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This forum is about wrong numbers in science, politics and the media. It respects good science and good English.

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Communication received

I forward this for the edification of members. Suggestions for a polite reply are welcome.

I just happened upon your website today, and read some of it with great interest. I'm very curious about your post on the detectability of a one degree temperature change. I'm a hypersensitive individual (as are my children), and I know there are many others like us. I am most definitely and consistently aware of such a change. I can feel as though I'm freezing to death at 76 degrees, be comfortable at 77, and feel hot as blazes at 78. I am also one of those people who can smell cigarette smoke and begin to feel unwell within seconds of someone lighting up fifty feet away from me, when others with smell nothing at all until minutes later. I also, apparently, disrupt electric/electro-magnetic currents in some way when stressed or angry, as I regularly causes watches to stop, light bulbs to blow, and have even caused data to disappear from floppy disks just by holding them in my hand. I've been permanently barred from touching most of my friends' and family members' electronic devices. I've met others like me on many occasions over the past three decades, and that's just counting those with whom the topic came up during the course of regular conversation. So, since your site is devoted to clarification of data and numbers, my own life experience leaves me wondering where your number "1" comes from in this regard.

Re: Communication received

This sounds fascinating. Has s/he ever submitted himself to a double-blind test of these abilities? I have known several people who claim to stop watches, cause remote controls to go haywire, etc., but so far as I know no-one has ever put it to the test under controlled conditions. It shouldn't be too hard to design a few experiments; e.g. arrange for someone to light a cigarette out of sight and downwind (using a car-type lighter, to avoid possible sound cues) and time the interval between lighting and detection; test data retention of floppy discs when handled by this individual and controls; and alter temperatures in a controlled manner.
One thing that does spring to mind - I was once off the Mississippi delta when a cold front came through, dropping the temperature by about 10°C within half an hour. We felt that, all right, but if the individual concerned can go through the whole gamut of heat sensations within one degree, how's he going to feel under those conditions?
While I agree this has some relevance to this site (although properly it's about the misuse of numbers), the people s/he should really get in touch with are at Fortean Times. They are the boys for what Charles Fort called '****ed data', i.e. serious weirdness that doesn't get treated by anyone else. Try

Re: Communication received

I see the machinery is playing about again. I did not write four asterisks, so in order to get it through please delete the leading 'e' from 'deamned'.
Somehow, too, the url of the Fortean Times site got omitted. Let's try again -

Re: Communication received

I find this subject fascinating, not because of the descriptions and depictions made by people like this, but about what their psychology and motivations can possibly be. I have throughout my life been in close proximity to such folk and am today. Tarot readers, astrologers, believers in the paranormal who have relayed personal experiences where the laws of physics are defied utterly. For instance in the June26th edition of the Sunday Telegraph's Stella magazine, First Person : 'A brush with a Poltergeist' the writer Michele Roberts writes about staying in the country cottage of a recently deceased aunt,

At breakfast one morning, glancing at the pot of Marmite (brought from England), I saw the lid rise up into the air, move sideways, hover, then drop on to the cloth.
Brigitte had always mocked English food: was she mocking it still?

Now the question for me is, did she see this in a dream and translate it into a real event due to grief or some other aberration; or did she want it so much to be true she willed herself into believing it; or again, was there a more cynical attention seeking, journalistic professional reason for making such a claim? The human brain is an amazing self deceptor certainly and incidentally, I think such subjects are a warning to 'sceptics' on our own side who say that science is never settled. Some basic and long established science is most certainly 'settled' and it is this science which informs my opinion on reports of flying marmite lids.

Re: Communication received

Dreams can be incredibly realistic. I woke up a few mornings ago convinced that I'd been briefly married prior to my current marriage. In reality I hadn't, but it actually took a couple of groggy minutes to chase away the nagging doubts. I can well believe those of a less rational disposition might translate repeated such instances into false memories, or dreams of flying marmite pot lids into reality. I don't think the stress of moving house, plus persistent breaches of the European Working Time Directive, on occasion putting in almost double the permitted number of hours on the job, are helping!

Re: Communication received

I have memories of locations that I know don't exist. Just last night I had a dream of having a dream of doing something stupid (I was stealing an artifact from a display in broad daylight). I was debating with myself in my dream whether I was gonna get nailed for having done this in my dream.

I have been pulled over by the police so many times in my dreams.

Wonder what that means...


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I dreamt last night that a coworker had agreed to take on part of a pressing project, another one that took a few conscious minutes to decide it was completely untrue. I think I need a holiday.

Re: Communication received

The starting point claim of being able to detect a 1 deg F change in air temperature isn't too outrageous. The further Uri Geller-style claims about detecting quite distant cigarette smoke almost instantly, being able to stop watches, cause light bulbs to blow and cause data from floppy disks to disappear are a lot more dubious.

Some information on the temperature change detection thresholds for the human skin are given in this 'Scholarpedia' article:


"When the skin at the base of the thumb is at 33 °C, the threshold for detecting an increase in temperature is 0.20 °C and is 0.11 °C for detecting a decrease in temperature."