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False-Positive Effect in the Radin Double-Slit Experiment on Observer Consciousness as Determined With the Advanced Meta-Experimental Protocol

Frontiers in Psychology 10
Walleczek, J.von Stillfried, N. Phenoscience Laboratories,
Berlin, Germany
2019 Consciousness, Physics

Prior work by Radin et al. (2012, 2016) reported the astonishing claim that an anomalous effect on double-slit (DS) light-interference intensity had been measured as a function of quantum-based observer consciousness. Given the radical implications, could there exist an alternative explanation, other than an anomalous consciousness effect, such as artifacts including systematic methodological error (SME)?

To address this question, a conceptual replication study involving 10,000 test trials was commissioned to be performed blindly by the same investigator who had reported the original results. The commissioned study performed confirmatory and strictly predictive tests with the advanced meta-experimental protocol (AMP), including with systematic negative controls and the concept of the sham-experiment, i.e., counterfactual meta-experimentation. Whereas the replication study was unable to confirm the original results, the AMP was able to identify an unacceptably low true-negative detection rate with the sham-experiment in the absence of test subjects.

The false-positive detection rate reached 50%, whereby the false-positive effect, which would be indistinguishable from the predicted true-positive effect, was significant at p = 0.021 (σ = −2.02; N = 1,250 test trials). The false-positive effect size was about 0.01%, which is within an-order-of-magnitude of the claimed consciousness effect (0.001%; Radin et al., 2016). The false-positive effect, which indicates the presence of significant SME in the Radin DS-experiment, suggests that skepticism should replace optimism concerning the radical claim that an anomalous quantum consciousness effect has been observed in a controlled laboratory setting.

The article was published in: Frontiers in Psychology 10

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This work was supported (in part) by the Fetzer Franklin Fund of the John E. Fetzer Memorial Trust.