Thinking about my experiment in precognitive dreaming takes me back to a memorable period in my life, a time when I began opening up to possibilities—realities, as I see them now—I had long dismissed out of hand.
But writing a book about my dream project was fun for another reason as well. Because the farther into it I got, the more I realized that much of what I was saying was new. In a word, I suspected that Dreaming The Future would be a pretty wild ride, even for readers well-versed in the phenomenon.
For you newcomers, the experiment is one I launched in 1993, after 20 years as an adamant skeptic and materialist. Having stumbled on J.W. Dunne’s An Experiment With Time, I began documenting my own dreams, and as of today, have collected about 250 recorded examples. Remarkably, about one in four have proven to be precognitive.
And with that, here are some of the book’s key features and insights. I’ve bolded terms that are my own and will therefore be new to readers.
My book is the first, I believe, to focus on
• Garden variety precognitive dreams.
Some dreams of the future are so true-to-life it’s as though the dreamer lives through an event once while sleeping, and then a second time while awake. My own experiences are of a different, and likely more common, sort. In these garden variety cases, as I call them, some of the parallels aren’t immediately obvious. So the event may not be experienced in the moment as an actual reliving. But when all the similarities are grasped, the case for precognition becomes clear. Especially given . . .
• The startling frequency of these visions.
That one in four of my documented dreams would prove to be precognitive was far from what I considered possible when I started out. So the book details the procedures I follow to make sure I’m not being deceived by a faulty protocol or sloppy thinking. For example, my rule of thumb is to record precisely those dreams that seem least likely to come true. (As the often bizarre circumstances of the book’s examples show.) And I describe seven criteria I've developed—along with a control experiment—to assure the validity of these cases.
As I got deeper into the book and grasped the combined power of its arguments, it became clear that the net effect was to show
• Why the evidence for psychic dreaming may be stronger than even “believers” think.
Here, for example, is one rarely considered point. When evaluating the strength of a case, a crucial consideration is obviously the common ground shared by dream and event. What’s less understood is that discrepancies are often less important, and may be virtually irrelevant. For example: if your dreams regularly include the next day’s winning lottery number, then no matter how otherwise fantasy-filled those dreams may be, psychic ability is clearly at work.
I call this the lottery number concept, and my book illustrates the sorts of “lottery numbers” my dreams (and perhaps the reader’s) contain. The matching sequence may not be numerical, but consist rather of a constellation of crisply defined, unexpected elements—people, objects, actions, etc.—shared by dreams and predicted events.
Note that no interpretation whatsoever is involved. The only correlations that interest me are those that apply literally to both dream and event.
• Definitive documentation.
Readers can view complete transcripts (recorded on awakening) of the dreams I share. And since the predictions chronicled are almost all media-related, I’ve been able to support their authenticity through dated, published photos and quotes.
• How precognition hides in plain sight.
To truly grasp this phenomenon, it’s important to understand why and how we—and that includes scientists—tend to miss or downplay whatever evidence for precognition turns up. Some of the reasons are straightforward, such as the fact that we simply forget most of our dreams. And of the dreams we do remember, we rarely recall enough detail to notice later correlations.
But other barriers to observing precognition are less obvious, and my book is unusual, I believe, in fitting together so many pieces of the puzzle.
• Answering the skeptic’s main objection.
The standard “scientific” explanation for precognition is this: since we have countless dreams, and virtually unlimited opportunities for linking them to waking events, odd coincidences are bound to occur. I call this the two vast pools theory, and my experiment greatly undermines it by reducing the pool of dreams to just four, since that’s what it takes, on average, for “the impossible” to turn up (in my experience).
But my book shrinks the other pool too. And it does so, in part, through
• Dreams that come true in minutes.
If (to summarize one of the cases detailed in the book) I wake up from a dream, document it, and moments later receive an unexpected email clearly predicted by the dream, what does that say about the pool of potential matching events? Obviously, it’s negligible, and the question is especially relevant because, as it turns out, a full 39% of my precognitive dreams came true within an hour.
Combine the immediacy factor with the 1-in–4 statistic, and suddenly it’s reasonable to ask: does the skeptic’s “countless dreams, endless waking experiences” really carry much weight?
Taking the argument yet a step further, the book explores a fairly common but little-discussed subset of the phenomenon:
• Dreams that come true instantly.
A lead-up dream is one whose storyline leads up to, and provides an imaginary explanation for, a real-world stimulus that awakens the dreamer. For example: a man dreams of being guillotined and is awakened by a canopy rod striking the back of his neck. The waking event thus has two meanings—one in the dream, and one in real life. Surprisingly, unmistakable “puns” (often non-verbal like the above) turn out to be a feature of many precognitive dreams.
That I’m apparently the first to have bothered coming up with a name for lead-up dreams shows how under-appreciated they are. But these experiences, or at least some of them, are almost certainly psychic, and my book explores the reasons.
As you can see . . .
Point by point and dream by dream, Dreaming The Future demonstrates the reality and logic of precognition, until the conscientious reader, in my view, is forced to one of two conclusions: either I’m misrepresenting my data—essentially lying about it—or the phenomenon is a fact of life.
Only then do I venture into psychic dreaming’s
• Spiritual implications. If some part of our being can “travel” to the future, what does that say about our status in the universe, and what light might it shed on matters of life and death? As I share the profound effect my dreams have had on my own worldview (I’m now spiritual but not at all religious), I touch on these questions.
And since my goal is to bring precognition into the mainstream—not just as a point of information, but as first-hand experience—I provide detailed
• Instructions for experimenters. There are tips on recalling dreams, documenting them, and on being alert to the sorts of events dreams are likely to predict. And I explain how to avoid time-wasting errors, such as documenting dreams that haven’t even the potential to provide compelling proof.
Also included are suggestions to help readers boost their success rate using meditation; a strategy for increasing the likelihood of (those especially persuasive) “instant” matches; and a control experiment that, in my experience, leaves no doubt as to the legitimacy of the phenomenon.
The book ends with a . . .
• Guide to research and resources. This section explores related contributions to the larger field of consciousness studies. (For as the title of one chapter says, the real subject here is consciousness.) In particular, I discuss near-death experiences, which confirm key aspects of precognition, and I explain how the two phenomena in combination speak volumes about the ultimate mysteries of our existence.
In short . . .
Dreaming The Future is a fresh take on a phenomenon that challenges conventional assumptions about who and what we are. Written in a down-to-earth style anyone can understand and enjoy, it offers plenty to chew on, even for veteran explorers of the paranormal. Most importantly, by focusing on garden variety psychic dreams, it acquaints readers with precisely the sort of evidence they’re most likely to encounter.
If you’re skeptical about psychic ability, the book welcomes you with open arms, and may give you reason to re-consider your stance.
And if, as I did, you feel a need to get past the maybe’s, the probably’s, and the second-hand stories about hard-to-believe happenings, I’ll show you how to prove “the impossible,” once and for all, to yourself.
Now available on Amazon in paperback and digital editions.