On October 22, 1966, John Barker, a 42-year-old Cambridge-trained psychiatrist, arrived in Aberfan, Wales.
The little Welsh town became famous overnight for a heartbreaking reason.
The day before, the collapse of waste from a coal mine caused an avalanche that buried dozens of people alive. There were 144 dead; Of these, 116 were mostly children between the ages of 7 and 10.
Barker was researching a book about being scared to death and heard a report about a child who survived a landslide but died of fright.
But as a member of the British Society for Psychical Research, founded in 1882 to study the supernatural, it was “a few strange and poignant events” that interested him most. Affected families spoke of dreams and prophecies.
The mother of eight-year-old Paul Davies, who died in the avalanche school, found a drawing titled “The End” that his son had drawn the night before, that many have been digging into the slope. .
Eryl Mai Jones, another of the victims, described by the local priest as “a 10-year-old girl with no imagination,” told her mother two weeks before she collapsed that she wasn’t afraid of dying.
And the day before he died, he insisted on telling his mother: “I dreamed I was going to school and it wasn’t there. Something black had fallen everywhere!”
Cases like this led to the establishment of the Premonitions Agency in 1967, an office that set out to gather visions of impending disasters in one of the strangest chapters in British psychology history.
Barker contacted Peter Fairley, the science correspondent for the London Evening Standard. Union was about to launch the first manned space flight.
His story was published on the front page of the newspaper, and Yuri Gagarin flew into space two days later.
Enthusiastic, Fairley urged readers of his column, “The World of Science,” on January 4, 1967, to send “true premonitions” to share with “an outstanding British psychiatrist.”
And on the same day, British pilot Donald Campbell, who had set several world speed records on land and in water, was trying to set another mark.
The night before, Campbell had been playing solitaire late. When the ace of spades and then the queen fell, he told a friend that he had drawn the same cards before Mary I, Queen of Scots, was beheaded in 1587.
“I have the scariest premonition. This time it’s mine,” Campbell told Fairley. “I’ve had this feeling for days.” And he said something similar to reporters before getting on his boat.
Moments later, Campbell’s speedboat Bluebird rolled over the surface of Lake Coniston Lake in England and sank. Campbell’s body was not found until 2001.
storing the views
Campbell’s death was a fluke for the newly created agency. However, even if less than 3% of the 732 cases received by the agency over the course of 18 months appear to have occurred, other events will increase in importance.
Barker estimated that “there could be a lot of false alarms, especially in the early days.” But he was right that intuition should be used, as he wrote in Medical News shortly after starting the experiment.
He believed that the Premonition Agency could become a repository of the country’s dreams and visions and an early warning system.
“Ideally, the system should be connected to a computer,” he wrote. “With practice, it should be possible to detect patterns or spikes that could indicate the nature and likely date, time, and location of a disaster.”
Barker and Fairley’s plan was to present possible promising results to Parliament and the British Medical Research Council.
But they knew they were facing a modern version of the Jonah dilemma.
According to the Old Testament, God asked Jonah to prophesy the destruction of the city of Nineveh. But he thought that if the people of Nineveh heeded his warning and repented, God would forgive him and his prophecy would be false. So Jonah escaped and was eventually swallowed by a whale.
If one day it was possible to avoid a catastrophe through Prophecy, how could it prove that it would have happened if it were not for the prevention made possible by the visions?
Anyway, it was worth a try. “If it were possible to show that a major catastrophe was thus averted,” Barker wrote, “the project would perhaps be more than forever justified.”
Of the prophecies, 18 came true and 12 came from two people.
These “seeers” were Kathleen Lorna Middleton, a ballet teacher, and Alan Hencher, a postal worker who has had premonitions accompanied by severe headaches since an automobile accident.
Barker formed an almost personal relationship with these two “human seismographs” who seem to have the most painful and unenviable ability to sense hurricanes, deaths and accidents in the midst of suffering.
Our rational minds can easily dismiss examples as mere coincidences, but it is also possible to try to make sense of seemingly nonexistent things or to attribute cases to a possible unconscious information link. “super predictors”.
Here are four of the most chilling cases so you can draw your own conclusions.
Britannia plane crashes in Nicosia
On March 21, 1967, Hencher telephoned Barker and described a vision he had of a plane crash. It was a passenger plane that was in trouble over a mountain range and lost radio contact. He estimated that 124 people would die.
A month later, a Britannia turboprop aircraft carrying 130 people attempted to land in Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, during a storm. While trying to land, the plane crashed, disintegrated and caught fire.
The death toll in the disaster, which was the sixth-worst aviation accident at the time, was 126. However, two were rescued alive and did not survive.
Soyuz 1 spacecraft disaster
The following month, it was Lorna Middleton’s turn to cause alarm among followers of The Order’s work.
On April 23, 1967, Middleton reported seeing an astronaut in space. “This adventure will end in tragedy,” he wrote.
He said he saw the petrified astronaut and added a picture of an astronaut huddled inside a crude, spherical vehicle.
At that time, Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Mikhailovich Komarov was aboard the Soyuz 1 spacecraft in 12th Earth orbit.
Few details about the mission were disclosed, and if successful it would be celebrated with great fanfare, as it would mean that the Soviets would regain first place in the recently lost space race.
The plan was for Soyuz 1 to rendezvous with a second orbiting Soyuz spacecraft the next day, and the two cosmonauts would switch from one vehicle to the next. This has never been tried before.
But things started to go wrong. The launch of Soyuz 2 was aborted, and Komarov was instructed to rest and prepare to return to Earth.
In the first two attempts to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere, Komarov’s engines failed. The vehicle then jumped and re-entered orbit.
Komarov succeeded on the third attempt, but the spacecraft’s parachutes failed. The spacecraft crashed in southern Russia and was engulfed in flames with the cosmonaut inside.
Hither Green rail crash
This important hunch for The Agency was almost a team effort between Middleton and Hencher.
On October 11, 1967, Hencher contacted Barker to warn him of a train crash that would cause many deaths.
On November 1, Middleton wrote to Barker that he had visions of an accident, “perhaps on a train, at a station, perhaps with people waiting at the station and the inscription ‘Charing Cross'”.
Four days later, a passenger train derailed to London’s Charing Cross station, killing 49 people.
At the time of the accident, Hencher was in the infirmary at work with a severe headache. At 10:15 p.m. he wrote a note saying he thought it was a rail accident, probably an hour ago. The train derailed at 21:16.
Robert Kennedy’s assassination
Many of the guesses Barker received referred to events rather than personalities. However, there were two important exceptions.
The first was Middleton’s strong premonition of the assassination of US Senator Robert Kennedy.
Perhaps this came as no surprise, given what happened to his brother, President John F. Kennedy, who was also assassinated, and the number of threats the senator received during the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination campaign in 1968.
But the severity of Middleton’s premonitions drew attention.
On March 11, he wrote Barker a murder warning. And four days later he wrote again.
“The word murder remains,” he would say. “I can’t separate him from Robert Kennedy. History may repeat itself.”
Middleton reiterated his warnings about Kennedy throughout April, and on June 4 called the Office of Premonition three times to warn that an assassination was imminent.
Shortly after midnight on June 5, 1968, Kennedy was shot three times after giving a speech at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California (United States).
He died of his injuries 26 hours later.
The second of the human premonitions was directly related to the psychiatrist.
In early 1968, Hencher told Barker that his life was in danger. And in an interview the following year, Hencher said he was convinced the psychiatrist would die soon in Yockleton, in the west of England, where he lived.
On February 7, it was Middleton’s turn to meet with the psychiatrist. He saw Barker’s head and shoulders on one side and his own dead parents on the other. The image continued for a week.
“I don’t want to alarm anyone … I just said my parents were trying to tell me something,” Middleton wrote. “I interpreted it as something about the doctor.”
Shortly before midnight on February 25, a fire broke out in a closed room where female patients were staying at the psychiatric hospital where Barker worked in Shelton, England.
And on August 18, John Barker suffered a cerebral hemorrhage at his home in Yockleton. He was taken to the hospital where he died.
And with his death, the Premonition Bureau ceased operations.
* This report is based on “Sam Knight’s The Premonitions Bureau” series.From BBC Radio 4.
– This text was published at https://www.bbc.com/portuguese/curiosidades-63714437.
Mark Jones is a world traveler and journalist for News Rebeat. With a curious mind and a love of adventure, Mark brings a unique perspective to the latest global events and provides in-depth and thought-provoking coverage of the world at large.