Precognition is the perception of an event through paranormal means prior to the actual occurrence of the event. It comes from the Latin words “prae,” which means “prior to,” and “cognitio” or “getting to know.” This ability is closely related to presentiment, the perception of information about the future through emotions. Precognition and presentiment are often grouped under the general category of clairvoyance.
Precognition is the most frequently reported form of ESP, with the majority of individuals experiencing some form of precognition in dreams. However, precognition may also happen through hallucinations, waking visions, a flash of thoughts entering the mind, or as vague sense of “knowing something.”
The first systematic study on precognition was made by British aeronautics engineer, J.W. Dunne. He based his study, which he published in the book, “An Experiment with Time,” on his own precognitive dreams. Dunne’s interest in precognition came when he discovered that the events in his dreams began happening and was reported by the press the day after his dreams occurred. His studies were followed by several others, the most notable of which were the ones done by J.B. Rhine and his wife Louisa at Duke University. The Rhines conducted card-guessing experiments to determine the presence of precognitive and other paranormal abilities in individuals.
Skeptics of precognition insist that the main reason an individual may think that he or she has that ability is because of selection bias. “Hits,” or correct precognitions that eventually turn out to be mere coincidences, are remembered more often than “misses.”