Being right without being psychic

Being right without being psychic

You often hear psychics say they could not possibly have known some accurate information they’ve obtained in a psychic message. But how do they know that for sure? In some cases it is certainly cryptomnesia - knowing things you weren’t aware you knew.

I have a terrible memory which I suspect makes me particularly susceptible to cryptomnesia. I often find myself knowing stuff when I can’t remember where I got it from. One example is TV quizzes. If I watch one of these I will find I sometimes know quite a number of the answers without any idea why. Oddly, if I am on a quiz team myself it doesn’t seem to work! Maybe being under pressure suppresses cryptomnesia.

With a terrible memory, as you expect, exams were torture for me. Lots of people feel their mind go blank when they get their first look at an exam paper. However, with me, my mind remained blank! But I have passed exams over the years so how did I do it? I usually tried to think of anything I knew that related to the exam question and tried to fit it in to the answer. And I also made informed guesses.

I think informed guesses are overlooked as a possible source of apparent accurate psychic messages. As a person with a terrible memory I make use of informed guesses all the time and I am right surprisingly often. I may not know for sure that something is true but it seems likely from peripheral knowledge that I do know.

When assessing if a message could by psychic in origin we tend to compare it with the odds of getting a correct answer by random chance. But people do not work by random chance. They may not know the answer to a question but they might  well give an informed guess whose odds are far lower than random chance.

I don’t regard myself as psychic but I can see how someone with a poor memory might. I can see how I ‘know’ stuff I was’t aware I knew through cryptomnesia and informed guesses. But others like me might interpret it as a psychic ability. And they might not even be aware they have a poor memory. I wasn’t aware I had a bad memory for decades until someone I knew pointed it out. I had been using coping methods, like writing endless reminder notes, without realizing I had a problem.

For anyone who doesn’t think cryptomnesia is a significant phenomenon consider this. Our senses feed us information all the time. The vast bulk of that information is not stored in our memories. But some is and we have no conscious control over which bits are. So we have all sorts of memories we are unaware of, just waiting for a key, like a quiz question, to unlock them.

Author :© Maurice Townsend 2022

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