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Parapsychology is the study of alleged
psychic A psychic is a person who claims to use extrasensory perception Extrasensory perception or ESP, also called sixth sense, includes claimed reception of information not gained through the recognized physical sense A sense is a biologica ...
phenomena (
extrasensory perception Extrasensory perception or ESP, also called sixth sense, includes claimed reception of information not gained through the recognized physical sense A sense is a biological system used by an organism for sensation, the process of gathering ...
,
telepathy Telepathy (from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ap ...
,
precognition Precognition (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power ...
,
clairvoyance Clairvoyance (; from French language, French ''clair'' meaning "clear" and ''voyance'' meaning "vision") is the claimed ability to gain information about an object, person, location, or physical event through extrasensory perception. Any perso ...

clairvoyance
,
psychokinesis Psychokinesis (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ...
, a.k.a. telekinesis, and psychometry) and other
paranormal Paranormal events are purported phenomena described in popular culture, Folk culture, folk, and other non-scientific bodies of knowledge, whose existence within these contexts is described as beyond the scope of normal scientific understandin ...
claims, for example related to
near-death experience A near-death experience (NDE) is a profound personal experience associated with death or impending death which researchers claim share similar characteristics. When positive, such experiences may encompass a variety of sensations including deta ...
s,
synchronicity Synchronicity (german: Synchronizität) is a concept first introduced by analytical psychologist Carl G. Jung "to describe circumstances that appear meaningfully related yet lack a causal connection." In contemporary research, synchronicity ...
,
apparitional experience In parapsychology Parapsychology is the study of alleged psychic phenomena (extrasensory perception, telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, a.k.a. telekinesis, and Psychometry (paranormal), psychometry) and other paranormal cla ...
s, etc. It is considered to be
pseudoscience Pseudoscience consists of statements, belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology include ...
and is rejected by a vast majority of mainstream scientists. Parapsychology research almost never appears in mainstream
scientific journal In academic publishing Academic publishing is the subfield of publishing which distributes academic research and scholarship. Most academic work is published in academic journal articles, books or thesis' form. The part of academic written ...
s. Most papers about parapsychology are published in a small number of niche journals. Parapsychology has been criticised for continuing investigation despite being unable to provide convincing evidence for the existence of any psychic phenomena after more than a century of research.


Terminology

The term ''parapsychology'' was coined in 1889 by philosopher
Max Dessoir Maximilian Dessoir (8 February 1867 – 19 July 1947) was a German philosopher, psychologist and theorist of aesthetics. Career Dessoir was born in Berlin, into a German Jewish family, his parents being Ludwig Dessoir (1810-1874), "Germany's mos ...
as the German "parapsychologie." It was adopted by J. B. Rhine in the 1930s as a replacement for the term ''psychical research'' in order to indicate a significant shift toward experimental methodology and academic discipline. The term originates from the el, παρά meaning "alongside", and
psychology Psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. ...

psychology
. In parapsychology, psi is the unknown factor in
extrasensory perception Extrasensory perception or ESP, also called sixth sense, includes claimed reception of information not gained through the recognized physical sense A sense is a biological system used by an organism for sensation, the process of gathering ...
and
psychokinesis Psychokinesis (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ...
experiences that is not explained by known physical or biological mechanisms. The term is derived from the
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
ψ ''psi,'' 23rd letter of the
Greek alphabet The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language since the late ninth or early eighth century BC. It is derived from the earlier Phoenician alphabet, and was the first alphabetic script in history to have distinct letters for vowels ...

Greek alphabet
and the initial letter of the Greek ψυχή ''psyche'', "mind, soul". The term was coined by
biologist A biologist is a professional who has specialized knowledge in the field of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Mol ...
Bertold Wiesner Bertold Paul Wiesner FRSE Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE) is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland's national academy of science and Literature, letters, judged to be "eminently distin ...

Bertold Wiesner
, and first used by psychologist
Robert Thouless Robert Henry Thouless (15 July 1894 – 25 September 1984) was an English psychologist and Parapsychology, parapsychologist. He is best known as the author of ''Straight and Crooked Thinking'' (1930, 1953), which describes flaws in reasoning and ...
in a 1942 article published in the ''
British Journal of Psychology The ''British Journal of Psychology'' is a quarterly peer-reviewed psychology journal. It was established in 1904 and is published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the British Psychological Society. The editor-in-chief is Stefan R. Schweinberger (Un ...
''. The
Parapsychological Association The Parapsychological Association (PA) was formed in 1957 as a professional society for parapsychologists following an initiative by Joseph Banks Rhine, Joseph B. Rhine. Its purpose has been "to advance parapsychology as a science, to disseminate k ...
divides psi into two main categories: psi-gamma for
extrasensory perception Extrasensory perception or ESP, also called sixth sense, includes claimed reception of information not gained through the recognized physical sense A sense is a biological system used by an organism for sensation, the process of gathering ...
and psi-kappa for
psychokinesis Psychokinesis (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ...
. In popular culture, "psi" has become more and more synonymous with special
psychic A psychic is a person who claims to use extrasensory perception Extrasensory perception or ESP, also called sixth sense, includes claimed reception of information not gained through the recognized physical sense A sense is a biologica ...
,
mental Mental may refer to: * of or relating to the mind Films * Mental (2012 film), ''Mental'' (2012 film), an Australian comedy-drama * Mental (2016 film), ''Mental'' (2016 film), a Bangladeshi romantic-action movie * ''Mental'', a 2008 documentary by ...

mental
, and "
psionic In American science fiction of the 1950s and '60s, psionics was a proposed discipline that applied principles of engineering (especially electronics) to the study (and employment) of paranormal or psychic phenomena, such as telepathy and psychokin ...
" abilities and powers.


History


Early psychical research

In 1853, the chemist Robert Hare conducted experiments with
mediums Mediumship is the practice of purportedly mediating communication between spirits of the dead and living human beings. Practitioners are known as "mediums" or "spirit mediums". There are different types of mediumship or spirit conduit (channeling ...
and reported positive results. Other researchers such as
Frank Podmore Frank Podmore (5 February 1856 – 14 August 1910) was an English author, and founding member of the Fabian Society The Fabian Society is a British socialist organisation whose purpose is to advance the principles of democratic socialism ...

Frank Podmore
highlighted flaws in his experiments, such as lack of controls to prevent trickery.
Agenor de Gasparin Agenor (Ancient Greek: Ἀγήνωρ ''Agēnor''; English language, English translation: 'heroic, manly') was in Greek mythology and history a Phoenician monarch, king of Tyre (Lebanon), Tyre. Herodotus estimates that Agenor lived sometime before ...
conducted early experiments into table-tipping. Over a period of five months in 1853 he declared the experiments a success being the result of an "
ectenic force Ectoplasm (from the Greek ''ektos'', meaning "outside", and ''plasma'', meaning "something formed or molded") is a term used in spiritualism to denote a substance or Energy (esotericism), spiritual energy "exteriorized" by physical mediumship, m ...
". Critics noted that the conditions were insufficient to prevent trickery. For example, the knees of the sitters may have been employed to move the table and no experimenter was watching above and below the table simultaneously. The German astrophysicist
Johann Karl Friedrich Zöllner Johann Karl Friedrich Zöllner (8 November 1834, Berlin25 April 1882, Leipzig) was a Germany, German astrophysicist who studied optical illusions. He was also an early Parapsychology, psychical investigator. Image:Zollner illusion.svg, 225px, Zöll ...
tested the medium
Henry Slade Henry Slade (1835–1905) was a famous fraudulent medium Medium may refer to: Science and technology Aviation *Medium bomber, a class of war plane *Tecma Medium, a French hang glider design Communication * Media (communication), to ...
in 1877. According to Zöllner some of the experiments were a success. However, flaws in the experiments were discovered and critics have suggested that Slade was a fraud who performed trickery in the experiments. The
Society for Psychical Research The Society for Psychical Research (SPR) is a nonprofit organisation A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a c ...

Society for Psychical Research
(SPR) was founded in
London London is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowerc ...

London
in 1882. Its formation was the first systematic effort to organize scientists and scholars to investigate paranormal phenomena. Early membership included philosophers, scholars, scientists, educators and politicians, such as
Henry Sidgwick Henry Sidgwick (; 31 May 1838 – 28 August 1900) was an English utilitarian Utilitarianism is a family of normative ethical theories that prescribe actions that maximize happiness and well-being Well-being, also known as ''wellness' ...

Henry Sidgwick
,
Arthur Balfour Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, (, ; 25 July 184819 March 1930) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either the high ...

Arthur Balfour
,
William Crookes Sir William Crookes (; 17 June 1832 – 4 April 1919) was a British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, British Overseas Territories, and Crown Dependencies. ** ...
,
Rufus Osgood Mason Rufus Osgood Mason (January 22, 1830, in Sullivan, New Hampshire – May 11, 1903, in New York City) was a physician, surgeon, and teacher and an early researcher in parapsychology and hypnotherapy.Carlos S. Alvarado, "Rufus Osgood Mason (1830–19 ...
and Nobel Laureate
Charles Richet Professor Charles Robert Richet (25 August 1850 – 4 December 1935) was a French physiologist Physiology (; ) is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity ...
. Presidents of the Society included, in addition to Richet, and
William James William James (January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910) was an American philosopher American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States ** Americans, citi ...
, and subsequently Nobel Laureates
Henri Bergson Henri-Louis Bergson (; 18 October 1859 – 4 January 1941) was a French philosopherHenri Bergson. 2014. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 13 August 2014, from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/61856/Henri-Bergson
Henri Bergson
and
Lord Rayleigh John William Strutt, 3rd Baron Rayleigh, (; 12 November 1842 – 30 June 1919) was a British scientist who made extensive contributions to both Theoretical physics, theoretical and experimental physics. He spent all of his academic caree ...

Lord Rayleigh
, and philosopher C. D. Broad. Areas of study included
telepathy Telepathy (from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ap ...
,
hypnotism Hypnosis is a human condition involving focused attention Attention is the behavioral and cognitive process Cognition () refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experie ...
, Reichenbach's phenomena, apparitions,
hauntings The list of reportedly haunted locations throughout the world, that are locations said to be haunted by ghost In folklore, a ghost is the soul (spirit), soul or spirit of a dead Human, person or animal that can appear to the living ...
, and the physical aspects of
Spiritualism Spiritualism is a new religious movement based on the belief that the spirits of the dead exist and have both the ability and the inclination to communicate with the living. The afterlife, or the "Spirit world (Spiritualism), spirit world", is s ...
such as
table-tilting Table-turning (also known as table-tapping, table-tipping or table-tilting) is a type of séance in which participants sit around a table, place their hands on it, and wait for rotations. The table was purportedly made to serve as a means of commun ...
, materialization and apportation. In the 1880s, the Society investigated apparitional experiences and hallucinations in the sane. Among the first important works was the two-volume publication in 1886, '' Phantasms of the Living'' which was largely criticized by scholars. In 1894, the ''Census of Hallucinations'' was published which sampled 17,000 people. Out of these, 1,684 persons admitted to having experienced a hallucination of an apparition. The SPR became the model for similar societies in other European countries and the United States during the late 19th century. Early
clairvoyance Clairvoyance (; from French language, French ''clair'' meaning "clear" and ''voyance'' meaning "vision") is the claimed ability to gain information about an object, person, location, or physical event through extrasensory perception. Any perso ...

clairvoyance
experiments were reported in 1884 by
Charles Richet Professor Charles Robert Richet (25 August 1850 – 4 December 1935) was a French physiologist Physiology (; ) is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity ...
. Playing cards were enclosed in envelopes and a subject put under hypnosis attempted to identify them. The subject was reported to have been successful in a series of 133 trials but the results dropped to chance level when performed before a group of scientists in Cambridge. J. M. Peirce and reported a similar experiment in which they tested 36 subjects over 23,384 trials which did not obtain above chance scores.
C. E. M. Hansel Charles Edward Mark Hansel (12 October 1917 – 28 March 2011) was a British psychologist A psychologist is a professional who practices psychology and studies normal and abnormal mental states, perceptual, cognitive, emotional, and social ...

C. E. M. Hansel
. ''The Search for a Demonstration of ESP''. In
Paul Kurtz Paul Kurtz (December 21, 1925 – October 20, 2012) was a prominent American scientific skeptic and secular humanist Secular humanism, often simply called humanism, is a philosophy or life stanceA person's life stance, or lifestance, is thei ...
. (1985). ''A Skeptic's Handbook of Parapsychology''. Prometheus Books. pp. 97-127.
In 1881, revealed the fraudulent methods that spirit photographers such as Édouard Isidore Buguet,
Frederic Hudson Frederic Hudson (April 25, 1819 – October 21, 1875) was a leading 19th century United States, American newspaper editing, editor, working from 1838 to 1866 for ''New York Herald'', where he served as managing editor, and was influential in ...
and
William H. Mumler William H. Mumler (1832–1884) was an American spirit photographer who worked in New York New York most commonly refers to: * New York City, the most populous city in the United States, located in the state of New York * New York (state), a ...
had utilized. During the late nineteenth century many fraudulent mediums were exposed by SPR investigators. Largely due to the support of psychologist
William James William James (January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910) was an American philosopher American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States ** Americans, citi ...
, the
American Society for Psychical Research The American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR) is the oldest psychical research organization in the United States dedicated to parapsychology. It maintains offices and a library, in New York City, which are open to both members and the gener ...
(ASPR) opened its doors in
Boston Boston (, ), officially the City of Boston, is the capital city, capital and List of municipalities in Massachusetts, most populous city of the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States and 21st List of Unit ...

