Scientific explanation for precognition?

Now I am not the kind of person to believe in this so-called mystical bullshit. At least I thought it was bullshit. Until tonight.

My two best friends, Paul and Lil, were in a car accident. After spending the wee hours of the morning in the emergency room with them I can report that they are fine, thank God.

It happened when the two of them and my brother and I were on our way home from a friends house. They left together shortly before my brother and I so we got to them right after the accident. But the thing is…i SAW it. I saw the exact scene in my mind, exactly as it ended up looking when we came upon their wreck. Not a lasting vision, rather a quick little mental jolt, almost subliminal.

We must have been a mile or 2 behind them when they actually wrecked, but as soon as I saw the silver car from afar I instantly KNEW it was them, and I was freaking out. Parametics, firemen, the whole nine yards came out, and got them out of his brand new, totaled tC, and I went to the emergency room after I got through to their mothers.

But even now, after knowing they are ok, I can’t shake it. I can’t shake the fact that I saw it, and then it happened. How can precognition be real?

First of all, glad that your friends are OK.

Frankly what you’ve described isn’t proof of precognition - there are 5 or 6 billion people walking around, and everybody has random thoughts every day about stuff that might happen; the odds are that some of those will be “hits”, every day, and you happened to have one. You were thinking about your friends being in a car crash and it happened, that doesn’t mean you had some kind of paranormal experience. It’s possible that the odds were “stacked” in your favor - perhaps your friend tends to drive a little fast, or it was a dark night, or the weather was bad, or any one of the things that makes you (reasonably) think about an accident.

Good example - I’ve bought a few lottery tickets in my time, out of many millions sold in my state. Each night most of those millions of ticket holders are “sure” that they’ve got the winning numbers, they think about sitting there watching TV and reading off their numbers one at a time as they are drawn live, and how much they will scream and yell and jump up and down when their numbers are drawn.

And for pretty much every single person it doesn’t happen. That isn’t evidence of mysterious precog powers “failing”, it’s just that the odds are against everyone.

But with millions of tickets sold, every few weeks, it does happen to somebody. That isn’t evidence that they had precognition, it’s just that they are the only one you hear about.

One: After witnessing such a trauma, you might misremember your thoughts of events as they occured. People often feel as though they ‘saw something coming,’ because they feel as though whatever minute doubts they always carry have been confirmed.

Two: Because your concern was caused by some factor that led to the event occuring.

I can’t offer much more of an explanation for what occured, but I’m glad you’re all okay. :slight_smile:


I don’t have an explanation, but a cousin of mine (he’s 18) told me that one morning, at around 10AM a few years back, he was in his room and saw his friend’s face outside his window. His room was on the second floor. Later that day he found out that friend had died of a gunshot.

I know, I know… unbelievable, right? Normally I wouldn’t believe this type of story, but it’s not something I heard from “a friend of a friend.” I think he even told my aunt about this before he found out of his friend’s death, and my aunt can confirm it.

But imagining somebody’s face doesn’t mean a precognitive vision of them getting shot. Suppose his friend had called him on the phone, or dropped by to say hi, or they’d bumped into each other three days later at the bar? Would that mean that your cousin’s dream meant something or nothing?

If we’re going to talk about a scientific explanation for precognition we’ve GOT to have some solid evidence of precognition in the FIRST place, otherwise we’re just making up explanations for something that might not even exist.

After-the-fact statements that somebody knew “something” was going to happen don’t cut it for me - see my lottery example. They’re also highly subject to being reinterpreted afterwards, 20-20 justification or “re-remembering” the feeling to fit the actual facts better. That’s just human nature.

Let’s see a properly-designed test, with specific predictions recorded beforehand, of a sort that are not subject to interpretation; say the outcome of the next 100 rolls of a fair die.

What most likely happened is that you thought something like “better watch out for that silver car” and, after the accident occured, your brain filled in the rest of the details post-hoc.

Elizibeth Loftus has done a lot of work in this area in relation to witness testimony and the conclusion is that the human memory system is hugely unreliable and prone to altering and making up memories after the event.

So sorta like the same reason you can get deja vu?

In this thread I posted a pretty clear case of precognition by my aunt. One of the things that makes it clear is the fact that she told people before the event happened that it would happen, so there is more to go on than just one person’s recollection.

There is nothing clear about it whatsoever, least of all that it is a bona fide case of precognition.

Eh? what is not clear? She had a premonition about the winning horses, told people about it, and things happened just how she said they would, to the limits of her vision.

None of it is clear. There are NO verifiable details. There are NO specifics at all, in fact, verifiable or not. It is not even clear whether you witnessed this event personally, or were told about it by others. It is not clear whether your aunt was in the habit of at least occasionally visiting the racetrack, and therefore might have at least a passing familiarity with the names of some horses. There are any number of possible ways your aunt could have been exposed to the information she supposedly dreamed about, none of which require any supernatural explanation. Sorry, but if you’re looking to provide proof of the existence of precognition, this doesn’t even come close. Not even a little bit.

