If this was a final exam in "How To Be A Real Psychic 101," these supposed clairvoyants would get an "F" for the course.
Two professional English psychics, Patricia Putt and Kim Whitton, agreed to participate in a test designed by Professor Chris French, Head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths University of London. A university statement released on Wednesday explains how the study worked:
The experiment -- which both mediums agreed was a fair and unbiased test of their abilities -- saw the volunteer psychics sat before five female sitters, who were required to remain silent and hidden behind a screen. The psychics were asked to write notes relating to the individual sitters.
In order to evaluate the accuracy of the psychics' information, each of the five sitters was then asked to distinguish their own reading from the four other readings. The psychics would have passed the test if all five sitters spotted their own reading. Four out of five sitters correctly identifying their own reading would have been considered scientifically interesting, while three or fewer constituted a failure of the test.
Perhaps the so-called mind readers were off their game that day.
"Kim and Patricia felt they'd have no trouble in passing this test," French said. "Despite expressing confidence throughout the experiment, neither were able to gain more than a single correct reading, a result entirely consistent with the operation of chance alone."
Still, Putt insists that the test didn't prove her powers as a psychic are a sham, the BBC reports.
"I am sorry that I appear to have failed but not really surprised," Putt said. "What I would like to point out is that the work I do is always done face to face so working 'blind' is extremely daunting for the medium. It is easier to explain the reading to the sitter verbally instead of the written word which, if it is their first time, most will not have understood."
Whitton also remained confident in her super-natural talents.
"I know what I do is very real, it's easy for me," she said." I'm glad one of the sitters could recognize so many details about herself. Sceptics need to realize you cannot see, hear, feel everything as solid matter with the human eye, ear, and body. Psychics and mediums use a whole other part of the brain which is under-developed in the average man."
Michael Marshall, Vice President of the Merseyside Skeptics Society which co-organized the exam, suggested that those thinking of visiting a medium should find some other way to spend their hard-earned cash.
"While the result of our experiment doesn't disprove psychic ability, the fact that our mediums couldn't pass what they felt was a very fair and simple test does seem to suggest claims that these abilities exist aren't based in reality," he said. "I'd also urge anyone who is thinking of visiting a medium or attending a psychic stage show to think twice, and to question whether their money might be better spent elsewhere."