СодержаниеESP and Pattern Recognition → Часть 1

“What about remote viewing? ” I asked. “You’ve heard of that. It’s when a psychic draws a picture of some distant place without being there. How’s that done? Is that luck too? ”

“Sometimes. But pattern recognition is a big part of it too. ”

“How? There’s no pattern if you’re sitting in a room in one part of the world and the object is someplace else. ”

“Everyone has a different ability to recognize patterns in their environment, ” he said. “It is a skill, like music and math and sports. The rare geniuses in those fields seem downright supernatural. It is as if they possess special powers. In a sense they do, but it would be more accurate to describe their skills as an abundance of a natural ability as opposed to something supernatural.

“Consider a typical math prodigy. Math geniuses often report knowing the answers to problems without being aware of having made a calculation. The top geniuses in every field report the same experience. At the highest levels of performance people are not aware of the processes they are using.

“There is nothing mystical or magical about the performance of geniuses just because they are unaware of how they do what they do. The subconscious calculations of their minds happen so fast that they don’t register as memories. It seems as if the answers just arrive.

“Some apparent psychics, the ones who are not intentional frauds, are geniuses at pattern recognition, but they are not necessarily aware of the source of their abilities. Like math geniuses, so-called psychics don’t know how they do it. They only know that it works. ”

“Okay, ” I said, momentarily accepting his explanation so I could test it. “How does pattern recognition explain a psychic who predicts where a murdered person’s body will be found? Where’s the pattern? ”

“Most of the reports about psychics who locate bodies are false. Reporters usually get their information by talking to people and writing down what they are told, but the stories are only as good as the reliability of the people inter viewed. Psychics can make vague predictions and later claim credit for anything that was near the mark. The media tells the story of the fascinating successes and ignores the failures as being not newsworthy. The public gets the impression that psychics can locate dead bodies with regularity. In fact, such cases have been rare and probably a result of genius–level pattern recognition, or luck, or simple exaggeration.

“Let’s say the police get a report that a child has been abducted. Police detectives are trained to recognize patterns so they would know that the perpetrator is probably male and probably someone known by the child. And they could predict that the child is dead if missing more than forty– eight hours, with the body probably left outdoors within fifty miles of the crime. Let’s say the police call in an FBI profiler who is even more proficient than the police at spotting criminal patterns. Based on experience and statistics with similar crimes, the profiler might predict that the perpetrator has a certain type of background, upbringing, and personality. The police detectives and the FBI profiler can produce information that would seem psychic if you didn’t know it was based on simple patterns. Now let’s say the police contact a so-called psychic who is a genius at pattern recognition. At the genius level, far more subtle patterns come into play. ”

He continued. “For example, the entertainment and news media create patterns in the public’s minds. Let’s say that several movies and TV shows about kidnappings in the past year have created a pattern about the best place to dispose of dead bodies. That pattern could influence a perpetrator to pick a drainage ditch instead of an old shack. The psychic unknowingly picks up on the pattern and ‘feels’ that the child will be found in a drainage ditch. A search of drainage ditches proves the psychic right.

“In such a case, the so-called psychic’s powers would be useful and in some sense genuine, but they could never be reproduced under controlled experiments. In a lab setting, all patterns are removed. ”

“What about a guy who talks to your dead relatives? ” I asked. “He always has information about the survivors and about the dead person that couldn’t be a coincidence. How’s that done? ”

“That, too, is pattern recognition, along with showmanship, and sometimes trickery. Some of what passes as extraordinary psychic ability is nothing but playing the odds. The psychic might say, for example, that the deceased husband saw the widow kissing his picture. That would be a safe guess. Most widows kiss pictures of their dead husbands. Or the psychic might say that the departed husband liked to work with his hands at home. That applies to almost all men.

“The psychic can pick up many patterns suggested from a person’s voice, accent, clothes, age, name, health, and ethnicity. Let’s say a client has smoke-stained teeth. Smokers are likely to live with other smokers. The psychic might guess that a loved one recently died from heart or lung problems. That would be a good guess. ”

“Okay, what about those televangelists who heal people on TV? Those people look healed to me. Is that fake? ”

The old man just laughed. I laughed too.


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