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  • Writer's pictureCat Ward


The rather scholarly-looking gentleman in the above photo is Walter Whately Carington (born Walter Whately Smith in 1884, died 1947).

He was, in fact, exactly as I've described him; quite scholarly indeed. He studied science at Cambridge University, held a Master's degree in both science and arts, and in 1920 he was elected to the council of the Society for Psychical Research. There are many more achievements of his that I could list, but those ae not necessarily applicable. Let's just say that this was an extremely intelligent man!

In 1939, Carington conducted a remote-viewing experiment..and I found it a source of some curiosity and interest.. which is why I'm here writing this piece.

We'll get to the experiment, and a description of its aims and methods, in a little while, but firstly..I suppose you're probably wondering why I'm writing about Whately Carington, right? There are actually a few reasons..

The first being that, as I might have stated previously once or twice, I find the thoughts, hypotheses, and experiments of the earlier generations of psychical researchers to be of utmost interest- and a great deal of importance, too.

After all, without those initial early hypotheses, and without the subsequent experiments conducted to test those- each with their associated aims, methods, controls, statistical data, analyses, and findings- we may not have as thorough a research and experience base to draw from as we have now. If not for those early experimenters, there would not have been such a large pool of successes, and failures, and debate as to what constitutes definition of each, and as to how those definitions apply regarding each experiment..

Psychical research is, when viewing the timeline of its experimental history, a continuum of such things as I've listed above. Without the earliest experiments in telepathy (or in thought-reading, as it was originally known), there would not then have existed that evolutionary process, begun by the initial thoughts, theories, and tests of the earlier researchers, and fueled by peer review and constructive criticism; the often-gradual process of adjustment of experimental method which has, over its course, led researchers to other fascinating avenues of exploration- other experiments. This process of adjustment, refinement, and modification continues to this day, to the great benefit of the field.

The second reason for my interest in Whately Carington's experiment is that I'm going to attempt to recreate it, in a modified sense- and if you'd like to join me in participating, I'd be most grateful.

Over time spent in this field, exploring its many mysteries, many of us find ourselves drawn to one particular branch- one particular area of main interest or focus. This is not to say that everyone ends up doing so..but if none of us did, there would not exist such people as those defined as psychical researchers, paranormal investigators, ufologists, and crypto-zoologists.

Speaking for myself, I've always been drawn to the "ghostly" side of paranormal research..but over the last while, due to some interesting acquaintances made, and subsequent conversations had with those, and also to some thought-provoking reading, I've found a shift taking place in my interests, and have found myself drawn to those aspects related to parapsychology and psychical research, to at least as great a degree as I've been drawn to field investigation.

In order to fully grasp the complexities of a branch of research as diverse and as complex as this one, I feel a decent degree of immersion is perhaps required. I've been working towards that- reading, studying, asking questions, learning as much as I can..but in order to truly immerse myself in learning to a greater degree about what is involved in this area I've found myself drawn to, I feel it beneficial to be involved in that which has been one of the mainstays of the body of research conducted within its bounds- experimentation.

I'm no stranger to online surveys run by those who study parapsychology or psychical research- I've filled in a few of those over time..but it seems there is a noticeable dearth of online experiments accessible via social media platforms, which could easily be participated in by a broad spectrum of people, and perhaps therefore provide some interesting data, too.

Whilst re-reading sections of "An Introduction to Parapsychology" recently, I found mention by its authors of Mr. Carington's experiment and was struck by its simplicity with regards to ease of replication, and also by its possible appeal factor- it's perhaps a little more fun than a run-of-the-mill Zener card experiment!

Carington himself confirmed that he selected this particular method because of that appeal factor, saying; "Fortunately, however, it was strongly represented to me (as, indeed, I had realised for myself ) that this would be a procedure singularly lacking in human interest- in fact, about as tedious as could be devised; whereas it is not unreasonable to suppose that, if such phenomena occur at all, they may well be to some considerable extent influenced by the degree of interest, emotion or the like associated with the material used. I was accordingly very ready to adopt the view that it would be better to use a type of material a trifle livelier than the somewhat arid austerity of Dr Zener’s symbols." (SPR Proceedings Vol.46, p 39-47 in this link)

As I've thus far only given you a few vague hints as to what Whately Carington's experiment studied (and as to the fact that I'll shortly be attempting to re-create it), I guess I should perhaps go into a little further depth about this- and I'll do so via a sort of comparison, between the experiment conducted 80 years ago, and what I'll be attempting shortly..


I think it best I begin here with a description of Whately Carington's experiment.

The aim here, in the most basic terms, was to test for general telepathy- the acquisition of knowledge by means other than those supplied by means of ordinary human senses.. -but related to that was the aim of examining the possibility of precognition, or post-cognition (or retrocognition) entering the equation; Whately Carington terms this as telepathic "displacement", and this hypothesis was considered in assessment of results.

