Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Psychic grounding, telepathy, and tinfoil hats

Are you bothered by your psychic abilities?  Do you find yourself unable to tune out others' thoughts?  Is the color of your aura clashing with your favorite shirt?

Maybe you need to do some psychic grounding.  (Read about how here.)

Honestly, I can imagine that it might be inconvenient to be psychic, if such things actually existed.  Especially if you were telepathic.  Consider what it would be like if you really could read the minds of the people around you.  I don't know about you, but my mind is a continuous jumble of random thoughts, most of them inane, weird, and/or irrelevant.  There is frequently musical accompaniment, usually consisting of whatever song I heard on the radio on the way to work.  And like most people, I also often have thoughts that I hope fervently never leave my skull, because of the sheer embarrassment potential.  If my thoughts really could be recorded, sequentially, they'd probably look something like the following:

"I'm hungry...  What did I do with my pencil?... Do I have a faculty meeting today?... Slip slidin' away, slip slidin' away... Wow, she's hot!... Is 'occurred' spelled with one 'r' or two?...  I'm cold... Oh mama mia, mama mia, mama mia, let me go... Did I remember to remind Carol to pick up cat litter on the way home from work?...  Geez, that guy is wearing a dorky-looking hat..."

And so on.  I would think that being telepathic would be at best highly distracting, and at worst the mental equivalent of being trapped 24/7 in a noisy bar.  I know that there are people I have to interact with on a daily basis that I already want to scream "dear god, will you please just shut up!" at, and that's just from hearing what they say out loud.  If I could hear their thoughts, too... well, let me just say that this could well be at the heart of some seemingly unpremeditated homicides.

Be that as it may, if this is you... help is on the way, in the form of the aforementioned article, which was written by someone who signs his name only as "Nathaniel." 

The gist of shutting down your psychic abilities lies, apparently, in "grounding" yourself.  Nathaniel says that you can do this in the following ways:
1)  Stop noticing weird stuff.  Nathaniel refers to this as the "11:11 effect" -- how you notice when a digital clock reads some time that is peculiar, and once you've noticed it, it jumps out at you every time it happens.  He seems to seriously consider this a psychic ability, and in fact says that training yourself to notice such things more is a way to amplify your abilities if you want them to increase.  
2)  Tell yourself you're not going to be psychic any more, until you say otherwise.  It's important to include the last part, because if you don't you could risk losing your abilities permanently.
3)  Don't give psychic readings for yourself or others, and don't mess with "power objects" like crystals or Tarot cards.
4)  Create a "psychic shield" for yourself to stop negative people from throwing destructive stuff at you.  I read all about this here, and I must admit that I still don't see how this could work, as it seems like all it amounts to is visualizing yourself as surrounded by a shield.  Whether this could help with negative aura energies, or whatever, I don't know, but I suspect it might be less than successful if what the negative person had thrown was, for example, a brick.
So anyway, all of this seems to me like a lot of hooey -- if it really was this easy to gain and lose psychic abilities, all of us would be doing it all the time, constantly picking up each other's thoughts, and I would really have to watch myself when I see Dorky Hat Guy.  Most of what Nathaniel is describing is just wishful thinking, combined with dart-thrower's bias -- the tendency all of us have to notice seemingly odd stuff (such as when the clock reads 11:11) and ignore irrelevant background noise (such as when it says 5:48).  Our attention to such things doesn't make us psychic -- all it reflects is that evolutionarily, it's better to give attention to something that turns out to be unimportant than to ignore something that turns out to be critical to our survival.

So, honestly, I found Nathaniel's advice to be a bit of a disappointment.  I'd hoped for more concrete advice -- something along the lines of, "To avoid picking up the thoughts of those around you, fashion yourself a tinfoil hat.  Make sure that you use at least three layers for best effect, especially if you are using the cheap generic stuff and not genuine Reynolds Wrap."  But maybe it's better that way.  If I had to go around all day with a tinfoil hat, I'd be the one people were thinking "dorky" about -- even if, at the time, my "psychic shield" was keeping me from hearing about it.

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