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reader comments: psi

Mar 8 2015 (from Raven to Bob Carroll)
I would like you to look at these experiences and tell me if I am misguided in my conclusion that these were examples of ESP.

reply: All I can do is try to offer a non-paranormal explanation for whatever experiences you describe.

I have spent a lifetime looking at my many experiences and asking this question. I have always been very rigorous with myself to prevent falling into the error of “magical thinking” to trying to convince myself that I am clairvoyant. Definitely, many of them could fall under the heading of extreme coincidence. But I am recounting here two experiences which don’t fall under this heading.

First, when I was just getting interested in this whole topic, I attended a past life regression workshop. (I didn’t see any evidence that this process as accurate, but it does put one into a very relaxed state of mind) I was experiencing a very vivid and engrossing regression, living a life as an Indian. Suddenly, as if someone had suddenly put a different tape on, I began to see an image of a woman dressed in a bright pink dress, performing on a burlesque stage, in an 1800’s style. This had no connection to anything I have ever seen, and wasn’t part of anybody else's previously described regression. It really felt out of place. After we had finished, each person gave an account of their regression. The woman sitting next to me recounted that her previous life was of a dance hall dancer, and described having danced on a stage in a pink dress. I can’t think of any explanation for what happened except an ESP experience.  What I saw was exactly what she described.

I know this second example is going to sound weird, but this happened just as I say. I had gone to the Washington DC zoo with my family. When we were approaching the ape house, there was a sign saying that there was research going on with the orangutans, around them learning language. There was no other information on the sign, and this was the first time I had heard about this research. We came in a side door that brought us to the side of their cage. There was an orangutan at the side, and I had an inspiration to see if I got any vibrations from him. I had never tried this before with an animal. When I closed my eyes, I saw a clear image of a red bull’s eye. I just figured this wasn’t working because it was so strange. However, when I came around to the front, I saw a line of symbols at the top of the cage. There was a red bull’s eye beside a picture of a coffee cup.   Then I noticed at the front of the cage there was a film crew. The director was talking to someone, and had a coffee cup in his hand, and he was moving his hand up and down as he talked, to emphasize his points. When I looked at the orangutan, he was visibly concentrating on the director’s coffee cup.   I was very surprised at this double confirmation of ESP, and that animals could broadcast.

I have had a lifetime of picking up a wide variety of information. Many of these experiences appear very compelling, but I could see that they could be judged as coincidence.  I have also had a number of similar experiences such as these, which I couldn’t account for. Please let me know your opinion.

You may use my name if you print this.

Raven Weinberg

(Not so relevant to the events described here, but just to let you know.  I stopped working with psychic phenomena about 15 years ago.  I had a really bad experience in doing a reading.  I decided to stop, until I could understand what had happened.  I have never started again.)

reply: Regarding you and the person next to you both thinking of a dancer in a pink dress: could be a "startling coincidence" or it could be that both of you were exposed to the same cue prior to being hypnotized or during hypnosis without your being consciously aware of the cue.

Regarding the red bull's eye and the coffee cup: Perhaps shortly before you tried to get vibrations (whatever that means) from the orangutan, you were exposed to a bull's eye image unsconsciously. I have no idea how you know what an orangutan is concentrating on. You may be overinterpreting the orangutan's disinterest in any of the testing going on.

Both experiences have obviously made a deep impact on you. Sorry I don't find them that compelling.

For the record: if you and the other person who conjured up the image of the dancer in the red dress were both getting your information from some external source via paranormal means, your experience would be considered clairvoyance or remote viewing. If you were getting your image from the other person's mind, then it would be called telepathy. If you were both getting the image from a third person's mind who was participating in a ganzfeld experiment then we would classify this as a case of both telepathy and psychic drift. If you were both getting your information from someone who existed in the past, then we would call your experience retrocognition. If you were getting your images from the future, the it would be called precognition. It's possible you both were perceiving the akashic record. It is also possible than some supernatural being directly caused your experiences of the image of the lady in the pink dress, a view some call occasionalism. You may have both entered into another dimension of reality that is generally not open to us. Or, as I said, it may be a coincidence or you may have both been subjected to the same cue unconsciously.


11 Jan 2001
Thank you for a very interesting and informative site. Now, I have always thought of myself as a skeptic, but just this week, I had an ESP-related incident that I simply cannot explain away. I wonder if you could help me.

My brother just recently moved temporarily to Australia from Finland. I got an e-mail from him a couple of days ago, and in it he said that his landlady's cat has been coming into his new home to try to make new friends. As my wife loves cats and my brother has a digital camera, I asked him to take a couple of pictures of the cat for her.

