Mediumship — triple blind study

granny needs to wait for judgment day to get into heaven
Nope, Lazarus, who died just before the rich man (who went to hell, and wanted to warn his family), went to heaven right after death. This is common knowledge! (That's my justification for not including a link, I'm busking here, not thumbing through sources.)
 
granny needs to wait for judgment day to get into heaven

That's a Lutheran and Calvinist doctrine and doesn't account for all of Christianity. I understand you're from majority-Lutheran Germany so your sin of generalization is hereby graciously forgiven.

Bold added:



Christian mortalism is the Christian belief that the human soul is not naturally immortal[1][2][3][4][5] and may include the belief that the soul is "sleeping" after death until the Resurrection of the Dead and the Last Judgment,[6][7][8][9][10] a time known as the intermediate state. "Soul sleep" is often used as a pejorative term,[11][a][14] so the more neutral term "mortalism" was also used in the nineteenth century,[15] and "Christian mortalism" since the 1970s.[16][17][18][19][20][21][22] . . .

Christian mortalism stands in contrast with the traditional Christian belief that the souls of the dead immediately go to heaven, or hell, or (in Catholicism) purgatory. Christian mortalism has been taught by several theologians and church organizations throughout history while also facing opposition from aspects of Christian organized religion. The Catholic Church condemned such thinking in the Fifth Council of the Lateran as "erroneous assertions". Supporters include the sixteenth-century religious figure Martin Luther and the eighteenth-century religious figure Henry Layton, among many others.
 
Nope, Lazarus, who died just before the rich man (who went to hell, and wanted to warn his family), went to heaven right after death. This is common knowledge! (That's my justification for not including a link, I'm busking here, not thumbing through sources.)
it's a parable

External Quote:
27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
this makes a strong case that the dead are not going to talk to the living—>no mediums
 
it's a parable

External Quote:
27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
this makes a strong case that the dead are not going to talk to the living—>no mediums
You can find support for any position from the Big Book-o-Multiple Choice, and (considering how few people actually know what all the points of doctrine are in their nominal religion) even knowing what church the subject of the original post attends cannot tell you what HER understanding is. But it is well documented that mediums, clairvoyance, conversing with the dead etc are neither a science not a religion; those involved in it are either the scammers or the scammed. There's nothing harmless about either of those positions, and any attempts to dissuade her are laudable.
 
I do not want this thread to drift (no careen) to a discussion of Christian doctrine. Can Mediums' ability be supported by evidence.
 
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Training to be a medium, eh? Ask her to ask your closest dead relative to reveal the thing that you both agreed, whilst they were still alive, they would communicate from beyond the grave. If you didn't have such a message agreed, and being a medium was a real thing, then she'd be able to inform you that you were making stuff up.

Yes, this is the Houdinis idea, from almost a century back. I didn't claim to be original.
that doesnt actually work. the psychic could just be reading the sitter. the dead person would have to write down a phrase and lock it in a bank vault with directions that the lawyer cant open it until a written phrase from a medium is presented.

of course you can only do this once as the lawyer would then know. i guess you could included like 50 envelopes numbered and the medium would have ask the dead person "what is in envelope number 3" etc. Provided the ghost can remember that many envelopes. :)
 
it's a parable

How does that make it not canon?

this makes a strong case that the dead are not going to talk to the living—>no mediums
Firstly, that wasn't the argument you were making. You were arguing that granny doesn't go to heaven.
Secondly, that passage implies that Lazarus won't corporeally be *sent* back - explicitly "rises from the dead", that's even in the bit you quoted. There's nothing about spirit communication in it.
 
Oh, please. First we are going to need evidence that ANYONE is really "psychic", and as yet that has not happened.

You could just read @deirdre's comment as saying "so-called 'psychic'" instead, and it would make the same point.

But I don't fully subscribe to deirdre's point of view - it depends on what level of certainty is desired, and to whose satisfaction. It's only a weak disagreement, not a fundamental one. I've worked on verification protocols in the past; I even tried to get James Randi to expand the remit of his million dollar prize once to expand it into a field of pseudoscience that I and some other like minded debunkers was familiar with. Alas, as he had no experience in that particular field, he wasn't interested. That was a shame, as that particular wing of pseudoscience was particularly lively at the time, and in order to "win" you wouldn't just need to break the laws of physics, you'd have had to break the laws of mathematics, which is much harder. To have a single clearly-defined test protocol with the heft of having Randi's name on it might have reduced the noise level in the field. (Who am I kidding?)

However, back to the matter in hand: if the sitter is going in skeptically - which is a premise I have explicitly adopted - it shouldn't be too hard for them to come up with both real and fake questions (that have no correct answer) to trap and fool the medium into bullshitting something. Cold reading really isn't as powerful as people think it is, there's a hell of a lot of dancing going on, and a skeptical sitter should be aware of that. Naming the sweet - and the particular flavour - that gramps used to share with you without letting grandma know, for example, involves no dancing - it's either named or not. Any dancing can be considered disproof, to the satisfaction of the sitter.
 
This is a very interesting question. A line of friendly discussion that gets her to volunteer that detail could possibly be found.
i googled it. apparently there are online courses. or card packs you can buy on amazon.

Questions to ask an Animal Communicator or Pet Medium:


An animal communicator is someone who specializes in animal communication and will typically be able to communicate with both living animals and pets that have passed. Many Evidential Mediums will also communicate with animals - it is common for me to connect with all types of animals in my sessions with clients. If you're interested in connecting to pets you’ve lost, be sure to ask the Medium you're thinking about working with if connecting with pets is a specialty of theirs.



1. What does my pet want me to know about their passing?
 
i googled it. apparently there are online courses. or card packs you can buy on amazon.

Questions to ask an Animal Communicator or Pet Medium:


An animal communicator is someone who specializes in animal communication and will typically be able to communicate with both living animals and pets that have passed. Many Evidential Mediums will also communicate with animals - it is common for me to connect with all types of animals in my sessions with clients. If you're interested in connecting to pets you’ve lost, be sure to ask the Medium you're thinking about working with if connecting with pets is a specialty of theirs.

1. What does my pet want me to know about their passing?
IMG_0280.png
 
From the 2nd Beischel (et al.) study, usefully brought to our attention by Amathia
https://www.windbridge.org/papers/BeischelEXPLORE2015vol11.pdf

External Quote:
Scoring. For the Experiment 2 readings, sitters provided individual scores for each item in each of two readings: a target and a decoy. Each item received one of the following scores:

5: Obvious fit (used if the item is a direct or concrete hit that does not require interpretation to fit)

4: Fit requiring minimal interpretation (used if the item indirectly applies and needs minimal interpretation or symbolism to fit)

3: Fit requiring more than minimal interpretation (used if the item indirectly applies and needs a greater degree of interpretation or symbolism to fit)

2: Other fit (used if the item does not fit the named discarnate or the rater, but does fit someone else that the rater is/was close to and that is likely to be the subject of the statement)

1: No fit (used if the information is a concrete miss—is clearly wrong—or if it is information for which there is no reasonable interpretation)

0: Donʼt know (used if the rater does not understand the item or does not have enough information to judge its accuracy)

External Quote:
Percentage accuracy was calculated in Experiment 2 by tallying the number of items that received scores of 4 or 5 and dividing that total by the total number of items minus the items scored as 0ʼs ([4ʼs/5ʼs]/[total 0ʼs]) and calculated separately for the Five-Questions and the Free-Form sections. A more conservative tally was also examined in which only the items scored as 5ʼs (hits) or 1ʼs (misses) were totaled.
Not totally happy about all this.
And I'm not happy at all that first names, correct answers, and readings are unavailable.
Agreed- and would add, the questions that the mediums put are unavailable (AFAIK).

