Sixth sense - myth or real?

Sixth sense - myth or real?

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Clairvoyance denotes an alleged ability to perceive things beyond the reach of one's own sight. It can be a look at the future, an insight into the past, or distant places. The so-called "second face" is another term for this type of "seeing".

A Micha offers on the Internet: "clairvoyant, accurate, well-known medium" telepathy "energy transmission on request during the conversation" afterlife contacts "and requires 98 cents a minute for a phone call. What is to be made of such clairvoyance?

The five senses

Seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching describe the five senses of the human being. The sixth sense is a real or perceived ability to perceive things beyond that which are neither tangible nor comprehensible with these five senses, but which appear to be apparently, supposedly or really true.

However, there are other five senses: the sense of temperature, the sense of balance, the sensation of pain, and the feeling of depth.

The sixth Sense

The "sixth sense" includes forebodings and a feeling for moods that later turn out to be real or supposedly true. For example, some mothers feel that their child is doing badly, even though they are far away from the child.

Or people know when the phone rings who is calling them. You drive out of “a gut feeling” with the tram and not with the car and later learn that an accident occurred.

Or in a dream something bad happens to a person, and weeks later the doctors find that this person has cancer.

Esoteric versus psychological

The esoteric and religious see the sixth sense and the second face as supernatural blessings or a special connection to supernatural powers. Many scientists reject the idea of ​​a "sixth sense": According to them, it is above all wrong conclusions that give coincidences a special meaning.

So if someone does not drive a car on a certain day and an accident occurs, they interpret this accident as the result of their actions. He could just as easily have taken the train without a connection.

As a result, they are cognitive shorts that put events in a causal context that does not exist. It would be similar with people who think they can tell beforehand who is calling when the phone rings.

On the one hand, it could be an experience that it is precisely the right time for this person to report, and on the other hand, those affected forget the many moments in which they thought of this person without them reporting.


Another explanation that many psychologists prefer is intuition, i.e. unconscious perception and action, also called quick thinking. This is closely related to the experiences and associations that the brain forms and processes in the dream.

A dream that a person is doing badly would not be a clairvoyance directed towards the future, but rather the brain would process information in the subconscious that the person concerned is not even aware of: the dreaming unconsciously previously perceived signals indicating that he was sick.

The same applies to parents. When their children are close to them, they deal with them consciously or unconsciously. If the child does not answer for a long time, although it usually does, the mother's brain sounds the alarm: something is wrong.

This does not take into account the countless situations in which mothers worry about their children without anything happening to the children, or even about caring mothers who are always worried and see themselves confirmed when something finally happens to the child.

Or they scare the child so much that it creates the dangerous situation itself.

What does science say?

The second face and the sixth sense have occupied religion for millennia, as has modern science.

Eberhard Bauer from the Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Psycho-Hygiene wrote: “Forebodings, visions, dream dreams and second faces are human experiences that have always been part of cultural history.

There is no doubt that there are such extraordinary experience reports - the question is how they can be interpreted. Studies of parapsychology indicate that there are indeed abnormal interactions between people and their environment, which - so far! - withdraw from a satisfactory conventional explanation. "

He concluded: “Either we learn from this that we are subtly deluded, or we find a new explanatory model for such anomalies. Science and society can only benefit from it. "

Bernd Harder from the Society for the Scientific Study of Para Sciences, on the other hand, considers the sixth sense to be nothing other than the ability to draw conclusions from unconscious observations: "When driving a car, a man says to his wife:" We could go dancing again. "His wife is amazed - she had just thought the same thing. A supernatural phenomenon?

No. They had just seen a poster advertising a type of cheese from a vacation spot. There the couple had been dancing more often during the holidays.

The sixth sense is little more than the ability to draw correct conclusions from limited information. Forebodings are based on observations that we perceive unconsciously.

