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First coined by Max Dessoir in 1889,
parapsychology is a multi-faceted investigation of psychic abilities and their
origins, life after death, near-death experiences, and anything perceived by an
individual as mystical, uncanny, supernatural or paranormal. The term
parapsychology replaced the old term of psychical research.
Although many variations and explanations of the paranormal exist,
parapsychology research can be broken down into three basic components:
telekinesis, clairvoyance/perception and telepathy.
Telepathy is the mental
communication of information across space. In remote viewing, a subject tries
to detect information pertaining to a person, place or object using ExtrasensoryPerception (ESP).
In the Stargate Project,
parapsychology research was performed by the United States government in relation
to the espionage program. The United States experienced the height of its
parapsychology research in the 1970s, its experimental interest gradually
dropping since the 1980s.
The Ganzfeld experiments tested out
people's ESP skills, a form of mental telepathy, in sending and receiving
images. In a laboratory experiment subjects were deprived of sensory processes
that controlled mental noise. Using ping-pong palls placed on the subjects eyes
to create a dull, red glow and white noise, the subjects were seated in a
reclining position. Stanford and Duke University were one of the first United
States universities to delve into ESP parapsychology research.
Telekinesis touches on the physical paranormal realm, concerning itself with
the physical movement of objects through the mind's mental energy. Bending
spoons is one example of this phenomenon. Lilydale, New York is a popular
community of mediums and psychics devoted to the path of spiritualism.
Other examples of paranormal phenomena include apparitions, past-life regression,
hauntings, synchronicity and reincarnation. Altered states of human
consciousness, such as hypnosis, dreams, trance, levitation and séances, also
fall into the parapsychology research category.
With many countries contributing to
parapsychology experiments, the United Kingdom employs the largest number of
parapsychologists. Most research is funded through private universities.
Parapsychology research is alive and
well through the media. Publications such as FATE Magazine provide real-life
stories abut paranormal phenomena, while television shows such as Ghost Hunters
investigate reported hauntings using special recording equipment.
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