The Telepathy Project
Why The Telepathy Project?
What if telepathy is real? What if it is innate in all of us? If these statements are true, then why is telepathy so hard to prove? I wondered years ago if scientists might be looking in the wrong place. Why? Because I would look in one of the last places they would. Autistic children aren’t supposed to understand that others have minds, let alone have the ability to read them. My research strongly suggests some do.
Why should we care about proof of telepathy? If real, telepathy is just one of many fairly common experiences reported by people, but ignored by science because it doesn’t make sense. To me, such enigmas are clues to what is really going on. Only one of these anomalies needs to be proven to shatter the current paradigm, which will open the doors for examining the rest.
As humans we constantly make assumptions about what others think or feel, based on their behavior. One common source of miscommunication is to assume others operate from the same perspective we do, and they often don’t. We live at a time when we need to understand each other, and get along better than we ever have before. Instead, miscommunication and disagreement have become the norm. What if telepathy is an innate skill in all of us that could be developed to help with that?
I believe we are capable of so much more than we realize, but research funds are rarely spent on human consciousness, or developing its untapped potential. Instead, much of the available money is used to develop more drugs. This does not advance the human species, or begin to meet the needs of children like the ones I study.
Rather than being weird or spooky, people find it reassuring to feel interconnected telepathically with those they love. Solid proof of telepathy would radically shift how we see ourselves… as humans, and in our relationships with others. It’s only after people come to believe in telepathy that many report experiencing it. This might be the “Catch-22” that keeps analytical scientists from changing their minds.
The implications of telepathy are so profound that it is met with fierce opposition, even though many Nobel laureates and other eminent scientists have supported it for over a century. Most scientists don’t look into it or want to go out on a limb.
There are unwanted consequences to believing you’re psychic… you might be diagnosed as mentally ill and in need of antipsychotic drugs. That’s enough to keep many patients silent, but it also extends to professionals. Some people working with autistic children tell me they think the children are telepathic, but they would be afraid to say so publicly for fear of losing their jobs.
We can’t ignore this situation much longer. The incidence of autism continues to increase. We need to understand their needs. We are also at critical stage as a planet, with multiple challenges facing us. We need to shift our paradigm for human potential, because the old one has failed us. By funding this project, and helping to make this thought-provoking film, you will participate in shaping a vital conversation about what is possible… and what it means to be fully human.
I trained as a neuroscientist during my undergraduate and postgraduate years, and went to Johns Hopkins Medical School to become a doctor. I initially planned to become a neurosurgeon, because it fit my goals to both help people and do cutting-edge research to advance our understanding of human consciousness. After I started my clinical rotations, I became fascinated by psychiatry… especially its unsolved mysteries. Autistic savants are particularly intriguing; they can reliably demonstrate extraordinary skills… but no one understands how they do it.
My brother, Ken Hennacy, PhD, is a theoretical physicist and expert in artificial intelligence who shares my interest in consciousness. Over the years we’ve been collaborating on a model for understanding the neuroscience and physics of consciousness. We presented our model for the savant ability of calendar calculation at an international scientific conference on consciousness in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2005.
While working on a model to understand savant skills, it became apparent that the abilities fell into three general categories:
1. Some can be explained by an algorithm and/or prodigious memory, such as calendar calculation. For example, some children can tell you the day of the week any date would fall on… for periods spanning thousands of years.
2. Some posses very highly advanced skills that appear at a young age despite their cognitive limitations. For example, some musical savants can play a complex piece of music after hearing it only once, and without having had music lessons. They otherwise have cognitive problems that prevent them from being able to do basic tasks we take for granted.
3. Some provide information without any explanation for how they access it. For example, Neurologist Oliver Sacks described autistic twins who can call out six digit prime numbers in sequence, back and forth with each other like a volleyball without consciously deriving the numbers or having memorized them. Psychiatrist Darold Treffert witnessed a child draw the periodic table, complete with the symbols for the elements, without any known exposure to it previously, or knowledge that he was going to be asked to do so.
This third category really caught my interest. How do they do that? The more I thought about it, the more I realized this was a lot like psychic abilities. In most reports of telepathy and clairvoyance, the psychics say their answers don’t come from analysis… they just pop into their heads! Also, the late autism researcher Bernard Rimland wrote brief case reports of precognition and other psychic abilities in autistic children. These stories have largely been ignored and criticized. More recently, there have been reports of autistic children who exhibit telepathy to very high levels of accuracy, which is what science demands for proof. Why hasn’t research on autistics been done? Doing research with autistic children poses its own challenges, and is very labor intensive.
Severely autistic children are often trapped in bodies difficult for them to control. They struggle to speak, write, and even sit still. Initiating and stopping movements is particularly hard. Many of them are untapped geniuses who just need technological aids to express themselves. Unfortunately, many of them go unrecognized because they are prejudged to be mentally retarded.
