How to deal with precognitive dreams? Just coincidences or something more?

Discussion in 'Consciousness & Science' started by midix, Apr 26, 2017.

  1. midix

    midix Member

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    Hi all.

    I'm new here. I added my introduction comment here:
    http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/introduce-yourself.90/page-14#post-112657

    It might give you some context and info about my attitude and sanity level, so you could better help me with the question in this topic.

    Now I'll try to tell only the facts about the topic and let you judge.

    I have had multiple precognitive dreams with some particular details and occurrence pattern, which seem to be meaningful or rare enough to be more than coincidence. But I might be wrong and I have heard that probability theory can explain lots of coincidences. Still not sure, therefore I hope for your ideas and evaluation. Are these really just coincidences and wishful thinking or maybe something more?

    But please read all the next points, which will help to flesh out the context to avoid assumptions, like the usual "you adjusted your memories to match the events" or "the brain is good at finding patterns where there are none" or "you selectively remember the dreams that come true but not those that don't, and attribute it to precognition".
    1. I have been having vivid dreams since childhood and I can remember most of them pretty clearly
    2. I often write down my dreams, paying attention not only to what I see and hear but also to emotions and my own thoughts, which triggered the dream. You know, that feeling when a thought comes to your mind "oh, I'm scared, what if there is a monster behind that shadow" and the dream immediately fulfills your "request" :D. I'm trying to honestly answer "why did this dream character did and said that", and mostly I seem to be able to track down how it all flows out of my own subconscious fears and desires. This is an argument against "you selectively remember the dreams that come true but not those that don't" - I remember most of them and I don't claim that they all come true. Just some.
    3. I'm a huge fan of sci-fi, especially virtual reality, so most of my dream scenarios are sci-fi
    4. I have been having spontaneous lucid dreams since childhood, almost once in a month or more often, especially on days when I listen to lots of music. They are usually short and I find it difficult to gain total control, and I don't want that anyway because then a dream becomes a boring doll house. I usually try to rewind the existing dream to attempt different actions or formulate a question in my mind and then let the dream show me answers. Often it's just nonsense, but sometimes it's important for dealing with personal issues.
    5. I have been reading books about OOBE (Robert Monroe's journeys and Robert Bruce's astral dynamics) but I myself haven't experienced anything like that. Except maybe some conscious sleep paralysis cases (can be terrifying, especially for a 5-6 year old), but that does not count, I guess.
    6. In all cases of my precognitive dreams I have remembered (or even written down) the dream before the event happened.
    7. In all cases of my precognitive dreams they have been short (just a few seconds of subjective time), looked surprisingly mundane and usual, compared to dreams coming immediately before, thus making the precognitive dreams "out of place" (too normal in my general dream sci-fi chaos)
    8. The precognitive dreams always occurred in late mornings and, subjectively, immediately before waking up. I don't know, maybe I had unconscious deep sleep after that, I just know that these dreams where the first thing I immediately remembered when I opened my eyes and it somehow always coincided with the time when I have no time to sleep longer and I have to get up and go to school or work
    9. The precognitive dreams always have come true in the same day
    10. The precognitive dreams always have been about events that are not of great importance in my life and I would never want to intentionally focus on or try to "predict" these events. This is somewhat an argument against "the brain is good at finding patterns where there are none" because pattern matching usually has some intention or purpose. However, sometimes brain does get creative and imagines some patterns automatically (like seeing animals in cloud shapes), so I'm not sure... Anyway, if these are just random patterns recognized by my brain, I'm not able to track down how and why this tracking process started.

    So, here goes some examples of "precognitive dreams":

    1) It all started in maybe 5th grade. Right before my alarm rang, I saw that I'm standing in a corridor in front of computer classroom door and somehow I knew that the teacher is missing and there will be no computer lesson that day. When I woke up and went to school, that was exactly what happened - our entire class was standing there waiting when some teacher came and informed us that there will be no lesson that day for some unplanned reasons. Ok, maybe this could be explained with having heard some rumors or something and unconsciously recording them, but then I wouldn't felt so surprised when it happened. And also none of the classmates seemed to have a clue what had happened. Also, not that unique event, might be a coincidence, although having the properties as described in points 6 - 10.

    2) Some simple cases - broken pencil, dropped a few cents while giving my money to a bus driver; again not unique enough, might be a coincidence, although again having the properties as described in points 6 - 10.

