Sunday, December 18, 2011

Everyday parapsychology

Hark this. Despite a lifelong interest in psychical research (now, more "respectably," called parapsychology), I am one of the least psychic people I have known. Some shadowed intuition must exist that draws me to that side of the mind that operates according to different laws from the ordinary physical world, that can cancel time and space, occasionally split the difference between the living and what we call the dead.

I can think of a very few times in my life that might -- might -- have been psychic experiences. One occurred just the other day. This blog isn't about me, so I will ask your indulgence if I convey a personal anecdote; the subject is precognition, or clairvoyance, or synchronicity, or coincidence: what you will.

It's simple, really. Just so jolly unlikely.


A tune popped into my mind. There is nothing unusual about that. It happens often, probably to everyone who responds to music. It was the song, "(I Can't Give You) Anything But Love," an old standard.

I learned it in recordings during my childhood, but have rarely heard it since. Even as part of the so-called Great American Songbook, it isn't much favored by vocalists who specialize in that school today. Actually, compared with so many songs of the era of its creation, it strikes me as less than inspired musically and lyrically corny.

No explanation comes to mind as to why the tune presented itself to me. Of course, that is often the case with songs that you find yourself thinking of and hearing in your head.


The next day, driving to work, I reached for one of the compact discs in the stack that I carry with me to divert myself from the commuting tedium, and popped it in the car's player. The CD was The Jimmy Bruno Trio: Live at Birdland II, a jazz album featuring the fine guitarist.

I was driving along, digging the music without paying that much attention to it, when I realized with a start that Jimmy Bruno and his combo had launched into a swinging version of ... yes.

I'm about certain that I grabbed the disc, along with several others, out of the several thousand in my collection after the song presented itself to me in my consciousness. It's possible that I knew the song was on the album, although I don't remember the album well enough to recall its specific contents. It's possible that I unconsciously saw the title on the album cover when I pulled a few CDs from the shelves that morning. But in either case, selecting the CD and hearing the song on it  followed hearing it in my mind.


C.D. Broad, the Cambridge philosophy professor and twice president of the Society for Psychical Research, wrote:
If paranormal cognition and paranormal causation are facts, then it is quite likely that they are not confined to those very rare occasions on which they either manifest themselves sporadically in a spectacular way, or those very special conditions in which their presence can be experimentally established. They may well be continually operating in the background of our normal lives. Our understandings of, and our misunderstandings with, our fellow men; our general emotional mood on certain occasions; the ideas which suddenly arise in our minds without any obvious introspectable cause; our unaccountable immediate emotional reactions toward certain persons; ... and so on; all these may be in part determined by paranormal cognition and paranormal causal influences.
Similarly, H.H. Price, a professor of logic at Oxford and president of the Aristotelian Society, had this to say:
It is a plausible guess that many of our everyday thoughts and emotions are telepathic in origin, but are not recognised to be so because they are so much distorted and mixed with other mental contents in crossing the threshold of consciousness.
Telepathy doesn't seem to have been a factor here, barring the unlikely possibility that another person happened to be thinking of the song and I was "tuned in" for some reason. But the same principle might well apply to precognition, or whatever. I can't give you anything but wonder, and that's the thing I've plenty of.



Anonymous said...

Many a time I have rung up someone for them to tell me that they have just been thinking about me.

Is that precognition?

I'm fascinated by your interest in such phenomena? What turned your interest?

Anonymous said...

I had an experience like yours a few years ago. Christmas Day, 2004, I believe; I was at my sister's, opening presents and such, and my little nephew began playing one of those dumb 'Grand Theft' video games. Then I noticed on the game's soundtrack there was a reggae song I recognized from a long time ago (my 'eclectic' period, you could call it) by a guy calling himself Dillinger. I thought, Hm. I know this song. A key line in the song is the rhyme:

A knife, a fork

A bottle and a cork

That's the way you spell New York

Anyway, later that day, I'm at home and I listen to CD of Jelly Roll Morton's recordings from 1939/40. One of the songs, 'Good Old New York', I was shocked to notice, contained that very same line. It's weird, because I had never much listened to that album before, and I certainly didn't recall (consciously) hearing those lyrics before. Mostly I just liked the instrumentals.

Coincidence? Or some sub/unconscious choice? I guess I'll never know.

Rick Darby said...


I can give you no explanation about why I have always been interested in psychical phenomena, except an intuitive sense that the experience brought to us by the senses does not reveal all the levels of reality.


Your experience sounds similar to mine!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...



Intuition is the ability to acquire knowledge without inference or the use of reason - Wiki.

The greatest of scientists and mathematicians are those who break the limits of rational thinking. Intuition in this context means the manipulation of abstract forms, leading to real knowledge. But we have other senses that also acquire information, abstract till made sense off. But all senses in cooperation with the mind, have to be trained to make sense of the cacophony of information that is being sent to the brain. In the end, we see and hear what are minds are trained to analyse and accept. Information that is not analyzable with the "accepted" code in the mind, is rejected as noise and is not perceived.

In short, we have been brainwashed with certain code breakers. Information that needs a different code is not perceptible.

What do you think?


Anonymous said...


Quote from above: In short, we have been brainwashed with certain code breakers. Information that needs a different code is not perceptible.

Spread spectrum communications is a case in point.