Boston
in 1885, moving to
New York City New York, often called New York City to distinguish it from New York State New York is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of ...

New York City
in 1905 under the leadership of James H. Hyslop. Notable cases investigated by
Walter Franklin Prince Walter Franklin Prince (22 April 1863 – 7 August 1934) was an American Parapsychology, parapsychologist and founder of the Boston Society for Psychical Research in Boston.Berger, Arthur S. (1988). ''Walter Franklin Prince: A Portrait''. In ''Li ...
of the ASPR in the early 20th century included , the Great Amherst Mystery and Patience Worth.


Rhine era

In 1911,
Stanford University Stanford University, officially Leland Stanford Junior University, is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Du ...

Stanford University
became the first academic institution in the United States to study
extrasensory perception Extrasensory perception or ESP, also called sixth sense, includes claimed reception of information not gained through the recognized physical sense A sense is a biological system used by an organism for sensation, the process of gathering ...
(ESP) and
psychokinesis Psychokinesis (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ...
(PK) in a laboratory setting. The effort was headed by psychologist John Edgar Coover, and was supported by funds donated by
Thomas Welton Stanford Thomas Welton Stanford (1832–1918), also known as Welton Stanford, was an American-born Australian businessman, spiritualist and philanthropist, most notably toward Stanford University, which was founded by his older brother Leland Stanford. Al ...

Thomas Welton Stanford
, brother of the university's founder. After conducting approximately 10,000 experiments, Coover concluded "statistical treatments of the data fail to reveal any cause beyond chance." In 1930,
Duke University Duke University is a Private university, private research university in Durham, North Carolina. Founded by Methodists and Quakers in the present-day town of Trinity, North Carolina, Trinity in 1838, the school moved to Durham in 1892. In 1924, t ...
became the second major U.S. academic institution to engage in the critical study of ESP and psychokinesis in the laboratory. Under the guidance of psychologist William McDougall, and with the help of others in the department—including psychologists
Karl Zener Image:Cartas Zener.svg, Early parapsychological research used Zener cards in experiments designed to test for the existence of telepathy, telepathic communication. Karl Edward Zener (April 22, 1903 – September 27, 1964) was a perceptual psyc ...
, Joseph B. Rhine, and
Louisa E. Rhine Louisa Ella Rhine (née Weckesser November 9, 1891 – March 17, 1983) was an American doctor of botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "know ...

Louisa E. Rhine
—laboratory ESP experiments using volunteer subjects from the undergraduate student body began. As opposed to the approaches of psychical research, which generally sought qualitative evidence for paranormal phenomena, the experiments at Duke University proffered a ,
statistical Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data. In applying statistics to a scientific, industrial, or social problem, it is conventional to begin with a statist ...
approach using
cards {{Redirect, CARDS, other uses, Cards (disambiguation){{!Cards The CARDS programme, of Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation, is the EU's main instrument of financial assistance to the Western Balkans, covering spec ...

cards
and dice. As a consequence of the ESP experiments at Duke, standard laboratory procedures for the testing of ESP developed and came to be adopted by interested researchers throughout the world. George Estabrooks conducted an ESP experiment using cards in 1927. Harvard students were used as the subjects. Estabrooks acted as the sender with the guesser in an adjoining room. In total 2,300 trials were conducted. When the subjects were sent to a distant room with insulation the scores dropped to chance level. Attempts to repeat the experiment also failed. The publication of J. B. Rhine's book, ''New Frontiers of the Mind'' (1937) brought the laboratory's findings to the general public. In his book, Rhine popularized the word "parapsychology", which psychologist
Max Dessoir Maximilian Dessoir (8 February 1867 – 19 July 1947) was a German philosopher, psychologist and theorist of aesthetics. Career Dessoir was born in Berlin, into a German Jewish family, his parents being Ludwig Dessoir (1810-1874), "Germany's mos ...
had coined over 40 years earlier, to describe the research conducted at Duke. Rhine also founded an autonomous Parapsychology Laboratory within Duke and started the ''
Journal of Parapsychology The ''Journal of Parapsychology'' is a biannual peer-reviewed academic journal covering research on psi phenomena, including telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and psychokinesis, as well as human consciousness in general and anomalous experienc ...
'', which he co-edited with McDougall. Rhine, along with associate Karl Zener, had developed a statistical system of testing for ESP that involved subjects guessing what symbol, out of five possible symbols, would appear when going through a designed for this purpose. A percentage of correct guesses (or hits) significantly above 20% was perceived as higher than chance and indicative of psychic ability. Rhine stated in his first book, ''
Extrasensory Perception Extrasensory perception or ESP, also called sixth sense, includes claimed reception of information not gained through the recognized physical sense A sense is a biological system used by an organism for sensation, the process of gathering ...
'' (1934), that after 90,000 trials, he felt ESP is "an actual and demonstrable occurrence".J. B. Rhine (1934). Extra-Sensory Perception. (4th ed.) Branden Publishing Company 1997. Irish medium and parapsychologist,
Eileen J. Garrett Eileen Jeanette Vancho Lyttle Garrett (17 March 1893 – 15 September 1970) was an Irish medium and parapsychologist. Garrett's alleged psychic abilities were tested in the 1930s by Joseph Rhine and others. Rhine claimed that she had genuine ...
, was tested by Rhine at Duke University in 1933 with Zener cards. Certain symbols that were placed on the cards and sealed in an envelope, and she was asked to guess their contents. She performed poorly and later criticized the tests by claiming the cards lacked a psychic energy called "energy stimulus" and that she could not perform clairvoyance to order. The parapsychologist
Samuel Soal Samuel George Soal (1889–1975) — known as S. G. Soal — was a British mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ...
and his colleagues tested Garrett in May 1937. Most of the experiments were carried out in the Psychological Laboratory at
University College London University College London, which Trade name, operates as UCL, is a major public university , public research university located in London, United Kingdom. UCL is a Member institutions of the University of London, member institution of the Federa ...
. A total of over 12,000 guesses were recorded but Garrett failed to produce above chance level. In his report Soal wrote "In the case of Mrs. Eileen Garrett we fail to find the slightest confirmation of J. B. Rhine's remarkable claims relating to her alleged powers of extra-sensory perception. Not only did she fail when I took charge of the experiments, but she failed equally when four other carefully trained experimenters took my place." The parapsychology experiments at Duke evoked much criticism from academics and others who challenged the concepts and evidence of ESP. A number of psychological departments attempted to repeat Rhine's experiments with failure. W. S. Cox (1936) from
Princeton University Princeton University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly tw ...

Princeton University
with 132 subjects produced 25,064 trials in a playing card ESP experiment. Cox concluded "There is no evidence of extrasensory perception either in the 'average man' or of the group investigated or in any particular individual of that group. The discrepancy between these results and those obtained by Rhine is due either to uncontrollable factors in experimental procedure or to the difference in the subjects." Four other psychological departments failed to replicate Rhine's results. After thousands of card runs, James Charles Crumbaugh failed to duplicate the results of Rhine. In 1938, the psychologist
Joseph Jastrow Joseph Jastrow (January 30, 1863 – January 8, 1944) was a Polish-born American psychologist, noted for inventions in experimental psychology Experimental psychology refers to work done by those who apply Experiment, experimental methods t ...

Joseph Jastrow
wrote that much of the evidence for extrasensory perception collected by Rhine and other parapsychologists was anecdotal, biased, dubious and the result of "faulty observation and familiar human frailties". Rhine's experiments were discredited due to the discovery that
sensory leakage Sensory leakage is a term used to refer to information that transferred to a person by conventional means (other than psi) during an experiment into psi.Robert Todd Carroll Robert Todd Carroll (May 18, 1945 – August 25, 2016) was an American wri ...
or cheating could account for all his results such as the subject being able to read the symbols from the back of the cards and being able to see and hear the experimenter to note subtle clues.
Illusionist Magic, which encompasses the subgenres of illusion, stage magic, and close up magic, among others, is a performing art in which audiences are entertained by tricks, effects, or illusions of seemingly impossible feats, using natural means. It ...
Milbourne Christopher Milbourne Christopher (23 March 1914 – 17 June 1984) was a prominent American illusionist Magic, which encompasses the subgenres of illusion, stage magic, and close up magic, among others, is a performing art in which audiences are enter ...
wrote years later that he felt "there are at least a dozen ways a subject who wished to cheat under the conditions Rhine described could deceive the investigator". When Rhine took precautions in response to criticisms of his methods, he was unable to find any high-scoring subjects.
Milbourne Christopher Milbourne Christopher (23 March 1914 – 17 June 1984) was a prominent American illusionist Magic, which encompasses the subgenres of illusion, stage magic, and close up magic, among others, is a performing art in which audiences are enter ...
. (1970). ''ESP, Seers & Psychics''. Thomas Y. Crowell Co. pp. 24-28
Another criticism, made by chemist
Irving Langmuir Irving Langmuir (; January 31, 1881 – August 16, 1957) was an American chemist A chemist (from Greek ''chēm(ía)'' alchemy; replacing ''chymist'' from Medieval Latin Medieval Latin was the form of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a class ...

Irving Langmuir
, among others, was one of
selective reporting In epidemiology, reporting bias is defined as "selective revealing or suppression of information" by subjects (for example about past medical history, smoking, sexual experiences). In artificial intelligence research, the term reporting bias is use ...
. Langmuir stated that Rhine did not report scores of subjects that he suspected were intentionally guessing wrong, and that this, he felt, biased the statistical results higher than they should have been. Rhine and his colleagues attempted to address these criticisms through new experiments described in the book ''
Extrasensory Perception After Sixty Years ''Extrasensory Perception'' is a 1934 book written by parapsychologist Joseph Banks Rhine Joseph Banks Rhine (September 29, 1895 – February 20, 1980), usually known as J. B. Rhine, was an American botanist who founded parapsycholo ...
'' (1940).Rhine, J.B. (1966). Foreword. In Pratt, J.G., Rhine, J.B., Smith, B.M., Stuart, C.E., & Greenwood, J.A. (eds.). ''
Extrasensory Perception After Sixty Years ''Extrasensory Perception'' is a 1934 book written by parapsychologist Joseph Banks Rhine Joseph Banks Rhine (September 29, 1895 – February 20, 1980), usually known as J. B. Rhine, was an American botanist who founded parapsycholo ...
''. 2nd ed. Boston, US: Humphries.
Rhine described three experiments the Pearce-Pratt experiment, the
Pratt-Woodruff experiment Joseph Gaither Pratt (August 31, 1910 – November 3, 1979) was an American psychologist A psychologist is a person who studies normal and abnormal mental states, perceptual, cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by experimen ...
and the Ownbey-Zirkle series which he believed demonstrated ESP. However,
C. E. M. Hansel Charles Edward Mark Hansel (12 October 1917 – 28 March 2011) was a British psychologist A psychologist is a professional who practices psychology and studies normal and abnormal mental states, perceptual, cognitive, emotional, and social ...

C. E. M. Hansel
wrote "it is now known that each experiment contained serious flaws that escaped notice in the examination made by the authors of ''Extra-Sensory Perception After Sixty Years''".
Joseph Gaither Pratt Joseph Gaither Pratt (August 31, 1910 – November 3, 1979) was an American psychologist A psychologist is a person who studies normal and abnormal mental states, perceptual, cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by experimen ...

Joseph Gaither Pratt
was the co-experimenter in the Pearce-Pratt and Pratt-Woodruff experiments at the Duke campus. Hansel visited the campus where the experiments took place and discovered the results could have originated through the use of a trick so could not be regarded as supplying evidence for ESP. In 1957, Rhine and
Joseph Gaither Pratt Joseph Gaither Pratt (August 31, 1910 – November 3, 1979) was an American psychologist A psychologist is a person who studies normal and abnormal mental states, perceptual, cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by experimen ...

