Psychic Phenomenon and History Precognition Part 1

About the psychic phenomenon precognition also known as ESP or seeing the future, history and information about the gift of second sight.




The idea of prophecy, of knowing future events, is as old as the Oracle of Delphi, and probably older than that. In modern parapsychology (the study of extrasensory perception, or ESP), it is called precognition, which translates as foreknowledge, or premonition. Parapsychologists have developed a system of laboratory tests for precognition in order to establish a quantitative, statistical basis on which to prove it. But most precognitive experiences take place outside the laboratory. They happen unplanned and unexpected, as, for example, in a dream that seems to picture a future event.


The pioneer of laboratory testing for precognition is Dr. J. B. Rhine, who directed the Parapsychology Laboratory at Duke University until his retirement in the mid-1960s and who now heads the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man, both in Durham, N.C. Rhine's testing method for precognition and other forms of ESP uses a special set of black-and-white cards the size of playing cards. Each set of 25 cards contains 5 marked with stars, 5 with squares, 5 with circles, 5 with wavy lines, and 5 with crosses.

These ESP cards were first used to test telepathy (which can't always be separated from precognition). Telepathy is the mind-to-mind transmission of images, thoughts, and ideas. The reason why the two may be confused is this: If someone picks up your thought that you intend to jump off a building, he may get the picture of such a suicidal jump as being in the future, but he is actually receiving a contemporary image. Or, more complex, someone--perhaps in a dream--receives multiple impressions of domestic disagreement within a family and wakes up with the thought "They are going to get a divorce!" Again, this is not, technically speaking, precognition, but a form of telepathy.

Dr. Rhine's tests with ESP cards, which began in the 1930s, approach precognition in the following way. Let's say you are the subject being tested. You are asked to check off, on an ESP record sheet, the sequence of cards as you expect them to come up later in an as-yet-unshuffled deck. Your test sheet is taken from you. Once the deck is shuffled, the cards are turned face up and listed one by one. By the laws of probability, you will have picked 5 cards out of 25 correctly; if you do better, particularly over a long period of time and through many such tests, you may have shown precognitive ability to a significant degree. The whole process is hedged with controls, statistical calculations, and safeguards against conscious or unconscious manipulation.

The best ESP scores ever published, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, were those of an unnamed 26-year-old woman in New York City. Tested by Prof. Bernard F. Reiss of Hunter College, she correctly guessed 1,349 of the cards in 1,850 guesses (73%), whereas the average person would have had 370 right.

Culturally, we find ourselves much less able to accept the reality of precognition than that of telepathy--which seems similar to radio transmission, with one mind acting as a broadcasting station and the other mind as a receiver--because correct prophecy suggests that the future is, somehow, already here and known, and that we are puppets in a cosmic game of predestination. Whatever philosophy there is to back up premonition suggests that the direction of an event may be set, but that enough free will exists to enable us to mold future events. This is similar to the concept advanced by astrologers, the most popular prophets of our day, that "the stars impel, they do not compel."

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