In his self-published article, Theory of Precognitive Dreams, Ian A. Wilson describes the concept of déjà rêve - feeling you have dreamt this situation before.

He describes one anecdote where he had a lucid dream, and altered the dream experience by placing a triangle on a coworker's forehead:

The dream offered no more than about a 5 minute window of opportunity where, when recognizing the location as a place of work (a movie theater) and a person known to work there at the time, being fully awake and aware that the current setting was in fact a dream, I targeted a co-worker -- only out of opportunity -- and caused a triangle to appear on his forehead over a distance of 6 feet. He was behind the concession counter and I was an usher taking tickets.

He then explains that it became true:

On May 13th, 1998, while working at the movie theater, the same opportunity observed in the dream synchronized with a strong déjà vu aura. Going through the motions of the dream at this point, the triangle did form as observed in the dream on the forehead of a co-worker. He was not privileged to this personal research and exploration that I was conducting. However, he felt something and was also able to observe the triangle mark. It was visible enough to be recorded with photographs and I will present the two pictures of the mark.

He discusses his experiences and further provides the photographs as references in a video

Is this evidence that lucid dreams can be used to alter future reality?

  • Welcome to Skeptics!. There are several claims here. Would you like to whittle it down to one so it isn't too broad? That he made a triangle appear on someone's forehead? Shared dreaming we've already covered.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 3:47
  • Thank-you, I've edited the post. The triangle claim is part of this deja reve package as it is his validation that his dreams not only predict the future, but allowed him to change it. If it's still to broad please let me know. Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 3:59
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    I took the liberty to focus it right down to one claim. Whether people feel that they dreamt something before, whether they do sometimes have dreams that describe future situations, and whether people have lucid dreams where they can alter the flow are all more prosaic than the idea that you can change the future in a dream.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 4:47
  • Thank-you, that is perfectly addressing the issue and provides more robust clarity where needed. Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 5:10

1 Answer 1


No. This is not evidence that control of lucid dreams provides control of the future.

Issues with anecdotes

  1. We do not know and he does not know whether his account is accurate. ("Our memories are not an accurate recording of the past.", and "Modern neuroscience has taught us that there is practically no limit to the extent to which we can be fooled, especially by ourselves.")

  2. Even if we take the account at face value, we do not know how the real world would have unfolded in the case that he did not alter his lucid dream.

You would need, at minimum, a counterfactual situation to even check if there is a correlation and ideally, an interventional experiment to assess causation.


Was there even a triangle?

I don't see a triangle. If the criteria for "triangle" is so loose as to include the appearance of that guy's forehead, then what wouldn't have counted?

Operational definition

Ian did not disclose a prediction of what the triangle should have looked like prior to noticing the appearance of Kevin's real-life forehead.

The causal arrow of time

When did Kevin's forehead achieve the appearance captured in the photos? Perhaps it already looked exactly as it does in the photos prior to Ian's dream. Ian does not rule out this possibility in his documentation.

What if

What would have happened had Ian not intervened in his lucid dream, but still in real life, "pointed his hand at [Kevin's] forehead from a distance of 6 feet away in distance"? Would Kevin have still felt "a small amount of circular energy", "like a small headache"? Would Ian have still been able to find a triangle on Kevin's forehead?

Ian hasn't tested this alternative. Thus, it is not possible from Ian's report to distinguish the effects of the lucid dream from the effects of Ian's real-world actions.

  • 3
    Also worth noting is that there are no prior claims as to what the triangle would look like, in terms of size, color, or orientation. I can vaguely see something that might be a triangle directly above the nose (pointing up) in the enhanced image, which then makes it barely discernible in the others. But it's nothing like I was picturing when I read the question (which for some reason was a large downward pointing one).
    – Bobson
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 16:13
  • I agree with Bobson that in the original images the triangle is faint but comes in clearer on the greyscale and enhanced. I ran the original through photoshop and it does appear when shifting contrast et all from the originals. So there is a triangle shaped mark on the forehead in the center as described. Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 16:52
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    @DavidHansen I can find a triangle in an image using photoshop as well. The main point of my pareidolia paragraph is to point out that Ian did not operationally define "triangle" or describe what the appearance should have looked like prior to seeing Kevin's head that day.
    – user5582
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 16:55
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    I agree Aricuno, we also do not have a before or after picture of the person to see if this isn't a type of birthmark, or other kind of injury or scaring. Or if the photo itself isn't modified and tampered with. Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 17:34
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    @Articuno - Much better answer now that you've expanded it.
    – Bobson
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 20:32

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