanted to be tested scientifically under controlled conditions.
CR learned of GES through a paper published in the Journal of the Society of Psychical Research conducted at the University of Arizona documenting anomalous information retrieval by a team of high skilled mediums (Schwartz, Russek, Nelson, and Barentsen, 2001). He and his colleagues had conducted a series of experiments with individuals who appeared to have psychic abilities (Schwartz, Russek, Nelson, and Barentsen, 2001; Schwartz, Russek, and Barentsen, 2002; Schwartz and Russek, 2001, Schwartz, Geoffrion, Jain, Lewis, and Russek, 2002), as well as experiments with at least one individual who attempted (and was uncovered) to have engaged in fraud in the laboratory (Schwartz, Russek, and Nelson, 2002).
Though GES was initially skeptical of CR’s claims, as a result of (1) holding multiple transcontinental phone conversations, (2) reading the Robinson with Boot (1994) book, (3) conducting some preliminary long distance experiments to test CR’s abilities, and (4) accepting CR’s motivation to have his apparent skills put to scientific test (including his commitment to cover personally his own expenses, including travel and lodging), GES agreed to design an experiment with CR.
GES was aware of the small literature of laboratory research on precognitive dreams (e.g. Krippner, Ullman and Hornorton, 1971; Krippner, Hornorton, and Ullman, 1972), and the larger literature on remote viewing and ganzfeld research (e.g. reviewed in Radin, 1997). However, GES wanted to take an unbiased look at the phenomenon, “seeing with new eyes” as said by Marcel Proust. GES designed the experiment so that after the data were collected, independent judges could (1) read summary information provided by CR, (2) observe photos or videos of the sites, and (3) make blind judgments for matching.
Lange, Schredl, and Houran (2000) provide a review of precognitive dream research, including survey studies, diary studies, and laboratory studies. They cite Bender’s (1966) criteria for precognitive dreams:
The dream must be told or recorded before its fulfillment.
The dream must include enough details to render chance fulfillment unlikely.
The possibility of interference from actual knowledge must be excluded.
Self-fulfilling prophecies must be excluded.
Telepathic influences cannot explain the occurrence of the precognitive dreams.
The present experiment fulfilled Bender’s criteria. CR not only went to sleep in
Tucson in August 2001, and dreamt each night, for ten consecutive nights, where he would be taken each morning. He also collected three sets of ten consecutive nights of dream information in London (in May, June, and July) before he came to Tucson (and before the locations had been selected by GES in late July).
The hypothesis was that CR would obtain details about the sites that would enable blind judges to match the summary information with photo’s of the sites.
This preliminary paper reports the primary findings obtained in the experiment. The report includes blind scoring of CR’s summary information matched with photo’s of the sites. A more detailed paper, prepared as a monograph, will be published at a later date.
Selection of Locations and Experimental Preparation:
On July 28, 2001, GES selected 20 possible locations in greater Southern
Arizona. Only GES knew the identity of the 20 possible locations. The locations were chosen to vary in: distance from CR’s hotel (e.g. from less than a mile,
To more than 70 miles, striking and contrasting features (e.g. flat land to mountain tops, local shopping malls to aircraft museums, indoor sites to outdoor sites, above ground to below ground, desert plants to tall trees, etc.) local landmarks to obscurity (e.g. “Old Tucson”, a theme park and western movie studio, to an out-of-the-way gem and mineral store).
GES was familiar with all of the sites and had previously visited each of them on more than one occasion. CR was familiar with none of the sites and had never visited any of them. [Note – even if CR had been familiar with some of the sites, his prior knowledge would not have been a confounding factor because he, as well as GES, were kept blind to the identity of the actual ten locations selected as the sites to be visited as well as the exact days the locations would be visited.]
Each location was typed on a separate sheet of paper, placed in an envelop and sealed. GES wrote his name on the flap of each envelope and shuffled the twenty envelopes. The preparation of the envelopes was videotaped. Once the shuffling was completed, GES no longer knew which envelopes contained which locations. GES served the role of primary experimenter (PE).
An anonymous reviewer correctly suggested that if GES was a skilled magician, he could have known the order of the locations at this point. In principle this is correct; however, GES is not a trained magician, and it was not his purpose to know the order of the locations, especially since it was part of the experimental design for the envelopes to shuffled and numbered by a second person whose identity was kept secret from GES.
The envelopes were Federal Expressed to Rancho Sante Fe. Mr. William Simon (GES’s writing partner; Schwartz with Simon, 2002) received the envelopes. He served as the secondary experimenter (SE). SE is a distinguished author of non-fiction books who happens to be trained magician and an elected member of the Magic Castle club (SE’s skill as a magician helped design the experiment to minimize fraud as an explanation for the findings).
SE passed the envelopes to a third person (the tertiary experimenter, TE) whose identity was kept anonymous to PE and CR. In front of a video camera, TE shuffled the envelopes, and then numbered the envelopes from 1 to 20.
Envelopes 1 through 10 served as the experimental locations. Envelopes 11 through 20 were placed in a separate large envelope and served as the control locations.
The primary purpose of the 10 control locations (11 through 20) was to insure that PE could not figure out which locations were remaining as the experiment progressed over the ten days. If only ten locations (rather than 20) had been chosen, by the process of elimination, PE would have known after day 9 what the 10th location was. The control locations were not included in the data analysis.
Neither SE nor TE knew what the locations were or which locations were in which envelopes.
As mentioned above, prior to the experiment, CR had never visited any of the locations. A number of the locations are described in books and websites about Southern Arizona. However, even if CR had decided to learn about Southern Arizona, he was completely blind to the identity of (1) which locations were selected to make up the initial set of 20, (2) which of the selected 20 were further selected as the 10 to be visited, and (3) what was the precise order of the 10 final sites to be visited.
Pre-Tucson Precognitive Dream Data
Meanwhile, in London, CR collected three sets of ten consecutive nights of dream information (a set of ten in May, June, and July respectively) – well before PE selected the locations. CR claimed that since his dreams were precognitive, they could apply to the order of the locations even before PE consciously selected them.
Upon arriving in Tucson, CR showed PE his dream diary of pre-Tucson dreams. PE confirmed that the diary contained dated information that was generated prior to the beginning of the ten-day experiment. An anonymous reviewer asked why GES did not take the pre-Tucson diary from CR to ensure that CR did not modify it. The primary reason was that each day, the information from the pre-Tucson diary was video taped before CR and PE learned what the location was for a given day. Hence, the only incentive CR would have to modify the pre-Tucson diary would be that he received information from the previous night’s dream that he wanted to claim had actually been obtained weeks before. Nonetheless, it would have been preferable to remove the pre-Tucson diary from CR to exclude any possibility of tampering.
Tucson Dream Data
CR arrived in Tucson in the beginning of August 2001 and began the experiment, one location per night, on Thursday, August 2nd. The procedure was the same each of the ten days. In the evening, CR would go to sleep and ask where he would be taken the following morning. He recorded his information in a dream book. The following morning, PE went to CR’s hotel. PE videotaped the written information – not only the information obtained the previous night, but the information obtained in the same night in the sequence for May, June, and July as well.
CR then read the verbatim information and summarized the information and themes obtained for the four nights of dreams (three in London and one in Tucson). This summary information is referred as “primary theme” information. CR also calls these primary themes “fundamentals.”
CR was requested to write down his summary thoughts each morning, prior to PE’s arrival at CR’s hotel. PE interviewed CR each morning, and requested that CR state out loud, in front of the video camera, the “primary theme” information. Though PE sometimes questioned CR about specific statements for a given day (for example, CR sometimes used slang words that PE did not understand), the predictions were all made by CR – as fundamentals – and were duly recorded prior to PE calling SE in California.
The “primary theme” information was based on a combination of images witnessed by CR in his dreams and recorded in his diary, as well as CR’s interpretations of the images as needed. Since CR works as an undercover agent for the police, he understands the nature of evidence and the need to distinguish between what he experiences (the raw data) and what he interprets (his hypotheses). Part of CR’s “art of detection” is his ability to see patterns in the raw images and distinguish when an image is “literal” and when it is to be interpreted as a “symbol.”
