“THE SIXTH SENSE”

Another of the warhorse issues of the Society for Psychical Research was what in the Victorian era was known as “sixth sense” and today is called Extrasensory Perception (ESP). For a whole day, through the laboratories of the SPR headquarters in West Kensington, dozens of volunteers paraded, with the help of whom it was intended to establish the frequency with which the “sixth sense” manifested among the population in general. They were given a choice of four alternatives: a circle, a square, a triangle and a dancer named Claire Smithson who was then triumphing at a music hall of the West End. The subjects had to figure out which of these four alternatives Frederic Myers was thinking. During the entire duration of the experiment, Myers remained in a closed room at the other end of the building. The problem is that he turned out to be always thinking about the same alternative (I will not reveal which one of them), which to some extent discredited the statistical results of the experiment. However, in the course of this experiment, the members of the SPR discovered an individual with extraordinary extrasensory skills. It was a woman named Julie Mathers, who in all the occasions in which she was tested, she managed to perceive the alternative thought by Myers, including the unique occasion in which this one had deviated from his fixed idea and had thought about the square. To corroborate her divinatory qualities, she was subjected to other difficult tests, all of which she passed. For example, she divined what a horse was thinking. She was also able to divine the neck and shoe size of any member of the SPR by just looking at him. And on a certain occasion when the SPR headquarters were the object of a jewelry theft, she managed to enter the mind of the thief and in this way to guess where he had hidden part of the booty. (The police always suspected that she herself had been the thief, but that was never proven.)

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