The verification comes from the idea that neither of them has any need to lie to me, and therefore story happened exactly as they say it did. The alternative is a pointless conspiracy of two relatives, one of whom is practically a living saint, for no reason whatsoever. I was told by my dad and my aunt on seperate occasions.

Either they are liars, or it did happen as they say. Perhaps you are trying to say that they lied to me? Perhaps you are going beyond skeptical into the realm of the actively hostile.

How could she have been exposed to the winning horses for tomorrow’s race? Even if she somehow knew the horses names before-hand, that doesn’t mean that knowledge gives knowledge of the winning horses.

Traumatic events can alter memory in a revisionist way. I imagine something like this is very possible:

As soon as you saw the accident, you went into mental overdrive. The usual protections that the mind affords memory were relaxed in favor of instant absorbtion and processing. In an instant, you were guiltily trying to think about what you were doing before the accident, how the accident occurred, and trying to remember everything about the present scene of the accident. The result was a hard wire between your memory of what you were doing before the accident, and a memory of the accident itself – a daydream interpreted as short term memory. As soon as you remember it that way, your mind begins building justification for the mix up, and pretty soon, you remember it as precognition.

Personally, when I fell in love for the first time, I noticed that there were a wealth of personal “signs” that she was the one. Many details about things that had happened to me in the past, and were significant to me, suddenly resurfaced in connection to her – little things that only meant someting to me. After some thought, I realized that although it seemed like these details had always been significant to me, and now I was associating her with them, it was actually the other way around. My mind had instantly decided that she was extremely significant, and this was leaking into random memories that I associated with her, retroactively making them significant. As it turns out, meeting that girl was similar to a car accident in other ways as well, but I won’t get into that…

No, of course not. But, if she’d been exposed to the names at some point, it’s possible her mind incorporated them into a dream. The fact that the horses won is no evidence of precognition, it only means the names she dreamt about were the ones that happened to win. an unlikely occurrence, to be sure, but hardly outside the realm of possibility.

Nowhere have I suggested duplicity or deception is behind this. Nevertheless, human memory been demonstrated to be less than perfectly reliable, so, while I have no doubt that both your father and aunt both believe things happened exactly as they have related them to you, it’s possible that their subconcious minds have filled in fuzzy or missing information. But I don’t think they’re deliberately lying to you, no.

Even if things DID happen just as they’ve said, I see nothing you’ve indicated to rule out mere coincidence, however improbable it may be. If your aunt could dream race winners consistently, then we’d have something to discuss. And I’d be on my way to Belmont.

This is the kind of explanation I was looking for. Thank you.

Well Monkey, you can opt to let people explain it away with the response you were looking for, as quoted above, which also seems to be imbued with the same delusory effect that it claims was your precognitive experience (and subsequently seeks to replace “rationally”), or you can trust in your experience and the larger picture.
Life and time are not as linear as they appear. There are things in life beyond human explanation and comprehension or maybe just beyond our current scientific understanding. You seem to be a pragmatist and imperialist and by your own admission don’t believe in “mystical bullshit”. Many have felt the same way until the universe and its potentialities sing out in very personal and inexplicable epiphanous moments (Some of my favorite anecdotes and examples of this come from Pauli and Jung’s (google) therapy/interaction.). Some people and scientific explanations will try to seperate you from these moments with rationale and compartmentalizations. The importance is not always in the how and why. That it exists, is as apparent and various as its teminology- prophecy, precognition, prediction, ESP, vision, foresight, luck, synchronicity, chance, etc. The importance is that it did happen. You have received spontaneous time reversed information from the universe. It happens from time to time. :wink:

From Monkey’s perspective, the events were mystical, regardless of the explanation. Just because I can give a pseudo-scientific explanation for what happened that doesn’t involve time travel doesn’t mean that the event is robbed of wonder. Truly, what is more mystical than a private truth? No explanation can add to that or subtract from that, because it was more important to him than the explanation.

Some pretty lame-o explanations here, people.

What most people are doing here is trying to accomodate the experience of the OP within a reductionist-materialist worldview. None of these speculations is based on any evidence or rational theory. Each is totally ad hoc.

We don’t understand how consciousness works–at all. Good science at this point in time requires us to recognize our ignorance and not create ad hoc explanations for any event that does not harmonize well with reductionist materialism.

Once one recognizes that psi, ghosts, the afterlife, and other so-called “paranormal” phenomena exist, then the event described in the OP does not sound unusual at all.

I don’t think they do. And no one has been able to prove otherwise. Ever. Neither can you.