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Our future, our universe, and other weighty topics


Friday, December 26, 2014

They Seemed to Know of Deaths They Should Not Have Known Of

I always find it interesting to read about or experience a case when a mind seems to have some knowledge or idea that we would not expect it to have. There was such a case the other day in my personal experience. I saw my adult daughter leaving, and I thought to myself, "I'll say to her: see you later, alligator." But then I thought to myself: I don't think a young lady would like being called an alligator. So I simply said, "See you later" in a flat voice. She then immediately replied, "See you later, alligator," an expression I can never recall hearing her use before. Cases such as these may be evidence for human abilities such as ESP, which is also supported by laboratory experiments skeptics are unable to explain away.

A more interesting case of anomalous cognition comes when a person seems to know of someone's death when that person should have had no such knowledge. Bruce Greyson made a study of such cases, which he called "Peak in Darien" experiences. Below is a list of some interesting cases documented in Greyson's paper.

  • A woman had a dying vision of four of her brothers, only three of whom were known by her to be dead. The fourth brother was in India, and was thought to be alive. Not long after she died, a letter arrived announcing the death of the fourth brother.
  • There were two brothers who died of scarlet fever. The death of the first brother was kept secret from the second brother. Just before the second brother died, he claimed to see a vision of the first brother, calling to him.
  • John Alkin Ogle was on his deathbed and saw a vision of his dead brother and a man named George Hanley. Ogle had not yet learned that Hanley had died ten days earlier.
  • Two schoolmates named Jennie and Edith died from diptheria. The death of Jennie was kept secret from Edith. Just before dying, Edith had a vision of Jennie, saying, “Oh Jennie, I am so glad you are here.”
  • A woman on her deathbed saw a vision of her deceased father, who was next to her sister Vida. The woman did not know that her sister Vida had died three weeks earlier.
  • While dying a woman named Eleanor called out the names of deceased loved ones she could see, and mentioned a cousin named Ruth, asking, “What's she doing here?” Ruth had unexpectedly died a short time earlier, and Eleanor had not been told.
  • When Horace Wheatley went into a coma, he had a vision of a local government officer. Unknown to him, the government officer had recently died.
  • A man had a near-death vision of two of his brothers, the second of whom had died two days earlier, unknown to the man. Only after his recovery did he learn about the death of the second brother.
  • A 93-year-old woman dying of cancer had a vision of her sister calling him to join her. Unknown to the woman, the sister had died of cancer two days earlier.
  • Two childhood friends named Ralph and Steve died at about the same time in different places. Just before he died, and just after Steve had died, Ralph had a vision of Steve.
  • A dying man told his family that he had a vision of his dead grandmother, his dead mother, and his sister. He had not been told that his sister had recently died.
  • A dying English woman reported hearing angelic voices, and then said she could see an old acquaintance of hers named Julia. The next day the newspaper announced Julia's death.
  • On her deathbed a Mrs. Hicks had a vision of her son Eddie. Shortly after her death, the family learned that Eddie had died about the same time the mother had the vision.
  • A woman had a near-death experience in which she saw a friend named Tom. Shortly thereafter, her husband learned that Tom had died in an auto accident.
  • A native American woman was hit by a car. Asked by someone whether there was anything he could do, the dying woman instructed the man to tell her mother that she was “very happy because I am already with my dad.” The man found the woman's mother, who told him that her husband (the father) had died of a heart attack one hour before the auto accident.
  • After his mother died in an auto accident, a son dying from the same auto accident told a doctor, “Everything is all right now. Mommy and Peter are already waiting for me.” The son died, and the doctor then learned that his brother Peter had died a few minutes earlier in another location.
  • A man having a near-death experience reported that he saw his sister, who told him it was too soon for him to die. Later he told doctors that his sister must be dead. They assured him that she was alive. He told them to check, and they found the sister had indeed died.
  • A young dying patient named Peggy saw her aunt, who lived in another state, appear right next to her. It was later found that the aunt had died at the same time.
  • Having a feverish close encounter with death, a young boy named Eddie Cuomo reported seeing dead relatives in heaven, and being told by his sister Teresa that he must go back. Very shortly thereafter, his parents checked on the status of Teresa, and found out she had died while attending college.
  • A woman had a near-death experience in which she reported seeing a vision of her brother, a brother she had never known of. Her father then confessed that she did have a brother, whose existence she had never learned of.

Some skeptics attempt to explain away near-death experiences through some hypothesis about the mind constructing some vision to match its expectations. Such an explanation does not work for cases such as these, because in each such case we have some unexplained report or vision which proved to be consistent with the unknown death of a person, but which did not match the assumption that we would expect to have been in the mind of the person who made the report.

 "The Final Doorway"