The 1988 film Rain Man with Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise brought public awareness to the reality of the Savant syndrome. It is often associated with the autism spectrum or after brain injuries. Often, despite low IQs they exhibit extraordinary brilliance in specific areas such as memory, rapid calculation, art, and music. ESP is actually noted in about 10% of such individuals. Anatomically, the syndrome has been associated with damage to the left anterior temporal lobe. Of note are reports that the syndrome can be replicated via stimulation using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).
What I find quite fascinating is the distinction drawn between such aberrant mental abilities which are only vaguely understood, and other claims of extraordinary consciousness which are deemed fantasy or at best fraudulent. In particular I refer to the skeptics pronouncements regarding psychic ability and mediumship.
Is it such a stretch of thinking to consider such abilities a form of the Savant syndrome? Clearly psychic/medium claims are not directly associated with neurologic disorders. But if these abnormal brain conditions can somehow “release” otherwise hidden human abilities (such as with TMS), and if the actual mechanisms of such extraordinary mental abilities remain a mystery, why not entertain the possibility that psychic/mediumship abilities are equally “real”?
Certain individuals may very well have the ability to access information and energies that the vast majority of us do not. The familial / multi-generational association with these abilities also suggests some physical/brain difference between “us and them”.
Perhaps the strong reluctance to acknowledge the possibility that psychic/mediumship are real reflect the skeptics deep seated fear that the metaphysical implications would decimate their deeply felt personal beliefs. Because they are invested in a world view which denies a spiritual universe, they must continue to deny the possibility that these “paranormal” claims are real.
Interesting–as strange as they are, savant abilities are NEVER referred to as paranormal, merely preternatural — presently unexplained by contemporary science.
My hope is that open-minded investigation will prevail. Be guided by evidence and continue to seek the truth.