Anita Ikonen

Detecting Kidneys

The IIG tried to determine if there were non-paranormal methods available to detect the status of someone else's kidneys. Extensive online research and conversations with a number of M.D.s made it clear to us that, when it came to fully clothed people, there was simply no way to distinguish between a healthy person with one kidney or a healthy person with two. People living with one kidney don't tend toward any particular body shape, their skin color is normal, they don't smell different (at least not to a fellow human with normal olfactory function), and they skew neither male nor female. This meant that it was unnecessary to extensively disguise any of our subjects in any particular way. It also meant that, while we would have preferred to standardize the demographic field (same sex, same approximate age, body type, etc.) it was not absolutely necessary provided the odds were high enough and reasonable blinding and sensory leakage controls were in place.

We decided early on to stick to Anita's basic testing format of three trials and several subjects per trial. For the sake of simplicity, we decided that all subjects would be seen only once, in full groups of ten, and no one would be permitted to leave the viewing area until Anita's decision was confirmed. Once the viewing period was over, Anita would be able to see the subjects' faces for long enough for a photo to be printed of each of them and for her to attest by her initial on the actual photo that it represented the subjects (decoys and target) standing in front of her.

Tick, Tick, Tick

Although the negotiations were always friendly, the most contentious issue was the length of time Anita wanted for each trial. Her initial request of four hours to look at 10 subjects was impractical and flew in the face of numerous statements in which she described needing no more than a few seconds to look at someone and form a crystal, clear "vision" of their insides. Anita insisted that though that was true, considering the expense of her trip to Los Angeles, she wanted to make absolutely certain she had enough time.

By the time Muscarella and Newman were ready to submit the protocol for approval by the IIG Steering Committee, Anita had agreed to 45 minutes per trial, assuming 10 subjects per trial, but refused to go any lower. The Steering Committee balked. There was no way we could agree to a demonstration that could take two and half hours to simply view the subjects. Anita seemed adamant about not going less than 4.5 minutes per subject.

After much discussion and number crunching, the IIG decided we could do the demonstration with six subjects instead of 10 per trial and – with 12 potential kidneys per trial – still retain well over 1000 to 1 odds of success by random chance. The odds of hitting correctly in all three trials would be 1736 to 1. There was a 1 in 4 chance she would get one hit. It was understood that, if she passed the preliminary, the protocol for the final Challenge would be, statistically, ten times harder.

Since Anita had already agreed to 45 minutes for 10 subjects, which breaks down to 4.5 minutes per individual, we adjusted those numbers and reduced the running time to 27 minutes per trial, maintaining the length she'd requested for each subject.

One way to shorten the process would have been to stop the demonstration the moment Anita guessed incorrectly since any miss meant failing the entire test. Unfortunately, this would have created a new set of potential problems. If we indicated to Anita we would stop her when she provided an incorrect guess, she could infer that when she was not stopped her answer must be correct. This information would give her instant feedback about the efficacy of her method, potentially affecting the outcome of the demonstration. Stopping midway through would also leave us vulnerable should that trial be questioned or disqualified later, since it could be argued that if that first trial were invalidated, she might have gone on to complete the other two trials correctly and passed the test. If anything had gone wrong the IIG would have felt obligated to repeat the entire demonstration on another date, on our dime.

All Kidneys Are Not Created Equal

Our kidney research turned up some interesting tidbits, most notably that surgeons removing a kidney for donation tend to remove the left kidney. The right kidney is hidden slightly behind the liver, whereas access to the left kidney is unobstructed. The left kidney also has a slightly longer blood vessel which gives the surgeon more tissue to work with when grafting the kidney in a recipient. We had to presume Anita had stumbled upon this information as well, and if she thought more targets were missing their left than right kidneys she'd probably choose to err on that side (pun intended) of things.

Kidney Illustration
Kidney Illustration

IIG member Spencer Marks was in charge of recruiting subjects and targets for the demonstration, a minimum of 15 dual kidney decoys and three uni-kidney targets for the trials and at least one more uni-kidney person for an open test. As a result of our research indicating that the left kidney was more likely to be missing, Spencer was determined to make sure at least two of the targets were missing right kidneys. (As it turned out, all the targets had lost their kidney due to illness or accident, not as a result of donation.) IIG member Jim Newman also found a few uni-kidney people who eventually volunteered to be targets. On the day of the demonstration both he and Spencer would be sequestered with the subjects. To avoid the possibility of inadvertent cueing, none of the other proctors, including testmaster Jim Underdown, would know the identity of the targets until the official verification process at the conclusion of the test.

Decoys and Targets

Once the recruitment process was underway, our attention turned to the care, feeding, and "cloaking" of the subjects. We'd ruled out the use of screens or any physical obstacles between Anita and the subjects. We amused ourselves with ideas of jumpsuits with hood, burqas, beekeeper suits, etc., but they all seemed like overkill. If we had healthy nondescript targets mixed in with healthy nondescript decoys, and they were all dressed exactly the same from the waist up, that seemed sufficient for our demonstration. Anita preferred that subjects wear a light cotton shirt with no patterns so we purchased 20 identical lightweight t-shirts in various sizes.

As for what to put on the subjects from the shoulders up, our concerns revolved around two things: (1) making sure the subjects would be comfortable sitting immobile for what might be as long as 27 minutes, and (2) preventing the possibility of any subject making eye contact with Anita. A subject who knew he/she was the target might unconsciously reveal that fact through body language or facial expression.

The solution was a rectangular piece of soft, sheer cloth draped over the sides and back of the head of each subject which was secured with a lightweight, pith-style hat made of straw. The cloth, being sheer, was less claustrophobia-inducing than a solid cloth might be but provided the same amount of veiling from Anita's POV. So without much compromise of comfort, the subjects' view was limited to only what they could see straight in front of them, and Anita would not be able see the subjects' faces unless they literally stood up and turned their entire bodies around.

Providing for the creature comforts of the subjects before and after being viewed was crucial. There was no pay involved, and if any of the targets got bored or unhappy or sick and left the demonstration early, or didn't show up at all, the entire test might need to be aborted. Thus, we wanted it to sound like and actually be a fun and interesting way to spend a few hours on a Saturday. Subjects (decoys and targets) would be sequestered upstairs throughout the three trials and only allowed downstairs for viewing, but once the trials were complete they could go into the Steve Allen Theater to watch the ultrasound verification process. Drinks and food, including a full lunch, would be provided.

On the eve of the demonstration Anita posted the following on her website:

"I feel really good about the test I am about to have, but most importantly of all, I know that it is the best type of test design for my claim of medical perceptions and I can never expect to be able to design a test that would be any easier for me to pass. Therefore the results of the paranormal test will conclude on the claim, and if I fail the test I will be proud to announce that the claim of medical perceptions through extrasensory perception is falsified. I can't wait to have the test. I am ready."