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Gut Feelings


kamurj

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Excerpted from
Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality
By Dean Radin, Ph. D.

At the 2003 conference of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, we asked attendees about various unusual experiences they had. Of the nearly 500 responses, 89% of females and 72% of males indicated that they often or frequently experienced gut feelings about people or events. Even among a subset of 89 respondents who considered themselves highly skeptical of unconventional claims, 78% reported that they also often experienced gut feelings. Sometimes gut feelings reflect no more than a bad burrito or emotional turbulence. But could some gut feelings, which even skeptics admit to, also include psi information?

Intuitive hunches and psi experiences all involve the act of knowing without knowing how you know, and gut feelings in particular imply a form of intuition based on visceral sensations in the belly. From a conventional point of view, intuitive hunches and gut feelings are due to factors such as forgotten expertise, subliminal cues, and unconscious inferences. However, if intuition is related to psi, then it's possible that some gut feelings might also carry psi information. To test this idea in the laboratory, we ran an experiment similar to the studies discussed in the previous chapter, except instead of using an EEG we used an EGG, an electrogastrogram. The EGG measures the electrophysiology of the gut, which is a slow rhythm of about 3 cycles per minute.

The gut is a particularly interesting portion of the nervous system to study because of its close relationship with emotions. Phrases like "butterflies in the stomach," "a gut-wrenching experience," and "a sinking feeling in the stomach," attest to this familiar correspondence, which has been studied for nearly two centuries. We wondered if gut feelings might be especially sensitive to detecting emotions-at-a-distance.

In this study, the sender-Jack-sat in front of two video monitors and wore a set of headphones. At random times, one video monitor displayed the receiver's - Jill's-live video image for two minutes while the other showed a sequence of emotional or neutral pictures as emotionally appropriate music played over the headphones. When Jill's image disappeared, both monitors faded to black and the music stopped. Between each emotional condition there was a 30-second rest period.

The pictures used to evoke positive emotions in jack included colored photos of smiling babies, kittens, and appetizing food. When those pictures appeared, they were accompanied by an upbeat song like "Twist and Shout" by the Beatles. There were two types of negative emotions evoked: angry and sad. The angry condition consisted of colored pictures like an atomic bomb explosion, accompanied by the angry-sounding song. "Feuer Frei," by the heavy metal rock band, Rammstein. The sad condition consisted of pictures such as a graveyard and unhappy people, accompanied by Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings." A calm condition used black and white pictures like a plain soup bowl, accompanied by the song, "May It Be," by Enya. The emotionally neutral condition consisted of a series of gray rectangles with minor differences in hues, accompanied by pink noise.

Jack was instructed to periodically gaze at Jill's image while trying to mentally "send" the emotions evoked by the slide show and music. Between sending periods, Jack was instructed to withdraw his attention from Jill and just relax. We expected that if gut feelings involved a type of psi perception, then we'd find that Jill's gut was more active during the emotional conditions (her stomach would get "tied up in knots") as compared to the neutral conditions.

We ran 26 adult couples through this experiment. All of the couples knew each other, some casually as friends and others as long-term partners; each pair mutually decided who would play the role of Jack and Jill. The results showed that Jill's EGG responses were significantly larger when Jack was experiencing positive and sad emotions than when he was experiencing neutral emotions (with odds against chance of 167 to 1, and 1,100 to 1, respectively). Most of the churning in Jill's gut occurred within 20 seconds of the beginning of the emotional period.

We considered many alternative conventional explanations for these findings. Leading candidates included chance, a violation of statistical assumptions, sensory cues, expectation biases, and physiological drifts that might have coincidentally matched the emotional conditions. Each explanation was evaluated and rejected as inadequate.

This experiment suggests that sometimes gut feelings respond to the emotional states of distant people. This in turn implies that some decisions influenced by visceral and other somatic feelings may involve psi perception. It would be rash to assume that all gut feelings are infused with intuitive information, as many things can lead to the odd visceral twitch. But it may turn out that the belly brain's intuition is more connected with the rest of the world, and with other people, than previously suspected.

So far, the studies we've reviewed indicate that when Jack mentally interacts with Jill at a distance she can perceive that information both consciously and unconsciously. But what these studies don't tell us is how this connection works. Does Jill passively perceive Jack's intention and respond accordingly? Or is she literally influenced by jack in some way? To see if the latter is possible in principle, let's investigate the evidence for direct interactions between mind and matter.

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