Extraordinary Experiences by Ordinary People

by Debbie L. Kasman in , ,


We all have intuitive moments but there’s a great deal we don’t understand. How exactly does intuition work? And where does intuition come from?

There is a world-renowned research lab in Durham, North Carolina that studies intuition and other interesting things experienced by ordinary people. It’s 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 is the former Executive of the Rhine Research Centre. She is the daughter of the late Dr. J. B. Rhine. I reached out to Dr. Sally Rhine Feather via email. In an email, she told me 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 interesting things 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 and even how we teach our kids. 

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.