Psi

Parapsychology, psi, ESP, auras, NDEs, anomalous cognition, psychic research. A load of woo! Nothing to see here!

Can we ignore the testimonies of those who claim to have had a near death experience, people who demonstrate blindfolded vision or who seem to have other psychic abilities?

Here and here, are videos about the work of Nicola Farmer, a woman who works with children and seemingly teaches them to see while blindfolded.

She’s either a heartless con merchant who uses children to fool the public or someone who sincerely believes she is enhancing their lives and what you see is genuine. What are your thoughts on this.

225 thoughts on “Psi

  1. Can we ignore the testimonies of those who claim to have had a near death experience, people who demonstrate blindfolded vision or who seem to have other psychic abilities?

    Yes, we can (and probably should) ignore them. Most of them are probably con-artists. A few may genuinely believe what they are telling us, but they are probably mistaken.

    I have spent a lot of time in earlier years, looking at these kinds of claims. And my experience is that there is never solid evidence to support them.

    If you want to spend time studying this, that’s up to you. But be critical. Require actual supporting evidence.

  2. 55 seconds into the first video.
    “Where’s the green, point to the green for me”
    [blindfolded girl reaches out and points to the yellow. Nicola rotates the ball so that the girl touches the green/yellow border]
    “Good girl, well done”

  3. Did you know that some psychics are actually genuine? Insofar as they personally believe that they have “the gift” and are not making it up, it’s actually real to them?

    It’s actually a self-taught cold-reading technique that seems to work and because there’s no deliberate deception (perhaps they were told from a young age they were special or inherited some gift) and they developed this technique over time naturally, themselves.

    She’s either a heartless con merchant who uses children to fool the public or someone who sincerely believes she is enhancing their lives and what you see is genuine. What are your thoughts on this.

    She likely sincerely believes. She is still mistaken.

    If it is enhances their lives or not, well, it likely sits alongside the tooth fairy and santa. Fun at the time and at the right age.

    They’d be shipped off to the sort of camps that phoodoo favors for training to become the next PSI army by every military force in he world, if this was even slightly true…

  4. DNA_Jock:
    55 seconds into the first video.
    “Where’s the green, point to the green for me”
    [blindfolded girl reaches out and points to the yellow. Nicola rotates the ball so that the girl touches the green/yellow border]
    “Good girl, well done”

    🙂

  5. On the other hand, I’m seeing how malleable young kids are. I’m not comfortable.

  6. And, if there is something going on here, why has it been languishing five years? Why no more critical appraisal?

  7. She’s either a heartless con merchant who uses children to fool the public or someone who sincerely believes she is enhancing their lives and what you see is genuine. What are your thoughts on this.

    Why only those two choices?

    It seems perfectly plausible to me, on the face of it, that Farmer sincerely but falsely believes that the kids have psi abilities.

    What she says at 1:23 about brain development is completely false, by the way.

  8. I used to have a sort photographic mind when I was younger. You could flash a newspaper past my eyes in just a quick instant and I could tell all kinds of words that were in the article. I couldn’t quite read it, but I could remember text buried deep in an article. I also could remember a phone number if I just looked at it for less than half a second.

    I would say I stopped being able to do this in my late twenties. I also had some kind of weird premonition things that are hard to explain. For instance if someone handed my a stack of money, with different denominations, I could know instantly exactly how much it was, and I could announce it before it was counted. For years I was never wrong when I did this. One time I thought I knew how much, but when we counted it I was off by one dollar. I said, gosh, I was sure I was right, but then we recounted and there was an extra dollar scrunched up and folded in there.

    I also remember at least five or six dreams every morning with great detail. Some of which I recall days or weeks later, which relate to other things. That still happens to this day. I have never met anyone who remembers as many dreams as I do, for whatever reason. I often learn new things I never knew about from these, which are true.

  9. Neil Rickert: Yes, we can (and probably should) ignore them. Most of them are probably con-artists.A few may genuinely believe what they are telling us, but they are probably mistaken.

    I have spent a lot of time in earlier years, looking at these kinds of claims. And my experience is that there is never solid evidence to support them.

    If you want to spend time studying this, that’s up to you. But be critical. Require actual supporting evidence.

    Yes, I too began reading this sort of stuff as a teenager. And I though many of the authors were delusional. I do think there are a lot of people out there who will make all sorts of claims if they think that there is money to be made.

