Can human beings communicate by thought alone? For more than a century the issue of telepathy has divided the scientific community, and even today it still sparks bitter controversy among top academics
Since the 1970s, parapsychologists at leading universities and research institutes around the world have risked the derision of sceptical colleagues by putting the various claims for telepathy to the test in dozens of rigorous scientific studies. The results and their implications are dividing even the researchers who uncovered them.
Some researchers say the results constitute compelling evidence that telepathy is genuine. Other parapsychologists believe the field is on the brink of collapse, having tried to produce definitive scientific proof and failed. Sceptics and advocates alike do concur on one issue, however: that the most impressive evidence so far has come from the so-called 'ganzfeld' experiments, a German term that means 'whole field'. Reports of telepathic experiences had by people during meditation led parapsychologists to suspect that telepathy might involve 'signals' passing between people that were so faint that they were usually swamped by normal brain activity. In this case, such signals might be more easily detected by those experiencing meditation — like tranquillity in a relaxing 'whole field' of light, sound and warmth.
The ganzfeld experiment tries to recreate these conditions with participants sitting in soft reclining chairs in a sealed room, listening to relaxing sounds while their eyes are covered with special filters letting in only soft pink light. In early ganzfeld experiments, the telepathy test involved identification of a picture chosen from a random selection of four taken from a large image bank. The idea was that a person acting as a 'sender' would attempt to beam the image over to the 'receiver' relaxing in the sealed room. Once the session was over, this person was asked to identify which of the four images had been used. Random guessing would give a hit-rate of 25 per cent; if telepathy is real, however, the hit-rate would be higher. In 1982, the results from the first ganzfeld studies were analysed by one of its pioneers, the American parapsychologist Charles Honorton. They pointed to typical hit-rates of better than 30 per cent — a small effect, but one which statistical tests suggested could not be put down to chance.
The implication was that the ganzfeld method had revealed real evidence for telepathy. But there was a crucial flaw in this argument — one routinely overlooked in more conventional areas of science. Just because chance had been ruled out as an explanation did not prove telepathy must exist; there were many other ways of getting positive results. These ranged from 'sensory leakage' — where clues about the pictures accidentally reach the receiver — to outright fraud. In response, the researchers issued a review of all the ganzfeld studies done up to 1985 to show that 80 per cent had found statistically significant evidence. However, they also agreed that there were still too many problems in the experiments which could lead to positive results, and they drew up a list demanding new standards for future research.
After this, many researchers switched to autoganzfeld tests — an automated variant of the technique which used computers to perform many of the key tasks such as the random selection of images. By minimising human involvement, the idea was to minimise the risk of flawed results. In 1987, results from hundreds of autoganzfeld tests were studied by Honorton in a 'meta-analysis', a statistical technique for finding the overall results from a set of studies. Though less compelling than before, the outcome was still impressive.
Yet some parapsychologists remain disturbed by the lack of consistency between individual ganzfeld studies. Defenders of telepathy point out that demanding impressive evidence from every study ignores one basic statistical fact: it takes large samples to detect small effects. If, as current results suggest, telepathy produces hit-rates only marginally above the 25 per cent expected by chance, it's unlikely to be detected by a typical ganzfeld study involving around 40 people: the group is just not big enough. Only when many studies are combined in a meta-analysis will the faint signal of telepathy really become apparent. And that is what researchers do seem to be finding.
What they are certainly not finding, however, is any change in attitude of mainstream scientists: most still totally reject the very idea of telepathy. The problem stems at least in part from the lack of any plausible mechanism for telepathy.
Various theories have been put forward, many focusing on esoteric ideas from theoretical physics. They include 'quantum entanglement', in which events affecting one group of atoms instantly affect another group, no matter how far apart they may be. While physicists have demonstrated entanglement with specially prepared atoms, no-one knows if it also exists between atoms making up human minds. Answering such questions would transform parapsychology. This has prompted some researchers to argue that the future lies not in collecting more evidence for telepathy, but in probing possible mechanisms. Some work has begun already, with researchers trying to identify people who are particularly successful in autoganzfeld trials. Early results show that creative and artistic people do much better than average: in one study at the University of Edinburgh, musicians achieved a hit-rate of 56 per cent. Perhaps more tests like these will eventually give the researchers the evidence they are seeking and strengthen the case for the existence of telepathy.
Complete each sentence with the correct ending, A-G, below.
Write the correct letter, A-G, in boxes 27-30 on your answer sheet.
