Experimenting with Rhine-Zener Cards

If you are interested in scientific side of psychic phenomena even a little, I’m sure you are already familiar with Zener Cards test. But what are “Rhine-Zener” cards? Well, it’s the very same thing. Karl Zener designed the cards in the early 1930s for experiments conducted with his colleague J. B. Rhine. Those were the early years of the Rhine Research Center. Both names are correct this way, but since it’s Zener who designed the cards, his name is used more often. And if you don’t know what Zener Cards are, well…


…Those are cards used to conduct experiments for extra-sensory perception. For clairvoyance, to be more specific, or telepathic sending and receiving. Three persons are included in each experiment:

  • Sender – this person is picking the card and sending the image to receiver.
  • Receiver – this person is receiving the image, trying to hit as many cards as possible.
  • Monitor – this person is monitoring the experiment, shuffling the cards and writing down results (hits or misses).

If you can’t find the third person to act as a monitor, results can be kept by both sender and receiver. Sender will be writing down the cards he was “projecting”, and receiver will be writing down the cards he was receiving.

How to conduct your own Zener Cards experiment

First, you have to equip yourself with a deck of 25 Zener cards. Click here to download a PDF file, print it et voila – you will have your own deck of Zener cards. See, the deck consists of 5 sets of 5 symbols: a cross, a circle, a square, a wave and a star.

Then prepare an experiment area (stage, set). Both sender and receiver should be located in two separate rooms, without any ability to contact with each other. If this is impossible, use a table, and place a partition in the middle of it, you can use a simple cardboard, just make sure sender and receiver won’t be able to see each other (even hear, put something in their ears, heh). Eliminate distractions like TV or radio, music of any kind, close the window, turn off all noisy equipment.

If you’ve managed to place both sender and receiver in separate rooms, you can eliminate distractions of your “control” by using technology. Get a laptop (or PC), two webcams and two small speakers (to give directives), plug them into laptop, configure and by doing this, you will be able to monitor both persons without the need of entering each room. Not mentioning the simple fact that this way you will feel more “scientific” :P.

Now, decide how many trials you want to perform – it can be 25, 50, 75, but I would suggest no more than 100, as it will get tiring after reaching this number.

For each trial, shuffle the deck of 25 cards and place them with images facing down in front of the sender. On monitor’s mark, the sender is picking up one card, and by using his favorite method, he is “transmiting” it to the receiver. He is trying to receive the image of the card and write it down. When the receiver is done, repeat this step 24 more times :). Also, it would be wise not to tell the receiver if he was successful in hitting the card before all 25 cards have passed.

Reason for this is simple – if receiver will know he didn’t hit, he might get stressed, and this will negatively influence the results. And if the receiver will know he did hit, he might get to excited, and this also will influence the results in negative way.

Also remember, monitor is the only person writing down results, so both sender and receiver won’t have to worry about the need of writing down the cards. The only thing monitor should write down is the number of try, and the result: hit or miss.

Doing the math

After all 25 cards (or 100 cards, 4 series, 25 cards each), we have to do the math. Don’t worry, it won’t be difficult at all, just follow the below “how-to” guide:

  • Odds of being correct. There are five different symbols, the odds of guessing a card correctly strictly by chance is 1 in 5 – 1/5 = 0.2
  • Total number of guesses made – number g
  • Correct guesses – number r (i.e. from 100 trials, 30 were correct)
  • The average score, by multiplying the number of guesses by 0.2 – g x 0.2 – number a
  • The result of 1 minus odds of being correct – 1 – 0.2 = 0.8
  • Multiply the result above by odds of being correct – 0.8 x 0.2 = 0.16 – number b
  • Multiply this result by total number of guesses – b x g (i.e. 0.16 x 100 = 16) – number c
  • Figure out the square root of c (i.e. square root of 16 = 4) – number s
  • Subtract the average score from the number of correct guesses – r – a (i.e. 30-20 = 10) – number d
  • Divide the result by sd/s – number m

M is the magical number!

  • If m is less than or equal to 1.96, the results are considered not very significant.
  • If m is above 2.58, the results are considered significant.
  • If m is above 3, the results are considered very significant.

And that’s all. You can now have some great time with your friends by pushing the psychicic science forward :). See, it wasn’t very hard, right? Using the mentioned webcams, speakers and microphones you can also record the experiment for further referrences or just to collect even more data :).

Just remember – have fun :). Now you have the reason to form an off-line psychicic club.

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