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Observations placeholder

W. E. Cox – And the theory of ‘accident-avoidance premonitions’



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

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

In the 1950s a researcher in psychic phenomena, W. E. Cox, concluded as the result of a survey that there are fewer passengers on a train destined to be wrecked than on one that will have a normal run. Cox called this phenomenon "accident-avoidance" and conjectured that there are probably more cases of this kind than those in which the psychic has a conscious premonition of a disaster.

Cox contacted American railroads to find out how many accidents there had been since 1950. Then he constructed a table to compare the number of passengers in a train on an accident-day with the number on each of the six previous days and on the corresponding day in each of the four preceding weeks-eleven days in all.

Many of the trains on their accident-days carried fewer passengers than on any of the other 10 days in the study.

An outstanding example was the Georgian, a Chicago and Eastern Illinois train, which had an accident on June 15, 1952. Only 9 persons were on the train that day, compared with 68, 60, 53, 48, 62, and 70 on each of the preceding six days. A week earlier, on June 8, there had been 35 passengers. On June 1 there had been 55, on May 25 there were 53, and on May 28 there were 54 passengers.

For the 10 days, excluding the accident-day, the average number of passengers on the Georgian was 54. On the accident-day the figure went down to only 9, a 600 percent drop. The passengers who cancelled their reservations or who had second thoughts about taking the Georgian that day were probably experiencing what Cox calls the "sub-liminal premonition."

On another day - December 15, 1952 - train no. 15 of the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul line was wrecked with fifty-five passengers aboard. On five of the previous seven days the train carried well over one hundred passengers, and on the other two days at least thirty more than on the accident-day. The average number of passengers for the ten accident-free days was over one hundred, 50 percent more than on the day of the wreck.

The source of the experience

Ordinary person

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps