Essay, Research Paper: Extra Sensory Perception

Psychology

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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?

BibliographyMicrosoft Encarta 1997 Encyclopedia. "Physical Research". У1993-1996
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 http://moebius.psy.ed.ac.uk/~spr/
www.paranormalatoz.com/esp.html
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