Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab
The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) program was established at Princeton University in 1979 by Robert G. Jahn. Despite the name, the project had little to do with engineering but rather was dedicated to the study of parapsychology.
PEAR's primary purpose was to engage in parapsychological exercises purporting to examine telekinesis and remote viewing. The program had a strained relationship with Princeton, and was considered "an embarrassment to science." The laboratory concluded its University-based operations in February 2007.
PEAR employed 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. PEAR’s activities have also been criticized for their lack of scientific rigor, poor methodology, and misuse of statistics.
- Pigliucci, Massimo (2010-05-15). Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk. University of Chicago Press. p. 77. ISBN 9780226667874.
- "Experiments". princeton.edu. Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research.
- Carey, Benedict (2007-02-10). "A Princeton lab on ESP plans to close its doors". New York Times.
- Jahn, R.G.; Dunne, B.J.; Nelson, R.D.; Dobyns, Y.H. et al. (1997). "Correlations of random binary sequences with pre-stated operator intention: A review of a 12-year program". J. Scientific Exploration 11 (3): 345–67.
- Dunne, B.J.; Nelson, R.D.; Jahn, R.G. (1988). "Operator-Related Anomalies in a Random Mechanical Cascade". J. Scientific Exploration 2 (2): 155–79.
- Nelson, R.D.; Jahn, R.G.; Dunne, B.J.; Dobyns, Y.H. et al. (1998). "FieldREGII: Consciousness field effects: Replications and explorations". J. Scientific Exploration 12 (3): 425–54.
- Dunne, B.J. (December 1991). "Co-operator experiments with an REG Device". Tech. Report PEAR 91005. Publsished in modified form in Rao, K.R., ed. (1993). Cultivating Consciousness for Enhancing Human Potential, Wellness, and Healing. Westport, CT and London: Praeger. pp. 149–63.
- Carroll, Robert Todd (2013-04-16). "The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR)". The Skeptic's Dictionary (online ed.).
- Jeffers, Stanley (May/June 2006). "The PEAR proposition: Fact or fallacy?". Skeptical Inquirer (Committee for Skeptical Inquiry) 30.3. Retrieved 2014-01-24.
- Merolla, Lisa (2007-02-23). "‘Pseudoscience’ lab closes at Princeton". The Daily Free Press (Boston).
- Pigliucci 2010, p. 79.