    Being sceptical is healthy, but it is possible to be extreme in both scepticism and gullibility. We should aim for balance.

  10. DNA_Jock:
    55 seconds into the first video.
    “Where’s the green, point to the green for me”
    [blindfolded girl reaches out and points to the yellow. Nicola rotates the ball so that the girl touches the green/yellow border]
    “Good girl, well done”

    If the woman was lining the ball up so that the girl would touch the green why did the girl put her finger on the yellow and then move it along to the green? It looked to me as if she had put her finger out towards the ball but it was closer than she thought so she contacted it sooner than expected.

    Do you have any more of points you noticed that you would like to criticize?

  11. OMagain: Did you know that some psychics are actually genuine? Insofar as they personally believe that they have “the gift” and are not making it up, it’s actually real to them?

    It’s actually a self-taught cold-reading technique that seems to work and because there’s no deliberate deception (perhaps they were told from a young age they were special or inherited some gift) and they developed this technique over time naturally, themselves.

    Are the kids who are reading or drawing engaging in the same technique?

    CharlieM: She’s either a heartless con merchant who uses children to fool the public or someone who sincerely believes she is enhancing their lives and what you see is genuine. What are your thoughts on this.

    OMagain: She likely sincerely believes. She is still mistaken.

    If it is enhances their lives or not, well, it likely sits alongside the tooth fairy and santa. Fun at the time and at the right age.

    So how are the kids doing it?

    OMagain: They’d be shipped off to the sort of camps that phoodoo favors for training to become the next PSI army by every military force in he world, if this was even slightly true…

    Only if they could convince the authorities that there was any truth in it would those in authority think about this. According to the Zeleznick brothers the authorities in Java have engaged in this sort of training for a long time.

    I think that the vast majority of government officials in the Western world would be of the same opinion as you, and I suspect the majority here, who consider it not worth pursuing.

  12. Alan Fox:
    On the other hand, I’m seeing how malleable young kids are. I’m not comfortable.

    So do you think she is an abusive grandmother and teacher?

  13. CharlieM,

    If these children can really see without using their eyes, then you should be able to test them with objects that they have never seen before, and place a second opaque barrier between them in addition to the blindfolds.

    Or, better yet, just put an object in a cardboard box.

    I suspect they would fail such a test.

  14. Alan Fox:
    And, if there is something going on here, why has it been languishing five years? Why no more critical appraisal?

    How do know that it’s been languishing for five years?

  15. Fair Witness: If these children can really see without using their eyes, then you should be able to test them with objects that they have never seen before

    I don’t think this conclusion follows. I think that if such an ability to see, if it exists at all, is hard to understand or explain, thus there is no saying “if they can do this, then they can do that…”

    I have no idea how I knew how much money was in certain stacks of money. It just happened to me, dozens and dozens of times. Somehow it just did. I don’t claim that I can predict anything, or that I have any physic ability. But it still happened and I knew it would happen. It was almost like I had a tingling feeling and just knew when I was going to be right. One could just say it was luck. Maybe. 30 or 40 times just luck. I don’t know.

    I also don’t know how I can remember six dreams a night, and then often have something the next day or next several days that immediately brings back the memory of that dream, in a way that relates to that dream. The weird part of that is that if you ask me what I ate the day before, I really struggle to remember. In fact, if you ask me to describe one day previous, it is very hard for me. I can’t remember if something happened one day before, or four days before. But if my girlfriend asked me, do you remember when we went out that Moroccan restaurant, I would say of course, I can remember almost every details of that. And that could have been five years ago. But I still don’t know what I ate yesterday.

    If I was ever interrogated by the police about my whereabouts from a day or two ago, they for sure wouldn’t believe me if I said I really don’t know. But at the same time, I can remember practically every shot, every club I hit, and what the impact was like and exactly how the ball flew from a round of golf from 10 years ago. Or I can remember a run I took, and how my breathing was, and how long it took, from years before. But I still won’t know what I did yesterday unless you showed me a photo.

  16. Kantian Naturalist:
    CharlieM: She’s either a heartless con merchant who uses children to fool the public or someone who sincerely believes she is enhancing their lives and what you see is genuine. What are your thoughts on this.

