Extrasensory Perception or ESP Refers Term Paper

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There was an increase in the number of respondents from 58% in earlier studies, implying increased acceptance of the possibility that ESP existed or was real (Schmeidler).

2005 Gallup poll said that 41% of Americans believed in ESP (Carroll 2006). This represented a decrease from surveys in the last decade at 50%. ESP and other paranormal capabilities, such as telekinesis, have been rejected or disputed. However, systematic research on these phenomena has been going on for more than a century in the field of parapsychology. These phenomena have been collectively known as psi. to-date, most of the evidence presented for ESP has been anecdotal. Skeptics have rejected it as fraud or incompetence by parapsychologists, trickery by mentalists, cold reading, subjective validation, selective thinking and confirmation bias, poor comprehension of probabilities, shoe-horning, retrospective clairvoyance and falsification, gullibility, self-deception and wishful thinking. Most of it drew from apparently unusual and obscure events. Not every event can be explained and not all unexplainable events would be paranormal. However, parapsychologists have claimed that the experiences of Charles Tart and Raymond Moody proved the existence of ESP. They said that the Ganzfeld experiments, CIA's remote viewing experiments and attempts to influence randomizers at the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research produced the required evidence of ESP. But psychologists who investigated parapsychological studies on the existence of ESP concluded that these showed only fraud, error, incompetence and statistical guesswork (Carroll).

Part II - Evidence

Psychologist John Palmer was among those who investigated the existence or reality of the phenomena (Mishlove 2003). While he found that the psi still had to be proven, he admitted that the results of some researches deserved closer scrutiny and notice. One of these was the series of studies conducted by E. Douglas Dean. It connected the subjects to a plethysmograph, which linked the workings of the subliminal mind. The intention was to obtain evidence of unconscious ESP. ESP signals appeared to have been caught by, and reflected in, the body's physiological processes even without the subject's awareness. The instrument measured the increases and decreases of the blood and lymph volume in response to the subject's emotions. The test used a telepathic agent who was closely related to the subject. They were placed in different rooms. Changes in the blood volume occurred when the subject was sent emotionally charged target messages. A series of follow-up studies were conducted by Dean and Carroll B. Nash at St. Joseph's College in Philadelphia. In these tests, most of the subjects were unaware of their blood changes while responding to the target messages. A separate but similar study was performed by Charles Tart, using the same instrument. The agent was also subjected to occasional and mild electric shock. The subject was unaware of the test but told to guess on "subliminal stimulus" presented to him. His responses did not match those of the hidden target, but abrupt physiological changes were recorded when the agent in the other room was subject to the mild electric shock (Mishlove).

Another claim was dream telepathy. In the early years of psychical research, Frederick Myers suggested that the operations of the subliminal mind are strongest and most visible in dreams, trance states, hypnosis and creative inspiration (Mishlove 2003). Most of the recorded ESP cases occurred while the persons were in "altered states of consciousness." A noteworthy series of studies on dream telepathy was conducted at the Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn, New York. The subjects were placed and asked to sleep in one room where their dreams were monitored. Earlier, the telepathic senders were placed in another room where they concentrated and sent target pictures to the subjects, designed to create or elicit particular impressions in them. The subjects were awakened at the time the observers were able to obtain reports on the contents of their dreams. Independent judges or observers then compared the subjects' responses and the messages of the telepathic senders. The judges found evidence for nocturnal telepathy and precognition (Mishlove). A corollary study was conducted on 2,000 persons attending the Grateful Dead Rock Concert were shown a color slide projection image. They were asked to mentally send that image to the dream laboratory 45 miles away in Brooklyn. Many of those 2,000 spontaneous subjects at the concert were in altered states of consciousness as the effect of the music and from taking psychedelic drugs. It was a successful experiment (Mishlove).

