When the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) was founded back in 1882, the primary focus was said to be the study of what was then called thought-transference, renamed "telepathy" by Frederic W. H. Myers, one of the SPR founders. Had Myers and the other SPR founders admitted that they were really searching for evidence of the survival of consciousness after death, or a spirit world, mainstream science would have scoffed and SPR members would have been called a bunch of lunatics. In the wake of Darwinism, which kicked off in 1859, science had, by 1882, dismissed matters of religion and spirituality as mere folly and superstition, and no "self-respecting" scientist or scholar would even consider the possibility of life after death.
As it was, many materialistic scientists laughed at the idea of mental telepathy - there are still many scientific fundamentalists who reject it - but telepathy (and other forms of ESP) was a pretext of sorts that made the organization somewhat more acceptable to the scientific establishment and the public in general. While the idea of life after death invited scoffs among the "intellectuals," telepathy was more in the smirk category.
Proof of telepathy does not serve directly as proof of life after death. It, however, defies the laws of physics and suggests a non-mechanistic world, thereby opening the door to another reality, one in which life after death is at least a reasonable hypothesis. One of the most fascinating areas in the study of telepathy has to do with twins. Renowned author Guy Lyon Playfair explores this whole area in his book "Twin Telepathy," recently published by White Crow Books. "...if telepathy exists - and I will have failed if any reader gets to the end of this book without being satisfied that it does - it shows that many of our textbooks, especially in physics and psychology, need some drastic revision," Playfair states. "This is one reason why academics are usually reluctant even to consider the possibility of telepathy, which they consider a no-go area. All too many of them suffer from what the Greeks called misoneism, or hatred of new ideas."
Although surveys conducted by the SPR founders during the 1880s revealed telepathic links between twins, it wasn't until the 1940s that some academics began to take note of the phenomenon and conduct research. Horatio H. Newman, a professor of zoology at the University of Chicago, appears to have been the first. He reported on a case in which twin sisters prepared for an examination, each studying half of the assigned material. However, each sister was able to write fluently about the half she had not studied. Their papers were so similar that the teacher suspected cheating. It was pointed out, however, that they were too far apart in the exam room for normal cheating to take place.
Although not clearly identifying himself in an earlier case of the same nature, Newman is believed to have been one of twin brothers who turned in identical exam papers on a number of occasions, even when placed in separate rooms. In addition to using the same words, the same syntax, and the same grammar, they made the same mistakes. While Newman was inclined to explain such cases as a matter of genetics, he also recognized the possibility of telepathy and urged more research in this area. Unfortunately, because the taboo has persisted, very little laboratory research has been done in this area and most of the evidence is anecdotal.
Pain and strong emotion between twins has been reported more than a few times. Playfair offers a case involving twins Aily Biggs, a London banker, and Alison Armour, a physician. Aily recalled that while on a school project she felt that she was being followed by a driver in a yellow vehicle. She began running and thinking `Alison, if there's anything you can do, tell Dad to come quick!" At the same time, Alison, who was studying in her room, felt that Aily was in the room with her and in a state of panic and yelling "Get Dad! Get Dad!"
One of the more mysterious stories gathered by Playfair involved Romulus and Remus Cozma of Romania. In 1987, the identical twins both fell in love with a woman named Monica. Remus and Monica married, but frequently fought. In 1993, Remus came home drunk one night. As he and Monica argued, Remus attempted to strangle her. However, she got hold of a kitchen knife and tried to stab him. Remus wrestled the knife away from her and killed her with the knife. At the same time, Romulus and his significant other, also named Monica, were going for a stroll in the park, apparently both happy, when Romulus, without cause or motivation, grabbed her around the throat and strangled her to death. He told police he didn't know why he did it. "I felt impelled by an invisible force," he explained. "I couldn't resist it."
Another intriguing case involved twins Roy and Loy Henderson. Roy was a student at Harvard in 1920, while Loy was serving as a Red Cross volunteer in Estonia. When Loy apparently contracted typhus during an epidemic, he was hospitalized. At a moment when he felt he was dying, Loy reported that his twin brother appeared to him and spoke in great distress of their separation from each other by death. As it turned out, Loy did not have typhus and survived, but shortly thereafter he received a telegram telling of Roy's death during a tooth extraction. It was determined that Roy's death occurred at the same time Loy was in the hospital bed thinking he was about to die.
Numerous other cases are reported by Playfair in this 173-page book - twins falling and breaking legs at the same time while skiing on different glaciers, twins many miles apart dying on the same day, twins separated for many years meeting each other wearing the same clothes. Playfair suggests that the known stories represent no more than the tip of the proverbial iceberg. "The problem is that those who have the necessary resources, facilities and contracts, with rare exceptions, show no signs of interest," he offers. "In most of the academic community, telepathy is still taboo, as my own experience indicates." He tells of the resistance he met in gathering material for the book, one representative in a London hospital stating she was not interested in getting into the "spooky stuff." In effect, mainstream science seems to want to write off all such stories as genetics or coincidence.
There are two options, says Playfair, "the first is just to ignore the evidence or dismiss it en bloc, which, in effect, is telling hundreds of [people reporting telepathic experiences] they are either liars or idiots, or both. This is not only excessively patronizing, but fails to address the question of why so many liars and idiots would tell exactly the same silly lies over and over again." The second option, Playfair explains, "is to accept the fact that there is more to reality than we have been taught, and I would maintain that there is no other valid option."