The experimental method, at its basics, was this:

Over the course of ten nights, in February 1939, Whately Carington would select a word at random from a copy of Webster's Dictionary, by inserting the blade of his pocket knife between two pages, and selecting the first word found there which could be represented by a simple line drawing, which would be done by either he or his wife. An alternate method of selection for a "target page" was to take the last 3 digits of the first four entries on a randomly selected page from Chambers' Mathematical Tables, and select a page number (using the first viable entry) correlating to a dictionary page.

Whately Carington describes his method as such:

"On each of ten successive evenings, beginning on that of Feb. 1st, 1939, a different simple drawing, made by either my wife or myself, was exposed at 7.0 p.m. in my study (suitably curtained and guarded) at 5 Fitzwilliam Road, Cambridge, and was left in position till 9.30 a.m. the next morning.

Percipients were asked to draw, in books provided for the purpose and at any time within the period of exposure convenient to themselves, the best ‘reproduction’ they could manage of what they thought each drawing represented, or (which probably came to much the same thing) whatever came into their minds when they made the attempts" (PSPR Vol.46, p.44).

There were various other controls used during the experiment, including the randomisation of given responses by a third party (in this case, Dr. Robert Thouless), by detaching each sheet of paper containing a drawing from the notebook (provided to participants by Carington and handed in after the experiment's completion, and assigning a "code number" to each drawing, before presenting them to the study's author, in order to rule out any personal bias on his behalf- either for or against any possible results.

As I mentioned earlier, one of Whately Carington's aims was to test for temporal displacement regarding percipients impressions; when attempting to focus upon a target, could it be possible that an impression could be "delayed", and arrive a night or two later in the percipient's mind..or could an impression perhaps arrive a night or two early?

There is, of course, a little more to discuss here regarding my own methods and aims..Those are fairly similar, but in order to have you thoroughly informed, I should tell you about them..


So what on earth would I have to gain from doing this?

To be honest, there's no gain involved. I'm not seeking recognition from this. It's mostly about satisfying my own personal curiosity- attempting to find the "how", "why", and "what if", whilst also fulfilling my desire to be further immersed in this aspect of the field..but this is far from saying that those are my only motivations.

80 years have passed since this experiment was run last, and there have been many improvements in technology since that distant year of 1939..and perhaps, although it could end up proving useless, my attempt at running this experiment could alternately provide some further points of consideration, for myself and possibly others too, due to that same evolutionary process that has ever been involved in development of a new (or different) experiment.

My aims in conducting this experiment are matched to Whately Carington's own aims; to examine not only the possibility of a telepathic process taking place, but to examine also the possibility of a "temporal displacement" effect, either precognitive or retrocognitive. An additional aim of mine, due to the agreement by several of my friends to participate in the experiment, is to also examine the possibility that (as researchers such as Sheldrake and Radin have studied in their own experiments) telepathic processes are often easier facilitated if the agent and the percipient are familiar with one another. This effect has been observed most prevalently in telepathy tests involving siblings or close family members, but the annals of psychical research contain many case files concerning extrasensory experiences involving friends too.

For my mind, a friendship is sort of a "matching of frequencies", a tuning in to the energetic wavelength of another. When a friendship is first established, those two individuals' frequencies may perhaps not efficiently align straight away. This is comparable to partly tuning a radio to a certain station; you can hear snippets of speech or music, but until you match the frequency band, the content of the station is not known with any great certainty.

Over time, as a friendship strengthens, the individuals concerned are tuning in with greater accuracy to each others "stations", and a stronger rapport is developed.

Several of the participants with whom I am on a friendly basis are people whom I've known for a while now, and have formed a solid friendship with. It will be interesting to examine, via comparison of their drawings to those of other participants I am unfamiliar with, as to whether there are results present that might perhaps indicate the presence of a stronger telepathic rapport, due to familiarity between agent and percipient.

My methods of target selection will be practically identical to Carington's; I have in my possession both a fairly old copy of Websters Dictionary, and a pocket knife to insert between its pages, and I likewise have access to an online copy of Chambers' Mathematical Tables, to be used as an alternate means of target selection, using the same manner Carington himself used.

There will be one notable alteration (or rather addition), to this experiment, which concerns the manner in which participants are gathered, and the manner in which I shall be connected with them. As I mentioned earlier, 80 years have passed since Carington's experiment, and there has been an incredible amount of technological advances made since then, one of which is, of course, the advent of the internet and of social media platforms. As anyone in this day and age knows, social media is the most efficient way in which to connect to others, be they in another country, another suburb, or another state. As many of my friends live at a great distance to me, and indeed I daresay most general participants do too, it seemed quite logical to conduct the experiment online. There is another reason I feel this may also be beneficial- bear with me here..


In this day and age, practically everyone we know has a computer and/or a mobile device, and many people use these predominantly as forms of entertainment. Look at your fellow passengers on a train or bus, or those people you pass by walking down a street, and there's a fair chance that a decent number of those whom you observe will be staring raptly at their mobile devices. Indeed, so absorbed are some in the content they are viewing that there have been incidents of people being hit by cars due to not paying attention when stepping onto a road, so great was their level of absorption in what they were looking at.