From the paper,
External Quote:
During Phase 2(unblinded but regulated), the medium was introduced to the sitter by first name. In this 20-min phase, the medium was permitted, if she chose, to ask the sitter yes-or-no questions to which the sitter could respond “yes,” “no,” “maybe,” “sort of, ”or “I donʼt know.”
An interesting secondary experimental question might be,
"is there a relationship between the score rated by the sitter and the number of questions asked by the medium?"
No control group of sitters who are not asked for feedback is used in Experiment 2.
The researchers write,

External Quote:
The Phase 2 sections in which the mediums were permitted to request limited feedback to yes-or-no questions if they chose received a mean score of 4.20 +/- 0.25 and also ranged from two to six. The scores from the two phases are not significantly different (P = .08); i.e., a significant scoring increase did not occur once the WCRMs were able to request feedback during the reading. This suggests that the accurate information reported during Phase 1 may have been acquired from a non-local source
Alternatively, it suggests the Windbridge-approved mediums (remember, Julie Beischel is one of Windbridge's two managing directors) didn't perform significantly better when they could ask Yes or No questions of their sitters.
One wonders if this finding has been communicated to the Windbridge mediums so that they don't have to waste time/ bother their clients with pointless questions in the future. Somehow I doubt it (but I'd be happy to be proved wrong).

The scoring system is problematic. It is obviously subjective, and conducted by people who wish to communicate with a deceased person, have accessed the Windbridge website, completed an online form (whose content- and questions, if any- we don't know; it's generally considered good practice to publish recruitment materials in an appendix if these might be relevant to a study) and who then have been selected "at random" ...
External Quote:
...from the general sitter pool using www.random.org to select participant ID numbers.
(My emphasis).

How it 's determined who should be in the "general sitter pool" is not stated. Presumably "general sitter pool" does not mean all applicants who completed the Windbridge questionnaire, so what criteria were applied to determine who should be in that category?
I get the impression that there has been an element of pre-selection before www.random.org was used.

I don't know if this is relevant: I've seen a couple of stage hypnotists; they initially (and openly) engaged the whole audience in a series of "tasks" to narrow down the field to the most "suggestible".

I'm not sure about the scoring system.
Without knowing what statements were made by the mediums, or what questions were asked of the sitters, we are free to speculate.

"This person [or more likely, the name supplied to the medium] was special to you..."
"[Name of deceased] has known that you wanted to be in touch...",
"They were sad to leave you, but want you to be happy"
...and similar phrases, to subjects who wish to contact the deceased and who have pro-actively contacted an organisation advocating mediumship, are easy "5's".

For "4's",
External Quote:
...if the item indirectly applies and needs minimal interpretation or symbolism to fit
...who determines what minimal interpretation or symbolism is? Are any guidelines provided to the sitter?
Much the same apples to "3's".

"2's",
External Quote:
...if the item does not fit the named discarnate or the rater, but does fit someone else that the rater is/was close to
...so any remark that might fit anyone that the rater is close to "and is likely to be the subject of the statement" is valid.

"1's" include
External Quote:
...information for which there is no reasonable interpretation
-which again is highly subjective. The sitters/ raters are not asked to not give "5" for "hits" which might have a "reasonable [non-paranormal] interpretation" (e.g., statements that might be applicable to most potential sitters).

Edited to add, Saturday 09/09: Not sure I put my concern about "1's" (above) very clearly:
I was trying to say, scoring a "1" requires a medium to say something "for which there is no reasonable interpretation".
But symbolic meanings, "interpretation", and information which might be about anyone "close" to the sitter are all accepted in the scoring system as not 1's.
The criteria for a "1" seem to set a high bar for the sitter, a possible believer- they might well rate an objectively incorrect statement as being partially correct following "interpretation", or after considering possible possible symbolic meanings.

External Quote:
0: Donʼt know (used if the rater does not understand the item or does not have enough information to judge its accuracy)
If the rater is prepared to give the medium "the benefit of the doubt"- and the selection process might favour potential subjects so inclined- then it's easy to see how wrong answers ("1's") might end up in this category.

Despite my, ahem, considerable scepticism about mediumship, I don't know how we can account for the significant differences in ratings for "target" and "decoy" readings.
Of course (and remembering posting guidelines) we must assume that the above experiments were conducted in good faith.
Anyone got any ideas how those results were obtained?
 
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The scoring in that second study is also suspect.

SmartSelect_20230909-074717_Samsung Notes.jpg

Note that "correct" ranges from 3 to 6, while "incorrect" ranges from 1 to 2. (1 was never chosen in the exploratory experiment. Since 1 means "much worse than random chance", that's not surprising.) If you have 1 rater choosing "6" and 3 raters choosing "2", the mean is still 3!

