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?