Our Spidey Sense

Recently I came across an interesting article on Time.com, “The U.S. Military Believes People Have a Sixth Sense” and I just had to laugh. I remembered all the times I’ve had interesting discussions with cynics about a ‘Sixth Sense’, something I believe everyone is born with.

Our ‘Sixth Sense’ is inner knowing or intuition, a noun, defined as “a (supposed) intuitive faculty giving awareness not explicable in terms of normal perception. Similar: instinct, intuition, intuitiveness, clairvoyance“. But, many people refuse to accept the notion that there might be another, inherent way for we humans to collect information using something outside of the five senses we were limited to in school: Sight, taste, touch, hearing, and smell.

Every chart I found, decorated with happy, smiling faces of children, showed only these five senses, no other options. Science has already proven those charts to be woefully out of date and inaccurate anyway, because we now know we have more senses than Aristotle’s five. We can add: Sense of pain, Sense of balance, temperature differences, sense of direction, and sense of time.

We humans use our senses to help us survive, like many animals. Spiders can measure prey and predators just by sensing them, Comb jellyfish can sense direction without eyes, and pigeons use what scientists think is magnetoreception to get around. How millions of salmon are able to pinpoint the exact rivers and streams they were born in and travel thousands of miles to spawn there, has puzzled scientists for years and remains a scientific mystery. These guys obviously use a sixth or even seventh sense to help them survive.

Could we be trained to use our sixth sense? The US military thinks so. Field reports during battles often documented a ‘sixth sense’ or ‘Spidey Sense’ that alerted certain soldiers to an impending attack or I.E.D. The Pentagon wanted to figure out a way to maximize this ‘Sixth Sense’ for operational use. Because of the stigma of ESP, they changed what they called it. “Under the Perceptual Training Systems and Tools banner, extrasensory perception has a new name in the modern era: ‘Sensemaking.’”

It’s not hocus-pocus if the military is using it, so why are we as a culture so adverse to acknowledging it? Why are we holding on to an out-dated and inaccurate chart? And why are we still teaching it to our children?

I, for one, am all about maximizing my ‘Spidey-Sense’ or ‘sense-making’. Who knows? It just may save the lives of a few of my favorite humans..