In our ongoing discussion of science and psychic abilities, we will examine the concept of precognition. In the metaphysical realm, precognition is often included under the heading of clairvoyance. While both are forms of extra sensory perception, precognition is more specialized, focusing on the sensing or prediction of future events. As with other psychic abilities, precognition also comes under the watchful eye of skeptics. Yet science has shown some promising evidence of precognition.

What Is Precognition?

Precognition is a form of extra sensory perception or ESP. Often used interchangeably with clairvoyance, precognition specifically refers to the ability to perceive future events. It comes under the umbrella of clairvoyance, which means, “clear vision” or “clear seeing.”
Clairvoyance is not limited to future events and can pick up things in the past and/or present. The two however are closely related and neither gains information from the traditional five senses.

Often used interchangeably with clairvoyance, precognition specifically refers to the ability to perceive future events.

Many times you hear about precognition or precognitive experiences in relation to large-scale global events. Numerous psychics and even ordinary people often pick up signals of major occurrences like tsunamis, earthquakes and other severe weather conditions before they occur. It has even been said that many felt some sort of premonition before the events of September 11, 2001. You may even have noticed precognition yourself in terms of dreams or gut feelings.

Early Scientific Studies and Evidence

There has been plenty of anecdotal evidence of precognition since early times. Who could forget the famous warning to Julius Caesar about the Ides of March? And throughout history there have been a number of precognitive dreams and gut instincts. It was said that Abraham Lincoln foretold his own death shortly before his assassination. And many would-be passengers on the ill-fated Titanic cancelled their trips due to dreams and premonitions.

In addition to anecdotal evidence, history also shows much scientific study in the area of precognition. The British Society for Psychical Research investigated reports from Herbert Saltmarsh in the late 1930’s that critically studied 349 cases of precognition. It was found that over half were proven to be true and accurate based on record and data verification. Sadly, this work was not taken seriously as it did not follow strict scientific method and repeatability.

Another famous study conducted in the 1930’s by J.B. Rhine from Duke University found that test subjects were able to guess the order of a deck of cards before they were shuffled to a fairly significant degree. Although many of these early experiments were disputed, they did point to evidence of precognition.

Modern Scientific Studies and Evidence

By no means has modern science abandoned the study of precognition. Studies at Cornell University were published in a 2011 research paper by Daryl J.Bem, Professor Emeritus of Psychology entitled Feeling the Future: Experimental Evidence of Anomalous Retroactive Influences on Cognition and Affect. According to the paper, Dr. Bem’s research indicates that people can sense the future and had demonstrated this with statistical accuracy.

A 2012 study mentioned in the Frontiers of Perception found evidence that our bodies can pick up cues and experience precognition shortly before an event happens. This is called the “presentiment” effect. It’s often that inkling feeling you get seconds before something is about to happen. While it’s not the type of precognition most of us are familiar with, it is still relevant. Those unexplainable strange feelings and gut instincts obviously let you know something’s up.

These modern studies, while still debated among skeptics are encouraging. The evidence goes beyond mere guessing, observation and anecdotes. While there is still much research to be done in the field of precognition, we have come a long way from the days of the ancient soothsayers.