QUESTION: What is extrasensory perception (ESP)

ANSWER: Extrasensory perception (or ESP) is the ability to acquire information through non-ordinary sensory channels. Sometimes it is referred to as "gut instinct," "intuition," a vague "knowing," the kind of ESP one is able to do is often a reflection of need (i.e. what's important to you). Thus, soldiers, firefighters, and police officers may develop psychic abilities as adults to help them survive. Often considered (perhaps wrongly) the "receptive" side of psi, it includes such things as:

  • TELEPATHY: the mind-to-mind transmission of information.
  • CHANNELING: this is where a psychic medium directly acquires mind-to-mind information from a non-human (or non-living) source, whether a discarnate spirit, extraterrestrial being, or other form of intelligence such as a dolphin.
  • CLAIRVOYANCE: literally "seeing" a distant place, which now days may involve remote viewing (a set of techniques for acquiring that information).
  • CLAIRAUDIENCE: literally "hearing" ESP information, i.e. it comes as sound.
  • CLAIRSENTIENCE: "feeling" ESP information in the body.
  • OUT-OF-BODY EXPERIENCES (OBEs): often considered "astral" travel, it is the experience of your consciousness being at a different location than your physical body.
  • PRECOGNITION: which can involve "seeing" or other wise "knowing" the future, often this may involve dreams.
  • PSYCHOMETRY: being able to sense information that appears to be somehow stored on objects (or sometimes locations as "place memory").
  • RETROCOGNITION: viewing past places and events, very handy for archeologists and historians.

ESP appears to be a universal, if often weak, ability. Some factors seem to promote it, such as feelings of close emotional connection to another person, place or thing. Altered states of consciousness, such as hypnosis, meditation and dreaming, also appear to enhance ESP.

There have been a number of studies on ESP over the years, starting with the classic ones of guessing which symbol is on a card (known as Zenar cards or ESP cards) as shown in the image above. Since many psychics state it is hard for them to "get" numbers or "read" things with ESP, such images and photographs have been more commonly used as targets. In recent years, static photographs have often been replaced with videotape images. Many feel that if such pictures carry an emotional impact (such as a war image) they many be easier to receive.

Altered states of consciousness have been used to enhance psychic abilities for millennia. In ancient times, people often went to special shrines or locations to have prophetic dreams. The dream state, and those on the edges of sleep, are still considered to be very psi-conducive (i.e. they make it easier to get psychic information). Meditation and hypnosis have also been noted to be good states for getting ESP. One form of altered state that has been used a lot in the laboratory in controlled situations is that of sensory deprivation in  Ganzfeld experiments. Basically these studies involve placing a participant in a comfortable position (often lying down) with ping pong ball halves placed like goggles over their eyes (with colored light - often red - shining into them) and white noise piped in through headphones. The idea is to create very even, but unpatterned, sensory stimulation. This technique seems to facilitate successful ESP.

One of the more intriguing experiments on precognition has involved monitoring participant electrodermal activity (also known by the older term of Galvanic Skin Responses, or GSR), such as is used in polygraph (lie detector) testing. What Dean Radin, Dick Bierman, and other experimenters have found, is that when you show an audience a slideshow of photos, some pleasant and others upsetting, people will respond to the unpleasant ones a moment BEFORE the images appear on the screen. This suggests that on some level they knew what was coming -- in essence, precognition.

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