When I was a teenager, I attended a psychic demonstration that was set up for a relatively small group of us at our local community center. During show, the psychic placed the answers to some questions in an envelope before asking audience members the questions.
He called on me and asked me to tell him my favorite make of car. I knew at the time what car l wanted–a racy Pontiac Trans Am. But as soon as he asked me the question, I perceived a pounding, flashing sign in my brain, showing me the word Pontiac. It occurred to me that this could be a psychic signal from him indicating that he might want me to say Pontiac, but the odd thing is that I already knew it was what l wanted to say anyway.
So, I imagined for a second that I could be a wise guy and say some other car make that would screw up his demonstration. Instead, however, I went along with the flashing Pontiac. I knew that I had a choice, but chose to go with what I wanted to say from the beginning. All the other teenage kids laughed as if they thought it was a stupid choice of car model. So, I explained that I was thinking of the Trans Am, which they accepted as reasonable. When the psychic opened the envelope, we discovered that all the answers he had written down were correct, including the car make, a Pontiac.
Obviously, I was looking for some kind of trick, a slight of hand that might have allowed him to pull one over on us. Aha, you are saying, he just looked around the room for the kid with greased back hair and a leatherjacket, or maybe a popular jock. Maybe he was a former used car salesman who knew what kind of kid had the personality for a muscle car, but not enough money for a more for upscale sports car like a Corvette, Porche or Ferrari.
The problem is, I was just a shy, geeky kid with 70’s clothes that were too tight to look even remotely cool. And we were in a reasonably wealthy community. If they made a Prius back then, maybe that would have made a better guess. But I just can’t see how l would have looked like a Trans Am buyer.
Nevertheless, I did want the Trans Am, so he somehow may have been an unbelievably good profiler after all. He could have simply profiled the audience, chosen the best possible subjects, and guessed. But I doubt they were odds good enough for him to get consistently good enough results to make a living out of the gigs, never mind 100% accuracy.
I could be wrong, but it just didn’t seem possible that we had been so well duped. I left pondering the possibilities of what else could have happened. Had I imagined the feel of the thumping, flashing word in my brain? It felt pretty weird to me, like nothing l had felt before. But maybe it was merely the surprise and embarrassment that a shy teenager might feel after being selected to answer a question in front of an audience, which could have triggered a chemical response in my brain–a fight or flight response.
If he didn’t use profiling or sleight of hand tricks, did he try and influence my answer through some kind of psychic connection or, even more spooky, did he somehow know in advance what I would say?
In the first case, he would have to have been extremely confident in his to ability influence answers by placing suggestions directly into people’s thoughts. Even hypnotists know that you can’t make someone do something they don’t want to do. However, if he also profiled us wisely, he would have a reasonable chance to somehow suggest an acceptable answer. Maybe he was also a ventriloquist whispering the proposed answer in my ear?
In the second case, he either would have had to predict the future or probe into my thoughts to sense what my answer would most likely be. Being able to accurately predict the future, even just a matter of minutes in advance, would be a huge deal. It would be so big that I would expect psychics with real precognition to be accomplished day traders or gamblers rather than stage performers who get paid a minimal amount to put on a show for teenagers.
There is no way I can claim that this psychic was able to predict the future, but I will say that if it is possible, we are likely to find the best evidence of precognition by looking for people who are able to use it consistently to their personal advantage, such as day traders or gamblers on games of chance, such as craps, roulette or slots. They would have to have a consistent track record of results. Obviously, not every lucky winner should be considered a psychic, but it is a starting point for scientific inquiry.
So, my final hypothesis is that he used Telepathy to probe our thoughts in advance by telling the audience what the questions would be and sensing what answers some us of were predisposed to give. Then, he wrote those answers down and put them in the envelope. Finally, he reinforced our predispositions with psychic suggestions. If it is possible to make a psychic connection with another human, this technique would provide the most consistent way to get good results. It would also be useless if you tried to apply it to day trading or to gambling when games are based only on chance, since it relies on a one to one communications path. Poker is another story. That would be the game for telepathic psychics to play unless good poker players are able to obscure not only the physical clues to their thoughts, but the thoughts themselves.
So, what does the scientific evidence have to say about Telepathy, or psychic communication, between two humans? Have any particles, waves, or other forms of communication been observed? No. At least as far as scientifically controlled studies go, the best we can do is to say that some people have a higher than average ability, in some tests, to perceive what another person is thinking.
That takes me to quantum entanglement. There is clear scientific evidence that two particles are able to communicate with each other in some unknown way and they can do so over distances that may require speeds faster than the speed of light. We call such particles entangled since a change of state in one particle seems to cause a change in state in the other. We don’t know how this happens, and even brilliant scientists like Einstein, who mocked it by calling it “spooky action at a distance,” could not believe it was possible. Yet the measurements are clear and reproducible. They are even being used today to create new and theoretically unbreakable quantum computing and encryption devices.
What hypotheses may explain this behavior? Energy or particles may communicate at a speed faster than light, but we haven’t detected the mechanism yet. Or, energy or particles do not communicate at a speed faster than light, but it seems as if they do. In the first case, we have a problem with Einstein’s theory of relativity, which prohibits anything from travelling faster than light. I’m not going to touch that one with a ten-foot pole. Trekkies are just dying to find a way to actually travel at “warp speed,” but so far nobody had come up with a theory to predict it yet.
In the second case, there must be an alternate path between the particles that is actually shorter than our classical three dimensional space would suggest, thus allowing the communication to take place at a speed slower than or equal to the speed of light. We just haven’t discovered this method of warping through space-time through an alternate path or dimension. If there were any wormholes loitering around the laboratories on the days they conducted these experiments, nobody has yet observed them.
What do psychic powers have to do with physics? We don’t know yet. We can only observe, hypothesize, and try to figure out what is going on inside our brains. They might be the next frontier for exploring and understanding the universe.