Unfortunately, this subject is very polarising, some people opting for a completely materialistic view and others leaving themselves prey to claims which hold no water (so-called service providers robbing them blind).

The extremes are a matter of either refusing to consider it at all cost, despite being told perplexing stories by sane people with no interest in lying, or wanting to believe just anything, even against one’s better judgement.

Of course, there is the middle path of those who know ESP occurs indeed, yet are equally aware of the mass deception by shysters who trade in illusions.

Which is why I think the following observations are in order.

  1. It’s a series of limited personal experiences, not an ability, or better yet, a profession.

Most people, sceptics included, have had an eerily accurate premonition, the odd dream predicting a future event down to details, or telepathic connection with someone else. What these phenomena tend to have in common is a purpose at that point in time, in the person’s life. Often that purpose is to warn of an incoming danger or prepare them for an unavoidable shock (the unexpected death of a loved one for instance).

The other commonality is that they do not happen constantly (which would be distressing, I imagine).

They are small glimpses into what should be the unknown – the potential future, the life of someone who is estranged etc. They come in grain size, not by the bucket; they are like droplets in an ocean of uncertainty and unpredictability.

Hence, when you hear a flouncy describe her nightly conversations with her spirit guide named Zorg, who tells her everything from the weather to who will get divorced in the neighbourhood, the suspicion that it’s verbal diarrhoea seems correct.

2. It occurs spontaneously, not on demand.

Perhaps a reiteration of the point made above – ESP is not an ability, as this term describes something you can control and use at your discretion.

The limited information you receive arrives unexpectedly when necessary, not as a result of you looking for it (that’s why fortune telling is such BS), let alone demanding it.

There is no unlimited database of the past, present and future people with ESP can tap into at will, to reveal hidden facts about themselves and others. If that were true, nothing would remain a mystery to them. Those who claim to have an access card to such a place, and charge money for a quick peek, are charlatans.

I’m sure many people with good intuition make an honest effort to gauge others’ problems in this manner, yet have no proof of their assertions being anything but a guess.

And I’m sure many who failed at demonstrating their presumed gift in a controlled environment had some genuine phenomenon over the years, yet could not artificially reproduce a natural occurrence. Because it happened to them, as opposed to them making it happen.

3. It is often verified in hindsight.

When someone claims the infallible capacity to predict the future because they’ve done so once or twice, they are mistaken. The only way to verify a prediction is after the fact, which is why people should not become hysterical when someone puts forth apocalyptic views.

The estimated number of daily thoughts crossing someone’s mind ranges between 50 000 and 70 000. Many of them will be irrelevant. Of the many premonitions someone might have, only some stand the test of time, whilst the rest are forgotten. Some will be steeped in subjectivity; their own hopes and fears. Dreams, likewise, can be useful in terms of psychological analysis, yet rarely do they actually reveal crucial information to be used in real time.

Don’t get me wrong, when it does happen it’s something to marvel at – yet that doesn’t mean every dream should be given the same importance a priori.

There are no prophets whose every word should be regarded as likely accurate by default.

4. To my knowledge, there has never been a way to establish where the information comes from.

In other words, we should all beware of those who claim to be in communication with divine beings or aliens, or anything of the sort. Or those who claim their occasional accurate predictions are proof of the existence of some deity.

5. The direct line to Heaven is a scam.

I’ve yet to see a psychic asked to contact a client’s dead relative, to shrug and say “sorry, dear, he wasn’t available”, or alternatively, “sorry, he’s in Hell and they only allow visitors on Saturday morning”. Isn’t it amazing how the departed are always calm and happy, wanting to reminisce about some fishing trip twenty years prior?

A couple were claiming the room was full of the client’s dead relatives, and that they wanted to make contact. It’s funny how it’s only the living who initiate these conversations through a paid medium and the dead, although present in such close proximity, are hapless in terms of communication. If it’s an open line, why don’t the dead ever ask for messages to be passed, of their own initiative? Can’t they afford the fee? No one thinks to ask “honestly; if they’re here all the time anyway, what do I need you for?”

6. The “paranormal” and “supernatural”

These commonly used terms alone are doing the study of this field (parapsychology) an enormous disservice.

They push these phenomena, in terms of common perception, into a realm of oddity and fantasy, when they are in fact very frequent, even if some people only experience them once or twice (notably) over an entire lifetime. That in turn causes them to be rejected as even plausible.

They are not “paranormal” or “supernatural”, they are the normal and natural.

It seriously annoys me to hear anyone claiming to operate in this field throw these words around in order to attract attention or be sensational, as if wanting to feed those around them with cheap thrills.