ESP and the Lottery

Most developed countries have had public lotteries for many
years -- in the case of nations like France and Spain, for centuries.

It was not, however, until 1989 that anyone realised that
public numerical lotteries provide an unparalleled opportunity to test for the
existence of paranormal abilities. Russian astrophysicist Mark Zilberman
realised that the historical results of public lotteries provide a colossal
statistical base that is completely independent of the observer and that relates
to just one goal -- attempting to predict the outcome of a random process.

Zilberman examined the results of the Russian and French state
lotteries and asked the question: are the results correlated significantly with
any identifiable external factor?

As with the UK lottery, people win if they can predict 3 or
more of the correct numbers. Zilberman looked at what he calls the True
Predictions Density (TPD) defined as that fraction of lottery ticket buyers who
win compared with the total number of tickets sold that week.

'From the standpoint of the player,' says Zilberman,
'lotteries are just a game in which one stands to win a certain sum of money.
However, on closer analysis, lotteries afford us valuable material for
investigating the ESP ability of masses of people. Indeed, public numerical
lotteries are tantamount to a large-scale parapsychological experiment. One has
here participants who are trying to predict results obtained from a Random
Number Generator and there is feedback.'

There are many properties of lotteries that make them so
useful for parapsychological analysis. The 'experiment' has a colossal
statistical basis. In Russia, for instance, each monthly average TPD is based on
between 200 million and 300 million predictions and the average annual TPD is
based on between 3000 and 4000 million predictions. The trials take place every
week and following each draw the participants can compare their predictions with
the target. Results are published independently of any investigator, so there
can be no selection of results. The experiment covers many years. The
participants are not selected for any ESP ability but are a random cross
section. Finally, the millions of participants demand demonstrable fair play and
complete randomness in the lottery number picking system.

Given the nature of lotteries, any variation in TPD (the
success of winners at predicting the outcome) ought to be random. In fact,
Zilberman discovered in 1989 that the French and Soviet public lotteries exhibit
an inexplicable but statistically significant seasonal variation over many
years. **Moreover, the variation in one country was mirrored in the other. **As
an astrophysicist, Zilberman realised that the variation was correlated with the
11-year cycle of solar activity. When solar activity is high, the number of
correct predictions falls and vice versa.

'What can be the explanations for these phenomena?' Asked
Zilberman. 'Are they the effect of external factors modifying the results of
lottery draws? Are they due to human precognitive abilities as modulated by
external geophysical factors? Are they due to human psychokinetic abilities to
shift the stochastic process to a desired outcome?'

Zilberman investigated whether the variation might be an
artifact of players choosing certain numbers or certain strategies. It is known
for example that players prefer numbers below 20. He found that, 'with a certain
strategy, large groups of players could reduce the TPD below the random level
for a finite period. On the other hand, no tactics, no combined effort, could
raise the density above the random level unless this involved prediction of the
future.' As Zilberman points out, the results show both seasonal and annual
cycles of the rise and fall of TPD above the random level. Moreover, the
fluctuations are mirrored in both Russia and France.

Most predictable of all, as with all such anomalous findings,
Zilberman's discovery has been relegated to the 'Forbidden Science' file drawer
and forgotten.

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