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What Is Parapsychology?

Parapsychology is a field of study that investigates paranormal or “psychic" phenomena. Researchers have looked for evidence of extrasensory perception (ESP), precognition (perceiving the future), telepathy (communicating mind-to-mind), and telekinesis (manipulating objects with the power of the mind). Parapsychologists refer to such alleged phenomena as psi. Other seemingly supernatural occurrences, such as out-of-body experiences, apparitions, and hauntings, have also been investigated.

Critics of parapsychology cite a lack of evidence of true paranormal activity and difficulty repeating apparent findings. They also argue that parapsychologists have not been able to rule out all natural explanations for the phenomena they study. Much of the historical research into the topic has been proven fraudulent, and even some high-profile, peer-reviewed research into apparent psychic phenomena has been discredited due to methodological problems.

Paranormal Psychology: Fact and Fiction

Joseph Banks Rhine is generally considered the founder of parapsychology. In the 1930s, he and his colleagues at Duke University carried out the well-known Pearce-Pratt studies on extrasensory perception, involving the attempted remote viewing of Zener cards in a laboratory setting. More recently, the Stanford Research Institute tested Uri Geller's alleged ability to bend spoons and other metal objects with his mind.

Despite a persistent fascination with the paranormal, researchers following rigorous and reproducible scientific methods have yet to prove that psychic phenomena are real.

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