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Friday, May 23, 2014

Let's Use Twitter to Test the Dream Precognition Hypothesis

On May 9, 2014 I had a very specific and unusual dream involving a meteor falling from the sky. Amazingly, the exact details of my dream came true a week after I had the dream.

My dream (which was quite short) consisted of only three elements:
  1. An image of a glowing bluish-white object (with a long shiny tail) descending diagonally from the night sky to the ground, as a meteor does.
  2. A sighting of a small glowing round object on the ground, at the spot where the descent ended.
  3. A discovery or realization that the small object was merely of earthly origin, not some object of alien manufacture. There was no story involved with this third part, just a kind of feeling that the small glowing object was nothing special, that it was of earthly origin.
On the morning I had this dream I recorded it as follows: “Had a dream of a meteor (UFO?) descending from the sky. It was glowing white. A little glowing object appeared on the ground. But I looked at it, and it was just made by some company (publicity stunt?).”

The dream did not actually involve anything about a publicity stunt. I added that phrase (with a question mark) when recording the dream, simply as a possible explanation for how an object descending like a meteor from the sky might be of earthly origin. At the time I could think of no other explanation.

One week later on May 16th it was reported that a strange meteor had been observed in the Chinese province of Heilongjiang, near Russia. Observers saw a big fireball in the sky. Observers reported that a huge ball of flame came crashing down into a vegetable garden. At the place where the meteor had struck the ground there were three strange round objects, one about two feet in width. One of the objects is shown below:

Courtesy of www.chinanews.com

Some speculated that the objects might be wreckage of a UFO. But it was later noticed that a Russian Proton M satellite launch from Kazakhstan had failed on the same day, burning up after launch. The Russians denied that their launch could have dumped wreckage in China. But the Chinese reported their tests indicated that the objects from the meteor crash are indeed from the Russian spacecraft that failed.

I looked at a video of the failure of the Russian satellite launch. When the video came to a particular point, my jaw dropped. There was an image that looked exactly like what I had seen at the beginning of my dream: a bluish-white meteor with a long tail like a comet, descending diagonally from the sky, against the backdrop of a black sky. Below is the image from point 1:51 in the video, which exactly matches what I saw at the beginning of my dream: 

So let's compare all the elements of my May 9th dream to the reality reported on March 16:
  1. A night-time image of a glowing bluish-white object with a long shiny tail, descending diagonally from the sky to the ground, as a meteor does. Exact match to Heilongjiang incident.
  2. A sighting of a small glowing round object on the ground, at the spot where the descent ended. Exact match to the Heilongjiang incident. Since it was reported that the objects crashed to the ground in a huge ball of flame, we can assume the hot metal objects were glowing for at least a while.
  3. A discovery or realization that the small object was merely of earthly origin, not some object of alien manufacture. Exact match to the Heilongjiang incident. The satellite was an Express-AM4R satellite made by the Russian Satellite Communications Company, and my original description of the dream said the small object was "just made by some company."

There is only one problem with the story I have told here: I can't prove that I really had the dream on May 9th. This is because the only place I recorded my unusual dream was in a text file on my computer.

But there is a way to avoid this type of problem. The solution is simple: when you have an unusual dream in your sleep that you think might one day turn out true, use Twitter, and do a tweet that describes your dream. You will then have proof that you had the dream on that particular day.

Twitter.com is a web site allowing its users to send out very brief messages called tweets, which are limited to 140 characters (about 30 words). A user can delete his own tweets, but once you have sent out a tweet, there is no way to either edit that tweet or change the date of that tweet. Twitter is therefore a great tool for proving exactly what you wrote at a particular time.

From now on whenever I have a distinctive dream that I think might come true, I intend to usually send out a tweet describing the dream exactly. I suggest that the same thing be done by any readers of this post who are interested in the possibility of dream precognition. Together we might be able to supply evidence for the claim that precognition can occur in dreams --a claim which numerous people have previously made, as you can see by doing a Google search for “dream precognition.”

Here are some guidelines that I suggest. If people follow these guidelines, it will be easy to use Twitter's search functionality to find all the tweets that were done by people following the protocol suggested here.

