Today, many people claim to have extraordinary abilities, or a “sixth sense”: There are psychics who claim to know the future, mediums and spiritual sensitives who communicate with spirits of the dead, and telepaths who can read the minds of others, to name only a few. Unfortunately, “mediums” like Helen Duncan have caused the human race to lose all faith in people who claim to have “abilities”. When the “ectoplasm” that would manifest from her during séances so mysteriously began to take the form of a terrifyingly kitschy haunted house prop, her audiences were baffled. That was pretty short-lived once people caught on her “ectoplasm” was nothing more than cheesecloth. Since Helen, there have been dozens of high-profile frauds just like her. A couple of decades ago, it was mostly telephone psychics with late-night infomercials and regular slots on daytime TV talk shows. Now, with reality TV pumping out ghost investigation shows left and right, each one has their own resident psychic and/or medium, who is most likely just an actor. If you’ve seen ‘The Dead Files’ (which is an incredibly entertaining show on many levels, I must say), you’ve probably also seen “Physical Medium, Amy Allan”‘s camera man rolling his eyes at her in the background. Most recently, there’s been incredibly strong accusations of fraud surrounding mediums Theresa Caputo and Chip Coffey. When everyone you’ve ever known to claim these sort of abilities turns out to be a fraud, it is entirely logical to come to the conclusion that anyone who claims these abilities is a fraud. Unfortunately, the problem with that conclusion is, the real people with the real abilities will never go out on national television and start advertising it. They will never go up to perfect strangers in public and deliver a message from their deceased mother. For every John Edwards and Miss Cleo out there looking to make a quick buck running scams on the more vulnerable and naïve of us by assuring that a dead relative is happy in the afterlife, or that you can buy that house because you will get that new job, there are ten people with legitimate abilities who are not looking to make money off it. Usually, individuals who do sense spirits or future events try to suppress it. It’s not necessarily a pleasant ‘gift’, and the attention one would receive for such abilities would be incredibly overwhelming for most people. Think if it were you: You’re seeing things on a daily basis no one else can see, but could never possibly provide enough evidence to prove it- do you advertise that? No- you would end up in a psychiatric institute for the next several decades with your loved ones patronizing you for the rest of your existence. If you were aware of a massive terrorist attack that was about to take place, would you call up the government and inform them of all the details of the attack? No! Your house would be swarmed with Blackhawk helicopters ready to whisk you away to some secretive government prison in an unknown location for waterboarding. When normal people with everything to lose and no intention to gain anything (aside from information on what they are experiencing) claim to have extraordinary abilities, the least we can do is give them the benefit of the doubt and look into the possibility.
In 2010 social psychologist Daryl Bem, a professor emeritus at Cornell University conducted a series of nine experiments on 1,000 people to test the legitimacy of psychic abilities. In one of the experiments, participants were shown a list of words and asked to remember as many as possible. After students recalled all the words they could, a computer generated sort of words from the list were printed out. The students taking part in the study were asked to type the words on their list. Despite the fact that these words had been randomly chosen by a computer system after the word recall portion of the study was complete, the findings showed participants were better able to remember words which they would later type. Professor Bem believes these results were possible due to precognition. In another test performed, a separate group of students were shown an image of two curtains on a computer. They were told that one of the curtains would reveal an “adult” image. Although the image behind the curtain would not be generated until one curtain had been chosen, the participants chose the erotic image “more often than could be explained away by chance”, according to Daryl Bem. He believes the participants of his study were able to mentally manipulate which image would be revealed to them, after being given the suggestion the photo would be pornographic. Out of the nine experiments, all but one ruled in favor of psychic abilities, with a 74 billion to 1 chance the test results were a fluke. After reading about Bem’s astounding findings in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Professor Ritchie of Edinburgh recreated the experiments and received completely opposite results. Both professors agree, there is no explanation to the widely varied results of these two identical and in-depth experiments. Dr. Alan Hugenot is an architect/engineer and Naval Captain who claims a ‘believer’ and a ‘skeptic’ can conduct the same experiment and receive opposite results due to the way in which the two individuals perceive consciousness [Click