Irwin and Watt (2007, p. 1) define parapsychology as "the scientific study of experiences which, if they are as they seem to be, are in principle outside the realm of human capabilities as presently conceived by conventional scientists". These experiences can take many forms, but one of the most common types reported by ordinary members of the public seems to involve the acquisition of knowledge about the world without the mediation of the known senses, in which case they are referred to as instances of extrasensory perception (ESP). Cases of ESP are usually further classified as telepathy if the information that is acquired resides in the mind of another person, clairvoyance if the information seems to have been drawn from the environment directly rather than from another person, and precognition if the information only exists in the future and so is not available by any means at the time of the experience. To illustrate, Steinkamp (2000, p. 42) reports one case of precognition as follows I had a dream in which I knew that my father had died. I saw myself and my sister in my parents' flat. I think my sister went towards my mother first and hugged her—then I did the same. Then we all three hugged. I was very aware that my father was missing from the scene. This happened in our kitchen. Then I was in a car with my mother and sister going to the funeral. The hearse was in front of us. We were stopped at traffic lights, waiting to make a left-hand turn into "Mill Street". As we sat at the lights with the other cars in the funeral procession behind us—a couple, quite elderly, came round the corner to our left. They stopped at the kerb when they saw it was a funeral and stood with their heads bowed. The man took off the cap he was wearing on his head. They were a conventional, respectable looking couple. Later, this all happened exactly as in the dream. It is the task of parapsychology to account for such experiences. This may involve showing how their apparent paranormality is mistaken by explaining them in terms of conventional scientific principles, for example by noting how perception can be influenced by expectation, and memory can become distorted in ways that lead to more elegant or coherent but less accurate accounts of the experience which thus seem more impressive than they actually were. However, parapsychologists also seriously entertain the possibility that such experiences may have occurred as described and so look to test for the putative phenomena of ESP in the more controlled conditions of the laboratory. In this chapter I shall briefly outline some of the research that has been conducted to investigate the possible occurrence of ESP under circumstances that rule out those normal explanations, particularly as it relates to anomalistic dreams.
|Title of host publication||An den Genzen der Ekenntnis: Handbuch der wissenschaftlichen Anomalistik|
|Editors||Gerhard Mayer, Michael Schetsche, Ina Schmied-Knittel, Dieter Vaitl|
|Place of Publication||Stuttgart|
|Number of pages||14|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jun 2015|
- Anomalistic dreams