  1. If you have a distinctive dream that you think might come true, on the same morning you had the dream, use www.twitter.com to send out a tweet that briefly describes your dream.
  2. After describing the dream, use the hashtags #dream and #test. There are too many tweets using the hashtag #dream, but very few using both the hashtags #dream and #test. So it will be easy to search for detailed dream descriptions using a combined search for #dream and #test.
  3. Do not bother sending out a tweet describing a dream that has no chance of coming true. For example, if you dream that a pink leopard was walking on your ceiling, don't bother tweeting that.
  4. Do not bother sending out a tweet describing a dream if you can make the dream come true yourself just by making some decision. For example, there is no point in tweeting that you dreamed that you ate lime sherbet ice cream, because you can always decide to order that type of ice cream, which would not support the hypothesis of precognition.
  5. Make every effort to describe as many details as you can from your dream, as concisely as you can. In the rare case when you can't describe everything in one tweet, end the first tweet with “continued in next tweet,” and finish your description in a follow-up tweet.
  6. Do not bother sending out a tweet describing some dream if there is no way to verify if the dream came true (for example, “I dreamed I felt mad at my boss”), or if the event seemed fairly likely to come true beforehand -- for example, “I dreamed I went walking with my wife."
  7. By all means do tweet any dream involving some event that can be publicly verified by doing a Google search or a news search.
  8. If you remember a very distinctive and unusual image from your dream, and can't describe it very well, use a simple drawing tool like Paint to make a sketch, save your sketch as an image file, and add the sketch as a file attachment to your tweet (by pressing the little Camera button you can see below). 
If people follow this protocol, we will be conducting a mass experiment that may provide evidence for the hypothesis that precognition can occur in dreams. People will later be able to find these dream descriptions by doing a Twitter search for #dream and #test. 

An example of a tweet that uses this protocol: 

An example of a search for tweets that used the protocol:

If readers of this post follow this protocol, people can then do Google searches and news searches to verify whether some of these dreams actually came true. Through such a method we may be able to accumulate substantial evidence for dream precognition.

To those who think such an exercise is a complete waste of time, I refer you to my previous post 'Feeling the Future' Study Replicated While Skeptics Fume, which discusses a recent meta-analysis finding that Daryl Bem's controversial “Feeling the Future” experiment on precognition has been well replicated. Having had the dream described here, along with an earlier dream of the World Trade Center's collapse (which I had several months before September 2001), I can merely assert that an organized experiment testing dream precognition may well be a worthwhile undertaking. 

Postscript: This very weird incident may have just got even more weird. The Mysterious Universe site now has a video showing a little white speck moving in towards the Russian rocket just before it malfunctioned. The site is suggesting it may be a missile or UFO that caused the destruction of the rocket. I have no idea whether such a claim has any credibility, but while watching the video I do see a little white speck moving in toward the satellite. The story, with the video, can be seen here.  An additional story maintaining the same thing can be found here

Post-postscript: Besides the hypothesis that precognition can occur in dreams, there is also a hypothesis that what is called retrocognition can occur in dreams. Retrocognition is an alleged paranormal case of knowing or sensing or having an idea of something after it occurred, even though you never learned of it through normal means.

I must relate here a personal incident that makes me something less than completely hostile to the possibility of such a thing. On May 15, 2014 I had the most startling image in one of my dreams. It was an image of a noose hanging from what looked like a door frame (although I could see no door). Now the loop of the noose was around the neck of a female. But this was not a dream of someone dying by hanging, because in my dream (oddly enough) the female was somehow levitating (or being levitated) so that the noose did not strangle her.

The dream seemed incredibly weird, like something that could never happen. But within a few days I was astounded to read that something very much like this had happened three days earlier, a few days before my dream. Some boy was playing with a karate belt, and had wrapped it around a wooden playground structure that resembled a door frame. The belt accidentally became a noose, and a girl got her neck accidentally stuck in this noose. But the girl did not die. The boy pushed the girl up so that she was not strangled by the noose – producing an effect like the levitation in my dream.

I was completely unaware of this incident when I had my dream that bears an uncanny resemblance to it.

Post-post-postscript: Many cases of seemingly precognitive dreams have been recorded, including dreams of Mark Twain and Lincoln. See this link for a more recent example -- a second-string player who scored a winning goal in a World Cup game two days after telling his teammates that he had a dream of doing just that. For many other similar examples, see Dr. Larry Dossey's excellent book The Science of Premonitions.

Post-post-post-postscript: See this blog post for two meta-analysis surveys of scientific studies on precognition. Both find a very significant effect.