On numerous occasions in my life, both professionally and on a casual basis, I’ve had conversations with individuals who claimed to possess psychic abilities. Most often I’ve been unimpressed, but I’ll admit that there have been a few exceptions, albeit those of the rarest variety. Sparing those seldom few, for the most part my experiences have failed to showcase anything I found particularly extraordinary, although in their wackiness they have left me with good fodder for future conversations and storytelling.

One such instance occurred years ago, after I was invited by a researcher and acquaintance of mine to travel out of town with him, hoping to meet with friends of his that he said were under “psychic attack” by some bizarre malevolent forces. Upon our arrival, speaking with the residents in question certainly revealed a curious set of circumstances; rather than anything supernatural or particularly “evil,” what I found was far more interesting in its more mundane aspects… but no-less potentially dangerous.

For these poor folks, lightning had indeed struck twice; several times, to be accurate. The story related to us detailed how electronic devices in the home of these individuals had been repeatedly destroyed by lightning, which had been striking their home with startling frequency. Their home, however, was built mostly around a metallic frame and outer structure, since one of the residents suffered from terrible allergies that made her very susceptible to sickness from mold–particularly the variety that grows on damp or rotting wood. Additionally, they sat at the peak of a very high ridge, mostly bare from the cover of trees and other tall objects, making them an easy target for the forces of nature.

Though the circumstances seemed to indicate to me a fairly clear explanation as to what may be causing this, my fellow researcher offered a different perspective: after consulting with a pair of psychics, he had determined that an ancient evil extraterrestrial presence inhabited the mountain, and it wanted our mutual acquaintances to leave! Startled though I was, shortly after this revelation I managed to excuse myself from the company politely, and on my way to the car, one of the residents walked me out, expressing sadness and concern about what they’d been told.

“If I can offer you any advice,” I told her, “it would be not to believe everything you hear.” With that, I thanked her for her hospitality (and a very nice cup of Earl Grey tea), hopped into my car and made a beeline back to town.

The moral of this story isn’t that all people who profess to have psychic abilities are wackos or liars trying to get attention for various reasons. What it does illustrate for us, however, is that there are certain times when even the most overtly bizarre speculation can harbor potential danger, especially on the most impressionable minds. For instance, in the circumstances above, the inhabitants of the house in question were told they should leave, based on the speculation of a couple of “psychics” whom neither of the residents had ever met. What’s worse, they were told this in the midst of obvious circumstances that should have indicated with uber-clarity that natural causes were to blame. Of course, I was aware of the degree of desperation these individuals had expressed, having suffered so much loss over time, and easily understood how they might have opened their minds to speculation that involved otherworldly forces acting upon them. It’s a shame that those who are the most emotionally susceptible in these sorts of scenarios will almost inevitably place themselves in harm’s way. Though I’m able to vouch for the good intentions of my acquaintance, these individuals still might have even become prey for other less-scrupulous individuals, had the circumstances been different.

A similar instance where good intentions still managed to fall scientifically-askew was detailed recently by Bad Science Columnist Benjamin Radford, in an article he wrote at Space.com. Radford details the story of Courtney Brown, founder of an organization of psychics called the Farsight Institute, which had studied mysterious features they found in a NASA photograph of the Martian landscape. Brown, with the help of a group of remote-viewing psychics, claimed that he had confirmed the presence of a large, metallic channel or pipe that appeared to be spraying some liquid substance over a large area. Radford disagreed, stating, “This is completely unscientific, because there is no verifiable, third-party data to support or refute either Brown’s interpretations or the psychics’ information. Just because Brown sees something that he thinks resembles a spray, a pipeline, or a dome doesn’t mean it’s actually there.”

Perhaps the worst element here is that Brown, just like many other amateur skywatchers who, honestly enough, have found what appeared to be anomalies on the surface of Mars and other celestial bodies, coupled his speculation with “verification” he received from psychics in the absence of verifiable evidence. This wouldn’t be the first time speculation, rather than facts, have been used to prop up odd and outstanding claims: I’ve heard well-known former Air Force pilots and military officials speak with a straight face about trees that grow on the moon, and men of science that will insist that lunar archaeological sites exist that would make 2001: A Space Odyssey look like a fact-based PBS documentary. We’re all entitled to our opinions, but to be honest, sometimes those opinions involve information that is just too far-fetched to even take seriously.

That said, in conclusion I’ll leave you with one final boring campfire tale from the Gralien archives: A few years back, I was sitting down for a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale with my pal and prolific conspiracy author Jim Marrs, and we’d been talking about Lunar anomalies, disinformation, and the like. I was aware that Jim knew a lot of folks in positions of power and influence (many of them former military officials) who sometimes recounted bizarre things about space and, in particular, NASA missions. “Jim,” I asked him (loosely paraphrased), “some of that stuff is kinda hard to believe. Do you buy any of the stories these guys are telling?” Jim grinned and thought for a moment, and then replied, “I think they believe it!”

Sometimes, that’s all that really matters, anyway… virtually anything can exist, so long as it’s believable in the eye of the beholder. This makes interesting food for thought, especially if we begin to question what really constitutes reality. After all, how much of what we see around us exists, based almost solely on our perception of the phenomenon alone? Would a person inclined to believe in Bigfoot go through much of their life in fear of gigantic monsters, after a late-night encounter with an unidentifiable creature? What if that creature had actually been a bear? Would that matter to the witness, who went on believing it had been a tremendous manlike beast, especially if they were never told otherwise? Indeed, our perception of reality, at least on a base level, actually dictates to some degree what we believe, and hence, alters how we see the world.

Looking at things from this perspective, far be it from me to ever tell a psychic they’re wrong about their abilities; according to their perception of reality, they may indeed have some ability to transcend the five known senses… but I can’t guarantee my reality will ever be affected by it!

Image by Greg Younger via Flickr.

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Micah Hanks

Author: Micah Hanks

Micah Hanks is a writer, researcher, and podcaster. His interests include areas of history, science, archaeology, philosophy, and the study of anomalous phenomena in nature. He can be reached at info@micahhanks.com.