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< Back to Volume 17, Number 4


Testing a Language-Using Parrot for Telepathy

Rupert Sheldrake, 20 Willow Road, London NW3 1TJ, UK

Aimee Morgana, P.O. Box 625, New York, NY 10031

Aimee Morgana noticed that her language-using African Grey parrot, N'kisi, often seemed to respond to her thoughts and intentions in a seemingly telepathic manner. We set up a series of trials to test whether this apparent telepathic ability would be expressed in formal tests in which Aimee and the parrot were in different rooms, on different floors, under conditions in which the parrot could receive no sensory information from Aimee or from anyone else. During these trials, Aimee and the parrot were both videotaped continuously. At the beginning of each trial, Aimee opened a numbered sealed envelope containing a photograph, and then looked at it for two minutes. These photographs corresponded to a prespecified list of words in N'kisi's vocabulary, and were selected and randomized in advance by a third party. We conducted a total of 147 two-minute trials. The recordings of N'kisi during these trials were transcribed blind by three independent transcribers. Their transcripts were generally in good agreement. Using a majority scoring method, in which at least two of the three transcribers were in agreement, N'kisi said one or more of the key words in 71 trials. He scored 23 hits: the key words he said corresponded to the target pictures. In a Randomized Permutation Analysis (RPA), there were as many or more hits than N'kisi actually scored in only 5 out of 20,000 random permutations, giving a p value of 5/20,000 or 0.00025. In a Bootstrap Resampling Analysis (BRA), only 4 out of 20,000 permutations equaled or exceeded N'kisi's actual score (p = 0.0002). Both by the RPA and BRA, the mean number of hits expected by chance was 12, with a standard deviation of 3. N'kisi repeated key words more when they were hits than when they were misses. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that N'kisi was reacting telepathically to Aimee's mental activity.

Keywords: telepathy, interspecies communication, parrot, language-using animals

FULL TEXT:

Testing a Language-Using Parrot for Telepathy

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