What is Parapsychology?
Parapsychology is the scientific study of exchanges between living organisms and their peripheral environment that seem to exceed the known physical laws of nature.
Majority of scientists say that there are no such things like bending of spoons through thought, premonitions, ghosts, mind reading and other mysteries of supernatural, but parapsychology is the component of a comprehensive study of the mind and consciousness.
Paranormal Studies have Five Broad Areas:
It deals with the nature of human consciousness and the investigation of whether consciousness survives the physical form. Survival studies include ghost activities, apparitions, out of body experiences, reincarnation, and medium-ship research.
Psychokinesis or PK:
Psychokinesis is the area of the paranormal research where the mind interacts with a matter from a distance. Mind interactions with living organisms, including energetic healing, are occasionally included in this category.
Precognition is the term defined by the paranormal investigators as the knowledge of an event that is yet to happen. In other words, it is the information that seems to be transferred from the future into the present.
Remote Viewing or Clairvoyance:
Clairvoyance is the knowledge of events, people, or objects hidden via time or space. For example, a letter sealed in an envelope, photograph is hidden in a box in a different room, attributes of a room that only existed in the past, or an event occurring to a loved one who is in another city or state.
Telepathy is a study where paranormal investigators engage in mind-to-mind communication by means other than normal senses.
Paranormal studies have a long and interesting history. Several ancient religious convictions are based on paranormal research, though the metaphysics of ancient cultures involve higher powers, aliens, fairies, spirits, ghosts, and other supernatural phenomena.
20th Century Parapsychology
While most academic institutions have been cautious of the subject of parapsychology, there have been few areas that received some attention, such as psychogenesis and extrasensory perception (ESP).
Parapsychology takes many forms. There are studies that include communicating with angles, Science of Divining or Dowsing, Folklore and Legends, Paranormal Truths, Tarot Card Reading, Astrology, Wicca Traditions, Psychics and Mediums Within, Video Illusion in Paranormal Studies, and Ghost Studies including Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP).
There are a number of paranormal research groups across the nation and based on their research, studies and findings, parapsychology reshapes. Every day new findings are examined, understood, and based on those investigations, techniques and practices are developed.
The paranormal investigators only study those abnormalities that fall into one of three general categories —
Extrasensory perception, Mind—Matter interaction, and phenomenon reminiscent of survival after bodily death including reincarnations, apparitions, and near-death experience.
In the recent scenario, the parapsychologists expect that further research will eventually explain these abnormalities or anomalies in scientific terms. But these studies may not be fully understood without significant expansions of the present state of scientific knowledge.
Some paranormal researchers take the stance that current scientific models of memory and perception are sufficient to elucidate the para-psychological phenomena.
Paranormal behavior, as studied in parapsychology presents quite a challenge to the scientific realm. By definition and concept, phenomena like telepathy, near death experiences and psychokinesis do not conform to the traditions of scientific psychology. But what do studies have to say about parapsychology and its advancements?
The mere existence of concepts that cannot be quantified or explicitly explained by science is fascinating. The lack of explanation in itself has created an inadequacy that scientists and higher learning institutions alike are currently making attempts to unravel.
The University of Virginia’s School of Medicine, in 2014, established a research unit called the Division of Perpetual Studies. This division is dedicated to the investigation of what is believed to be the inadequate or failure of the current scientific theories to explain phenomena that challenge certain aspects of consciousness and the very nature of the mind.
Two scientists working in this department, Dr. Jim Turker and Dr. Stevenson are doing extensive paranormal investigations into reincarnation and life after death by comparing recollections of children with memories of the deceased. Interestingly, their studies have found that the evidence points to the plausibility of what laymen term as reincarnation.
Academic Research and Investigations
Currently, there are scientific publications in various scientific journals such as the Journal of Scientific Exploration that document findings in the field of parapsychology.
Dr. Ian Stevenson through a column in the 1996 Journal of Scientific Exploration discusses the “Necessity of Medical Documents in Claims of Paranormal Phenomena in Diseases”
In another publication of his in the 1972 Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, the Canadian psychiatrist investigates the existence of ghosts (poltergeists) and whether they are alive or dead.
Another academic publication investigates the paranormal phenomenon of hair suddenly turning white, also called canities subita, with its publication done in the International Journal of Trichology.
The authors, Nahm Michael, Kelly Emily Williams, and Navarini Alexander of the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, Division of Perceptual Studies, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, reappraise the evidence of 196 case studies of canities subita that were published in medical reports of the patients. There quite a number of research papers out there, meaning that the whole field of paranormal psychology has gained traction and the incidences have caught the interests of orthodox scientists.
Universities with Parapsychological Studies
Although most scientific studies are based on “what we can see and measure,” some universities have taken the challenge of delving into the world of “fringe” science in order to unravel the events that are currently beyond our normal scientific understanding.
Here are 5 universities that have undertaken into this:
- The University of Arizona: Earlier than the year 2008, the University of Arizona had a dedicated laboratory for the advancement of consciousness. Through this, the program called VERITAS, which is meant to study paranormal cases as they currently exist. The university also has another program called SOPHIA, which ventures into the investigation of claims of communication between the deceased and higher divinities.
- UCLA University: Through its Neuropsychiatric Institute (NPI), the UCLA state university has a unit dedicated to the study of paranormal phenomena such as houses haunted by ghosts, clairvoyance, telepathy etc.
- Havard University: Havard is one of the most decorated institutions of higher learning in the United States. The university has conducted brain scans and studies on them, with results casting serious doubts on what is widely known as extrasensory perception (ESP).
- University of Edinburgh: The Department of Psychology at the Edinburgh University established a parapsychology in 1985 unit with the intention of taking a broad interdisciplinary approach in studying what appears as psychic events. Some of the areas the University has extensively researched include the psychology of magic and paranormal events. Currently, this university offers a course in parapsychology through its School of Philosophy and Language Sciences.
- Utrecht University: The Dutch university is widely known for hosting the 1953 First International Utrecht Conference on Parapsychology. Various scientists attended the event and subsequent meetings have looked into different paranormal phenomena such as ESP in dreams, ghosts and the more organized study of clinical parapsychology.
Psychology vs. Parapsychology
Although there are plenty of orthodoxical scientific theories that attempt to explain the various paranormal experiences, a great shadow of inconsistencies and inadequacies prove that more research is needed in the shape and form of parapsychology.
Scientists, for example, have attempted to explain out-of-body experiences as normal neurological interactions. But paranormal investigations prove that there is more to things like reincarnation than what science can currently explain adequately.
The shreds of evidence of extrasensory perceptions and other phenomenon rest on statistical or paranormal oddities, which cannot be explained by any known natural cause or simply by chance. While parapsychology is not normally a formal university academic discipline, there are several peer—reviewed journals dedicated to the subject.