Note that "good reading with some incorrect information" and "good reading with little incorrect information" are essentially the same, and exhibit a ChatGPT level of trustworthiness, which means you can't really rely on anything the medium tells you => waste of money.

Yet only "1" is later counted as a "miss".

SmartSelect_20230909-074759_Samsung Notes.jpg

They seem to have used a 0-5 scale in experiment 2, with "fit" ranging from 2 to 5, and "no fit" being 1. A "5" and a "1" results in a "mean" of "3".

"2" implies that if the reading fits the rater, but not the deceased, it is scored at "3" or higher, but not considered a miss; and in my opinion, "2" itself should be considered a miss as well. This illustrates considerable bias and a "we'll take anything we can get" mindset.

Note also the inclusion of "sybolism". I have no idea how that even applies to the questions:
SmartSelect_20230909-081320_Samsung Notes.jpg

SmartSelect_20230909-081336_Samsung Notes.jpg

You're going to symbolize someone's favorite food?

Notwithstanding the 0-5 scale, all "global scores" were taken on the 0-6 scale.
SmartSelect_20230909-075357_Samsung Notes.jpg

SmartSelect_20230909-075312_Samsung Notes.jpg

SmartSelect_20230909-075605_Samsung Notes.jpg

The averages for experiments 1 and 2 are below 3, which suggests that the majority of scores indicated no communication.

Note also that the 3 experiments comprised 28, 28 and 40 readings respectively; this means that 1 reading was dropped from experiment 1, and 9 readings (22.5%) were dropped from experiment 2, for unclear reasons.

There is no sharing of data, not even tables etc.
 
There is no sharing of data, not even tables etc.

Good point. It shouldn't have been difficult to tabulate the sitters and the scores they gave.
Beischel must be familiar with "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence"; publishing raw data would have been helpful.

... 9 readings (22.5%) were dropped from experiment 2, for unclear reasons.
Yes... somehow I doubt that those readings, whatever problems arose, were heading in a "positive" (sitter confirms accuracy) direction.
Maybe it was established that the people being contacted weren't actually dead yet... :)
 
Maybe it was established that the people being contacted weren't actually dead yet...
They didn't care about that. Remember, their scoring has a category for "does not fit the rater", which implies they have categories that do. And if they're using dead raters, well, that'd just be like the mediums scoring themselves. :-p
 
Didn't they email the readings to the sitters? My first assumption would be that the dropouts were people who simply didn't reply for some reason.
 
Didn't they email the readings to the sitters? My first assumption would be that the dropouts were people who simply didn't reply for some reason.
You shouldn't have to assume that. It should have been clearly stated, and if the fringe journal this was published in had competent reviewers, they would have pointed this out.

Also, "not replying" constitutes a self-selected sample: e.g. it could be that people mostly didn't reply because they felt the readings they had received were trash, and that would bias the remainder of the responses in favor of readings that looked valid—especially with a 22.5% loss of responses, that bias would be considerable.

But ultimately, we do not know why these responses were dropped.
 
You shouldn't have to assume that. It should have been clearly stated, and if the fringe journal this was published in had competent reviewers, they would have pointed this out.

Also, "not replying" constitutes a self-selected sample: e.g. it could be that people mostly didn't reply because they felt the readings they had received were trash, and that would bias the remainder of the responses in favor of readings that looked valid—especially with a 22.5% loss of responses, that bias would be considerable.

But ultimately, we do not know why these responses were dropped.

Yeah, I completely agree with you. It's such a small sample to begin with, and selected from people who volunteered and were picked by the researchers, not a survey sent to random households through the mail (where most people usually won't bother to reply).
 
fringe journal

I just had a sniff around, and it does look like it carries a lot of articles in woo-attracting fields, and that such field are explicitly in the journal's remit:
External Quote:
About the journal

The Journal of Science & Healing

EXPLORE: The Journal of Science & Healing addresses the scientific principles behind, and applications of, evidence-based healing practices from a wide variety of sources, including conventional, alternative, and cross-cultural medicine. It is an interdisciplinary journal that explores the healing …
https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/explore

