10 March, 2011

Precognition In Dreams: Is It Simply Paranormality

Illusions and dreams
The Daily Mail wrote a review on Professor Richard Wiseman's book Paranormality: Why We See What Isn't There. In the book the professor states that we cannot dream the future (even though many of us have done so ourselves). One of his reasons is the numbers solution, similar to that often used by skeptics as to why coincidences and synchronicity are purely chance events.

The following is the quote the Daily Mail uses in it's review, as to why dreams do not psychically foretell the future. In this case he is talking about the Aberfan disaster and how many people dreamed about this in advance of the event.

"Let’s assume Brian dreams each night of his life from age 15 to 75. There are 365 days in each year, so those 60 years of dreaming will ensure Brian experiences 21,900 nights of dreams.

Let’s also assume an event like the Aberfan disaster will happen only once in each generation, and randomly assign it to any one day.

Now, let’s assume Brian will remember dreaming about the type of terrible events associated with such a tragedy only once in his entire life. The chances of Brian having his 'disaster' dream the night before the actual tragedy is about a massive 22,000 to one.

However, here comes the sneaky bit. In the Sixties, there were around 45 million people in Britain, and we would expect one person in every 22,000, or roughly 2,000 people, to have this amazing experience in each generation.

The principle is known as the Law of Large Numbers, and states unusual events are likely to happen when there are lots of opportunities for that event.

Our example concerned only people dreaming about the Aberfan tragedy. In reality, national and international bad fortune happens on an almost daily basis. Aeroplane crashes, tsunamis, serial killings, earthquakes and so on.

Given that people dream about doom and gloom more often than not, the numbers quickly stack up and acts of apparent prophecy are inevitable."


Though this is a good argument I know that I have dreamt of things that have happened regarding my personal and family life - plus two winners of horse races! None of these could have been the result of the sheer number of dreams I have had.

Mrs. D Thompson also disagrees with Professor Wiseman - this is her very sad story:

"In April 2006 I was living in Cyprus and had a dream, or nightmare. I awoke in shock at what I had dreamt.

The dream I'd had was of my daughter in intensive care with tubes etc. everywhere. In my dream she died.

As you can imagine, this was awful - and very vivid. In June that year I flew to Spain where my daughter was living. Without going into all the details, on my way to Spain I received a phone call to say my daughter had been taken into care. I had no idea what had happened, but on my arrival her partner collected me from the airport and took me straight to the hospital.

There was my poor daughter wired up to every machine imaginable, in a very poor state. She was exactly as she had been in my dram.

It turned out that my daughter had terminal cancer. She died 15 months later in October 2007, aged 39.

What would Richard Wiseman make of this? How and why could I dream something like this? There was no coincidence, it happened"


I won't add anything further to Mrs. Thompson's experience.

As for Professor Wiseman, he has an interesting and amusing blog full of quirky mind stuff but remember, as well as being a Professor, he is also a magician.

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9 comments:

  1. i never fully understand dreams but have had ones that have come true. could be just chance or coincidence but im gradually believing that there is more to it than this

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  2. Another interesting post Mike. Sorry haven't been round much to your blog, I have been a bit under the weather. Now okay again.

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  3. Very interesting. I have never had any come true and have had several that I hope never do come true.

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  4. I don't buy wiseman's premise. Like you,I've had too many precognitive dreams to call them anything else.

    Great post!
    - Trish

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  5. I'm always fascinated and amused when something as ethereal as precognitive dreams (shared or not) is attempted to be disproved by physical limitations. Using large numbers and the concept of linear time may sound smart to some but the logic of his argument is hilarious to me!

    wv: flopchel

    (Best bought of giggles I had today!)

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  6. and of course, i wholeheartedly disagree with this guy's premise, as well - i've experienced precognitive dreams all my life - he should talk to me -

    ditto, terri!

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  7. I live in the USA. A few years ago my youngest son,who is a guitarist, met a couple of young guys from the UK in a blues club. They had come to US to experience southern blues music as they were both extremely talented musicians. My son brought them home with him and they wound up living with our family for the better part of 6 months. About 2 weeks before my son met them in this bar I had this crazy dream where the word "ENGLAND" flashed across my dreamscape several times. My actual dream I dont remember. A few days after that experience I dreamed I was sitting in a smallish cottage sitting room and had full knowledge without anyone saying a word that I was in an English cottage. The decor and everything about it was so distinctly English. Actually the boys who were our houseguests for a few months were from Cornwall area.

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  8. I have to disagree with Professor Wiseman's statistics. As a person who's first memory in this life was a lucid dream (I was chasing a rabbit) I've (for whatever reason) always been a vivid dreamer.

    I've heard this statistical argument many times. What it doesn't address is the more involved a dream gets the more the statistics breaks down.

    It's like a million monkeys typing randomly at a keyboard, given enough time would type the entire works of William Shakespeare. This is totally untrue. After millions of years they would not get past a few words. If one random hit is say one out of 50 (allowing capitals) the next (2 letters) 50 times 50, next (three correct letters) 50 times 50 times 50 or 50 to the third power. A 65 lettered sentence would be 50 to the 65th power, which is more than 100 times a google (a google has 100 zeros). This has been roughly estimated as the vibration of every atom in the known universe since the big bang. And that's just the first sentence.

    So my long winded point is highly detailed precognitive dreams are far beyond the reach of statistics. Plus people who have them have have often had many.

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    Replies
    1. That's the thing: it's said that statistics can prove anything but they can't. I agree with your last paragraph!

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