Updated: Jul 28, 2020
The anecdotal stories from pet owners about what they would describe as animal telepathy -- are so extensive -- that they are impossible to ignore. We may doubt a specific story as being "unexplainable," but in total, they provide a body of evidence that can't be ignored. Certainly, science needs to catch up -- to provide a scientific understanding of what almost every pet owner I know has experienced. The fact that animals have a level of "knowingness" that we can't quite explain.
There are such negative connotations in scientific circles to this type of exploration that researchers would risk their careers by even mentioning the words animal and telepathy in the same sentence. But there are a few scientists who are willing to explore, because science, after all, should be the search for the truth, not the perpetuation of previously held beliefs and presumptions.
One scientist who is willing to step into the uncharted waters of exploration of animal telepathy is Professor Rupert Sheldrake (Cambridge/Harvard). He is a brave and bold -- and controversial researcher with over 80 technical papers published in scientific journals. He has over 1,500 case studies of human/animal communication that may involve a level of transmission of information across distances that we are only beginning to explore.
Sheldrake sites numerous examples of animal navigation across in some cases hundreds of miles after owners move and abandon their animals. And the animals find them.
He sites new studies on animal premonitions of natural disasters such as tsunamis and earthquakes that were undetected by traditional means.
And of course, 1500 case studies of animals who were videotaped while home alone, and they went and sat by a door or window the moment their owner DECIDED to come home. So this goes beyond the dog hearing footsteps or a car or smelling the owner, or knowing the regular time of arrival. These were cases where the owner made the decision to return home at an unscheduled time, even before they had begun the journey. This goes beyond the dog being able to hear or smell the return, as in some cases, the owner was in a foreign country.
There are hundreds of stories of Special Forces service members who can not alert their families to their return home. But the families have learned to pay attention to the dog. Because the dog's behavior changes dramatically, signally that the absent service person is about to return in a few hours.
Sheldrake has interviewed hundreds of veterinarians in England, where cats have the choice of being inside the house or outside. Many cat owners will tell you that when it is the day to go to the vet, even without bringing the cat carrier out, the cat will disappear. This issue is so well understood that in England, many vets will not make scheduled appointments for cats. "Just bring her in when you can," they will say, rather than make appointments that can't be kept.
Lawrence Anthony, a conservationist in an African game reserve and author of The Last Rhinos, talks about how they occasionally had to dart the rhinos with rifles for medical reasons. He said the rhinos always KNEW when this would happen and would disappear into the bush. This would happen before any rifles even came out. In fact, his workers were forbidden to say the words "rifle" or "dart" out loud.
If this happened a few times, it might be a coincidence, but it happened 100% of the time. The rangers had to develop complex strategies to hide their intentions from the rhinos in order to be able to do it, sometimes resorting to darting them from helicopters.
An example of the kind of “invisible” (to humans) communication that animals use is seen at The Dolphin Institute at Kewalo Basin, a research center in Hawaii. The dolphins sometimes get bored with the routine training protocols, so the researchers realized they had to do something to give the dolphins more creative expression. After extensive training, these dolphins can be given the command “Tandem Create.” This command means two dolphins instantly design a new trick, perform it together, in perfect sync with each other. How are they communicating this precise new information to each other?
There have been many examples of animals in research labs who seem to "outsmart" or have a kind of intelligence that isn't taught and isn't understood. For example, Dr. Irene Pepperberg worked with an African Grey Parrot named Alex for thirty years. In addition to performing all the language learning and object manipulation tasks she asked of him, Dr. Pepperberg began to notice that Alex seemed to have psychic abilities about what she was thinking or feeling, even when he couldn't see her or respond to her body language cues. At one point she was thinking about getting a new car. She hadn't mentioned it out loud, but and saw a photo of the car she wanted in a magazine. Even though Alex couldn't see the magazine she was reading from his cage, he said: "You want that car."
And then there are, of course, some stories for which we have no explanation. Paul the Octopus correctly picked the winning teams in World Cup and other matches with an accuracy rate far greater than chance. He correctly predicted 12 out of 14 matches giving him an accuracy rate of 85.7%. Not too many humans could match that level.
James French in England, the creator of The Trust Technique, prefers the term "shared feelings" which refers to the fact that humans and animals share feelings -- from human to animal -- and from animal to human. This exchange of energy allows for a free-flow of information, or communication, once the human learns how to hear clearly. Humans can be trained to "hear" or perceive what animals are feeling and thinking, and what their intentions are. While this method is very much grounded in accurate observation (without judgment or interpretation) of body language, it is also possible to do at a distance, without visual input.
The Trust Technique reduces stress and emotional upset in animals and humans.
Rethinking Animal Intelligence:
Ayumu, a young male chimpanzee studied at the Primate Research Institute at Kyoto University in Japan, shows that this chimp is way ahead of humans in complex memory tests. The chimps also show that they can have a sense of time, and will voluntarily arrive on time at the research lab testing site, for a reward of a taste of honey. Watch this video to see the chimp outperform an intelligent human.
The more we learn about Animal Intelligence, the more we realize how little we have understood. Our level of respect will naturally rise when we open our minds and heart to really comprehend how profound their wisdom is. For example, how can we not admire squirrels who can recall the locations of hundreds of buried acorns? Or trained pigeons who can detect hairline fractures on x-rays with greater accuracy than teams of doctors? Or dogs who can detect cancer from saliva and breath samples?
Dutch primatologist and biologist Frans de Waal have explored and reported on both the scope and depth of animal intelligence, with research involving crows, dolphins, parrots, sheep, chimpanzees, bonobos and wasps, to name a few species. These studies show us how we have vastly underestimated animal intelligence and challenge us to re-examine how we define it.
Instead of using human intelligence criteria to evaluate the animal mind, we need to enter their world and see the level of intelligence they have and use to navigate their world. Imagine if dogs were to analyze human intelligence based upon our weak sense of smell compared to theirs. They might conclude we are morons!
It is time to frame a new paradigm for understanding the potential of animals, in order to help us become better humans!
Genie Joseph, PhD
Director: The Human-Animal Connection