Monday, October 25, 2010

The Mind Lamp, $190.00 well... spent

I first heard about the Mind Lamp from Matthew Smith, when he posted a link on his Facebook.  The article he linked to, which was at, made me furrow my eyebrows.  Let me give you a glimpse of what I saw.

MILLION-DOLLAR IDEA: Lamp That Can Read Your Mind - It Turns The Color You're Thinking About

By Eunju Lie

Is today's idea brilliant or a bomb?
The Idea: The Mind Lamp is a $189 electric lamp with a random-event generator (REG) built in. When plugged in, the lamp gives off a white light before cycling through eight other colors.  It then stays on the one that you're thinking about.
Mind Lamp: 60-Minute Time Lapse from Psyleron on Vimeo.

You can read the rest of he article here.
Quite a statement, huh?  If I were a parapsychologist, I would gift one of these to every major skeptic I knew.  "Dear James Randi, I know we've had our differences in the past..."  
Of course, the article didn't answer any of the questions that automatically popped up in my mind.  What percentage of the time does this work?  How long does it stay on the target color?  How long does it take to reach it?  I don't know if you're like me, but I hate the feeling of a writer ignoring my most pressing questions.  It's one of the few things that can get me to voluntarily go and research something, often with a frown and tension in my spine, waiting for the pressure of the mystery to be relieved.
The Mind lamp doesn't seem to be on Wikipedia, even though it's been around for at least a year.  So I went to the official website, and found some stuff about random-event-generators and stuff that, if I already knew the lamp worked, might be interesting.  Maybe.  
And then I found the BoingBoing Gadgets review entitled, "Review: A few days w/ the Mind Lamp [verdict:trippy]"  Well, that's more exciting than anything I had looked at before, not only because I had found someone who had bought and used the thing, but because the verdict was the ever-suggestive trippy.  
The experience relayed in that article was not that trippy, though.  Steven Leckart describes failing at producing the desired effect a couple of times, and then perceiving an effect later, but only when he wasn't paying close attention.  Don't rely on my spin, of course, read the article yourself.
It at least answered the question of what the Mind Lamp experience is.  The lamp doesn't, as the first article I read suggested, simply "Stay on the one you're thinking about."  If it does work, it takes some practice, and apparently some meditation classes.  If it doesn't... 
If it doesn't work, you'll still get people telling you that it does, to put it plainly.  I've never seen the device, never tried to focus my mind on orange, or green.  I do know, though, that if it was run by a random-event generator, and, for whatever reason, it did not respond to our thoughts, there would still be just enough coincidences, in the form of, 
"It worked the third time," 
"It definitely worked over half the time," 
"I thought about blue for a while, and then when I thought about red it went blue!" 
"I could tell when I was really focused, because then it usually worked," 
that it would be a marketable product.  
I'm not saying it doesn't work.  As I've said, I haven't spent the $190.00 to become a pioneer.  All I'm saying is that it doesn't have to work.  Because even if it didn't work, I'm sure it would still work fine.


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