Fantasy is my favourite genre of fiction. I love reading books filled with characters that have magical powers, be it mind-reading, casting spells or whatever. In real life, however, my reaction is somewhat different. (Unless it's to do with a certain witchy blogger)
When somebody claims to have some kind of psychic or supernatural ability, I become a little disturbed and try to steer the conversation in another direction. Thinking about it now, I realise this is not because I don't believe in such things (how could it disturb me if that were true?), rather that I don't want to believe in them. Not without proof, anyway.
I'm a very rational person. I like to have explanations of things I don't understand or proof that something is solid and real. Which is why I get disturbed at talk about people seeing ghosts and talking to the dead. The only evidence for it, very often, is the belief of the person making the claim, which doesn't make a very convincing, rational case.
For example, my wife, L, says she can sometimes feel the presence of her grandfather, who died several years ago, watching her. When she does mention this (very infrequently now), I shift in my seat uncomfortably and probably look quite uneasy. I know she's not making it up but I don't know how to take it because it's not something I can see or feel. If I could then I'm sure I would feel fine with it.
Like I do with deja vu. The feeling that something has happened before can be unnerving in and of itself but it doesn't disturb me in the same way as everything else because I have the proof of my own senses which say it's true. When I was a teenager I used to get deja vu a lot, even as much as three or four times a week. I have even had deja vu about getting deja vu! Now I only get it every few weeks but it's still a familiar feeling to me. It's not just the sense that a sequence of events has happened before; wrapped around that is a feeling that quite a lot of time has elapsed since you last experienced it. This is an immeasurable quantity of time but it's certainly enough to put the point at which it last occurred well and truly in the past.
But, just because I know it exists, that doesn't mean I can explain it. There may be a rational, down-to-earth explanation but I'm at a complete loss as to what it could be. Just as I am with any other sort of paranormal occurrences. What I am convinced of, though, is that the human brain is capable of things that we just do not know about or understand. There may well be all sorts of odd talents hidden away in the mind that most of us do not have access to. What might happen if science illuminated these dark areas of the brain and suddenly we could all talk to the dead if we wanted?