The Sixth Sense Fallacy

Here is an interesting article published in 1909 that does not deny the reality of psychic powers or the sixth sense, but likens them to basic, animal instincts. The article claims that as a person’s intellect increases, his psychic powers decrease, and that that is the reason why we must protect our children from developing an interest in the psychic sciences.

The Sixth Sense Fallacy

Duty of Freethinkers to Protect Youthful Minds Against the Present Efforts By Interested Persons at Misinformation

By Franklin H. Heald

So much foolishness has been written lately upon the subject of improving the human mind along the lines of telepathy, clairaudience, clairvoyance, psychometry and kindred instincts; and too by leading periodicals, that it occurs to me that it is high time that Atheists and Materialists should take a hand in setting the young and inquiring minds right, upon that important and much abused subject.

A London scientist, Fredric Fletcher, who is being widely quoted, says in his attempt to overthrow Materialism, —

“The normal operation of the sixth sense with its clairvoyance, clairaudience, and telepathy, brings new revelations to our modern materialism. Not the least of these may be an absolute demonstration of immortality and a proof of post mortem existence.”

There was a time, when I was considerably younger than I am now, that I believed human beings to be gradually evolving a sixth sense along these lines, or a psychic method of receiving information; and I have written long articles attempting to explain it, to conform with Materialism; but I am now thoroughly convinced, and can furnish the proof to any one, other than an orthodox Christian, that we are losing the psychic sense as we evolve reason, and beg to furnish the readers of the Blade some simple facts, which point to reason as the highest order of arriving at the truth, yet reached by any life that we know anything about.

I believe it is generally conceded, and will not be denied, that the psychic powers are closely related to the instinct of animals, birds, serpents, insects, fishes, and other life, even as low as plants. In fact, Mr. Fletcher says himself —

“The ant can see where we are blind because its organ of vision is susceptible to finer etheric vibrations than ours. Many animals also possess a greater instinct and sensory development than is displayed by men, because, aided by a sensitive sympathetic nervous system, they can augment certain powers which in the human race are not fully active.”

He might have included bees, pigs, cats, pigeons, horses, snakes, and all the other forms of life below man, with which we are familiar; and he might also have mentioned it as “absolute demonstration of their immortality and a proof of post-mortem existence,” in case he wished to be consistent.

It is well known that animals, birds, etc., inherit at birth certain knowledge called instinct, which they make use of to a greater extent than do the young of human beings; and yet when the reasoning powers of the human being are matured, he is the master and director of all other life and  phenomena.

When a young chick breaks through his shell and draws his first breath, he is standing on his feet, with his eyes open, and knows exactly what to do next. He feels the directing forces of nature upon his organized matter, which the human babe does not feel, and could not obey if he felt them. The human babe is the most helpless of all living creatures; more so than an oyster, a sponge, or a common weed, and the more unmeasured reason he inherits, the more helpless he is; in fact, if not taken care of by others he would perish in a very short time. Instinct, or the psychic means of feeling the forces of nature, have given place to reason on account of the gradual evolution of reason, and the decreasing use of the psychic feeling by his ancestors.

I am prepared to prove that intellect, reason or the power of deduction, increases directly in the same ratio that the psychic power or instinct decreases, from the best male human being down to the lowest life — say an iron bar, which can only feel the forces of heating and cooling and moves accordingly. Bees, ants and other insects use telepathy as a means of communicating thought; many birds use clairvoyance as a means of locating food; some animals, serpents, fishes, insects and birds use clairaudience as a means of communicating danger signals; and many animals and forms of lower life are able to find their way to their home, food or water, where human beings would be lost, and perish. Some birds see by the X-rays, and in fact there are scores of instances where I have proven that lower organizations of life than man can and do receive sure information through the psychic avenues, which the human being only receives by matured reason.

We know, as a rule, that men have the power of reason much more developed than women, and we know it is because they are the natural providers and protectors, and are therefore compelled to experiment and use their reason more than women, who are, or should be, protected and provided for. We know also, that as a rule, women are more sensitive to the psychic force than man, because their reason is less evolved; and many times women feel instantly, without thinking, what it requires reason and experiment to determine for men of the brightest and best evolved intellect. I will say, without fear of successful contradiction, that I can give the exact psychic capacity of any animal, including man, by simply measuring and comparing the intellectual portion with the balance of the brain.

The lower we go, and the farther back we go into the dark ages of the human race, the more psychic power, or animal instinct, we find, and the less reason, until we arrive at a time when it is almost impossible to tell whether they are animal or human, and there are animals in the world today whose intellect is so weak and whose psychic instinct is so strong that we hesitate to say whether they shall be classed as a part of the human family. In fact, it has been scarcely two centuries since the wise men who governed the world by fear of punishment in a “post-mortem existence,” denied that woman had a “soul;” and less than half a century since it was generally admitted that a n— possessed such a coveted asset; and only recently that such thinkers as W.C.T.U. women and preachers who part their hair in the middle, believe that dogs, mules and snakes will go to heaven, though they still believe that human “infants a span long” will go to the other place and burn forever for the glory of God, if they are not baptized.

Even Mr. Fletcher, the English investigator aforesaid, is intelligent enough to note the fact, that the less intelligent people are the more they show psychic development and says on this line —

“It appears remarkable to many people that the present development of the sixth, or psychic sense, should manifest itself more in the illiterate and uneducated than in the intellectual. Amongst the peasantry of Russia, Italy and Ireland it is common, so common that many of the customs and superstitions have arisen through it. Some animals also seem to have second sight.”

Does it not seem almost strange that he should have missed the logical connection or conclusion — that humanity is getting rid of this psychic sense of animals, as we evolve reason, and especially when he says —

“There exist in the savage and civilized races individuals who show quite normally a similar development to that of some species of the animal kingdom, the ability to minutely visualize by an extension of the sight organs or to hear when the auditory nerve is usually unresponsive, showing additional though ofttimes rudimentary powers.

The fact is, the psychic force in man is rudimentary and the more highly organized a life form is, the less it receives information from the psychic forces and the more it uses its reason.

People look back hundreds of years to Hindoo wisdom and marvel at the evidence of their psychic power, when if they could look still farther back, possibly a million years, they would be found devoid of reason and depending on psychic information for a living, as Christ, Elijah, and other nature fakers of the past.

Mr. Fletcher and thousands of New Thought people believe this sixth sense is very desirable and should be diligently cultivated, referring to it as the Psychic Science. I do not agree with them that the Science, so-called, is in its infancy, but believe it is in its dotage as far as man is concerned, and believe it should be discourages the same as superstition, so that the reason may have full sway by being unhampered.

Source: Blue Grass Blade. Newspaper. Lexington, Kentucky. February 28, 1909.