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THE PSYCHOMETRY EXPERIMENT RESULTS
by Chris Laursen
What if you held an object you had never seen before? You had no idea of where it came from or who owned it. Yet when you held it in your hand, somehow you were able to get accurate impressions about the object and its owner's history! Perhaps it would seem natural to you to give this information, a part of your perceptive abilities. Yet it would be an ability that most people would not even know they possess because they would have no idea if they were right or wrong unless someone else could verify it for them. This process of accurately giving otherwise unknown information from objects is called psychometry, and in May and June 2007, historian Chris Laursen conducted an experiment to see if anyone would be able to get accurate impressions from objects belonging to people they had never met before.
To start, he collected eight objects for the experiment. Laursen received five objects from five diverse people who he knew to varying extents. He knew absolutely nothing about four of the objects, but did know the story behind the fifth object. He had the lenders of the objects fill out a very detailed personal questionnaire about their lives as well as a detailed description of what the object was and why it was special to them. He never saw these four questionnaires, and they were e-mailed directly to a third party who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.
These five objects were:
A lapel pin with the Cleveland Indians logo.
So Laursen knew nothing of four of the five above objects. The third party in Vancouver kept these details secret - personally arranging with the lenders to receive and keep their details in her possession. They remained in her private possession until January 2008, well after the Psychometry Experiment had completed.
This was lent by a long-time 33-year-old friend of Laursen's who resides in Ottawa, Ontario. Born and raised in the Canadian Atlantic provinces, she was finishing a university degree and working part-time in a retail job at the time of the Experiment. The story of the pin is very sad - and it was the only object in used in the experiment connected to tragic circumstances. It belonged to her high school boyfriend, who was walking on the side of a road when he was tragically killed when hit by a car driven by a drunk man. He was only 16. The day it happened, she had a feeling of dread, and even drove by the scene of the accident to see the police cover up his body, not realizing it was him. Soon after, police notified her of the tragedy, and gave her this pin which he had been wearing.
A replica of a Victorian Royal Family brooch.
This was lent by someone Laursen had only met once before prior to the experiment. At the time of the experiment, she was 49 years old. She lives in Niagara Falls with her husband, and has three children. The original object she lent for the experiment was lost in the mail - so she hand-delivered a replacement object, this replica of a nineteenth century sapphire brooch given to Queen Victoria, instead. (The other item, thankfully, was later found by Canada Post.) The brooch was given to her by her youngest son in 2005, and he felt it was significant because the original had been given to Queen Victoria on the day after his mother's birthday.
A smoking pipe.
A 30-year-old school teacher from the greater Toronto area who Laursen had only met on a few occasions lent this pipe. He and a close friend had each purchased a pipe in from a novelty shop in downtown Toronto, thinking it would make them look sophisticated at bars and concerts. It was something to make them stand out from everyone else. While he was studying at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, he remembered just relaxing and smoking the pipe, and his mother also enjoyed the smell of it. He even used it to try and quit smoking cigarettes.
Metallic bottle of perfume with French writing on it.
This bottle was lent by a friend who was just turning 23 around the time of the experiment. She lives in downtown Toronto in a 6th floor condo-apartment. The perfume bottle had a dent in it - and the dent, like any dent, has a story that goes with it. Her mother gave the perfume to her one day, but she disregarded it because she does not wear perfume and she crammed it into her bathroom cupboard. One day, it fell out making the dent, and she found a note in the box that she hadnít seen from her mother telling her she was so happy her daughter had grown into a woman. This was meaningful, because her mother is not the type of person who openly expresses such feelings. Also, the daughter had recently lost her virginity Ė and her grandmother had died around that time. Had the object not fallen out of the cupboard, it would never have had such meaning.
Two statuette busts - one of a boy, one of a girl (broken).
These statuettes were lent by a "nonna" Laursen knows well, thus he knew the unique story behind them and why one of them was broken. The nonna was born in northern Italy in 1935, and lives with her husband in Hamilton, Ontario, and has three daughters and four grandchildren. One of those grandchildren was at her house one winter day in 1999 and was sleeping under the table where the statuettes were displayed at the time. He awoke startled and accidentally knocked the statuettes off the table, breaking the one of the girl. The nonna thought this was a portent that her youngest daughter was dead since a blizzard had struck the region. This didn't turn out to be true - thankfully!
The other three objects were of Laursen's choosing, including two "control" objects that he had purchased, each from a different shop, and hid away wrapped up behind books on his bookshelf until the experiment commenced. These control objects were as follows:
A glass ball, approximately 2 inches in diameter.
Laursen put these objects in as a red herring. If a participant could somehow describe that they were control objects, he felt that would be excellent proof that they had some psychic ability. As you will read, two participants did especially well in reading the glass ball!
