I’m going to try and telepathically capture a drawing from your mind.
Take a piece of blank paper. You have 15 seconds to draw anything you want. Anything.
GO! 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 STOP!
It could be anything but I am getting quite a simple shape. You’re all individuals and so there might be some variation between you. I’ll try and capture essences from each of your drawings.
Is this an example of pure telepathy? The observant amongst you may argue it’s more a case of precognition or clairvoyance, but it has been used on numerous occasions by psychics to impress a sceptical audience. I witnessed it first-hand at the Black Swan Hotel, Devizes in Wiltshire. Uri Geller had a guest appearance on Most Haunted. He had already astounded some of us with his trademark alleged psychokinetic exploits. It was when he suggested seeing if himself and Derek had a ‘connection’, and asked for two pieces of blank paper, that my sceptical radar really switched on. I had read about this test of telepathy almost 20 years ago in a written scathing attack on Uri Geller’s abilities.
In the test a psychic will ask you to take a blank piece of paper and take a few seconds to draw anything you like. The psychic may turn to the side, covering up his, or her, eyes in order to prevent them from seeing your drawing. Once you’ve hidden your sketch from sight, the psychic will then attempt to psychically ‘divine’ the image from your head, actually drawing an almost identical image on their own piece of paper. At the Black Swan Hotel, the same thing happened. I had asked to video the event but was declined by Uri, who said “It’s not appropriate, it’s private”. Derek produced a simple circle with a dot in the middle. He hid the sketch and then Uri produced the exact same thing (without the dot). Excitement permeated the impromtu audience. Wow! We’ve just witnessed telepathy between two renowned psychic artists. In my opinion, I would argue not. There are a number of possible explanations for what happens in such a scenario.
I’ve already demonstrated using my sketch how population stereotypes can help. This means that if you take 100 random people and ask them to draw anything you are always going to get a circle, maybe a house, a stick figure etc. This is because of the time allowed, it’s a very limited time to produce any level of detail. I do remember, however, doing this demonstration once with students in Liverpool. I gave them just over a minute to draw anything – big mistake. One student drew a diagram of the solar system, to scale! Despite that amazing exception, generally people draw simple objects. The other problem is it’s not a controlled environment. What does that mean? Well, you’ll hear me saying this quite frequently since parapsychologists prefer to set-up laboratory experiments where, if there is some psychic feat, it can only be down to something paranormal, not normal. Parapsychologists put ‘controls’ and ‘barriers’ in place to prevent cheating occurring, or to prevent information accidentally finding it’s way to the psychic. In a drawing test, the psychic could still possibly see the drawing. Even if you place a cupped hand over the eyes you can separate two fingers very slightly and have quite a clear view of the room infront of you. Even if the other person covers up their paper slightly, if you can see the top of the pen, you can decipher whether it’s a circular shape versus a square one. If you’re very astute, you may be able to hear the pen or pencil scratching the surface of the paper. Try it at home. Is there a different sound for a circle compared to a straight line?
With all of these possible explanations, what is more likely? That, in a drawing test, a psychic can read your mind and draw almost exactly the same thing as you? Or that it’s a simple party trick that from now on, will hopefully amuse your friends and family for sometime. Just don’t tell them how you did it!
I’m getting a circle shape, could be the sun or smiley face, or even the head of a stick person. There’s also a circle in the centre of someone’s drawing of a flower, or maybe a tree. This contrasts with another person’s drawing of a square shape. A door, then windows. Somebody has drawn a house.
© Ciaran O’Keeffe 2011