Note that he never told me what the cat looked like. However, immediately upon reading his message, I got a mental image of a furry white cat, perhaps a Persian, with piercing blue eyes and the kind of a ‘wide' face that many long-haired cats seem to have. Yesterday when I got home from work, I took a little nap, and this imaginary cat even invaded my dreams.

This morning, I got those cat pictures from my brother. It turns out that the cat is grayish brown, very short-haired and delicately built with a slim, angular face (a bit like a Siamese), and yellow eyes.

Now, my question is this: how do you account for the fact that even though many, if not most, cats are multi-colored, I knew straight away that this particular cat was all one color?

Sincerely yours,
Timo H.
Turku, Finland

reply: excellent! A true psychic always finds the silver lining in the dark cloud.

17 Apr 2000 
How refreshing to find a critical, objective review of what many take for truth based on limited or no scientific evidence.

I have had "experiences" since I was a youth. Initially I felt my inability to explain them was limited by my intelligence and inability to reason. It created quite an internal conflict which took me much of my youth to reconcile and took its toll on my religious belief system. I honestly do not categorize them as "paranormal". Rather, I think, they might be a result of unobserved or discovered phenomenon. I think that your site and critical review is one brick on the path of discovery of these issues. However, my present opinion is that the scientific method has time as a common denominator in many tests or analysis, and much of this "data" comes from dimensions that might be timeless or time warped, rendering observation and analysis "on this side" biased. (Yeah, I know this is slipping into the hocus-pocus area). I don't hold the academic credentials of yourself and others who have sent you comments. However, I am degreed with postgraduate work and three semesters of statistics and have honestly made a good faith effort to understand and explain much of what I have experienced, some of which follows:

1) When I was in high school, living at home, I awakened one morning and proceeded to tell the entire family to be careful that day. Something was going to happen resulting in profound emotional impact on all of us. I feared for an auto accident, or something similar. That day my brother came home from school for lunch unexpectedly, and caught a close friend and neighbor burgling our home. We were all, nevertheless, very upset. I had never made such a statement before nor after. Dumb luck? Possibly.

2) One morning when I was thirty I had a premonition of my father's imminent passing. I asked my wife if I should tell my mother. We decided not to. The next week I had a second premonition; the message was "HELLO---ARE YOU LISTENING?". I overrode my objective, logical hesitation and called my mother. I tried to break it to her easily, and asked her to check all of dad's papers, insurance, etc. The next week, while mowing the lawn, my father died from a sudden massive heart attack, with no previous symptoms. I had never previously told my mother that I felt that my father's death was imminent. Dumb luck? Possibly.

3) One day while windsurfing with a crowd of about fifty at a popular beach I noticed one sailor in particular. The closest I can describe what I saw was that he seemed one tenth of a second "out of sync" with reality. I really did not understand what I was seeing at the time, so I focused on the sailor and tried to note as many details as possible. It was an unusual phenomenon (no, I have never done drugs but do an inexpensive Shiraz or Merlot on occasion). The next week I heard that a sailor had died that day at that beach. While at a windsurfing shop I heard the description which seemed to fit the man I saw. Turned out that I was apparently the last one to see him alive. There was a wrongful death suit, and I ended up being deposed by counsel on both sides. I described his size, physique, board size, make and color, sail size, make and color---and it was magenta--not red, not purple. The detailed description I gave left them stunned and thinking I had been coached. When they asked me how I could remember those details about one person in a crowd of fifty or so I just shrugged. I have since had a similar experience with others. Once I noticed a work colleague in a similar manner. One month later he unexpectedly suffered detached retinas, rendering him blind. I have since correlated that it is not symbolic of death necessarily, but of a pending major life changing event. This has happened to me six times. Dumb luck? Possibly.

4) My wife is blonde haired, blue eyed. I am black/brown haired, brown eyed. We have two sons, each blonde haired, blued eyed. Each time, before my wife conceived, I had "premonitions" of the sex and color of each which were accurate. I have done the math (I come up with 1 out of 64) and that is damn good guessing. This "experience" is pretty lame but I threw it in anyway.

5) Dreams: I have had many come true. One that immediately comes to mind was during the "Haitian boat lift" migration to the US several years ago. I saw dozens of people, dripping wet. They were pale and I understood that they had drowned. One man in front, dressed in a suit and carrying a briefcase, was strikingly visible. When I told my wife the next morning she immediately responded with "could it be a boat with Haitian refugees capsizes and they drown?". No, I told her---everyone I saw in the dream was white, and they were very cold. A week or so later a ferry in the Baltic had the front door fail, and it sank with a great loss of life. When I heard of this tragic accident I immediately knew that "was it". Dumb luck? Possibly. Incidentally, the dreams I have had of the precognitive type seem to fit a pattern where I am as if in a movie theater, looking at the screen. I am not involved in the action, unlike most other dreams where I am a character and everything seems very emotional. This seems to be an indication that the dream is precognitive in nature, and those are the ones I keep track of.

