Radio: Patterns and Peephole

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Last year, when Duke University's Dr. Joseph Banks Rhine published his telepathy theories, "ExtraSensory Perception" (ESP) became the brief rage of women's clubs all over the U. S. Commander Eugene Francis McDonald Jr., energetic president of Zenith Radio Corp. and long a believer in thought transference, saw a chance to prove his belief in a big way by putting ESP on the air. Zenith sponsored network radio experiments in the Rhine technique, put the tests in the scientific hands of Northwestern University's Psychologists Drs. Louis Deal Goodfellow and Robert Harvey Gault.

Every Sunday night ten senders sat in a secluded room in Chicago's Merchandise Mart, concentrated gravely on cards and vegetables selected by a roulette wheel. Radio listeners tried to pickup the senders' thought waves, record the wheel's selections. In response to $600 worth of concentrating, 1,250,000 replies came in from some 100,000 receivers. In positive language the announcer told the listeners that they were picking them right with remarkable frequency. But Psychologist Goodfellow, after studying the results of 15 broadcasts, pricked Telepath McDonald's iridescent bubble. Though he found 572,873 correct answers, where chance should have brought only 568,215, he said: "There is no evidence of extrasensory perception in these experiments." He explained that listeners made their guesses on the basis of preferred patterns and symbols, did well only when the wheel chanced to follow those patterns.

Hot on his analytical trail, Investigator Goodfellow extended his research to cover the program's dramatization of telepathy case histories. In one of them thought transference was said to have brought a California wife-murderer to justice by revealing to a neighbor that the dead woman had been buried in a woodshed. Last week, Dr. Goodfellow announced that again telepathy had had nothing to do with the case, cited California Supreme Court records, said that the grave had been found by a small boy who peeped through a knothole.