A PUBLIC EXPERIMENT IN PRECOGNITIVE DREAMING
Presented at the Annual Conference
of the Asociation for the Study of Dreams
Santa Fe, New Mexico
In May, 1989, Dr. Marcia Emery published an article in Dream Network Bulletin on "Programming the Precognitive Dream." A subsequent study appeared in the ASD Newsletter in July, 1991. Also in 1989, Susan M. Watkins published Dreaming Myself, Dreaming a Town (Kendall & Delisle Books). The author, the editor of a small town newspaper, invited readers to send in their dreams. Her book recounts many remarkable interconnections among dreams and dreamers, including one striking example of community precognition.
Because precognition of news items had been a consistent feature of my own dream records, I decided to adapt Dr. Emery's procedure for use with the dream awareness classes I was teaching at the community college. The results were exciting to both my students and myself, and I wondered if such an experiment could be conducted with a larger population. In February, 1992, I was scheduled to give a talk at a bookstore on behalf of my newly published book, The Practical Psychic. I decided to capitalize on the opportunity to approach a (more or less) general public.
More than 100 people came to my talk. I invited audience members to participate in the experiment by following the guidelines on the forms provided. I had brought 50 forms for the dream experiment and all were distributed. Participants were to write down their dreams and mail them to the bookstore by February 28th. The target was the front page news of The Pittsburgh Press on Sunday, March 1.
Four volunteers judged the entries. There were 13 appropriately postmarked responses which recounted 25 dreams in all. When judges felt a dream contained precognitive content, they scored it as either a "hit" or a "partial hit." There were several dreams which every judge graded a "hit."
Dream Hit 1: "Men in uniform/ a military compound?" The largest photograph on the front page shows Army recruits, participants in a program called "Operation Warrior Challenge," applying camouflage make-up to the face of a sergeant. Many other hits were of this photo.
Dream Hit 2: "There was... a man I didn't know, and he was standing before me, facing me... holding a large balloon that blocked most of him from my sight. It was a heavy balloon, made of thick, dirty brown rubber, and he was holding it in my face." All the judges felt this was a symbolic rendering of the photograph, in which a man's face is being concealed behind "thick, dirty brown" camouflage make-up.
Dream Hit 3: The dreamer described going through greeting cards when one "catches my eye-- it is supposed to be a rock star (Motley Crue came to mind)... and he had on a wedding veil...This was the front of the card-- it was a photo type picture in black and white... Just his head and shoulders showed." The judges were impressed with the black & white, head and shoulders photo of a man, and compared the veil to make-up (which Motley Crue also wears).
There were other provocative hits and partial hits. For example, most judges felt this short dream -- "a large dog vigorously guarding something"-- corresponded to a story on Saddam Hussein's refusal to scrap Scud manufacturing facilities. Another brief one, "about a hotel and a warning," seemed to preview a story that the county's Housing Authority had been threatened with "enforcement procedures" by HUD. In fact, only 8 dreams were judged by all to have no content that correlated to the front page news.
These "official" results were supplemented by unexpected effects. The night after my talk, I mentioned the bookstore experiment to my dream class. One student went home that night and dreamt of a "female who has died during an operation...a man places into my palm something they have removed from her body. It's about the size of two kidney beans, but a dull flesh color...this looks like...a brain. I put this in a clear tube..." The dreamer thought nothing of this dream until she saw page 1 of the Press that Sunday, and read that the county coroner's office was providing scientific researchers with "sections of brains removed during autopsies."
Newspapers are public, objective and literal; dreams are private, subjective, and symbolic. Subsequent conversations with some dreamers revealed compelling synchronicities suggesting that their dreams included material that was personally "newsworthy." I found these tangential experiences as provocative as the judges' findings. If nothing else, this public experiment in precognitive dreaming affirms that the more we pay attention, the more we discover how dreams intertwine with and illuminate our daily lives.
It only made sense to try this with a newspaper audience. In the next experiment, a newspaper columnist invited his readers to participate.
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Copyright 2017 Cynthia Pearson