Paranormal events are purported phenomena described in popular culture, folk, and other non-scientific bodies of knowledge, whose existence within these contexts is described as beyond normal experience or scientific explanation.
Proposals regarding the paranormal are different from scientific hypotheses or speculations extrapolated from scientific evidence because scientific ideas are grounded in empirical observations and experimental data gained through the scientific method. In contrast, those who argue for the existence of the paranormal explicitly do not base their arguments on empirical evidence but rather on anecdote, testimony, and suspicion. Notable paranormal beliefs include those that pertain to telepathy, extrasensory perception, spiritualism and the pseudosciences of ghost hunting, cryptozoology, and ufology.
The term "paranormal" has existed in the English language since at least 1920. The word consists of two parts: para and normal. The definition implies that the scientific explanation of the world around us is 'normal' and anything that is above, beyond, or contrary to that is 'para'.
On the classification of paranormal subjects, Terence Hines in his book Pseudoscience and the Paranormal (2003) wrote:
The paranormal can best be thought of as a subset of pseudoscience. What sets the paranormal apart from other pseudosciences is a reliance on explanations for alleged phenomena that are well outside the bounds of established science. Thus, paranormal phenomena include extrasensory perception (ESP), telekinesis, ghosts, poltergeists, life after death, reincarnation, faith healing, human auras, and so forth. The explanations for these allied phenomena are phrased in vague terms of "psychic forces", "human energy fields", and so on. This is in contrast to many pseudoscientific explanations for other nonparanormal phenomena, which, although very bad science, are still couched in acceptable scientific terms.
In traditional ghostlore and fiction featuring ghosts, a ghost is a manifestation of the spirit or soul of a person. Alternative theories expand on that idea and include belief in the ghosts of deceased animals. Sometimes the term "ghost" is used synonymously with any spirit or demon, however in popular usage the term typically refers to a deceased person's spirit.
The belief in ghosts as souls of the departed is closely tied to the concept of animism, an ancient belief which attributed souls to everything in nature. As the 19th-century anthropologist George Frazer explained in his classic work, The Golden Bough (1890), souls were seen as the creature within that animated the body. Although the human soul was sometimes symbolically or literally depicted in ancient cultures as a bird or other animal, it was widely held that the soul was an exact reproduction of the body in every feature, even down to clothing the person wore. This is depicted in artwork from various ancient cultures, including such works as the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead (ca. (1550 BCE), which shows deceased people in the afterlife appearing much as they did before death, including the style of dress.
Although the evidence for ghosts is largely anecdotal, the belief in ghosts throughout history has remained widespread and persistent.
The possibility of extraterrestrial life is not, by itself, a paranormal subject. Many scientists are actively engaged in the search for unicellular life within the solar system, carrying out studies on the surface of Mars and examining meteors that have fallen to Earth. Projects such as SETI are conducting an astronomical search for radio activity that would show evidence of intelligent life outside the solar system. Scientific theories of how life developed on Earth allow for the possibility that life developed on other planets as well. The paranormal aspect of extraterrestrial life centers largely around the belief in unidentified flying objects and the phenomena said to be associated with them.
Early in the history of UFO culture, believers divided themselves into two camps. The first held a rather conservative view of the phenomena, interpreting them as unexplained occurrences that merited serious study. They began calling themselves "ufologists" in the 1950s and felt that logical analysis of sighting reports would validate the notion of extraterrestrial visitation.
The second camp consisted of individuals who coupled ideas of extraterrestrial visitation with beliefs from existing quasi-religious movements. These individuals typically were enthusiasts of occultism and the paranormal. Many had backgrounds as active Theosophists, Spiritualists, or were followers of other esoteric doctrines. In contemporary times, many of these beliefs have coalesced into New Age spiritual movements.
Both secular and spiritual believers describe UFOs as having abilities beyond what are considered possible according to known aerodynamic constraints and physical laws. The transitory events surrounding many UFO sightings also limits the opportunity for repeat testing required by the scientific method. Acceptance of UFO theories by the larger scientific community is further hindered by the many possible hoaxes associated with UFO culture.
Cryptozoology is a pseudoscience and subculture that aims to prove the existence of entities from the folklore record, such as Bigfoot, chupacabras, or Mokele-mbembe. Cryptozoologists refer to these entities as cryptids, a term coined by the subculture.
Approaching the paranormal from a research perspective is often difficult because of the lack of acceptable physical evidence from most of the purported phenomena. By definition, the paranormal does not conform to conventional expectations of nature. Therefore, a phenomenon cannot be confirmed as paranormal using the scientific method because, if it could be, it would no longer fit the definition. (However, confirmation would result in the phenomenon being reclassified as part of science.) Despite this problem, studies on the paranormal are periodically conducted by researchers from various disciplines. Some researchers simply study the beliefs in the paranormal regardless of whether the phenomena are considered to objectively exist. This section deals with various approaches to the paranormal: anecdotal, experimental, and participant-observer approaches and the skeptical investigation approach.
An anecdotal approach to the paranormal involves the collection of stories told about the paranormal.
Charles Fort (1874–1932) is perhaps the best-known collector of paranormal anecdotes. Fort is said to have compiled as many as 40,000 notes on unexplained paranormal experiences, though there was no doubt many more. These notes came from what he called "the orthodox conventionality of Science", which were odd events originally reported in magazines and newspapers such as The Times and scientific journals such as Scientific American, Nature and Science. From this research Fort wrote seven books, though only four survive: The Book of the Damned (1919), New Lands (1923), Lo! (1931) and Wild Talents (1932); one book was written between New Lands and Lo!, but it was abandoned and absorbed into Lo!
