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  Parapsychology (Greek, ‘study of what is beyond reason’) is what used to be called ‘psychic research’: the investigation of phenomena not explicable by ordinary sciences. These phenomena include ESP (extra-sensory perception: such things as second sight and second hearing), hypnotism, mediumship, (the ability to communicate with mortals who have passed into the ‘world beyond’), precognition (advance knowledge of the future), telekinesis (the ability to move physical objects by the power of thought alone) and telepathy (mind reading). The whole package is sometimes called psi, after the Greek letter which begins the word ‘psychology’, and after the supposed faculty in animals which allows such powers. In prescientific times, most of these powers were taken for granted, as part of the arsenal of ascetics, priests, prophets, shamans and others who claimed direct access to the supernatural. It is only in the last 150 years or so that some people have tried to establish a rational science out of investigating them—and there is still debate about whether parapsychology is real science (it has a professorship, unique in the world, at Edinburgh University) or delusion. KMcL

See also divination; pseudoscience; spiritualism.Further reading H.L. Edge, Foundation of Parapsychology.



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Other Terms : Neogrammarian Hypothesis | Soap | Ethnomusicology
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