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Parapsychology: Science Of The Unexplained Essay

1471 words - 6 pages

Telepathy: the ability to exchange information without the use of the known senses. Psychokinesis: the ability to move or influence objects without physical contact. Precognition: the ability to obtain information about future events outside of available perception. These abilities, along with many others are just some of the many instances of unexplained phenomena that parapsychology attempts to understand. The exact purpose of parapsychology is widely misinterpreted; whether due to a lack of information in the general public or preconceived notions from media portrayal, it is inaccurate to think that parapsychology and its researchers deal with paranormal activity or fringe sciences. The history of parapsychology has also been affected by selective information in media, vastly implying that research of this kind originated in the later half of the 20th Century, when the science has been around for much longer. This paper was written with the intention of clarifying the misconceptions that surround the science of parapsychology.
What exactly is parapsychology? The term itself implies that it deals with the mind, but there are many misconceptions of what the science is, and what those who study parapsychology do, and therefore, what the science actually is. Brian Schill, founder of the International Parapsychology Research Foundation, writes that “It is a common misconception that parapsychologists are psychic or are psychoanalysts. This is not true, and unfortunately, due to popular media, many people who hear the word parapsychologist think that we are entertainers, astrologers, psychic readers, or the like” (Schill). Then what is a parapsychologist outside of media representation? As mentioned earlier, some of the many occurrences that the parapsychologist studies are telepathy, psychokinesis, and precognition, and while each of these phenomena are very distinct; the common ground they share is that they all have no rational explanation. The function of a scientist in any field is to determine the reasons how and if possible why events happen. Therefore, the purpose of parapsychology is the attempt to understand and explain events that occur outside of conventional scientific explanation, a purpose that early parapsychologists based their research upon.
While research of psychic phenomena is often considered to have emerged during the Cold War, in which American and Russian scientists work to develop a means of psychic warfare, the actual birth of parapsychology as a science dates back to the late 19th century with the foundation of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR). The SPR was founded in 1882 by researchers at Cambridge University, all of whom shared belief that “various claims for the existence of paranormal phenomena warranted scientific scrutiny” (Irwin 1989), despite growing disregard in established scientific fields. The early focus of the society was primarily on mediums “who claimed to be receiving information from the souls...

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