Anomalous Cognition can refer to just about any event where our thinking isn’t following a mutually agreed on perception or experience of reality. Someone at a music festival who has downed a psychedelic substance will be having anomalous cognition. Someone whose brain processes reality differently than the majority and who consequently may be perceiving ghosts or hearing voices, can also be said to be exhibiting anomalous cognition.

And now for the strangest idea ever: we can willfully induce anomalous cognition to obtain information we wouldn’t normally have access to in everyday consciousness. The least controversial example of this is hypnosis. But anomalous cognition can also take us into the world of the strange and wonderful, the world of fortune tellers and mediums, or the world of shamans and medicine people.

An interesting body of knowledge that can work in support of the bizarre notion of accessing information at a distance, and for which the term anomalous cognition was specifically coined, is Remote Viewing. Remote Viewing is hardly controversial in pre-industrial and geographically isolated cultures. The Australian Aboriginees, Tibetans, and the tribes of the Kalahari desert all needed some form of long distance communication prior to the arrival of telephony, and for them the ability for the mind to access information at a distance was a given. It is a form of ethnic chauvinism for us to dismiss these cultural experiences as primitive and illusory, even without the history of Remote Viewing in the US to puzzle over.

More recently, Physicist Tom Campbell postulated that we live inside a giant computer simulation and that we can access non-local information much in the same way we would access the source code of a computer program. For Carl Jung such information was housed in the Collective Unconscious, except, the Collective Unconscious wasn’t really aware or conscious in his view, as Robert Waggoner points out in his book Lucid Dreaming. For Waggoner, the unconscious is conscious and responsive to us. In the context of lucid dreaming at least, it doesn’t always do our bidding either. In a way, this makes it superior.

Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer writes in her book Extraordinary Knowing that psychologists were unlikely to believe in the existence of Extra Sensory Perception (ESP). Meanwhile magicians (the ones whose business it is to produce psi effects through trickery) were much more likely to believe in ESP with 72-84% open to the possibility, compared to 34% of psychologists. It makes sense for establishment psychiatrists and psychologists to be wary of claims of ESP, after all there is so much subjectivity at play, and such a wide margin for error in how we perceive, remember and tell reality.

But what if some ESP phenomena are true? How will this impact the fields of psychiatry and psychology of the future? Time will tell. But if you don’t want to wait that long, you can always remote view the answer, can’t you? The fact that you can’t always remote view the answer — something about which no one seems to disagree (since the disagreement is over whether you can some of the time or not at all) is precisely what makes us human. In omniscience there can be no mystery, no learning, no growth and no discovery. In omniscience there is also no privacy. The question then becomes if you could remote view the answer to any question, would you?