If you still think you are gifted paranormally, you can get tested by the US skeptic James Randi. He pays a million dollars in prize money for a verifiable real phenomenon. ”

The example with dancing can be applied to countless situations. Let's say a young student is in a life crisis. He studies in Hamburg and comes from Buxtehude. One night he wanders lonely through St. Georg, then, half consciously, he gets on the train because he is drawn to his old home.

It is seven in the morning and he meets his father on the track in Buxtehude, who is driving to work. Otherwise he always drove by car.

The father notices that something is wrong with the son, calls the mother, and she picks him up from the train station.

In short, it is the sixth sense, because the student could not have known that his father was at the station.

However, the young man longed for the warmth of the nest, but did not dare to tell the parents directly.

Without anchoring it in consciousness, he had noticed that his father was currently traveling to work by train. So it's an intuitive act.


Embossment refers to the ability to grasp future events that cannot be rationally developed. There were various experiments with random generators. Another term for this is clairvoyance.

For one thing, we constantly predict the future, and since people are planning their future, we have to. We incorporate our knowledge, experience, observations and other people's assessments.

On the one hand, we do this consciously, but mostly unconsciously and automatically, the brain works sparingly and conscious thought processes require time and energy.

What do skeptics say?

Skeptics consider the belief in psychic clairvoyance to be psychological:

1) Supernatural predictions are apparently accurate, but only until they are scrutinized and analyzed.

2) We all have dark visions of the future and they appear in our dreams

3) An apparently low probability that the predictions will come about by chance

4) an exaggerated reporting of supposed clairvoyants in the tabloid media, which are far from scientific minimum standards - for example, when talk shows "clairvoyants with supernatural abilities" discuss with reputed psychologists on an equal footing

5) a lack of knowledge of intuition as the sum of acquired knowledge and applied experience. What appears to be clairvoyance would therefore only be knowledge of human nature

6) selective perception and selective memory

7) subconsciously sealing memories, dreams and visions after the event

8) lack of understanding of the law of large numbers

9) believe what we want to believe

Manipulation and experience

Bad cases of manipulation by the mass media are deliberate lies: "Clairvoyant" Tamara Rand worked with talk show master Gary Greco in Las Vegas. Both released a video in which Rand allegedly predicted the attempted murder of Ronald Reagan on January 6, 1981. In fact, the team fraudulently shot the tape on March 31, 1981, after the assassination attempt.

Predictions from clairvoyants arrive, as do predictions from non-clairvoyants. In everyday life we ​​very often make true predictions about the future: If someone predicts that their partner wants them to vacuum the apartment, they do not need any supernatural skills. Rather, it is about acquired experiences with which I can predict thoughts.

People who have knowledge in an area that others lack can easily go through as a clairvoyant: If someone has no idea about flooding and builds his house directly on the river bank and a local predicts that the basement will be flooded, this may seem to the unsuspecting as a supernatural gift - this is a head start in experience and knowledge.

The forer effect

We call the forer effect the rule that the more vague it is, the more likely it is that a prediction will occur, and that it even seems to make us more accurate.

On the one hand we forget the “prohetic” dreams that did not (!) Arrive, on the other hand certain premonitions that we did not tell so as not to be considered a coward. For example, if we did not take a flight because we believed, feared, or "guessed" that the plane was crashing without it.

A classic forer effect is the belief in weekly or daily horoscopes. On the one hand, we read them at breakfast in the morning and unconsciously adjust to the predictions. The wording is so vague that it can always be true.

For example, it says the sign of the zodiac fish: in the first half of the day you have to make a decision, in the second half of the day you are successful in your projects if nothing comes in between.

Every person makes a lot of decisions every day. So if I decide to put my black coat on instead of the blue jacket, the horoscope tells the truth.

If I plan to write my tax return in the second half of the day and my husband persuades me to eat ice cream, and I won't finish. Something comes up. If I finish the tax return, it is also true.

