Saturday, November 28, 2009

Parapsychology: New Frontiers of the Mind

Psychic ability is something we all possess to greater or lesser degrees, and it's something that can be consciously developed. Some people do have an intuitive "gift," just as others may have gifts for art, athletics, etc…..well I count mathematics also…:-)., however, we can all enhance the abilities we were born with. Well, we can very well do it through focused desire and concentration. Say for example, if I ask you that at this point of time are you aware of the slight sound of your breath as you inhale and exhale? Umm…may be No. Now wiggle your tongue. Remember that tongue? Most likely, you were not "aware" of even having a tongue until I drew your attention to it. Psychics have learned where to turn their attention in order to become aware of that which is normally outside of conscious awareness.

Psychics are not dealing with the "physical" universe as governed by known laws related to space and time, but are accessing non-physical information through non-physical senses. From a quantum physical perspective, there are no hard boundaries or limitations in the Universe, including those we generally perceive related to space and time. There is truly nothing that is "solid" or "physical" as we tend to think of it. There is a range of vibrations that constitute what we call physical reality, and as we rise above this, we enter the non-physical, just as when we heat water, it goes from solid (ice) to liquid, to gas, and seems to "disappear." Psychics are able to continue to perceive the "gas" realm of energy that is not observable to others.

Hope by now you must have got a basic understanding of the term “Parapsychology”.
The term “parapsychology” was coined in or around 1889 by philosopher Max Dessoir and it was further adopted by J.B. Rhine in the 1930s as a replacement for the term psychical research. Dr. Rhine was a professor in Duke University and is known as the father of the parapsychology. He was the one who started with the experiments for the subject. Rhine stated in his first book, Extra-Sensory Perception, ESP (1934), that after 90,000 trials, he felt ESP is "an actual and demonstrable occurrence." Imagine his craziness for the subject :-)

Though this is another side of coin that our science has still not granted this branch of psychology, a deemed status. It is studied on the basis of faith and not on the factual statements.

Parapsychologists study a number of ostensible paranormal phenomena, including but not limited to:

• Telepathy: Transfer of information on thoughts or feelings between individuals by means other than the five classical senses.
• Precognition: Perception of information about future places or events before they occur.
• Clairvoyance: Obtaining information about places or events at remote locations, by means unknown to current science.
• Psychokinesis: The ability of the mind to influence matter, time, space, or energy by means unknown to current science.
• Reincarnation: The rebirth of a soul or other non-physical aspect of human consciousness in a new physical body after death.
• Hauntings: Phenomena often attributed to ghosts and encountered in places a deceased individual is thought to have frequented, or in association with the person's former belongings.

Surveys show that precognition, particularly in dreams, is considered real by at least one third of the general population.

Precognition is the direct knowledge or perception of the future, obtained through extrasensory means. Precognition is the most frequently reported of all extrasensory perception (ESP) experiences, occurring most often (60 percent to 70 percent) in dreams. It may also occur spontaneously in waking visions, auditory hallucinations, flashing thoughts entering the mind, and the sense of "knowing." Precognitive knowledge also may be induced through trance, channeling, mediumship, and divination.

Usually the majority of precognitive experiences happen within a forty-eight hour period prior to the future event, most often it is within twenty-four hours. In rare cases precognitive experiences occur months or even years before the actual event takes place.

It has been almost over a period of 130 years for the existence of parapsychological phenomena but no scientific justification from research conducted has been made till now. There have been a lot of controversies over the small research which has been made till date. Many questions has been raised on the science of parapsychology and thus many in our community call it as “Pesudo-Science”.

A few of the critics of parapsycological research and answers to them by the parapsycological community is listed down:-

• Anecdotal evidence, characteristic of most of parapsychology, is inherently unreliable. Anecdotes may have natural, non-anomalous explanations such as random coincidence, fraud, imagination, or auto-suggestion.
• Parapsychology experiments are usually poorly designed. They often lack proper controls, allowing paths of intentional or unintentional information leakage through normal means, etc.
• Parapsychology experiments are rarely replicated with positive results at independent laboratories.
• Currently unexplainable positive results of apparently sound experiments do not necessarily prove the existence of psi phenomena, i.e. normal explanations may yet be found.

