Presented at ASD's First PsiberDreaming Conference, September 23 - October 6, 2002

Psi-Perception in Dreams:
Next Stop - the Twilight Zone

by E. W. Kellogg III, Ph.D. ©2003


  "You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension - a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into the Twilight Zone." Rod Serling  

Until the 1960’s evidence for psi-dreaming (including precognitive dreams, telepathic dreams, clairvoyant dreams and mutual dreams) consisted mostly of anecdotal reports. However, at that point researchers at Maimonides Dream Laboratory (1) took the next step, and in a series of controlled scientific studies demonstrated that subjects could repeatedly tune into randomly selected external targets in their dreams. A meta-analysis of post-Maimonides studies of psi-dreaming by other researchers confirmed this effect (2).

In a related area, research since the 1970’s in remote viewing has demonstrated that human beings in general have the ability to tune into designated targets outside of the range of their physical senses. In 1995 the CIA hired Dr. Jessica Utts, a professor of statistics at the University of California, Davis, to evaluate a series of remote viewing experiments done at the Stanford Research Institute. She concluded: "Using the standards applied to any other area of science, it is concluded that psychic functioning has been well established. The statistical results of the studies examined are far beyond what is expected by chance. Arguments that these results could be due to methodological flaws in the experiments are soundly refuted." (3) And it seems generally agreed that spontaneous dream-state psi occurs much more easily and often than waking-state psi.

For theories on the nature of dreaming, the validation of dream-psi seems the equivalent of the Michelson-Morley experiment in physics, with the exception that few have realized the profound implications. For example, psi-dreaming has made strictly subjective, solipsistic theories of dreaming outdated and untenable. We need to change how we think about dreams, and to understand that dreaming involves a kind of perception.

One can describe ‘visual perception as process’ as follows:

1. An object/event existing in the “external world”;
2. Your visual sense abstracts/represents that object/event;
3. You see an abstract pattern of light, shapes, colors, etc.;
4. After a ‘best fit comparison match” with stored templates of previously experienced object/events, functioning intentionality automatically identifies this pattern as X. You perceive X. or:
5. The pattern does not adequately match the template brought up. Back to stage 3. to search in more depth for a better template match.

This process distinguishes between what one sees, and what one perceives. Even if two individuals see “the same” ink blot, they may perceive it quite differently. In dreams, much more so than in waking life, we identify what we experience in terms of those objects and processes familiar to us, even if the match seems very poor. To the dreaming mind, “similar to” often becomes “identical to.” I wrote about this "Substitution Phenomenon" in 1985 (4) and developed this concept in subsequent papers (5-8). Psi-dreams offer unique opportunities to observe how dream perception - and misperception - works. To see an illustration that compares a specific precognitive dream image with the actual target image, click on this link “ASD 2001 Telepathy Contest: A Precognitive Approach”. (7)

As commonly observed in remote viewing experiments (9, 10), although the dream image matches the target as an abstract pattern, the dreamer grossly misperceived it.

Even in “ordinary dreams,” we may routinely use dream-psi to semi-randomly tune into different channels of information, based on conscious and unconscious interests, "day residue", etc. The most seemingly mundane of dreams may have unrecognized psi-elements. In dreams we perceive what we expect to perceive, identifying what we see using terms and templates of what seems most familiar to us. If an isolated aborigine, unexposed to the modern world, saw a movie like The Matrix how would they interpret it? Although they might see the same movie that you or I would, they would perceive it quite differently. They would not perceive computers, or cars, or office buildings - they would have no means of identifying or recognizing such things. Instead, they would interpret and identify what they saw in terms of their own familiar set of templates, based on their own memories and lived experiences. If one then asked them afterwards to describe what went on during the movie, it would have very little to do with what you or I might report, given the dissimilarities in our world-views.

It might well prove the case that a similar thing happens to us every night in our dreams. No matter what we actually experience, unless we take the greatest care, even incredibly bizarre events and objects become comfortable and familiar by the time we have described them in our dream reports. And as the phenomenon of “verbal overshadowing” (11) indicates, once we convert a dream experience into a dream report, we may lose access to the dream experience as such. To reverse one of the more famous sayings of Sherlock Holmes, "We perceive, but we do not see."

Given the unlimited number of unverifiable psi targets as compared to the finite number of verifiable psi targets, and considering the many problems in validation, it seems no surprise that convincing evidential reports of spontaneous psi-dreams occur rarely (see Appendix 1). And yet, as the Maimonides studies showed, it seems remarkably easy for people to induce psi-dreams. By focusing intent we can, at least to some degree, consciously influence the selection process, using psi to tune into specific information.