To optimize CR’s natural process, he was given the freedom to summarize the primary information in his own way – so long as he did this prior to learning the identity of a given day’s location. These fundamentals were all clearly stated by CR and recorded before the identity of the day’s location was determined.
Since PE has examined the pre-Tucson dream diaries when CR first arrived in Tucson, he could be sure that whatever pre-Tucson information was included in the “primary theme” summaries, that such information had indeed been obtained at some time prior to CR’s visit to Tucson. Though PE did not think to have independent witnesses see the pre-Tucson diary upon CR’s arrival, he did inform a number of colleagues at the laboratory about the existence of this diary upon CR’s arrival (which was then video-taped each day).
Only after the primary themes / fundamentals were recorded did PE phone SE in California. SE then contacted TE, who in front of a video camera in California opened the respective envelope for the day. TE informed SE of the location.
SE then called PE and informed him of the location for the day. PE did not share with SE what CR had dreamt. PE did not share with CR where he would be taken.
PE and CR then drove to the selected location. Information (1) en route to the location, and (2) at the location was recorded, as well as (3) information obtained after the day’s experiment was completed (post session data). CR was clear that his dreams expressed information (1) en route to the location, (2) at the location, and (3) post the location (i.e. a 12 to 18 hour window of time per day).
Both PE and CR took video and still photo pictures en route and at the location (the primary data). After each location visit, PE and CR reviewed which information was accurate (i.e. fit the observations made on route to and at the site), and which information was either inaccurate or had not yet happened.
As described below, the preponderance of the summarized information (provided by CR before PE called SE) was found to apply to the locations and / or the route to the locations. We were fully cognizant of the fact that since we were looking for specific primary theme information each day, that the number of matches might be inflated due to selective attention and labeling of the information. Analyzing patterns of information helps correct this potential bias.
For example, a blind reviewer correctly pointed out that the statement “holes, lots of holes” (part of the primary theme for Day 1, see below) could readily fit “a golf course, a cave area, or a mining area.” We were well aware of this possibility. As the experiment unfolded day by day, we looked to see whether primary theme information obtained in one day – especially patterns of the fundamentals – could as easily fit other locations in the ten included in the experimental locations.
For example, concerning Day 1 fundamentals, it turned out that there were no golf courses or mining areas in the ten locations visited. Though there was one cave location (Day 6, see below), this location had one major hole. Moreover, the pattern of primary theme information reported by CR for Day 6 clearly fit Day 6 better than Day 1, and vice versa. For example, on Day 6 one of the fundamentals was “ladders.” Day 6 includes a “ladder tour” – there were no evidence of “ladders” on Day 1.
The general statement “none of the other nine locations had the pattern of these themes (or fundamentals)” turned out to fit each of the ten locations.
The same comment applies to the fact that four of the ten locations turned out to be “museums.” Interestingly, CR never dreamt of a “museum.” Instead, he dreamed about patterns of fundamentals that distinguished an outdoor animal “museum” (Day 1), from a gem and mineral store that contained a museum (Day 5) from an astronomy space “museum” (Day 8) from a Native-American museum (Day 10) that he never entered (it was closed; his dreams predicedt that this day would end early). It is the analysis of patterns of fundamental information that best match CR’s dreams to the different locations.
The results are presented in two phases. Phase I: the data are reported as CR and PE collected them on-line. Phase II: the findings are reported using post-data collection blind judging.
Each day PE rated CR’s overall accuracy from 0 to 10. At this point PE was no longer blind for a given day. These non-blind global summary ratings are included in this report for historical purposes only. What is important in the data analysis are the precise details and patterns of summarized information that were selectively observed en route to, as well as present at, the specific locations.
Note that CR rarely named the locations (remember, CR had never been to Tucson and had never visited any of the ten locations). What CR did was obtain specific information that captured key elements of the locations that were unique to each location.
Fundamental information about the post location data is not included in this brief report (but will be reported in a monograph and subsequent book).
For each of the ten days, the “primary theme” information (i.e. the fundamentals)
are reported, followed by the en route and location findings. CR provided the “primary
theme” information per day as a summary of the four days of sleep information (May,
June, July, and August) before PE called SE.
