Psychics and extrasensory perception in our world

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By Usha Sookai and Charissa Bachan, Staff Writers

Psychics. We hear about them and their abilities, but exaggerations and reality often get blurred together.

Psychics are people who claim to experience extra-sensory perception, or ESP: a feeling of knowing things that occur outside of the five senses. Common examples include foretelling future events, being aware of present events without having seen them, and telepathy or mental communication with others.

AP Psychology classes recently covered this topic, which sparked interest among students. Overall, students had different opinions about people who claim to experience ESP, and some staff members expressed doubts due to the lack of scientific evidence and the influence of the media.

Senior Tiffany Li, a current AP Psychology student, said  the “right circumstances” are often mistaken for psychic abilities and occurrences and it isn’t realistic.

However, freshmen Akintomiwa Akinwumi and Cherry Leung both feel that psychics exist in some capacity. Akintomiwa said, “I don’t think one can actually see the future, but I do believe that one can have a dream about the future or be able to sense the future.” Some may call it “Deja Vu” he continued, which he has experienced firsthand.

On the other hand, Cherry thinks that ESP can play a much larger role. Her grandmother, she said, “seems to sense disasters…and has even predicted deaths” both of which are qualities of precognition and clairvoyance. “I personally believe in ‘guardians’ [and]… I know that some people are more in tune to… the metaphysical [world],” she continued. “Guardians” as she calls them, are people who can give guidance or even grant wishes.

On the other hand, science teacher Shi Bing Shen and history teacher Ian Morzan agree that they need to see scientific proof in order to say if either exists.

Every year, Ms. Shen teaches students about ESP and the types of superstitions that stem from unconventional means of perception. “Just because I haven’t met someone with [psychic abilities], it doesn’t mean that [another student] will not,” she said.

Mr. Morzan also thinks that ESP, in terms of perception, exists in varying degrees but not in the “Hollywood version” of it. “People sometimes misinterpret their dreams,” he said and they often perceive dreams, or “unprocessed material” as having a greater meaning.  

He added that society’s interest in these abilities stems from human nature: “People want to have comfort in the inexplicable… [and] something to believe in.” Regardless of whether or not it’s real, what’s more important is that it helps people. Mediums, people who claim to communicate with spirits, he said “often can allow [people] to make meaning out of something that they can be struggling with.”

Ms. Shen agreed, bringing up mental health. “In certain ways, people turn into things that can comfort them.” This can come in the form of psychics. Irrespective of its existence, she believes that it’s a good thing if it benefits someone’s well being.

Akintomiwa referred to this idea of comfort, saying that he has a small interest in ESP and psychics because while seeing the future sounds surreal, it’d allow him to “prepare for the worst or the best.”

Moreover, both Ms. Shen and Mr. Morzan mentioned how the media and pop culture today, like the Marvel franchise and other supernatural-themed franchises, romanticize psychics and ESP. These portrayals cause people to create false perceptions and stereotypes about psychics, which contributes to society’s fascination.

Whether psychics and ESP actually exists or not isn’t the question. What matters most are people’s attitudes towards each, and how those attitudes impact their lives. For some, they provide closure or a source of income, while for others, it’s simply an interesting idea or something to fantasize about.