The scientific study of paranormal experiences, usually classified as extra-sensory perception (ESP) and psychokinesis (PK), but also including research into the question of survival of bodily death. The term “parapsychology” was used by J. B. Rhine (1895-1980) in the 1930s to describe his experiments, although he acknowledged that the term was first introduced in Germany as “parapsychologie” (J. B. Rhine, Extra-Sensory Perception, 1934, p. 3). The corresponding French term was “métapsychique.” In fact, in his first publication of the results of the early ESP experiments (loc. cit.), Rhine used the earlier term “psychical research” which had been coined by the founders of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) in England in 1882.
Rhine and his wife, Louisa E. Rhine (1891-1983), both became interested in psychical research when they were graduate students at the University of Chicago. After receiving their doctoral degrees in biology, they joined the faculty of the University of West Virginia, he teaching biology and she Latin. When they read reports in 1926 of a speech by Prof. William McDougall (1871-1938), chairman of the Psychology Department at Harvard University, urging that such paranormal phenomena should be studied at universities, they left their teaching positions, bought a car, and drove to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to study under McDougall. They arrived at his residence just as he was preparing to leave on a one-year round-the-world ocean trip. He advised the Rhines to contact the Boston Society for Psychical Research (which at that time had separated itself from the American Society for Psychical Research) in order to acquaint themselves with the field. When McDougall returned to the U.S. in the fall of 1927, he was hired by the newly-formed Duke University to head its Psychology Department. The Rhines immediately left Boston for Durham, North Carolina, to be with him. To their surprise, he (with the approval of Duke’s new President, Dr. William Preston Few) hired Rhine to head up a Parapsychology Laboratory, which began its research in 1929.
After a semester doing what are now considered free-response or field investigations (one of which involved testing a horse and some dogs for ESP), he began in 1930 the more formalized studies for which he is now known. These used a special deck of 25 cards designed by a colleague, Karl E. Zener, using five each of five different symbols — circle, square, cross, star, and wavy lines — hence they are sometimes called “Zener cards.” There were three reasons for the constitution of the deck. First of all, Rhine wanted to remove emotional associations from the cards. Second, he wanted easily distinguishable “targets” to avoid ambiguity in determining whether a subject actually perceived the symbol or not. And third, perhaps most importantly, by using a five “suit,” 25 card deck, he made statistical evaluation of the results relatively easy. The deck could also be quickly shuffled to produce a random order. Later, randomization was done by a random number generator.
Whereas earlier controlled experiments by members of the SPR (using a variety of targets) had been short-lived, the experiments at Duke University — and afterwards in other locales — continued for decades. The first experiments were in what he termed ESP. These were done under a variety of experimental conditions identified by a variety of alphabetical abbreviations, most of which are no longer used. Overall, Rhine had phenomenal success with these early experiments; in fact, one subject, a divinity student named Hubert Pearce, once correctly identified all 25 cards, the odds against doing so being astronomical. The results were published in 1934 in Extra-Sensory Perception by the Boston Society for Psychical Research. Despite the relative obscurity of the publisher, the book created a sensation, largely due to a favorable review of it in the New York Times. It also aroused enormous hostility from the main-line psychology community. As a result, the Duke Psychology Department sought to distance itself from parapsychology in order to protect its reputation and Rhine was forced to separate his laboratory from colleagues (including Zener) who had, until then, been sympathetic and cooperative. When Rhine retired from Duke in 1962 and moved his laboratory into a large house across the street from the old campus, the university breathed a collective sigh of relief. He called his laboratory the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man (FRNM). Since his death, its name has been changed to The Rhine Institute.