Joseph Gaither Pratt
wrote '' Parapsychology: Frontier Science of the Mind''. Because of the methodological problems, parapsychologists no longer utilize card-guessing studies. Rhine's experiments into
psychokinesis Psychokinesis (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ...
(PK) were also criticized.
John Sladek John Thomas Sladek (December 15, 1937 – March 10, 2000) was an American science fiction author Some notable science fiction authors (in alphabetical order): A *Dafydd ab Hugh (born 1960) *Alexander Abasheli (1884–1954) *Edwin Abbott ...
wrote:
His research used dice, with subjects 'willing' them to fall a certain way. Not only can dice be drilled, shaved, falsely numbered and manipulated, but even straight dice often show bias in the long run. Casinos for this reason retire dice often, but at Duke, subjects continued to try for the same effect on the same dice over long experimental runs. Not surprisingly, PK appeared at Duke and nowhere else.
John Sladek John Thomas Sladek (December 15, 1937 – March 10, 2000) was an American science fiction author Some notable science fiction authors (in alphabetical order): A *Dafydd ab Hugh (born 1960) *Alexander Abasheli (1884–1954) *Edwin Abbott ...
. (1974). ''The New Apocrypha: A Guide to Strange Sciences and Occult Beliefs''. Panther. pp. 172-174
The Ownbey-Zirkle ESP experiment at Duke was criticized by parapsychologists and skeptics. Peter Lamont. (2013). ''Extraordinary Beliefs: A Historical Approach to a Psychological Problem''. Cambridge University Press. pp. 206-208. Ownbey would attempt to send ESP symbols to Zirkle who would guess what they were. The pair were placed in adjacent rooms unable to see each other and an electric fan was used to prevent the pair communicating by sensory cues. Ownbey tapped a telegraph key to Zirkle to inform him when she was trying to send him a symbol. The door separating the two rooms was open during the experiment, and after each guess Zirkle would call out his guess to Ownbey who recorded his choice. Critics pointed out the experiment was flawed as Ownbey acted as both the sender and the experimenter, nobody was controlling the experiment so Ownbey could have cheated by communicating with Zirkle or made recording mistakes. The Turner-Ownbey long distance
telepathy Telepathy (from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ap ...
experiment was discovered to contain flaws. May Frances Turner positioned herself in the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory whilst Sara Ownbey claimed to receive transmissions 250 miles away. For the experiment Turner would think of a symbol and write it down whilst Ownbey would write her guesses. The scores were highly successful and both records were supposed to be sent to J. B. Rhine, however, Ownbey sent them to Turner. Critics pointed out this invalidated the results as she could have simply written her own record to agree with the other. When the experiment was repeated and the records were sent to Rhine the scores dropped to average. A famous ESP experiment at the Duke University was performed by Lucien Warner and Mildred Raible. The subject was locked in a room with a switch controlling a signal light elsewhere, which she could signal to guess the card. Ten runs with ESP packs of cards were used and she achieved 93 hits (43 more than chance). Weaknesses with the experiment were later discovered. The duration of the light signal could be varied so that the subject could call for specific symbols and certain symbols in the experiment came up far more often than others which indicated either poor shuffling or card manipulation. The experiment was not repeated. The administration of Duke grew less sympathetic to parapsychology, and after Rhine's retirement in 1965 parapsychological links with the university were broken. Rhine later established the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man (FRNM) and the Institute for Parapsychology as a successor to the Duke laboratory. In 1995, the centenary of Rhine's birth, the FRNM was renamed the
Rhine Research Center The Rhine Research Center is an independent, non-profit parapsychology research center that takes a scientific approach to anomalous phenomena and exceptional human experience. According to the mission statement, the "Rhine's mission is to advance ...
. Today, the Rhine Research Center is a parapsychology research unit, stating that it "aims to improve the human condition by creating a scientific understanding of those abilities and sensitivities that appear to transcend the ordinary limits of space and time".


Establishment of the Parapsychological Association

The
Parapsychological Association The Parapsychological Association (PA) was formed in 1957 as a professional society for parapsychologists following an initiative by Joseph Banks Rhine, Joseph B. Rhine. Its purpose has been "to advance parapsychology as a science, to disseminate k ...
(PA) was created in
Durham, North Carolina Durham ( ) is a city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. It can be defi ...
, on June 19, 1957. Its formation was proposed by J. B. Rhine at a workshop on parapsychology which was held at the Parapsychology Laboratory of Duke University. Rhine proposed that the group form itself into the nucleus of an international professional society in parapsychology. The aim of the organization, as stated in its Constitution, became "to advance parapsychology as a science, to disseminate knowledge of the field, and to integrate the findings with those of other branches of science". In 1969, under the direction of
anthropologist An anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology Anthropology is the of ity, concerned with , , , and , in both the present and past, including . studies patterns of behaviour, while studies cultural meaning, including ...

anthropologist
Margaret Mead Margaret Mead (December 16, 1901 – November 15, 1978) was an American cultural anthropologist Cultural anthropology is a branch of anthropology Anthropology is the Science, scientific study of humanity, concerned with human behavior ...
, the Parapsychological Association became affiliated with the
American Association for the Advancement of Science The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is an American international non-profit organization A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution ...
(AAAS), the largest general scientific society in the world. In 1979, physicist John A. Wheeler said that parapsychology is pseudoscientific, and that the affiliation of the PA to the AAAS needed to be reconsidered. His challenge to parapsychology's AAAS affiliation was unsuccessful. Today, the PA consists of about three hundred full, associate, and affiliated members worldwide.


Stargate Project

Beginning in the early 1950s, the
CIA The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA; ), known informally as "The Agency" and "The Company", is a civilian foreign intelligence service of the federal government of the United States The federal government of the United States (U.S. ...

CIA
started extensive research into
behavioral engineering Behavioral engineering, also called applied behavior analysis Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), also called behavioral engineering Behavioral engineering, also called applied behavior analysis, is intended to identify issues associated with ...
. The findings from these experiments led to the formation of the
Stargate Project Stargate Project was a secret U.S. Army unit established in 1978 at Fort George G. Meade, Fort Meade, Maryland, by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and SRI International (a California contractor) to investigate the potential for psychic ph ...
, which handled ESP research for the U.S. federal government. The Stargate Project was terminated in 1995 with the conclusion that it was never useful in any intelligence operation. The information was vague and included a lot of irrelevant and erroneous data. There was also reason to suspect that the research managers had adjusted their project reports to fit the known background cues.


1970s and 1980s

The affiliation of the Parapsychological Association (PA) with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, along with a general openness to psychic and
occult The occult, in the broadest sense, is a category of supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entities that are not subject to the . This term is attributed to , such as s, s, , and . It also includes claimed abiliti ...
phenomena in the 1970s, led to a decade of increased parapsychological research. During this period, other related organizations were also formed, including the Academy of Parapsychology and Medicine (1970), the Institute of Parascience (1971), the Academy of Religion and Psychical Research, the
Institute of Noetic Sciences The Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) is an American non-profit parapsychological research institute. It was co-founded in 1973 by former astronaut Edgar Mitchell,Pfeffer, Elizabeth''Stars aligned: Astronaut's mission seeks to answer life's big ...
(1973), the International Kirlian Research Association (1975), and the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory (1979). Parapsychological work was also conducted at the
Stanford Research Institute SRI International (SRI) is an American nonprofit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a collective, publi ...
(SRI) during this time. The scope of parapsychology expanded during these years. Psychiatrist
Ian Stevenson Ian Pretyman Stevenson (October 31, 1918 – February 8, 2007) was a Canadian-born American psychiatrist. He worked for the University of Virginia School of Medicine for fifty years, as chair of the department of psychiatry from 1957 to 1967, Car ...
conducted much of his research into reincarnation during the 1970s, and the second edition of his '' Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation'' was published in 1974. Psychologist
Thelma Moss Thelma Moss (born Thelma Schnee, January 6, 1918 – February 1, 1997) was an United States, American actress, and later a psychology, psychologist and parapsychology, parapsychologist, best known for her work on Kirlian photography and the hu ...
devoted time to the study of
Kirlian photography Kirlian photography is a collection of photographic techniques used to capture the phenomenon of electrical coronal discharges. It is named after Semyon Kirlian, who, in 1939, accidentally discovered that if an object on a photographic plate ...
at
UCLA The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization An organization, or organ ...
's parapsychology laboratory. The influx of spiritual teachers from Asia, and their claims of abilities produced by
meditation Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness Mindfulness is the practice of purposely bringing one's attention in the present moment without evaluation,Mindfulness Training as a Clinical Interventio ...

meditation
, led to research on
altered states of consciousness An altered state of consciousness (ASC), also called altered state of mind or mind alteration, is any condition which is significantly different from a normal waking state. By 1892, the expression was in use in relation to hypnosis ...
. American Society for Psychical Research Director of Research,
Karlis Osis Karlis Osis (26 December 1917 – 26 December 1997) was a Latvia, Latvian-born Parapsychology, parapsychologist who specialised in exploring deathbed phenomena and Afterlife, life after death. Biography Karlis' first research, conducted in t ...
, conducted experiments in
out of body Out may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Films *Out (1957 film), ''Out'' (1957 film), a documentary short about the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 *Out (1982 film), ''Out'' (1982 film), an American film directed by Eli Hollander *Out (2002 ...
experiences. Physicist
Russell Targ Russell Targ (born April 11, 1934) is an American physicist A physicist is a scientist A scientist is a person who conducts scientific research The scientific method is an Empirical evidence, empirical method of acquiring knowledge ...
coined the term
remote viewing Remote viewing (RV) is the practice of seeking impressions about a distant or unseen target, purportedly "sensing" with the mind. Remote viewing experiments have historically been criticized for lack of proper controls and repeatability. There ...
for use in some of his work at SRI in 1974. The surge in paranormal research continued into the 1980s: the Parapsychological Association reported members working in more than 30 countries. For example, research was carried out and regular conferences held in
Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical reg ...

Eastern Europe
and the former
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a that spanned during its existence from 1922 to 1991. It was nominally a of multiple national ; in practice and were highly until its final years. The ...
although the word parapsychology was discarded in favour of the term psychotronics. The main promoter of psychotronics was
Czech Czech may refer to: * Anything from or related to the Czech Republic The Czech Republic, also known by its short-form name Czechia and formerly known as Bohemia, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A countr ...
scientist Zdeněk Rejdák, who described it as a
physical science Physical science is a branch of natural science Natural science is a Branches of science, branch of science concerned with the description, understanding and prediction of Phenomenon, natural phenomena, based on empirical evidence from observa ...
, organizing conferences and presiding over the International Association for Psychotronic Research. In 1985 a Chair of Parapsychology was established within the Department of Psychology at the
University of Edinburgh The University of Edinburgh ( sco, University o Edinburgh, gd, Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann; abbreviated as ''Edin.'' in post-nominals Post-nominal letters, also called post-nominal initials, post-nominal titles, designatory letters or simply ...
and was given to
Robert MorrisRobert or Bob Morris may refer to: Politics * Robert Hunter Morris (1700–1764), Lieutenant Governor of Colonial Pennsylvania * Robert Morris (financier) (1734–1806), financier of the American Revolution and signatory to three of the United Stat ...
, an experimental parapsychologist from the United States. Morris and his research associates and PhD students pursued research on topics related to parapsychology.


Modern era

Since the 1980s, contemporary parapsychological research has waned considerably in the United States.(Odling-Smee 2007) Early research was considered inconclusive, and parapsychologists were faced with strong opposition from their academic colleagues. Some effects thought to be paranormal, for example the effects of
Kirlian photography Kirlian photography is a collection of photographic techniques used to capture the phenomenon of electrical coronal discharges. It is named after Semyon Kirlian, who, in 1939, accidentally discovered that if an object on a photographic plate ...
(thought by some to represent a human aura), disappeared under more stringent controls, leaving those avenues of research at dead-ends. The bulk of parapsychology research in the US is now confined to private institutions funded by private sources. After 28 years of research, Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory (PEAR), which studied
psychokinesis Psychokinesis (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ...
, closed in 2007. Two universities in the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
currently have academic parapsychology laboratories. The Division of Perceptual Studies, a unit at the
University of Virginia The University of Virginia (U.Va. or UVA) is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization An organization, or organisat ...

University of Virginia
's Department of Psychiatric Medicine, studies the possibility of survival of consciousness after bodily death,
near-death experiences A near-death experience (NDE) is a profound personal experience associated with death or impending death which researchers claim share similar characteristics. When positive, such experiences may encompass a variety of sensations including deta ...
, and
out-of-body experiences An out-of-body experience (OBE or sometimes OOBE) is a phenomenon in which a person perceives the world from a location outside their physical body. An OBE is a form of autoscopy (literally "seeing self"), although this term is more commonly use ...
.
Gary Schwartz Gary E. Schwartz is an American psychologist, author, Parapsychology, parapsychologist and professor at the University of Arizona and the director of its Laboratory for Advances in Consciousness and Health. Schwartz researches the veracity of medi ...
at the
University of Arizona The University of Arizona (Arizona, U of A, UArizona, or UA) is a Public university, public Land-grant university, land-grant research university in Tucson, Arizona. Founded in 1885 by the 13th Arizona Territorial Legislature, it was the first ...
's ''Veritas Laboratory'' conducted laboratory investigations of
mediums Mediumship is the practice of purportedly mediating communication between spirits of the dead and living human beings. Practitioners are known as "mediums" or "spirit mediums". There are different types of mediumship or spirit conduit (channeling ...
, criticized by scientific skeptics. Several private institutions, including the
Institute of Noetic Sciences The Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) is an American non-profit parapsychological research institute. It was co-founded in 1973 by former astronaut Edgar Mitchell,Pfeffer, Elizabeth''Stars aligned: Astronaut's mission seeks to answer life's big ...
, conduct and promote parapsychological research. Over the last two decades some new sources of funding for parapsychology in Europe have seen a "substantial increase in European parapsychological research so that the center of gravity for the field has swung from the United States to Europe". Of all nations the United Kingdom has the largest number of active parapsychologists.Harvey J. Irwin and Caroline Watt
An introduction to parapsychology
McFarland, 2007, pp. 248-249.
In the UK, researchers work in conventional psychology departments, and also do studies in mainstream psychology to "boost their credibility and show that their methods are sound". It is thought that this approach could account for the relative strength of parapsychology in Britain. As of 2007, parapsychology research is represented in some 30 different countries and a number of universities worldwide continue academic parapsychology programs. Among these are the Koestler Parapsychology Unit at the
University of Edinburgh The University of Edinburgh ( sco, University o Edinburgh, gd, Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann; abbreviated as ''Edin.'' in post-nominals Post-nominal letters, also called post-nominal initials, post-nominal titles, designatory letters or simply ...
; the Parapsychology Research Group at
Liverpool Hope University Liverpool Hope University is a public university with campuses in Liverpool, England. ‌The university grew out of three Normal school#United Kingdom, teacher training colleges: Saint Katharine's College (originally Warrington Training College), ...
(this closed in April 2011); the SOPHIA Project at the
University of Arizona The University of Arizona (Arizona, U of A, UArizona, or UA) is a Public university, public Land-grant university, land-grant research university in Tucson, Arizona. Founded in 1885 by the 13th Arizona Territorial Legislature, it was the first ...
; the Consciousness and Transpersonal Psychology Research Unit of
Liverpool John Moores University , mottoeng = Fortune favours the bold "Fortune favours the bold", "Fortune favours the brave" and "Fortune favours the strong" are common translations of a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, ...
; the Center for the Study of Anomalous Psychological Processes at the
University of Northampton The University of Northampton is a public university #REDIRECT Public university #REDIRECT Public university #REDIRECT Public university#REDIRECT Public university A public university or public college is a university or college that is in s ...
; and the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at
Goldsmiths, University of London Goldsmiths, University of London, is a public university, public research university in London, England, specialising in the arts, design, humanities, and social sciences. It is a constituent college of the University of London. It was founded i ...
. Research and professional organizations include the
Parapsychological Association The Parapsychological Association (PA) was formed in 1957 as a professional society for parapsychologists following an initiative by Joseph Banks Rhine, Joseph B. Rhine. Its purpose has been "to advance parapsychology as a science, to disseminate k ...
; the
Society for Psychical Research The Society for Psychical Research (SPR) is a nonprofit organisation A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a c ...

