Previously, Roy and his team tried to show that the Raman spectrum of a beaker of water could be changed merely by people all over the world thinking about it changing. Despite the horrible design of the experiment, the results were inconclusive. What Roy needs is a way of increasing the chances of getting a positive result. Another experiment is now planned, details of which are beginning to emerge at the Intention Experiment blog:
As you remember, our experiment isn’t conclusive – largely because we’re only looking at one parameter to see if it has changes.
This is a little like looking at an elephant from one side. If you look from the front, you will mainly see a trunk. Look from bottom, and you only see a giant mass hovering over you like a dark grey cloud.
Rainen’s new equipment consists of three separate devices that examine, respectively, the light scattering, the thermal expansion and any infrared changes in a sample of water. Once these measurements are taken, they are sent into a computer, and from this handful of data points, the computer can determine some 1000 parameters of the sample.
“This equipment represents a revolution in characterizing water,” says Roy.
From this, it sounds as though Roy and team are going to be comparing 1,000 variables. This raises the issue of multiple comparisons. If you compare 1,000 variables between two populations, using a hypothesis test at the 5% level, you would expect to get 'positive' results for 50 of the variables, even if there was no real difference between the two populations. Statisticians apply corrections to account for this effect. Since Roy's team have previously published a paper that purported to show differences between graphs without applying any statistical analysis at all, it's not certain that this will be done. Another issue is that these 1,000 parameters are derived from 'a handful' of measurements, so they presumably cannot be independent parameters. It seems that false positive results are much more likely from the new experiment. Result!