Anita Ikonen

E-mail Exchange with Anita Ikonen

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Anita Ikonen sent us an e-mail.

Medical dowsing
Sunday, October 23, 2011 10:38 PM

North Texas Skeptics,

I'm Anita Ikonen and my paranormal claim is medical dowsing. For four years now I have been investigating the claim together with the skeptical community.

I have already had two larger-scale tests. One with the Independent Investigations Group IIG in November 2009. The test had three trials. Each trial had six people. One of six people in each trial was missing a kidney. I was to say in each trial which of persons is missing a kidney and whether it was the right or left side kidney that was missing.

In the first trial I was unable to form a confident answer. This was not ad hoc and I complained about my lack of confidence after I had submitted the answer, for the whole 10 minute break before the second trial. The results were only revealed later at the very end of the test. My answer in trial 1 was incorrect.

In trial 2 I was very confident in the answer. Again not ad hoc, and I expressed great confidence in the answer during the entire 10 minute break after trial 2 and before trial 3. My answer in trial 2 was correct, correct person and correct side.

In trial 3 I was confident of the person but unable to decide on the side because I was fatigued by now after almost one and a half hours of testing. My person was correct but the side was wrong.

I did not get 100% on the test as was required to "pass" the test. But 100% of my test segments in which I was confident, were correct. To get two people out of three correct is (1/6)*(1/6)*(5/6)=(5/216)=(1/43.5)=2.3% chance of guessing. Compared to 11.6% chance of guessing only one person of three, or 57.9% to guess no person correct.

In July 2010 I had a small test with the JREF at their TAM8 convention in Las Vegas. This time there were five people and one of them is missing a kidney. Out of ten kidney spaces total, I saw a kidney in all but two spaces. My choice for the answer was NOT the target, so I failed this test. I declared my claim falsified and over. But then audience members asked to see my notes, and that is when I found out that I the only other space where I had not seen a kidney, was the person and side where it was in fact missing. So I had to pick up the claim again.

I have done several readings on skeptics, with interesting results. In undocumented cases I have detected that a kidney or uterus were missing, and other information. In a documented case I detected and described the Hepatitis C virus in Michael Shermer. I also described his personal life and emotions in great detail, and he says only a very close friend could have known him so well. Shermer fails to find a normal explanation to the results of the reading and encourages me to investigate further.

Overall my investigation has not confidently falsified the claim, even though I have tried.

In July 2011 I had a test with a biologist, in which I was asked to try to dowse which of batches of seeds were infected with an internal fungi. The test had 30 batches of seeds. I only submitted 15 answers. And with a 50% chance of guessing the correct answer (infected versus not infected), I had half of mine correct: 7 were correct and 8 were incorrect.

The seed and fungi test showed that statistics does work. When I was attempting something which was not my paranormal claim of medical dowsing, results fell perfectly within what random chance predicts. Meanwhile, testing of the medical dowsing claim is not revealing perfectly statistically predicted results?

My results in the past have not been perfect, but they have certainly been good. If all it has been in the past is lucky guesses that happen to place me in the upper bound of what random chance allows, then future testing should begin to place me in the lower bound of random statistics.

Previous results certainly indicate the need for further testing. So that is why I was hopeful that you could set up something for me. It could be either informal in-person readings, like what I had with Michael Shermer, or following a test format.

I would be happy to hear from you. And I assure you I would not wish to take your time. This is a well-researched claim and it does seem to mandate further testing!

Would love to discuss this with you further.

Thank you,

Anita Ikonen

We responded

Re: Medical dowsing
Monday, October 24, 2011 1:57 PM
From: "John Blanton"


Thanks for contacting us. I am one of the underwriters for the North Texas Skeptics Paranormal Challenge prize. Let me know if you are interested in applying for the prize.

If you want to apply for the prize you will first need to demonstrate you have something to test. We will arrange for such a demonstration when you are available. No prize is awarded on the basis of the demonstration, and your participation will be entirely at your own expense.

For a demonstration we will require that you propose a protocol for the demonstration. This protocol will lay out what you are prepared to do and what you expect to demonstrate. Please provide as much detail as possible. We prefer not to dictate how you will run the demonstration, but after reviewing your demonstration we will decide whether your proposal is satisfactory.

Also note that all correspondence related to the NTS Paranormal challenge will be published in our newsletter and posted on our Web site.