Society for Psychical Research
, publisher of the ''Journal of Society for Psychical Research''; the
American Society for Psychical Research The American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR) is the oldest psychical research organization in the United States dedicated to parapsychology. It maintains offices and a library, in New York City, which are open to both members and the gener ...
, publisher of the ''Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research'' (last published in 2004); the Rhine Research Center and Institute for Parapsychology, publisher of the ''
Journal of Parapsychology The ''Journal of Parapsychology'' is a biannual peer-reviewed academic journal covering research on psi phenomena, including telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and psychokinesis, as well as human consciousness in general and anomalous experienc ...
''; the Parapsychology Foundation, which published the ''International Journal of Parapsychology'' (between 1959 and 1968 and 2000–2001) and the Australian Institute of Parapsychological Research, publisher of the ''Australian Journal of Parapsychology''. The ''European Journal of Parapsychology'' ceased publishing in 2010. Parapsychological research has also included other sub-disciplines of psychology. These related fields include
transpersonal psychology Transpersonal psychology, or spiritual psychology, is a sub-field or school of psychology that integrates the spirituality, spiritual and transcendence (philosophy), transcendent aspects of the human experience with the framework of modern psycho ...
, which studies transcendent or spiritual aspects of the human mind, and
anomalistic psychology In psychology, anomalistic psychology is the study of human behaviour and experience connected with what is often called the paranormal, with the assumption that there is nothing paranormal involved. Early history According to anomalistic psycholo ...
, which examines paranormal beliefs and subjective anomalous experiences in traditional psychological terms.Leonard Zusne, Warren H. Jones (1989). ''Anomalistic Psychology: A Study of Magical Thinking''. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.


Research


Scope

Parapsychologists study a number of ostensible paranormal phenomena, including but not limited to: *
Telepathy Telepathy (from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ap ...
: Transfer of information of thoughts or feelings between individuals by means other than the five classical senses. *
Precognition Precognition (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power ...
: Perception of information about future places or events before they occur. *
Clairvoyance Clairvoyance (; from French language, French ''clair'' meaning "clear" and ''voyance'' meaning "vision") is the claimed ability to gain information about an object, person, location, or physical event through extrasensory perception. Any perso ...

Clairvoyance
: Obtaining information about places or events at remote locations, by means unknown to current science. *
Psychokinesis Psychokinesis (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ...
: The ability of the mind to influence matter, time, space, or energy by means unknown to current science. *
Near-death experience A near-death experience (NDE) is a profound personal experience associated with death or impending death which researchers claim share similar characteristics. When positive, such experiences may encompass a variety of sensations including deta ...
s: An experience reported by a person who nearly died, or who experienced
clinical death Clinical death is the medical term Medical terminology is language used to precisely describe the human body including its components, processes, conditions affecting it, and procedures performed upon it. Medical terminology is used in the field of ...

clinical death
and then revived. *
Reincarnation Reincarnation, also known as rebirth or transmigration, is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with p ...
: The rebirth of a soul or other non-physical aspect of human
consciousness Consciousness, at its simplest, is sentience or awareness of internal and external existence. Despite millennia of analyses, definitions, explanations and debates by philosophers and scientists, consciousness remains puzzling and controversial ...

consciousness
in a new physical body after death. *
Apparitional experience In parapsychology Parapsychology is the study of alleged psychic phenomena (extrasensory perception, telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, a.k.a. telekinesis, and Psychometry (paranormal), psychometry) and other paranormal cla ...
s: Phenomena often attributed to ghosts and encountered in places a deceased individual is thought to have frequented, or in association with the person's former belongings. The definitions for the terms above may not reflect their
mainstream The mainstream is the prevalent current thought In their most common sense, the terms thought and thinking refer to conscious cognitive processes that can happen independently of sensory stimulation. Their most paradigmatic forms are judging, r ...
usage, nor the opinions of all parapsychologists and their critics. According to the Parapsychological Association, parapsychologists do not study all paranormal phenomena, nor are they concerned with
astrology Astrology is a pseudoscience that claims to divination, divine information about human affairs and terrestrial events by studying the movements and relative positions of Celestial objects in astrology, celestial objects. Astrology has be ...
,
UFOs An unidentified flying object (UFO) is any perceived aerial phenomenon that cannot be immediately identified or explained. On investigation, most UFOs are identified ''Identified'' is the second studio album by Vanessa Hudgens, released ...
,
cryptozoology Cryptozoology is a pseudoscience and subculture that searches for and studies unknown, legendary, or extinct animals whose present existence is disputed or unsubstantiated, particularly those popular in folklore, such as Bigfoot, the Loch Ness M ...
,
paganism Paganism (from classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin language Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, includ ...
,
vampires A vampire is a creature from folklore that subsists by feeding on the Vitalism, vital essence (generally in the form of blood) of the living. In European folklore, vampires are undead, undead creatures that often visited loved ones and caus ...
,
alchemy Alchemy (from Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countri ...
, or
witchcraft In many cultures, witchcraft traditionally means the use of magic Magic or Magick may refer to: * Ceremonial magic, encompasses a wide variety of rituals of magic * Chaos magic#REDIRECT Chaos magic {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from m ...

witchcraft
. Journals dealing with parapsychology include the ''
Journal of Parapsychology The ''Journal of Parapsychology'' is a biannual peer-reviewed academic journal covering research on psi phenomena, including telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and psychokinesis, as well as human consciousness in general and anomalous experienc ...
'', ''
Journal of Near-Death Studies The ''Journal of Near-Death Studies'' is a quarterly Peer review, peer-reviewed academic journal devoted to the field of near-death studies. It is published by the International Association for Near-Death Studies. The journal's founding editor-in- ...
'', ''
Journal of Consciousness Studies The ''Journal of Consciousness Studies'' is an interdisciplinarity, interdisciplinary peer review, peer-reviewed academic journal dedicated entirely to the field of consciousness studies. It was previously Editor-in-chief, edited by Joseph Goguen. ...
'', ''
Journal of the Society for Psychical Research The Society for Psychical Research (SPR) is a nonprofit organisation in the United Kingdom. Its stated purpose is to understand events and abilities commonly described as psychic or paranormal. It describes itself as the "first society to conduct ...
'', and ''
Journal of Scientific Exploration The Society for Scientific Exploration, or SSE, is a group committed to studying fringe science. The opinions of the organization in regard to what are the proper limits of scientific exploration are often at odds with those of mainstream science. ...
''.


Experimental research


Ganzfeld

The
Ganzfeld Ganzfeld (German language, German for "complete field") is a particular phenomenon of visual perception. The term is used most commonly in relationship to: * Ganzfeld effect, the psychological result of staring at an actual Ganzfeld * Ganzfeld exp ...
(
German German(s) may refer to: * Germany (of or related to) **Germania (historical use) * Germans, citizens of Germany, people of German ancestry, or native speakers of the German language ** For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law **Ger ...

German
for "whole field") is a technique used to test individuals for telepathy. The technique—a form of moderate
sensory deprivation Sensory deprivation or perceptual isolation is the deliberate reduction or removal of stimuli A stimulus is something that causes a physiological response. It may refer to: *Stimulation Stimulation is the encouragement of development or the caus ...

sensory deprivation
—was developed to quickly quiet mental "noise" by providing mild, unpatterned stimuli to the
visual The visual system comprises the sensory organ A sense is a biological system A biological system is a complex network which connects several biologically relevant entities. Biological organization spans several scales and are determined b ...

visual
and auditory senses. The visual sense is usually isolated by creating a soft red glow which is diffused through half
ping-pong ball Table tennis, also known as ping-pong and whiff-whaff, is a sport in which two or four players hit a lightweight ball, also known as the ping-pong ball, back and forth across a table using small rackets. The game takes place on a hard table div ...
s placed over the recipient's eyes. The auditory sense is usually blocked by playing
white noise In signal processing Signal processing is an electrical engineering Electrical engineering is an engineering discipline concerned with the study, design, and application of equipment, devices, and systems which use electricity, elect ...

white noise
, static, or similar sounds to the recipient. The subject is also seated in a reclined, comfortable position to minimize the sense of touch. In the typical Ganzfeld experiment, a "sender" and a "receiver" are isolated. The receiver is put into the Ganzfeld state, or
Ganzfeld effect The Ganzfeld effect (from German language, German for "complete field"), or perceptual deprivation, is a phenomenon of perception caused by exposure to an unstructured, uniform stimulation field. The effect is the result of the brain amplifying n ...
and the sender is shown a video clip or still picture and asked to mentally send that image to the receiver. The receiver, while in the Ganzfeld, is asked to continuously speak aloud all mental processes, including images, thoughts, and feelings. At the end of the sending period, typically about 20 to 40 minutes in length, the receiver is taken out of the Ganzfeld state and shown four images or videos, one of which is the true target and three of which are non-target decoys. The receiver attempts to select the true target, using perceptions experienced during the Ganzfeld state as clues to what the mentally "sent" image might have been. The Ganzfeld experiment studies that were examined by
Ray Hyman Ray Hyman (born June 23, 1928) is a Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon, and a noted critic of parapsychology. Hyman, along with James Randi, Martin Gardner and Paul Kurtz, is one of the founders of the ...
and
Charles Honorton Charles Henry Honorton (February 5, 1946 – November 4, 1992) was an American parapsychologist and was one of the leaders of a collegial group of researchers who were determined to apply established scientific research methods to the examination ...
had methodological problems that were well documented. Honorton reported only 36% of the studies used duplicate target sets of pictures to avoid handling cues. Hyman discovered flaws in all of the 42 Ganzfeld experiments and to assess each experiment, he devised a set of 12 categories of flaws. Six of these concerned statistical defects, the other six covered procedural flaws such as inadequate
documentation Documentation is any communicable material that is used to describe, explain or instruct regarding some attributes of an object, system or procedure, such as its parts, assembly, installation, maintenance and use. Documentation can be provided ...

documentation
, randomization and security as well as possibilities of sensory leakage. Over half of the studies failed to safeguard against
sensory leakage Sensory leakage is a term used to refer to information that transferred to a person by conventional means (other than psi) during an experiment into psi.Robert Todd Carroll Robert Todd Carroll (May 18, 1945 – August 25, 2016) was an American wri ...
and all of the studies contained at least one of the 12 flaws. Because of the flaws, Honorton agreed with Hyman the 42 Ganzfeld studies could not support the claim for the existence of psi. Possibilities of sensory leakage in the Ganzfeld experiments included the receivers hearing what was going on in the sender's room next door as the rooms were not soundproof and the sender's fingerprints to be visible on the target object for the receiver to see. Hyman reviewed the autoganzfeld experiments and discovered a pattern in the data that implied a visual cue may have taken place. Hyman wrote the autoganzfeld experiments were flawed because they did not preclude the possibility of sensory leakage. In 2010, Lance Storm, Patrizio Tressoldi, and Lorenzo Di Risio analyzed 29 Ganzfeld studies from 1997 to 2008. Of the 1,498 trials, 483 produced hits, corresponding to a hit rate of 32.2%. This hit rate is
statistically significant Statistics is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a more technical sens ...
with Participants selected for personality traits and personal characteristics thought to be psi-conducive were found to perform significantly better than unselected participants in the Ganzfeld condition. Hyman (2010) published a rebuttal to Storm ''et al''. According to Hyman, "Reliance on meta-analysis as the sole basis for justifying the claim that an anomaly exists and that the evidence for it is consistent and replicable is fallacious. It distorts what scientists mean by confirmatory evidence." Hyman wrote that the Ganzfeld studies were not independently replicated and failed to produce evidence for psi. Storm ''et al''. published a response to Hyman stating that the Ganzfeld experimental design has proved to be consistent and reliable, that parapsychology is a struggling discipline that has not received much attention, and that therefore further research on the subject is necessary. Rouder ''et al''. 2013 wrote that critical evaluation of Storm ''et al''.'s meta-analysis reveals no evidence for psi, no plausible mechanism and omitted replication failures.


