Friday, September 08, 2006

I know what you are thinking? Telepathy....

The following is an excerpt from an article in The Times, 7 September 2006, entitled 'Gosh, I was just thinking about you' by Rupert Sheldrake.

Rupert Sheldrake

The author is director of the Perrott-Warrick project for research on unexplained human abilities, funded by Trinity College, Cambridge. www.sheldrake.org

Last year a special issue of the Journal of Consciousness Studies was devoted to the ability to detect stares, for which the scientific name is scopaesthesia, from the Greek words for viewing and feeling. This ability may have a long evolutionary history.

Animals that were able to detect the looks of hidden predators may well have survived better than animals without this ability.

Telepathy may also have deep biological roots, acting as a means of communication at a distance between members of animal groups.

It is still expressed in domesticated animals, many of which seem to be able to detect the feelings and intentions of their owners beyond the range of the usual senses.

For example, many dogs seem to know when their owners are coming home, and go to wait at a door.

In some cases they do this when the person is still miles away, long before the animal could have heard familiar footsteps or car sounds.

In a series of videotaped tests, I found that dogs still went and waited at the door when the owners returned at times randomly selected by the experimenter, when no one at home knew when they were coming, and when they travelled in unfamiliar vehicles such as taxis.

Many mothers still seem to feel when their children need them, even if they are miles away.

Children whose absent mothers responded to their distress telepathically and returned to them would be more likely to survive than children with unresponsive mothers; so telepathic traits may have been favoured by natural selection.

The commonest kind of apparent telepathy in the modern world takes place in connection with telephone calls.

About 80 per cent of the population claim to have had experiences in which they think of someone for no apparent reason, then that person calls; or they know who is calling when the phone rings, before picking it up.

Many people have had similar experiences with e-mails...

Over the past few years, with the help of my research associate, Pam Smart, I have investigated telephone telepathy experimentally in hundreds of controlled trials.


Volunteers were asked to give us the names and telephone numbers of four people they knew well.

During the test session, the subject was videotaped continuously sitting by a landline telephone. We selected one of the callers at random by the throw of a die.

We then asked that person to call the subject.

When the telephone rang, the participant guessed who was calling before lifting the receiver. The guess was either right or wrong.

By chance, participants would have been right about one time in four. In fact, 45 per cent of the guesses were correct.

This research has been replicated at the University of Amsterdam, again with positive results.

Tests in which some of the callers were near the Antipodes, in Australia and New Zealand, showed that the effect did not seem to fall off with distance.

Emotional closeness, rather than physical proximity, seemed to be the most important factor...

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