Why is Dr. Charles Tart's OBE experiment not considered to be "legit"?

In this study, Dr. Tart documents the out-of-body experience of a young woman who was one of his research subjects. What makes this particular out-of-body experience remarkable is that she was able to leave her physical body and read a 5-digit number, which was at a significant distance, and correctly give it to him upon return.


The experiment is described in detail here: http://www.near-death.com/tart.html

7 Answers

  • Tunsa
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Science is not about absolute proof, but about evidence. The goal of an experiment is to provide evidence that can then be verified by other researchers to add to the knowledge within the field. The experiment described provides evidence that the subject projected her consciousness outside of her physical body, but it's not clear how strong that evidence is.

    First, given the structure of the experiment, there were multiple chances for the participant to inadvertently be exposed to the "random" number (even though the chances of that happening are very small). The design would have been stronger if the "random" number were selected by a third party previous to the experiment and if it were placed in a location where it could not be read by either the participant or the researcher. This is called a "double-blind" experiment.

    Second, it would be pretty simple to set up a video camera in a room to monitor the participant's movements during the night. This would help to eliminate fears of cheating or peaking.

    Third, it's not clear why he didn't try to repeat this experiment to increase it's validity.

    Having said all of this, the chances of correctly guessing a 5 digit random number with 4 chances (four nights of sleeping) are 1 in 25,000. Those are pretty slim odds, and, if the proper controls were in place, this would provide significant evidence that the participant projected her consciousness outside of her physical body in order to read the number on the shelf.

    Contrary to what many scientists will tell you, results that occur in isolation and have not been repeated can provide evidence. Repeatability provides stronger evidence and adds reliability and validity to the experiment. Without repeatability, the results cannot be dismissed or discarded, but it must be considered that the results could be an anomally that may not reflect a trend. Many people in different science (especially the social sciences) now turn to meta-analysis where the results of many experiments are combined to help get a larger sample size and to help demonstrate that results have been repeated. At best, this experiment can be considered to be one experiment that would have to be included in a meta-analysis in order to produce evidence that is likely to be accepted as scientific evidence.

    This type of work is typically now referred to as Remote Viewing, even though this experiment is being done within a single room. I've included some information below concerning remote viewing as a reference.

  • Exodus
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    In the article itself it says "Therefore, Miss Z's reading of the target number cannot be considered as providing conclusive evidence for a parapsychological effect. " because of the possibility of seeing the number reflected in the clock.

    It also says that she couldn't move further than 2ft without disturbing the wires "an event which would show up on the recording equipment as a tremendous amount of sixty cycle artifact" and yet during the test "The EEG was technically rather poor on this night, being obscured with a great deal of sixty cycle artifact". Tart admits that sometimes he dozed too during the night.

    I'm surprised that he didn't try and repeat the experiment under more stringent conditions, if the woman was actually astrally projecting it would be a most astounding revelation.

    Or maybe he did try and the results were unrepeatable?

  • 4 years ago

    Charles Tart

  • Victor
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    In order to be "legit" as you put it, an experiment must meet the following criteria:

    1. It must be performed under controlled standards, meaning there must be a scientific control (or control group) involved.

    2. It must be falsifiable, meaning that the chance of the experiment turning out "wrong" or disproving the hypothesis must be taken into account.

    3. It must be able to be reproduced anywhere in the world by researchers using the same methods.

    The procedure given on the site does not meet criteria number 3.

    Also, there may be a chance of trickery by the subject which went undetected by Dr. Tart.

    Further, assuming that there was no trickery on the part of the subject, the odds of guessing a 5 digit number (1 in 100,000) are not impossible, merely improbable.

    These factors work together to refute the validity of the experiment.

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  • 5 years ago

    Why is this brought up when SRI conducted hundreds of experiements using different subjects to provide evidence that remote viewing is real? That data is available. I think because the US intelligence community supported it and does not want the facts known or widely discussed. The researched went on for 20 years, don't be naive you think the gov would support research for that long that failed to produce results...really?

  • tsr21
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    As I understand it, it was neither under controlled conditions, nor able to be repeated.

  • Chaz W
    Lv 6
    7 years ago

    Fabrications are not facts.

    Lies are not the truth.

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