Do you know someone you are convinced has extrasensory perception (ESP)? Is it you? Zener cards are a fun way to test your ESP abilities. Want to give it a whirl in the last post of the A to Z Challenge?
Who would not want to predict the future? From the beginning of our history, humans have entertained the idea of predicting the future and exalted those believed to be true prognosticators. Skeptics view the whole affair with a raised eyebrow, but many are at least curious as to the existence of ESP.
Karl Zener was just so curious a psychologist. Before he came to invent the Zener cards, a regular pack of playing cards was used to determine if people were clairvoyant or possessed ESP. There were problems with this model, including:
- Low chance of correct answers (number/suit variables)
- Favoritism toward one number/suit by subject
- Knowing right answers allowed counting cards
- Statistical interpretation of answers
Zener developed a simple deck of cards for the test: Five simple shapes, five cards of each design. He conducted his tests in the 1930s with parapsychologist J.B. Rhine.
The presenter picks up one card, then records the answer of the subject.
In the early days, Zener cards grabbed a stinking reputation. They were made of a thin paper. The discovery was the most successful people taking the test were merely exploiting their ability to see through the cards.
The picture of a building at Duke University graced the cards next. Asymmetric patterns make the cards one-way now.
Rhine chose shuffling by machine to produce better results, since hand shuffling can make the frequency of cards easier to predict.
One of the points skeptics like to highlight is the subject can take clues from the presenter in determining which card is chosen. In clinical trials and in lay experiments, there is often an object placed between subject and presenter to take this variable out of the equation. Another solution is to put the presenter and the subject in separate rooms.
Recording the experiment can help keep both subject and presenter honest or reveal how some scores were reached through deception.
Another use for the test is for telepathy. In this version of test, the subject picks the Zener card and projects the image to the receiver. Some statistical maneuvering is necessary to take into account the perception of the receiver and accurately gauge the telepathic powers of the subject.
Typically, the base score anyone will get is five out of 25. Statistically, your chances of guessing these correctly means you are not showing any overt perception or prognostic ability. Lower scores than five are possible, and common, although a score of zero is particularly unlikely.
Are you ready to test your ESP abilities with these simply designed cards? The Internet has taken a lot of the work out of the Zener card test. Scoring is not interpretative, but is very straightforward. You have choices.
Want to have your answers listed in a data base to influence future norms? Try The Anima Project. They collect data to influence the curve on who is determined clairvoyant.
What to test with more than one deck at a time? Try Psychic Science. See if you can beat the highest score they have on record.
Want to stay right here and try it? Why go on a field trip, when Red can deliver the test to you?! For your enjoyment, the test is embedded below:
Take a few minutes to play with it. Take it as many times as you like. Try cheating, if you like. Choose two cards and only guess those two rather than trying to guess all five. Try counting cards. All is fair in this test. Use the powers you have to get the highest number correct.
If you think this would be fun for a party, the cards are readily available at sellers like Amazon in the toys category. All different types of cards are available from the original Zener card designs to other fun shapes. They can also be a great craft project for your eight-year-old.
Have you ever played with Zener cards? Do you have any ESP, clairvoyance or telepathy skills? How did your score on the Zener card test here or on the other sites?
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Are you glad the challenge is over?