Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Extra Sensory Perception (ESP)

“Why do we not accept ESP as a psychological fact? Rhine has offered enough evidence to have convinced us on almost any other issue... Personally, I do not accept ESP for a moment, because it does not make sense. My external criteria, both of physics and of physiology, say that ESP is not a fact despite the behavioral evidence that has been reported. I cannot see what other basis my colleagues have for rejecting it... Rhine may still turn out to be right, improbable as I think that is, and my own rejection of his view is - in the literal sense - prejudice” ― Donald O. Hebb

Extrasensory perception (ESP) involves reception of information not gained through the recognized physical senses but sensed with the mind. The term was coined by English essayist and poet Frederic William Henry Myers. ESP is also sometimes casually referred to as a Sixth Sense, gut instinct or hunch, which are historical English idioms.

Parapsychology is the scientific study of paranormal psychic phenomena, including ESP. Parapsychologists generally regard such tests as the ganzfeld experiment as providing compelling evidence for the existence of ESP. The scientific community rejects ESP due to the absence of an evidence base, the lack of a theory which would explain ESP, and the lack of experimental techniques which can provide reliably positive results.

Perhaps the most publicized early experiments were those published by Dr. Joseph Banks Rhine in 1934, in a monograph entitled Extra-Sensory Perception, which summarized results from his experiments at Duke University beginning in 1927.

Although this work was published by the relatively obscure Boston Society for Psychic Research, it was picked up in the popular press and had a large impact throughout the world. While earlier researches had been fruitful, they were generally neither as systematic nor as persistent as Dr. Rhine's studies. These experiments used shuffled decks of ESP cards with five sets of five different symbols on them -- a cross, a circle, a wavy line, a square and a star. This method reduced the problem of chance-expectation to a matter of exact calculations. Furthermore the cards were designed to be as emotionally neutral as possible to eliminate possible response biases caused by idiosyncratic preferences. However other studies have shown that emotionally laden targets can also work without impairing statistical analysis.

Rhine describes his early work with one of his more successful subjects, Hubert E. Pearce, a graduate divinity student:

"The working conditions were these: observer and subject sat opposite each other at a table, on which lay about a dozen packs of the Zener cards and a record book. One of the packs would be handed to Pearce and he allowed to shuffle it. (He felt it gave more real "contact.") Then it was laid down and it was cut by the observer. Following this Pearce would, as a rule, pick up the pack, lift off the top card, keeping both the pack and the removed card face down, and after calling it, he would lay the card on the table, still face down. The observer would record the call. Either after five calls or after twenty-five calls -- and we used both conditions generally about equally -- the called cards would be turned over and checked off against the calls recorded in the book. The observer saw each card and checked each one personally, though the subject was asked to help in checking by laying off the cards as checked. There is no legerdemain by which an alert observer can be repeatedly deceived at this simple task in his own laboratory. (And, of course, we are not even dealing with amateur magicians.) For the next run another pack of cards would be taken up"

“Become a good noticer. Pay attention to the feelings, hunches, and intuitions that flood your life each day. If you do, you will see that premonitions are not rare, but a natural part of our lives” ― Larry Dossey

Psychiatrist and parapsychologist Donald James West was born on June 9, 1924, in Liverpool, England, and studied at Liverpool University (M.B., Ch.B., 1947; M.D., 1958). He did postgraduate work at London University (D.P.M., 1952) and Cambridge University, England (M.A., 1960).

For many years he was the director of the Cambridge University Institute of Criminology. After his retirement in 1984, he was named professor emeritus of clinical criminology research. He has been a long-time member of the Society for Psychical Research, London, having joined when he was only 17. He later served as its research officer (1947-49) and on two occasions as president (1963-65). With G. W. Fisk he carried out a set of experiments designed to show the effects of the experimenter on the results of ESP tests. In 1958 he and Fisk won the William McDougall Award for Distinguished Research in Parapsychology. He wrote a book on Lourdes, notable for its conclusion that miracles have not been proven to have occurred at the famous shrine. West has played an important part in British laboratory experiments in extrasensory perception.

Further information here, here & here. Video content here, here & here.