    Kantian Naturalist: Why only those two choices?

    It seems perfectly plausible to me, on the face of it, that Farmer sincerely but falsely believes that the kids have psi abilities.

    So if she believes this and isn’t using some sort of trickery is it the kids that are deceiving her? How are they doing it?

    Kantian Naturalist: What she says at 1:23 about brain development is completely false, by the way

    Neither do I agree when anyone uses such clear cut descriptions of brain process.

    As Alan pointed out, young kid are malleable. If young kids these days do think in the logical way similar to us adults it’s only because they are moulded that way instead of being allowed to remain children and develop more naturally. Over stimulation of the brain in this way diverts forces that would otherwise be spent on bodily development. I think it’s imperative that they develop in a balanced way.

  17. phoodoo:
    I used to have a sort photographic mind when I was younger.You could flash a newspaper past my eyes in just a quick instant and I could tell all kinds of words that were in the article.I couldn’t quite read it, but I could remember text buried deep in an article.I also could remember a phone number if I just looked at it for less than half a second.

    I would say I stopped being able to do this in my late twenties. I also had some kind of weird premonition things that are hard to explain.For instance if someone handed my a stack of money, with different denominations, I could know instantly exactly how much it was, and I could announce it before it was counted.For years I was never wrong when I did this.One time I thought I knew how much, but when we counted it I was off by one dollar.I said, gosh, I was sure I was right, but then we recounted and there was an extra dollar scrunched up and folded in there.

    I also remember at least five or six dreams every morning with great detail.Some of which I recall days or weeks later, which relate to other things.That still happens to this day. I have never met anyone who remembers as many dreams as I do, for whatever reason.I often learn new things I never knew about from these, which are true.

    Occasionally I have very vivid dreams, but generally, unless I make a conscious effort, I forget my dreams as the day wears on.

    According to my father-in-law, he had a party piece when my wife was a little girl. He could pick a card and without seeing it she would tell him which card it was. She tells me that she lost this ability because she started to worry about getting it wrong. This would tie in with her sense of self developing as she aged.

  18. phoodoo: I have no idea how I knew how much money was in certain stacks of money. It just happened to me, dozens and dozens of times.

    Perhaps I have that gift too. Pity I can’t tell since I don’t encounter stacks of money on a regular basis.

  19. CharlieM: So do you think she is an abusive grandmother and teacher?

    Let’ not fall into the binary trap. I have no reason to think the teacher/grandmother is pathologically abusive. My question was why this video has caused no comment or interest in the five years or so since it was published. Is there less to it than seems?

  20. CharlieM: She tells me that she lost this ability because she started to worry about getting it wrong.

    I know exactly what she means by this. I was reluctant to keep doing this for the same reason. To me it was like you can’t force it, you just know when you know. it would happen in some other circumstances, but its not like I could just guess about anything and be right.

    As dreams go, I don’t just remember one occassionally, its every night, multiple times without exception. I never don’t remember them. And most of the time my dreams are lucid, so that I know they are dreams during the dream, but they keep on going for long stretches. And its not like they are nightmares, they are more like fun, interesting stories, like a movie or book. Often I can change how the dream is going during the dream if I want to , because I know its a dream. I have asked other people and never met anyone who says they dream this way. Ask your wife if she does.

    I have also had so many coincedental things happen, that if I tell them they sound too unbelievable, so I rarely tell them.

  21. phoodoo: Often I can change how the dream is going during the dream if I want to , because I know its a dream.

    Hmm. I’m just getting over a chesty cold and the best treatment seemed taking it easy while events ran their course. One thing I noticed was I’ve spent some time half-awake and, well, hard to describe, observing myself dreaming in the sense of feeling consciously aware of watching images unfold and change. Nothing scary or bizarre, quite mundane, computer screens, faces, other images. ETA and the ability to influence the images in a sort of emphasis way. “Those faces look like someone I know” – image of someone I know grows more distinct.

    Not experienced this before so I’m reassured it happens to others. Doesn’t make me suspect anything supernatural going on, though.

