Understanding Extrasensory Perception

We have seen it in movies and TV shows – people solving criminal cases and seeing what the future is like using extrasensory perception (ESP). Science tells us that we can only perceive what we sense. But how about those are capable of ESP without sensory input? Are there people who can foretell the future, communicate with the dead, see the past, read minds, or see through walls?

What is ESP?

Extrasensory perception is the ability to obtain information through paranormal means without using known physical senses or without deduction from past experience. Researcher J. B. Rhine of Duke University first coined the term "ESP" to refer to psychic abilities like clairvoyance, telepathy, and precognition.

The term is also sometimes casually used to denote a sixth sense, hunch, intuition, or gut instinct. ESP implies information sources that are unexplained by science at the moment.

Is there ESP?

People with ESP fill the pages of many history, art, and literature books. One of the most notable historical figures who is said to have this ability was Nostradamus. Many people believe that his predictions are coming true. In the present day, numerous criminal cases have been reported to be solved with the help of people with ESP.

ESP has been receiving wide acceptance in the academe. For example, in Britain, 5 universities are offering parapsychology units staffed by Ph.D. graduates of Edinburgh University’s parapsychology program. Australia’s University of Adelaide, the Netherlands’ Utrecht University, and Sweden’s Lund University also have research units or added faculty chairs for parapsychology.

What are the claims of ESP?

Claims of ESP include psychic healing, astrological predictions, out-of-body experiences, and communication with the dead. However, the most testable and most relevant claims of ESP are for its three varieties: clairvoyance, telepathy, and precognition.

Clairvoyance involves perceptions of remote events like sensing that a close friend’s daughter is being kidnapped. A person who has telepathic ability or who can communicate mind-to-mind can perceive other’s thoughts or send thoughts to others. People with precognition abilities can sense future events like a massive earthquake or a death of a famous political figure.

Closely associated with these three types of ESP is the "mind over matter" claim, or psychokinesis, like levitating a chair or influencing a soccer goal.

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