Anecdotes, "experiences" and testimonies are not scientific evidence, often the opposite. Judges, prosecutors and empirical scientists know about the inadequate truth of testimony - not because those affected would lie, but because our brains create stories that work and not those that correspond to the objective truth.

What do controlled tests say?

Controlled tests with clairvoyant abilities that rule out chance or natural causes have so far always failed. Esotericists explain this by saying that the test situation disturbs the "vibrations" or "energies". Scientists, on the other hand, say that the clairvoyants fail to test their skills because they don't have those skills.

James Randi, who scientifically examined clairvoyance, came to the following conclusion

1) The subjects had never tested their skills under controlled conditions

2) Some gave grotesque-ridiculous reasons for their failure

3) Others were genuinely surprised by their failure

Self-fulfilling prophecies

People who think they are clairvoyant and who weave “foreboding”, speculation and their own fears together are particularly critical.

Martina (name changed), for example, is terrified of being raped. Her psychotherapist attributes this to the violence that she suffered from her father as a child.

A doctor diagnosed the young woman with borderline syndrome. This also includes states of psychosis in which it cannot separate external and internal events.

Martina says of herself: "I have a very sharp intuition." So she jogged through a park and saw two men in a dark corner. Immediately she felt a "warning" in her stomach and ran in the other direction. She "knew" one thing: "The two wanted to rape me."

Nothing took place here that could have been a "premonition". This "gut feeling" has nothing to do with a clairvoyance into the future, but a lot with fears of the "clairvoyant".

These self-fulfilling prophecies also affect patients who have been caught by clairvoyants who have warned them that bad things will happen. For example, on the day when the “clairvoyant” predicted an accident, those affected behave particularly insecurely and thus trigger an accident.

Cold reading

Inge Hüsken and Wolgang Hund clarify at the Society for the Scientific Analysis of Para Sciences “In controlled tests, fortune tellers are no more successful than can be expected. The fact that many clients still report astonishing results is attributed by psychologists to the "cold reading" technique, with which fortune tellers give the conversation partner the misleading impression that they are fully informed about his personality and life situation. "

But what is cold reading? The skeptics explain: “At its core, Cold Reading consists of drawing conclusions about the person concerned from the appearance and behavior of the client (for example, clothing, posture, manner of speaking, apparently harmless remarks). This can happen unconsciously or it can be used specifically to simulate access to supernatural sources of information. "

Then there is the Barnum effect: "The clairvoyants use general statements that the client relates to his individual situation and rates as correct."

People can be manipulated

Florian Freistetter wrote on the science blogs in 2012: "If a" clairvoyant "tells you something that" no one else can know ", then you have either fooled a real fraudster who previously found out about you. Or you gave him the information yourself in the conversation and he only repeated it later. "

No one is immune from such charlatans. Freistetter writes: “We would like to believe that we do not fall for such tricks - but we are not all as smart and attentive as we imagine it to be. We quickly forget, we think selectively and let ourselves be impressed too easily. A practiced clairvoyant, astrologer or card reader can use this and later present information that he received from us shortly before as "mysterious" knowledge. "

In fact, some people have special skills that they call psychic clairvoyance. These talents include a trained ability to watch other people. The “clairvoyants” draw conclusions about their fears, wishes and interests from the facial expressions, gestures and body language of a person. The "magicians" can then direct their victim in a certain direction to a specific question.

The intuition

Rational and irrational thinking, unconscious and conscious action, reason and feeling - intuitive and deductive understanding; Psychology brings a little clarity to the way people process information today.

Esoteric people use the term intuition in an inflationary way and connect it directly with fortune tellers, clairvoyants, extrasensory powers, supposed encounters from the hereafter and higher consciousness.

Romantic artists also glorified intuition, the subjective, but without using the term.

Gerd Gigerenzer from the Max Planck Institute for Educational Research writes: “Intuition is neither a mood nor a sixth sense, neither clairvoyance nor God's voice. It is a form of subconscious intelligence. "

Research has only been devoted to intuition as a source of human thought for several decades.