  22. Alan Fox: Doesn’t make me suspect anything supernatural going on, though.

    I am not saying that dreaming is supernatural. However, having a dream about someone you haven’t thought of for ten or twenty years, and then the next day get a phone call or a message about that person, that is weird. This kind of thing has happened to me on more than one occassion. Famously, one time, I was having dinner with a good friend of mine. I was talking about a person who was in my dream who happens to be someone very famous in this country-and he is someone I knew. The next morning my friend who I had dinner with sent me a news clip from the television station. At the moment I was having dinner and discussing this famous person, who I hadn’t even seen for nearly twenty years, at the exact moment we were discussing him, and my dream, that person had passed away. It was all over the news.

    Its not coincedence of one, its one of many. I also learn many things in my dreams that I had no idea that I knew, like words I never used before, or events I never knew about.

    I am certainly not using my experiences to convince others of the supernatural. But I know what I have experienced.

  23. Fair Witness:
    CharlieM,

    If these children can really see without using their eyes, then you should be able to test them with objects that they have never seen before, and place a second opaque barrier between them in addition to the blindfolds.

    Or, better yet, just put an object in a cardboard box.

    I suspect they would fail such a test.

    What would be gained by testing the children? If they genuinely have these abilities then they have nothing to gain by being tested. If they are being tested in an attempt to discredit them then this will produce an atmosphere which will probably stifle their powers.

    When our son was a toddler he had a routine check up which he failed miserably. The tester was asking him to perform tasks and because he did not respond in the way she was looking for she was marking him own in all these areas. We knew that he was well capable of doing what she was asking but even with our encouragement he would not comply.

    It’s a catch 22 situation. If at all necessary, the testing of children should be done with great care and consideration.

    Which do you think is preferable, testing with an open mind or testing with a prior belief in how it will turn out?

  24. phoodoo: …one time, I was having dinner with a good friend of mine. I was talking about a person who was in my dream who happens to be someone very famous in this country-and he is someone I knew. The next morning my friend who I had dinner with sent me a news clip from the television station. At the moment I was having dinner and discussing this famous person, who I hadn’t even seen for nearly twenty years, at the exact moment we were discussing him, and my dream, that person had passed away. It was all over the news.

    Whilst I don’t question this happened, what I do wonder about is the significance. Imagine your premonition was your friend was going to die from being struck by lightning. You phone him straight away, he says “lucky to catch me. I was just on my way out to the golf club” and you can say “wait till the storm’s blown over”. That would be significant.

  25. CharlieM: What would be gained by testing the children? If they genuinely have these abilities then they have nothing to gain by being tested. If they are being tested in an attempt to discredit them then this will produce an atmosphere which will probably stifle their powers.

    But are there “powers”? How will you know without testing? There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since Clever Hans.

  26. phoodoo: I don’t think this conclusion follows.I think that if such an ability to see, if it exists at all, is hard to understand or explain, thus there is no saying “if they can do this, then they can do that…”

    I have no idea how I knew how much money was in certain stacks of money. It just happened to me, dozens and dozens of times. Somehow it just did.I don’t claim that I can predict anything, or that I have any physic ability. But it still happened and I knew it would happen. It was almost like I had a tingling feeling and just knew when I was going to be right. One could just say it was luck.Maybe.30 or 40 times just luck. I don’t know.

    I also don’t know how I can remember six dreams a night, and then often have something the next day or next several days that immediately brings back the memory of that dream, in a way that relates to that dream. The weird part of that is that if you ask me what I ate the day before, I really struggle to remember. In fact, if you ask me to describe one day previous, it is very hard for me. I can’t remember if something happened one day before, or four days before. But if my girlfriend asked me, do you remember when we went out that Moroccan restaurant, I would say of course, I can remember almost every details of that. And that could have been five years ago. But I still don’t know what I ate yesterday.

    If I was ever interrogated by the police about my whereabouts from a day or two ago, they for sure wouldn’t believe me if I said I really don’t know. But at the same time, I can remember practically every shot, every club I hit, and what the impact was like and exactly how the ball flew from a round of golf from 10 years ago. Or I can remember a run I took, and how my breathing was, and how long it took, from years before. But I still won’t know what I did yesterday unless you showed me a photo.

    Speaking about being interrogated by the police, I can remember an incident that happened when I was in school. After a period of physical training, (PT as it was called then), a boy reported his watch missing. The police were called and they came into our classroom. I had a sudden feeling of heightened self-consciousness and I was convinced that all they had to do was look at me to presume I was guilty. I was right.

