Dermo-Optical Perception

Otherwise known as Eyeless Sight, Dermo-Optical Perception is the ability to perceive colours by simply touching an object. Is this a real form of ESP or is it all a form of trickery? Let's look at it a little closer.
Sarah Chumacero
24th May 2019.
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Stuff paranormal investigators need to know, General, Paranormal Theories.
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There are a lot of ways that a person can perceive things. While some are well known, the term Dermo-opitical perception is probably foreign to a lot of people. I know that I myself had never even heard of it, until a few months ago. It is a term used in parapsychological literature and people have even tried to trick famed Skeptic James Randi claiming to have this ability in response to his 1 million dollar challenge. So lets explore Dermo-optical perception.

What is Dermo-Optical Perception

Otherwise referred to as DOP, Dermo Optical Perception is a parapsychological term in which a person has an ability to establish the colour of an item simply by touching it without physically seeing it. They may be able to tell you the exact colour, or if something is brighter or darker etc. It is believed they are receiving the information through touching something with their skin usually while blindfolded. It is something you may have heard of before as eyeless sight. While some people put this phenomena in the same category as ESP (extra sensory perception), others believe that the tests performed over the years have not produced enough positive results.

Is it a form of ESP

During the 20th century, as more claims of DOP arose, researchers and parapsychologists studied and investigated the claims in the hopes it was an extension of ESP. Their thinking was that our eyes only perceive a limited part of the electromagnetic spectrum. This we already know as we cannot see infrared or ultra violet light for example. During daylight, our eyes show us the colours and shapes of our environment. Our skin itself is more sensitive to the electromagnetic spectrum of light which is shown by the way our skin tans or burns from UV light. In simple terms, we can't see UV light, but our skin reacts to it. So if our skin can react to things we cannot see, could it detect the colour of an item we cannot see with our eyes by using touch?

How is it tested?

Image Source: http://thegiarettas.blogspot.com/2011/10/susan-macwilliam-dermo-optics-2006.html

In the past, people who claimed to have this ability would simply wear a blindfold to demonstrate their abilities. Of course a blindfold has it's flaws and often the people being tested were very good at manipulating the blindfold. People would often pull at their face or move their head around in a way that would allow them to see the colours by peaking through the sides of the blindfold. Often when tested, they could only use their abilities when they had their own blindfolds. If they were supplied a special blindfold and asked not to touch their face or move, they in most cases were unable to identify the targets. As testing progressed, boxes were built similar to the above as a way to make it almost impossible for a person to be able to physically see the colours of the target items through deception.

Is it a hoax or is there something to it?

Under a lot of testing circumstances, people were found to move around in such a way that they could see through the side of the blindfold (come on we have all done it!). Researchers however do actually believe that under controlled conditions they have found some merit to claims and have offered an explanation as to how it is possible.

Dr Yvonne Duplessis was appointed director of a committee to investigate Dermo-optical sensitivity. Her conclusion is, ‘Controlled studies indicate support for the theory of dermo-optical sensitivity and perception.’

Dr Duplessis’s experiments have even led to a possible perfectly natural explanation. In her conclusions, she says, ‘Thus these different methods show that the thermal feelings induced by visible colors are not subjective, as it is generally admitted, and that the infrared radiations, situated in a far infrared range. are acting on every part of the body. This gives us possible grounds for concluding that also during ordinary visual perception of colored surfaces a human eye reacts not only to rays of the visible spectrum but also to infrared radiation emitted by these surfaces.’

More simply, Dr Duplessis’s experiments appear to show that coloured surfaces reflect energy as heat as well as light and that the eye (like other parts of the human body) is to some extent sensitive to heat as well as to light

The Skeptic's Dictionary

Quite simply, we know just from our own interactions that certain colours heat up faster than other colours. It is why some people prefer to choose dark colours for the bricks of their houses. Black absorbs heat where as white reflects it. Depending on the colour, it could feel heavier or slightly rougher. A person could with enough discipline train themselves to recognize these differences.

On the other end of the 'spectrum', I guess it is worth considering the possibility given that people who are psychic feel that they can read the energy left behind on an item just by touching it. Perhaps we may or may not be able to read colours, but energy is a different story. It is an area that sadly has been plagued with people who falsely claimed to have ability, but it doesn't mean there is nothing to it. Whether a person can tell the difference of a colour by feeling the surface or picking up the information telepathically, it does bring the sensation of touch into play - something we often neglect when we look at paranormal phenomena. Sight and sound are the two general senses we concentrate on. Perhaps we should start looking at 'touch' a little bit more!

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