Remote viewing

Remote viewing is the practice of seeking impressions about a distant or unseen target using subjective means, in particular, extrasensory perception. Typically a remote viewer is expected to give information about an object, event, person or location that is hidden from physical view and separated at some distance. Several hundred such trials have been conducted by investigators over the past 25 years, including those by the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory (PEAR) and by scientists at
SRI International SRI International (SRI) is an American nonprofit organization, nonprofit scientific research, scientific research institute and organization headquartered in Menlo Park, California. The trustees of Stanford University established SRI in 1946 as ...
and
Science Applications International Corporation Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), Inc. is an American company headquartered in Reston, Virginia Reston is a census-designated place A census-designated place (CDP) is a Place (United States Census Bureau), concentration of ...
. Many of these were under contract by the
U.S. government The federal government of the United States (U.S. federal government or U.S. government) is the national government of the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or U ...
as part of the espionage program
Stargate Project Stargate Project was a secret U.S. Army unit established in 1978 at Fort George G. Meade, Fort Meade, Maryland, by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and SRI International (a California contractor) to investigate the potential for psychic ph ...
, which terminated in 1995 having failed to document any practical intelligence value. The psychologists
David Marks David Lee Marks (born August 22, 1948) is an American guitarist who is best known for being an early member of the Beach Boys The Beach Boys are an American rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally o ...
and Richard Kammann attempted to replicate
Russell Targ Russell Targ (born April 11, 1934) is an American physicist A physicist is a scientist A scientist is a person who conducts scientific research The scientific method is an Empirical evidence, empirical method of acquiring knowledge ...
and Harold Puthoff’s remote viewing experiments that were carried out in the 1970s at the
Stanford Research Institute SRI International (SRI) is an American nonprofit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a collective, publi ...
. In a series of 35 studies, they were unable to replicate the results, motivating them to investigate the procedure of the original experiments. Marks and Kammann discovered that the notes given to the judges in Targ and Puthoff's experiments contained clues as to the order in which they were carried out, such as referring to yesterday's two targets, or they had the date of the session written at the top of the page. They concluded that these clues were the reason for the experiment's high hit rates. Marks was able to achieve 100 per cent accuracy without visiting any of the sites himself but by using cues.
James Randi James Randi (born Randall James Hamilton Zwinge; August 7, 1928 – October 20, 2020) was a Canadian-American stage magician and scientific skepticism, scientific skeptic who extensively challenged paranormal and pseudoscientific claims.#R ...

James Randi
wrote controlled tests in collaboration with several other researchers, eliminating several sources of cuing and extraneous evidence present in the original tests; Randi's controlled tests produced negative results. Students were also able to solve Puthoff and Targ's locations from the cues that had inadvertently been included in the transcripts. In 1980,
Charles Tart Charles T. Tart (born 1937) is an United States, American psychologist and parapsychologist known for his psychological work on the nature of consciousness (particularly altered states of consciousness), as one of the founders of the field of transp ...

Charles Tart
claimed that a rejudging of the transcripts from one of Targ and Puthoff’s experiments revealed an above-chance result. Targ and Puthoff again refused to provide copies of the transcripts and it was not until July 1985 that they were made available for study, when it was discovered they still contained
sensory cue A sensory cue is a statistic or signal that can be extracted from the sensory input by a perceiver, that indicates the state of some property of the world that the perceiver is interested in perceiving. A cue is some organization of the data presen ...
s. Marks and Christopher Scott (1986) wrote "considering the importance for the remote viewing hypothesis of adequate cue removal, Tart’s failure to perform this basic task seems beyond comprehension. As previously concluded, remote viewing has not been demonstrated in the experiments conducted by Puthoff and Targ, only the repeated failure of the investigators to remove sensory cues." PEAR closed its doors at the end of February 2007. Its founder, Robert G. Jahn, said of it that, "For 28 years, we’ve done what we wanted to do, and there’s no reason to stay and generate more of the same data." Statistical flaws in his work have been proposed by others in the parapsychological community and within the general scientific community. The physicist Robert L. Park said of PEAR, "It’s been an embarrassment to science, and I think an embarrassment for Princeton".


Psychokinesis on random number generators

The advent of powerful and inexpensive electronic and computer technologies has allowed the development of fully automated experiments studying possible interactions between mind and matter. In the most common experiment of this type, a
random number generator Random number generation is a process by which, often by means of a random number generator (RNG), a sequence of number A number is a mathematical object A mathematical object is an abstract concept arising in mathematics. In the usual langua ...
(RNG), based on electronic or
radioactive Radioactive decay (also known as nuclear decay, radioactivity, radioactive disintegration or nuclear disintegration) is the process by which an unstable atomic nucleus The atomic nucleus is the small, dense region consisting of s and s ...

radioactive
noise, produces a data stream that is recorded and analyzed by computer
software Software is a collection of instructions Instruction or instructions may refer to: Computing * Instruction, one operation of a processor within a computer architecture instruction set * Computer program, a collection of instructions Music * I ...

software
. A subject attempts to mentally alter the distribution of the random numbers, usually in an experimental design that is functionally equivalent to getting more "heads" than "tails" while flipping a coin. In the RNG experiment, design flexibility can be combined with rigorous controls, while collecting a large amount of data in a very short period of time. This technique has been used both to test individuals for psychokinesis and to test the possible influence on RNGs of large groups of people. Major meta-analyses of the RNG database have been published every few years since appearing in the journal ''
Foundations of Physics ''Foundations of Physics'' is a monthly journal "devoted to the conceptual bases and fundamental theories of modern physics and cosmology, emphasizing the logical, methodological, and philosophical premises of modern physical theories and procedur ...
'' in 1986. PEAR founder Robert G. Jahn and his colleague Brenda Dunne say that the experiments produced "a very small effect" not large enough to be observed over a brief experiment but over a large number of trials resulted in a tiny statistical deviation from chance. According to
Massimo Pigliucci Massimo Pigliucci (; born January 16, 1964) is Professor of Philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Ph ...

Massimo Pigliucci
the results from PEAR can be explained without invoking the paranormal because of two problems with the experiment "the difficulty of designing machines capable of generating truly random events and the fact that statistical "significance" is not at all a good measure of the importance or genuineness of a phenomenon."
Massimo Pigliucci Massimo Pigliucci (; born January 16, 1964) is Professor of Philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Ph ...

Massimo Pigliucci
. (2010). ''Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk''. University of Chicago Press. pp. 77-80.
Pigluicci has written the statistical analysis used by the Jahn and the PEAR group relied on a quantity called a "
p-value In null hypothesis significance testing, the ''p''-value is the probability of obtaining test results at least as extreme as the results actually observed, under the assumption that the null hypothesis In inferential statistics, the null hypo ...
" but a problem with p-values is that if the sample size (number of trials) is very large like PEAR then one is guaranteed to find artificially low p-values indicating a statistical "significant" result even though nothing was occurring other than small biases in the experimental apparatus. Two German independent scientific groups have failed to replicate the PEAR results. Pigliucci has written this was "yet another indication that the simplest hypothesis is likely to be true: there was nothing to replicate." The most recent meta-analysis on
psychokinesis Psychokinesis (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ...
was published in ''
Psychological Bulletin The ''Psychological Bulletin'' is a monthly peer-reviewed Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work ( peers). It functions as a form of self-regulation by qualified memb ...
'', along with several critical commentaries. It analyzed the results of 380 studies; the authors reported an overall positive effect size that was statistically significant but very small relative to the sample size and could, in principle, be explained by
publication bias #REDIRECT publication bias #REDIRECT publication bias#REDIRECT publication bias Publication bias is a type of bias Bias is a disproportionate weight ''in favor of'' or ''against'' an idea or thing, usually in a way that is closed-minded, prej ...
.


Direct mental interactions with living systems

Formerly called bio-PK, "direct mental interactions with living systems" (DMILS) studies the effects of one person's intentions on a distant person's
psychophysiological Psychophysiology (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ap ...
state. One type of DMILS experiment looks at the commonly reported "feeling of being stared at." The "starer" and the "staree" are isolated in different locations, and the starer is periodically asked to simply gaze at the staree via closed circuit video links. Meanwhile, the staree's nervous system activity is automatically and continuously monitored. Parapsychologists have interpreted the cumulative data on this and similar DMILS experiments to suggest that one person's attention directed towards a remote, isolated person can significantly activate or calm that person's
nervous system In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mecha ...

nervous system
. In a meta-analysis of these experiments published in the ''British Journal of Psychology'' in 2004, researchers found that there was a small but significant overall DMILS effect. However, the study also found that when a small number of the highest-quality studies from one laboratory were analyzed, the effect size was not significant. The authors concluded that although the existence of some anomaly related to distant intentions cannot be ruled out, there was also a shortage of independent replications and theoretical concepts.


Dream telepathy

Parapsychological studies into dream telepathy were carried out at the
Maimonides Medical Center Maimonides Medical Center is a non-profit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a collective, public or soci ...
in
Brooklyn, New York Brooklyn () is a Boroughs of New York City, borough of New York City, coextensive with Kings County, in the U.S. state of New York (state), New York. It is the most populous Administrative divisions of New York (state)#County, county in the stat ...

Brooklyn, New York
led by
Stanley Krippner Stanley Krippner (born October 4, 1932) is an American psychologist A psychologist is a professional who practices psychology and studies normal and abnormal mental states, perceptual, cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior ...
and
Montague Ullman Montague Ullman (September 9, 1916 – June 7, 2008) was a psychiatrist, Psychoanalysis, psychoanalyst and Parapsychology, parapsychologist who founded the Dream Laboratory at the Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, Brooklyn, New York and for o ...

Montague Ullman
. They concluded the results from some of their experiments supported dream telepathy. However, the results have not been independently replicated. The picture target experiments that were conducted by Krippner and Ullman were criticized by
C. E. M. Hansel Charles Edward Mark Hansel (12 October 1917 – 28 March 2011) was a British psychologist A psychologist is a professional who practices psychology and studies normal and abnormal mental states, perceptual, cognitive, emotional, and social ...

C. E. M. Hansel
. According to Hansel there were weaknesses in the design of the experiments in the way in which the agent became aware of their target picture. Only the agent should have known the target and no other person until the judging of targets had been completed; however, an experimenter was with the agent when the target envelope was opened. Hansel also wrote there had been poor controls in the experiment as the main experimenter could communicate with the subject. In 2002, Krippner denied Hansel's accusations, claiming the agent did not communicate with the experimenter. An attempt to replicate the experiments that used picture targets was carried out by Edward Belvedere and David Foulkes. The finding was that neither the subject nor the judges matched the targets with dreams above chance level. Results from other experiments by Belvedere and Foulkes were also negative. In 2003, Simon Sherwood and Chris Roe wrote a review that claimed support for dream telepathy at Maimonides. However,
James Alcock James E. Alcock (born 24 December 1942) is a Canadian educator. He has been a Professor of Psychology at York University York University (french: Université York) is a public In public relations and communication science, publics are g ...

James Alcock
noted that their review was based on "extreme messiness" of data. Alcock concluded the dream telepathy experiments at Maimonides have failed to provide evidence for telepathy and "lack of replication is rampant."


Near-death experiences

A
near-death experience A near-death experience (NDE) is a profound personal experience associated with death or impending death which researchers claim share similar characteristics. When positive, such experiences may encompass a variety of sensations including deta ...
(NDE) is an experience reported by a person who nearly died, or who experienced
clinical death Clinical death is the medical term Medical terminology is language used to precisely describe the human body including its components, processes, conditions affecting it, and procedures performed upon it. Medical terminology is used in the field of ...

clinical death
and then revived. NDEs include one or more of the following experiences: a sense of being dead; an
out-of-body experience An out-of-body experience (OBE or sometimes OOBE) is a phenomenon A phenomenon (; plural phenomena) is an observable In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, f ...
; a sensation of floating above one's body and seeing the surrounding area; a sense of overwhelming love and peace; a sensation of moving upwards through a tunnel or narrow passageway; meeting deceased relatives or spiritual figures; encountering a being of light, or a light; experiencing a
life review The term life review, or flashback before death, refers to a phenomenon widely reported as occurring during near-death experience A near-death experience (NDE) is a profound personal experience associated with death or impending death which r ...
; reaching a border or boundary; and a feeling of being returned to the body, often accompanied by reluctance. Interest in the NDE was originally spurred by the research of psychiatrists
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (July 8, 1926 – August 24, 2004) was a Swiss-American psychiatrist A psychiatrist is a physician A physician (American English), medical practitioner (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth English) ...
, George G. Ritchie, and
Raymond Moody Raymond A. Moody Jr. (born June 30, 1944) is an American philosopher, psychiatrist, physician and author, most widely known for his books about afterlife and near-death experiences (NDE), a term that he coined in 1975 in his best-selling book ''Li ...
. In 1975, Moody wrote the best-selling book '' Life After Life'' and in 1977 he wrote a second book, ''Reflections on Life After Life''. In 1998 Moody was appointed chair in "consciousness studies" at the
University of Nevada, Las Vegas The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization An organization, or organisatio ...
. The International Association for Near-death Studies (IANDS) was founded in 1978 to meet the needs of early researchers and experiencers within this field of research. Later researchers, such as psychiatrist
Bruce Greyson (Charles) Bruce Greyson (born October 1946) is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia The University of Virginia (U.Va. or UVA) is a public In public relations Public relations ...
, psychologist
Kenneth Ring Kenneth Ring (born 1936) is Professor Emeritus of psychology at the University of Connecticut, and a researcher within the field of near-death studies. Biography Ring is the co-founder and past president of the IANDS, International Association f ...
, and cardiologist Michael Sabom, introduced the study of near-death experiences to the academic setting.


