Monday, 24 March 2008

Psi What?!

Academics love definitions (I should know – I used to be one!). While it is sometimes difficult to define something very complex, I thought the following categorisation of Psi by Caroline Watt (from the Koestler Parapsychology Unit at Edinburgh University) was helpful in outlining the main areas of interest in the field.

The Greek word psyche means mind or soul, and it is therefore no surprise that the Greek letter from which this word springs, Psi, is used by parapsychologists as a catch-all term to describe various phenomena that are unexplainable by current scientific means. Psi encompasses two main categories of phenomena, each of which is further broken down into subcategories:

  1. Extrasensory Perception (ESP) refers to the transfer of information between people without the use of any of the five accepted senses. ESP consists of:
    1. Telepathy: Communication directly between people’s minds.
    2. Clairvoyance: Acquiring information about someone or something from a physical source that is present in the environment yet concealed from sight (for example, information contained in a sealed envelope).
    3. Precognition: Obtaining information regarding a future event.

  2. Psychokinesis (PK) refers to the ability to influence a person or object seemingly using thought instead of any known physical energy form. PK consists of:
    1. Macro-PK: Affecting the physical environment on a scale large enough to be visible, such as levitation or bending a spoon.
    2. Micro-PK: Affecting the physical environment on a scale that can only be detected by statistical means, such as statistically significant changes in a random number generator that correspond to the intent of the person operating the machine.
    3. Bio-PK: Influencing another’s physiology, such as occurs in energy healing for example.

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