Communicate with your pets telepathically?

November 20, 2008

I’ve posted about Dr. Fox previously and here’s one of his newspaper columns from this past week where he encourages readers to submit their stories of communicating telepathically with their pets. Click on the article thumbnail for a readable version.

Communicate with Your Pets Telepathically?

Telepathy is a term coined by Frederick W.H. Myers in 1882 in an article for the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research. Literally the word means “distance feeling.”

Personally, I don’t think that Dr. Fox or the letter writers in this column are guilty of incompetence or fraud. I accept that they truly believe in the accuracy of their impressions. The real question is, is that belief enough for anyone else to accept that their perception is accurate? Their are many possible explanations that do not require telepathy to be real, in order to account for this perception. It could be simply that these pet owners (and Dr. Fox) are engaging in self-deception or wishful thinking.

There’s another category of possible error that should be mentioned: subjective validation. This is, almost definition, the problem with animal telepathy. We only have the person who believes in the telepathic communication reporting that it is taking place.

In 1994 a British dog owner, Pam Smart claimed that her dog Jaytee, a terrier, was able to psychically sense when she was coming home, according to reports of his behavior by her parents. Jaytee achieved world-wide fame when he was featured on the World of the Paranormal TV show and Channel 4’s Absolutely Animals

Four years later the results of a scientific study were released and stated that “Jaytee’s love affair with sitting by the porch has more to do with passing cats, playing children and cars whizzing by.” Their conclusion was that “In all four experiments Jaytee failed to detect accurately when Pam Smart set off to return home.” Here’s a BBC article on the case, Psychic Dog Phenomenon brought back down to Earth.


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