Here is one of my favorites:

I have had many dreams where I find myself in a classroom listening to a lecture, frequently involving advanced or future technology. Several times companies were mentioned by name. I then asked where the company is located, and a telephone number. I am given a phone number, which I remember and immediately write down upon awakening. The next morning I call the number----and they are always "out of service"! I do a websearch and none of the companies ever exist! Now, if just one time someone would answer the phone, or if I could find the company and they would acknowledge that my dream was wrong----I would feel better. I would then know that I was subconsciously referring to data from technical journals, telephone books, websites or whatever. But what is the probability that my subconscious constantly comes up with wrong telephone numbers and bogus company names 100% of the time? It's damn frustrating explaining this one as I don't think I have the mental capacity to delete all the knowns and generate only unknowns.

I can go on with others but I will spare you. I keep a log of these "experiences" and the only thing that is constant is how each is different in it's presentation to my consciousness. There are some experiences that I could categorize as self-fulfilling prophecies as I had the ability to affect the outcome (I know---this opens another entire series of questions like how do you determine how you affect the perceived outcome). The one thing that I have noticed is that by the time an "experience" breaches an internally established qualifying marker (such as my verbalizing it) the probability of an unusual event fitting the parameters becomes very high, to the extent that I can't explain it with my limited engineering and statistical knowledge. I would love to be able to; I think there are factors and issues that would be useful to investigate. If you have the time and inclination I would enjoy hearing your comments.

Name withheld by request (Mr. X)

reply: I wrote to Mr. X some six months after his e-mail and asked him if he'd had any similar experiences since he'd contacted me. Here is his reply, followed by two further replies to my inquiry:

1 Dec 2000 Re: "Recent experiences": None that I can remember that are worthy of mentioning here.

I remember sending you email but frankly I have forgotten the specifics and it has apparently fallen off my offline mail list. If you will be kind enough to send me a copy to refresh my memory I would appreciate it. Sorry for the inconvenience.

On the topic, I watched the Sci-Fi channel the other night and there was some guy named John Edwards, I believe, who claims to be in touch with the dead. He has a live studio audience and draws specific, relevant information from each; for example: "I feel that your dad died of meningitis"----and he is correct. However, even if what he is doing is true this simply means he is reading minds through some means that remains to be discovered----it does not necessarily mean he is communicating with the dead. Most people, sufficiently impressed with performance that is difficult to refute, simply accept everything given afterward as factual. My first standard of "proof" would be if these "mediums" can communicate information from the dead to the living that the living would have no way of knowing (like where Aunt Minnie's lost diamond ring can be found); then I would start to be impressed.

Mr. X


1 Dec 2000 

.... one morning as I was awakening I had an unusual experience. In short, I awakened---fully conscious and alert---except that I could not hear. I could see daylight through my eyelids, I was completely aware of my body and surroundings, but heard nothing but silence. Intrigued by the experience I basked in it awhile, and then mentally thought "I want to hear now" and pop! my hearing instantly came to me. This happened several mornings in a row. I found I could literally hold myself in this suspended state for quite some time, until I mentally issued the internal command to "hear". Perhaps you yourself have experienced this state, if only briefly, upon your awakening in the morning.

This lead me to the realization---a basic one---that we, as humans, internalize thoughts. You think of everything you say as you say it. There appears to be a neural "gate"---the existence which I experienced in some detail---through which all thoughts pass. If you think thoughts but do not say them the "gate" stays closed and the thoughts remain internalized, but you still "hear" them in your mind. If you wish to speak them the "gate" opens and the speech center communicates with the center of the mind controlling the vocal muscles. This same or similar "gate", or switch, opens and closes to allow physical sound to reach your speech recognition centers.

The issue is that if our consciousness is predicated upon internalized thoughts, then those thoughts probably generate an electrical signature somewhere in the brain that mimics the relevant acoustic signature of the spoken word, either upon thought generation or acoustic reception. If you could detect and amplify those neural impulses at that thought center, you could input the data into speech recognition software and "read" someone's thoughts. Alternately, if you have sufficient computational ability you could decrypt language by establishing the relevancy and correlating the thoughts and actions of the subject. I am sure that you are probably sufficiently aware of the existence of declassified speech recognition software to know that this ability most probably already exists.