1. Ullman, M., Krippner, S., and Vaughn, A.,(1973) Dream Telepathy: Experiments in Nocturnal ESP, Penguin Books, Baltimore.

2. Sherwood, S. J., & Roe, C. A. (2003). “A review of dream ESP studies conducted since the Maimonides dream ESP programme” Journal of Consciousness Studies, 10, 85-109.

3. Utts, J., (1996) “An Assessment of the Evidence for Psychic Functioning “ The Journal of Scientific Exploration, 10(1), 3- Page 3-30.

4. Kellogg III, E. W. (1985). “The Substitution Phenomenon” Dream Network Bulletin, 4(5), 5-7.

5. Kellogg III, E. W. (1989). “Mapping Territories: A Phenomenology of Lucid Dream Reality”. Lucidity Letter, 8(2), 81 - 97.

6. Kellogg III, E. W. (1992). “The Lucidity Continuum”, a paper presented at the Eighth Annual Conference of the Lucidity Association in Santa Cruz, June 28, 1992. Copies of this paper available from the author by request. © 1992.

7. Kellogg III, E. W. (1997) “A Mutual Lucid Dream Event”, Dream Time, 14(2), 32-34.

8. Kellogg III, E. W. (2001) “ASD 2001 Telepathy Contest: A Precognitive Approach”, Dream Time, 18(2-3), 20, 41. A longer version appears online at the ASD Website:

9. Swann, I. (1991), Everybody’s Guide to Natural ESP: Unlocking the Extrasensory Power of Your Mind, Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., Los Angeles.

10. Graff, Dale E. ( 2001). “Learning from Psi Dreams”, Dream Time, 18(1), 14, 15, 33.

11. For a summary of the “verbal overshadowing” effect, see Bower, B., “Talk is cheap, but it can tax your memory” in Science News, 163(16), April 19, 2003, p. 250.(Link:  )



Appendix 1: A Note on Verifiable Psi and Non-Verifiable Psi

Even people who accept psi-dreaming usually consider it a rare event.  I would like to offer an alternative and radical point of view.   Although I agree that validated, evidential psi-dreaming does indeed occur rarely, psi-dreaming as such may occur most, or even all, of the time.  In our culture, we do not expect that our dreams will have psi-content.  In fact, most people strongly believe the opposite.  In dreams, we identify what we experience in terms of those objects and processes familiar to us, that we believe in, even if the match seems very poor.  Some have argued the case that many reported psi-dreams involve confabulation and wish fulfillment by those who believe in psi. I agree.  But the same holds for disbelievers, whose dogma rejects the existence of psi out of hand. Occam's razor makes a very unreliable tool for those who have a personal attachment to a favorite theory or belief system.

And of course, the pathway to validating a psi-dream has many pitfalls - for example, fragmentary or distorted recall and misidentifications on the part of the dreamer.  An "ordinary dream" may have psi elements, and a "psi-dream" may have "ordinary dreaming" elements which further complicates the gathering of evidence. Or dreamers may accurately use psi to tune into scenes on the other side of the world, or even into another time, for which they can never get validating feedback. In our culture most dreamers would automatically classify any unverifiable psi-dream as an ordinary non-psi dream.

Further, few people report on their dreams in any case, and considering the ridicule often involved, they may report psi-dreams least of all.  Taking into consideration all of the hindrances and barriers that prevent the validation of psi-dreams, it certainly seems no surprise that spontaneous, evidential psi-dreams occur rarely, even for those who look for them. And yet, as the Maimonides studies show, it seems remarkably easy for subjects who have the conscious intent to induce evidential psi dreams to do so.

For the sake of argument, let's assume that 1/1000 spontaneous dreams fall into the evidential psi-dream category. Let's say that fragmentary and distorted recall has modestly reduced the actual incidence by 10 fold.  That makes the actual occurrence of psi-dreams 1/100. However, let's also assume that in many cases, dreamers may psychically tune into scenes about which they will never get feedback, and very modestly assume (see Appendix 2) that this reduces the pool of verifiable psi-dreams by a further factor of ten. This would bring the actual occurrence of psi-dreams to 1/10. And then one can bring in other factors that would reduce the incidence of verifiable psi-dreams.  For example, misidentification of the psi event on the part of dreamers during the dream, or after the fact when they write the dream down.  And even when dreamers keep good dream records, when the time comes that an event from a precognitive dream takes place, they may no longer remember the dream that foreshadowed it. Many long term dream journalers report that many "ordinary dreams" later revealed themselves as evidential precognitive dreams, a fact that only became apparent when they developed the habit of rereading their journals on a regular basis.