This almost singular focus upon one device or online platform may in fact serve the experiment well; if, whilst participating in the experiments, those doing so apply even half as much focus to the task at hand as many people do with their mobile devices in general, there may perhaps be some effect, due to that level of focus, which may prove conducive to greater accuracy in reproducing a target drawing.

So I suppose I should get to the next part- as this is where you come into the equation, should you choose to join me..


The above picture is not present due to its aesthetic value- in fact, it's a rather boring picture. This is a wall in my dining room. During winter months, I relocate my computer to this room, as the part of my house where my actual study and office lies is not easily heated, and is thus rather chilly. I spend my winter research and writing time in the dining room because it is much warmer.

The piece of paper you can see stuck to the wall is intended to represent the location where I will place a target drawing, at 7 p.m. each night, for ten consecutive nights. This drawing will be removed 24 hours later, and replaced with another.

At no time during the experiment will participants be given any clue as to the content of any drawing, and as I daresay many, if not all, of my participants live in towns, countries, and cities distant from me, and my address is unpublished, and my dining room well-curtained, this rules out completely any chance of "leakage", or of anyone being able to physically see the target drawing, or hear chance mention of it.

I've created an online survey which is mandatory for participants- there are no really probing questions, and no detailed information required- this is just to give me some general statistics for use in comparison of your results. Follow the above link, submit your survey, and you will thus be welcomed as a participant.

This survey will be available to complete for two weeks following its release, after which time it will be removed. The experiment will begin the following night.

My request of you, as a participant, is simple..

During each 24 hour period, participants are requested to attempt to reproduce the target drawing, done by myself (or a second party well-known to me), to the best of their ability; it doesn't matter if you're no Picasso, as I myself am not particularly skilled at drawing!

Once this drawing is done, participants are asked to take a photo of it with their devices, add a word to best describe the picture (i.e. "horse", "dog", "vase") and send that photo via a private message to either of the two Facebook pages I'll be running the experiment across; Cat in the Shadows or Spirit Paranormal Investigations. You can also send a message to me via this website.

The reason I included a photo of the wall where the picture is to be put each night, by the way, is to give you, the participant, something to focus on; if you were to focus your thoughts upon the piece of paper which will be in that spot currently occupied by the drawing of the question mark, and focus upon what may be drawn on the pieces of paper which will be put there over each of those ten nights, this may help you to "tune in".

Upon the completion of the experiment, your responses to both the survey and the experiment will be cross-examined, and your drawings will be evaluated for elements of similarity to any target drawing. This evaluation will be carried out by myself, but also by two other uninvolved parties, in order to rule out any possible personal bias of my own perhaps influencing the findings.

As I am examining the same "displacement" possibility Carington himself looked at too, your drawings will be evaluated for similarity via comparison with all of my target drawings, regardless of the date upon which that drawing was made.

I will inform you, via a private message, of your own personal results once analysis of statistical data is completed, also. This may take a while, so please do bear patiently with me..

And rest assured too that your results will be not only kept anonymous, but will be analysed with the greatest degree of thoroughness of which I'm capable. I'm not a parapsychologist..but I do have a friend who IS one, and they will provide me with help in analysing and collating data where they can.

There's not a great deal more I can add, friends. As this is the first time I've attempted a feat such as this experiment, I can tell you only that I'm most excited to be doing so, and that if you, having read this, decide to participate you will have my deepest gratitude.

Carington did indeed have a fantastic idea when he chose to conduct an experiment using random drawings as a target- this "free choice" selection of targets may be a little more fun for percipients than having a defined pool of added element of interest.

In the introduction to Carington's experimental paper, written by Former SPR president Prof. C.D. Broad, another reason that makes this experiment a good one is mentioned- the fact that it is an experiment which can be reproduced- as I am now to attempt.

Broad says of Carington's experiment:

"It is important to notice that Mr Whately Carington has devised a kind of experiment which ought to give positive results, if repeated, in a fair proportion of the repetitions. Of course something may in part depend on the mental attitude of the agent or transmitter, but' there should be no insuperable difficulty in finding suitable agents who are sufficiently interested and sympathetic. To have achieved this result is a real step forward. Provided that later reflection and discussion do not reveal unforeseen sources of error, Mr Carington has (probably for the first time in the history of the subject) produced a repeatable experiment."

(PSPR vol.46, pp.29-30)

The ease of design and repetition means that perhaps someone else may become curious enough to attempt to recreate Carington's experiment someday- indeed, I may attempt it a few times myself- but to any others who may care to try, I would offer congratulatory praise too- after all, in Broad's words (PSPR vol.46, pp.28-29):

"..and for many years to come the intelligent and curious amateur will be able to make most valuable factual contributions to psychical research."

So perhaps, if done right, our contributions- those from we "intelligent and curious amateurs"- may be of assistance to the field..I'd like to hope so, as it would be wonderful to help!..and it's always wonderful to be curious!

If you'll be joining me as a participant, my thanks again! If you've any questions, remarks, or suggestions please feel free to share those with me too- I'd love to hear anything you may wish to offer!

See you soon..


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