Parapsychology is a field of study that investigates the paranormal or “psychic" phenomena that cannot be explained by current scientific knowledge. Researchers have looked for evidence of extrasensory perception (ESP), clairvoyance (seeing the future), telepathy (communicating mind to mind), and telekinesis (manipulating objects via the power of the mind). Other paranormal occurrences, such as out-of-body experiences, apparitions, and hauntings, have also been investigated. Critics of parapsychology cite a lack of evidence of paranormal activity and difficulty repeating findings; they also argue that researchers have not been able to rule out all natural explanations for psychic phenomena as of now, making it impossible to definitively claim that paranormal or psychic phenomena truly exist. In addition, much of the historical research into the topic has been proven fraudulent. Yet a fascination with the unexplained persists.
What Is Parapsychology?
Paranormal Fact and Fiction
Despite a persistent fascination with the paranormal, researchers following rigorous and reproducible scientific methods have yet to prove its existence. Joseph Banks Rhine is generally credited as founding parapsychology as an area of scientific study. In the 1930s, he and his colleagues at Duke University carried out the well-known Pearce-Pratt studies on extrasensory perception, involving the remote viewing of Zener cards in a laboratory setting. More recently, the Standford Research Institute has tested Uri Geller's ability to bend spoons and other metal objects with his mind. While there is no definitive proof that paranormal and psychic phenomena are real, researchers are currently at work experimenting in the field.