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What Is It When We "Sense" A Person Standing Behind Us?


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May 3, 2007
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Why is it so many of us can tell when someone is behind us if we cannot hear or see them?
I think it may be body heat and/or pheromones, but it could be more than that.

I have a military training manual that includes a section on sentry removal, which I think was published in the 80s. It says when sneaking up on a sentry, not to stare fixedly at him as "sometimes people can sense when someone is staring at them intensely", and that the last six feet of the stalk must be done fast as "people can often sense when someone is behind them within six feet".

So the phenomenon has certainly been noticed, and the army even saw fit to include it in training manuals...

Possibly it has to do with the electrical activity produced by human's advanced nervous system.... perhaps we have a sixth sense that picks up on the EM field of living beings, especially our own kind, at short distances. I can't prove it but it's a working hypothesis...
Why is it so many of us can tell when someone is behind us if we cannot hear or see them?
Well first, we can only sometimes do that. I'm sure there have been at least as many times when someone has been behind you without you noticing. Confirmation bias will influence our impression though. We can also believe something is behind us when it isn't, especially in times of stress or fear.

Where we do, I suspect subconscious sensation is the key - probably primarily sound, maybe light/shadow, that kind of thing. We won't necessarily consciously recognise it but we will be aware of something and thus turn around.
Why is it so many of us can tell when someone is behind us if we cannot hear or see them?

Just because we don't consciously hear someone, doesn't mean we don't hear them on some level. Our subconscious is very powerful. And just because we don't see someone, doesn't mean our subconscious brain isn't noticing something in our peripheral vision. Air movement . . . breathing . . . vibrations . . . any one of these can account for it.

And, of course, it doesn't happen all the time. It's not infallible.
Why is it so many of us can tell when someone is behind us if we cannot hear or see them?

Because the monkeys that couldn't sense that were too busy being digested by lions to make the monkey-babies that humans evolved from.
There is also a lot of evidence that you frankly don't hear them or sense them. It's a trick your mind plays on you. Attempts to replicate the feeling of having "someone watching you" have been very difficult and mostly negative.

It could be one of those scenarios where you cannot replicate something when you want to, but can when you don't.
I think it can be explained by our ability to see (shadows), hear, smell, feel vibrations and sense a temperature change. We aren't always conscious of what we perceive, especially things we smell. We evolved to be able to react to potential danger reflexively. It doesn't always work, since it is sometimes possible to surprise someone by sneaking up on them.

I'm surprised the military says to not look at the subject, that doesn't sound like a proven phenomena.
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We only perceive a small fraction of what our senses actually record. So its probably based on things that would normally be filtered out.

Attention of consciousness also has something to do with reality itself, so another consciousness focusing on yours may be detectable on some subconscious level as well.
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