Scientific Program > Topic 1 > Session 1A >
Presentation 1A3. Analysis of Data from a Nationwide Psychological Project Involving Coin-tossing Predictions

Presenter
David Green (UK) d.r.green@lboro.ac.uk

 

Presentation Abstract
This paper reports on analysis of data gathered from the British public as part of The Mind Machine project carried out in 1999 by the Perrott Warrick Research Unit led by Richard Wiseman and funded through Trinity College, Cambridge. The data were to be made available to the author in May 2001.

The Mind Machine incorporated an interactive multimedia kiosk allowing the public to take part in a national psychology experiment investigating the possible existence of psychic ability. The aim was to collect over a quarter of a million datapoints during a year-long tour of Britain's largest shopping centres, museums, science festivals and airports. The kiosk contained a powerful multimedia computer that led participants through the two-minute experiment via a series of touchscreen video clips. Data from each participant was stored within the computer for future analysis.

The programme asked people to answer four questions (e.g., whether they were male or female, whether sceptic or believer) by simply touching the computer screen. Everyone was then given four attempts to psychically predict or influence a computerised coin toss. For each attempt people were first asked to predict either heads or tails. The computer then used a pseudo random number generator to decide the outcome of the toss.

The Mind Machine project was not designed as a test of any one individual's psychic ability. Rather, everyone's results were stored in the computer to be combined at the end of the project to investigate the nation's psychic ability.

This paper is not concerned with the psychic aspects of the project but takes advantage of the extremely large data set obtained and made available to the author to investigate the distribution of predictions made by the general public to the coin-tossing problem in a novel setting. Differences for different subgroups of the population are reported and comparisons with earlier research by the author with school pupils aged 7 to 16 are made.

 

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