Frankly, I am not so much mystified by "paranormal" events which are upon our technical horizon, but for experiences as I have had since youth whereby I have been given "answers" in a similar manner to profound questions that I have had; almost as though I, the student, is being given a direct lesson by example. Who is the teacher? Who knows---my "sub" conscious, "God" (although I do not believe in a supreme being), whatever. All I know is that "it" happens. On the topic, I would like to share a "thought" given to me during contemplation of this topic:

There is no God He is only found where you do not look There is no salvation Enlightenment is a temporary state of ignorance And grace is found only in the fall Of casting yourself into the universe

There, now you know as much about me as my wife. Best wishes on your journey.

Mr. X


8 Dec 2000 
Since I was a child I remember having "extraordinary" experiences, before I had a chance to develop my intellect. Consequently in retrospect I have had somewhat of an "inverted" life. Rather than holding such matters up to the scrutiny of scientific fact finding and reasoning, I feel that I have always had my knowledge and reasoning challenged to provide meaning to what I have experienced. To add frustration my "experiences" have all been quite varied and spontaneous, adding to the difficulty of personal evaluation and impossibility of controlled testing....

Since I was young I have been able to "see" things in my mind that frequently proved true. The closest explanation I have been able to find is in the research dealing with remote viewing. The issues that are consistent with my experiences is that it always happens with an "idle" mind or distracted consciousness. For example, once I was driving on the highway and a tank truck was in the lane next to me. In an instant in my mind saw the truck's tire blow out. I accelerated ahead of the truck just in time to see it actually happen in my rear view mirror and watch him swerve into the lane that I had been in. I have been through all the rational explanations myself, believe me. In any event, among the supposedly scientific research dealing with remote viewing are the early experiences where errors were determined to be due to failure to fix time as a dimension of the target. I have wondered if some of these phenomenon are related to, for lack of more scientific term, "bleed through" of time as a variable (rather than fixed) under perception by the subject.

In any event it is in the state of mind that the remote viewers have described that I have significant "experiences". Until a few years ago when remote viewing became "declassified" I did not know that it had a name and was apparently studied. And so in this state of mind I sought answers to the issue of why the U.S. government would have interest in research in the area mentioned above. A day or so later, while sleeping, I was awakened in the middle of the night by a loud noise in my mind. The closest I can describe it is as if someone were to drive a ten penny nail into each of your ears and wire them each to the electrical outlet. I was instantly awakened from deep sleep, wide eyed, in bed----but completely paralyzed. My wife was next to me and although I wanted to shout to her for help I couldn't. I had no idea what was happening. I am sure you can come up with a myriad of explanations, but I couldn't. It wasn't snoring. It wasn't a dream. It was "more real than reality". I "went to the mountain top" and came up with an answer: A "psychic attack" in response to my interest (and "mental probing") in the above area of classified research. This "assault" occurred again.

Up until that time I placed "psychic attack" in the same category with witchcraft, voodoo, demonic possession, and the like. I did not believe in it. But again I was forced to examine my beliefs which contrasted with my experience. I "went to the mountaintop" seeking an explanation and a defense; my fear had developed to the point that I was literally afraid of falling asleep, and I was become sleep deprived. And for the first time ever, I prayed to a God that I did not believe in.

A few days later I received a call from my brother who was living in xxxxx at the time. He had no knowledge of the depth of my activities or my personal experience. In a near panic, he tried to explain to me something that had happened to him the night before----and proceeded to explain that the exact same experience had happened to him also.

That is when I started searching the internet and found detailed explanations of the protocol used in "remote viewing". I contacted four schools, all directed by former military intelligence officers. I asked about pricing, agenda, etc. I received quick responses and in some cases follow up communications inquiring when I would like to attend. After receiving all the information, I sent emails stating that I would also be interested in learning about countermeasures. From that point on, I never received another communication from any of them, despite my subsequent inquiries. And THAT is what I find most interesting in all of the above.

I would sincerely enjoy a more simple and satisfying life experience based on logic and established laws of physics. After this frightening experience, I prayed for one. This has evaded me for reasons I do not understand. Now you know MORE than my wife.

Mr. X


8 Dec 2000
I visited your site and read your comments regarding remote viewing. IMHO [in my humble opinion], this appears to be an area where accredited people and institutions appear to be conducting valid research with demonstrable results.

Mr. X


Before commenting on Mr. X's experiences and opinions, I want to reiterate that I do not claim to be able to explain everything, nor do I think that everything can be explained.

First, I don't see any reason to think that any of his experiences involve contact with some other "dimension" that is "timeless" or "time warped." This may be because these words have no cognitive meaning to me. They seem to have an emotive meaning equivalent to "very strange."

