Vasiliev, Professor L L - Experiments in mental suggestion – Bekhterev and V. L. Durov’s experiments on telepathy using dogs
Type of Spiritual Experience
We have provided this observation out of interest. We – along with Vasiliev - are not sure these experiments prove anything other than little dogs like paper balls, and they also like being allowed to sit on comfy chairs. It is why animals are not always the best subjects for experimentation, although there is no doubt they can and indeed do read your mind as any dog owner will tell you. They are also great judges of time. Our dog comes up to my husband between 10.30 and 10.45 every night, which is the time he thinks we need to go to bed and the time for his evening wee wee stroll.
But it was this series of experiments that helped Vasiliev realise that something far more precise and ‘scientific’ was needed.
A description of the experience
As described in Experiments in mental suggestion – Professor L L Vasiliev
V:M. Bekhterev subjected the claims of V. L. Durov to a careful scientific examination. In order to exclude the possibility of .. sources of error V. M. Bekhterev and his colleagues set up experiments under the following conditions:
1. The owner (Durov) of the dog was absent.
2. The audience, i.e. the public, was also absent.
3. The dog was brought into the room just before the experiment.
4. After having made a mental suggestion the experimenter hid himself from the dog behind the screen or in some other way.
5. The assistant alone supervised the dog without knowing in what the task suggested to the dog consisted, since the task written down by the experimenter was not imparted to the assistant until the end of the experiment.
V. M. Bekhterev, in the articles describing this work, provides the notes made at the time, of two experiments carried out by his collaborator A. G Ivanov-Smolensky (experimenter) and P. Flecksor (assistant), which complied with all the conditions laid down by Bekhterev. We here give the notes, made by the experimentor-
"Durov (the dog's owner) is absent. I am writing down the assignment in room B: the dog is to pick up with its mouth a ball of crumpled paper which is lying under a table in room A. The assistant (who does not know the nature of the task) lets the dog (a fox terrier bitch called Pikki) into room A. He places the dog on a chair, and holds her head. I stand on the threshold of the door, in front of the dog, at a distance of about 1 m. At the first attempt on the part of the dog to free herself I quickly step back into room B, closing the door.
According to Dr. Flecksort report, Pikki, having jumped off the chair, runs to the ball of paper designated by me which is lying under the table, pokes her nose into it, and then runs in turn to two other paper balls, treating them in the same way. (There were 7 paper balls in all, thrown about in various places.)"
Another report runs as follows:-
"I [Ivanov-Smolensky] send the mental suggestion to the dog that it should run from room A into room B, and there to jump onto a chair. The dog rushes into the other room. Dr. Flecksor, who does not know the nature of the task, follows the dog and closes the door behind her. According to his statement Pikki jumps onto a divan standing next to the chair mentally designated by me and scratches the side of the divan with her paws."
V. M. Bekhterev considered these and the other similar experiments in this series remarkable and deserving to be taken account of, irrespective of the various possible interpretations. In his summary he draws a number of inferences from which I will quote as follows:-
" 1. Direct effects by means of so-called mental suggestion on the behaviour of animals can easily be elicited in dogs especially trained to obedience.
2. The effect is obtained without any direct contact between the sender or agent and the percipient (the dog); also whilst agent and dog are separated by some barrier preventing visual cues, such as bandaging the sender’s eyes, placing a wooden or metal [my italics-L. L. V.] screen between himself and the dog, or wearing paraffin covered eye shields; the effect may also be obtained where the sender is deprived of the possibility of continuing to give mental suggestion to ensure mental compliance.
3. Direct effects are obtained without any signals which might serve as instructions to the animals in experiments of this sort.
4. The whole question of direct influencing becomes a matter of physiological laboratory experimentation and susceptible to investigation from all points of view in the sense that both the conditions governing the transmission of and the response to mental suggestion can be determined" (pp. 161_2).