What Are Your Thoughts on Extra-Sensory Perception?

Molecular Thoughts

Some materialists consider the very mention of extra-sensory perception (ESP) to be evidence that a person has a weak grasp on reality. Those who do believe in it are often offended by such an attitude but cannot find a way of inviting the materialist to speculate about the existence of something that is beyond the usual five senses. Today’s post puts forward the argument that a rationalist method of creating a worldview can accommodate the possibility of ESP without necessarily taking a position that affirms it — something I often try to do with many controversial subjects.

Sight and hearing (in the conventional sense) are little more than the ability to sense and interpret the frequency of vibrations outside of the body. To sit at the edge of a lake and gaze into the forest on the far shore causes one’s eyes to receive electromagnetic frequencies around the 430–790 THz range, which are interpreted by the brain into meaningful signals. In a similar fashion, to hear is to interpret sound waves as they cause matter to vibrate.

Because seeing with one’s eyes and hearing with one’s ears comes so naturally to people, it is sometimes hard for us to consider that there might be other ways to sense the world that are not immediately obvious.

When one considers Nature, it’s evident that such ways not only exist but are capitalized upon by many of her creatures. The hammerhead shark can detect prey by sensing the electromagnetic fields that all living things emit. Both snakes and vampire bats can detect prey by infrared, and several species of migratory birds find their way with the assistance of Earth’s magnetic field. Even the humble farm dog is able to hear frequencies of sound that are inaudible to humans.

In all of these cases, the animals who behaved in such manners were first thought by human observers to possess a kind of extra-sensory perception.

It’s possible that there is a range of decodable and interpretable frequencies that ever fewer people can tune in on as they move further away from the standard wavelengths. Women’s intuition, a detective’s hunch and a gambler’s gut instinct could all exist within this range, and could all be examples of how the electromagnetic fields produced by people might transmit information. Many people say that they felt a certain “vibe” about a person that was the first clue about that person’s future behavior, and, although body language likely plays a role in this, it might not entirely explain how such an insight was arrived at.

In the same way that a note played at 15Hz still exists even though a given person cannot hear it, communication might be possible at frequencies that are not consciously decoded by the receiver. If all communication frequencies exist on a spectrum in a similar fashion to sound, it is entirely possible that some of these frequencies exist and have an effect entirely undetected, or which manifests in the human consciousness not as direct perception but as intuition.

The conclusion here is that if it is possible for some frequencies to be detectable to some and not to others, then much of what is commonly dismissed as “paranormal activity” might really be standard communication as it nears the edges of available frequencies. This is not, by itself, evidence for phenomena such as telepathy but it does suggest that there is some value in keeping an open mind to potential avenues for future research.

  • Scott

    Solid analysis, Jason. I agree with the logic that we shouldn’t allow our personal experiences to constrain our ideas of what’s possible re: perception. My problem with most claims of ESP, though, is that they go significantly beyond mere perception, and would require whole new realms of physics. For example, I can accept that a premonition might result from integrating a number of subconscious perceptions that we’re not normally aware of. But when the claim goes further and says that someone has actual access to future knowledge, that would contradict many accepted laws of causality and entropy, and so my skepticism threshold is much, much higher.

    Great post, lots to think about.

    • Jason Carr

      Thanks Scott. Your comment hits the nail solidly on the head…this stuff is virtually impossible to quantify…including future premonitions for sure. This of course is the reason it’s typically deemed “pseudoscience”. Regarding physics, you’re assuming of course that we have a complete understanding of the universe which I know you realize we don’t. :) It’s an interesting subject though and I’ve enjoyed researching it. I’ll admit that I still have much to learn. Unfortunately, I’ve never had an ESP-type experience so I don’t have much to go on from a personal perspective. Hopefully others that have will chime in on here. Thanks again Scott!

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