27 Researchers with differing attitudes towards telepathy agree on
28 Reports of experiences during meditation indicated
29 Attitudes to parapsychology would alter drastically with
30 Recent autoganzfeld trials suggest that success rates will improve with
A the discovery of a mechanism for telepathy
B the need to create a suitable environment for telepathy.
C their claims of a high success rate.
D a solution to the problem posed by random guessing.
E the significance of the ganzfeld experiments.
F a more careful selection of subjects.
G a need to keep altering conditions.
Complete the table below.
Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the passage for each answer.
Write your answers in boxes 31-40 on your answer sheet.
Description Result Flaw
1982 Involved a person
acting as a
who picked out one
a random selection
of four, and a
who then tried to
identify it. Hit-rates were
higher than with
random guessing. Positive results
could be produced
by factors such as
were used for key
tasks to limit the
in carrying out the
test. The results were
then subjected to
a 38............. The 39..........
test results was
put down to the
fact that sample
groups were not
with most ganzfeld
关键词： researchers with differing attitudes, agree on
定位原文：第2段第3句“Sceptics and advocates…”
解题思路：通过题目中定位词找到文章中的具体表 达:第二段第3句。题目中的differing attitudes 对应文章中的 skeptics and advocates,题目中的 agree on 对应文章中的do concur on。由本句名词性从句的主干 evidence...come from... experiments 即可得出答案。所有选项中提到 experiment 的只有一个。
关键词： experiences, meditation
定位原文：第2段第5句话“In this case, such signals might …”
解题思路：题目中要求找到实验的 启示,答案出现在下一句中,其中 in a relaxing‘whole field’of light, sound and warmth 是题目中 的 suitable environment 的具体表现。
关键词： attitudes, parapsychology, alter
定位原文：第8段第4、5句“Answering such questions would…”
关键词： autoganzfeld trials, success
定位原文：第8段倒数第2、3句“Some work has begun already …”
关键词： Ganzfeld studies, 1982, person, acting as, four
定位原文：第3段第3句“The idea was that a person…”
解题思路：由空格前冠词和空格后的定语从句引导词 who 可知本题需填入一个指代人的单数可数名词。通过题目中数字 1982 迅速定位至文章第三段。再通过数字 four 定位至该段第 5 行。本题答案为 sender。
关键词： one, random selection, four
定位原文： 第3段第2句“In early ganzfeld experiments…”
解题思路： 此题轻微乱序，但定位词很明显且定位句是上一题定位句的前一句。空格所填词应为从random selections of four中picked out的宾语。所以此题填picture/image。题干中的picked out与原文中的chosen from属于同义转述。
关键词： ichthyosaurs, can be determined by, appearance
定位原文：第3段第4句“Once the session was over, this …”
解题思路：此题定位较易。空格所填词应为 identify这一动作的发出者，定位句中与之相对应的是指代词this person,于是倒着往回看上一句，即第31题对应句，可以找出this person的具体指代对象。所以此题填receiver。
答案： sensory leakage
关键词： flaw, positive results
定位原文：第4段第4句“...there were many other ways of getting positive results. These ranged from ‘sensory leakage…”
解题思路：此题根据定位词及顺序原则可定位至第四段第四行最后，其中many other ways对应题干中的factors，具体内容在接下来的一句中。所以此题填sensory leakage。
答案： outright fraud
定位原文：第4段第4句““...there were many other ways of getting positive results. These ranged from ‘sensory leakage…”
解题思路：此空与34题为并列关系。很明显答案为 outright fraud。
关键词： 1987, key tasks
定位原文：第5段第1句“…technique which used computers to …”
解题思路： 空格所填词应为被用来完成key tasks的对象，文中的perform对应题干中的were used for。所以此题填computers。
答案： human involvement
定位原文：第5段第2句“By minimising human involvement...”
解题思路：此题按照顺序原则定位，原文中的 minimising对应题干中的limit,空格所填词应为被限制的对象。所以此题填human involvement。
关键词： results, subjected to a
定位原文： 第5段倒数第2句“In 1987, results from hundreds…”
解题思路： 空格所填词应为 subject to的对象。所以此题填meta?-analysis。
答案： lack of consistency
关键词： flaw, different test results
定位原文： 第6段第1句“Yet some parapsychologists…”
解题思路： 此题定位较难，文中的individual ganzfeld studies与题干中的different test对应。空格所填词应为不同实验结果之间的关系。所以此题填lack of consistency。
答案： big/large enough
关键词： fact, sample group, not
定位原文：第6段倒数第3句“...the group is just not big enough.”
解题思路：此题定位较易。空格所填词应为 sample groups的特征，而且此题可以通过否定词not帮助判断答案。所以此题填big/large enough。