Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Reply to comment

Emily Alspector's picture

Extra Special Powers

I was glad we ended our discussion on Thursday with ESP because it helped reground the idea that there is reality outside of our perception. I don't think it's out of line to think that some humans are more capable of sensing some things than others are. So, then, why is it so hard to believe that such a thing as the sixth sense (for humans) exists? Perception is merely relative; we don't know what someone else is or is not perceiving. Denouncing someone's ability of telepathy could be put on the same plane as someone with above-perfect vision, or a keen sense of smell. Our ways of measuring sight and smell (if there is any) are hardly flawless, so it shouldn't be argued that our five senses are measurable (how can you measure how accurate someone's sense of taste is?). Eyesight seems to be the only sense that we have tried to quantify in order to improve those who need artifical corrections, but none of our other senses can be quantified in such a way. Therefore, how can we know that when we experience deja vu or a chill, it's not a distant spirit coming to say hello? Maybe our perceptions are not as keen as a psychics in that regard.

Now, I'm not saying I believe in telepathy or psychics, but it seems interesting to me that, when talking of the senses, the idea of difficulty in quantification did not arise. When we think of ESP, we think of those who come off as hacks and exploit their "talents" for the sake of television like in "Crossing Over with John Edwards". But the point of this conversation is to show that we don't know if what you're looking at and what I'm looking at are actually the same color, and we don't know if John Edwards is really talking to distant spirits.

I also had a thought about people who can control their heart rate while meditating. Should this be considered to be a sixth sense? Because I-function is involved here, I would argue that it should be a sixth sense.

One more comment I wanted to make about last class is in regards to women's pheramones being responsible for timely menstruation. If we are thinking in terms of extrasensory effects on outwardly behavior ("knowing something without knowing it"), I find it hard to consider menstruation a behavior. Although at the beginning of class we agreed that breathing and heart rate and everything that happens internally are behaviors, I'm not sure it can be applied here. I might, instead use an example of conditioned behaviors. For example, people are often conditioned to behave in a certain way, and they are left "without knowing why" they behaved that way. I'd be interested to hear what others think of this analogy.


To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
1 + 6 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.