My curiosity about telepathy and autism led to my current research. In January 2103 I evaluated several autistic savants in India, where I had been invited to speak at an international conference on autism. Their parents told me stories about their children’s telepathic abilities. However, the experimental conditions for proof require that there be no contact between the people in the experiment. Many nonverbal autistic children use facilitated communication (FC), which involves physical touch, to aid their typing because of their sensorimotor issues. For this research, I need autistics who don’t use FC.
In August 2013, I learned of Hayley. Instead of using FC, she can type independently. Hayley’s father contacted me at the recommendation of Darold Treffert, MD, a world-renown expert on autistic savants, who knew of my research. Hayley is eleven years old, and just recently started to say letters and numbers, but otherwise can’t speak. She also can’t do simple math, but she can give the answers to complex equations. She’s not a mathematical savant, but her parents initially thought she was, because she could answer increasingly complex equations. Then they learned she doesn’t know the answer unless the person working with her does.
This startling discovery was made by her therapist while doing math exercises. Without seeing the calculator, or being told of the change, Hayley’s answers switched from ordinary numbers to scientific notation… right after the display on the therapist’s calculator changed to that. When asked how she had done that, Hayley typed back, “I see the numerators and denominators in your head.”
Hayley then answered many questions she shouldn’t have known the answers to, such as the surname of her therapist’s landlord, and the name of a book the therapist was thinking about. Hayley was correct each time! The therapist was shocked. Hayley’s parents were equally surprised when they witnessed it for themselves, but became concerned about how people might react to their daughter.
Without knowing any of this, another therapist suspected Hayley was reading her mind. Hayley’s errors were exact copies of her own spelling mistakes. Half-joking, she asked Hayley to translate “I love you” into German, a language she was fluent in and to which Hayley was never exposed. Hayley correctly typed, “Ich liebe dich.”
In May 2014, my videographer Kent Romney and I filmed Hayley and her therapists for over six hours of controlled experiments using randomized stimuli. Hayley had been reported to be 100% accurate in her telepathy, but her accuracy went down after we introduced a visual and physical barrier between her and her therapist. Also, the cameras and additional people in the house were distracting for her and the therapists. Nonetheless, she did remarkably well.
During the first session with Therapist A, Hayley was 100% accurate on three out of twenty image descriptions that were up to nine letters each, 60% to 100% accurate on all three of the five-letter nonsense words, and 100% accurate on an eight and a nine-digit random number. During the second session with Therapist A, Hayley was 100% accurate on six out of twelve equations which contained 15 to 19 digits each. She showed 100% accuracy on seven out of 20 image descriptions with up to six letters, and between 81% and 100% accuracy on sentences of between 18 and 35 letters. The session with Therapist B showed 100% accuracy on five out of twenty random numbers of up to six digits in length, and 100% accuracy on five of twelve image descriptions containing up to six letters each.
Everyone at the conference agreed the statistical odds against Hayley’s answers being due to chance were staggering. However, we also agreed that the experimental setup was not ideal. In order to convince skeptics, the therapist knowing the answer needs to be in a separate room from Hayley, or behind a more complete visual barrier. This setup was not possible at the time because of the difficultly of introducing changes to an autistic child’s routine. Also, we had just met her and her family. However, since Hayley is reportedly telepathic with two therapists, she will be guided towards an experimental protocol that uses both therapists so that she has the support of one, while the therapist who knows the answer will be in a separate room. I wanted to try this in 2014, but it was more than we were able to implement at the time, which is why we need to go back and do more.
My second primary research subject is Ramses, who just turned 5 years old in September. He is one of only a handful of prodigious savants in the world. He is highly functional and doesn’t appear to be autistic. Ramses spoke his first word at 4 months. By age two Ramses could read, write, and speak in seven languages: Spanish, Japanese, Greek, English, Hebrew, Arabic, and Hindi. His mother recognized the first four, because she can speak them as well. She discovered Ramses knew the others when he started writing strange letters. She asked him what they were, and he told her he was writing in Hebrew, Hindi and Arabic. The mother confirmed this by looking the alphabets up online. His depictions were accurate, and as far as she knows he had no previous exposure to these ancient languages. Ramses is also reportedly telepathic. I witnessed a brief film of Ramses and his mother. He was able to say a 38 digit number that his mother wrote on a whiteboard out of his sight. However, they were seated in the same room with the mother facing him.
I initially evaluated Ramses on January 30, 2015 and February 2, 2015. His vocabulary, reading skills, drawings and pronunciations of the seven alphabets, knowledge of the periodic table, and ability to do math were impressive. He knows some rudimentary algebra and demonstrated his grasp of the concept of square roots after I showed him just one example. He wasn’t interested in a formal telepathy experiment during that meeting, so I came up with the idea of playing “hangman.” I drew lines to represent the letters making up several words I was thinking. The first word was “cat.” He said “C” and then “cat” a few seconds later. We did a few more. Ramses quickly guessed the subsequent letters and words with few mistakes.