And now let’s come to the final barrier - the barrier of belief, e.g., "Psi-dreams don't happen because they can't happen," or a somewhat modified version: "Psi-dreams don't happen to me, because they can't happen to me."

Whether or not one agrees with these figures, it seems clear that psi-dreaming as such occurs far more often than evidential psi-dreaming.  At this point I personally operate under the assumption that every dream has some psi-elements, recognized or unrecognized.  In my experience even “ordinary” dreams do not occur in such a “fine and private place” as most people like to assume. Individual subjectivity makes its primary impact in how we perceive and later interpret what we dream.  We perceive what we expect to perceive, identifying what we see using terms and templates of what seems most familiar to us.

I personally don't think that any of us needs to develop our psi abilities as such - I believe that they operate full bore in all of us. However, we do need to learn how to direct them, how to reliably tune into specific information that we wish to know. But even should we successfully learn to do so in psi-dreams, we will more than likely misidentify what we see, perceiving the unfamiliar in terms of the familiar, just as remote viewers do.

Even assuming that psi-dreaming as such seems commonplace, one would still expect spontaneous evidential psi-dreams to only occur very rarely. And why not? Given the infinite number of non-verifiable psi-targets one can tune into, versus the very limited and finite number of verifiable targets, and the fact that very few of us has anything much in the way of even limited control over what information we tune into when dreaming, who would expect otherwise?


Appendix 2: How Many Psi-Targets?

Prefatory Note: So far, experimental evidence has not demonstrated any limiting effect of distance on the effectiveness of psi. (See for example: May, E.C., et al, (1988) “Review of the psychoenergetic research conducted at SRI International (1973-1988)”, SRI International Technical Report, March, 1989). Many physicists, in attempting to explain psi, have proposed that psi operates in a non-local way, which means that the distance between a perceiver and a target, whether a foot, a mile, a light-year, or a billion-trillion light-years, literally makes no difference.

You might want to take a moment to think about the implications of this before reading further.

A. On Earth

The International Programs Center, U.S. Bureau of the Census, projects that the total population of the World will reach 6,320,935,803 on 10/01/03.

How many of these people would you know well enough to recognize, and then contact, should you tune into them in a psi-dream?  Perhaps 1,000?  If so, that means that should you do so through a random psi-tuning process, limited only to people living on Earth at the present time, that you have less than a 1 in a six million chance of dreaming with someone you know, who you could at least try to contact to validate the event. And you would have greater than 5,999,999 chances out of six million that you would dream about someone that you could not.

B. The Observable Universe

Galaxy Estimate Up To 125 Billion. Far News. Far Shores. citation of South China Morning Post. 9 January 1999.  "The Hubble Space Telescope has found there may be 125 billion galaxies in the universe."

1. Number of Gaia like planets (habitable planets where life emerges and a full biosphere develops) in the Milky Way Galaxy: 0.5 million.  (As calculated by Franck, S., von Bloh, W., Bounama, C., Steffen, M., Schönberner, D., Schellnhuber, H.-J.: 2002,  “Habitable zones and the number of Gaia's sisters”  =   In: B. Montesinos, A. Gimenez, E.F. Guinan(eds.): The Evolving Sun and its Influence on Planetary Environments, ASP Conference Series, Vol. 269, p. 261)

2. 100+ Billion Galaxies in our Observable Universe.

3. Rough Estimate: >50 million billion Gaia like planets in our Observable Universe.

C. The Infinite Universe and Parallel Dimensions

For those of you interested in what may lay beyond the Observable Universe, check out Max Tegmark’s (a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania) article on the scientific evidence for an infinite physical universe, and for parallel universes, published in the May 2003 issue of The Scientific American. Link to “Parallel Universes: Not just a staple of science fiction, other universes are a direct implication of cosmological observations” by Max Tegmark:

Dr. Tegmark’s article begins:

"Is there a copy of you reading this article? A person who is not you but who lives on a planet called Earth, with misty mountains, fertile fields and sprawling cities, in a solar system with eight other planets? The life of this person has been identical to yours in every respect. But perhaps he or she now decides to put down this article without finishing it, while you read on.

The idea of such an alter ego seems strange and implausible, but it looks as if we will just have to live with it, because it is supported by astronomical observations. . . . "

And as evidence supports the idea that telepathy usually works better between twins than between genetically different individuals, if distance truly makes no difference, what about dream telepathy between parallel selves in different universes?




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