Best regards,

John Blanton
Skeptical Web Master

Anita Ikonen sent us a follow-up note and a proposed protocol

Monday, October 24, 2011 6:21 PM

John and the North Texas Skeptics,

Thank you for your offer to test claims of the paranormal. Considering that my claim has already been tested on two earlier occasions, I have given careful consideration before soliciting your time and labor into this project.

Prior tests seem to indicate the need for further tests, which for my purposes I can add to the total from previous results. I am however confident that I may be able to pass a paranormal challenge.

I can draw from previous experience with testing this claim and would expect protocol negotiations between me and you to be swift this time. A lot of the labor that would face you at this time, has already been done by members of the Independent Investigations Group with whom I worked out a testing protocol in the past.

I am here submitting my interest in applying to take the Paranormal Challenge with the North Texas Skeptics.

I acknowledge that arrangements lead to a preliminary demonstration which precedes a formal paranormal challenge. I also acknowledge that I, as the applicant, will assume any and all costs associated with the demonstration (provided that each is subject to my prior approval). I also acknowledge my understanding that successful completion of this preliminary demonstration does not award a prize.

I consent that you may publish our correspondence in any place of your choosing.

Proposed protocol sent in a separate email.

Anita Ikonen

North Texas Skeptics,


The paranormal claim which I submit to your testing is that of medical dowsing. I claim that when I look at a person I can detect medical information which is otherwise undetectable to ordinary senses of perception and to obtain a result for this preliminary demonstration which meets or surpasses a 2% probability of guessing to that accuracy. I propose to test this claim on the detection of which of persons among a group of people is missing either a kidney or a uterus.


The North Texas Skeptics (NTS) find subjects for the test. Subjects are the persons that the claimant looks at.

Each trial has seven subjects. One of the seven subjects in each trial is missing either a kidney or a uterus. If the trial involves a subject who is missing a uterus then all seven subjects in that trial are women. If the trial involves one subject who is missing a kidney then the subjects of that trial may be both or either men and women. Subjects are 18 years or older. No other restrictions apply to who may be a subject for the test.

The test has three trials. NTS finds three subjects total who are missing kidney or uterus and eighteen subjects total who are missing neither of these organs. Each trial involves a different set of seven subjects. For each trial the claimant is told whether she is searching for a target who is missing a kidney or a uterus.

One trial takes up to one hour. There is a fifteen minute break after the first half hour of a trial after which the second half hour commences. The claimant may finish a trial early.

The subjects are each seated on a chair along a line one beside the other. If the chairs have backrests the backrests are turned to the front so that these do not cover the back of the subject. The subjects are seated with their backs facing toward the claimant.

All subjects wear a short sleeve shirt of the same make and may otherwise wear what they want.

An opaque screen is constructed which stretches across the row of subjects so that it conceals the subjects from their shoulders and up.

Behind each subject is a chair for the claimant facing toward the row of the subjects. The claimant is allowed to switch seats at any time during the trial and to look at the subjects in any order.

There is no speaking, touching, or other interaction between subjects and claimant during the test. The claimant uses no materials such as a dowsing rod. The claimant receives no prior information about subjects, such as their ages. The claimant has no prior contact with or knowledge of the subjects prior to the test.

The claimant has a pen and paper to make notes during a trial.

The test takes place indoors and has normal ambient room temperature and lighting during the test.

At any time during the course of a trial the claimant may ask to have a subject of her choice dismissed from the row when she feels confident in her answer for that subject. This initiates a short break during which the claimant turns away from the row of subjects and the dismissed subject leaves and the remaining subjects hop in to close the gap while keeping the same order. Once the subjects are settled again the trial resumes. Time spent during dismissal is taken from the total trial time. The claimant is not allowed to call back a dismissed subject.

A trial has ended either once the trial hour is up or if the claimant decides to end the trial early.

At the end of a trial the claimant turns away from the row of subjects and the subjects are now free to leave. The claimant now has up to ten minutes of time to transfer answers to an answer sheet. There is one answer sheet for each of three trials. The answer sheet has seven spaces, in each the claimant clearly either marks the answer "Suspected Target" or "Not Suspected Target".

The claimant is allowed to scratch up to one out of three trials. At the end of all three trials the claimant is given the opportunity to consider whether she chooses to scratch one trial. If the claimant scratches one trial then both of two submitted trials must have marked only one suspected target in both trials. If the claimant submits three trials then up to all three trials may have up to two suspected targets marked.

