Monday, December 1, 2008

Sensing death

Since the earliest recorded times we have noticed that animals seem to know of coming death and danger. So it is natural that parapsychologists have attempted to bring these animal psychics into the laboratory and test this ability. Could animals have the ability to know of things like death as a result of some basic psychic activity? If so how do we measure this ability for science?

We can look for some significance to the many age-old stories and superstitions that animals know about death. One behavior that people have often noticed was an uneasiness even depression in animal behavior before the death of a companion or themselves.

These sad slow movements of the dog who knows, even before the rest of the family, when his master has died, have been reported too many times the disbelieved. Animals seem to have ability at knowing about death. Undoubtedly it served them well in the wild.

Robert Morris reported an experiment that involved rats. He took a group of rats scheduled to be killed. And let each one run individually in an open change, two minutes. The assumption was that those who were to be killed would not move around as much as those who were not. That is like the dog that stayed in one corner or under the porch when he knew of a death and his family.

Immediately after running, each was taken to a coworker who either destroyed it or returned to its cage. This was done according to a random plan that was not known to the open field scorer. To that open field scorer didn't know which animals were to live and which were to die, and the coworker didn't know how each animal had performed in the open field. After the test, the scores based on how often a given rat had crossed a line in the cage, were compared with record of which one dies. Half of the animals that lived were active enough to leave their original square, but not one of those who died were even that active.

Also animals know what their masters are going to do, especially if that will hurt them. Another experiment was recorded by two scientists who used the pseudonyms of Duval and Montredom. They reported it in 1968. Animals can use psi to protect themselves from harm.

The procedure of the experiment was too randomly give one side of the cage or the other a small electrical shock. The whole procedure was automated so that no experimenter needed to be present. The experiment illustrated that the mice used psi sensations to protect themselves from shock. “Actually,” the report reads, “the mice avoided the shock more than one would expect by chance... (probability < .001). This significant result can be ascribed to psi, for the animals apparently must have used precognition or clairvoyance in order to make these correct choices in responses.”

If the situation is hopeless animals relax and await their fate whereas if they know of approaching danger and take measures to avoid it. The psychological motivations for these psychic flashes of awareness are easy to see.

Morris, R.L. 1970 “Psi and animal behavior: a survey.” The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research 64:242-260

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