Milan Ryzl, a chemist who defected from Czechoslovakia to the United States in 1967, developed a hypnotic technique for facilitating ESP (Mishlove 2003). He claimed success in 50 out of his 500 persons he had trained or worked with for his experiments. Hypnosis has been one of the most replicable psi methods. Another series of experiments was conducted in 1910 by Emille Boirac of the Dijon Academy in France in pursuit of an "externalization of sensitivity." When the hypnotist put something inside his mouth, the subject could describe the object. If the hypnotist pinched or pricked himself, the subject could feel the pain. The most striking part of the experiment was when the subject was asked to project his sensibility into a glass of water. When the water was pricked, the subject winced or visibly jerked a part of his body (Mishlove).

Boirac also successfully demonstrated the "conductibility of psychic force" and the "exteriorization of sensitiveness." In the first demonstration, two glasses were connected by a copper wire. When he pinched the air-zone the glasses nearest him or put his finger or a pencil into it, the subject would feel and react to it. The reaction would stop or disappear when the copper wire was removed. French psychologist Jarl Fahler followed up on Boirac's experiments and performed his own. By pricking a photograph of the subject's hand, blisters would appear on the skin of the subject. A photograph was held by the sensitive person in another experiment for a few minutes. The experimenter scratched the hand of the subject in the negative with a pin. The sensitive subject twitched with pain and a small red spot appeared at the back of her hand. A precognition study was conducted in 1969 by Fashler and Osis with two hypnotized subjects. The subjects were made to make confidence calls. The call hits achieved dramatic results with a probability of 0.0000002 (Mishlove).

Convincing evidence of the existence of ESP comes from exceptional performers themselves, successful experiments, test methods and instruments. Pavel Stepanek was one of Mylan Ryzl's most effective subjects (Mishlove 2003). Stepanek could try to read an ESP target from an enveloped sealed three times. It was uncertain if Stepanek had inborn ESP ability or developed it from Ryzl's training. There were times when Stepanek's scores went down to chance levels. There were other times these scores went up again after a hypnotic session with Ryzl. Another exceptional subject was Bill Delmore. He did confidence calls using a deck of ordinary playing cards as his target. He used the method called "psychic shuffle," wherein the experimenters shuffled the target deck at random. Of the 52 cards in a series, Delmore made 25 confidence calls, all completely correct. The probability of his success was only one in 5250. Other tests conducted on Delmore's ability yielded similarly extraordinary results. He did not seem to need an altered state of consciousness in order to gain psychic information. He only needed a warm and congenial atmosphere for his capability to function well (Mishlove).

Harold Puthoff and Russell Targ of the SRI International in Menlo Park, California conducted experiments on the Israeli psychic performer Uri Geller (Mishlove 2003). Geller was asked to reproduce 13 drawings in a week's duration while he was physically separated from the experimenters. The experiments were placed in a shielded room. Geller was not told about the drawings or what he was to do with them. It was only when he was in an isolated double-walled steel room that he was presented the target picture. The picture was also randomly selected and drawn. Furthermore, it was never discussed after being drawn or brought to Geller. Examples of the drawings he was asked to reproduce were a firecracker, a cluster of grapes, a devil, a horse, the solar system, a tree and an envelope. The researchers and Geller did not know one another. They inspected Geller's reproductions on a "blind" basis. In matching the target data with the response data by Geller, the researchers found that the match had no errors. The chance probability was one in a million per judgment. In another experiment, Geller was asked to "guess" the face of a die, which was shaken inside a closed steel box then placed on a table by the experimenter. No one knew the position of the die in the box after being vigorously shaken by one of the experimenters. Geller gave the correct answer eight times, according to the researchers. The experiment was conducted 10 times. In two of these 10, Geller declined…

Sources Used in Document:


Carroll, Robert Todd ESP. The Skeptics Dictionary. 2000 First Web Report. Retrieved on April 17, 2008 at http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange

Mishlove, Jeffrey. Extrasensory Perception. Roots of Consciousness, 2003. Retrieved on April 17, 2008 at http://www.williamjames.com/Science/ESP.htm

Ridgway, Caroline. Mind Over Science. Biology 202. Serendip Update: Brynmawr

College, 2008

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