Project Viola Ten: The Pearce-Pratt Precedent

Hubert Pierce being tested with Zener cards by Dr. J.B. Rhine

The hit rates which I obtained during the Project Viola Ten Experiments shatter the record set by Hubert Pearce in the 1930s at Duke University in the Pearce-Pratt experiments conducted by Joseph Pratt and overseen by Dr. Joseph Banks Rhine. Pearce’s score with Zener cards at a distance (100 and 250 yards) was 558 out of 1850, yielding a hit rate of 30% versus the MCE of 20% (10% over MCE)[1]. My own score of 194 out of 400 yielded a hit rate of 48.5% (28.5% over MCE) which nearly trebled Pearce’s benchmark. The greater number of trials, however, in the Pearce-Pratt experiments yielded odds against chance of approximately 22 billion-to-one, which were considerably higher than my own million-to-one outcome.

Rhine and Pratt in their paper, ‘A Review of The Pearce-Pratt Distance Series of Esp Tests’ write that ‘the test procedure and conditions provided special safeguards against any undetected errors, and subsequent critical scrutiny has revealed no flaw in the series as evidence for the occurrence of ESP.’[2] It is worth noting that after Pearce’s abilities became clear, Rhine introduced protocols to screen for collusion between Pearce and Pratt. Pratt’s hit rates were not affected by these protocols.[3]

[1] [2] [3] Rhine, J. G., & Pratt, J. G. ‘A review of the Pearce-Pratt distance series of ESP tests.’ Journal of Parapsychology. 1954. pp. 165-177.