Can you read people’s minds? Do you sometimes get a sense that something is about to happen just before it happens? If this sounds familiar, maybe you have ESP!

ESP — short for extrasensory perception — refers to the ability to receive information directly with the mind rather than through the five senses of sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing. ESP is sometimes called by other names, such as sixth sense, gut feeling and a hunch.

People called parapsychologists study paranormal psychic phenomena, such as ESP. They believe that plenty of evidence exists that proves ESP is real. Most of this evidence in anecdotal, which means it comes from stories told by those who have supposedly experienced ESP and believe it is real.

The general scientific community, however, believes ESP is not real. They believe there is insufficient evidence of ESP and point to the fact that regular scientific experiments can’t be used to duplicate supposed instances of ESP.

“Extrasensory perception” is a term that was created by Frederic Myers to describe various psychic abilities. ESP is often used to refer generically to the whole set of various psychic abilities, although they can each be described individually. Let’s take a closer look at some of these psychic abilities.

Clairvoyance refers to the psychic ability to gain information about a person, place, thing or event without using the five human senses. The term comes from the French words meaning “clear vision.” A person with this ability is called a clairvoyant. Clairvoyance involves information that comes from an external source rather than the mind of another person.

If the information about a past or future event is transmitted from the mind of one person to another, such an occurrence is called telepathy. Telepathy comes from the Greek words that mean “distant experience.” Telepathy is what most people would call “mind reading.”

Zener cards are sometimes used to test for telepathy. The idea is that one person looks at a random card and attempts to send the image of that card to another person, who then guesses what card the other person is thinking about.

Of course, it’s possible for someone to guess — purely by chance — what card another person is thinking about. Some children, though, might believe that their parents really do have telepathic abilities.

Do you ever feel like your parents know exactly what you’re thinking…before you even realize it yourself? Is this telepathy? Probably not! They most likely just know you all too well based upon their experience being your parents!

Finally, precognition — from the Latin words meaning “before” and “acquiring knowledge” — refers to acquiring information about the future that cannot be known or guessed from information currently available to the five senses. Precognition is sometimes called “future sight” or “second sight.”

If you’ve ever had a vision of the future that came true, then you may have experienced precognition. Like all the other aspects of ESP, though, scientists would argue that there are other explanations for what you experienced. But many people insist that they have had experiences with ESP. What about you? What do YOU believe?

71 Join the Discussion

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    • Thanks for posting a comment, Hayley! We hope today’s Wonder has made you smile and inspired your creativity! :)

  1. OOOOHHHH!!! I was not right yesterday. I guess my ESP was not working. Then again, it’s never working.
    I think tomorrow’s WONDER will be similar to rain or something.

    Emily :)

    • Great guessing to all your WONDERful students in Mrs. Bayko’s Class! We can’t wait to discover tomorrow’s SUPER Wonder! :)

      Thank you for posting! We love great Wonder Friends like you! :)

  2. Here are our guesses:
    Why do cats like yarn so much? – Paul
    How do tornados form? – Autumn
    What causes a hurricane? – Cade
    How do clouds form? – Brantley
    How dark does the sky get? – Gage
    Why do rainforests rain so much? – James
    How do lightening and thunder form? – Emerson
    How do clouds fly? – Brantley
    Where is the ozone? – Brantley
    How do people spin clothes? – Cade

    • YIPPEE! Check out all these EXCITING guesses from Mrs. Morris’s 4th Grade Quest!! We are SUPER proud of all the WONDERing your students have been doing– so much creativity and imagination in one place! :)

      Thank you for posting your comment today– we cannot wait to uncover tomorrow’s twist of a Wonder with you! :)

  3. I do think that ESP may be real. This is because sometimes I’ll say things and then something very similar will happen later! Sometimes, I like to think that I have ESP because sometimes I will say “Let’s not do that” and then someone does it and something goes wrong! Before reading this I was confused of what it was but after reading this helpful article I know exactly what ESP is!!

    • Hip-hip-hooray! We LOVE your connection to today’s Wonder, Gracie! It sounds like you have a great sense for what will happen in the future. We are glad that you can identify your sixth sense, or gut feeling, and know you know what ESP is! Great work WONDERing with us today! :)

  4. This is one of my favorite wonders, even though I don’t think that ESP is real. If it was real, I would use it to figure out what my parents are getting me for my birthday! I think that tomorrow’s Wonder is going to be about tornadoes!

    • We think it’s super COOL that you enjoyed learning about today’s Wonder and came to realize that you do not believe in ESP, Tori! Even if you don’t fully believe in something, it’s still fun to learn about something new and mystical– way to be a great Wonder Friend! :) Even though you cannot sense what your birthday gift will be, at least you’ll be surprised when you open your presents!! :) Thanks for commenting and guessing with us– have a WONDERful day! :)

    • What an AWESEOME guess for tomorrow’s storm of a Wonder, Lucy! We are so happy that you joined the fun at Wonderopolis today! :)

  5. Hi, my name is Zach, and I believe I have precognition. I have had many experiances that were just like I knew they would be!! So I am going to say it will be about The Wizard of Oz. See you tomorrow!

