Telepathy Caught on Camera?
by Guy Lyon Playfair
On January 10th 2003, 8-year-old Richard Powles sat in a soundproof
room in a London television studio in front of a table on which
there was a cardboard box and a plastic bucket filled with ice-cold
water. On command, he rolled up his sleeve and plunged his arm
into the near-freezing water, giving a gasp as he did so. In
another studio well out of sight or earshot, his identical twin
brother Damien was wired up to a four-channel polygraph (lie-detector)
which, under the expert supervision of polygrapher Jeremy Barrett,
was monitoring his respiration, abdominal muscles, pulse and
galvanic skin response (sweat on the hands).
Neither he nor Barrett had any idea what was going on in the
other room, although both knew they were taking part in a telepathy
experiment to be shown later that day on Channel 4's Richard
and Judy chat show. All Damien had to do was sit quietly and
"tune in" to his brother, while Barrett's job was
to watch the four pens as they woibbled along the paper chart
and look out for something that shouldn't be there.
He soon found it. At the exact moment of Richard's sharp intake
of breath caused by the freezing water, there was a sudden blip
on the line monitoring Damien's respiration rate. It was as
though he too had gasped - which he hadn't. The effect was so
obvious that Barrett pointed to it with his thumb to indicate
that he knew something had happened to Richard.
In another experiment, Richard was asked to open a cardboard
box, which he did, hoping to find something nice - preferably
eatable - in it. Instead, a huge rubber snake shot out of it
at him, giving him a fright. This, too, was instantly picked
up by his twin as the pulse line on the chart clearly indicated.
Was this visible proof of telepathy? Although this was not a
rigidly controlled scientific experiment, it looked very much
It was not the first time that an ostensibly telepathic signal
had been recorded at the moment it was received. In 1997, the
same polygraph expert supevised an experiment held in front
of a live audience for a programme in Carlton TV's Paranormal
World of Paul McKenna series shown on 24th June. The subjects
on this occasion were two very lively teenagers, Elaine and
Elaine sat in the studio in front of a large pyramid put together
by the special effects wizards, while Evelyn and Jeremy Barrett
were in a separate room. When Elaine was nicely relaxed after
some skilful light hypnosis from Paul McKenna, the pyramid exploded
in a burst of sparks, flashes and coloured smoke, giving her
a considerable shock. This showed up on Evelyn's polygraph as
a huge deflection - one pen running off the top of the paper,
causing Barrett to comment over the intercom that "Evelyn
certainly picked up something from somewhere."
"There certainly was something coming," he added,
"and it looks to me like shock or surprise". Interestingly,
neither Evelyn Dove nor Richard Powles had any conscious awareness
of the shocks their twins were being given although they were
both unmistakably aware of them unconsciously.
Although the evidence for telepathy has been coming in regularly
since the founding in 1882 of the Society for Psychical Research
-overall probability of chance in all of the published controlled
experiments being of the order of one in billions - many remain
unconvinced. Some refuse to admit even the possibility of telepathy,
while more reasonable sceptics prefer to suspend judgment until
there is not only unmistakable evidence for it and a theory
explaining how it works. We may now have both.
We have had the statistical evidence for some time, and we now
have the visible evidence, produced by an easily repeatable
experiment. As for the theory, this too has been around for
nearly a hundred years though many are still unaware of it.
It's called quantum theory, and while nobody seems to understand
it, there is general agreement in the scientific community that
it works and can be put to practical use.
One feature of it is "nonlocality", whereby two particles
- such as photons - that form a simultaneously generated or
"entangled" pair act as if they remain in contact
even when separated. Science writers often compare such particles
to identical twins, who begin their lives literally entangled.
"Non-local behaviour has been proved to occur by real experiments,"
writes John Gribbin in his book Schrodinger's Kittens (1995).
It is as if the two quantum entities "remain tangled up
with one another for ever, so that when one is prodded the other
twitches, instantaneously, no matter how far apart they are."
Another scientist-author, Danah Zohar, actually uses a hypothetical
pair of identical twins in her book The Quantum Self (1990)
to illustrate the principle of nonlocality in action. In her
imaginary experiment, a man is pushed downstairs in London and
breaks a leg, while his twin thousands of miles away also falls
and breaks a leg although nobody has pushed him.
This is just what they actually do. I have collected several
examples of twins who did break limbs at exactly the same time,
some of them hundreds of miles apart. Non-local behaviour has
been proved to occur by not only real experiments, as Gribbin
noted, but also by real people - specifically identical twins.
It was also, I believe, proved to occur by both the Powles and
Dove twins. This was not a controlled scientific experiment,
to be sure, but it should at the very least be considered a
very promising pilot experiment, of a kind anybody who can get
hold of a polygraph operator and a pair of twins can easily
repeat. It won't take long and it needn't cost much.
It won't work every time. The twins need to answer yes to four
1 Are you absolutely identical?
2 Do you still feel a close bond with your twin? (Not all of
3 Are you an extravert and not an introvert? (This is easily
calculated in a standard psychological test).
4 Do you think you have already experienced telepathy with your
There are three especially telepathy-prone groups - mothers
and newborn babies, dogs and their owners, and identical twins.
Of these, it is the twins who pick up the signal at full strength
most often, provided that they are in the right states of mind
and they send out the right kind of message.
To find out more, read the book of which
Rupert Sheldrake, author of Dogs That Know When Their Owners
are Coming Home (1999) has said "For many years I have
been looking in vain for authoritative research on this intriguing
subject. At last I have found it in this book."
The book, which in Colin Wilson's opinion "will obviously
become a classic of psychical research" is
Twin Telepathy - The Psychic Connection by Guy Lyon Playfair,
and is available to order here at £8.99.
Although the idea of a special connection between identical
twins is part of our folklore, remarkably little research has
been carried out in this field. In 'Twin Telepathy: The Psychic
Connection', Guy Lyon Playfair has produced an overwhelming
body of evidence indicating that there is indeed a special connection
Much astonishing evidence is published here for the first time,
including the following startling stories:
A three day old baby alerts his mother to his brothers
life-threatening crisis just in time.
A four-year-old girl buens her hand on an iron; simultaneously,
her sister suddenly develops a blister of the same size in exactly
the same place.
A man staggers and slumps into a chair clutching his
chest at the exact moment that his twin brother - 30 miles away
- is shot dead.
Yet this is not simply a collection of case histories. Playfair
also makes a bold attempt to provide a new way of looking at
the mystery of telepathy. Indeed, as he explains in clear, nontechnical
language, scientists may already have come close to solving
the mystery of the twin connection - and telepathy in general
- without realizing it. As Stanley Krippner, a past president
of the Parapsychological Association and one of today's leading
authorities on all aspects of psychical research puts it:
"Twin Telepathy reads like an intriguing detective story.
Those who read this book may never view twins or the cosmos,
in the same way again."
Schrodingers Kittens by John Gribbin
Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home by Rupert Sheldrake
The Quantum Self by Danah Zohar