Reincarnation research

Psychiatrist
Ian Stevenson Ian Pretyman Stevenson (October 31, 1918 – February 8, 2007) was a Canadian-born American psychiatrist. He worked for the University of Virginia School of Medicine for fifty years, as chair of the department of psychiatry from 1957 to 1967, Car ...
, from the
University of Virginia The University of Virginia (U.Va. or UVA) is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization An organization, or organisat ...

University of Virginia
, conducted more than 2,500 case studies over a period of 40 years and published twelve books. He wrote that childhood memories ostensibly related to
reincarnation Reincarnation, also known as rebirth or transmigration, is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with p ...
normally occurred between the ages of three and seven years then fade shortly afterwards. He compared the memories with reports of people known to the deceased, attempting to do so before any contact between the child and the deceased's family had occurred, and searched for disconfirming evidence that could provide alternative explanations for the reports aside from reincarnation. Some 35 per cent of the subjects examined by Stevenson had birthmarks or birth defects. Stevenson believed that the existence of birth marks and deformities on children, when they occurred at the location of fatal wounds in the deceased, provided the best evidence for reincarnation. However, Stevenson has never claimed that he had proved the existence of reincarnation, and cautiously referred to his cases as being "of the reincarnation type" or "suggestive of reincarnation". Researchers who believe in the evidence for reincarnation have been unsuccessful in getting the
scientific community The scientific community is a diverse network of interacting scientist A scientist is a person who conducts scientific research The scientific method is an Empirical evidence, empirical method of acquiring knowledge that has characteriz ...
to consider it a serious possibility. Ian Wilson argued that a large number of Stevenson’s cases consisted of poor children remembering wealthy lives or belonging to a higher caste. He speculated that such cases may represent a scheme to obtain money from the family of the alleged former incarnation. Philosopher Keith Augustine has written "the vast majority of Stevenson's cases come from countries where a religious belief in reincarnation is strong, and rarely elsewhere, seems to indicate that cultural conditioning (rather than reincarnation) generates claims of spontaneous past-life memories." According to the research of Robert Baker many of the alleged past-life experiences investigated by Stevenson and other parapsychologists can be explained in terms of known psychological factors. Baker has written the recalling of past lives is a mixture of
cryptomnesia Cryptomnesia occurs when a forgotten memory returns without its being recognized as such by the subject, who believes it is something new and original. It is a memory bias whereby a person may falsely recall generating a thought, an idea, a tune, ...
and
confabulation In psychology, confabulation is a memory errorMemory gaps and errors refer to the incorrect recall Recall may refer to: * Recall (bugle call), a signal to stop * Recall (information retrieval), a statistical measure * ReCALL (journal), ''ReCALL ...
. Philosopher Paul Edwards noted that reincarnation invokes logicially dubious assumptions and is inconsistent with modern science.


Scientific reception


Evaluation

The scientific consensus is that there is insufficient evidence to support the existence of psi phenomena. Scientists critical of parapsychology state that its extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence if they are to be taken seriously. Scientists who have evaluated parapsychology have written the entire body of evidence is of poor quality and not adequately controlled. In support of this view, critics cite instances of fraud, flawed studies, and
cognitive bias A cognitive bias is a systematic pattern of deviation from norm (philosophy), norm or rationality in judgment. Individuals create their own "subjective reality" from their perception of the input. An individual's construction of reality, not the O ...
es (such as
clustering illusion The clustering illusion is the tendency to erroneously consider the inevitable "streaks" or "clusters" arising in small samples from random distributions to be non-random. The illusion is caused by a human tendency to underpredict the amount of v ...
, availability error,
confirmation bias Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms or supports one's prior belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psycholo ...
,
illusion of control The illusion of control is the tendency for people to overestimate their ability to control events. It was named by U.S. psychologist Ellen Langer Ellen Jane Langer (; born March 25, 1947) is an American professor of psychology Psychology ...
,
magical thinking Magical thinking, or superstitious thinking, is the belief that unrelated events are causally connected despite the absence of any plausible causal link between them, particularly as a result of supernatural effects. Examples include the idea that ...
, and the bias blind spot) as ways to explain parapsychological results. Research has also shown that people's desire to believe in paranormal phenomena causes them to discount strong evidence that it does not exist. The psychologists
Donovan Rawcliffe ''The Psychology of the Occult'' is a 1952 skeptical book on the paranormal by psychologist D. H. Rawcliffe. It was later published as ''Illusions and Delusions of the Supernatural and the Occult'' (1959) and ''Occult and Supernatural Phenomena' ...
(1952),
C. E. M. Hansel Charles Edward Mark Hansel (12 October 1917 – 28 March 2011) was a British psychologist A psychologist is a professional who practices psychology and studies normal and abnormal mental states, perceptual, cognitive, emotional, and social ...

C. E. M. Hansel
(1980),
Ray Hyman Ray Hyman (born June 23, 1928) is a Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon, and a noted critic of parapsychology. Hyman, along with James Randi, Martin Gardner and Paul Kurtz, is one of the founders of the ...
(1989) and Andrew Neher (2011) have studied the history of psi experiments from the late 19th century up until the 1980s. In every experiment investigated, flaws and weaknesses were discovered so the possibility of
sensory leakage Sensory leakage is a term used to refer to information that transferred to a person by conventional means (other than psi) during an experiment into psi.Robert Todd Carroll Robert Todd Carroll (May 18, 1945 – August 25, 2016) was an American wri ...
and trickery were not ruled out. The data from the Creery sister and the Soal-Goldney experiments were proven to be fraudulent, one of the subjects from the Smith-Blackburn experiments confessed to fraud, the Brugmans experiment, the experiments by John Edgar Coover and those conducted by
Joseph Gaither Pratt Joseph Gaither Pratt (August 31, 1910 – November 3, 1979) was an American psychologist A psychologist is a person who studies normal and abnormal mental states, perceptual, cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by experimen ...

Joseph Gaither Pratt
and
Helmut Schmidt Helmut Heinrich Waldemar Schmidt (; 23 December 1918 – 10 November 2015) was a German politician and member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany The Social Democratic Party of Germany (german: Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, ; ...
had flaws in the design of the experiments, did not rule out the possibility of sensory cues or trickery and have not been replicated. According to critics, psi is negatively defined as any effect that cannot be currently explained in terms of chance or normal causes and this is a fallacy as it encourages parapsychologists into using any peculiarity in the data as a characteristic of psi.
Ray Hyman Ray Hyman (born June 23, 1928) is a Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon, and a noted critic of parapsychology. Hyman, along with James Randi, Martin Gardner and Paul Kurtz, is one of the founders of the ...
. ''Evaluating Parapsychological Claims'' in Robert J. Sternberg, Henry L. Roediger, Diane F. Halpern. (2007). ''Critical Thinking in Psychology''. Cambridge University Press. pp. 216-231.
"Parapsychology is the only realm of objective inquiry in which the phenomena are all negatively defined, defined in terms of ruling out normal explanations. Of course, ruling out all normal explanations is not an easy task. We may not be aware of all possible normal explanations, or we may be deceived by our subjects, or we may deceive ourselves. If all normal explanations actually could be ruled out, just what is it that is at play? What is psi? Unfortunately, it is just a label. It has no substantive definition that goes beyond saying that all normal explanations have apparently been eliminated. Of course, parapsychologists generally presume that it has something to do with some ability of the mind to transcend the laws of nature as we know them, but all that is so vague as to be unhelpful in any scientific exploration." Parapsychologists have admitted it is impossible to eliminate the possibility of non-paranormal causes in their experiments. There is no independent method to indicate the presence or absence of psi.
Persi Diaconis Persi Warren Diaconis (; born January 31, 1945) is an American mathematician of Greece, Greek descent and former professional Magic (illusion), magician. He is a Professor of Statistics and Mathematics at Stanford University. He is particularly k ...
has written that the controls in parapsychological experiments are often loose with possibilities of subject cheating and unconscious sensory cues. The existence of parapsychological phenomena and the scientific validity of parapsychological research is disputed by independent evaluators and researchers. In 1988, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences published a report on the subject that concluded that "no scientific justification from research conducted over a period of 130 years for the existence of parapsychological phenomena." No accepted
theory A theory is a rational Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, G ...

theory
of parapsychology currently exists, and many competing and often conflicting models have been advocated by different parapsychologists in an attempt to explain reported
paranormal phenomena Paranormal events are purported phenomena described in popular culture, Folk culture, folk, and other non-scientific bodies of knowledge, whose existence within these contexts is described as beyond the scope of normal scientific understandin ...
.
Terence Hines Terence Hines (born 22 March 1951) is a professor Professor (commonly abbreviated as Prof.) is an academic An academy (Attic Greek: Ἀκαδήμεια; Koine Greek Ἀκαδημία) is an institution of secondary education, secondary or ...
in his book ''Pseudoscience and the Paranormal'' (2003) wrote "Many theories have been proposed by parapsychologists to explain how psi takes place. To skeptics, such theory building seems premature, as the phenomena to be explained by the theories have yet to be demonstrated convincingly." Skeptics such as
Antony Flew Antony Garrard Newton Flew (; 11 February 1923 – 8 April 2010) was an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, ...

Antony Flew
have cited the lack of such a theory as their reason for rejecting parapsychology. In 1998, physics professor Michael W. Friedlander noted that parapsychology has "failed to produce any clear evidence for the existence of anomalous effects that require us to go beyond the known region of science." Philosopher and skeptic
Robert Todd Carroll Robert Todd Carroll (May 18, 1945 – August 25, 2016) was an American writer and academic, best known for The Skeptic's Dictionary ''The Skeptic's Dictionary'' is a collection of cross-referenced skeptical essays by Robert Todd Carroll Rober ...
has written research in parapsychology has been characterized by "deception, fraud, and incompetence in setting up properly controlled experiments and evaluating statistical data." The psychologist
Ray Hyman Ray Hyman (born June 23, 1928) is a Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon, and a noted critic of parapsychology. Hyman, along with James Randi, Martin Gardner and Paul Kurtz, is one of the founders of the ...
has pointed out that some parapsychologists such as Dick Bierman, Walter Lucadou, J. E. Kennedy, and Robert Jahn have admitted the evidence for psi is "inconsistent, irreproducible, and fails to meet acceptable scientific standards."
Richard Wiseman Richard J. Wiseman (born 17 September 1966) is a Professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom. He has written several best-selling popular psychology books that have been translate ...
has criticized the parapsychological community for widespread errors in research methods including cherry-picking new procedures which may produce preferred results, explaining away unsuccessful attempted replications with claims of an "experimenter effect",
data mining Data mining is a process of extracting and discovering patterns in large data set A data set (or dataset) is a collection of data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a more technical sens ...
, and retrospective data selection. In a review of parapsychological reports Hyman wrote "
randomization Randomization is the process of making something random In common parlance, randomness is the apparent or actual lack of pattern A pattern is a regularity in the world, in human-made design, or in abstract ideas. As such, the elements of ...
is often inadequate, multiple statistical testing without adjustment for significance levels is prevalent, possibilities for
sensory leakage Sensory leakage is a term used to refer to information that transferred to a person by conventional means (other than psi) during an experiment into psi.Robert Todd Carroll Robert Todd Carroll (May 18, 1945 – August 25, 2016) was an American wri ...
are not uniformly prevented, errors in use of
statistical tests A statistical hypothesis is a hypothesis A hypothesis (plural hypotheses) is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon. For a hypothesis to be a scientific hypothesis, the scientific method The scientific method is an Empirical evidence ...
are much too common, and
documentation Documentation is any communicable material that is used to describe, explain or instruct regarding some attributes of an object, system or procedure, such as its parts, assembly, installation, maintenance and use. Documentation can be provided ...

documentation
is typically inadequate". Parapsychology has been criticized for making no precise predictions. In 2003,
James Alcock James E. Alcock (born 24 December 1942) is a Canadian educator. He has been a Professor of Psychology at York University York University (french: Université York) is a public In public relations and communication science, publics are g ...

James Alcock
Professor of
Psychology Psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. ...

