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Patricia Putt Preliminary MDC Test PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Alison Smith   

Richard WisemanOn 6 May 2009, Patricia Putt, who claims to have psychic powers, will participate in the preliminary test for the James Randi Educational Foundation’s One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge.

Mrs. Putt will be tested at Goldsmiths University by Professor Christopher French, Professor Richard Wiseman, and psychology students Panka Juhasz, James Munroe, Suzanne Barbieri, and Fabio Tartarini.

"It's great that Patricia has agreed to be tested and accepted the protocol," said Professor Wiseman, author of Quirkology, "In my experience, the vast majority of psychics and mediums back down before this point, so this is going to be a relatively rare and exciting experiment.  My hope is that all will go well with the procedure on the day and thus we will get a clear result one way or the other."

chrisf_jsPatricia Putt approached JREF staff claiming the ability to tell personal information about individuals simply by being near them and hearing their voices. Her claim was negotiated into a protocol with JREF staff, and on 6 May, Mrs. Putt will be presented with a series of individuals and asked to write a lengthy reading about each of them. To guard against subconscious cues, the volunteers will wear heavy clothing and sunglasses, and will face away from Mrs. Putt for the course of the reading.

So Mrs. Putt will be able to hear their voices, each volunteer will read a passage from William Blake’s ‘The Auguries of Innocence.’

"I'm looking forward to the test," said Professor Christopher French, “Although I've tested lots of psychic claimants before, it will be the first time I've done so with my good friend Richard Wiseman. On the basis of my previous experience of testing claimants at the preliminary stage of the JREF Million Dollar Challenge, I have to be honest and say that I am not expecting Patricia to pass the test. But I think an important part of being a sceptic is always being prepared to be proved wrong. If Patricia really can do what she thinks she can do, wouldn't that be fantastic?"

Professor French, head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths, tested Derek Ogilvie, the baby whisperer.

"I've worked with Randi before on setting up these preliminary tests and I've always been impressed by the fact that he goes out of his way to ensure that the claimants are happy with the way in which the tests will be carried out," said Professor French, “There is just no point at all in carrying out a test under conditions that the claimant feels were biased against them. If psychic powers exist, then awarding the JREF prize would be a very small price to pay for proving it."

The testing protocol requires the volunteers to be separated from Mrs. Putt for the course of the test – which will take most of the day – outside of the time Mrs. Putt will be reading specifically for them. At the end of the day, when all the readings are complete, the volunteers will be given packets containing every reading from the day. They will be asked to identify their own personal reading. If five or more out of the ten of the volunteers are able to identify their reading, Mrs. Putt will pass to the final Challenge test for the million dollars. So far, no individual tested by the JREF has passed to the final Challenge.

"I think it’s great that there is a platform out there for claimants to attempt to prove their abilities, although it is probably not just a coincidence that so far no one has passed the preliminary tests,” said Panka Juhasz, psychology student and assistant editor of UK Skeptic Magazine, "As the famous saying goes: 'Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof'…."

Psychology student James Munroe elaborated. "Science starts from a position of doubt, but that doubt is not sustained by personal incredulity in the face of a difficult idea, but rather by a lack of evidence, and what the evidence suggests, we must accept, at least as being what is most likely.  If this experiment supports the idea of psychic phenomena, it will be extremely interesting to say the least."

 

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written by Arthwollipot, May 05, 2009
Please let us know the results of the test as soon as they are available!
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A Voice is a Window to the Soul, or Something Like That
written by Jim Shaver, May 05, 2009
I don't mean to tell the psychologists how to do proper tests, but this protocol sounds a little weak to me. An experienced observer can tell plenty about a person, statistically speaking, from the sound of their voice, things such as their gender, their approximate age, and whether they are a heavy smoker. Does the subject have a lisp? He may have been teased as a child. Does she enunciate carefully and speak loudly? She might have acting experience. Does he sound authoritative and confident? He may be a manager of people. Does she pause and swallow often while reading? She is probably shy. Is his voice shaky? He may have a fear of public speaking. And so on.

