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Being able to foresee the future, read someone’s mind or have other super human abilities would certainly make a person feel important and unique. We have all heard of people hearing the voice of another person when no one was present, and of someone who is able to perceive an event without any input. People do report foreseeing events before they happen and having out-of-body experiences, when, by scientific measures, the person was dead.

Multiple studies have been conducted to determine if humans have such abilities. The findings are fascinating. A number of studies have indeed identified some individuals who have been able to score significantly higher when tested for of extrasensory perception (ESP). However, most studies do not support the notion that humans have supernatural powers.

Most psychology researchers believe that extrasensory perception (ESP) includes four types of different categories: telepathy, which is communication without visual, auditory, or other sensory inputs; clairvoyance, which is the perception of an event without normal sensory input; precognition, which is the perception of an event that has not happened --think of fortune tellers; and out-of- body experience, which is the perception of your body from outside of your body.

From a scientific point of view, ESP has not been sufficiently proven. However, there are those who think differently. Perhaps some of us have a more highly evolved sense of intuition. Or, could it be that scientists have not developed tests that can truly determine if paranormal events really occur? Is there a sixth sense?

In a 1927 study, J.B. Rhine at Duke University conducted research using a statistical formula and 25 cards, with different symbols on each to determine if correct answers resulted from random guessing or psychic ability. One subject identified so many cards correctly that the chances of random guessing were 1 in 22 billion. Another subject guessed 25 cards correctly in a row: the odds of doing this were 1 in 300 quadrillion. Cornell University’s Daryl Bem (1994) performed other experiments to study ESP and reported success in 33 percent, whereas chance would predict only 25 percent.

Sometimes people feel inferior to others and imagining that they have special skills allows them to feel more important. Or, they could imagine that they are related to a famous person to bolster their self-image. However, fantasizing is different than experiencing something that cannot be explained.

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The following event is true. A woman was thinking about taking her dog, Maggie, to the vet on the following day. In her mind, she saw that upon arriving at the vet’s office, Maggie escaped from her leash as soon as the car door was open. Maggie ran directly into the street and was hit by a large white truck.

So disturbing was her daydream that on the next day the woman took extra precautions to keep her dog safe. She had her husband go with her to hold Maggie with the intent that he would have a firmer grip on the leash and the dog would not be able to break away. But as soon as they arrived at the vet’s and the car door opened, Maggie bolted and escaped from the husband’s hold. The woman chased Maggie, falling on her knees twice in an effort to catch her dog, and then helplessly watched as Maggie ran straight into the street where she was immediately struck by a huge white truck.

Do you think the woman had ESP or was the death of her dog a coincidence?

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Dr. Lynda M. Gantt, Ph.D., is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Santa Maria.