Larry Dossey book Power of Premonitions
Although a substantial part of my career as a psychologist has been devoted to parapsychological matters for more than 50 years, one part of the field has always been especially troublesome to me, the idea that people sometimes get information about the future, premonitions, precognitions, when there is no reasonable possibility of them getting it, given what we know about the nature of the physical world.
I am thoroughly acculturated, like practically everyone, to believe that the past is gone, the future is not yet here, only the present moment is real, so time marches on. Sure, we can predict probable things – the sun will rise tomorrow – or things we know the causal mechanism of – the car will stop running soon if I don’t put more gasoline in the tank. But then you can’t help but hear stories on the order of “I dreamed this really improbable set of events that resulted in my being run down by a green car on such-and-such a street, although I don’t usually go there, and sure enough this green car suddenly dashed around the corner and would have killed me if I hadn’t been forewarned by the dream and so alert enough to jump back.”
The devoted materialist has no trouble with such stories, banishing them with words like “coincidence.” In Dossey’s new book he mentions the medical version of this: a story that indicates something you don’t believe in is an “anecdote,” one that confirms your beliefs in a “careful case history.”
In my recent The End of Materialism book, out just a month before this new Dossey book that I want to praise, I am forced to include precognition with what I call the Big Five psi phenomena, the ones that have been so thoroughly and rigorously tested that I see no reasonable doubt that they exist (telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, psychokinesis and psychic healing). Yet while I include precognition there because there is so much evidence for it in rigorous lab studies, in point of fact I find the idea of knowing the future so incomprehensible that I don’t really think about it. When I discovered massive precognition effects had sneaked into my own laboratory data, e.g., I found I wasn’t even psychologically “defended” against the idea, premonitions were just too far out to worry about.
Now Larry Dossey, well-known physician, author and alternative medicine expert, has devoted a whole book to all aspects of premonitions, and I’m going to have to think about it. Indeed I’ve told Dossey that his book captured me. I have very little time for reading, I’m sent dozens of books people want me to read and that, given my interests, I would like to read, but never get time for. “The Power of Premonitions: How Knowing the Future Can Shape Our Lives” (New York: Dutton, 2009) is so readable and fascinating, though, that I read the first 190 pages continuously and have taken it on my camping vacation with me to finish. It’s too good! Spontaneous cases from real life, lab experiments, connections with the latest understanding of brain functioning, and, especially important, why it would be useful to develop our premonitory abilities, are all covered. I can’t recommend it highly enough!