Have you ever had the feeling that you’ve been in an establishment before you’ve actually gone inside? Did you ever feel like you’ve known that something was about to happen before there were any signs that it was about to occur? If you’re not a skeptic about the powers of the mind, then there might just be an explanation for your seemingly coincidental premonitions. It’s a phenomenon called extra sensory perception, better known as ESP. The textbook definition of this classification of parapsychology is “sensing” anything beyond the normal.(www.paranormalatoz.com) Most scientists do not believe that this phenomenon exists. Nevertheless, controversial evidence can be used to sway the incredulous. By viewing and researching evidence of ESP and/or having a personal experience, the truth lies within the eye of the beholder. The man who said it best was C.G. Jung during a lecture given to the Society for Psychical Research in 1919. He quotes,
“I shall not commit the fashionable stupidity of regarding everything I cannot explain as a fraud.” (http://moebius.psy)
ESP includes telepathy, precognition or premonition, and clairvoyance or “remote viewing”.(www.paranormalatoz.com) Telepathy is the direct response to another individual’s thoughts.(Schmeidler,805) Premonition is a direct response to a future event.(Schmeidler,805) Clairvoyance is the direct response to a future event.(Schmeidler,805)
These types of ESP and other forms of parapsychology were not even studied until 1882.(Schmeidler,806) In 1882, the Society for Psychical Research was established in London , England by a extraordinary group of Cambridge scholars. Its purpose was to examine allegedly paranormal phenomena in a scientific and unbiased way. It was the first society of its kind in the world. (http://moebius.psy) This society is still in full operation today, 117 years later.
The actual term extra sensory perception wasn’t used until the early 1930’s. During this time an American scientist, Joseph Banks Rhine first began his ground breaking experiments testing ESP’s validity.(Encarta) His research was conducted at the Parapsychology Laboratory of North Carolina’s, Duke University.(Encarta) Rhine’s most well-known experiment involved a deck of twenty-five cards. On the cards, written in heavy black ink, each card had a different design on them. The designs included a star, a cross, a square, or wavy lines.(Encarta) The concealed deck of twenty-five cards was shuffled. One random card was drawn from the deck at a time and the test subject was asked to identify the hidden marking on the flip-side of the card. If the test subject correctly identified five out of twenty five cards correctly, it was considered pure chance.(Encarta) Rhine and his
associates concluded that if the individual named six out of ten of the cards correctly, then indeed the test subject possessed extra sensory perception.(Encarta) From his experimentally proved evidence, it can easily be seen which stand Rhine took on the controversial existence of ESP. However, not all scientists had acknowledged the authenticity of his trials and the legitimacy of this branch of pseudo-science called parapsychology.
Certain scientists do not believe in the reality of extrasensory perception due to their lack of faith in the experiments that test it’s existence. These scientists claim that the ESP experiments are hard to if not impossible to repeat.(Encarta) In researching, scientists also observed that test results differ according to the subject’s attitude. Individual’s that had biased opinions of the ESP testing did not score nearly as high as those who were open-minded toward the experiment. (Schmeidler 805) Psychologists analyzing the testing methods concluded that the subjects who doubted the credibility of extrasensory perception were consciously trying to succeed in the testing, but could have been unconsciously wanting to fail.(Schmeidler 805) This is an example of what scientists call the “file drawer” effect. This is better explained by stating that the “…results that the experimenter likes are published, but other results stay buried in the files.” This makes it hard to know if information given is accurate or falsely misinterpreted.(Schmeidler 806) This main recognition of possible false data is why the majority of
conventional scientists disregard the findings made in the field of parapsychology. The discoveries are labeled unscientific or at best inconclusive. However, even if the most solid evidence is found to conclude that ESP does in fact exist, there will always be the skeptical scientist who will feel that the entire basis on which parapsychology is grounded is nothing but a fraud.
Perfect examples of this ignorance are psychologists, Samuel Moss and Donald C. Butler. Both psychologists are set in denying the existence of ESP despite seemingly well-founded evidence. Their mutual view is that the widespread belief in extra sensory perception can be, “attributed to cultural and psychological factors.”(Rubenstein,46) For example, Christian theology supports the presence of spiritual phenomena. (Rubenstein,46) According to Moss and Butler children might also be prone to believing in ESP because of fairy tales and television shows featuring heroes that possess supernatural powers. This would be an acceptable explanation for ESP fraudulence , except for the blatantly noticeable fact that children aren’t normally found setting up their own fortune telling businesses claiming to predict the future. The adult population makes up the majority of people who publicly profess their telepathic or premonition abilities. However, overall Moss
and Butler believe that the, “…power to predict and control without undue effort is alluring that wishful thinking becomes hardened beliefs.” Which undoubtedly explains those among us that have proceeded from their childhood’s still believing that the powers of their favorite super human idols are in fact real.
Not all scientists conform to one set method of reasoning. One of these psychologists, K. Ramakrishna Rao has fought back against the negative remarks made by psychologists who do not accept the existence of ESP. Rao argues that indifferently to what other scientists believe, that experimental design of successful experiments in parapsychology are just as good as any in the behavioral sciences.(Rubnstein, 58) Parapsychologists, even tried to convince conventional scientists that ESP is in fact a sixth sense with support from quantum physics.(Encarta) Why should the same experimental methods be used to test two completely different areas of study? It doesn’t make sense. This was Rao’s point exactly, that it was unjust to compare two uncommon things and judge between the two on which is correct. The main complaint of the conventional scientists, was that the parapsychology experiments lacked a key factor in scientific discovery methods. This factor being repetition. Rao also argued that experiments involving extrasensory perception were indeed repeated to a certain extent.(Rubnstein, 58) However, the scientists based their argument over parapsychology on inadequate testing procedures alone. The rebuttal to that argument was exactly what Rao had believed in all along. Simply that “…the scientific method, as currently understood, is too restrictive a formulation for exploring the unknown.”(Encarta)
Since the early, ground breaking experiments of Joseph Banks Rhine, the parapsychology world has come a long way. Announcing his retirement in 1965, Joseph Banks Rhine transferred all of research to an organization called the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man. (Encarta) Since that, parapsychology has become better established in universities across the nation. Educational institutes are beginning to offer more credit courses based upon the field of parapsychology. (Encarta) Encouraging the further exploration of the field involving extrasensory perception, grants are presented to various organizations such as the Parapsychological Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Though most conventional scientists continue to discredit extrasensory perception, there is some evidence that almost everyone has at least some faint ESP ability. How else could something as seemingly coincidental as “mother’s intuition” be explained? History tells us stories of ESP as well. For example, what about the enlightenment of a 12 year old girl, Jean D’Arc, who saved the nation of
France because of her foretelling visions? The fact is that, there is evidence out there. Getting individuals to believe in its substantiality is another battle. Despite this, soon enough, through continuous research and testing of parapsychology, the evidence that currently exists will be proven valid and these inquiries and many others concerning the unknown will be answered. The real question is, can anyone predict when?
Microsoft Encarta 1997 Encyclopedia. “Physical Research”. Ó1993-1996 Microsoft Corporation.
Rubnstein, Joseph and Slife, Brent D. “Has Science Discredited ESP?”. Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Psychological Issues. 3rd edition. The Dushkin Publishing Group, Inc. Sluice Dock, Guilford, CT. 1984. pp.46-59
Schmeidler, Gertrude. “Extrasensory Perception”. The Encyclopedia Americana. International Edition. Grolier Incorporated. Danbury, CT. 1997. Vol.10. pp.805 & 806