Phase I: Days 1 through 10
On Day 1, the primary theme of CR’s dreams was “holes, lots of holes.”
He also saw a “basin empty of water.” CR was taken to the Sonoran Desert Museum.
This outdoor museum is situated in a “basin” that was once an ocean (now empty of water). The Museum looks out at the expanse of the basin. The Museum’s exhibits of animals all involve large holes in the ground. As mentioned above, none of the other nine locations had the theme of a empty basin plus of lots of holes. PE’s favorite section at the Desert Museum has prairie dogs with hundreds of holes in the ground. Rating 8.
Note – CR also had a dream related to a bombing in London that night; the next day (Day 1 of the experiment), a bombing in London was reported on CNN.
On Day 2, the primary themes were “shops and workshops…fabricating things….metal” CR was taken to Tubac (an artist colony) to a specific shop that had metal sculptures. The shop had a workshop in the back. None of the other nine locations had this combination of specific themes. Rating 10.
On Day 3, the primary themes were “heads, lots of heads…belts, leather, jeans.”
CR was taken to the Tucson Mall. PE parked where he always parked, the lower level of Dillards Department Store. Upon entering the store the very first sales counter had a large selection of mannequin heads for sale (the sale was so unique that PE purchased a “head” as a remembrance). PE also purchased a pair of jeans in the store as a reminder. None of the other nine locations had this pattern of themes. Rating 10.
On Day 4, the primary themes were “suns, mirrors, LCDs, telescopes, Mount Olympus (after his 35mm camera), airplanes, hangers, a pitched propeller). CR was taken to Kitt Peak National Laboratory (at the top of a huge mountain) to the world’s largest Solar Telescope. CR and PE ate lunch at a nearby airport restaurant with hangers that had a large pitched propeller in front. None of the other nine locations had this combination of themes. Rating 10.
On Day 5, primary themes included “car with four flat tires, no ‘mineral’ oil, and cars stopped by men at a ‘border crossing’.” CR was taken to an old Gem and Mineral store that had a car with four flat tires in front (parked there for 20 years). En route CR and PE passed workmen stopping cars near a huge water tank with lettering that said “Borderland.” None of the other locations had this pattern of themes. Rating 10.
On Day 6, CR was awoken by police outside his window and lost his immediate dream. However, the fundamental themes of his earlier London dreams were police, moving vans, road closed curving at a dead end, murky water, and ladders dangerous. CR was taken to the Colossal Cave (which has ladders in it and a specific “ladder” tour that is advertised at the location). CR and PE passed murky water on the side of the street (the one day it had rained during the ten day experiment). The Cave ended at a curved road closed at a dead end; a moving van had gone up the road and got stuck (the police came). None of the other nine locations had this pattern of themes. Rating 10.
On Day 7, the primary themes included “dust, dust everywhere, including on the floor in a building, a court room, and a train robbery.” CR was taken to Old Tucson, a western theme park that is also used as a movie set. There is dust everywhere, including a room with a complete dusty floor. A large train has been used in more than 100 movies involving train robberies. Old Tucson includes a courtroom. None of the other nine locations had this pattern of themes. Rating 10.
On Day 8, the primary themes included “space, space capsule, archeology, crossing over a dry river.” CR was taken to the University of Arizona Planetarium (a space museum), which includes archeology and pictures of purported dry riverbeds on Mars. None of the other nine locations had this pattern of themes. Rating 10.
On Day 9, the primary themes included “parking meters, satellite dishes, a murder taking place nearby.” CR was taken to downtown Tucson. The place that PE planned to park had parking meters and a huge set of satellite dishes. The following day, the front page of the Tucson paper reported the murder of an elderly woman close to downtown Tucson. None of the other nine locations had this pattern of themes. Rating 10.
On Day 10, the primary themes included “trees, greenery, crossing over a river, and an Army building.” He was taken to the Arizona State Museum. The area of the building has huge trees with green grass (unique for Tucson, looks like a London park). CR and PE had to cross over a “river” (a stream of water) to get to the Museum (construction was going on at the time). Returning from the Museum (which was closed – see below), CR and PE passed the Army ROTC building. None of the other nine locations had this pattern of themes. Rating 10.