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‘Psychic’ Phenomena: Trends in Time? July 24, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern , trackback

Beach has had a lot of fun today reading Andrew Lang from morning to the kids’ homecoming. What a pleasure! Lang (obit 1912) was a Victorian/Edwardian writer who had a clear fascination with psychic-phenomena among many, many other things. But Lang was tough-minded and always looked for other solutions before starting on about clairvoyance or telepathy. Even a sceptic like Beach feels purified after swimming through seven or eight hundred pages of Lang: and he managed three Langs before Sean the Sheep called a halt.

One of the many things that fascinated Beach in these pages was a ‘psychic’ phenomenon that Lang had experienced and that he claimed all his readers would know well. You are waiting for a cab and horses to pick you up and you think that you hear the cab so you go out into the street but it is not there. Expectation has played a trick on you. Lang describes one experience when he was with several friends and they all simultaneously thought, wrongly as it happened, that they had heard a cab and horses drawing up.

For obvious reasons very few modern readers will have had this experience. Beach wondered whether there is a parallel experience of waiting for a taxi or a friend’s car and being misled into opening the front door, but he doesn’t think so. There are just too many cars on the road to allow you to pick out one sound unless you live at the end of a sequestered drive in the home counties.

When Beach was growing up the psychic experience that we were all supposed to have constantly was to think of someone just before they phoned you: cue ‘I was just thinking of you!’

Is it my imagination or is this experience rather less celebrated today than thirty years ago? If Beach is correct this might be because we’ve moved on to other psychic experiences in the same way that we’ve left behind the hansom: ‘I was just thinking of you when the email arrived…’ Or is it because mobile phones have created almost constant contact where a phone-call is no longer quite as special. In his first years Beach used to think of phones as beautiful, miracle-carrying things: now they are objects of menace and he is secretly happy when he loses that black sheaf of horrors.

Are there time trends then in psychic phenomena as there are in ghosts and fairies? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com

Beach wants to finish by noting that he has never had a friend write an email or phone when he was thinking of them: or at least if this happened – and statistically it must have – it didn’t make any impression on him. He does though have one strange pseudo-psychic phenomenon that has occurred some twenty times in his life and that he can’t explain. He walks through the streets and sees a face that reminds him of someone. He then walks on another hundred feet and then actually meets that person. He has never met a person from one city in another city after this experience – which would be really impressive! – but he has often met someone in the ‘wrong’ part of a city. Beach cannot explain this. Perhaps he constantly compares faces in crowds to people he knows and then every so often there is the person a few metres off? Perhaps he subconsciously spots the other person in the distance and then ‘sees’ them in someone closer to him? Boh?

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30 July 2012: Wade has what is surely the best modern example: I think Street Light Interference (SLI) fits the bill of a recent “new” psychic phenomena. People who do it are called SLIders. I guess I’m one of the them. I started noticing this about twenty years ago to the point that it seemed too regular to be coincidence. Driving along the interstate at night, I would see a vapor light go out then after passing by, pop back on. There is probably a skeptical explanation, but it is eerie to have it happen in random locations with fair regularity.  Patricia has this reference:  Recent investigation by a scientist of the ‘psychic phenomenon’ you mentioned in today’s blogpost is being carried out by Rupert Sheldrake. Much if his work has involved animals, but apparently he’s moved on to humans and whether/how they sense an incoming call/email, and the sensation of being stared at. See especially his book Dogs That Know When Their Owners are Coming Home for a lively introduction to his theory of morphic resonance. AB writes in ‘Beach you ought to check out the work of Rupert Sheldrake a scientists who treats seriously anecdotal data and who’s had run-ins with the likes of Randy and French and Wiseman over his studies of Dogs Who Know When Their Owners’re On Their Way Home and People Who’re Aware When They’re Being Stared At.  He’s also big on People Knowing When Someone’s About to Call Them. As for psychic trends I’d give People Who’ve Been Contacted by the Dead Via the Phone and the PC as examples of that…haven’t heard of any mobile incidents so far though I’m sure it’s only a matter of time. As for Foreseeing the Face of Someone Before You Meet Them in the Wrong Part of Town it’s a joke between me and my brother every time he goes into town – even the wrong parts! – somehow he’ll bump into our sister.  The funny thing is she seems oblivious to it and merely explains she suddenly got this idea to head through to such and such a place when by chance she bumped into him and wondered what he was doing there?’ Invisible writes in ‘I’d suggest that hearing the cab before it appears and seeing a person you think you know before you meet them seem to be variants of the Scandinavian Vardøger phenomenon. Here’s the wikipedia definition  and one man’s stories:  I have personal experience of this as my husband is of Swedish descent and frequently “comes home” several times before he actually comes home. I have heard the front door open, golf clubs clank to the floor, and gone to the door, only to see–nothing–until he arrives about a half hour later. Or I hear the garage door go up and I hear his motorcycle pull into the garage (right by my office), but he is not there–until he actually shows up in about 15 minutes. Bizarre and sometimes unsettling, but I’ve finally gotten used to it..’ Thanks to Invisible, Wade, Patricia and AB