When early experiments were conducted while the agent (i.e., “sender”) was looking at the card, the experiment was considered to be about telepathy, a term actually coined in the 19th century by F. W. H. Myers (1843-1901). When no one was looking at the target, the experiments were considered to be about clairvoyance, the term being derived from the French for “clear seeing.” When the order of targets was guessed prior to the deck being shuffled, the experiments were considered to be about precognition. All were categorized as different forms of ESP. Soon, however, it became obvious that these categories could not easily be separated from one another. In other words, in a presumed telepathy experiment, the subject could as easily be “seeing” the card instead of “reading” the agent’s mind — or possibly even correctly guessing the order of the cards in a list written down subsequent to the experiment. The method used in the experiment seemed to be what determined the name of the ESP ability rather than the experiments establishing the existence of different ESP powers. This led to identifying a general ESP ability, called GESP. Rhine was further convinced that ESP and PK were just two different aspects of an even more general paranormal ability, which is now termed “psi” (the initial Greek letter of “psychic”), that term having been proposed by British researchers Thouless and Wiesner. Recently, Michael Thalbourne (Journal of Parapsychology 64.3, Sept. 2000, pp. 279-300) has suggested the general term “psychopraxia” (from the Greek for “self-accomplishment”) which, he suggests, operates either endosomatically (“internally”) or exosomatically (“externally”) in different circumstances with different subjects. In other words, all the terminology presently used by parapsychologists is pre-theoretic, therefore subject to modification as more is understood about the processes involved in paranormal abilities.
Rhine had begun experiments in PK (initially, subjects attempted to influence the roll of dice) in 1934, but decided against reporting them in his first publication, feeling that ESP would arouse enough controversy as it was. But since then any number of ingenious devices have been employed to test for PK ability, most recently electronic machines randomized by radioactive decay and oscillators. The first one to invent such devices was Helmut Schmidt, then an engineer with the Boeing Corporation, hence they are sometimes called “Schmidt machines.”
The early experiments were concerned primarily with establishing ESP and PK as facts, hence are termed “proof-oriented” experiments. Later, and continuing to the present, a variety of experiments were devised to try to determine what factors (personality, target nature, belief, fatigue, etc.) were involved in success (or lack of it), hence are termed “process-oriented.”
It is difficult at present to generalize these findings, but several preliminary suggestions can be identified. For one, those who accept the possibility of ESP (termed “sheep”) tend to do statistically better than chance in the experiments while those who disbelieve (termed “goats”) tend to do statistically worse than chance — a deviation as much in need of explanation as its opposite. A statistical analysis of variance between the two groups is highly significant. This is termed the “sheep-goat” effect and is associated with the work of Prof. Gertrude R. Schmeidler, a psychologist formerly with the City University of New York. Another finding is the “decline effect” seen when early Zener card runs produced positive deviation from chance while later runs on the same day with the same subject showed a decline to chance or even below chance. This effect cannot be accounted for by chance alone, but looks like the result of boredom or fatigue. Furthermore, some experimenters report remarkably successful results, while others, attempting a replication, report only chance results. This has been termed the “experimenter effect,” and may result from the rapport (or lack of it) that certain experimenters develop with their subjects. There is some experimental evidence that ESP works better between a mother and her child, close friends, or two lovers. There have even been some experiments with pre-industrialized societies (natives of Panama and Australian aboriginals).
Rhine’s second book, New Frontiers of the Mind (1937) also dealt exclusively with ESP, among other things raising questions about the relation between time and precognition. That was followed by Extra-Sensory Perception after Sixty Years (1940) which reviewed experimental work from 1880 to 1940, The Reach of the Mind (1947) which included reports of both ESP and PK research, New World of the Mind (1953), Parapsychology: Frontier Science of the Mind (1957), and Parapsychology from Duke to FRNM (1965). The latter book and “ESP-60" were co-authored with several of his associates. In 1937 he and other associates started The Journal of Parapsychology in part because mainline psychology journals refused to publish results of parapsychological experiments and partly because all fields of science have at least one journal devoted exclusively to their field. The standards required of articles are very high and all papers submitted are peer reviewed, as they are in other professional journals. In 1957, Rhine and others formed the Parapsychological Association open to professionals involved in research (full membership) or to those teaching classes in parapsychology (associate membership). There are also a few honorary memberships given to sympathizers. It holds annual conventions in various cities in the world where the latest research papers are read. It was admitted into membership in the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1969 when anthropologist Margaret Mead was president of the AAAS.
In the early 1930s Rhine conducted a series of ESP experiments using the well-known British medium Eileen J. Garrett (1893-1970) as subject. These established, among other things both the genuineness of her psychic abilities and the fact that “[t]here was no need to attribute the results . . . to discarnate agencies” (Parapsychology from Duke to FRNM, p. 19). Mrs. Garrett later (1951), with financial support from former Congresswoman Frances P. Boulton (1885-1977), established the Parapsychology Foundation, headquartered in New York City, which sponsors yearly seminars in various countries, supports serious research, houses a library, and publishes an excellent non-technical journal, Parapsychology Review.
