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Is precognitive thinking real or is it just coincidence?

Posted by Atticus & Historigal on Tuesday, January 5, 2010 Under: Psychological

One may scoff at the actuality of ghosts, apparitions and poltergeists; doubt psychic phenomena; be skeptical about experiments in extrasensory perception, but there is one facet which is not thus casually to be ignored – precognition.

Call it hunch, intuition, coincidence, foreboding, premonition, or anything else, precognition is one of the best documented, most common, and at the same time, most puzzling of mysteries.  What is particularly frustrating to investigators is that the great majority of precognitive experiences occur to perfectly normal people who had little or no interest in the supernormal or the supernatural.

An increasing number of psychologists, psychiatrists and other qualified students of the human mind no longer are satisfied to accept coincidence as an explanation.  Nor, on the other hand, do they regard it as evidence of the supernatural.  They consider precognition to be supernormal, part of our 'supersense', a phenomenon which has not as yet been fully accepted by general scientific opinion, but which they believe must have a logical explanation.

The long and carefully detailed investigation
they have been making of this phenomenon
– or mystery if you prefer – began with the founding
of the British Society of Physical Research in 1882.  A few years later a somewhat similar organization, the American Society for Physical Research, originated in the United States.

Under the leadership of Dr. George H. Hyslop, M.D.; Ph.D., former professor of logic and ethics at Columbia University, the ASPR attracted thousands of members throughout the country.  All of them have been solid citizens, psychologists, physicians, educators, ministers, industrialists and others who have shared a common interest in furthering the genuine investigation of psychic phenomena.

There are a number of other such organizations equally respected.  One is the Menninger Foundation which is carrying out various phases of study at its headquarters in Topeka Kansas.

Extrasensory perception, of which precognition is a facet, gained added status by research at college and universities.  Probably the first institution to become seriously interested was the Department of Psychology at Duke University where Professor William McDougall encouraged the work of the biologist-psychologists, Dr. Joseph Rhine and his wife Louisa, well known ESP authorities.

This is the background of modern scientific research in precognition which investigators now divide into two parts.  The first is a strong premonition – it may not necessarily come as a dream—that something sinister, even tragic, may happen to an individual if he should do a certain thing or go to a specified place, perhaps at a predetermined time.  The second is this apprehensive feeling about someone else – a relative, a friend, a business associate.

Psychologist Dr. Nelson Thiebault, who is also a psychic-phenomena researcher said, “Sleeping or awake, the will to survive is strongly inherent in all of us.  We have an imperative urge to heed the forewarning whether it is imagined or genuine and where neglect might contribute even remotely to death or injury.

 “Genuine precognition, if not in a dream, occurs spontaneously and imperatively.  It should not be encouraged by trying  to read dire significance into obvious coincidence or by yielding to popular superstitions by believing you will have bad luck should a black cat cross your path, if you break a mirror, or walk under a ladder.”

While this is excellent advice it fails to explain the mystery of precognition. 

In premonitions about tragic occurrences to others than oneself, the largest group reported, understandably are immediate members of the family.  This group is followed by close friends, business or other associates and finally by strangers, usually in the public eye.

Cases reported to the American Society for Physical Research are carefully screened for genuineness before being followed up.  These are a few examples of such authenticated cases.  As a rule, the ASPR does not give out the names of those involved.

Mrs. F.F., a Long Island, N.Y., matron, mother of a boy of six, had several premonitions over a period of years. Her husband, a down-to-earth businessman, told her she was merely “superstitious” and advised her to forget about them.

One summer afternoon she had an unusually strong foreboding.  In her report to the ASPR she described her experience.

“As I was finishing up in the kitchen I very
suddenly and very strongly felt that my son
was in his tiny boat and being helplessly blown
out into the Long Island Sound with a strong south wind quickly pushing him into the ocean-going current.  I could hear him very plainly and loudly calling, ‘Mommy! Mommy!’”

This was so vivid to Mrs. F.D. that she prayed that her son who had gone to the beach with other children, would remain in his boat until help arrived instead of attempting to swim to shore. 

Suspenseful hours later the boy was brought safely back to the house by her husband who related the following facts.

The boy had been drifting out into the current alone and unnoticed.  He attracted the attention of two fishermen by loudly calling out “Mommy!”

He had not remained in the boat as his mother prayed he would, he probably would have been drowned of rescued.

In another authenticated case, an astronomy teacher was taking a nap when he dreamed he saw his father dressed in tan shirt and tan trousers with brown suspenders.  The dream was so real that he even observed the detail of a pen and pencil projecting from a shirt pocket.

The sound of the doorbell woke him up.  A messenger was at the door with a telegram informing him that his father died of a heart attack from another city.

When he attended the funeral, the teacher asked his mother to describe the clothes that his father had worn when he died.  They were identical to those seen in the dream.

Not all premonitions are prescient.  Some are identified with events which took place perhaps years before.  One which was repeated to the ASPR is particularly noteworthy because it was accepted as evidence in a court of law.

A man named Chaflin, father of four boys, was killed in an accident.  He left a will bequeathing his estate to one of his sons.  The other three did not contest the will and it was probated in court.

More than four years later, James P Chaflin, one of the three sons who had been disinherited, had a dream in which their father told him that he had made a later will which would be found in his overcoat pocket.

James was at first inclined to dismiss the dream as of no significance.  When the premonition persisted, he rummaged through the attic and found an old overcoat that had belonged to his father.

There was no will in the coat, but in the lining of a torn pocket was a short note in his father’s handwriting: “Read 27th chapter Genesis in my daddy’s Bible.”

James summoned several friends for witnesses before he took the old family Bible from the bookshelf.  In the 27th chapter of Genesis he found the later will in which the estate was divided equally among the four sons.  The will was taken to court, accepted as genuine and the Chaflin estate was apportioned accordingly.

Sincere students and investigators point out that one major obstacle to solving the mystery of precognition is to convince science that it is a genuine phenomenon meriting more than skepticism.  In this, at least, they are making some progress.  In the words of psychologist Arthur Bachrach of Arizona State University, “Though there’s not full acceptance, there is more of a willingness to wait and see.”

In : Psychological 

Tags: esp  precognitive  premonitions  future  dream  dreaming  events. 
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