Letters to the Editor

In Defense of Research on Precognition

April 02, 2017

To the Editor:

In "Spoiled Science" (March 31), Tom Bartlett briefly refers to a 2011 publication of mine that appeared in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. It presented the results of nine experiments claiming to demonstrate the existence of precognition, a form of ESP. The Journal is one of the most strongly refereed journals in psychology, with a rejection rate of approximately 80 percent. Four referees and two editors approved the article for publication.

Bartlett asserts that my experiments failed to replicate. He is incorrect: In 2015, three colleagues and I published a follow-up meta-analysis of 90 such experiments conducted by 33 laboratories in 14 countries. The results strongly support my original findings. In particular, the independent replications are robust and highly significant statistically.

Bartlett further asserts that this research was widely ridiculed and constituted a blow to Cornell’s research reputation. But it was Cornell’s own public-affairs office that was proactively instrumental in setting up interviews with the press and other media following the publication of the original article. New Scientist, Discover, Wired, New York Magazine, and Cornell’s own in-house publications all described the research findings seriously and without ridicule.

Daryl J. Bem
Professor Emeritus of Psychology
Cornell University