Chapter 2 - Contact
There is (supposedly) a real thing called dream telepathy. People who do research on paranormal or supernatural phenomena are called parapsychologists. A number of scientific studies of dream telepathy were carried out by parapsychologists at the Maimonides Medical Center in New York in the 1960s and 70s. They would have someone look at paintings or drawings, and try to send these images into the dreams of someone sleeping nearby. Then the dreamer would wake up and describe what he or she had dreamt about. The researchers claimed that a lot of the dreams contained images very similar to the paintings. Here's an example:
This is what one of the dreamers said they saw in their dream: '... something about posts ... Just posts standing up from the ground, and nothing else ... There's some kind of a feeling of moving ... Ah, something about Madison Square Garden and a boxing fight. An angular shape, as if all these things that I see were in a rectangular framework. There's an angular shape coming down toward the right, the lower right, as if you were seeing a filming that took up a whole block ...'
Weird, huh? Or is it a load of rubbish? Lots of people have had dreams of things which happened the next day, for example a car crash. These are called precognitive dreams, which means knowing about the future. But some people say that we have so many dreams - thousands over our whole lives - that now and then some of them will come true just by chance. So it's no big deal.
What do you think?
My Parapsychological Research
Yes, I actually did a telepathy experiment once! It was my final project for my degree in psychology in 1988. I had read that psychic powers are stronger when someone is in an 'altered state of consciousness' (ASC). That means not fully awake, for example dreaming, or meditating, or under hypnosis. One way to get someone into an ASC is by putting halves of ping pong balls on their eyes and headphones on their ears playing white noise (a smooth sort of hiss). This is called 'Ganzfeld stimulation.' Usually red light is used too. Look at this freaky photo:
The idea behind this is that you are seeing just red everywhere, as well as sound with no pattern in it. This means your brain has nothing to look at or listen to, so it eventually switches off and you go into a half-dreaming state. This is called a 'hypnogogic' state. It's like when you are falling asleep and your mind wanders a lot.
Next I had people eating food in the next room. The people under the Ganzfeld were supposed to guess what food they were eating. The idea here was that the eaters could send not only images of the food but taste and smell - even touch. Afterwards I asked the Ganzfeld people to choose from a list of choices which food they thought the eater had eaten.
Believe it or not I got significant results! That means that the Ganzfelders tended to guess the right food, though sometimes they didn't. For those who understand statistics, there was about a 5% probability that the results were due to chance.
Dalton High School
Danny's school is based on my own secondary school, William Hulme Grammar, in Manchester. It has red brick buildings and big green fields. When I went there (1978-1985) everyone was in one of six houses - one of which was called Dalton. John Dalton was a famous scientist from Manchester who came up with theory that everything is made of atoms.