While J. B. Rhine was overseeing the controlled experimental work of his laboratory, his wife, Louisa Rhine, was analyzing material on spontaneous psi experiences sent in by people who had heard of their work. These are discussed in her books Hidden Channels of the Mind (1961), ESP in Life and Lab: Tracing Hidden Channels (1967), Mind over Matter: the Story of PK Research (1970), Psi, What Is It? The Story of ESP and PK (1975), The Invisible Picture (1981), and Something Hidden (1983). Among other things, she noted that precognition seemed to come in four different ways: realistic dreams, symbolic dreams, intuition, and hallucination (i.e., visions while fully awake of scenes not actually in one’s visual field). She observed that the most commonly reported channel was realistic dream. This contrasts with reports of precognition in pre-industrialized societies in which symbolic dreams predominate (cf. reports of such in both the Old and New Testament of the Bible). She also noted that reports of ESP (and other psychic phenomena) are extremely common and come from people in all walks of life.
Another important researcher was Gardner Murphy (1895-1979), a respected professor of psychology at City University of New York. In the early years, especially in America, every major parapsychologist had apprenticed either under Rhine or Murphy (or both). One of Murphy’s significant experiments was a trans-Atlantic ESP experiment with French parapsychologist Rene Warcollier. In these, pictures were used as targets, following the example of social reformer Upton Sinclair who had earlier done such experiments with his wife, Mary Craig Sinclair, reported in his book Mental Radio (1930). Murphy and Warcollier (and also Sinclair) noted certain psychological characteristics involved in their experiments, such as fragmentation (pieces of the target correctly identified but not arranged in the structure of the actual target). Although these do not satisfy skeptics as adequate proof of ESP, they are important in indicating some aspects of the process involved. Theosophical psychics, such as Charles W. Leadbeater and Geoffrey Hodson, have noted similar effects when their minds were not absolutely still. Among Murphy’s important publications, written with Laura A. Dale, is Challenge of Psychical Research: a Primer of Parapsychology (1970).
Controlled experimental research in various aspects of parapsychology has now spread around the world, with important laboratories in Canada, England, Scotland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Iceland, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Russia, Australia, Japan, China, India, South Africa, and several countries of South America, as well as throughout the U.S. European Journal of Parapsychology began publication in 1984. Journals in other languages (e.g., French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese) also exist. Some researchers prefer to publish in The Journal of Scientific Exploration which started in 1986 or the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research (1936-present) and Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research (1906-present). The annual meetings of the Parapsychological Association now attract scientists from many countries.
In the latter part of the 20th century, experimenters attempted to conduct controlled experiments involving targets closer to real life situations. The most famous of these, done by Harold E. Putoff and Russell Targ at Stanford Research Institute, were termed “remote viewing” and were reported in their book Mind Reach (1977). Several other parapsychologists have replicated their experiments with excellent results. Other researchers have used Zener-like decks of cards with more emotional appeal (colors, pictures, even erotic pictures) which seem to elicit better results than the rather unemotional Zener cards. Rhine attempted some experiments using mild stimulants and mild depressants which showed positive deviation and slightly negative deviation from mean chance expectancy respectively. Most recently, some of the best proof-oriented research has been done in altered states of consciousness, especially dream, hypnosis, meditation, and sensory deprivation. The results of the former experiments, done at Maimonides Medical Center in New York City by Montague Ullman, Stanley Krippner, Charles Honorton, and Alan Vaughan, are reported in Dream Telepathy (1973). In the latter experiments, termed “ganzfeld” (German for “uniform field”), the subject wears some kind of goggles (usually made out of halved ping pong balls) which produce a uniformly white visual field and earphones into which a kind of whooshing sound is fed (called “white noise” or “pink noise” — the latter lacking spikes of higher frequency). Targets in these experiments are usually pictures for which an ingenious method of statistical analysis — also used in the dream experiments — has been devised. The “Schmidt machines” can be programmed to give immediate feedback to the subject to help determine whether subjects can improve scores by learning what a correct guess feels like psychologically. This work, pioneered by psychologist Charles Tart at the University of California at Davis, has unfortunately shown inconsistent results.
