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No. 120: Nov-Dec 1998

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Precognitive Dreams

For her doctoral dissertation, M.S. Stowell completed a deep study of precognitive dreaming. She approached this subject about the only way one can, which is by interviewing people who claim to have had such dreams.

Stowell interviewed five such claimants, and it is remarkable how many precognitive dreams they have had collectively. There are 51, and 37 of them have been confirmed as accurate. In addition, all five dreamers had precognitive experiences while awake. Many of these were also confirmed. It is important to bear in mind that it takes only one solid confirmation of precognition to shatter some sacred paradigms! Here, we might have a couple score of them!

To give the reader the flavor of this type of parapsychological research, we select one dream that foresaw a plane crash. Here is how Elizabeth described her dream:

"It starts out where I'm driving north on the freeway in [City]. Right about by [specific location], going north, heading for the [specific] Bridge, I look up and there's a big plane coming straight at me, and there's also an overpass right where I am. My initial reaction is that it's going to crash on and that I'm in trouble and instead a split second passes in which I realize that I'm going under it, under the overpass, and the plane will go right over me and crash somewhere behind me. And I realize in that time that it will crash on the freeway and that a lot of people will die and that I, I just want to keep driving north and not look back [brief laughter], is my reaction."

Elizabeth told her husband of her dream in the morning. The actual plane crash occurred a few weeks later just where she had been in her dream.

Many similar, confirmed reports are presented by Stowell in her study.

(Stowell, Mary S.; "Precognitive Dreams: A Phenomenological Study. Part I. Methodology and Sample Cases," American Society for Psychical Research, Journal, 91:163, 1997.)

Comments. The literature of parapsychology is immense; the above report is just a tiny sample of what's available. There are scores of parapsychology journals and thousands of books at the Library of Congress. However, we almost never see any mention of all these immense labors in Science, Nature, or even the more adventuresome New Scientist. Why? Mainly because logical positivism, which rules the thinking of mainstream scientists, insists that the only acceptable observations are those that can be experienced by all persons. And we don't all have precognitive dreams, or, if we do, we don't recognize them as such! In addition, anecdotal data, dreams, channeled information, and the like are always viewed with suspicion.

Today, some parapsychologists are proposing that science suspend such severe requirements and recognize such phenomena as precognitive dreaming. Only by doing this, they say, will we be able to fully grasp all of reality.

Comment. Mainstream science follows the dictates of "logical positivism," which insists that the only acceptable observations are those that can be experienced by all persons. Since few of us have precognitive dreams, the rules of science would have to be changed if they are to be embraced by science.

From Science Frontiers #120, NOV-DEC 1998. 1998-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987