This post is based on scientific experiments that suggest we do have the potential to predict the future. This may sound crazy, but there are many things out there that sound crazy but have been proved to be true. For example, the double-slit experiment in quantum physics sounds crazy but it’s definitely true. I made a post a few days ago – How powerful is belief? – that looked at the scientific evidence that our minds can make us well (or sick) and protect us from things that would normally kill us. There’s also the scientific evidence that it is possible to fast for over a year and survive. I thought that would never be possible, but it is. And we’ve also seen scientific evidence that a blind man can “see” and avoid obstacles in his path.
Are we able to predict the future?
I find it hard to say something is impossible these days after being proved wrong so many times, so when I started to read about the possibilities of precognition, or predicting the future, in Dean Radin’s book Supernormal, I tried to keep an open mind. Dean reviews many scientific experiments in this book, but I’m going to quickly have a look at one of them here.
Awareness of future emotions
The essence of the experiment is that they measured skin conductance of people as they watched randomly selected images on a screen in front of them. The images shown are either calming scenes or violent scenes, and they are shown randomly. The idea is that when a subject sees a violent scene their skin conductance will rise due to the emotion created. The key result is shown in the following chart that I’ve taken from the published paper (I’ve added the red ellipse);
You can see more details of the experiment in the figure caption.
The red ellipse highlights the key result. When a person was about to see a violent image (which was randomly selected at the instant of displaying it) there was a tendency for skin conductance to increase in the three seconds before they saw it! The experiment was scientifically controlled and it seems to suggest that the people could somehow sense that a violent image was coming, even though the computer hadn’t yet chosen which image to show next. The effect is weak but, scientifically, these results only have 1 chance in 2500 of being created through luck.
Should we believe this?
It’s impossible to say whether this experiment definitely proves the existence of precognition or presentiment, but it fairly strongly suggests that something interesting is going on. Dean Radin looks at many more experiments in his book, some convincing and others not. However, it’s also easy to find reviews, like this one, of this experiment that suggest that the results are meaningless. Debate on such topics will not stop anytime soon.
It’s easy for us to discard such results quickly and easily because of what we’ve been taught and led to believe. However, don’t forget the double-slit experiment in quantum physics. Can anyone explain that? Matter changes how it acts depending on whether or not a human is observing it, and nobody says that’s not true.
Then there’s one of my favorite quotes from Albert Einstein;
Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.
where this great scientist implies that physicists know that the past, present and future might not be as clear as we’ve been led to believe.
I like to keep an open mind on these issues. Maybe there is more to learn about ourselves in this direction.