Since all this experimental work continues, it is impossible in an article like this to cover the variety of experiments and all the findings, let alone all the important people in the field. The literature in parapsychology is already voluminous. But mention must be made of the remarkable work done by a Russian physiologist, Leonid L. Vasiliev (1881-1966) during the 1930s and 1940s and reported in Mysterious Phenomena of the Human Psyche (1962; Russian ed. 1959) and Experiments in Mental Suggestion (1963: Russian ed. 1962). Convinced both that telepathy was a fact and that materialism was true, Vasiliev hypothesized that some sort of energy transfer must be involved. On theoretical grounds, he calculated that the energy would be extremely high frequency electromagnetic waves, which could be interrupted by means of shielding. He devised a series of experiments at Leningrad University in which the experimenter in one room attempted to put the subject (termed by Vasiliev an “hysteric”, i.e., a patient of the experimenter) in another room down the hall into a hypnotic trance telepathically. To determine whether the trance occurred and how long it took after the experimenter started to induce it, the subject was asked to squeeze a hollow ball connected to a chart recorder. Vasiliev and his associates had remarkable success with this experimental design. But when he shielded the subject in a Faraday cage or lead chamber, which cut off all high-frequency electromagnetic activity, there was no change in the success rate. In other words, telepathy was not caused by high-frequency electromagnetic wave transmission. Later, he hypothesized that telepathy might be transmitted by extremely low frequency waves (up to 30,000 km), which would penetrate the shielding. Since the human brain cannot produce such waves, he hypothesized that the brain merely modified such waves already existing in nature. In other words, he did not abandon a physicalistic approach. The trouble with that approach is that it does not explain clairvoyance or precognition for which the evidence is just as strong as for telepathy. But the value of Vasiliev’s work is that it is extremely persuasive evidence for the existence of ESP as well as powerful evidence that non-physical realms of reality do exist. The latter, of course, is a fundamental claim of the theosophical philosophy.
Other Russian researchers, as well as some British and Americans, investigated the remarkable PK abilities of two women, Nina Kulagina and Rosa Kulishova, and also phenomena Russians termed “dermo-optics” in which subjects seemed to be able to detect different colored targets with their fingers, and “Kirlian photography” by means of which electrical technician Semyon Davidovich Kirlian claimed to be able to photograph the non-physical aura of fingers and biological organisms such as leaves. The latter effect, especially, was further investigated by researchers in the U.S., Brazil, and other countries, the name often being changed to “electro-photography.” One Brazilian researcher, Andrade, claimed to produce pictures of the full aura of a leaf after a part of it had been cut off, the so-called “lost leaf phenomenon.” Others claim to have replicated that effect. All of this research is very controversial, even among other parapsychologists. In the U.S., Jule Eisenbud (1908-1999), a psychiatrist then resident in Denver, made extensive investigations of a remarkable and rare PK phenomenon termed “thoughtography” in which images are imprinted on photographic film by the subject’s thoughts alone. Results are published in his book The World of Ted Serios (1967).
Another important series of experiments that deserves mention are those done by Helmut Schmidt. He devised an experiment using his “Schmidt machines” operating in a PK mode, but with pre-selected target sounds (recorded both on magnetic tape and punched tape), obtaining statistically significant results. The latter sounds like “backwards causality” since presumably the subject was “causing” an effect which had already occurred. His experiments, which have been repeatedly replicated, establish what he calls “time-displaced PK” but are so counter-intuitive that they challenge the belief system of even the most open-minded parapsychologist. His hypothesis is that if ESP functions independently of time (in precognition and retrocognition), PK should do so too.
This latter claim relates to the question of competing hypotheses about how ESP and PK function. The terms (which include the words “perception” and “kinesis”) seem to imply that there is some sort of information or energy transfer between agent and target. That has been termed a cybernetic theory, and seems to be the way most people would think about psi phenomena. Some theosophical writers assume that theory in their discussion of their own experiences. But there are many reasons to question that approach, not only because it seems impossible to explain precognition and time-displaced PK that way, but because there is also a great deal of evidence for ESP over intercontinental distances. The curvature of the earth makes it difficult to explain how energy transmission could take place under those conditions. The non-cybernetic theory seems to assume that there is one common consciousness which we all share. Thus, there need not be any “transmission” of information from one mind to another. This theory has much in common with Ved€nta philosophy and the first of the Fundamental Propositions of H. P. Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine.