    3) Dream - my father hands me a microphone. It came true immediately when I woke up - my father went to our basement storage and, for unknown reason, dug out an old microphone which came bundled with our old tape recorder, and decided to bring it home and give it to me. He just said that it "somehow has caught his attention" and he wanted to give it to me. He clearly knew that all of our old electronic devices and also my early DIY experiments are in those old boxes in the basement and he knew that I would myself find anything there, if I desire so. We haven't talked about microphones or anything like that before that day and I had no any DIY projects going on. It just came out of the blue and I had no use of the microphone at that moment, so I just put it back into my spare parts box.

    4) Dream - my elder brother asks me for help and it's urgent. It came true the same day - he had an issue with bank account and asked me to loan a bit money. It wouldn't be anything special, but my elder brother has always be the one who has helped me and he never ever in his life had asked me for help in return. Especially not for money because I was just a freelancer at that time but he had his own business. I did help him and it turned fine. After that again he never has asked me for help again. This was just one single case and it coincided with the dream. Or maybe my brain found a pattern. For you to decide :)

    5) Dream - I meet a person whom I haven't met for long time. I don't known his name, but we talk about our lives and what we've been doing last years. But something is off, I have reserved feelings. Also, there is a back-scene - a group of relatives from my father's side and they seem not to like that person.
    Came true the same day - while walking to my bus stop, I met an old classmate whom I haven't seen for 15 years and who actually had been living in another city far from me, as far as I knew. He had visited my city because of some business trip. We talked about life and stuff. And I really had conflicting feelings, just like in a dream. I was somewhat glad to see him, but on the other hand it brought back some bad memories, because this guy hadn't been friendly to me during school years; bullying and such. Also, my father once told me that he had met the guy in some funeral together with some other father's relatives (again, like in a dream) and my father did not like him, although my father did not know that the guy hadn't been friendly with me. So, although my dream did not predict exact name of the person, it predicted some relevant features - my conflicting attitude and the fact that the guy had had some encounter with my father's relatives.

    6) The last "coincidence" seems the most shocking. In the dream I see myself reading messages on a social network site and someone has said something tragic because I suddenly feel depressed. The message seems to be somewhat public because some other comments follow with expression of sadness and support. Then I get some person's name. It is not very popular in my country. Let's say, it's Basil (because the real name might be inconvenient for you to read and pronounce). Again, the dream has all the qualities of my previous "precognitive dreams". Then I wake up depressed and said. I tried to shake that feeling away. And I did not know, personally, anyone named Basil, so I thought that it was just a dream, nothing special. I went to have my breakfast. The radio in the kitchen was turned on. And the news said that a famous singer of my country had just died after serious complications caused by flu virus. I was not a huge fan of the singer. Definitely not following him closely enough. I did not use Facebook or Twitter at that time. But I have listened to a few of his songs and also I liked his personality and social activities. So, it still was a shock for me, especially combined with the dream. I somehow managed to get myself together and thought: "But what has Basil to do with it?" because the singer's name was not Basil. The radio voice after news continued: "And now we'll have our usual broadcast show, and our guest today is Basil such and such..." Ok, that got creepy. Still, there were too little matching details with my dream. Just death and Basil. Then a few years later I virtually met someone named Basil, seemed like a nice guy, we had some talks about various stuff, but did not get personally close. And after a year he committed suicide without any obvious reason. And I found out about that fact exactly as in my dream about Basil - on the very same social network, in the same manner - a public notice from his close friends. As it turned out, he had some minor sickness, a flu or something but for some reason he took it too seriously and did what he did. Out of the blue. Maybe there were some other reasons, but nobody had a clue.
    Ok, this time the dream came true after a few years, so this would be a too far stretched, but for some reason my brain combined the pattern "Basil, two deaths, social network" and that famous singer and the Basil, who just happened to follow the first death message.

    Of course, this led me to thoughts - what could I have changed? What should I do about it? No idea. I read all the information about the singer and Basil, to get to know them better. I found out that the singer had had a tough childhood and I started to understand his song lyrics better. I found out that Basil also was socially active person and had participated in some interviews about handicapped persons (because he had vision issues, the same way as I do; I forgot to mention that I have really low vision although despite that I'm a programmer and like reading a lot). That was the most I could do. Anyway, not sure why would my brain (or whatever it was) create such cruel "coincidence patterns", I definitely had no intent to foresee something like that.