This ball was purchased at a store in Toronto's Chinatown.
An unusual-looking, novelty two-horn mini-trumpet, made in India.
This was purchased at an international import shop on Queen Street West in Toronto.
There was one other object in the experiment. In many ways, this object sparked the idea for the experiment in the first place. As an enthusiast of things paranormal, Laursen was very curious about an object being sold on eBay - a plaque of the Virgin Mary. The seller claimed that the plaque had originated from a household in Belmez, a small village in Spain, where very strange things happened in the 1970s onwards. Faces, as if they had been painted, spontaneously appeared on the floor of a home. This attracted a great deal of international attention. Although not certain that the object originated from Belmez, Laursen decided to purchase it, thinking it would be interesting if someone could "psychically" determine if the object indeed did come from Belmez. Thus, the idea of the Psychometry Experiment was born. In fact, no participant strongly related the plaque as coming from Belmez, or even made a paranormal connection to it (though some participants were spooked by it). Laursen wouldn't recommend purchasing "haunted objects" on eBay as they are likely to be fraudulent, but thought it would be something intriguing to include in the experiment.
He wanted to get a variety of participants from different parts of the greater Toronto and Niagara regions of Ontario, Canada to participate, and set up public dates where local people could participate. Each object was wrapped in cotton and placed in a plain brown box (each just a bit smaller than a shoe box). At the public dates, there would be a table with at least four (sometimes more) of the boxes sitting in a row. The participant would sit down, Laursen sitting some distance behind them so they could not see his reaction and could focus on the objects. Each participant would open a box, one at a time, in whatever order they wished, and then verbalize or write down their impressions. Most of the time, Laursen would choose the four objects they would read so each object would get an equal number of readings. On a few occasions, he allowed the participants to choose the four boxes they wished to read.
ASSESSING THE RESULTS
The goal of the Psychometry Experiment was for participants to gather accurate information about an object's history or about its owner by touching the object. Participants were asked to simply clear their minds and say or write down whatever came to them. This process is referred to as a "reading," just as a psychic would give a "reading" to a client.
In assessing their reading, the best accurate evidence was a specific physical description or a description of an action pertaining to the object's history or its owner. For example, if the participant accurately described the owner's hair colour, the type of place they lived, what they do for a living, hobbies, or especially what made the object specifically special to them.
Secondary evidence was gathered from general emotional or abstract comments which were accurate, but perhaps were ambiguous and cannot be proven as easily. This might include personality traits, ideological beliefs, or something that may symbolize something accurate to the owner of the object, but cannot easily be proven. Such general perceptions were not as strong as measurable physical evidence.
Some things may be accurate, but could apply to a significantly large number of people in a general way. Ambiguous and generally applicable statements, although they may be accurate, were not counted as evidence. And of course there are purely inaccurate comments, which made up the majority of what people said or wrote.
The following rating system was used in assessing the accuracy of participants' readings:
0 = There was nothing generally or specifically accurate in the participant's reading of the object. Correctly deducing or guessing one thing, such as the gender of the object's owner or how much/little the object was used, also did not count on its own as that information could be obtained via 50/50 chance or by inspecting the object.
WHAT WERE THE RESULTS?
+1 = At least one specific thing (physical description or action) or a few general things (abstract or emotional) were accurate in the participant's reading of the object. Specific things would include accurate descriptions of something physical or an action. General things include more abstract or emotional concepts.
+2 = Several specific things were accurate in the participant's reading of the object. There may be some general things that accompany these specific things that are also accurate. Despite that, at least 50% of the reading was inaccurate, or the reading was too brief and lacked detail to determine it as being any more accurate.
+3 = Generally, the reading was on target. Several specific things were accurate as well as general accuracy. Generally, 25% to 40% of the statements made in the reading could be inaccurate or ambiguous.
+4 = The reading was overall on target. This would include general accuracy throughout the reading with less than 25% being clearly inaccurate statements, with an allowance for one or two ambiguities. Most importantly, several specific things were clearly accurate.
+5 = This would be a reading that was completely on target with a majority of statements being specifically accurate with an allowance for general statements as well. There would be no inaccuracies in the reading. Nobody scored this high in the Psychometry Experiment.
The vast majority of participants (50.7% of them) scored zero on all of their readings. This is to be expected as (aside from general deduction based on the object itself), people would not be able to accurately guess even one accurate detail about the object or its owner.
13.8% of participants were able to get a +1 rating on one item they read. A mere 6.1% scored +1 on two items, while 4.6% of them scored +2 on one item, but zero on the rest. Another 6.1% were able to get at least half of their objects as a +1 or +2.
In total, 87.7% of those people who participated in the Psychometry Experiment fell into the above ratings.
