Sixth Sense—Debunked?

Researchers at the University of Melbourne have decided that a “sixth sense,” is not necessary to explain some of the quirky and insightful perceptions that we may have. Can you just “tell” that someone had a fight with his or her partner? Can you “feel” when someone isn’t being truthful with you?

Sorry Kreskin. ESP not necessary.

Interestingly enough, the scientists are not claiming that these perceptions don’t exist. In fact, they seem to have documented that such abilities do exist more often than we might imagine.

One subject told the researchers that she had a sixth sense that had allowed her to know that a relative had been in a car accident—even though the relative had not told her. Researchers believe that rather than a “sixth sense,” she may have relied on acute, but subconscious, use of her existing five senses. She was able to perceive subtle marks, behavior changes and body language that lead her to ask about an accident.

In a clinical study, people were shown pairs of pictures. Some pictures contained minute differences; in others, there were no differences at all. Many research subjects were able to detect the photos with differences accurately, even when shown the photos for a second or less. They were not able to say what was different, but they had a clear sense that something had changed or was wrong.

I don’t think this study debunks much of anything! Maybe we’re just getting better at scientifically explaining some of the things that we’ve believed for years. We may accurately just “sense” when something is wrong. We may be able to know when a friend is in trouble or when the boss is up to something.

It doesn’t have to be an extra sense to be useful. It doesn’t have to be supernatural to be real. God has given us an amazing ability to sense, discern, analyze and match patterns. We can interact with our environment and each other far beyond what most of us think is possible. Now that we’re beginning to understand how it works, maybe we can begin to cultivate it. Certainly all of God’s tools exist for us to use and refine.

For my part, I’m just glad that science agrees that I can tell when my niece is fibbing. Now I just need to convince her.