Psychometry is the apparent ability to discover facts via clairvoyance (a type of extrasensory perception) by touching or being near an object. This link between touch and clairvoyance has been suggested by several laboratory studies. For example, in the 1960s, researchers in what was then the Soviet Union conducted a series of tests on a girl named Roza Kuleshova, who apparently demonstrated the ability to “read” text and “see” colors while blindfolded simply by running her fingers over printed words or touching colored objects. The most common use of psychometry is in the work of a psychic detective. According to some surveys, more than 40 percent of America’s urban police departments admit to having used psychic detectives at least once, with varying degrees of success, in order to help them solve crimes. In some cases, police allow the psychic detective to visit the scene of the crime in the hope that the psychic detective will receive a vision. In other cases, the psychic gathers information by touching an object associated with the victim but not with the crime scene.
In the 1980s psychic investigator Lawrence LeShan conducted tests on a noted psychic, Eileen Garrett, who appeared to be skilled in psychometry. He gave her three identical boxes and told her what was inside of them: a girl’s lock of hair, a dog’s tuft of hair, and a rosebud. He then put the boxes behind a screen and mixed them up. Garrett could reach behind the screen to touch the boxes, but could not see them. Nonetheless, she was able to identify the contents of each box correctly, and to provide detailed informa tion—about the girl, the dog, and the source of the rosebud—that LeShan believed she could not possibly have known. While skeptics dismiss such results as lucky guesses, believers have various theories regarding how and why psychometry works. The majority say that psychometry is most likely to occur when an upsetting event has left what they call a psychic residue on any people or objects in the vicinity. This residue, believers say, is what enables someone skilled in psychometry to reconstruct the event later on. Most cases of psychometry seem to deal with a past event, which suggests to some that the psychic residue can only be created in the past. Sometimes, however, psychometry will reveal an image from the future. This has led some people to say that the future, the present, and the past all exist simultaneously, and that psychic residue can enable certain psychics to glimpse other points in time. Other people, however, have said that psychics who are gifted in psychometry might not just be clairvoyant but also precognitive, which means that they have the ability to predict the future. Under this view, the future that psychometry reveals can be altered.