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Observations placeholder

J. W. Dunne - ‘4,000 PEOPLE WILL BE KILLED’



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Premonitions: A leap in to the future – Herbert Greenhouse [1971]

In 1902 a British engineer named J. W. Dunne was stationed with the British Mounted Infantry in South Africa.

One night he dreamed that he was standing on the spur of a mountain watching jets of vapour shoot out of fissures in the rocks. He was terrified because he knew in his dream that he was on an island about to be devastated by a volcano. Yet his fear was not for himself but for the thousands of people who lived on the island.

Watching the gasses hiss out of the rocks, he cried out, "Good God! The whole thing is going to blow up!" In the dream he recalled the frightful catastrophe on the island of Krakatoa in 1883, when a volcanic explosion killed everyone on the island and caused waves to boil up on shores 8,000 miles away.

Dunne was determined to save the 4,000 people on his island who would otherwise die when the volcano erupted. Instantly, as is the way in dreams, he found himself on another island, where he pleaded with the French authorities to send ships and save the natives. He ran from official to official, but they ignored him.

Throughout the dream he kept thinking: "4,000 people will be killed . . . 4,000 . . . 4,000. . . ." He woke up in a sweat shouting, "Listen! Four thousand people will be killed unless-"

Some time later a newspaper arrived at the army post with the news that Mount Pelee on the island of Martinique in the West Indies had erupted, with over 40,000 lives lost. When Dunne read the article, he saw the figure as 4,000, as it had been in his dream. Some months later he looked at the newspaper again and noticed his mistake.

Dunne, who had a scientific mind, worried about the incorrect figure. Did that one mistake mean that his dream was not a true premonition? He even wondered whether he had actually had the dream, but when he continued to have precognitive dreams and immediately wrote them down upon awakening, he concluded that he had had a valid premonition of the Mount Pelee eruption.

The source of the experience

Scientist other

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps