Unfortunately, this subject is very polarising, some people opting for a completely materialistic view and others leaving themselves prey to claims which hold no water (so-called “service providers” robbing them blind). The extremes are a matter of either refusing to consider it at all cost, despite being told perplexing stories by sane people with no interest in lying, or wanting to believe just anything, even against one’s better judgement.

Of course, there is the middle path of those who know ESP occurs indeed, yet are equally aware of the mass deception by those who trade in illusions.

Which is why I think the following observations are in order.

  1. It consists of limited personal experiences; it’s not an ability someone can claim or better yet, turn into a trade.

Most people, sceptics included, have had an eerily accurate premonition right before an event occurred, the odd dream predicting a future event down to details, or telepathic connection with someone else. What these phenomena tend to have in common is a purpose at that point in time, in the person’s life. Often that purpose is to warn of an incoming danger or prepare them for an unavoidable shock (the unexpected death of a loved one for instance).

The other commonality is that they do not happen constantly (which would be distressing, I imagine).

They are small glimpses into what should be the unknown – the potential future, the life of someone who is estranged etc. They are like droplets in an ocean of uncertainty and unpredictability; a small reminder that life is more than a  purposeless string of events.

Moreover, this can happen to anybody and it needn’t happen more than once.

Of course some people are more inclined to notice what others may cast aside as coincidental, and of course the intensity of these experiences varies greatly. They may happen noticeably a few times in someone’s entire life, or much more frequently. There is no observable pattern.

It’s not that those who notice them more often are somehow special or gifted; they are simply more tuned in.

2. It occurs spontaneously, not on demand.

Perhaps a reiteration of the point made above – an ability is something one can control and use at their discretion; using it involves employing their will, and that is not the case here.

The limited information one receives arrives unexpectedly when necessary, not as a result of them looking for it, let alone demanding it from some nebulous source (that’s why fortune telling is such BS).

There is no unlimited database of the past, present and future “people with ESP” can tap into at will, to reveal hidden facts about themselves and others. If that were true, nothing would remain a mystery to them. Those who claim to have an access card to such a place, and charge money for a quick peek, are charlatans.

I’m sure many people with good intuition make an honest effort to gauge others’ problems in this manner, yet have no proof of their assertions being anything but a guess.

And I’m sure many who failed at demonstrating their presumed gift in a controlled environment had some genuine phenomenon over the years, yet could not artificially reproduce a natural occurrence. Because it happened to them, as opposed to them making it happen.

3. It can only be verified in hindsight.

When someone claims the infallible capacity to predict the future because they’ve done so once or twice, they are mistaken. The only way to verify a prediction or the accuracy of a phenomenon is after the fact, which is why people should not become hysterical when someone puts forth apocalyptic views.

The estimated number of daily thoughts crossing someone’s mind ranges between 50 000 and 70 000. Many of them will be irrelevant. Of the many premonitions someone might have, only some stand the test of time, whilst the rest are forgotten. Some will be steeped in subjectivity; their own hopes and fears. Dreams, likewise, can be useful in terms of psychological analysis, yet rarely do they actually reveal crucial information to be used in real time.

Don’t get me wrong, when it does happen it’s something to marvel at – yet that doesn’t mean every dream or feeling should be given the same importance a priori. There are no prophets whose every word should be regarded as likely accurate by default.

4. To my knowledge, there has never been a way to establish where the information comes from.

In other words, we should all beware of those who claim to be in communication with divine beings or aliens, or anything of the sort. Or those who claim their occasional accurate predictions are proof of the existence of some deity.

5. The direct line to Heaven is a scam.

I’ve yet to see a psychic asked to contact a client’s dead relative, to shrug and say “sorry, dear, he wasn’t available”, or alternatively, “sorry, he’s in Hell and they only allow visitors on Saturday morning”. Isn’t it amazing how the departed are always calm and happy, wanting to reminisce about some fishing trip twenty years prior?

A couple were claiming the room was full of the client’s dead relatives, and that they wanted to make contact. It’s funny how it’s only the living who initiate these conversations through a paid medium and the dead, although present in such close proximity, are hapless in terms of communication. If it’s an open line, why don’t the dead ever ask for messages to be passed, of their own initiative? Can’t they afford the fee? No one thinks to ask “honestly; if they’re here all the time anyway, what do I need you for?”

I have no idea whether someone has managed to contact the soul/spirit/energy or whatever you want to call it of a dead person. They might have managed some form of communication with a different layer of reality, but even so, they have no guarantee of who or what is on the other end of the line, which is why it’s a dangerous thing to attempt.

Visitation does occur, especially in dreams, but as things stand so far, it seems it’s the departed (dead) person who makes contact. There are many accounts of the dying seeing relatives right before passing or dreaming of them and discussing their own imminent death; it’s extremely common.

When I was in high school, a good friend of mine came to school very distraught one day and told me she’d seen her uncle in a dream, telling her he had to leave; he’d been found dead the following morning, of natural causes.

On the other hand, there are families looking for missing relatives all the time, who don’t mention having received such signs, even while desperately wanting them for years on end. Which shows that those who have died communicate if and when they want to.

6. The great confusion

Those seeking to debunk the notion of ESP are mainly focused on proving that people reporting it are either deluded (wanting to believe they are special or that there is a higher power guiding them), mistaken (led astray by placing too much importance on coincidences), superstitious (having inherited a certain interpretation of common events from their culture) or outright frauds seeking to dupe the naive.

As to those accurately and ingenuously giving accounts of precognition or telepathy, I assume they are dismissed as having false memories; otherwise one would have to accuse them of lying, in order to justify not believing them. Arguably, there is no reason for such people to make these things up, if they have nothing whatsoever to gain (on the contrary; what they usually get is ridicule).

And yet they are lumped in with those seeking to prove the existence of a deity or make a name for themselves, to build a clientele.

Of course, they have nothing to lose either when their accounts are dismissed; they are not out to convert anyone and no one can erase their experiences by not believing them; validation simply isn’t needed in these cases.