Ever since the beginning of recorded history, there seems to have been a belief in Extra Sensory Perception, or ESP. ESP is normally defined as the reception of information through a means other than the five normal senses; hearing, feeling, smelling, seeing, or tasting.
Even in Biblical times, apparently there were people who seemed to be able to predict the future, and were known as prophets. Later, in the Dark, and Middle Ages, they were known as magi, witches and diviners. As might be expected, ESP seemed to wane somewhat during the Inquisition, but returned in the 19th Century in the form of mediums, and in the 21st century, they have expanded into psychics, psychic detectives, remote viewers, and more.
Supposedly, there are several different forms of ESP:
- Telepathy – the transfer of information directly from one mind to another. One of the most famous telepaths in modern times has been the USSR’s Wolf Messing. The famous Vulcan Mind-Meld of Star Trek operates on this principle.
- Clairvoyance – the ability to gain information about a person, place, or thing, in a manner other than through the 5 known senses. Peter Hurkos, who supposedly assisted in the 1930s Lindbergh Kidnapping case (actually, the perp, Bruno Hauptman, was caught by tracing one of the ransom Gold Certificates) is one of the most famous.
- Remote Viewing – getting ‘impressions’ about an unseen target through means other than the 5 senses. Edgar Cayce was one of the most famous remote viewers.
- Precognition – receiving information about a future event that cannot be deduced from presently available information, through the 5 senses, or the laws of physics and nature. In modern times, Jean Dixon was one of the most famous. Nostradamus was another famous predictor.
- Retrocognition – knowledge of a past event that could not have been acquired through normal means.
- Telekinesis – the ability to move objects with only the influence of the mind. Uri Geller is one of the most famous people with this ability in modern times.
- Pyrokinesis – the ability to start, and control fires with the mind. This was the subject of the Stephen King novel Firestarter.
With all of the ‘professional psychic’s in the world today, you might think that this may really be legitimate. But if you examine what these so-called physics really accomplish, you get a different picture. The famous psychics like Jean Dixon, and Peter Hurkos made themselves famous by predicting the events after they happened. After every assassination, and natural disaster, these ‘psychics show up and tell everyone “I predicted this would happen….” It would be nice if they could tell someone before the event. Most psychic predictions are very vague, with little detail, and for a very good reason. They can tailor them to fit whatever happens after the fact. And the psychics that supposedly help the police solve crimes…..well, if you check police records, you will never find any contributions from these people. And no court would allow any psychic evidence to be introduced during trial. Uri Geller was exposed as a fraud more times than I can count. Yet, it seems that 50% of people still believe in ESP.
It may startle you to know that both the U.S. military, and the CIA have spent billions of dollars experimenting with ESP. Especially during the Cold War, experiments were conducted to create psychic spies, and to locate submarines using ESP. The experiments were consistent in one area…they were all dismal failures. In the civilian world, no reputable experiments have demonstrated any ESP ability in humans. In fact, a professional magician and famous skeptic, The Amazing Randi, since 1964, has offered a reward to anyone who can demonstrate any paranormal ability under agreed-upon controlled conditions. The prize money has grown over the years, and now it is sitting at $1,000,000.00. Similar rewards were offered by Harry Houdini, and John Nevil. To date, none of the prizes have ever been claimed. If you think about it, someone who could predict the future, or influence physical objects with their mind ought to be filthy-rich, from taking the slots in Vegas by storm, to winning bets on sporting events, and even investing in stocks. But most ‘psychics’ are financially modest. The ones that did get famous did it by just writing about their supposed abilities.
The nail in the coffin for me was a recent study done at Cambridge University (Wiseman, R., West, D., & Stemman, R. (1996). An experimental test of psychic detection. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 61(842), 34-45), and another by Harvard University (Using Neuroimaging to Resolve the Psi Debate -Samuel T. Moulton, Stephen M. Kosslyn; Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience January 2008, Vol. 20, No. 1: 182–192.) using neuroimaging technology to detect ESP activity in the brain. In both studies, there was no evidence that there is anything other than normal brain activity at work. And, as of yet, no legitimate experiment has ever shown any evidence of ESP ability in anyone.
The consensus is that most documented instances of ESP ability can be attributed to the normal senses operating on a sub-conscious level. In other words, sensing subtle smells, sounds, observing eye expressions and body postures, and picking up on other sub-conscious ‘cues’ inadvertently given by others. The human mind is a complex system that we are only beginning to really understand.
So, next time you feel like spending your hard-earned money on a psychic, I can save you the trouble, and tell you how to double your money right now…..fold it in half, and put it back in your pocket.