Is Precognition Real?

The entire history of humanity has consisted of repeatable, verifiable inexplicable phenomena that became perfectly explicable after scientific analysis (even if “science” wasn’t called as such for most of our history.) Gradually, the inexplicable phenomena became fewer and fewer, not because we became more cynical, but because we understood the natural world and ourselves better.

There are still inexplicable phenomena out there. But so far, history has supported the theory that there’s a simple* natural explanation for them; it’s very difficult to buy into the notion that “this time” it’s something different.

*obviously, for certain definitions of “simple”. I mean, quantum physics isn’t “simple” but it is consistent and coherent and seems to stand up, at least according to people I respect.


That’s pretty much my view. The incidence of predicting the type of picture about to be shown does not strike me as significant.
In my own life, I’ve had several precognitive flashes. I also know a few other people, mainly through the Pagan connection, who have had similar. The consensus is, that pecognitive flashes are unpredictable, irritating and not at all useful.
My own are uniformly auditory. I hear something being said while no-one is in the room, or the person speaking is not actually present. The real-life/real-time event occurs some days afterwards. The one useful occurrence came when I thought my daughter had asked me a question about her homework. It was clearly expressed and she was so angry about it when I tried to reply, (“I didn’t say anything of the kind!”) that I made a note of it, and looked up the answers to what she was asking. I was also interested in how long the time lapse was between the flash and the event. The event occurred the very next day and she was a little shocked at how quickly and accurately I responded to her question. Sad to say, I can’t recall now what the question was.


So, if I understand it correctly, it’s basically noting that somehow, memories are being formed before the actual event happens. It doesn’t really explain why, and honestly, it tries not to get all supernatural. If anything, it does try to stay in known physics theories, where the timeline we travel down does have theoretical chances of not only being flexible, but also flowing backwards.

So to me, it sounds like the event of creating a memory in a neuron could happen on a quantum level, and that every now and then the creation echoes forward in time. However, Occam’s Razor suggests that based on what we do know, that organic brains are often simulating the future at all times (it’s the mechanism behind catching a ball, for example), it may be more a case of accurate prediction: the model our brain creates somehow being accurate enough it feels like a memory. Like deja vu.

We are creatures of the environment, and there is no evidence as of yet that the world has cheat codes. Physics is a cruel, cruel tyrant.


That’s so Metal :fire::metal::sunglasses::fire:


The wikipedia for the man doesn’t make him seem well-respected.

His studies which had nothing to do with ESP were also riddled with errors.


Not gonna weigh in on the meat and statistics of his hypothesis, but this struck me as just WTF?

We already know, and have known for generations, that linear time as we experience it is an illusion .

He justifies this by talking about Einstein proving how time moves at different ‘speeds’ according to the reference point.

BUT IT IS STILL LINEAR!!! Even if experienced at different ‘speeds’.

Right there, my skepticism alarm went off, and didn’t stop blaring throughout.


No one is saying “I think this is woo.” People are saying, “This is, at best, woo, and, at worst, fraud masquerading as woo,” and then backing that up with actual science, statistics, logic, and sources. This sort of thing has a tendency to, thankfully rarely, show up on BoingBoing. Usually, I just roll my eyes and scroll on. However, as others have pointed out, buying into this kind of pseudoscience can lead people down a path that ends in Q-Anon, screaming about elections being stolen, and participating in an insurrection. I no longer believe posting nonsense like this as if it is not nonsense is harmless.


Nobody could have predicted.


Came here to say this, glad you beat me to it.

There are things about relativity that challenge our concepts of linear time, such as the fact that “spacelike separated” events — events that are far enough apart in space and close enough together in time that it’s impossible to be present at both, even travelling at the speed of light — have no absolute order. E.g.: you’re standing outside when you see two apparently simultaneous lightning strikes, one way off to your left and one way off to your right. You gather exact data on their distances from you and the precise moment you perceived each, and you calculate that they did, in fact, strike simultaneously. But an observer in an aeroplane flying overhead does their calculations, with the same exact precision, and calculates that the lightning on your left struck first; while another observer in a second aeroplane flying in the opposite direction similarly calculates that the lightning on your right struck first. And all three of you would be right.

Of course, seeing as light can travel all the way round the world in little more than a tenth of a second, the odds of the phenomenon providing a basis for any useful form of precognition seem slight.


Something tells me this topic will automatically close in 4 days.


I have a strange feeling it’ll be sooner than that. Call it a hunch. :wink:


Yes, in fact it will be incontrovertibly proven next year!

ba-dump pishhhh

(Holy cow, is this the longest BB post ever!!!)

In all seriousness, based on personal experience, I think there is something to precognition . It’s very rare and doesn’t seem to be something that is measurable or controllable, more something that ‘happens’ to some people every once in a long while.

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If something’s observable, it’s measurable. Granted, we may not have figured out how to measure it yet, but by definition if something causes an effect, then the effect can be measured. Hell, we can measure neutrinos.

If an effect is so slight that it can’t be isolated from variances due to study design, is it really observable?


I think your assessment is fair. For me, precognition falls under the usual ability humans have to pattern recognize, thus leading us to believe we sense or see things that aren’t really true or even saw them ahead of time, because we are short cutting our way around dealing with the constant barrage of information our minds process. Our brains are beautiful, wonderful glitch monsters, and we are terrible at figuring out how they function, so we ascribe mystical, mysterious powers to what are, essentially, bugs in the software.

At least that’s how I see it.


Our brains are beautiful, wonderful glitch monsters

I love how you put this.


That was by Lady Gaga, right?



Emergence is not illusion. That’s a category error.

You can’t have precognition or any other closed timelike curves. Sorry for the inconvenience; I don’t make the rules, I just enforce them.

To quote author John Scalzi, “The speed of light is not only the law, it’s a good idea.”


Okay, I’ll rephrase my coarsely-worded reply that was (fairly) moderated.

This kind of content is actively making the world a worse place. It’s pseudoscience, which is not harmless. It is taking on the language and imprimatur of science to gain credibility to promote nonsense. This is the worst kind of misinformation because people who are not well versed in statistics or the history of these kinds of scam “research” papers have no defence against it.

We live in a time when misinformation and a lack of critical thinking are literally destroying democracy. Pieces like this are not harmless. They contribute to the noise floor of misinformation, make it harder for regular folks to know what is real, and encourage people to indulge in nonsense at a time when we need to be extra vigilant about truth.

This stuff has been debunked over and over and over and over and over again. There is no value, and in fact active harm to, society by continuing to regurgitate it.


I’m not in these fields but the experiment seems poorly designed to me.

How about this: Administer a difficult multiple choice test to study participants. Then hand out the answer key afterwards. Is performance better if the answers are reviewed after the test?

Sometimes I’ve had a powerful, undeniable feeling of deja vu. I know what’s around the corner, and it’s inevitable. It might be just some kind of a brain glitch. Whatever causes that, it leaves my mind open to the possibility that there’s something out there.

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I don’t know. She’s not on my regular playlist, so I thought I was inventing it, but brains are beautiful, wonderful glitch monsters and I could have heard it in passing in one of her songs. Wouldn’t surprise me. I find 99% of my best ideas have already been created by someone else. :slight_smile: