Jessica Utts

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Jessica Utts (born 1952) is a parapsychologist and statistics professor at the University of California, Irvine. She is known for her textbooks on statistics and her investigation into remote viewing.[1][2]

Statistics education[edit]

In 2003, Utts published an article in American Statistician, a journal published by the American Statistical Association, calling for significant changes to collegiate level statistics education.[3] In the article she argued that curricula do a fine job of covering the mathematical side of statistics, but do a poor job of teaching students the skills necessary to properly interpret statistical results in scientific studies. The argument continues that common errors found in news articles, such as the common misinterpretation that correlative studies show causation, would be reduced if there were significant changes made to standard statistics courses.

In 2016, Utts served as the 111th president of the American Statistical Association.[4] She is a Fellow of the American Statistical Association, and also a Fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics.[5]

Investigation of remote viewing[edit]

In 1995, the American Institutes for Research (AIR) appointed a panel consisting primarily of Utts and Ray Hyman to evaluate a project investigating remote viewing for espionage applications, the Stargate Project,[6] which was funded by the Central Intelligence Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency, and carried out initially by Stanford Research Institute and subsequently by SAIC.[7]

A report by Utts[8] claimed the results were evidence of psychic functioning, however Hyman in his report argued Utts' conclusion that ESP had been proven to exist, especially precognition, was premature and the findings had not been independently replicated.[9] According to Hyman "the overwhelming amount of data generated by the viewers is vague, general, and way off target. The few apparent hits are just what we would expect if nothing other than reasonable guessing and subjective validation are operating."[10] Funding for the project was stopped after these reports were issued. Jessica Utts also co-authored papers with the parapsychologist Edwin May, who took over Stargate in 1985.[2] The psychologist David Marks noted that because Utts had published papers with May "she was not independent of the research team. Her appointment to the review panel is puzzling; an evaluation is likely to be less than partial when an evaluator is not independent of the program under investigation."[7]

The Stargate Project was terminated in 1995 with the conclusion that it was never useful in any intelligence operation. The information was vague and included a lot of irrelevant and erroneous data. There was also reason to suspect that the research managers had adjusted their project reports to fit the known background cues.[11]

Utts is on the executive board of the International Remote Viewing Association (IRVA).[12]



  • Seeing Through Statistics, 3rd edition (2005) – The use of statistical methods to solve real world problems, and to gain understanding from the application of statistics in addition to simply calculating them.
  • Mind On Statistics, 4th edition (2012), with R.F. Heckard – Textbook for an introductory statistics course, with emphasis on understanding the use of statistics in everyday life.


  • Utts, J. (1988). Successful replication versus statistical significance. Journal of Parapsychology, 52(4): 305–320.
  • Radin, D. and J. Utts. (1989). Experiments investigating the influence of intention on random and pseudorandom events. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 3(1): 65–79.
  • Utts, J. (1989). Randomness and randomization tests: A reply to Gilmore. Journal of Parapsychology, 53(4): 345–351.
  • May, E. C., J. M. Utts, B. S. Humphrey, W. Luke, T.J. Frivold, and V. V. Trask. (1990). Advances in Remote Viewing, Journal of Parapsychology, 54(3), 193–228.
  • Hansen G. P., J. M. Utts, and B. Markwick. (1992). Critique of the PEAR remote viewing experiments. Journal of Parapsychology, 56(2), 97–113.
  • Utts, J. (1993). Analyzing free-response data—a progress report. In PSI Research Methodology—A Reexamination, ed. L. Coly and J. D. S. McMahon, Parapsychology Foundation, New York, 71–83.
  • Utts, J. (2018). An Assessment of the Evidence for Psychic Functioning. Journal of Parapsychology, 82: 118–146.


  1. ^ Jessica Utts at the Parapsychological Association
  2. ^ a b Robert Todd Carroll. (2003). The Skeptic's Dictionary: A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions. Wiley. pp. 331–333. ISBN 0-471-27242-6
  3. ^ What educated citizens should know about statistics and probability by Jessica Utts. The American Statistician, 57(2), 74–79, 2003.
  4. ^ "Jessica Utts Elected 111th ASA President". American Statistical Association. July 2014. Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  5. ^ Honored Fellows, Institute of Mathematical Statistics, archived from the original on 2014-03-02, retrieved 2017-11-24
  6. ^ "CURRICULUM VITAE – JESSICA UTTS". CIA Library. 24 May 1995. Archived from the original on September 25, 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  7. ^ a b David Marks; Richard Kammann. (2000). The Psychology of the Psychic. Prometheus Books. pp. 71–74. ISBN 1-57392-798-8
  8. ^ Utts, Jessica (2018). "An Assessment of the Evidence for Psychic Functioning". Journal of Parapsychology. 82 (Suppl): 118–146. doi:10.30891/jopar.2018S.01.10. S2CID 3664988. Retrieved 19 April 2022.
  9. ^ Evaluation of a Program on Anomalous Mental Phenomena Archived 2017-06-16 at the Wayback Machine by Ray Hyman.
  10. ^ Ray Hyman (2008). "The Evidence for Psychic Functioning: Claims vs. Reality". Archived from the original on 2010-07-09. Retrieved 2014-07-12.
  11. ^ An Evaluation of Remote Viewing: Research and Applications by Mumford, Rose and Goslin
  12. ^ "About IRVA". International Remote Viewing Association.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]