- 1: a field of study concerned with the investigation of evidence for paranormal psychological phenomena (as telepathy, clairvoyance, and psychokinesis)
The term parapsychology (also known as psi phenomena) was coined in or around 1889 by philosopher Max Dessoir, and originates from para meaning "alongside", and psychology. The term was adopted by J.B. Rhine in the 1930s as a replacement for the term psychical research. Parapsychologists study a number of ostensibly paranormal phenomena, including telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, near-death experiences, reincarnation and apparitional experiences.
Parapsychology research is conducted in some 30 different countries. Laboratory and field research is conducted through private institutions and universities. Privately funded units in psychology departments at universities in the United Kingdom are among the most active today. In the United States, interest in research peaked in the 1970s and university-based research has declined since then, although private institutions still receive funding from donations. While parapsychological research has occasionally appeared in mainstream academic journals, most of the recent research is published in a small number of niche journals. Journals dealing with parapsychology include the Journal of Parapsychology, Journal of Near-Death Studies, Journal of Consciousness Studies, Journal of the Society for Psychical Research and Journal of Scientific Exploration.
Critics state that methodological flaws can explain any apparent experimental successes and the status of parapsychology as a science has been vigorously disputed. Many scientists regard the discipline as pseudoscience, saying that parapsychologists continue investigation despite not having demonstrated conclusive evidence of psychic abilities in more than a century of research.
Discipline concerned with investigating events that cannot be accounted for by natural law and knowledge that cannot have been obtained through the usual sensory abilities. Parapsychology studies the cognitive phenomena often called extrasensory perception, in which a person acquires knowledge of other people's thoughts or of future events through channels apparently beyond the five senses. It also examines physical phenomena such as the levitation of objects and the bending of metal through psychokinesis. Though belief in such phenomena may be traced to earliest times, parapsychology as a subject of serious research originated in the late 19th century, partly in reaction to the growth of the spiritualist movement. The Society of Psychical Research was established in London in 1882, and similar societies were later founded in the U.S. and in many European countries. In the 20th century research into parapsychology was also conducted at some universities, notably at Duke University under J. B. Rhine.