But then the question arises: Why do we not know the thoughts of others all the time? William James once proposed that the brain acts as a filter, blocking out the thoughts of others (except under certain circumstances) due to its attention to its own immediate concerns. Some parapsychologists have proposed C. G. Jung’s theory of synchronicity as a way to resolve the puzzles, but that theory itself has enormous problems, as philosopher Steven E. Braude pointed out in a talk (“The Synchronicity Confusion”) at the 22nd annual convention (1979) of the Parapsychological Association. Others have suggested that there may be a fourth spatial dimension and even other temporal dimensions to account for the phenomena, though what would count as evidence for them is hard to imagine. Some have attempted to incorporate quantum mechanical theories into their explanations. All these theoretical questions have yet to find their final answer.
There have been reports from Brazil, Mexico, and the Philippines of certain healers who claim to perform what they call “psychic surgery.” Investigations of these claims have resulted in exposure of some so-called healers as frauds and authentication of others as apparently genuine. One of the best books on the subject, about a Brazilian healer, José Pedro de Freitas (1922-1971) who called himself Ze Arigó (literally meaning something like “fool” or “bumpkin”), is Arigo: Surgeon of the Rusty Knife (1974) written by a medical doctor, John G. Fuller, with an afterword by Dr. Henry (Andrija) K. Puharich, both of whom personally witnessed the surgeries — and even acted as patients. The remarkable operations, involving as many as 300 patients a day and done without anesthesia or antisepsis, have been well authenticated and documented on film. Less dramatic is a healing technique developed by two theosophists, the clairvoyant Dora Kunz and Dolores Krieger, a Ph.D. and RN, which they call “therapeutic touch” (even though it does not involve actually touching the patient, as does the “laying on of hands” technique used by some spiritual healers). Krieger did analyses of hemoglobin count and other physiological measures to document that healing had actually taken place as a result of the technique. Their technique is teachable and is now widely used by nurses throughout the U.S. Studies have also been done on famous spiritual healers such as Ambrose and Olga Worrall and Oskar Estabany with positive results.
For all of the evidence supporting the existence of both ESP and PK — or more generally psi — there are still many critics, especially in the scientific community, who refuse to be convinced. One of these, a philosophy professor at the University of Buffalo, Paul Kurtz, started in 1976 an organization called the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) which included among its membership the noted Harvard University philosopher Willard van Orman Quine (1908- ), the noted astronomer Carl Sagan (1934-1996), a professor of psychology C. E. M. Hansel (University of Wales), and the magician James Randi. Initially, their attacks were strident and unqualified, often using such illogical techniques as “guilt by association” (i.e., attempting to lump parapsychology together with astrology and UFOs). In recent years, they have become more judicious, even allowing that some ESP phenomena might eventually be found to exist — while still claiming that the evidence for that is presently lacking. Their purpose was to protect people from what they considered to be irrational beliefs, but their beneficial effect is to make people cautious about the claims of professional (and untested) psychics and astrologers. In the latter part of the 20th century, the psychologist Ray Hyman (University of Oregon), who consistently claimed the evidence was insufficient, was challenged by the noted parapsychologist Charles Honorton (1946-1992) to specify an experimental design which would satisfy him. He did and Honorton performed it with statistically significant results. Hyman’s retort, then, was he still did not believe because the results were too good — in other words, because there was too much evidence!
One common phenomenon, frequently experienced by almost everyone, is a feeling of being stared at. Until recently very little research was done on it. Indeed, Rhine believed it to be just a variety of telepathy. The theosophist and noted clairvoyant Geoffrey Hodson felt it to be the result of some sort of energy emanation from the eye. While that has not been tested, there have been some experiments that strongly suggest this is an independent phenomenon. Another, less commonly reported phenomenon, is the out-of- body experience, sometimes termed bi-location. In some theosophical literature it is called “traveling clairvoyance.” A very ingenious series of experiments was done in the 1980s by Karlis Osis (1917-1997) at the headquarters of the American Society for Psychical Research in New York City clearly establishing that it is a phenomenon separate from clairvoyance, although even some parapsychologists question that. Another series, somewhat less successful, was done at the Psychical Research Foundation, now defunct but once located in a series of buildings on the grounds of the new campus of Duke University, by Robert Morris (later a professor of psychology at the University of Edinburgh) and William Roll (later a professor of psychology at State University of West Georgia).