Automatic thinking

Intuition includes feelings to choose a certain direction without knowing why we are doing it. The feelings are so strong that we often act directly out of them.

The simplest explanation for this is that the brain quickly hides most of the information and separates important from unimportant information in order to make quick decisions.

Most researchers agree that the more experience we have in a certain area, the better the intuition works. The brain then selects essential information faster and "more correctly" than when we break new ground.

Gigerenzer considers the traditional division between logic and illogic, reason and feeling, intelligence and stupidity to be completely wrong. Intelligence is by no means always conscious and considered, according to the psychologist.

Intuition is gut feeling, and we would rely even more on this feeling than on head decisions. Intuitive decisions, he said, were based on little information and would ignore everyone else.

Fast thinking, slow thinking

Daniel Kahnemann researched the pitfalls of intuition. He distinguishes fast thinking, that is, the unconscious from slow thinking, the conscious. Accordingly, there are two different modes in which the brain works, whereby intuitive thinking comes to the fore much more often.

It is quick thinking, for example, when someone speaks to us and we immediately hear hostility or friendship.

The conscious system

The conscious system, on the other hand, analyzes and calculates, and carefully thinks about choosing between different options, for example when shopping: which product has which advantages, which disadvantages.

However, this requires concentration, and conscious thinking only does one task at a time, calculating takes time and mental energy, because memory can only process a certain amount of information at the same time.

The unconscious system

The unconscious system, on the other hand, is fast, and this has enormous advantages in our evolutionary development: "It was more likely to survive if you quickly recognized the most serious threats or the most promising opportunities and reacted immediately."

When rustling in the bushes, in the shade on a branch, it was out of the question to analyze step by step whether it was a big cat, a breath of wind or a harmless bird. If it had been a big cat, slow thinking would have cost our ancestors' heads.

When intuition is deceptive

The unconscious situation usually works well in everyday situations: Without thinking long and logically, we automatically change the road when we get the information from the corner of our eye that no car is in sight.

Without thinking, we scratch our shoulders when itches. We smell the smell of coffee and we automatically close: This is a cafeteria.

The trap, according to Kahnemann, is that intuition uses information that is easily accessible to memory. As a result, intuition keeps falling into the trap of denaturing, as Kahnemann has proven in years of experiments.

An example is the task:

A racket and a ball together cost 1.10 euros, the racket costs one euro more than the ball, how much does the ball cost?

The first answer of intuition would be 10 cents. But that's wrong. If the racket costs one euro more than the ball, then both together cost 1.20 euros. The correct answer that comes from logical thinking is 5 cents.

Clairvoyance in literature

Stephen King uses clairvoyance as a means in his horror novels.

Johnny Smith can see the future in The Assassination after an accident disrupted part of his brain. Then he wants to change the future by changing the present.

In "Affection", the Bruja witch reads Mama Delorme's thoughts and says that she has the second face. She knows immediately that Martha Rosewall is pregnant, which the young woman herself does not know.

Psychic detectives

Esoteric believers believe, and the gossip reports of "psychic detectives", so clairvoyants, who would help the police with the investigation. In weddings of esotericism, encounters beyond and the glasses back, for example in the 1880s and 1920s, such supposedly psychologically gifted media actually went to the police as "supernatural helpers". Even the term “criminal telepathy” is circulating on the Internet as if it were a science.

The specialist magazine "Die Kriminalpolizei" comments: "In this context, the author is particularly interested in the finding that - according to the police stations surveyed - the relevant clairvoyants would never have given a useful clue or even remotely helped." (Dr. Utz Anhalt)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dr. phil. Utz Anhalt, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch


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  • Myram Borders: "Hollywood psychic Tamara Rand's prediction of the attempted assassination ...": (accessed: August 26, 2019), UPI
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Video: What Is Your Sixth Sense? (January 2023).