    They took me to another room and began asking me where had I put the watch and why did I take it. Of course I denied ever seeing his watch. Luckily a short time later the watch had been found. It had been on him arm all the time, only it was further up his forearm than he normally wore it. He didn’t see it when he pulled his sleeve back. Now it was his turn to experience that higher degree of self-consciousness.

    Memories can indeed be very selective. And of course it would be very difficult to function if we remembered every single incident in detail. Forgetting is a necessity.

  27. DNA_Jock,

    There’s a paragraph or two about the Clever Hans effect, unwitting influence by the questioner on the performer.

    …Clever Hans effects can occur in experiments with humans as well as with animals. For this reason, care is often taken in fields such as perception, cognitive psychology, and social psychology to make experiments double-blind, meaning that neither the experimenter nor the subject knows what condition the subject is in, and thus what their responses are predicted to be. Another way in which Clever Hans effects are avoided is by replacing the experimenter with a computer, which can deliver standardized instructions and record responses without giving clues.

  28. I noticed it in the video from the Zeleznick brothers, who at least have the confidence to properly blindfold their students: the brunette girl paused, and responded to her sighted classmate’s reaction.

  29. Alan Fox:
    CharlieM: So do you think she is an abusive grandmother and teacher?

    Alan Fox: Let’ not fall into the binary trap. I have no reason to think the teacher/grandmother is pathologically abusive.

    I only asked because the only way I can see this working is if the kids are in on it. And if she is encouraging them to fool people then I would consider that as an abuse.

    Alan Fox: My question was why this video has caused no comment or interest in the five years or so since it was published. Is there less to it than seems?

    There are over a thousand youtube comments on the video from both extremes, and there are other centres around the world such as here

    I have no figures for participants then and now, have you?

  30. CharlieM: I have no figures for participants then and now, have you?

    No. I just this second looked at the website you linked to. I’d say the investment involved about ten minute’s work and maybe 100€ tops for a year’s domain name and host rental. All I can take from that is there’s a market. I can’t help wondering… I’ll ask my clever friend, Hans.

  31. Alan Fox:
    CharlieM: How do know that it’s been languishing for five years?

    Alan Fox: There’s a date. Jun 3, 2016

    One date doesn’t tell us much.

  32. Alan Fox: Imagine your premonition

    To me this wasn’t a premonition at all. In fact, what happened was, I was talking with my friend during dinner. I said to him, do you remember xxxxx? He said oh sure, and I said I wonder what ever happened to him, because at the time I knew him, some 20 years earlier, he was told he had cancer of the stomach and only had a few months to live. So we were talking more about him, and I said I wonder what became of him, because he always told me he believed this cancer was a hoax by his doctors, which I found interesting because he seemed sincere. I assumed he probably died shortly after this, and I never heard about it, but I was commenting about some interesting things about him.

    So here we were talking about him, wondering what ever happened, and at that very time that’s when he died-twenty years later! A guy I hadn’t even thought of or mentioned for ages, and right at that moment….

    If that was the only weird coincedence in my life, I might even forget it. But its not. But I wouldn’t call it a premonition.

  33. CharlieM: What would be gained by testing the children?

    To separate fact from fiction, honest people from charlatans, to uncover deception and self-deception.

    Is that not a noble goal?

    You are the one who asked “Can we ignore the testimonies of those who claim….”

    I say yes, because testimony is lousy evidence. And videos can be staged, doctored, and selectively edited.

    And blind people can learn to intelligently manipulate objects that they are familiar with.

    Charlatans are a dime a dozen, and people with real psychic abilities seem nonexistent.

    Yes, I would just leave them alone if they are not trying to defraud anyone. But if the “teacher” steps over that line, I would insist on testing the children.

    So-called psychic abilities that do not work under laboratory conditions can be dismissed as fakery.

  34. CharlieM: One date doesn’t tell us much.

    I’ve never heard of Nicola Farmer. What June, 2016 tells me is that Nicola Farmer has not become newsworthy in the five years since this video recording. Whether or not there is a real phenomenon, it is consequence-free.

  35. phoodoo: That’s not true at all.

    Of course not. We all know that PSI doesn’t work if you’re surrounded by skeptics of PSI.

  36. Entropy,

    Yea, well another take on this would be, how could you be expected to see the synchronicity of the world, if you are convinced not to see the synchronicity of the world.

    If the claim was that a person can see the future, the same way as a God could, then this is a pretty high bar to meet and not likely to be true. Thus if you ask that person, tell me who is going to win the third race at Santa Anita, and they can’t do it, well, they probably can’t. Does that mean that Charlie’s father in law and his wife are both lying when they say they used to do a party trick where she could guess a random card from a deck of cards? I am also lying when I say I was able to guess an exact amount of money from an unknown stack on multiple, multiple occassions-and never being wrong? I am also lying when I say I dreamed about a guy I hadn’t thought of for twenty years, the night before he died, and I talked about if he was still alive to my good friend. I still have the text message from him, saying can you believe this is in the news- I don’t expect that would convince you of anything. Is everyone who has had after death experiences liars? And no, I couldn’t go into a laboratory, and make stock picks for you.

    Are people lying when they say they picked up a phone to call someone they hadn’t talked to in years, and at that exact moment the same person was actually calling them, and for some reason they picked up the phone before the ringer had a chance to ring, and that person was on the line? Because I was there when that happened. And the person is going, wait, what’s going on….

    Everyone is a liar, and you have the truth. I get it.

    Or, OR, the people who see things in the world the most are the people who are open to seeing things in the world. That may well just be the way it is, like it or not.

    Because I wouldn’t give 20 MORE examples of things to someone who knows they aren’t true.

  37. phoodoo,

    Nah, phoodoo. Nobody is accusing anyone of lying. We are pointing out that your memory is very fallible, and highly biased.
    Your examples of supernatural performance are classics.
    The strange thing about all these psi effects is how goddam shy they are.
    But since you brought up the FBI’s use of psychics, perhaps you should return to Jaytee’s behavior before Pamela started home. You kinda ran away.

  38. Fair Witness: So-called psychic abilities that do not work under laboratory conditions can be dismissed as fakery.
    phoodoo: That’s not true at all.

    One random object in a cardboard box. How hard could that be, for a true psychic?

  39. Fair Witness,

    One horse pick, how hard could it be?

    And if they got the one random card right, you give them one million right? Yea, I didn’t think so.

  40. DNA_Jock,

    Really? You mean every time I showed my brother this, his memory also was wrong? And the times when I sent him a message to tell him it happened again, we were both hallucinating ? And when I said to my friends I have a feeling I can do this and I did it, again, everyone was delusional?

    I see. And your conclusion that it never happened, despite knowing not one single thing about it, that’s not biased, because, well , because it can’t be true!

    You sound just like James Randi, you should pretend to offer a prize and then not.

  41. phoodoo:
    DNA_Jock,

    Really? You mean every time I showed my brother this,his memory also was wrong?And the times when I sent him a message to tell him it happened again,we were both hallucinating ?And when I said to my friends I have a feeling I can do this and I did it,again,everyone was delusional?

    I see.And your conclusion that it never happened,despite knowing not one single thing about it,that’s not biased,because,well , because it can’t be true!

    You sound just like James Randi,you should pretend to offer a prize and then not.

    Do you have an example of a demonstration of PSI that Randi rejected unfairly?

  42. phoodoo:
    And you know something else, the FBI uses psychics. Don’t ask me how I know. Sorry.

    You know because of your extrasensorial perception, obviously.

  43. phoodoo:
    CharlieM: She tells me that she lost this ability because she started to worry about getting it wrong.

    phoodoo: I know exactly what she means by this. I was reluctant to keep doing this for the same reason. To me it was like you can’t force it, you just know when you know. it would happen in some other circumstances, but its not like I could just guess about anything and be right.

    As dreams go, I don’t just remember one occassionally, its every night, multiple times without exception. I never don’t remember them. And most of the time my dreams are lucid, so that I know they are dreams during the dream, but they keep on going for long stretches. And its not like they are nightmares, they are more like fun, interesting stories, like a movie or book. Often I can change how the dream is going during the dream if I want to , because I know its a dream. I have asked other people and never met anyone who says they dream this way. Ask your wife if she does.

    I have also had so many coincidental things happen, that if I tell them they sound too unbelievable, so I rarely tell them

    I asked my wife. She says she quite often knows she is in a dream and she wants it to continue on the track it’s on but when that happens it normally goes off in other directions. She has no control over the directions they take.

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