Keith Hearne and Jane Henry
A premonition (forewarning) is an experience which appears to anticipate a future event and which could not reasonably have been inferred from information available before that later event. The premonition may consist of apparent actual detailed knowledge of a later event, or a nonspecific feeling of foreboding that something will happen. The more neutral term precognition (foreknowing) is often applied in scientific literature.
The following example of a premonition exemplifies the media-announcement variety, where it is reported that future information comes in the form of some official statement. At about noon on 1 June 1974, a woman living near Grimsby in South Humberside, England, was watching TV alone, when the word 'Newsflash' appeared on the screen and a voiceover stated that an explosion had occurred at the Flixborough chemical plant, some 40 km away. The woman knew no one who worked at the plant, and the place meant little to her. She told two reliable witnesses shortly afterwards when they came in for lunch. A few hours later, at 4.53 p.m. that same afternoon, a massive explosion at the site killed twenty-eight people and caused extensive damage, when a bypass pipe ruptured unexpectedly. According to the official report of the disaster, there was no particular technical problem at the plant when the shifts changed over at 3 p.m. that afternoon. None of the TV stations had put out a Newsflash of any kind that lunch time (Hearne 1982a).
Precognition has been a persistently recognised phenomenon throughout chronicled history (Dodds 1971). Cases were noted in the ancient civilisations of the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans and others, and have continued to be reported to the present time. A dramatic example is provided by the case of Mrs Grant who having become increasingly agitated throughout the day persuaded her husband General Grant not to accompany Lincoln out on the evening he was assassinated. It subsequently emerged that Grant had been an intended victim that night (Radin 1997, pp. 112-13).