    Thank you for reading this long post. Feel free to ask additional questions.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2017
  2. Laird

    Laird Member

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    I don't think probability theory can be applied very convincingly to "the real world" - there are just too many variables. It works fine in limited, finite circumstances, but - well, how on Earth are you going to (definitively) evaluate the probability that your teacher was going to cancel your class that day? Which variables are you going to use?

    I think instead that we need to apply common sense, and my common sense tells me that your dreams really were precognitive. I don't know if it helps at all for a random stranger to validate your experiences, but anyhow, there it is. Welcome to the forum. :)
     
  3. Brian_the_bard

    Brian_the_bard Lost Pilgrim Member

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    I'm with Laird on this one. I only noticed precognitive dreams when I started to keep a dream journal many years ago. Sadly I can't remember any details but I think they are probably more prevalent than one might suppose.
     
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  4. midix

    midix Member

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    Thank you, that was what I suspected - that actually many people have experienced something similar.

    When I was telling some friends and relatives about lucid dreams, they looked at me strangely and maybe thought that I'm lying or going nuts, and I was so relieved to later find Stephen LaBerge's books and experiments, which can actually scientifically prove lucid dreams in laboratory conditions. But unfortunately, there seem to be no reliable options to induce, control and verify precognitive dreams. Who knows, maybe in the future someone will invent something clever, but I'm afraid to think what might be the implications of that - all the hell would break lose if precognition will become something mainstream and controllable.

    Also, it can lead to paradoxes. If I predict that something bad will happen and I manage to prevent that, then the dream was not predictive anymore because the event did not happen :D And this make me wonder, how many there are actually those kinds of dreams that show some probable future events of personal scale, which we manage to prevent because of having the unconscious knowledge of them, even if we consciously do not remember or ignore the dreams.

    I have read in one book that dejavus also can be explained with glimpses of precognitive dreams. I have had dejavus, and indeed, the feeling is the same as at the moments when precognitive dream comes true, although for dejavus I have no memories of specific dream. On the other hand, I have seen some purely neurological explanations of dejavus, something about synchronization issues between neural signals. But I'm not sure if that was proven or just a theory.
     
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  5. Baccarat

    Baccarat New

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    These were the experiences, that brought me out of lurking these forums to be a participant
     
  6. Typoz

    Typoz Member

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    Welcome to the forum. It is good to see someone paying attention to dreams. :)

    I think the way to look at this is that precognitive dreams show a probable, not actual future.

    That's one reason why your examples were mostly of dreams showing the very near future. Think of it rather like a weather forecast. It is possible to predict the weather for the immediate future by looking at the current situation, and which direction things are moving, at what speed and so on. The further ahead we look, the more difficult it becomes, as there are too many possible variations, while predicting the weather five minutes from now may be pretty much a certainty.

    Precognition of course tends to focus on events involving living beings, all of whom have free will. In the near future, events may already be mapped out by decisions already made, while further ahead there is a greater chance of some alternative path being chosen.

    I described a precognitive dream previously, where I was actually awoken from sleep by an alarm clock I did not yet own. This presented me with a paradox, in that I could have deliberately chosen to prevent that future from coming to pass. However, I did not bother to do so, first because it no longer interested me very much at the time, and second, which may also be significant, I figured that the mental effort of focussing on preventing that future event may in itself have been sufficient to send out some kind of thought wave echoing into the past.

    I have two main conclusions. One that the future is not yet a certainty until it has happened, all we have are probable outcomes. Two, that in dreams we may operate outside of normal space-time. That is to say it has been said that we all routinely leave the body during sleep, this means not just leaving that physical location but also leaving the current location in time.
     
  7. Brian_the_bard

    Brian_the_bard Lost Pilgrim Member

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    This is my belief.
     
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  8. midix

    midix Member

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    After reading Monroe's OOBE books, I somehow found Thomas Campbell and his Theory of Everything. While it is just a theory with lots of speculations, I liked the base premise of it - the author created entire theory based on just two assumptions and the rest of it was attempt to explain everything that exists using as few primitive building blocks as possible. His books, though, are somewhat too verbose, the same ideas are explained again and again from different aspects. It all could be shortened to one small book instead of his current three volumes.

    So, from Tom's ToE, the explanation for precognitive dreams (and precognition in general) is that the Universe essentially is like a large computer and our consciousness is tightly integrated into it. Essentially, we are participating in "reality calculations". And, as a good programmer, I know that sometimes it's good to calculate something beforehand in background, when there are free CPU resources, and store the results into some cache. If the user of the software happens to do what we predicted, then hey! we have already some results that we can immediately apply without any delays. If our guess was wrong, then we have to force the CPU of PC do its job, so it's somewhat a loss - doing the calculations twice. And, if we follow this idea, then our subconsciousness might have some access to that "precalculated cache" and for some unknown reason fetches some scenes from it during dreams. Similar to Karl Jung's "collective unconscious".

    But I'm getting carried away here. :)
     
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  9. north

    north Member

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  10. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Midix,

    I suggest you contact Andrew Paquette by PM. He is an(other) administrator of this site, though he hasn't been very active recently because of his academic work. It might take a while for him to reply - I don't know how often he comes here - but he wrote a book about his own dreams. He had one particular precognitive dream that probably saved his life, because it was about a violent robbery that left him for dead in the dream, but which he managed to evade in real life.

    Incidentally, his dream also suggests that such dreams don't have to repeat literally.

    If it is any comfort, once you believe in precognitive dreams, you already know you do not live in a materialist universe - so all your thoughts about life (above) are almost certainly way off the mark!

    David
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2017
  11. midix

    midix Member

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    Thank you, I read that Andrew's thread and I'll try to find out more about his work. It is really exciting to see that some people take this stuff seriously and try to approach it scientifically, at least as much as currently possible.
     
  12. midix

    midix Member

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    About that materialist universe thing - well, for now I can only conclude that precognition does exist, but this still does not prove that it is something outside of the material universe. There might be some hidden information exchange channels or some other purely physical processes interacting with our brain, or something entirely different. So, no assumptions or conclusions, just facts. "I want to believe" but there are many pieces of the puzzle missing. Maybe one day we'll have them.
     
  13. Typoz

    Typoz Member

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    On the broader subject of dreams, for me precognition was mainly an attention-grabber, something that made me begin to take dreams more seriously. But nowadays, taking a longer term view, for me it is a relatively unimportant aspect.

    But if that is less important, what do I consider more important? This. Dreams give direct access to a source of wisdom. If I'd learned sooner to pay attention, I could have avoided causing unnecessary harm on both myself and other people. But this would be a whole other discussion. I just mention it as dreams are a rich topic.
     
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  14. E.Flowers

    E.Flowers New

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    I was pretty much forced to discard probability theory after being hit by a repetitive chain of counterintuitive events that took place out here in the "real world" within a relatively short timeframe.

    I'm intrigued by the fact that these dreams occur prior to waking up, since a while ago I posted a thread about "waking minutes before a random alarm goes off" following a discussion with an acquaintance that swore that he had some kind of psychic power that allowed him to wake up like this despite not working a fixed schedule.
     
  15. E.Flowers

    E.Flowers New

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    Also, Tom's work has been hot lately. Alex mentioned that he intended to do some interviews that deal with the virtual reality ideas, but he has been too busy with astrology and druids... Ugh.
     
  16. Mr.Sandman

    Mr.Sandman Member

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    I'm not a skeptic (not in the usual internet sense), but I'll sketch the skeptical argument.
    Suppose that you have 1000 sequences of 10 binary digits (ex of sequence 0001011110). The likelihood of a sequence containing all numbers 1 is 1/2^10 = 1/1024 (~0.1%), which is considerably small. However, the likelihood of at least one of the 1000 sequences contain all numbers 1 is pretty big ~ 60%.

    So, you have the following argument:

    (1) It's known that the vast majority of dreams does not give you any new information and are not precognitive. (this means that the prior probability that dreams can be precognitive is very low)
    (2)There's no independent special reason to think that your dreams are different than other people's dreams.
    (3)There are billions of people in the world, each of them living for decades and dreaming ~6 times per night. So the numbers of dreams in the world is enormous. (the people living know in the world had ~10^12 dreams, one TRILLION)
    (4)The probability of the content of your dream be random is very small, however, because of the above discussion involving the binary sequences and (3). So, as long as the probability of your series of dreams are not incredibly small, they are most likely to be consistent with chance.

    There are many ways to defeat arguments like that. For example, if (1) is false, (3) is irrelevant. If at least a significant minority of dreams apparently are precognitive, it doesn't matter if people had one trillion dreams or one quadrillion dreams. The references of the most recent evaluations of dream studies can be found in [1],[2],[3]. Even if they do not "prove" precognitive dreams, they seriously undermine (1).

    Also, (3) and (4) can be problematic too if you have a strong reason to think that your dreams are way above chance, even if compared with 1 one one trillion.

    [1]http://emmind.net/openpapers_repos/...d-choice_Remote_Viewing_and_Dream_Studies.pdf
    [2]https://psi-encyclopedia.spr.ac.uk/articles/dream-esp-reports-list
    [3]https://psi-encyclopedia.spr.ac.uk/articles/dreams-and-esp

    PS: Not all references are equally "strong" or "valid", so a careful evaluation is needed. The most recent precognitive dream study was by Caroline Watt in 2014, a skeptic parapsychologist. The result was prima facie very favorable to the precognitive dream hypothesis, however she argues against that. (http://www.research.ed.ac.uk/portal...rs(38ba80d5-49fb-419e-8646-218319f0b2f2).html)
     
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  17. Laird

    Laird Member

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    This is I think where the problem of exact - or even representative - probabilities in "the real world" rears its head. How could we calculate the probability of the content of a dream matching something in the world randomly, and especially, whether, for any given one, that probability was incredibly small (which it seems to me most would be)? It seems clear that some dreams are going to have a greater probability of matching randomly than others - e.g. a generic dream in which you encounter a vague shape like a dog is going to have a higher probability of matching something in the real world the next day versus a detailed dream about playing with a dog in Poodle Street where you look at your watch and see that the time is 3pm - but as for how we would go about calculating anything like an even approximate probability for either of those - well, I just don't see how we'd do it. Maybe I'm just not thinking deeply enough? Thb though I haven't read widely about this issue and am simply talking based on my intuition, so am happy to be corrected.
     
  18. Mr.Sandman

    Mr.Sandman Member

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    It's hard to calculate indeed. That's why I've linked with some studies that try to control most of the independent variables. In a real life scenario, however, you only need an upper bound for the probability. But I agree that precognitive dreams are not so persuasive, since most of dreams are about trivial matters whose probabilities to happen is quite high.

    What I do think, however, is that based on the studies, there's no justification that "precognitive dreams are not reported at all" or that "chance is the best explanation". Of course, a skeptic will ultimatelly say that "psi is impossible" or that "if psi exists, physics is wrong". Them they will attach ridiculous prior probabilities, so even if the best evidence is pro-precognitive dreams, it'll not matter since the prior is very low to begin with.
     
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  19. Typoz

    Typoz Member

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    That something is trivial doesn't make it a high-probability. It only means it is unlikely to stand out and be memorable in the long term. Nevertheless it may still contain a unique and highly unlikely sequence of events.
     
  20. midix

    midix Member

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    I'll take my time to read those other dream study articles to see if they have accounted also for other variables related not only to events but also to characteristics of the dreams themselves. Precognitive dreams seem to have some specific traits, such as the fact that they come right before waking up and are short; but I'm not sure yet if that is the case for other people, too - I will have to read more about that.

    Skeptics might say that usually we remember the last dream of all dreams during one night, therefore it is logical that the most impressive dream comes right before waking up, but in my case I almost always remember also at least one dream before the precognitive one, and often the precognitive dream catches my attention only because being trivial and calm, compared to some crazy exciting and vivid adventure stuff going on before it. Also, even in cases when the last dream is not precognitive, still it often seems to be somehow more important than the ones before it. It's like my subconsciousness knows (super accurate inner biological clock?) the moment when the alarm will go off and tries to arrange the most important information right before that, so I could remember it even better. However, sometimes I'm puzzled by the sense of importance of my subconscious - why does it consider so important to predict those trivial things? Is it some "side effect" of some other process, yet unknown?

    While science is good at investigating "how"s of some phenomenon, still for many people the most important question is "why", and science seems to be helpless with that, because "why" usually mean something subjective or leads to inevitable chain of "why"s, which ends with the ultimate "why does reality exist at all?"
     

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