Psychology
at
York University York University (french: Université York), also known as YorkU or simply YU, is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization ...
published ''Give the Null Hypothesis a Chance: Reasons to Remain Doubtful about the Existence of Psi'', where he claimed that parapsychologists never seem to take seriously the possibility that psi does not exist. Because of that, they interpret null results as indicating only that they were unable to observe psi in a particular experiment, rather than taking it as support for the possibility that there is no psi. The failure to take the
null hypothesis In inferential statistics, the null hypothesis (often denoted ''H''0) is that there is no difference between two possibilities. The null hypothesis is that the observed difference is due to chance alone. Using statistical tests it is possible to ...
as a serious alternative to their psi hypotheses leads them to rely upon a number of arbitrary "effects" to excuse failures to find predicted effects, excuse the lack of consistency in outcomes, and to excuse failures to replicate. Basic endemic problems in parapsychological research include amongst others: insufficient definition of the subject matter, total reliance on negative definitions of their phenomena (E.g.- psi is said to occur only when all known normal influences are ruled out); failure to produce a single phenomenon that can be independently replicated by neutral researchers; the invention of "effects" such as the psi-experimenter effect to explain away inconsistencies in the data and failures to achieve predicted outcomes; unfalsifiability of claims; unpredictability of effects; lack of progress in over a century of formal research; methodological weaknesses; reliance on statistical procedures to determine when psi has supposedly occurred, even though statistical analysis does not in itself justify a claim that psi has occurred; and failure to jibe with other areas of science. Overall, he argues that there is nothing in parapsychological research that would ever lead parapsychologists to conclude that psi does not exist, and so, even if it does not, the search is likely to continue for a long time to come. "I continue to believe that parapsychology is, at bottom, motivated by belief in search of data, rather than data in search of explanation." Alcock and cognitive psychologist Arthur S. Reber have criticized parapsychology broadly, writing that if psi effects were true, they would negate fundamental principles of science such as
causality Causality (also referred to as causation, or cause and effect) is influence by which one Event (relativity), event, process, state or object (a ''cause'') contributes to the production of another event, process, state or object (an ''effect'') ...
, time’s arrow,
thermodynamics Thermodynamics is a branch of physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in ot ...

thermodynamics
, and the
inverse square law 420px, S represents the light source, while r represents the measured points. The lines represent the flux emanating from the sources and fluxes. The total number of flux lines depends on the strength of the light source and is constant with in ...

inverse square law
. According to Alcock and Reber, "parapsychology cannot be true unless the rest of science isn’t. Moreover, if psi effects were real, they would have already fatally disrupted the rest of the body of science". Richard Land has written that from what is known about
human biology Human biology is an interdisciplinary area of academic study that examines humans through the influences and interplay of many diverse fields such as genetics Genetics is a branch of biology Biology is the natural science that studies ...

human biology
it is highly unlikely that evolution has provided humans with ESP as research has shown the recognized five senses are adequate for the evolution and survival of the species.
Michael Shermer Michael Brant Shermer (born September 8, 1954) is an American science writer, historian of science, executive director of The Skeptics Society, and founding publisher of ''Skeptic (U.S. magazine), Skeptic'' magazine, a publication focused on inves ...
in an article ''Psychic Drift: Why most scientists do not believe in ESP and psi phenomena'' for ''
Scientific American ''Scientific American'' (informally abbreviated ''SciAm'' or sometimes ''SA'') is an American popular science Popular science (also called pop-science or popsci) is an interpretation of science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', ...
'' wrote "the reason for skepticism is that we need replicable data and a viable theory, both of which are missing in psi research." In January 2008 the results of a study using
neuroimaging Neuroimaging or brain imaging is the use of various techniques to either directly or indirectly Medical imaging, image the neuroanatomy, structure, function, or pharmacology of the nervous system. It is a relatively new discipline within medicine ...

neuroimaging
were published. To provide what are purported to be the most favorable experimental conditions, the study included appropriate emotional stimuli and had participants who are biologically or emotionally related, such as twins. The experiment was designed to produce positive results if
telepathy Telepathy (from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ap ...
,
clairvoyance Clairvoyance (; from French language, French ''clair'' meaning "clear" and ''voyance'' meaning "vision") is the claimed ability to gain information about an object, person, location, or physical event through extrasensory perception. Any perso ...

clairvoyance
or
precognition Precognition (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power ...
occurred, but despite this no distinguishable neuronal responses were found between psychic stimuli and non-psychic stimuli, while variations in the same stimuli showed anticipated effects on patterns of brain activation. The researchers concluded that "These findings are the strongest evidence yet obtained against the existence of paranormal mental phenomena." Other studies have attempted to test the psi hypothesis by using functional neuroimaging. A neuroscience review of the studies (Acunzo ''et al''. 2013) discovered methodological weaknesses that could account for the reported psi effects. A 2014 study discovered that
schizophrenic Schizophrenia is a mental disorder A mental disorder, also called a mental illness or psychiatric disorder, is a behavioral or mental pattern that causes significant distress or impairment of personal functioning. Such features may b ...

schizophrenic
patients have more belief in psi than healthy adults. Some researchers have become
skeptical Skepticism (American English, American and Canadian English) or scepticism (British English, British, Hiberno-English, Irish, Australian English, Australian, and New Zealand English) is generally a questioning attitude or doubt towards one or m ...

skeptical
of parapsychology such as
Susan Blackmore Susan Jane Blackmore (born 29 July 1951) is a British writer, lecturer, sceptic, broadcaster, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Plymouth The University of Plymouth is a public research university #REDIRECT Public university #REDI ...
and John Taylor after years of study and no progress in demonstrating the existence of psi by the scientific method.


Physics

The ideas of psi (
precognition Precognition (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power ...
, psychokinesis and
telepathy Telepathy (from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ap ...
) violate well-established
laws of physics Scientific laws or laws of science are statements, based on repeated experiment An experiment is a procedure carried out to support, refute, or validate a hypothesis. Experiments provide insight into Causality, cause-and-effect by demonstrat ...
. Psychokinesis violates the
inverse-square law 420px, S represents the light source, while r represents the measured points. The lines represent the flux emanating from the sources and fluxes. The total number of flux lines depends on the strength of the light source and is constant with in ...

inverse-square law
, the
second law of thermodynamics The second law of thermodynamics establishes the concept of entropy Entropy is a scientific concept, as well as a measurable physical property that is most commonly associated with a state of disorder, randomness, or uncertainty. The term an ...
, and the
conservation of momentum In Newtonian mechanics, linear momentum, translational momentum, or simply momentum is the product of the mass and velocity of an object. It is a Euclidean vector, vector quantity, possessing a magnitude and a direction. If is an object's ma ...
. There is no known mechanism for psi. On the subject of
psychokinesis Psychokinesis (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ...
, the physicist Sean M. Carroll has written that both human brains and the spoons they try to bend are made, like all matter, of
quark A quark () is a type of elementary particle In particle physics, an elementary particle or fundamental particle is a subatomic particle that is not composed of other particles. Particles currently thought to be elementary include the fundam ...

quark
s and
lepton In particle physics, a lepton is an elementary particle of half-integer spin (spin (physics), spin ) that does not undergo strong interactions. Two main classes of leptons exist: electric charge, charged leptons (also known as the electron-lik ...

lepton
s; everything else they do emerges as properties of the behavior of quarks and leptons. And the quarks and leptons interact through the four forces: strong, weak, electromagnetic and gravitational. Thus either it's one of the four known forces or it's a new force, and any new force with range over 1 millimetre must be at most a billionth the strength of gravity or it will have been captured in experiments already done. This leaves no physical force that could possibly account for psychokinesis. Physicist John G. Taylor who investigated parapsychological claims has written an unknown fifth force causing psychokinesis would have to transmit a great deal of energy. The energy would have to overcome the binding the atoms together. The atoms would need to respond more strongly to the fifth force while it is operative than to electric forces. Such an additional force between atoms should therefore exist all the time and not during only alleged paranormal occurrences. Taylor wrote there is no scientific trace of such a force in physics, down to many orders of magnitude; thus if a scientific viewpoint is to be preserved the idea of any fifth force must be discarded. Taylor concluded there is no possible physical mechanism for psychokinesis and it is in complete contradiction to established science. Felix Planer, a professor of
electrical engineering Electrical engineering is an engineering discipline concerned with the study, design, and application of equipment, devices, and systems which use electricity, electronics The field of electronics is a branch of physics and electrical enginee ...

electrical engineering
, has written that if psychokinesis was real then it would be easy to demonstrate by getting subjects to depress a scale on a sensitive balance, raise the temperature of a water bath which could be measured with an accuracy of a hundredth of a degree
Celsius The degree Celsius is a unit of temperature on the Celsius scale, a temperature scale Scale of temperature is a methodology of calibrating the physical quantity temperature in metrology. Empirical scales measure temperature in relation to conv ...

Celsius
or affect an element in an electrical circuit such as a resistor which could be monitored to better than a millionth of an ampere.Felix Planer. (1980). ''Superstition''. Cassell. p. 242. Planer writes that such experiments are extremely sensitive and easy to monitor but are not utilized by parapsychologists as they "do not hold out the remotest hope of demonstrating even a minute trace of PK" because the alleged phenomenon is non-existent. Planer has written parapsychologists have to fall back on studies that involve only statistics that are unrepeatable, owing their results to poor experimental methods, recording mistakes and faulty statistical mathematics. According to Planer, "all research in medicine and other sciences would become illusionary, if the existence of PK had to be taken seriously; for no experiment could be relied upon to furnish objective results, since all measurements would become falsified to a greater or lesser degree, according to his PK ability, by the experimenter's wishes." Planer concluded the concept of psychokinesis is absurd and has no scientific basis. Philosopher and physicist
Mario Bunge Mario Augusto Bunge (; ; Florida Oeste, Buenos Aires, Florida Oeste, September 21, 1919 – Montreal, February 24, 2020) was an Argentina, Argentine-Canadian philosophy, philosopher and physicist. His philosophical writings combined scientific re ...
has written that "psychokinesis, or PK, violates the principle that mind cannot act directly on matter. (If it did, no experimenter could trust his readings of measuring instruments.) It also violates the principles of conservation of energy and momentum. The claim that quantum mechanics allows for the possibility of mental power influencing randomizers—an alleged case of micro-PK—is ludicrous since that theory respects the said conservation principles, and it deals exclusively with physical things." The physicist Robert L. Park questioned if mind really could influence matter then it would be easy for parapsychologists to measure such a phenomenon by using the alleged psychokinetic power to deflect a
microbalance A microbalance is an instrument capable of making precise measurements of weight of objects of relatively small mass: of the order of a million parts of a gram The gram (alternative spelling: gramme; SI unit symbol: g) is a metric system ...
which would not require any dubious statistics but "the reason, of course, is that the microbalance stubbornly refuses to budge." Robert L. Park. (2000). '' Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud''. Oxford University Press. pp. 198-200. Park has suggested the reason statistical studies are so popular in parapsychology is because they introduce opportunities for uncertainty and error which are used to support the biases of the experimenter. Park wrote "No proof of psychic phenomena is ever found. In spite of all the tests devised by parapsychologists like Jahn and Radin, and huge amounts of data collected over a period of many years, the results are no more convincing today than when they began their experiments."


Pseudoscience

Parapsychological theories are viewed as pseudoscientific by the scientific community as they are incompatible with well established laws of
science Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is something that is truth, true. The usual test for a statement of ...

science
. As there is no repeatable evidence for psi, the field is often regarded as a
pseudoscience Pseudoscience consists of statements, belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology include ...
. The philosopher Raimo Tuomela summarized why the majority of scientists consider parapsychology to be a pseudoscience in his essay "Science, Protoscience, and Pseudoscience". *Parapsychology relies on an ill-defined ontology and typically shuns exact thinking. *The hypotheses and theories of parapsychology have not been proven and are in bad shape. *Extremely little progress has taken place in parapsychology on the whole and parapsychology conflicts with established science. *Parapsychology has poor research problems, being concerned with establishing the existence of its subject matter and having practically no theories to create proper research problems. *While in parts of parapsychology there are attempts to use the methods of science there are also unscientific areas; and in any case parapsychological research can at best qualify as prescientific because of its poor theoretical foundation. *Parapsychology is a largely isolated research area. The methods of parapsychologists are regarded by critics, including those who wrote the science standards for the
California State Board of Education The California State Board of Education is the governing and policy-making body of the California Department of Education. The State Board of Education sets K-12 education policy in the areas of standards, instructional materials, assessment, and a ...
, to be pseudoscience, pseudoscientific. Some of the more specific criticisms state that parapsychology does not have a clearly defined subject matter, an easily repeatable experiment that can demonstrate a psi effect on demand, nor an underlying theory to explain the paranormal transfer of information.
James Alcock James E. Alcock (born 24 December 1942) is a Canadian educator. He has been a Professor of Psychology at York University York University (french: Université York) is a public In public relations and communication science, publics are g ...

James Alcock
has stated that few of parapsychology's experimental results have prompted interdisciplinary research with more mainstream sciences such as physics or biology, and that parapsychology remains an isolated science to such an extent that its very legitimacy is questionable, and as a whole is not justified in being labeled "scientific". Alcock has written "Parapsychology is indistinguishable from pseudo-science, and its ideas are essentially those of magic... There is ''no'' evidence that would lead the cautious observer to believe that parapsychologists and paraphysicists are on the track of a real phenomenon, a real energy or power that has so far escaped the attention of those people engaged in "normal" science." The scientific community considers parapsychology a pseudoscience because it continues to explore the hypothesis that psychic abilities exist despite a century of experimental results that fail to conclusively demonstrate that hypothesis. A panel commissioned by the United States National Research Council to study paranormal claims concluded that "despite a 130-year record of scientific research on such matters, our committee could find no scientific justification for the existence of phenomena such as extrasensory perception, mental telepathy or ‘mind over matter’ exercises... Evaluation of a large body of the best available evidence simply does not support the contention that these phenomena exist." There is also an issue of non-falsifiability associated with psi. On this subject
Terence Hines Terence Hines (born 22 March 1951) is a professor Professor (commonly abbreviated as Prof.) is an academic An academy (Attic Greek: Ἀκαδήμεια; Koine Greek Ἀκαδημία) is an institution of secondary education, secondary or ...
has written:
Mario Bunge Mario Augusto Bunge (; ; Florida Oeste, Buenos Aires, Florida Oeste, September 21, 1919 – Montreal, February 24, 2020) was an Argentina, Argentine-Canadian philosophy, philosopher and physicist. His philosophical writings combined scientific re ...
has written that research in parapsychology for over a hundred years has produced no single firm finding and no testable predictions. All parapsychologists can do is claim alleged data is anomalous and lying beyond the reach of ordinary science. The aim of parapsychologists "is not that of finding laws and systematizing them into theories in order to understand and forecast" but to "buttress ancient spiritualist myths or to serve as a surrogate for lost religions." The psychologist
David Marks David Lee Marks (born August 22, 1948) is an American guitarist who is best known for being an early member of the Beach Boys The Beach Boys are an American rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally o ...
has written that parapsychologists have failed to produce a single repeatable demonstration of the
paranormal Paranormal events are purported phenomena described in popular culture, Folk culture, folk, and other non-scientific bodies of knowledge, whose existence within these contexts is described as beyond the scope of normal scientific understandin ...
and described psychical research as a pseudoscience, an "incoherent collection of belief systems steeped in fantasy, illusion and error." However, Chris French who is not convinced that parapsychology has demonstrated evidence for psi, has argued that parapsychological experiments still adhere to the scientific method, and should not be completely dismissed as pseudoscience. “Sceptics like myself will often point out that there’s been systematic research in parapsychology for well over a century, and so far the wider scientific community is not convinced." French has noted his position is "the minority view among critics of parapsychology". Philosopher Bradley Dowden characterized parapsychology as a pseudoscience as parapsychologists have no valid theories to test and no reproducible data from their experiments.