Roll, among others (including J. Gaither Pratt [1910-1979], one of Rhine’s early associates), is better known for his investigation of poltergeist phenomena, which he prefers to term random spontaneous psychokinesis (RSPK). One of his findings is that in all his cases, there was someone physically present (not at all a ghost or geist) which seemed to be the cause of the paranormal movements. His book The Poltergeist (1976) details some of the cases he has investigated, the most interesting being one that occurred in a novelty goods warehouse in Miami, Florida. In that case, he was able to reconstruct the movement of objects as well as where the agent (in this case a Cuban refugee named Julio) was at the time. A computer analysis of the data indicates a law-like regularity to the phenomena, which Roll termed the “rotating beam theory.” One characteristic of such agents is that they are usually just post-puberty (between 12 and 15) and suffering some sort of emotional distress in their environment. In his most recent investigations, he has also found a correlation between poltergeist activity and periods of increased geomagnetic disturbance in that area. But those correlations are far from explaining all the RSPK phenomena.
Dowsing, another commonly reported phenomenon, has unfortunately received very little attention from parapsychologists. One published report (Alvin B. Kaufman, “A Critical Look at the Phenomenon of Dowsing,” Parapsychology Review, 10.6, Nov-Dec 1979, pp. 20-22) indicates that it is not a result of unconscious muscular activity, but has a PK component to it. An earlier investigation by two initially skeptical Utah State University professors, D. G. Chadwick and L. Jensen, had established the genuineness of the phenomenon, which they hypothesized was the result of the human body detecting changes in the earth’s magnetic field. Their results, which clearly do not explain all the varied phenomena of dowsing, since it is used to detect many things other than water, were published in The Detection of Magnetic Fields Caused by Groundwater and the Correlation of Such Fields with Water Dowsing (1971).
The near death experience (NDE) came on the parapsychology scene in 1975 with the publication of Life After Life by Dr. Raymond A. Moody, Jr. Since then, a number of other books on the subject have come out, especially those by Dr. Kenneth Ring (Life at Death, 1980, and Heading Toward Omega, 1984) and Dr. Michael B. Sabom (Recollections of Death, 1982). The latter is perhaps the most persuasive, since it was written by a cardiologist who was initially a skeptic. But skeptics still exist, some maintaining that the phenomena associated with the NDE (the OBE, going through a tunnel, coming into a world of light, being met by a warm presence, review of one’s life, etc.) can all be explained by activity of the inner cortex of the brain as the person is dying. Their explanation, however, fails to account for the dramatic transformation in character, noted especially by Sabom, of those who had the NDE as compared with those who did not (although they too had been pronounced clinically dead before they were resuscitated). It also begs its question, since all experiences, veridical as well as non-veridical, involve brain activity.
In addition to the ESP and PK experiments carried out under controlled laboratory conditions, and the field investigations of the NDE, RSPK, and haunting phenomena, perhaps the most dramatic evidence for the existence of non-physical reality comes in the area of past life memories. The most noted, but by no means the only, researcher in this field is Prof. Ian Stevenson, emeritus professor from the University of Virginia, who has also written a number of monographs and articles on telepathy, the NDE, and other subjects. His first publication on past life recall was a brochure, The Evidence for Survival from Claimed Memories of Former Incarnations (1960) analyzing 44 cases published earlier by others. Subsequently, he published Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation (1966; rev. 1974; rev. & enlarged 1980), four volumes in a series titled Cases of the Reincarnation Type (1975-1983), Children Who Remember Past Lives (1987), and two large volumes on Reincarnation and Biology: a Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects (1997). All these are based on his personal investigation and analysis of the cases. Although skeptics, even some parapsychologists, remain unconvinced about reincarnation, the weight of evidence Stevenson presents should leave an open-minded reader without any doubt of its reality. Many theosophists cite Stevenson’s research to support their own belief in the theory.
Although the terms “psychical research” and “parapsychology” are now used interchangeably, perhaps one might observe that the former tends to emphasize evidence for survival while the latter tends to emphasize evidence for ESP and PK. Actually, phenomena from all three areas have been mentioned repeatedly in the literature of Hinduism (esp. Patañjali’s Yoga S™tras), Buddhism, Jainism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (esp. in S™f… writings). There is also considerable discussion on all three subjects in modern theosophical literature. So contemporary scientific research is merely attempting to establish beyond a reasonable doubt what theologians, psychics, mystics, yogis, and theosophists have been telling us for centuries.
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