Extraordinary Experiences by Ordinary People

by Debbie L. Kasman in , ,


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** This blog post was revised on November 29, 2018.**

While visiting the Integratron, a 38 ft tall cupola structure in Landers, California 75 minutes from Palm Springs, radio personality Erin Davis had what she calls an out-of-this-world experience.

For those who aren’t aware, Erin and her husband, Rob, lost their beautiful daughter, Lauren, when she was just 24.

After visiting the Integratron, Erin wrote in her online journal: “Before we even entered, we were inundated with nudges (or Godwinks) from Lauren. I went to play a song on my iPhone and instead, the Beatles channel on Sirius came on with one significant line from the song ‘She's Leaving Home’:...cried to her husband, 'Daddy, our baby's gone....’ We turned it off after those few words and said, ‘Okay, Lauren, we know you're here.’ And how about a sign, literally, with lyrics from ‘We Can Work It Out?’"

Erin continued, “When we entered the registration area and gift shop, John Lennon's ‘Watching the Wheels came on. Later, I re-entered to another song on the satellite station the man had playing: The Beatles' ‘I Will.’ And still later, we heard Lennon's ‘Imagine. And no, it wasn't a Beatles channel, it was the Leonard Cohen channel. Okay.... If you know ours and Lauren's story, you know how significant the Fab Four are in our family.”

To read Erin’s entire journal entry, click here and scroll down to the November 29, 2018 entry.

We all have extraordinary experiences that can’t be explained. I have them, too. Just last week, I went for a chakra clearing massage at a well known spa near me, and three people who had recently passed - two women and one man - showed themselves to the practitioner. They were holding hands, and one of the women was holding three pots of mums. The practitioner had no way of knowing that my mom, my aunt and my uncle had all recently passed away, and I had taken three pots of mums to my aunt’s celebration of life.

The next day as I was telling my aunt about the experience, the song “Walk Hand In Hand With Me” came on the radio: “Walk hand in hand with me, through all eternity. Have faith, believe in me, give me your hand. Love is a symphony of perfect harmony when lovers such as we walk hand in hand. Be not afraid, for I am with you all the while. So lift your head up high and look toward the sky.”

There’s a great deal about experiences like these we don’t understand. How exactly do these moments work? And can we do anything to bring more moments like these into our lives?

There is a world-renowned research lab in Durham, North Carolina that studies extraordinary experiences like these. It’s called the Rhine Research Center, and it’s named after the late Dr. J. B. Rhine who pioneered the scientific study of ESP in the United States in the 1930s at Duke University.

Dr. Rhine’s work has been duplicated and developed further by scientists at Princeton University and the Stanford Research Institute.

Today, the top science organization in the United States – the American Association for the Advancement of Science – includes the Parapsychological Association in its membership. Anthropologist Margaret Mead publicly supported the affiliation. This is a legitimate field of study.  

Dr. Sally Rhine Feather, the former Executive of the Rhine Research Centre and the daughter of the late Dr. J. B. Rhine, told me in an email (when I reached out to her) that today scientists prefer the term psi over ESP. She said psi is a more neutral term and carries less historical and emotional baggage. She also told me efforts no longer focus on whether psi exists. She said scientists have strong evidence that it does and instead, scientists are studying how psi works "by examining how personality, emotional relationships, mental and physical states, education, gender, and other variables may affect psi experiences.”

In both lab and case studies, it's been demonstrated that psi experiences are most frequently about yourself or your loved ones, and they most often deal with negative topics, warnings of danger or death. Scientists have also discovered that psi occurs most often in dreams (about 60% of the reports), as compared to waking experiences that occur as sudden intuitions or hunches (30%) or in the form of visions, voices or bodily feelings (10%). There are more than fourteen thousand cases of spontaneous psi experiences in the research collection at the Rhine Research Center.

In her book, The Gift: ESP, the Extraordinary Experiences of Ordinary People (co-authored with Michael Schmicker), Dr. Rhine Feather explains other facts scientists have discovered to date.

Here are the ones I found most interesting:

  • There is a positive correlation between intelligence and psi in some studies, but a high score on an intelligence test doesn’t guarantee a high score on a psi test.

  • Brighter children have been found to score somewhat better in classroom studies of psi. This might be because they feel more comfortable in test-taking situations or learn more quickly how to adapt to the test set-up.

  • Children with developmental disabilities have shown high levels of psi comparable to those found with brighter children.

  • Historically, some high psi scorers have had a variety of significant learning disabilities.

  • There is a common belief that psi drops off with age, with school, or with adulthood, but in the lab, it does not appear that age itself is the variable, but rather the conditions of the test situations or who is conducting the study.

  • Extroverts have a clear edge over introverts and spontaneity is positively related to psi test success.

  • People who are artistic and creative do better on psi tests.

  • People who regularly practice some form of meditation or relaxation do better on psi tests.

  • Psi works better when the subject and receiver are related.

  • Caffeine helps raise psi scores but alcohol produces mixed results.

  • Ingesting drugs and chemicals does not improve psi performance.

  • Hypnosis helps psi likely because it increases one’s testing confidence and also encourages relaxation and withdrawal of attention from the external world.

  • Those who believe in psi score higher than non-believers.

  • On a recent meta-analysis of seventy-three published psi studies, believers performed better than disbelievers with odds greater than a trillion-to-one.

  • Skeptical scientists can have a negative affect on a subject’s performance and a highly motivated subject is critically important in achieving psi success.

  • Psi appears to run in families and this might have a bearing on the question of where psi fits in terms of our evolutionary history. (If you are out hunting or gathering nuts and berries, it’s helpful to know there’s a sabre-toothed tiger waiting to pounce on you.)

  • Women voluntarily report more psi experiences outside the lab but when men are polled directly in sampling studies, it appears they experience psi as often as women, the same types of psi, and in the same forms.

  • Biology does not favour men or women in the lab but there are small gender differences depending on what form of psi is being tested, the type of target chosen to be sent or received, and even the gender of the experimenter running the test.

These have huge implications for the way we view the world.

It’s great to see people like Erin Davis openly talking about their own extraordinary experiences.

I hope more people will do the same.

Debbie L. Kasman

Debbie is an international educational consultant and former teacher, principal, principal assistant to the superintendent for Special Education, acting interim superintendent for Curriculum and Special Education, and student achievement officer at the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat at the Ministry of Education in Ontario. She has lots to say about spirituality, female leadership, and the need to transform education.