this link for more on his theory]. In 1893, French sociologist Emile Durkheim first put forth the theory of a “shared mind” or “collective consciousness” [Click here for more info] Lyall Watson, a South African zoologist and ecologist, along with his colleague, scientific author Lawrence Blair, devised a theory in 1975 known as ‘The Hundredth Monkey Effect’ based on the findings of Japanese scientists. The scientists had observed macaques on the Japanese island of Koshima in the 1950s and found that once the group of macaques inhabiting the island learned how to wash sweet potatoes, the behavior spread to separate clan of macaques on a neighboring island, without the two groups having ever come into contact with one another. This same evidence of a collective consciousness has also been observed in a species of bird called the blue tit. In 2011, blue tits in Southampton discovered they could break into bottles and drink the milk inside from the top. Shortly afterwards, the exact same behavior occurred in different groups of the same species across Eurasia. Considering the fact that blue tits are non-migratory, there is absolutely no chance the groups exhibiting this behavior, spread so far apart, ever came into contact with each other. Surprisingly, this skill may also exist in humans. For instance, many astounding comparisons can be made between origin stories from religions practiced by separate groups of humans living great distances apart in ancient times. As far as historians and scientists know, these groups would not have had the ability to come into contact and share information. This phenomenon of species seemingly communicating new information telepathically could have a natural explanation. It is likely rather than literally using psychic abilities to pass on new techniques to the rest of the species, animals have uniform thought processes that solve problems in the exact same way as others of their own species. While this ability is not paranormal, it certainly is astounding and makes us wonder what other bizarre gifts nature may have given us that we have yet to acknowledge or utilize. Mother Nature has proven herself to be a creature of habit and Rupert Sheldrake has a theory that may offer an explanation as to why the behaviors of living beings in our universe seem to be constantly repeating themselves. Sheldrake is a biochemist, cell biologist, plant physiologist, and parapsychology researcher who believes not all memories are stored in our brain. He believes in an “extended mind” which stores a collective memory from all previous beings within the species that have come before, and is inherited by every new member of the species as a sort of self-preservation. Think of it as a type of evolved instinct- humans today are not doing quite as dumb things (as a whole) as they were 1,000 years ago. Not because anyone explicitly taught them not to, but because a part of us remembers from 1,000 years ago that we should not do that dumb thing anymore. Under this theory, the same would be true for tuna fish, okapi, red ants, chihuahuas, and every other living species that exists. It is a difficult theory for some to wrap their head around, but if you are a believer in reincarnation, it may make sense as an effect of living a lifetime, dying and being momentarily enlightened. When you return to Earth in a new life with only vague, subconscious fragments of your past life and between life experiences, perhaps this “extended mind” is a way to describe these leftover memories. As evidence to support his claim, Rupert Sheldrake cites the natural crystallization of new chemicals which crystallize very slowly the first time but become faster with each following attempt. According to him, the “Laws of Nature” are more like “Habits of Nature” that are expanded upon with each generation. It is a widely accepted fact that many animal species do possess a sixth sense and it is possible that it exists in humans, as well. The cryptochrome gene is a protein found in the retina of numerous animals such as butterflies, fruit flies, migratory birds, sea turtles, and foxes to name a few. Cryptochromes allow for accurate navigation in the dark because at the very least, the animal has an incredibly strong sense of the Earth’s magnetic field; However, it is likely some, if not all of these species have the ability to literally see the magnetic field laid out like a grid before them as clear as you can see your hand in front of your face. There is evidence supporting the theory that humans have this cryptochrome gene and the potential to tap into the abilities it provides. Unfortunately, scientists believe humans have lost all practical use for it due to the electromagnetic world we live in today. If you don’t use it, you lose it, and with modern computer apps, we have no need to use the mapping and navigation abilities nature has bestowed upon us. However, it does not necessarily suggest every single person in the world has completely lost every aspect of this ability. In fact, there are numerous “sixth senses” that only a select few members of the human race have retained, but may have, at one time, been present in a larger percentage. Perhaps many of the rare “sixth senses” that exist today will eventually evolve and be passed to future generations as a normal human function.
