It turns out that “dermo-optical perception” is actually a scientifically acknowledged, albeit rare phenomena, where people can “see through the skin”. It’s scientific study seems to be confined to the perception of color through the skin of the fingers.
I searched for and found about 5 scientific articles on “google scholar” after reading the term mentioned in a paper from the CIAs freedom of information act reading room. Here is a screenshot:
Scientific investigation of the phenomena began with a Russian housewife named Rose Kuleshova
“She was required to put her arms in to a box containing the stimuli through thick black sleeves fastened around holes in the box and tight around her wrists and she wore a sleep mask”
The scientists developed a hypothesis of “wavelength temperature discrimination.”
“That a wide range of electromagnetic wavelengths, including the visible and infrared does penetrate mammalian skin to a significant depth is shown by various investigations”
“In each of my reports (4, 5) I have stated as my hypothesis that the tactual discrimination ability evidence by the subjects was a product or variation of the cutaneous (skin) temperature sense. “
“This has now been confirmed by further experiments of mind and independent by W. L Makous.”
“When color discriminations are made with the hands and stimuli in a light tight experiment box, the difference between the stimulus objects are to the differential absorption, reflection, and emission of infrared wavelengths. The energy comes from heat emission by the hands in the range of 4 to 14 microns”
I’ve heard rumours about children being able to do this much better then adults but there is no solid research. Moving on to the next scientific article.
“It has been popularly reported that some persons can discriminate non-visually among stimulus objects usually requiring visual cues. A female S (A) was reported to possess the ability of so-called “finger-sight” or “dermo-optical perception.”
“To determine whether there was anything unusual about her sensory behavior, S and three controls were tested using plastic discs, projected light and playing cards as stimuli. The stimuli were presented so as to prevent use of visual cues for identification.”
“Results indicated that S performed reliably above chance and above the level of the controls as a group in discriminating colored plastic discs, colored projected lights, and in discriminating the suit and number of playing cards. Some controls also performed reliably above chance but below A.”
The next scientific study address the possibility of dermo-optical sensitivity in rats and the under what particular conditions this sensitivity may be demonstrated.
Ss were 18 male rats of the Sprague-Dawley strain, aged 100-125 days. An operant classical conditioning device was constructed and used. Results indicate significant differences in performance between experimental and control Ss.
It is concluded that rats have dermo-optical sensitivity and that this is greater when the rats are shaven. A diagram of the apparatus is presented. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
However modern attempts at streamlining the ability for blind travelers have seemingly failed. Suggesting that particularly gifted people are capable of it but not necessarily even blind people who you might think would have evolved a sense for it.
In my opinion further public investigation should aim at “training” people in dermo-optical perception to reach the same level of proficiency as gifted people. Furthermore, it would be interesting to see if gifted people are also capable of locating an object within a dark room for example, rather then simply focusing on color perception perhaps there may also be an intuition for general object recognition in the dark that may be explained by virtue of a similar mechanism.
CIA: Research in Parapsychology 1978
1966 Dermo-optical Perception: Richard P. Youtz, Daniel J. Weintraub, W. L. Makous and Robert Buckhout
1967 Human Dermo-Optical Perception: Colors of Objects and of Projected Light Differentiated with Fingers: Albert Zavala, Harold P. Van Cott, David B. Orr, Victor H. Small
1973 Dermo-optical sensitivity in rats: Peretti, Peter O. Hay, Thomas A.
1992 The Dermo-Optical Perception of Color as an Information Source for Blind Travelers: Romedi Passini, Constant Rainville.