Monday, May 5, 2014

Does esp exist?

Does esp exist? That is short for extra sensory perception. This concept has long been popularized in movies, tv, novels and even from time to time researched by governments and universities. This is to ascertain if there is any factual basis for believing that human beings have a sense other than the known five senses. This sixth sense would concern a sense which was hidden such as being able to read another person's mind or to see the future.

Attempts to bring this sixth sense to the surface, harness it, test it and ultimately to control it have proved fruitless. We watched George Clooney's hilarious movie Men Who Stare at Goats to see intelligence agents try to tap into their sixth senses. This was based on the true situation when intelligence agencies thought controlling a sixth sense was feasible back in the 1960s.

I think we likely do have such a sixth sense but I think it is ill understood. For one, such a sense could be either extremely wonderful for us or extremely awful. The closest to wonderful is when we are in some life threatening situation and a sixth sense helps pull us out of it. The awful would be if we tried to use such a sixth sense in daily, regular life. We would quickly discover that living with one another as human beings is only possible in the absence of being able to read one another's minds or to see the future or in the case of the movie version, talk to dead people. If a sixth sense exists, it is a deeply hidden part of ourselves, not subject to our conscious control, which emerges of its own volition. It departs as quickly as it arrived and may only reappear sporadically, if at all. The most unlikely place it is going to stage an appearance is in a government run esp laboratory or while staring at some goat.

I also think this is allied to our instinctual abilities which are also more likely to be suppressed in modern life in favor of logic and reason. So if we get a feeling that we are in trouble or that danger looms, if there is no evidence of such, we tend to discount it.

Ok, here I must state that this piece is not a satire. I know after my Kennedy pageant entry, with my proposal to play Zapruder, you will immediately suspect my intent herein but the below is not bogus. It really did happen.

I had an esp experience in 1987.  I was driving home on I-90 in New York State. The winds were high, the roads crowded, police and trucks everywhere. Directly in front of me was a car which had all sorts of heavy things tied to its top.  I didn't like the looks of it at all so I was going to try and pass it. Just as I was about to press down on the accelerator, I could sense that I would not make it if I did that. I could see inside my head the car ahead spinning out of control in the wind and crashing into me. I lifted my foot off of the accelerator and let my car lose speed steadily over the next mile. There were trucks bearing down on me but I just kept decelerating. Suddenly the wind forced the laden car ahead of me into a spin and it lurched off the road just missing me and crashed into the field to the side. My mind just froze with the narrowness of my escape and I spent the next few hours just glued mindlessly to the road, heading west back home. I trusted the truckers and the police, all of whom had radios and had been behind me, were equipped to deal with the accident scene.

When I got cancer in 2006, I knew something was seriously wrong with me. I kept going back to my internist and being told it was the lingering effects of a cold. Jim thought I was imagining things. But no, I knew it was something deadly serious. I could even sense where it was, somewhere in the center of my body.  There was no pain but I could sense and feel it was there. My internist ended up doing some detailed blood tests on me after I started using words like malpractice after my third visit had still produced nothing (we were still testing for idiotic things like strep throat). The blood results came in and I got the phone call to head over to the emergency room. The colon cancer tumor was draining me of blood as it turned out so my blood numbers showed such severe anemia that I needed a transfusion. My colon cancer diagnosis followed shortly.  I was not surprised. I knew I had something deadly just not what. This time I got a 2A colon cancer diagnosis which was early enough to save my life. Again.

I've had lesser events happen as well. One day I was loading the dishwasher in my house and I got the clear sense that the UPS man was looking for me to deliver a package. I walked out to my road, into the middle of it, and looked down it. Within a minute I saw his truck coming down my road.  It was a different guy from usual and he stopped the truck in front of me.  I gave him my name and asked him if he had a package for me. He was shocked and told me he'd been lost. "How did you know I was coming?" he asked. "I just did," I told him. I went back into my house with the package.

There have been other instances, often just minor things, like knowing what card to discard in gin rummy even if it makes no sense to do so. But that kind of thing is very erratic. It might happen once and not happen again for months. So I could never use it to my benefit in gambling. Sometimes I'll also just wake up knowing something that I did not know before I went to sleep and it can be a complete understanding of something which has totally eluded me before. All of these events happen with no regularity, no control, no conscious effort and no predictability. In all of our media entertainments, this version of esp would be of no use in espionage, empire building or wooing potential romantic interests.  It likely would remain dormant for all of that. 

There is nothing I can cash in on as far as using this ability. There is no way to use it on anyone else's behalf. I can't read anyone else's mind in the slightest. I certainly don't see dead people. It doesn't tell me anything about the stock market. It is completely useless for making money in any way. In fact, most of the time, I really don't believe in it myself except for these above events, which have taken place. 

It seems to appear most vividly when none of my usual senses will come to my aid and I find myself in a somewhat dark place. If I follow the directives of this instinctual seeing, it tends to show me the way out.

I think potentially we must all have some of this ability but we vary considerably on how much we have, how often it occurs and how dormant it is. Even if we wanted it to appear frequently, it would not because it is dangerous to us on any sort of regular basis. And, the one thing I do know is that is deeply tied into my survival drive so it will stay deeply hidden as to anything which might injure. So most of the ways we see it used on movies and tv would hurt us long range and that is why it does not appear that way.

So if I felt in danger say on a walk in the park but there was no evidence of such around me, would I leave? Absolutely. I listen to my instinctive self. If I feel danger, I now assume there is danger because that sense has proven itself to me in the past. I have felt that prickling of danger along all my fine hair filaments, along my spine, at the nape of my neck and elsewhere. I don't question it. I act on it and leave.

So do I believe in esp?  Yes but as I've just described it and not how it is popularly imagined. I can't do anything with it but help myself from time to time but that, as it turns out, is quite enough. 

If anyone else has had a similar experience, please leave it in the comment section below.

Coda: I was in my colonoscopy process while writing this. The curious thing is that Jim had forgotten to give me my card reminder for this. However, something kept nagging me that it was time for one so we scheduled it. Plus I kept getting flashes of something little inside there and, right before I went in, the word polyp did flash across my brain. And, son of a gun, if that's not what turned up, one small polyp that could have turned cancerous. The esp sense really does seem strongest around key survival issues with occasional flashes, test runs perhaps, for the more mundane issues of life.

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