I returned in March and informally tested Ramses for telepathy on three occasions for a few minutes each. The results were extremely encouraging! The first time the mother wrote five numbers between 0 and 9 on her whiteboard, while Ramses sat across the room with the whiteboard’s back facing him. He got them all correct. One-by-one I gave the mother four different children’s playing cards with numbers on them, while being careful that Ramses did not see them. He also got all of those. I then wrote four random numbers on the whiteboard: 8134. The mother circled the 81 and Ramses said “81” from across the room. She circled the three and he said “three”. When asked for the last number he said “four.” At another time, I handed the mother four small playing cards, one-by-one, with the numbers 2 through 10. Ramses got the first two correct. The third number was ten. He said “one”. His mother said. You’re partially correct” and moved on to the next number, the only one he completely missed out of 17.
The Telepathy Project will be a full-length documentary that includes our scientific experiments and interviews with the children’s parents and those who work with them. There will be commentary by recognized scientists and experts on autism, and by a skeptical scientist before and after witnessing an experiment.
We want to create the opportunity for you to join us in exploring one of the biggest mysteries in consciousness: is telepathy real? If you’ve been frustrated by science’s refusal to take research on telepathy seriously, this is your chance to change that. I’ll share my insights with you as I make discoveries and solve research challenges along the way.
Why raise money here?
Traditional funding sources are not available, because research on telepathy is labeled pseudoscience. Rupert Sheldrake was impressed by my research and recommended me to Navin Doshi. As a result, I anticipate a small grant from the Nalanda Foundation that will enable me to continue, along with money from Deepak Chopra, who invited me to submit a grant to his foundation. This has been extremely encouraging. Nonetheless, documentaries are expensive to produce, so our funding needs have not been fully met for the completion of this project.
We want to maintain control over the quality of the research, which eliminates funding from sources such as a television network, because they are primarily about entertainment. Pioneering scientists have to be self-supporting, which has really slowed down my progress, especially since my experimental subjects live far away and experimental-grade video is labor intensive.
With your help we can devote the next eighteen months to collecting data and creating the film. All donated funds will be used for the creation of this documentary and the collection and analysis of data. The level of funding we receive will determine how comprehensive this research and documentary can be. We believe you can see the potential for enormous impact from this project. We also believe in your desire to help fund what’s important… for us, and for future generations.
You will get an acknowledgement by email and exclusive updates regarding the film such as behind the scenes anecdotes, images, and clips. Welcome to the team!
All rewards listed above AND digital download of “The Telepathy Project” upon release.
Silver Screen Special Thanks
All of the rewards above AND your name will be in the “Special Thanks To” section in the credits of the film.
Limited First Edition Book
All of the rewards above AND Dr. Powell’s “The ESP Enigma,” which lays the groundwork for understanding why Dr Powell decided to investigate autistic children for telepathy, and for understanding her model for ESP. There are only a limited number of paperbacks left. These will be the only ones autographed with an personalized acknowledgement of your participation in The Telepathy Project.
Tickets to the Premiere
All of the rewards above AND a pair of tickets to the film’s premiere! (Travel and accommodations not included.)
So far, we have interviews with Hayley’s parents and both therapists. We also have approximately six hours of experimental footage, but not under the ideal setup. Now that we have had a chance to work with Hayley in person, we want to return and film her under optimized experimental conditions. Ideally she would be in a separate room from the person who knows the answers, but at the time we filmed this was not possible.
Hayley typed answers independently when her telepathy was first noticed. After placing a physical barrier between Hayley and her therapist to avoid eye-to-eye contact during the experiments, Hayley’s behavior regressed. She went back to using stencils for communication. Since she demonstrates telepathy with more than one person, we will test with one in the room to keep Hayley focused, while the other will be given the randomized test stimuli and be located in a different room.
Ram reportedly knows languages and scientific facts without any known exposure. However, proving that he hasn’t been exposed to knowledge is not possible. Therefore, the film will focus upon testing the reported telepathic communication he has with his mother. This will require developing more of a relationship with him so that he and his mother can be tested in separate rooms under optimal experimental conditions.
Besides creating the documentary, this research will be presented at academic institutions and scientific conferences. It will also be submitted to peer-reviewed scientific publications. I am already scheduled to present at the Towards a Science of Consciousness conference in Helsinki in June 2015.
Hayley is starting to acquire some ability to speak, and many autistic children reportedly become less telepathic as their language skills increase. This means there is a critical window of opportunity to film these children now. Also, the therapist who first discovered her ability, and with whom she has demonstrated the most significant results, has been promoted and no longer sees her regularly.
Risks & Challenges
The biggest challenges will be in timing. There are unknowns, such as the length of time to acclimate autistic children to the experimental protocol, because children with autism do not accept changes to their routine easily. Unexpected delays can also happen whenever travel and people are involved. If we encounter obstacles and need to delay delivery of rewards associated with this film, we will keep you updated and be completely transparent. We are committed to this project and will do our best to complete it on schedule.
Other Ways You Can Help
If you can’t contribute, you can still help. Please tell all your friends: by email, social media, and word-of-mouth, Even people who aren’t interested may know someone who is.