It also seems as if the editorial board do a lot of self-publishing in it. For example the current first 3 "Recent Articles" listed on the above page are:
- Mini review "Asking about guns in the home should be pre-requisite for play dates" https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550830723001349 is by Angie Lillehei who is "Associate Editor" and "Editorial Director";
- Short communication "Covid-19: A case study on the psychology of exploitation" https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550830723001337 is by Stephan A. Schwartz who is "Columnist";
- Research article "Worldviews and environmental ethics: Contributions of brain processing networks" is by Marjorie Woollacott, ... Natasha Tassell-Matamua, where that final author is "Associate Editor".
roles listed here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/explore/about/editorial-board

The impact factor isn't terrible, 2.4, however, that's not particularly good either. I do notice that many of the articles I could see reference lists for were citing other papers from the same journal, so it seems like there might be a self-boosting clique that's making the impact factor seem higher than it really ought to be.
 
My first assumption would be that the dropouts were people who simply didn't reply for some reason.
That was my first thought too (if we're talking about subjects dropping out), subjects do drop out of studies post-recruitment.
But I don't think that's the case:

Of the 40 Experiment 2 readings performed, 31 were returned and contained usable data Content from External Source https://www.windbridge.org/papers/BeischelEXPLORE2015vol11.pdf

...so there were 40 subjects at the start of experiment 2, not the "n = 31" stated several times on page 140.

40 readings were performed- so no subjects dropped out- so why is the data from 9 (22.5%) missing or not usable?

Each of the twenty Windbridge-approved medium performed two readings for experiment 2,
so between five (4 mediums x 2 readings, + 1 medium x 1 reading) and nine (9 mediums x 1 reading) mediums out of twenty failed to supply usable data from at least one of their readings.


40 readings were performed for 40 subjects (sitters) in Experiment 2 of Beischel et al.s' 2015 paper (link in quote above).

9 out of 40 reading results either weren't returned or didn't contain usable data. The authors do not provide further information.
It's hard to think of how a sitting could be conducted with a (hopefully) competent subject and not generate usable data.

Maybe some of the transcripts of sittings were lost (which in itself would be problematic). Maybe mediums deviated from the trial protocols for some sittings, or sitters inadvertently gave away information, invalidating their sitting.

I think a "failure" rate of 22.5% should have been explained by Beischel et al., as less charitable interpretations are possible.

Edited to add: I've just realised I didn't consider the possibility of sitters dropping out after their sitting, i.e. not rating the medium's report. *Doh!* I overlooked that Mendel has already considered this,
Also, "not replying" constitutes a self-selected sample: e.g. it could be that people mostly didn't reply because they felt the readings they had received were trash, and that would bias the remainder of the responses in favor of readings that looked valid—especially with a 22.5% loss of responses, that bias would be considerable.
 
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9 out of 40 reading results either weren't returned or didn't contain usable data. The authors do not provide further information.
I think there is such an enormous difference between "9 were not returned" and "9 didn't contain usable data" that having such an ambiguous description with them all lumped into one sentence is sufficient to make the experimental results highly suspect. Nine out of forty is a very high proportion to ignore, and clarification should certainly have been made.
 
From Mendel's post #54:

1694463600923.png


If I'm understanding this correctly, if I was a sitter, I would have provided the name of a discarnate, like my late mother. First name, maiden name, full name, married and maiden name I don't know, but married initials would be JT.

Likewise, a number of other sitters do the same thing. Say FatPhil is a sitter, and he gives the name of his great grandfather to be read.

Then the mediums give readings for the various names they are given. As one of those readings was for my mom JT, that is one of the readings I will be asked to evaluate. The other reading is a "decoy" reading that was for another sitter. So, it's still a reading about someone. How is my decoy assigned to me and how is the reading about my mom assigned as a decoy to the other sitters?

They know that sitter Dave is related to discarnate JT because they have to provide me with the reading about JT as one of my 2 blind readings to rate. What else do they know about me? If they have my approximate age (almost 60 now) and that I'm from the US is my decoy reading going to be about FatPhils great grandfather? I pretty sure Phil is younger than me and I think he was born in Europe, the UK or maybe Finland.

Or would my decoy reading be from someone that is closer to my age and lives in the US? Maybe even someone that listed a female discarnate like I did. If that's the case, it's a bit like the old Astrology experiment where a group is asked to rate their personal horoscope as applying to them. After everyone gives their personal horoscope a good to great rating, it is revealed that the group all got the exact same horoscope and there was nothing personal about it. The more in common I have with the sitter who's reading is my decoy, the more likely we'll have some common traits in our discarnates.