Take synesthesia for example: Synethstesia is a rare neurological condition or trait- no one really know exactly what causes it. It could be a defect in the neurological structure, cross-wiring in neurotransmitters, or possibly caused when a newborn’s body fails to properly “untangle” the part of the brain which analyzes our five senses. It tends to run in families, so it could even be a genetic disorder engrained in the synethstite’s DNA. Whatever the case may be, it gives the person the ability to see sounds, taste words, and hear physical feelings. Really, any combination of senses may be perceived in the brain of a person living with synesthesia. While there is no way to diagnose this condition, it exists in an estimated 4% of the population, in some form. The mixing of senses in a person with synesthesia is completely involuntary, it is experienced, not imagined. When someone with the condition hears the word “triangle”, they may see yellow because triangles are yellow and smell pears because triangles smell like pears. These associations will never change. “Triangle” will forever be yellow and smell like pears because to the synesthstite, that IS a triangle. Letters, numbers, weekdays, months, and other “common” words have a specific color and/or smell which comes in handy in helping these lucky individuals remember things. When trying to remember someone’s name, they may remember it was a dark purple name- “D” is dark purple- and the name smelled like chocolate chip cookies- names that end in a long “O” sound smell like chocolate chip cookies: The name was “Diego”. This may seem like an incredibly complicated way to remember a name, but someone experiencing synesthesia would think you’re an idiot for not being able to remember that Diego is dark purple and smells like cookies- DUH! Diego has always been dark purple and smelled like chocolate chip cookies, how could you not know that? Some people go through their entire lives with this condition, never realizing they are perceiving the world far differently from everyone else. I had gone my entire life (up until a few weeks ago) without realizing I have some form of synesthesia. I was under the impression everyone had specific, unwavering, colors, smells, or sounds they associated with certain things. From my own experience, I can assure you when I hear the word “death”, for instance, I smell a very distinct smell as though… Well, as though there actually were something there to smell. Although I do not know what the smell is, I know it smells puce green, which incidentally, is also the color of “death”. Puce green has always, and will always, smell like death: No exceptions. When I hear (or imagine the sound of) scraping on a chalkboard, I get a vivid, lingering metallic taste in my mouth as though I were sucking on a set of keys. It’s not anything I put thought or effort into, I just taste keys with no explanation as to why. Another incredibly bizarre “sixth sense” is the ability to see imaginary colors. Many people claim to see colors that do not exist within the color spectrum such as a blue-ish tinted yellow that is in no way similar to green. You may be doubting this is possible and wishing there were a way you find out for certain. Luckily, there’s a way to simulate this “imaginary color” phenomenon to decide for yourself if its legit: Imagine the color pink. Can you see it? Yes? …Are you aware pink is one of these imaginary colors? Although it is the only imaginary color everyone can see, it does not exist in the rainbow, and therefore, does not exist in the color spectrum at all. A rainbow is a representation of all colors present in the visible spectrum; Beginning, we have red, followed by orange, yellow, green, cyan, blue, and ending with violet. Our eyes have red, green, and blue light cones that decipher what shade we are seeing. When blue and green light mix, they create cyan, red and green light create yellow, every color we see is created by some combination of red, green and/or blue light- except pink. Pink is technically referred to as “magenta” (which is just a specific shade of pink for those of you not familiar with crayons) and magenta can only be created by mixing red light and violet light. If you were to take this horizontal color spectrum spanning from red to violet and visualize it curling up into a color wheel made up of colors in our visual spectrum, there would be a gap between red and violet. Everything to the side of red is an infrared form of light, everything to the side of violet is an ultraviolet form of light, due to this it is impossible for humans to visually mix red with violet. With our limited light cones unable to actually see magenta, our brain invents an imaginary color. Therefor, pink, magenta, wild strawberry, ‘mauvelous’, and any other catchy Crayola (TM) color that describes the hue created by red and violet is an imaginary color.
The human brain can achieve bizarre and amazing things. The world has recently learned two people can observe the same dress, but one person perceives a blue and black dress while another perceives it as white and gold. We can see imaginary colors, never questioning whether or not they are real, and some of us can vividly taste every color in the rainbow without ever opening a bag of Skittles. If some people’s brains can perceive sound when they observe a color, it’s not such a leap to assume there are humans who can hear the dead and see the future. Whether or not you’re sold on the idea of paranormal abilities being more normal than previously believed, leave here with this: Scientists know, without a doubt, it is absolutely possibly to predict the future, and deduce the past with 100% accuracy and they know how to do it. Our entire universe is composed of particles, due to this fact, if you knew the initial velocity (u), displacement (s), and acceleration (a) of every single particle in the universe, you could plug-in an amount of time (t) and know the future. Using the equation s=ut + 1/2at^2 you would find the only place the particle can be at that exact moment in time and by knowing the exact position of every single particle in the universe, you will know the only possible future that can exist. Though some scientists dismiss parapsychology as pseudoscience, if we ignore the subject all together, we may never realize the human race’s full potential. At the very least, we can dismiss it and will certainly walk away with more knowledge on the paranormal (or lack thereof) than we have today. Scientists and intellectuals should strive to walk in the footsteps of the great Albert Einstein who believed, “To raise new questions, new possibilities… requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.”.
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To learn more about Daryl Bem and read his entire article from The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology visit his website: http://dbem.ws/