|What is "animal psi?"|
Do animals have psychic ability? Are there any research findings that suggest that animals possess or do not possess ESP?
Since psychic functioning appears to be a natural, widespread, and biologically useful process in humans, it makes sense to look for similar functioning in animals. A number of anecdotes suggest psychic functioning in animals. Cases have been reported of animals changing their behavior at the time of their mastersí deaths or becoming restless when the master approaches home (although in both cases the master is far away, and the animals have no ordinary sensory means of knowing about these events). There are also cases of animals being taught simple codes or systems of communication involving barking, pawing, and so forth and then utilizing these new codes to identify hidden objects or to answer questions in telepathy or clairvoyance tests.
Some of the most compelling evidence comes from an area known as "Psi Trailing." This term refers to cases in which animals have been successful in locating their masters with all known sensory clues having been eliminated. For example, a family moves to a new home hundreds of miles away. Unfortunately, the family cat is left behind. Although the cat has never seen the new home, and although tracking the family through odor cues would seem impossible, a few months later the cat appears at the door of the new home -- mewing and bedraggled. Somehow, the cat has trailed or tracked his masters. If identification of the animal is absolutely certain, and if the animal has received no human aid in arriving at the new location, the animal may have found its way to the new dwelling psychically.
Countless cases of this type of "psi trailing" have been reported, many of them very well documented. Nonetheless, these everyday life examples, however impressive, are not completely evidential. Itís difficult to calculate expected probabilities and determine whether coincidence is involved or not. So, for greater certainty, we turn to laboratory studies.
The trick here is to develop methods that allow animals to demonstrate their psychic abilities on demand. One of the nicest methods has been devised by French experimenters. The technique involves a procedure that allows animals (in this case, small rodents) to indicate by means of their behavior that they can precognize or foretell randomly selected events. Mice were placed in a box containing two floor sections. Every so many seconds, one side is mildly electrified for a short period of time. The animal has a few seconds to "decide" which side will be shocked and move to what will be the "safe" side in order to avoid the shock. Since no signals are involved, and since the side to be shocked on the next trial is chosen by a truly random method, the only way for the animal to learn which side will be shocked is to use precognition - to become psychically aware of an event before it happens. The mice were able to perform this psychic task significantly better than chance would predict.
Investigators in other laboratories and in various countries including the U.S. have been able to obtain similar results with this and other tests using a variety of animals as subjects. However, the role of the experimenterís own psychic functioning has not yet been removed completely from these animal psi experiments, and we may never be completely certain whether the psychic functioning exhibited in the experiment belongs to the animal, the experimenter, or both.
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