While I used FatPhil as an example, it appears that most or all of the sitters were US based, in addition having a belief in mediumship, so there are already multiple layers of commonality between the sitters.

In fact, shouldn't a control reading, that ideally is completely fictitious, be the decoy reading that everybody gets along with their personal one. I'd want to know how those 40 people all rated a fictional reading.
 
First name, maiden name, full name, married and maiden name I don't know

External Quote:
At the start of each reading, the first name of a discarnate was given to the medium.
External Quote:
… In cases in which the names provide overt evidence about the discarnatesʼ ethnicities and in turn their probable physical descriptions… or provide other identifying information (e.g., religion)… a pair is chosen to include two discarnates of the same ethnicity, religion, etc.
Beischel et al.s' 2015 paper


In fact, shouldn't a control reading, that ideally is completely fictitious, be the decoy reading
To play devil's advocate, the researchers probably feel that a "genuine" reading is a better control than a fictitious one.

How on Earth (if that's the right phrase here) the mediums establish "contact" with the specific deceased person that the sitter wants on the basis of a first name is anyone's guess, but then the researchers don't need to explain plausible mechanisms.

...the old Astrology experiment where a group is asked to rate their personal horoscope as applying to them.

I think that's a good comparison.
It'd be brilliant if we had access to the transcripts (or better yet, recordings!) of the sittings; it would be interesting if the "5" scores might be more frequent for readings returning more "generic" /widely applicable statements than readings with lower scores.

External Quote:
The audio-recordings of the readings were then transcribed, formatted into lists of definitive statements, and blinded to remove any references to the discarnatesʼ names
(Beischel 2015).

It would also be interesting to compare the original transcripts of the recordings to the lists of "definitive statements".
I don't expect that we (or anyone else not associated with the trials) will get that opportunity.
But it seems the sitters are not actually seeing a transcript of the medium's statements "in the cold light of day" as it were.

External Quote:
During Phase 2... ... the medium was permitted, if she chose, to ask the sitter yes-or-no questions to which the sitter could respond “yes,” “no,” “maybe,” “sort of, ”or “I donʼt know.”
(Beischel et al. 2015, link as above).

This phase lasted 20 minutes. Cold reading techniques can elicit information of surprising specificity; although the transcripts of the mediums notes were edited to remove names, if a medium successfully "hit" upon something quite specific- which non-mediums demonstrating cold reading have done successfully- and that ended up in the transcript/ "formatted definitive statements", it could make the sitter's "target" sitting/ transcript much more likely to be identifiable.

Here, illusionist Derren Brown demonstrates cold reading. Just an example, Beischel's mediums didn't have all the feedback that Brown has with "live" sitters. The program was filmed in the USA because Brown isn't widely known there. (The rest of the show, "Messiah", is well worth watching IMHO [Edited to add] despite the stupid choice of title).


Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UE-1Thzj_0&t=36m39s
 
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To play devil's advocate, the researchers probably feel that a "genuine" reading is a better control than a fictitious one.

Maybe. I think of the decoy reading as the equivalent to a placebo in clinical trials. It's not the real medicine but nobody knows that, so we see how people react when they think they might be getting the real thing.

If they are testing for the ability of mediums to contact dead people and the criteria is the scores they receive from various sitters, I would want to know how those sitters ranked a fictional reading. If the sitters are just as likely to rank a fictional reading as a "real" one, then it shows the sitters have a high level of conformation biases and their scores for the "real" readings is questionable.

Even if they used a "genuine" reading as the decoy it should be for a person not affiliated with any of the sitters and all the sitters should receive the same decoy reading. Using other sitter's readings as decoys can have the effect of making some of the readings being very similar or in the opposite order the decoy reading is so vastly different that it obviously does not apply to the sitter, thus making the one that does score that much higher.

Using the same decoy reading for all the sitters wherever it comes from lets us know how all of the sitters responded to their own reading and the same decoy reading.

As you point out, none of the relevant questions and readings are available so it just creates a "trust us" scenario, and I don't.
 
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