Precognition is the ability to receive information about events before they occur. Retrocognition (or postcognition) is the ability to receive information about a past event that they did not experience. This is often used in crime solving. Both are considered forms of Clairvoyance.

The existence of these is often disputed, as it is attributed to selection bias. Famous examples of precognition do exist, however. Two weeks before his assassination, Abraham Lincoln had a dream in which he saw himself in a casket.[1] Mark Twain is said to have witnessed his brother's death in a dream weeks before.

Since it describes future events, precognition may occur without anyone recognizing it for years. Such was the case in Morgan Robertson's 1898 novella Futility. This story described the sinking of a massive "unsinkable" ship, the Titan, with great loss of life due to insufficient life boats. This echoed almost exactly the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic, which occurred in 1912. While the details of the sinking were different, the other circumstances were nearly identical. Both occurred in the same month (April); both occurred in the Atlantic Ocean. The Titan was described as 800 feet long; the Titanic was 882. The Titan was traveling at 25 knots, the Titanic, at 23.

Despite these occurrences, many debunk precognition as observer bias- we may remember events that seem to indicate precognition better than others, or believe to have foreseen something, when our "vision" did not actually occur as close to the event as we remember. Psychics often claim precognitive abilities; however, many are proven false after the event occurs. Notable among these is psychic Sylvia Browne, who has made multiple incorrect predictions, including the outcomes of the 1992, 2000, and 2004 United Stated presidential elections.

Retrocognition is often cited by psychics, many of whom also claim clairvoyance. While this may be true for some, many instances can be attributed to cold reading. Many well known psychics, including James Van Praagh, have mad predictions about the locations of a murder, only to have the area reveal no evidence.