Professor Cecily P Science is confident that people can know the outcomes of future random events, a so-called 'psi' effect.
The study of 'psi' or the power of mind over matter, of consciousness over the physical world, has been explored at length in psychology, often within a sub-field known as para-psychology. One of most famous labs studying psi is PEAR: Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research.
Cecily is keen to run an experiment to show that people can predict outcomes of coin tosses at a rate better than chance.
She explains her hypothesis to a graduate student, Laizee Bumm, and asks him to conduct the study for her. However, Laizee is a research assistant with other priorities. He does what she asks, but makes up the data to save himself time.
He generates random data for 100 people guessing a thousand coin tosses each. The results from the random-number generator "show" that 50% of the guesses (of the fake respondents) are right, and 50% are wrong.
In actual fact though, the results from the random-number generator happen to show that people correctly guess 501 out of 1000 coin tosses.
This result it should be noted, happens to be in line with previously reported studies of the psi effect: 'The effects that the volunteers accomplish are very small, but amazing. The operators are roughly altering one bit in 1,000,' explains Michael Ibison, a British mathematical physicist who has come to work for a year at PEAR after stints at Siemens, IBM, and Agfa. 'That means if you had a coin toss, psychokinesis could affect one of those coin tosses if you tossed a thousand times.' Van Bakel 1994, Wired
Do the final results of this study by Cecily and Laizee provide evidence of a psychokinetic effect?
Why? Why not?
If Laizee's data are fabricated using a random number generator, doesn't this mean the observed results were the outcomes of random events?
If Cecily's expectations were supported, doesn't this mean that she has proved her point that people can know the outcomes of future events? Didn't she got the result she expected?