At some point, you've probably heard a story or seen a movie about twins who could communicate telepathically or sense what the other one was thinking. Or, you've seen The Parent Trap and wished you had a twin who could pretend to be you, or at the very least, be close enough to you to know what you're thinking and feeling. But is twin telepathy really a thing?
The short answer is that while there are plenty of stories out there about twins who claim to have read each other's minds and predicted when the other was in danger, Nancy Segal, PhD, director of the Twin Studies Center, at California State University, Fullerton, says that scientific research doesn't support the idea.
It's more likely, she says, that twins might show telepathic traits (extrasensory perception, if you want to use the fancy term) like reading each other's feelings and knowing when the other is in trouble just by virtue of being so close, or because of genetically influenced traits that make them so similar in the first place.
Still, the idea that twins can really can read each other's minds and feel each other's pain has persisted for a while now. And many people have gone on record with stories about experiencing sixth senses in relation to their twin. In 2009, Gemma Houghton, a 15-year-old from Manchester, UK, claims that she suddenly had a "feeling" that her twin sister, Leanne, needed help, and went upstairs in their home to check on her. She found her sister laying submerged in a bathtub after having a fit and losing consciousness, and was able to call an ambulance to save Leanne's life.
"I just got this feeling to check on her, so I went up to the bathroom and she was under the water," she told The Telegraph.
There could have been other reasons Gemma had a feeling she should check on her sister (maybe Leanne had similar fits before), but the idea that she could somehow telepathically communicate with with her twin was compelling enough to make news.
"I believe people like to think [twin telepathy] exists," Dr. Segal says. "[It's] a kind of amazing human power that explains otherwise incomprehensible events."
Of course, not having scientific evidence for something doesn't mean that people don't experience it. And maybe somewhere down the line, research will show some evidence that twin telepathy exists. For now, though, there's no proof telepathic powers exist, amongst twins or otherwise.