What is ‘telepathy’ anyway? Well, according to the dictionary it means, “Communication from one mind to another by extrasensory means”. The word was first coined in 1882, ‘tele’ from the Greek meaning distant, and ‘pathy’ meaning feeling or perception, as in empathy or sympathy. Most scientists of the day were opposed to the concept and considered it to be in the realm of religion and superstition, rather than science and reason. Even to this day the existence of telepathy is controversial and is a taboo subject in the field of biological research. Perhaps understandably then, there are relatively few studies published about it.
Telepathy between animals, or between humans and animals is particularly interesting and there is some fascinating research coming into mainstream awareness. Some theories about animal-to-animal telepathy seek to explain phenomena such as the murmuration of starlings, the swarm behavior of sometimes thousands of birds. How can the entire flock move in such a coordinated way without one bird crashing into another when they are flying so closely together? Studies show that it’s more than just each bird anticipating their neighbors’ moves as the turns and changes in direction pass through the flock almost instantaneously, as if the flock itself is one living organism.
A murmuration of starlings.
The schooling of fish is another example of such behavior and I will never forget witnessing a ‘bait-ball’ and a ‘flash expansion’ when scuba diving. A bait-ball is when thousands of fish swim in unison in a huge sphere, usually with the purpose of avoiding or confusing a predator, and a flash expansion is when they suddenly all move away from each other at great speed, looking very much like an explosion!
A bait ball of fish.
Research has shown that fish schooling ability is not dependant upon their senses or even that sixth sense that fish have, their lateral line. One theory is that such animal behavior is dependant upon their awareness of a ‘morphic field’, as if each one of them had their own personal magnetic field detectable by all others in the group. Morphic fields are suspected to include not only the members of the group, but also the home location. This concept explains how some animals, most commonly dogs or cats, make an ‘Incredible Journey’ home, somehow finding their way across hundreds of miles of unknown territory. This could explain too how groups of animals are able to communicate when they are beyond the range of their senses, for example as has been observed in packs of wolves.
Strangely enough, although most scientists don’t want to entertain the possibility that communication beyond the five senses is real, there is a similar occurrence that happens in the world of physics called ‘Quantum Entanglement’. Quantum entanglement is when two particles that have been a part of the same system remain ‘non-locally connected’, that is, even when separated whatever happens to one particle instantly affects the behavior of the other. Einstein called this “A spooky action at a distance”.
This mysterious connection is not distance dependant, it happens when the particles are near each other or far apart, and is an interesting analogy for telepathy which too, is unaffected by distance.
Enough of the theory let's look at some animal-to-human telepathy in action! In his book ‘Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home’, Rupert Sheldrake presents five years of research showing that many animal companions show evidence of a telepathic connection with their owners.
Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home.
Initially, after hearing about some cases of apparent telepathy, Sheldrake, a biologist and researcher, asked his professional colleagues what they thought about it. Most of them discounted such claims as nonsense, and when Sheldrake asked them if they’d looked at the evidence each of them stated that they didn’t need to because they didn’t believe it was possible. Such cases were said to be anecdotal, fraudulent or scientifically flawed and so impossible to verify. Shocked by such a strong unwillingness to look at evidence, Sheldrake decided to conduct some research of his own to ensure that the scientific methods of testing were sound.
Sheldrake appealed to animal owners for information that suggested “powers currently unexplained” and got thousands of responses reporting that dogs in particular often seemed to have a telepathic connection with their owners. Most commonly reported was that many dogs showed a noticeable change in behavior in the time leading up to their owners returning home. So marked was this change that in many cases members of the family members would plan accordingly knowing that this person would arrive soon, and start to prepare dinner or put the kettle on, for example.
Deciding to investigate this further he set up filmed experiments to test these claims. The times and methods of owners returning home were randomized and varied to make sure that the dogs weren’t relying on their knowledge of routines or their physical senses. Examining the film footage he found that the dogs’ reactions typically started at the point when the owners’ decided to come home. Hundreds of hours of observation yielded highly significant statistical results, and these tests were independently replicated to ensure objectivity. Sheldrake’s research showed that the science wasn’t flawed and that some dogs really do show evidence of a ‘non-local connection’ with their owners.
Many cat owners reported that their cats would disappear when it was time for a visit to the vet. This would happen before the owners had started to prepare, and even when they were trying to be particularly careful not to give the cat any clues or hints about what was to come. To find out how common this was Sheldrake contacted 65 veterinary clinics in London to find out if they had a problem with missed appointments with cats. 64 of the 65 said that it happened all the time, the remaining practice said that they had given up making appointments for cats as it happened so often, and instead allowed walk-ins.
Sheldrake not only found evidence of the ability to anticipate events in dogs and cats, but also in horses, geese, lambs, parrots and even chickens. An important point he found was that the animals all had a close emotional connection with their caretakers. For example, the farm animals that exhibited this behavior had been hand-raised by their owners and had become pet-like in every way.
Perhaps the most interesting case of all is the evidence provided by an African Grey parrot called N’kisi.
N’kisi’s owner Aimee, noticed that he seemed to be able to read her mind, to pick up her thoughts and intentions, and because he had such a wide vocabulary he was able to vocalize what she was thinking.
Sheldrake tested this by putting parrot and owner in separate rooms and giving Aimee some pictures sealed in envelopes that she was to open and look at for two minutes. The pictures had been selected and sealed up by an independent third party who chose them based them on a list of vocabulary words known to N’kisi. The filmed results were then analyzed by another independent party to ensure objective interpretations of what N’kisi was saying.
The results were just astounding! Not only did N’kisi pick up and vocalize what Amy was looking at, but he spoke in complete sentences that made absolute sense when compared to the pictures.
Part of the experiment is featured in this short video clip below, please make your own mind up about the results.
To find out more, go to The N'kisi Project.
Sheldrake’s findings that the two subjects always had close emotional connection is surely pertinent to telepathic and psi research. Typically, studies of telepathy involve people who are unknown to each other and have never even met, perhaps explaining why the results are patchy at best. Anecdotally too, we often hear of mother-to-child telepathy or that siblings, particularly twins, are able to read each others’ minds or know when the other is in danger or trouble.
It’s hardly surprising that many pets and their owners feel this telepathic connection; we love them with all our hearts, we focus on them constantly and delight in having a close physical proximity that often involves touching or holding them, we live and breathe in each other’s energy field.
Have you ever seen any evidence or suspected that your pet is reading your mind? I’d love to hear more about that from you!