Most healthy unimpaired people of the human species have the benefit of five basic physical senses – that of sight, that of hearing, that of smell, that of taste, and that of touch. These specific sensory nervous systems, we are blessed with (first suggested hundreds of years BC by ancient Greek ultra bright chappie Archimedes), are functions of the brain, which is fed by receptors in the body whose signals, are processed there.
Because of the great diversity in us all, different individuals can have varying levels of abilities within all these five senses and indeed some of them can be developed further – like a person who loses their sight sometimes develops better hearing and touch skills to try to compensate. Furthermore, we all know that for example that some dogs have better developed nasal sensors than we do, so consequently have a much greater sense of smell (so can track people, or detect things like drugs, explosives, guns, and money).
It is quite common for people to also know about a so-called ‘sixth sense’, which refers to some individuals’ apparent intuitive ability or inexplicable faculty, to perceive something – like say a subconscious instinct or premonition that they are going to get dealt an ace in a card game (but that of course could have come about because their brain had worked out there were still four aces to come from only limited cards, so the probability of an ace had dramatically increased – like the famed ‘Rain Man’?).
Some will also tell you that there are other ‘lesser known’ senses which might be considered as separate (disputed) – like the sensing of temperature, body positions, itch, tension, balance, vibration, pain, thirst, hunger/fullness, magnetism, nausea, time, and possibly others.
However, there is one major ‘unproven’ sense or phenomenon that is widely claimed to exist, but it is a great source of controversy, which is the one of extrasensory perception or ESP. Those persons purporting to have the ability to display this sense are called psychics (a word coined in the late nineteenth century), and they profess to be able to predict the future, or see events from the past, or be in contact the spirits of the dead (a medium).
The base problem here though emanates from the disturbing fact that many ‘psychics’ simply perform their apparent special abilities in public for money, often becoming theatrical performers – so inevitably they run the risk of being confused with or classed as, low level music hall acts, and that invites accusations of intentional trickery (plausible old blind men telling gullible women their future are guaranteed to secure a good income, don’t you think?).
You see, on the other hand there are genuine magicians and illusionists, who entertain their audiences with astounding displays of sleight of hand, optical illusions, will-o’-the wisp, and tricks of light & mirror, all designed to create misconceptions of the mind and unexpected self deception – but with no supernatural ability claimed, just good old-fashioned pretend magic, eh?
For time immemorial there have been soothsayers, clairvoyants, fortune tellers, prophesiers, and future predictors. Most of us in modern times though have only experienced fortune telling psychics from the ‘seeing’ gypsies in little booths at the end of a seaside pier, like say in Great Yarmouth or Blackpool – but you never see them coming out of the dog racing or the race course with sheds loads of cash after making a killing, do you?
Common methods of making predictions come from somewhat random events like palm reading (palmist), card reading, tarot card turning over, cup tea leaves reading, or even gazing intently into a round glass so called ‘crystal’ ball (a crystal gazer, that itself even goes back to the time of the Druids!), telepathy (mind reader), or perhaps even by determining the movements of the heavenly bodies (an astrologer). The most famous of all these foreteller of events or so dubbed ‘seers’ is possibly Nostradamus, a Frenchman who published prophecies (to make money of course) about future world events some four hundred-and-fifty years ago. He didn’t tell us however where he got the information from though did he – oh dear? He has become a popular cult figure, who is widely reported on, and is deemed by some idiots to have got things right, despite in reality his information being so un-interpretable and unintelligible that the evidence is utterly worthless.
For some obscure or unfathomable reason, some people want to know their personal future, don’t they? You could understand it really if they wanted to get the winning lottery numbers, or the name of the horse that would come first in the 4.30 race at Ascot, but their own future life? Scary, eh? Some others, sad people really, want to get in touch with and communicate with dead loved ones – perhaps it is a guilt thing because they regret not doing enough of it when the other person was alive, or perhaps it is simply that they can’t cope without the other person? Unfortunately these vulnerable or grieving souls are preyed upon by false criminally fraudulent psychics to extract exorbitant fees from their purses and pockets, however poor the victims might be in reality.
Most ‘normal’ or average person, doesn’t though believe in the paranormal, do they? No, that is because most of us cannot believe in things we don’t understand, can we? If you had suggested to people in the mid-1800s that some magical unseen waves travelled through the sky or air (or even space say from the Moon to the Earth), could provide them with the ability to see or hear things from afar [broadcast Radio & TV], then they would have locked you up in the loony bin, wouldn’t they? If you had told people before 1900 that 525 of them could get in a large room like vehicle with comfortable seats [Airbus A380]-that could then fly like a bird from one side of the World to the other in a matter of hours, again they would have had you certified, don’t you think. If you had said to people that you would be able to identify a murderous individual from an almost invisible spot of their blood (through DNA), they would have had a good laugh as well, eh? Hence, here in the twenty-first century, those claims of the psychics of having insights into other things in a way we others don’t understand, are of course pooh-pooh’ d, aren’t they?
But is that really a valid response from us all in a less superstitious, ultra modern and more educated society, than ever before? Well certainly, many money making pretend psychic charlatans have been exposed as such, and there have been many whistle-blowers (some ex-tricksters themselves) as well to blow the cover of the conning swindlers. Indeed notwithstanding repeated thorough investigations over a hundred years or more, there has never been any scientific evidence of the existence of parapsychological phenomena, has there?
But does that actually mean anything though? Probably not? Science investigates something on the basis of starting with a theory and then conducting ‘repeatable’ experiments to prove the theory is valid. However, it is an onerous task, so it doesn’t always work does it? No, sometimes scientists have been on the right track, but have got nowhere even in a lifetime’s work, because often they couldn’t devise the right experiment or create the right environment for it to work. Sometimes they are subsequently shown by others to be only partially right. Failure of an experiment means nothing, does it? Scientists are even now spending decades and unbelievable fortunes in of terms of cash desperately trying to track down predicted forces and particles –and sometimes these clever clogs have met with utter failure [CERN (Geneva) high energy physics particle accelerator has had both success and suffered disappointment].
One thing we do know though already is that our complex brain runs using tiny pulses of electro-chemical signaling, which logically must be also be radiated somewhat outside the skull (which most certainly doesn’t block electromagnetic signals, does it)? Such signals must carry significant information, or the brain wouldn’t work would it? Does that mean that the likes of telepathy might be a real future possibility, then?
If in real life those have ever met an everyday type of person (not a performer) who displays even minor psychic powers, their scepticism becomes well modified. There are a number of reports, particularly from the US, of psychics helping the police to solve unfathomable murders, rapes and missing persons cases, by providing astounding leads that have led to bodies being found, arrests made, and successful normal follow-up police work (using forensics and investigation) to collar the villains – experienced respected, prominent, senior police would not be publically acknowledging their call for such help and its success, if hadn’t provided valid results, would they? [While some information has been uncannily accurate, perhaps unsurprisingly there have been some notable failures along the way as well?].
On the other hand, there is considerable skepticism regarding general use of psychics, so many police forces still don’t consider them to be any use – shame really, eh? In the UK our police denied some decade ago of ever having used them, and indeed it is half a dozen years since the Met when presented with evidence that suggested they had, simply issued an ambivalent meaningless response saying their policy was not to identify who they dealt with during enquiries – ah?
[Only the future will determine if there actually is such a thing as ESP and whether or not it is harnessable, don’t you think?].