Second, having vague feelings that something bad is going to happen followed by something bad happening is not "dumb luck" but highly probable, as a statistician like Mr. X  should know. One reason scientists follow rigorous methods of testing claims is because many claims are so vague or ambiguous that the kinds of things that could count as confirmation of those claims becomes almost limitless.

Third, anxieties about one's loved ones--parents, children, spouses--are common. Some people are anxious to a fault. They are forever contemplating what could go wrong, what harm could befall someone. Such people are likely to have one or more of their fears realized. Again, the vagueness of the anxiety allows for numerous kinds of things to count as confirmation.

Fourth, the two experiences with "out of sync" perception of someone that you felt compelled to scrutinize for details, might as well be explained as "you put a hex on them." After all, they were alive or seeing before you started looking at them funny; then their trouble began. Again, I don't think it was "dumb luck." You sensed something wrong and focused in on details most people would ignore. I would be willing to bet that you are a very observant person, and frequently see and remember details that others don't pay attention to. You may also be so observant that you implicitly recognize when something is "not right."

Fifth, obviously the fact that your wife is a blue-eyed blonde is something very significant to you. (That couldn't have anything to do with our culture's obsession with blue-eyed blondes, could it?) Math is not my strong suit, but I know enough about genetics to know that brown-eyed people can have blue-eyed kids. What you "foresaw" may well have been what you desired. This one is dumb luck, I think.

Sixth, you are right to divide dreams into first-person and observer types. They are quite different, but I've always found the first-person type to be the more memorable. I do not subscribe to the theory that dreams issue from another "dimension." During REM sleep mostly, though not exclusively, the brain fires random signals and the same brain tries to "connect the dots", i.e., give some sense or meaning to the signals. Sometimes the results are exact replicas of some of the day's events and sometimes they are bizarre narratives. Those who give meaning to dreams either speculate wildly or they connect them to an event (the brain at work again trying to connect the dots, make sense of things). If the connected event is one which happens after the dream, then it might be taken to be clairvoyant. Again, a seemingly limitless number of possible confirmations exist when the predicted event is vague and not identified until after it has happened.

I think that if there is a connection between intelligence and belief in psychic powers it might be that people like you have brains that are in overdrive when it comes to trying to "connect the dots." For example, you interpret dreaming phone numbers that turn out to be bogus as something which is highly significant. You write:

Now, if just one time someone would answer the phone, or if I could find the company and they would acknowledge that my dream was wrong----I would feel better. I would then know that I was subconsciously referring to data from technical journals, telephone books, websites or whatever. But what is the probability that my subconscious constantly comes up with wrong telephone numbers and bogus company names 100% of the time?

Why wouldn't it? Whatever happens, bad number or good number, you will try to make sense out of it and fit it to some hypothesis, apparently one with psychic dimensions. I, on the other hand, would take such numbers to be meaningless in themselves. They could originate from a TV show, they could be numbers that I read or heard in a context that had nothing to do with telephone numbers, they could be random, who knows. I don't remember phone numbers well when I'm awake, why would I think one that comes to me in a dream would be "real"?

Seventh, I have written elsewhere about John Edward. I don't think he reads anybody's mind nor do I think he hears the dead.

Eighth, regarding  neural networks for thoughts and for speech, you write:

If you could detect and amplify those neural impulses at that thought center, you could input the data into speech recognition software and "read" someone's thoughts. Alternately, if you have sufficient computational ability you could decrypt language by establishing the relevancy and correlating the thoughts and actions of the subject. I am sure that you are probably sufficiently aware of the existence of declassified speech recognition software to know that this ability most probably already exists.

This ability to decipher neural patterns in order to control people's thoughts and actions is thus far just a pipe dream of military minds. (See my entry on mind control.) You are trying to come up with an explanation for a phenomenon that I do not believe exists. This is common among parapsychologists: they don't explain phenomena like scientists do; they search for something to explain and offer speculative theories to explain what they haven't even established exists.

Ninth, I have already examined remote viewing and published my opinion of it. This, too, is another military pipe dream.

Finally, what you are calling a "psychic attack", I would call a hypnopompic state and sleep paralysis. I have never experienced these states, but they occur frequently enough to have names. Some researchers have linked them with out-of-body experiences and alien abduction experiences. You might want to read Susan Blackmore's articles on psychic experiences and sleep paralysis. The fact that your brother has similar experiences makes me wonder whether there isn't a genetic basis for them. However, as eerie as the experience might be I don't think there is any need to call in ghostbusters at this time. 

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