The claimant has the option to at her own expense ask all or chosen subjects to undergo ultrasound examination to verify their status. Subjects who enter into the test have agreed beforehand to subject to an ultrasound examination if asked.

The claimant can only have one one-hour trial per day.


The claimant proposes that she needs total test results which meet or exceed 2% probability of guessing.

This allows the claimant to either submit all three trials or to scratch one trial and submit any two of three trials. If all three trials are submitted, the claimant is able to submit up to two suspected targets in up to all three trials. If two trials are submitted, the claimant needs to submit no more than one suspected target in both of two trials.

If the true target is among the submitted suspected targets in all submitted trials then the probability of achieving all correct are:

1) Three trials are submitted
A) One suspected target in three trials --- 0.3%
B) One suspected target in two trials and two suspected targets in one trial --- 0.6%
C) One suspected target in one trial and two suspected targets in two trials --- 1%
D) Two suspected targets in three trials --- 2%

2) Two trials are submitted
A) One suspected target in two trials --- 2%
B) One suspected target in one trial and two suspected targets in one trial --- 4% (inacceptable)

3) One trial is submitted
A) One suspected target in the trial --- 14% (inacceptable)
B) Two suspected targets in the trial --- 29% (inacceptable)

At the test with the Independent Investigations Group IIG, the claimant paid $250 for an ultrasound technician who was hired to be on site to determine the kidney status of the chosen subjects and the target subjects. An ultrasound examination is noninvasive, discrete, harmless and quick.

If time permits, the claimant would also wish to perform individual general readings on NTS members or associates. The findings from those readings would prove valuable to her investigation of the claim, but would not count for or against the preliminary demonstration or formal test of her claim with NTS.

Anita Ikonen

We discussed Anita's proposal and realized there would be problems conducting the required demonstration. I responded to Anita Ikonen.

From: "John Blanton"


I discussed your proposal with the other underwriters, and we are interested in seeing a demonstration. Will you be able to come to Dallas?

One problem we have is locating people with missing kidney's and other parts. With that in mind, can you propose a demonstration that does not involve major surgery? We will likely have to pull our panel of test subjects from the local membership, so that limits what we can do.

Best regards,

John Blanton
Skeptical Web Master

Anita responded to my note.

Saturday, October 29, 2011 4:13 PM
To: "John Blanton"

Josh and the North Texas Skeptics,

If in your extended network of family, friends and acquaintances you have persons who are missing either a kidney or a uterus, one such person would enable a test, but optimally three for a test of three trials.

Usually everybody knows some person who is missing either of these organs. I know someone who lives not too far from Dallas who is missing her uterus (but of course I know who she is so she could not be used for the test).

Spencer Marks of the Independent Investigations Group was in charge of locating the subjects for the test. I have Cc:ed him on this email and perhaps he will get in touch with you to reveal his secrets of how to find people for the test.

Otherwise, I might be able to do general readings for a preliminary demonstration, in which you simply find a variety of persons with a variety of health conditions, but the statistical significance of results would be harder to quantify, and it would be more on a qualitative basis. I would much prefer a test involving missing kidney or uterus, if possible. Let me know if you give up on finding missing organ persons and we can try to devise a different type of demonstration.

Of course I can come to Dallas! I spent my entire summer near Dallas and was back a month ago! My boyfriend lives near Dallas so I'm quite familiar with the area and always have a reason to go! How convenient!

Anita Ikonen

Anita came back with a different proposal.

To: "John Blanton"

John and the North Texas Skeptics,

As if by special request, there may be a much simpler test protocol possible! I did readings on three skeptics last night and in one of those, while the person was sitting with their back against me, I saw that she had very dark brown eyes, unusually brown eyes. This was one of my strongest perceptions of her.

Yet logically I was having a hard time believing it could be true, because of her fair complexion and hair color. When after the reading she turned around and I saw her eyes, they were indeed unusually brown!

I will perform more readings on skeptics in which I try to determine their eyecolor. If I am successful, this would provide with a testing protocol which would be ridiculously easy to set up!

I will keep you updated!

Anita Ikonen

Anita's most recent proposal appeared to be quite workable. I responded.

From: "John Blanton"


It would appear we can accomplish the procedure you suggested. Can you come up with a demonstration proposal? If you will do that I will try to arrange a demonstration for one or more of the Challenge underwriters.

Can you come to Dallas for a demonstration? Three of the underwriters live in the Dallas area, and two of us live close to Austin, Texas.

John Blanton
Skeptical Web Master