Fraud

There have been instances of fraud in the history of parapsychology research. In the late 19th century the Creery Sisters (Mary, Alice, Maud, Kathleen, and Emily) were tested by the
Society for Psychical Research The Society for Psychical Research (SPR) is a nonprofit organisation A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a c ...

Society for Psychical Research
and believed them to have genuine psychic ability; however, during a later experiment they were caught utilizing signal codes and they confessed to fraud. George Albert Smith (film pioneer), George Albert Smith and Douglas Blackburn were claimed to be genuine psychics by the Society for Psychical Research but Blackburn confessed to fraud: The experiments of
Samuel Soal Samuel George Soal (1889–1975) — known as S. G. Soal — was a British mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ...
and K. M. Goldney of 1941–1943 (suggesting precognitive ability of a single participant) were long regarded as some of the best in the field because they relied upon independent checking and witnesses to prevent fraud. However, many years later, statistical evidence, uncovered and published by other parapsychologists in the field, suggested that Soal had cheated by altering some of the raw data. In 1974, a number of experiments by Walter J. Levy, J. B. Rhine's successor as director of the Institute for Parapsychology, were exposed as fraudulent.McBurney, Donald H; White, Theresa L. (2009). ''Research Methods''. Wadsworth Publishing. p. 60. Levy had reported on a series of successful ESP experiments involving computer-controlled manipulation of non-human subjects, including rats. His experiments showed very high positive results. However, Levy's fellow researchers became suspicious about his methods. They found that Levy interfered with data-recording equipment, manually creating fraudulent strings of positive results. Levy confessed to the fraud and resigned. In 1974 Rhine published the paper ''Security versus Deception in Parapsychology'' in the
Journal of Parapsychology The ''Journal of Parapsychology'' is a biannual peer-reviewed academic journal covering research on psi phenomena, including telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and psychokinesis, as well as human consciousness in general and anomalous experienc ...
which documented 12 cases of fraud that he had detected from 1940 to 1950 but refused to give the names of the participants in the studies.
Massimo Pigliucci Massimo Pigliucci (; born January 16, 1964) is Professor of Philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Ph ...

Massimo Pigliucci
has written:
Most damning of all, Rhine admitted publicly that he had uncovered at least twelve instances of dishonesty among his researchers in a single decade, from 1940 to 1950. However, he flaunted standard academic protocol by refusing to divulge the names of the fraudsters, which means that there is unknown number of published papers in the literature that claim paranormal effects while in fact they were the result of conscious deception.
Martin Gardner claimed to have inside information that files in Rhine's laboratory contain material suggesting fraud on the part of Hubert Pearce.Kendrick Frazier. (1991). ''The Hundredth Monkey: And Other Paradigms of the Paranormal''. Prometheus Books. pp. 168-170. Pearce was never able to obtain above-chance results when persons other than the experimenter were present during an experiment, making it more likely that he was cheating in some way. Rhine's other subjects were only able to obtain non-chance levels when they were able to shuffle the cards, which has suggested they used tricks to arrange the order of the Zener cards before the experiments started. A researcher from Tarkio College in Missouri, James D. MacFarland, was suspected of falsifying data to achieve positive psi results. Before the fraud was discovered, MacFarland published 2 articles in the Journal of Parapsychology (1937 & 1938) supporting the existence of ESP. Presumably speaking about MacFarland, Louisa Rhine wrote that in reviewing the data submitted to the lab in 1938, the researchers at the Duke Parapsychology Lab recognized the fraud. "...before long they were all certain that Jim had consistently falsified his records... To produce extra hits, Jim had to resort to erasures and transpositions in the records of his call series." MacFarland never published another article in the Journal of Parapsychology after the fraud was discovered. Some instances of fraud amongst spiritualist
mediums Mediumship is the practice of purportedly mediating communication between spirits of the dead and living human beings. Practitioners are known as "mediums" or "spirit mediums". There are different types of mediumship or spirit conduit (channeling ...
were exposed by early psychical researchers such as Richard Hodgson (parapsychologist), Richard Hodgson and Harry Price. In the 1920s, Magic (illusion), magician and escapologist Harry Houdini said that researchers and observers had not created experimental procedures which absolutely preclude fraud.


Criticism of experimental results

Critical analysts, including some parapsychologists, are not satisfied with experimental parapsychology studies. Some reviewers, such as psychologist
Ray Hyman Ray Hyman (born June 23, 1928) is a Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon, and a noted critic of parapsychology. Hyman, along with James Randi, Martin Gardner and Paul Kurtz, is one of the founders of the ...
, contend that apparently successful experimental results in psi research are more likely due to sloppy procedures, poorly trained researchers, or methodological flaws rather than to genuine psi effects. Fellow psychologist Stuart Vyse hearkens back to a time of data manipulation, now recognized as Data dredging, "p-hacking," as part of the issue. Within parapsychology there are disagreements over the results and methodology as well. For example, the experiments at the PEAR laboratory were criticized in a paper published by the ''
Journal of Parapsychology The ''Journal of Parapsychology'' is a biannual peer-reviewed academic journal covering research on psi phenomena, including telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and psychokinesis, as well as human consciousness in general and anomalous experienc ...
'' in which parapsychologists independent from the PEAR laboratory concluded that these experiments "depart[ed] from criteria usually expected in formal scientific experimentation" due to "[p]roblems with regard to randomization, statistical baselines, application of statistical models, agent coding of descriptor lists, feedback to percipients, sensory cues, and precautions against cheating." They felt that the originally stated significance values were "meaningless". A typical measure of psi phenomena is statistical deviation from chance expectation. However, critics point out that statistical deviation is, strictly speaking, only evidence of a statistical anomaly, and the cause of the deviation is not known. Hyman contends that even if psi experiments could be designed that would regularly reproduce similar deviations from chance, they would not necessarily prove psychic functioning. Critics have coined the term ''The Psi Assumption'' to describe "the assumption that any significant departure from the laws of chance in a test of psychic ability is evidence that something anomalous or paranormal has occurred...[in other words] assuming what they should be proving." These critics hold that concluding the existence of psychic phenomena based on chance deviation in inadequately designed experiments is ''affirming the consequent'' or ''begging the question.'' In 1979, magician and debunker
James Randi James Randi (born Randall James Hamilton Zwinge; August 7, 1928 – October 20, 2020) was a Canadian-American stage magician and scientific skepticism, scientific skeptic who extensively challenged paranormal and pseudoscientific claims.#R ...

James Randi
engineered a hoax, now referred to as Project Alpha to encourage a tightening of standards within the parapsychology community. Randi recruited two young magicians and sent them undercover to Washington University in St. Louis, Washington University's McDonnell Laboratory where they " fooled researchers ... into believing they had paranormal powers." The aim was to expose poor experimental methods and the credulity thought to be common in parapsychology. Randi has stated that both of his recruits deceived experimenters over a period of three years with demonstrations of supposedly psychic abilities: blowing electric fuses sealed in a box, causing a lightweight paper rotor perched atop a needle to turn inside a bell jar, bending metal spoons sealed in a glass bottle, etc. The hoax by Randi raised ethical concerns in the scientific and parapsychology communities, eliciting criticism even among skeptical communities such as the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), which he helped found, but also positive responses from the President of the Parapsychological Association Stanley Krippner. Psychologist Ray Hyman, a CSICOP member, called the results "counterproductive".


Selection bias and meta-analysis

Selection bias, Selective reporting has been offered by critics as an explanation for the positive results reported by parapsychologists. Selective reporting is sometimes referred to as a "file drawer" problem, which arises when only positive study results are made public, while studies with negative or null results are not made public. Selective reporting has a compounded effect on meta-analysis, which is a statistical technique that aggregates the results of many studies in order to generate sufficient statistical power (statistics), power to demonstrate a result that the individual studies themselves could not demonstrate at a statistical significance, statistically significant level. For example, a recent meta-analysis combined 380 studies on psychokinesis, including data from the PEAR lab. It concluded that, although there is a statistically significant overall effect, it is not consistent and relatively few negative studies would cancel it out. Consequently, Publication bias, biased publication of positive results could be the cause. The popularity of meta-analysis in parapsychology has been criticized by numerous researchers, and is often seen as troublesome even within parapsychology itself. Critics have said that parapsychologists misuse meta-analysis to create the incorrect impression that statistically significant results have been obtained that indicate the existence of psi phenomena. Physicist Robert L. Park, Robert Park states that parapsychology's reported positive results are problematic because most such findings are invariably at the margin of statistical significance and that might be explained by a number of confounding effects; Park states that such marginal results are a typical symptom of pathological science as described by
Irving Langmuir Irving Langmuir (; January 31, 1881 – August 16, 1957) was an American chemist A chemist (from Greek ''chēm(ía)'' alchemy; replacing ''chymist'' from Medieval Latin Medieval Latin was the form of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a class ...

Irving Langmuir
. Researcher J. E. Kennedy has said that concerns over the use of meta-analysis in science and medicine apply as well to problems present in parapsychological meta-analysis. As a post-hoc analysis, critics emphasize the opportunity the method presents to produce biased outcomes via the selection of cases chosen for study, methods employed, and other key criteria. Critics say that analogous problems with meta-analysis have been documented in medicine, where it has been shown different investigators performing meta-analyses of the same set of studies have reached contradictory conclusions.


Anomalistic psychology

In anomalistic psychology, paranormal phenomena have naturalistic explanations resulting from Psychology, psychological and Physics, physical factors which have sometimes given the impression of paranormal activity to some people when, in fact, there have been none. According to the psychologist Chris French: Whilst parapsychology has been said to be in decline, anomalistic psychology has been reported to be on the rise. It is now offered as an option on many psychology degree programmes and is also an option on the A2 psychology syllabus in the UK.


Skeptics organizations

Organizations that encourage a critical examination of parapsychology and parapsychological research include the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, publisher of the ''Skeptical Inquirer''; the James Randi Educational Foundation, founded by illusionist and skeptic James Randi, and the Occult Investigative Committee of the Society of American Magicians a society for professional Magic (illusion), magicians/illusionists that seeks "the promotion of harmony among magicians, and the opposition of the unnecessary public exposure of magical effects."


See also

* Outline of parapsychology * List of topics characterized as pseudoscience


References


Further reading

* *James Alcock, Alcock, James (1981). ''Parapsychology-Science Or Magic?: A Psychological Perspective''. Pergamon Press. * *Terence Hines, Hines, Terence (2003). ''Pseudoscience and the Paranormal''. Prometheus Books. * * *Moore, E. Garth (1977). ''Believe It or Not: Christianity and Psychical Research''. London: Mowbray. *Neher, Andrew (2011). ''Paranormal and Transcendental Experience: A Psychological Examination''. Dover Publications. * * * * * *


External links


The Division of Perceptual Studies
at the
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University of Virginia
School of Medicine.
Institute of Noetic Sciences
A nonprofit organization that sponsors research in parapsychology.

An organization of scientists and scholars engaged in the study of psychic phenomena, affiliated with the
American Association for the Advancement of Science The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is an American international non-profit organization A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution ...
in 1969.
Rhine Research Center
A historical parapsychological research center featuring the first building ever made for experimental work in parapsychology. The Rhine Research Center is a hub for research and education in Parapsychology.
Society for Psychical Research
Founded in 1882, the SPR was the first society to conduct organised scholarly research into parapsychology and other human experiences that challenge contemporary scientific models. It continues its work today.
Committee for Skeptical Inquiry
Organization formed in 1976 to promote scientific skepticism and encourage the critical investigation of paranormal claims and parapsychology.
James Randi Educational Foundation
The James Randi Education Foundation(JREF) was founded to promote critical thinking in the areas of the supernatural and paranormal. The JREF has provided skeptical views in the area of parapsychology.
FindArticles.com Index
Large number of articles about parapsychology, from publications such as the ''
Journal of Parapsychology The ''Journal of Parapsychology'' is a biannual peer-reviewed academic journal covering research on psi phenomena, including telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and psychokinesis, as well as human consciousness in general and anomalous experienc ...
'' and the ''Skeptical Inquirer''. * {{Authority control Parapsychology, Pseudoscience Psychics Paranormal