The Great Debate: Do our dreams predict our future?

Jino Chough and Kacie Nielsen

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In probably 88% of all media, dreams are portrayed as having some kind of mystical power, with premonitions and clairvoyance abound.  Despite the well-known fact that the media is usually exaggerated or blatantly incorrect, many fools prescribe to this same idea that dreams have insight on our futures and on our realities.  

In psychology, there are several theories concerning dreams.  The first one of note, as theorized by renowned psychologist Sigmund Freud, states that dreams hold extreme potential into delving through the subconscious, as our innermost desires, thoughts and motivations surface under repression from our egos.  For example, one might see a cigar in his dream.  The cigar would be the manifest content, the literal substance of the dream.  But the latent content, the underlying symbolism that the subconscious generates, could be anything (with Freud, however, everything goes back to human reproduction, so with this psychoanalytic theory, you can expect to hear something about sex).  Clearly, there is no room for premonitions or precognition or what have you.  If you follow this theory of psychology, the subconscious is an integral part of our psyche, not a mystical fortune teller.  

A second theory, as proposed by J. Allan Hobson and Robert McCarley, states that dreams are a manner by which the brain breeds creativity and new ideas.  This theory is actually supported by the phenomenon of being able to solve a particularly complex problem after a good night’s rest.  In this activation-synthesis model, dreams have a very useful and practical function in restoring our ability.  But precognitive?  Hardly.  If, under this theory, dreams were precognitive, I would sleep more for a glimpse into my future.  

The third major theory of dreams is of information processing.  Throughout the day, humans see and experience numerous wonders and non-wonders which, objectively, must be incredibly difficult to encapture (if you were to look at this from a coder’s standpoint, you’d understand what I mean).  Thus, the theory states that dreams are a method by which the brain processes information, categorizing and storing our memories.  This is why teachers will tell you to sleep early before a big test, as well as why our dreams often consist of random things (I use “things” because that is honestly the most efficient way of encapsulating what dreams consist of) that are culled from our everyday lives and routines.  For a more concrete example, the way one might have a nightmare after a scary movie lends to this theory of information processing.  

Of course, I mean not to say that these are the only possibilities for dreams.  I am certain other interpretations of dreams exist; however, I would only entertain such possibilities if they have reasonable evidence.  Proponents of the “precognitive dreaming,” though, would argue that they, or others whom they know, have dreamt dreams that ultimately became true— to which I cry, “Coincidence.”  (Actually, I’d say something a little stronger, but this is still a high school newspaper.)  

The fact that there exists dreams that correspond well with the future is indisputable.  Not by the presence of precognition, but by the probability of such.  In psychology there is a human phenomenon known as “confirmation bias.”  This states that people hold fast to their beliefs, and thus tout evidence supporting their claims while ignoring evidence that clearly contradicts them.  If one were to create a scatter plot of dreams versus future events vindicating said dreams, the r^2 on the scatterplot, I assume, would be very far from 1.  And this, to my non-statistics-savvy peers, indicates that the correlation is low indeed.

Ultimately, the resolution is clear.  While I am not necessarily opposed to this idea of precognitive dreams, I am quite skeptical of such, and would therefore need evidence to convince me of otherwise— evidence that does not, as far as I am concerned, exist.  

So all I can say is:  dream on, Kacie.  



Jino Chough



I am just going to say it.  I think I am psycho…er…uh… I mean psychic*.  And when I say psychic, I mean that I can see the future…in my dreams.  Let’s start this article off with a few definitions.

Dreams: A series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person’s mind during sleep. It’s our subconscious mind’s way of processing the day and releasing extra stress.  

Precognitive dreams: Dreams that are often in color and have strong feelings about something is about to happen, especially something unpleasant.  The scenarios are presented in chronological order – something that doesn’t often happen in dreams. Precognitive dreams also will center around people or situations we haven’t thought about in years.

Some of my dreams include being chased around by Voldemort at my elementary school and then suddenly arriving in Candyland, marrying Zac Efron and getting into a fist fight with Vanessa Hudgens, and lastly, my favorite, writing an article in The Smoke Signal that offended ISIS…and going to war with them…and winning.

Some of my precognitive dreams, or psychic moments (ooooooo! ahhhhhh! psychic!!), include finding out my aunt was pregnant a week before she actually told us, experiencing the ultimate fail on Mr. Borish’s fourth test, first semester, before it accurately occurred in its entirety in his second period class, and…wait for it….wait forrrrrr itttttt…….meeting my dog (my current dog! My mini doberman doxen! The exact dog we picked out at the shelter! How cray cray!! Follow him on twitter 🙂 @SneakyPeteDawg) before we even picked him out at the shelter!

See now here’s the thing. Humans only remember a small percentage of their dreams and I believe that the ones we do remember hold importance in our lives.  Now I’m not saying that I am going to marry Zac and kick Vanessa’s butt, but I truly think that our dreams contain significant information pertaining to either our current lives or our future. Because we can only remember a small percentage of our dreams, déjà vu plays a part in my argument as well.  I experience déjà vu on the daily, and boy, it is creepy and frustrating.  How would one explain déjà vu other than saying it is a feeling that the situation being experienced has already been experienced in the past?  When else would we have experienced the exact same interaction before it had happened than in our dreams?  

Everything that I have said up until now has been personal experience, but let me get to the nitty gritty and explain the force behind my beliefs. I am not too sure that I believe that we are capable of knowing everything about everything pertaining to life.  We are such a complex species. Our brain is so elaborate and this is why I think that dreams can hold truth in our lives. How are we supposed to know everything that our brains are and are not capable of? Who is one to say that something doesn’t exist just because they haven’t experienced. Believe me.  I am not saying that I am a fortune teller, or medium who can talk to the dead, but I do think that dreams can tell us something about our futures and disclose information to us prematurely.

No more funny business. Dreams are important and our intuitive messengers so make sure you pay attention while you are asleep, Jino!

*I do not believe I am actually psychic.  I am just a nerd who thought that would make my article sound funny.


Kacie Nielsen

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The Great Debate: Do our dreams predict our future?