Researchers at the University of Melbourne have looked into the matter and say their findings help debunk the belief that a sixth sense actually exists.
The Aussie researchers outlined their research and findings in a study published recently in PLOS ONE. Their findings show that while people could sense when a change took place, without the benefit of the other senses, they could not specifically identify that change.
They found that a person might be able to pick up a change in a person’s appearance, but not, for example, be able to precisely pinpoint that the exact change in appearance was something such as getting a new hairstyle or wearing jewelry.
“There is a common belief that observers can experience changes directly with their mind, without needing to rely on the traditional physical senses such as vision, hearing, taste, smell and touch to identify it,” said Piers Howe from the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences.
Howe said the research conducted by his team showed that while people could consistently sense changes that they could not see, their ability to do so had nothing to do with a sixth sense or extrasensory perception.”
To reach their findings, the researchers gathered volunteer observers who were shown pairs of color photos of the same female. In some of the photos, the woman’s appearance could be different, such as a new hairstyle, from the other in the pair.
Each of the photos was shown to the observer for about 1.5 seconds and then a 1 second pause before showing the next photo. After looking at the second photo, the researchers asked the observer whether or not a change had taken place between the first and second picture. Then they were asked to specifically identify that change in appearance from a list of nine different changes.
The researchers found that their volunteer observers were able to pick-up on a change in appearance even when they couldn’t pinpoint what that specific change was.
While they might notice one of the two photos had more of one color than the other, they weren’t able to translate that information into specifics such as the change in color was due to the woman wearing different clothing.
This resulted in the observer “feeling” or “sensing” that a change had occurred without being able to visually identify the change. Thus, the result that observers can reliably feel or sense when a change has occurred without being able to visually identify the change could be explained without invoking an extrasensory mechanism.
So what do you think? Do you agree with the researchers that a “sixth sense” does not actually exist? Or do you think ESP is a legitimate phenomenon?