Again, I certainly expect that professionals such as Richard Wiseman know how to control the test for these variables. I guess I'm just concerned that this platform may provide an opportunity for a skillful performer to succeed just well enough to claim that her abilities were validated in a controlled, scientific test, even if she is not able to meet the performance level necessary to move to the money round.

Obviously, it's too late in this process for my admonitions to have any impact, since the test is to be done tomorrow. But please, in the name of all that's right and true, be careful!
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written by KingMerv00, May 05, 2009
Wow, you have been working on the Putt protocol for a long time. Glad to see it work out eventually. Nobel Prize here we come. smilies/smiley.gif
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Hang on.
written by Adavidson, May 05, 2009
Must agree with Jim Shaver, if her "ability" is to be able to tell you personal information about individuals simply by being near them and hearing their voices, I think there is room for error.

Imagine if it was Derren Brown, telling you he could tell you personal information about individuals simply by being near them and hearing their voices. You wouldn`t let him near the challenge, because he uses manupilation, magic, psychology and misdirection. They have most likely thought of this and know how to control the test, just didnt really seem much of an ability to me.
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Exciting!
written by Bart B. Van Bockstaele, May 05, 2009
I think that this is really exciting.

If it fails, a self-deluded person will have an illusion less, and -hopefully- gullible victims will be prevented from being taken in.

If it succeeds, it would be a major discovery, in some ways more important than anything ever discovered. Realism tells us that the 1st possibility is virtually certainly the right one, but regardless of the result, we will have an extra little piece of knowledge.
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written by asmith, May 06, 2009
I suggest reading the full protocol on the MDC subforum. All the volunteers are the same gender, are in a particular age range, etc, etc.

In other words, we have done what we can to control the interaction.

As for whether or not Derren Brown could do it... Derren Brown is a magician, and I will not discuss the possibilities for how he might pull off his tricks here. I do not, however, believe that will be an issue in this protocol.
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Regarding MDC Subforum
written by Jim Shaver, May 06, 2009
Thanks, Alison! I'll check it out.
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Has that been posted yet?
written by Griz, May 06, 2009
Have the protocols been posted on the MDC forum? I don't see them, maybe I'm looking in the wrong place. I'm curious how they determine what is a hit and what is not in a "reading" of this sort. Seems like you'd have to deal with a lot of newspaper astrology statements like "you've had some dissapointments in your life."
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written by asmith, May 06, 2009
Here is a link to the finalized protocol:

http://forums.randi.org/showpost.php?p=4686897&postcount=9
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written by Griz, May 06, 2009
Thanks. I'm curious what the rationale behind letting Putt determine the order of the subjects. Seems like it would be better if she didn't know the numbers. Even thought the numbers will be covered when the readings are copied, will they be reviewed before being given to the subjects to ensure that the subjects number was not somehow worked into the reading thereby skewing the chances in Putt's favor?
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When will we know?
written by gabriel, May 06, 2009
How long does it normally take to review the data to see if a claimiant has passed or failed the preliminary test? When do you think you will be able to tell us the results? And finally will there be a video?
I think I know what the results will be but I am still looking forward to the outcome.

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written by asmith, May 06, 2009
Results are in.

http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/swift-blog/546-patricia-putt-million-dollar-challenge-test-results-in.html
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written by JasonPatterson, May 06, 2009
@Griz: In the protocol description linked above your comment it says that the readings will be reviewed and can be redacted to a limited degree if necessary. It was illegal for her to include the number or physical attributes of the individuals in any way in the reading, and she was unable to see the people (as they had what had to be fantastically ridiculous looking outfits on to cover up with.)

The protocol seems fairly sound to me, honestly. Remember, this is a preliminary exam, so the odds of her passing by chance or through a mistake in the protocol are not insignificant (though they are small) and these, presumably, would be corrected in the final version of the test.
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Nostradamus vs James Randi
written by dennisjones, May 08, 2009
How I won the MDC

http://nostradamus.atspace.com/



Atheist? We can fix that...

Please keep your atheists in check, or we will…
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Nostradamus vs James Randi
written by dennisjones, May 08, 2009
http://www.thesupernaturalworl...opic=24429


COME SEE THE MASK OF NOSTRADAMUS...
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written by BillyJoe, May 08, 2009
Ignore the man in the mask.
He is trying to pull your strings.
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