Responses from parapsychologists to some of these criticisms include:

• The hard evidence for psi phenomena today is founded on repeatable experiments and not anecdotal evidence.
• There is no such thing as a 100% foolproof experiment in any field of science, and it is unreasonable to hold parapsychology to a higher standard of epistemology than the other sciences. Fraud and incompetence in parapsychology is addressed in the same way it is addressed in any other field of science:
• Experimental protocols have been continually improved over time, sometimes with the direct assistance of noted skeptics. Meta-analyses show that the significance of the positive results has not declined over time, but instead have remained fairly constant.
• Anomalous phenomena do not disappear for lack of a theory. There have been many instances in the history of science where the observation of an anomalous phenomenon came before an explanatory theory, and some commonly accepted non-psi phenomena today still lack a perfectly satisfactory, undisputed theory. For instance, in the past, those who cited meteors falling to the earth were dismissed as madmen or false prophets.

Hmm, a sincere and serious try of parapsycological community to answer critics.

Well, if you ask my view on the topic, even if you do not ask, then also I will tell you :-), my faith says no theory on this planet is completely baseless. There is some logic to it, if not much, than atleast to an extent. I just can’t pronounce that the belief system of a community that has been there from several thousands of years is groundless. I have personally not encountered any ghost or spirit nor have any ESP experiences till now but still I just don’t deny its existence. Our science says that “Energy can neither be created nor can be destroyed” and our body is nothing but is made up of atoms and mass, which is again a form of Energy. So, in this respect a question appears that if you can not create nor destroy energy then where does the human energy go when the human dies? Ones energy doesn't leave just put to rest. I have a theory that our souls and energy as humans are recycled.

Well, the concept of existence of ghosts can also be supported by the idea that time exists both simultaneously and linearly, just like Quantam Physics, is a difficult one to grasp. One analogy is that of a book. At any given moment the entirety of a book exists in itself but at any given moment we can only read one page at a time. The other pages, while existing simultaneously with the one we are reading, remain outside our consciousness. If we could somehow read every page of the book at once, or be able to experience the book in its entirety in a single moment then we would be closer to a real experience of it. Similarly in our lives we are conscious of only one moment in time, the present, rather than our past, present and future together. The past is remembered but not physically experienced, the future remains unknown. And, definitely this past and future form of ours is stored in the form of energy. But that's your own personal preference on the perseverance of energy in the unchanging and disembodied form i.e. ghost or spirit form.

And moreover regarding the evidence, the rule of the thumb is that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and we can very well presume that the evidence needs to be better than what normally would be required.

I know our science has seen so much advances that once which was unbelievable has been proved. The best example is the Wright Brothers invention. In spite of so many facts, I will still stick to my say that though ESP is not currently explainable within the framework of mainstream and conventional science, the parapsycology still cannot stand completely baseless. It’s just that we did not get a chance to experience ESP’s or our senses unlike a few are not developed enough to perceive the hidden. The unexplained concept stands on the facts of faith in today’s world and faith is something which needs a support of personal experience. If a certain faith is proved for me I will take it as a reality else I won’t.

Umm, I have personally met so many people who have encountered ghosts or have clairvoyant perception and definitely, to these few people, whom I know, I cannot label them a fraudulent, as some of them are my friends and few are quite elder, knowledgeable and respectable person of the society. Also, I have never tested their speech and have never confirmed my future deeds with them as I do believe if something has to come, let it come naturally, as then I will be able to learn through the experiences. Without raising a question on their efficiency, I respect their knowledge and gift of defining the unknown. Think this science needs more time to prove itself scientifically and thus to emerge as a double advanced-science. In short, I neither accept nor I deny! Just waiting for my turn to experience ESP.

Source: N no. of websites, online books :-). Gosh, I have done a detailed R&D to conclude on this topic. Phew!!!

1 comment:

  1. Very well explained, this branch of Science....the only branch (I believe) which can take a person's capabilities to the maximum.....Very difficult to accept that you didn't experience any of the phenomenons yourself, for someone who has written all this...If you truly want to experience it, do let me know, I might just help you out :)