Monday, November 2, 2015

ESP in Harris's Hawks and Big Kitties

Years ago, an article in This Week Magazine proved to us that extra sensory perception (ESP) was indeed real. An article in the magazine provided two sets of six cards to cut out, with a colored picture of a different simple object on each card. One person spread out his six cards and stared at any single one of them for one minute. Out of sight in the next room, another person stared at the entire lot of his matching cards for the same minute, then picked out the card which matched the one he felt the person in the other room had been staring at. There were several trials for each pair of people being tested, and scores were kept. The scores showed without a doubt that most of the time I knew what cards my mom and dad were looking at, but I seldom knew what card my brother-in-law was looking at.
From that time on, I was convinced that ESP existed, but I rarely saw instances where it was likely at work. We humans are so feebly endowed with ESP that I did graduate work in Ethology (comparative animal behavior) without once running across a paper about ESP in animals.
Carol and I lived for a short time, out in the sagebrush on the Paiute reservation in Schurz, Nevada. Every day we would turn out our two ravens with clipped wings into the chain-link fenced yard. Once in a while, a Harris's hawk would alight on the fence and eye the ravens without making a sound. Our ravens would hide at once in their carrier until one of us came out to get them. If we watched from the living room window, the hawk would be joined before long by several others. I soon discovered that they were flying in from all sorts of different directions at once to land on the fence and help stare at the ravens' box. But what was astonishing was that they arrived from places totally out of sight of one another.
I have carefully watched them assemble in this manner better than twenty times. Without calls of any sort, how could they ever coordinate such a thing? The simplest explanation would be that they scatter widely to scour the countryside and use ESP to converge upon game. I have no proof whatsoever of their using ESP, but it certainly requires a vastly more complicated explanation to describe how they might manage this without ESP.
I also have watched several detailed films which documented prides of lions hunting wildebeest. I grew up driving cattle out in the open, and the striking thing to me about the lions on film is how very much their maneuvers resemble what drovers do, handling cattle. Most of a drover's work is indeed independent of other drovers, but there is inescapably calling back and forth to make certain that a given cow is turned before she gets away. Lions don't call back and forth during their hunt. If they ever had so much as our feeble ESP ability in the distant past, I would think that Nature might just select to enhance it for the sake of their survival, wouldn't you?  
Tom Phipps