Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

The Nature of precognition/Das Wesen der Prakognition/ la Naturaleza De la precognicion/La Nature De la Precognition

Academic journal article The Journal of Parapsychology

The Nature of precognition/Das Wesen der Prakognition/ la Naturaleza De la precognicion/La Nature De la Precognition

Article excerpt

Many attempts to explain extrasensory perception have focussed on the phenomenon of precognition, which may be defined as the supposed ability to obtain cognitive information about a future event that could not otherwise be anticipated through any known inferential process. Precognition is often considered more problematical than real-time ESP, because it requires that information somehow has to be transferred backwards in time. Nonetheless, there is considerable evidence for its occurrence.

A meta-analysis published by Honorton and Ferrari (1989) covers all the forced-choice precognition experiments carried out from 1935-1987. The data base includes 309 series of experiments with over 50,000 participants and a total of nearly 2 million trials. A small but reliable effect was found (effect size r = .01, Stouffer Z = 6.02, p = 1.1 x [10.sup.9]). A more recent meta-analysis (Storm, Tressoldi, & Di Risio, 2013) included a further 33 precognition studies carried out from 1987-2010. A comparison of these meta-analyses shows no decrease in effect size over the entire survey period, during which the research quality improved considerably. It suggests that the early results could not have been artifacts of poor design.

Because the targets used in the experiments were not selected until after the participants had made their guesses, the results give outstanding evidence for contacts with something in the future. However, the experiments do not tell us with what the contact is made. Is it direct contact with the inanimate target object or someone else's mental impression of that target? This is the alternative currently preferred by the majority of parapsychologists. Or is the contact with the participant's own future knowledge of the target, knowledge obtained when the participant receives feedback of the target information? This is the alternative I am proposing.

Existing theories have already been reviewed (e.g., Carr, 2008; Rush, 1986; Stokes, 2007) and need not be further discussed here. However, several of the theories invoke the influence of a nonphysical consciousness, an interpretation which a majority of mainstream scientists would reject. The present theory adopts the materialist view in which conscious awareness is considered to occur only as an epiphenomenon of the neural processes involved.

The theory explains precognition as information transfer from the brain in the future to the same brain in the present. The theory is based on the block universe model and on David Bohm's theory of the implicate order. It suggests that if similar structures are created at different places and different times, the structures may be said to "resonate," with a tendency to become more closely similar to one another. The principles are applied to the neuronal spatiotemporal patterns that are activated in the brain, to show how information transfer could be produced. For example, a pre-cognition would occur if the pattern activated at the time of the future experience of an event resonates with any similar pattern that is (spontaneously) activated in the present. This could enable the level of activation of the present pattern to build up to the threshold at which it produces the conscious awareness of an event similar to the event that will be experienced in the future.

Thus, precognition is explained as a connection with the percipient's own brain in the future (a link with his or her future experience of the event), and telepathy might similarly be explained as a link with the brain of another person. This simplifies the concept of ESP considerably, because it eliminates the need for direct "clairvoyant" contact with the event itself. Furthermore, the theory explains the results of micro-PK experiments in terms of precognition, so that the theory may be considered to offer an explanation for most classes of psi phenomena.

The present paper clarifies several of the issues raised in my earlier paper (Taylor, 2007), in which I attempted to show that retrieval from the past (ordinary memory) and retrieval from the future (precognition) may occur in much the same way. …

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