The Relationship Between Individual Belief And Performance In Parapsychological Phenomena

2015 words - 8 pages

The RelationshipBetween Individual Belief and Performance in Parapsychological Phenomena

Summary

The phenomenon of ESP has been the subject of increased interest in recent years. The series of tests carried out formed an observational study into the ESP -- related phenomena of telepathy and water divination.
For the telepathy test, the subjects worked in pairs - each individual acting alternately as sender and receiver. When water dowsing, participants worked in threes, with two acting as experimenters and one as the dowsing subject. Before the participants underwent the tests, they were asked to rate their belief in ESP on a score from 1 (belief in ESP) to 10 (no belief).
Of the sixty-six subjects, thirty-one scored higher in the telepathy test than probability; whilst for water dowsing, forty-one scored less -- indicating that they were closer to the location of water than probability predicted. Twenty-two participants out-performed probability on both tests.
Unfortunately, as the data was found to be unduly biased, no firm conclusions could be drawn.
Introduction

Parapsychology is the study of phenomena that are either unusual, or unexplainable in terms of standard scientific principles. In general, they occur very infrequently, but there are 'a few exceptional "stars" that have regular paranormal experiences and may show seemingly consistent paranormal activity'. (Daniels, M. 1998)

Extra-sensory perception (ESP) is the general term which has been given to any manifestations of ability that cannot be attributed to standard human sensory function. Its main forms are: telepathy -- the ability to 'read' the thoughts of others, or to receive information from another person without using standard senses; clairvoyance -- where individuals are able to use ESP to gain information about their environment; and pre-cognition -- the ability to predict future events. Many forms of ESP overlap, so investigators tend to refer to just ESP.

In the last twenty or so years, there have been many studies into the existence of ESP. the main technique used, is the Ganzfeld (German for 'whole field') procedure, which was pioneered by Avant (1965). Avant, when researching Gestalt theory, isolated his subjects and placed them in a state of 'semi-sensory deprivation'. It was Honorton, however who developed the technique for use in parapsychology, whilst trying to measure telepathy. The participant who would be acting as the receiver was placed in a reclining chair with halved, translucent ping-pong balls taped over their eyes and headphones, playing a continuous loop of 'white noise', are placed over the ears. A red floodlight directed toward their eyes ensures a uniform visual field (Honorton, 1977). The sender is placed in similar conditions, away from the receiver, and is presented with a visual stimulus of what must be sent. To aid concentration, each pair of subjects undergoes a series of relaxation exercises before the test.

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