    • Happy Wednesday, Zach, and thank you for posting your comment about our ESP Wonder! We think it’s super cool that you have a sense for what will happen in the future– how lucky! Thank you for exercising your precognitive abilities and guessing tomorrow’s Wonder! We can’t wait to see what tomorrow’s creative Wonder will be! Looking forward to WONDERing with you tomorrow! :)

    • What a STELLAR question to pose, Wonder Friend! While they may seem similar, ESP has to do with sensing what is to come (the future), while déjà vu has to do with an event that already occurred (the past). We Wonder if you know from which language the term “déjà vu” originated?

      We’ve got a post below that you might enjoy– it’s about the very question you asked!

      Wonder #504– Have You Experienced Déjà Vu”? :)

  6. Cool! I am always getting my visions in my dreams. It’s ironic because last night I had one and I told my sister about it today. By the way, people in the comments section are always saying what they think it’s gonna be about, but how do they get their hypothesis?
    I guess it’s ESP! :)

    • Howdy, WONDERman– glad to see that you’ve been doing some AWESOME WONDERing of your own! Sometimes real life occurrences can trigger a memory or a vision from a dream– what a NEAT connection!!

      You have a SUPER question, too! Wonder Friends, including YOU, can guess what tomorrow’s Wonder will be. They might not have ESP, but there are clues located at the bottom of each Wonder that can help you guess. Check out the section called “Wonder What’s Next” for more clues! We are looking forward to reading about your guess for tomorrow’s Wonder! :)

  7. The majority of our class thinks that ESP is real. We will access our ESP by saying that the wonderopolis will be about tornadoes.

    • We are so HAPPY that those marvelous students in Mr. Stephens’ Class are using context clues and WONDERful information to come to a conclusion! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on ESP– we are so glad you enjoyed the Wonder today!

      Thank you for sharing your guess for tomorrow’s Wonder- it will be a surprising storm of creativity! :)

  8. Dear Wonderopolis,

    We enjoyed learing about ESP. Our prediction for tomorrow is something about tornadoes, hurricanes, or twisters.

    We look forward to finding out the answer!

    Ms. Davidson’s Third Grade Class

    • Happy Wednesday to Ms. Davidson’s Third Grade students! We are jumping for joy knowing that you have been WONDERing about ESP with us! We sense that you will enjoy tomorrow’s tangled Wonder! :)

      Thank you for joining us for such a WONDERful day! :)

    • What a WONDERful compliment, Aakash! Thank you for joining us today as we learn about ESP and Wonder about the future! :)

  9. Dear Wonderopolis,

    I enjoyed ESP. My prediction for tomorrow is a twister or a tornado. I can’t wait for tomorrow’s wonder.

    • You’ve got some stormy guesses, Aakash– great job! We are so glad you enjoyed today’s Wonder and are ready to discover tomorrow’s twisted Wonder! We hope you have a WONDERful day, Wonder Friend! :)

    • Thanks for sharing your WONDERful guesses with us, Macie, Caleb and Luke! We can’t wait to Wonder with you and Emily tomorrow when we discover something new at Wonderopolis! :)

  10. Hi Wonderopolis

    Me and my friend were siting here watching this. That is really cool, I didn’t know people could do that.

    From Maddi and Chloe

    • We are SUPER excited that you are enjoying our ESP video today, Maddi and Chloe! We love that you two are doing your WONDERing together and learning something new as a team! That’s what Great Wonder Friends are for, indeed!! Thank you for posting today! :)

  11. Hi! If you remember me, Maxine, probably not, but my dad knows this card trick, and it claims you have ‘ESP.’ In the card trick he makes you put a card in in a pile, black or red. He mixes them up, the red turns into the black, the black into the red, and in the end you get all of them right!!! I’m still trying to figure out how he does it! Do a Glee WONDER! Thanks!!

    • What a WONDERful comment you’ve posted, Maxine! Thanks for WONDERing about ESP with us, and sharing such a cool card trick, too! Your dad sounds like he has a sixth sense! :) It might take a lot of practice, but we hope you can turn those red cards black and the black cards red! Thank you for joining the fun and WONDERing with us– and for suggesting a Wonder of your own! :)

  12. Hi!

    We are in 3rd grade and we want to know if the types of foods you eat can determine if you will have ESP abilities?

    Mr. Morrison’s 3rd Grade Class- Jacksonville, Fl.

    • WOOHOO, what a WONDERful group of students using their imaginations in Mr. Morrison’s 3rd grade class! :) We think your Wonder is an excellent one, especially if there is a special ingredient that allows us to predict what is about to occur! We haven’t found any particular foods here in Wonderopolis that provide instant ESP, but we Wonder if you can use your imaginations and researching skills to discover some on your own!

      We Wonder if this particular dessert could help us develop our ESP skills… :)
      Wonder #520– Can Fortune Cookies Predict the Future? :)

    • We are so glad you’re WONDERing with us about ESP… we Wonder if you’ve got a sixth sense of your own, Jeovany? Have a SUPER day, Wonder Friend! :)

  13. I enjoyed this I do think I have this. I always get this scary feeling in my head. I just got introduced to this site. Thanks.

    • WOW, Diana, it sounds like you’ve experienced ESP-like senses! We Wonder if you can use this ESP to guess tomorrow’s Wonder! We are so glad you have joined the fun at Wonderopolis– we can’t wait to Wonder with you again! :)

  14. Dear Wonderopolis,
    I just found out that I have ESP because I went over this wonder again to see if I have ESP.

    Thank You,
    from your wonder friend


    • We Wonder if you can guess tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day® using your ESP skills, Jeovany? :) Thanks for posting your comment today and exploring new and exciting Wonders with us! :)

    • Thanks for making us SMILE, Jeovany! We are really EXCITED to hear that you enjoy WONDERing with us– there is always something new to learn with great Wonder Friends like you! We hope you have a WONDER-filled day, Jeovany! :)

    • We Wonder if you’ve got a sixth sense, Wonder Friend A? We are so glad you’re enjoying Wonderopolis with us! Thanks for sharing your comment today! :)

    • It sounds like you’ve got a taste of the future, Eric! That’s pretty exciting– we Wonder if you can guess tomorrow’s Wonder based on the clues provided:

      “Wonder what’s next? Tomorrow’s delicious Wonder of the Day has a lot in common with the turtle!” :)

  15. I thought this wonder was really, really cool. Using my B.K. (Background Knowledge) I knew that E.S.P. is the 6th sense, but that was all. I learned that E.S.P. stands for extrasensory perception. I also learned that you could test it by using Zener cards. The people who test E.S.P. are called parapsychologists. Sometimes my family thinks I am psychic because sometimes I know when things are going to happen before they happen. Are there ways to predict the future scientifically? That’s the only question I have otherwise this wonder was one of my favorite wonders.

    I think wonder 803 will be about the smallest game in the world.

    • We’re so happy you liked our ESP Wonder, Colin! We don’t know of a scientific test for extrasensory perception, but it sounds like you’ve got a sixth sense! We think many people would like to predict the future, but we prefer to be surprised once in a while! It’s more fun to Wonder about what’s up next… just like you did with Wonder #803! :)

  16. I have ESP! Every time we talk about something, something happens to it/them. For example, I was talking with my dad about how I wanted to see my grandpa Rick again. 1 week later, he dies. CREEPY!

    • Hey there, Rowan, we think it’s very interesting that you learned ESP with us! Thanks for sharing all your connections! We are sorry to hear about your Grandpa Rick, and we hope you and your family have lots of memories to share with one another! We think you should keep track of all the different times your ESP skills work! :)

    • It sure would be cool to have from time to time, wouldn’t it Wonder Friend Kim? We’re not certain about the power of ESP, but we can use our imaginations! We hope you’d use your ESP for good, too! :)

  17. Have you ever had a dream but when you wake up something similar happens or when you have thought something and it happens just a little bit later? I’ve done that but I never really thought about it so it’s nice to read about it. Thank you wonderopolis!

    • We’re glad you shared your connection to our ESP Wonder, Kennedy F! That has happened to some of us before- it really makes us Wonder! The brain is a powerful thing, and it’s cool that it is working even as we sleep! Thanks for visiting us today, we are so glad to have an awesome Wonder Friend like you! :)

  18. Why do people like me, with precognition, have deja vu?
    Do certain spirit animals help you see the future?
    What are the four spirit animal guides?
    Is the meaning of life everything revolving around everything else? (I’ve been thinking this for a while)
    Who were the Ojibwa? (they’re in my family tree)
    Just WONDERing. I will always be WONDERing about something.
    p.s. Why do people wonder about things?
    How do you use HTML tags?

    • Wow, we think it’s great you’re WONDERing so much Trinity! We’re glad you stopped by Wonderopolis to WONDER with us for a bit! We hope to hear from you again soon! :)

    • Welcome, Rebecca S.! There are different opinions about whether ESP is real or not. Most of the evidence supporting the idea is from personal experience. Because of this, the scientific community does not believe ESP is real. What do you think? Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Do you have ESP?
  • What does ESP stand for?
  • What types of ESP are there?

Wonder Gallery

Try It Out

Do you have ESP? We want to put you to the test. Read the Wonder what’s next? section below and call on your sixth sense to reveal to you what tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day is about.

When you think you know what it is, post a comment at the bottom of this page. Then be sure to check back tomorrow to see whether you were right or not. The hint for tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day is extra cryptic, so if anyone guesses it correctly they might just have ESP!

Still Wondering

In Science NetLinks’ My Senses Tell Me… lesson, children learn about how their five senses help them gather information from the world around them.

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s stormy Wonder of the Day will certainly spin a good yarn!

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