Why is evidence of ESP so hard to discover?
Is it there right in front of our eyes, but we just fail to see it?
Or is somebody actually keeping us from noticing?
“There is no evidence whatsoever of paranormal abilities, and consequently, any such research is completely meaningless.” This is the kind of argument we are used to hearing from scientists who deny the existence of precognition and telepathy. And admittedly, no crystal clear proof of paranormal powers has ever been discovered.
But let’s try to look at the matter from a slightly different angle. After a major earthquake, there are invariably reports like the following:
“A couple of days before the quake the animals started behaving strangely.” “Our dog is always very quiet but that day he was barking like crazy.”
“All the stray dogs vanished from the town.”
That is to say, stories of what in retrospect may have been omens of the quake. Before the tremor, nobody connected the animals’ strange behavior with a forthcoming earthquake, but afterwards opinions are quite different. As with anything, if you don’t believe it could be evidence, it won’t be regarded as evidence. In the case of evidence for ESP, perhaps the problem is not that there isn’t any evidence, but rather that we fail to notice it even though it really is there.
Given that we don’t notice it, this leads to the further question of what would count as evidence. Where should we begin to look? As with the connection between earthquakes and animal behavior, unusual phenomena may provide hints. Things that are slightly different than they always are, things that normally aren’t supposed to happen, things that are somehow out of the ordinary… maybe such events are where the elusive “evidence” is to be discovered. To this, many people might reply that “such peculiar events don’t happen very often, and even if they did, I would certainly remember them.” Perhaps. But that line of thought has a hidden pitfall.
We live our daily lives in an environment called the “ordinary world.” Every day, the same commonplace things keep happening, and that is what we accept as our reality. But actually, there is a tendency to trust our common sense just a little bit too far, and to positively exclude anything out of the ordinary. That is to say, even if we find something a bit odd, we soon convince ourselves that “it was nothing to worry about after all,” and quickly forget that we had noticed anything unusual in the first place. Of course, neither any memory nor any record remains of the incident.
For example, sometimes our mobile phones or TV remote controllers that we use every day start acting funny, but few of us ever try to find out the reason behind the problem. We simply try the same operation once more, and now everything works just as usual. “That was just a fluke,” we think and forget all about it. But what if this were “evidence” of something? What is it in our consciousness that makes us discard evidence that might be dangling right in front of our eyes and then go on to proclaim that “there is no evidence whatsoever of ESP”?
According to certain parapsychologists, there are some people who would be embarrassed if ESP actually turned out to exist, and it may be their unconscious thoughts that prevent psychic powers from manifesting themselves in the real world.