Those who claim prophetic ability claim to see events before they happen. Those unconvinced of this ability suggest that the mind makes many kinds of projections and those who see the future tend to forget the misses and then remember (and perhaps slightly retrofit) the hits, and this provides the prophesier with the impression that they have seen into the future.
There are probably many ways to distinguish between the prophetic and naturalist models, but the simplest way is for the prophesier to see an event which has a low enough probability that it is unreasonable to attribute it to anything other than prophetic ability.
A 14 word test for prophetic power
The test is simple and can be performed with virtually anyone who is literate and claims to be to see future events.
Please type out the 14 words that my computer script will generate in the future in standard UTF-8 encoding, space or newline separated. Word order is of no consequence.
Zip up the file with 7z password encryption (AES-256 encryption or better) and send me the file. My email address is at the bottom of this page.
Once I have received the file, I will then write a computer program (in a language I will select at that time) that randomly selects words from a dictionary (it will be any dictionary with at least 928,989 words, the number of words in the English dictionary) and I will draw from a truly random source, such as atmospheric noise. After I am confident the program works as intended, I will select 14 words and write them to a file, again in UTF-8 encoding, space or newline separated.
I will zip up the resulting 14 word file and send it to you, password encrypted.
Once you have received my file we can each indpendently evaluate the results by sharing our passwords with one another. With our passwords we can unencrypt our two files and examine their contents. This point in time and space constitutes a singular event in the future where you will be able to observe the file (hence, you are not required to be able to observe events at a distance or from a different point of view, only an event you will be participating in sometime in the future relative to the start of the test).
The test is considered a positive if and only if all 14 words match up letter for letter (capitalization is of no consequence). If they do, then I will concede that the participant has prophetic ability, and this ability has been clearly substantiated.
Notes on probability
This test has been designed to virtually eliminate the possibility of coincidence from any prophecy of future events. The probability of randomly selecting the same 14 words from an English sized dictionary (928,989 words) is
1 / (928,989)^14 or about
2.8 x10^-84. There are approximately
1x10^80 atoms in the known universe, so selecting the same 14 words exactly is about as likely as two individuals randomly pointing to the exact same atom in the known universe. Similarly the likelihood of guessing the same AES-256-bit encryption key is roughly
1x10^-78, or again, the approximate likelihood of two individuals selecting the same atom in the known universe by chance.