Then we start to head into anamolous territory, where at least one object read achieved a +3 or higher. Two participants got +3 on one object and +1 on the other, but zero on the other two objects they read. A few achieved two +2 ratings and maybe a +1 thrown in for good measure. Or a +1, +2, +3 combination. These five people accounted for 7.6% of the 65 participants in the Experiment.
And then we have three participants (a mere 4.6% of those who participated) - two women and one man - who were accurate to some extent in all of these objects they read. Two of the participants were very accurate, scoring +3 or +4 in two of the objects they read. One scored +2, +3, +4 and +4 on the four objects she read.
THE MOST ACCURATE READINGS
The most accurate reading came from a woman who has had clairvoyant experiences throughout her life. In corresponding with her after the experiment, she told Laursen that she has had "the ability to tap into knowledge that is 'unknown' (for lack of better words)" ever since she was a child. She said she was surprised that her sister who shared a bedroom with her growing up didn't go insane with her waking up in the middle of night to "predict death or catastrophe." Her sister "used to scream and run in my parent's bedroom to sleep," she noted.
Known here as Participant 067, she is a web designer and editor for two online publications from Hamilton, Ontario completing her Master's degree at a university. She reported that she had never had accurate impressions from an object before, but has had vivid impressions about people that uncannily proved accurate at a later date. She also has dreams that revealed information that later came true. As mentioned, Participant 067 scored an incredible +2, +3, +4 and +4 on the four objects she read - highly accurate results for all four objects. This is an average of 3.25 for four objects. Click here to read her full results.
The second most accurate reading came from a Toronto man who had sometimes gathered accurate information from touching objects who otherwise knew nothing about. Otherwise, he reported that he had no other types of psychic experiences. Also a web designer, Participant 008, scored +3 on two objects, and +1 on a third, while gaining no accurate information from a fourth object. When weighing the average of these results, he scored 1.75. Click here to read his full results.
The third most accurate reading came from a well-educated Newmarket woman, now retired. Known here at Participant 063, she has regular psychic experiences, particularly from reading objects via psychometry. She has practiced psychometry in a Spiritualist church setting. Thus Laursen gave her the opportunity, since there was time, to read six of the eight objects. She scored +1 on four of the objects, +2 on another, and interestingly +4 on the plaque of the Virgin Mary, an object Laursen himself had put into the experiment. She was one of the few participants Laursen had known personally before the experiment. Averaged out, the six objects came to 1.67. If we took the best four objects (+1, +1, +2 and +4), she scored an average of 2. Click here to read her full results.
Impressive readings also were given by a university student studying economics and political science who had no prior psychic experiences (Participant 094, average 1.5), an English as a second language teacher (Participant 024, average 1.5), a service club administrator (Participant 031, average 1.25), a hypnotherapist (Participant 073, average 1.0), and an e-commerce business woman (Participant 053, average 1.0). Another six participants scored an average of 0.75, one 0.625, and seven 0.5. Another nine people scored at least +1 on one object.
These people all made the experiment highly successful in that they demonstrated that there is potential to obtain accurate information about objects simply by holding them. The top three people all attested to having some sort of clairvoyant experiences prior to participating. Why they are able to do so remains unknown. How could such abilities could be explained in any case? How could we measure what is happening when they are obtaining accurate information about objects? Theories are abound. Are they tapping into some sort of residual energy, an imprint of what happened to the object and/or about its owner? Or is it something else? Whatever the case, we have to remember that humans have great potential - that they can do things that cannot yet be explained. That, in itself, gives us all reason to explore what we are capable of even further.
What potential could there be in psychometry? How could this be applied practically? We know that legal authorities have used people skilled at psychometry to help find clues in unsolved cases. Psychometry is a long-standing feature of many Spiritualist churches, with special nights in which members of the public can bring in an object to have it read by a Spiritualist minister. Laursen personally attended several of these at one Spiritualist church, and was very impressed with the readings given on the objects he brought. The guests he brought with him were often impressed with the readings of their objects, which always stood out as meaningful to them amidst all of the readings of other people's objects. Historians and archaeologists have also sought practical applications, giving objects with historical significance to psychics to potentially gain further information. Several books have been published on that topic. However, the accuracy of this information can vary, even when people experienced in psychometry read objects. As Participant 067 pointed out to Laursen, "Some days its stronger and other days weaker but it is always there in some form or other." That would go with any talent, wouldn't it?
COMPLETE RESULTS BY PARTICIPANT NUMBER
Each of the following numbers links to a person who participated in the Psychometry Experiment. Only that participant knows their own number. There were 65 eligible participants tabulated in the results. To preserve their anonymity when tabulating results, each participant was assigned a random number between 001 and 100, meaning that 35 numbers are missing in the below list.
Website Content © 2007-2008 Chris Laursen. All rights reserved. No part of this content may be reproduced in any form without the prior written permission of the author.