FORWARD BASE B

"Pay my troops no mind; they're just on a fact-finding mission."

Have you got Fifteen Weeks? Probably Not. But if you had that time, you could test your clairvoyance in a statistically sound manner

One of the most fundamental exercises of Western occultism is the development of physical clairvoyance.  You probably should not try to test your clairvoyance.
It would probably be a great big hassle, and you probably have better things to do.

In the days before widespread Internet access, when dinosaurs walked the earth wearing bell-bottomed trousers, aspiring occultists might start with the appendices to Magick in Theory and Practice, which offer the following not-very-helpful advice:

Physical clairvoyance.
1. Take a pack of (78) Tarot playing cards. Shuffle; cut. Draw one card. Without
looking at it, try to name it. Write down the card you name, and the actual card.
Repeat, and tabulate results.
2. This experiment is probably easier with an old genuine pack of Tarot cards,
preferably a pack used for divination by some one who really understood the
matter.
3. Remember that one should expect to name the right card once in 78 times.
Also be careful to exclude all possibilities of obtaining the knowledge through the
ordinary senses of sight and touch, or even smell.
There was once a man whose fingertips were so sensitive that he could feel the
shape and position of the pips and so judge the card correctly.
4. It is better to try first the easier form of the experiment, by guessing only the
suit.
5. Remember that in 78 experiments you should obtain 22 trumps and 14 of each
other suit; so that without any clairvoyance at all, you can guess right twice in 7
times (roughly) by calling trumps each time.
6. Note that some cards are harmonious.
Thus it would not be a bad error to call the five of Swords (“The Lord of Defeat”)
instead of the ten of Swords (“The Lord of Ruin”). But to call the Lord of Love (2
Cups) for the Lord of Strife (5 Wands) would show that you were getting nothing
right.
Similarly a card ruled by Mars would be harmonious with a 5, a card of Gemini
with “The Lovers”.
7. These harmonies must be thoroughly learnt, according to the numerous tables
given in 777.
8. As you progress you will find that you are able to distinguish the suit correctly
three times in four and that very few indeed inharmonious errors occur, while in 78
experiments you are able to name the card aright as many as 15 or 20 times.
9. When you have reached this stage, you may be admitted for
examination; and in the event of your passing you will be given more complex and
difficult exercises.

The temptation, of course, is to do the exercise once or twice, to decide that one has excellent potential, and to get distracted with some more melodramatic experiment in ceremonial magic, such as the attempted conjuration of intangible spirits by kinky sex in a suitably inscribed magical circle.

A simpler exercise is as follows:
1. Take a deck of 52 playing cards.
2. Repeat the following process for each card:
a. Draw a card without looking at its face.
b. Attempt to intuit whether the card is red or black.
c. Record your intuition (e.g. by placing the card in a marked bin).
d. Look at the card to check your intuition.
3. If you intuited the color correctly 32 out of 52 times, consider p<.05 that your intuition is real. If you intuited the color correctly 38 out of 52 times, consider p<.001 that your result is real.

A more challenging exercise is as follows:
1. Take a deck of 52 playing cards.
2. Repeat the following for each card:
a. Draw a card without looking at its face.
b. Attempt to intuit whether the card is heart, club, diamond, or spade.
c. Record your intuition (e.g. by placing the card in a marked bin).
d. Look at the card to check your intuition.
3. If you intuited the suit correctly 24 out of 52 times, consider p<.05 that your intuition is real. If you intuited the suit correctly 33 out of 52 times, consider p<.001 that your result is real.

That statistics above are not terribly exact, because they assume that the deck offers probabilities that do not change over time. In fact, a deck of cards offers clues that a fair die does not.  For example, if one has drawn 13 hearts already, one’s subconscious mind will be aware that the next result will not be a heart.

My back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that if a clairvoyant could name the exact number and suit of a card correctly, it would be a 1/52 chance.  Assuming 52 predictions were recorded, it seems that one 2 out of 52 would need to be correct to indicate p<.05, and that just 5 out of 52 would need to be correct to indicate p<.001.  Any students of statistics are welcome to correct my calculations.

Regardless of which experiment you try, you will probably need at least one hundred p-values.  That means you need to set aside time to do 52 predictions.  It would take a good chunk out of your free time every day for fifteen weeks.

This kind of work takes more mental energy than brushing one’s teeth.  There’s no point setting the time aside if you’re going to be half-asleep and distracted.  That’s why I’m not going to be doing such experiments any time soon.  If any of my readers have the time to spare, I hope the above calculations will inspire them to keep systematic records of hits and misses for one hundred trials.

One response to “Have you got Fifteen Weeks? Probably Not. But if you had that time, you could test your clairvoyance in a statistically sound manner

  1. Eric Patton August 3, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    You can also substitute children’s flash cards. They have them for shapes, objects, colors, ect to keep variety in the game.

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