Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab
The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) was a research program at Princeton University that studied parapsychology. Established in 1979 by then Dean of Engineering Robert G. Jahn, PEAR closed in February 2007. The program was controversial.
PEAR's primary purpose was to engage in exercises examining purported parapsychological phenomena such as psychokenesis (PK) and remote viewing. The program had a strained relationship with Princeton University and was considered an embarrassment to Princeton. PEAR’s activities have been criticized for their lack of scientific rigor, poor methodology, and misuse of statistics.
Parapsychological experiments with random numbers
PEAR employed electronic random event generators (REGs) to explore the ability of test subjects to use telekinesis to influence the random output distribution of these devices to conform to their pre-recorded intentions to produce higher numbers, lower numbers, or nominal baselines. Most of these experiments utilized a microelectronic REG, but experiments were also conducted with a mechanical device which dropped balls down a peg-covered board.
PEAR also conducted exercises involving groups of volunteers which, they claimed, produced more pronounced results. In all cases, the observed effects were very small (about one tenth of one percent), but over extensive databases they compounded to statistically significant deviations from chance behavior. The baseline for chance behavior used did not vary as statistically appropriate (baseline bind). Two PEAR researchers attributed this baseline bind to the motivation of the operators to achieve a good baseline. It has been noted that a single test subject (presumed to be a member of PEAR’s staff) participated in 15% of PEAR’s trials, and was responsible for half of the total observed effect.
PEAR’s results have been criticized for deficient reproducibility. In one instance two German organizations failed to reproduce PEAR’s results, while PEAR similarly failed to reproduce their own results. An attempt by York University’s Stan Jeffers also failed to replicate PEAR’s results.
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