Reported events that he collected include teleportation (a term Fort is generally credited with coining); poltergeist events; falls of frogs, fishes, and inorganic materials of an amazing range; crop circles; unaccountable noises and explosions; spontaneous fires; levitation; ball lightning (a term explicitly used by Fort); unidentified flying objects; mysterious appearances and disappearances; giant wheels of light in the oceans; and animals found outside their normal ranges (see phantom cat). He offered many reports of OOPArts, the abbreviation for "out of place" artefacts: strange items found in unlikely locations. He is perhaps the first person to explain strange human appearances and disappearances by the hypothesis of alien abduction and was an early proponent of the extraterrestrial hypothesis.
Fort is considered by many as the father of modern paranormalism, which is the study of the paranormal.
The magazine Fortean Times continues Charles Fort's approach, regularly reporting anecdotal accounts of the paranormal.
Such anecdotal collections, lacking the reproducibility of empirical evidence, are not amenable to scientific investigation. The anecdotal approach is not a scientific approach to the paranormal because it leaves verification dependent on the credibility of the party presenting the evidence. Nevertheless, it is a common approach to investigating paranormal phenomena.
Experimental investigation of the paranormal has been conducted by parapsychologists. J. B. Rhine popularized the now famous methodology of using card-guessing and dice-rolling experiments in a laboratory in the hopes of finding evidence of extrasensory perception. However, it was revealed that Rhine's experiments contained methodological flaws and procedural errors.
In 1957, the Parapsychological Association was formed as the preeminent society for parapsychologists. In 1969, they became affiliated with the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Criticisms of the field were focused in the founding of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (1976), now called the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and its periodical, Skeptical Inquirer. Eventually, more mainstream scientists became critical of parapsychology as an endeavor, and statements by the National Academies of Science and the National Science Foundation cast a pall on the claims of evidence for parapsychology. Today, many cite parapsychology as an example of a pseudoscience. Parapsychology has been criticized for continuing investigation despite being unable to provide convincing evidence for the existence of any psychic phenomena after more than a century of research.
By the 2000s, the status of paranormal research in the United States had greatly declined from its height in the 1970s, with the majority of work being privately funded and only a small amount of research being carried out in university laboratories. In 2007, Britain had a number of privately funded laboratories in university psychology departments. Publication remained limited to a small number of niche journals, and to date there have been no experimental results that have gained wide acceptance in the scientific community as valid evidence of the paranormal.
While parapsychologists look for quantitative evidence of the paranormal in laboratories, a great number of people immerse themselves in qualitative research through participant-observer approaches to the paranormal. Participant-observer methodologies have overlaps with other essentially qualitative approaches as well, including phenomenological research that seeks largely to describe subjects as they are experienced, rather than to explain them.
Participant-observation suggests that by immersing oneself in the subject being studied, a researcher is presumed to gain understanding of the subject. Criticisms of participant-observation as a data-gathering technique are similar to criticisms of other approaches to the paranormal, but also include an increased threat to the objectivity of the researcher, unsystematic gathering of data, reliance on subjective measurement, and possible observer effects (observation may distort the observed behavior). Specific data gathering methods, such as recording EMF readings at haunted locations have their own criticisms beyond those attributed to the participant-observation approach itself.
The participant-observer approach to the paranormal has gained increased visibility and popularity through reality television programs like Ghost Hunters, and the formation of independent ghost hunting groups that advocate immersive research at alleged paranormal locations. One popular website for ghost hunting enthusiasts lists over 300 of these organizations throughout the United States and the United Kingdom.
Scientific skeptics advocate critical investigation of claims of paranormal phenomena: applying the scientific method to reach a rational, scientific explanation of the phenomena to account for the paranormal claims, taking into account that alleged paranormal abilities and occurrences are sometimes hoaxes or misinterpretations of natural phenomena. A way of summarizing this method is by the application of Occam's razor, which suggests that the simpler solution is usually the correct one. The standard scientific models give the explanation that what appears to be paranormal phenomena is usually a misinterpretation, misunderstanding, or anomalous variation of natural phenomena, rather than an actual paranormal phenomenon.
The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, formerly the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), is an organization that aims to publicize the scientific, skeptical approach. It carries out investigations aimed at understanding paranormal reports in terms of scientific understanding, and publishes its results in its journal, the Skeptical Inquirer.
Richard Wiseman, of The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, draws attention to possible alternative explanations for perceived paranormal activity in his article, The Haunted Brain. While he recognizes that approximately 15% of people believe they have experienced an encounter with a ghost, he reports that only 1% report seeing a full-fledged ghost while the rest report strange sensory stimuli, such as seeing fleeting shadows or wisps of smoke, or the sensation of hearing footsteps or feeling a presence. Wiseman makes the claim that, rather than experiencing paranormal activity, it is activity within our own brains that creates these strange sensations.
Michael Persinger proposed that ghostly experiences could be explained by stimulating the brain with weak magnetic fields. Swedish psychologist Pehr Granqvist and his team, attempting to replicate Persinger's research, determined that the paranormal sensations experienced by Persinger's subjects were merely the result of suggestion, and that brain stimulation with magnetic fields did not result in ghostly experiences.
Oxford University Justin Barrett has theorized that "agency" — being able to figure out why people do what they do — is so important in everyday life, that it is natural for our brains to work too hard at it, thereby detecting human or ghost-like behaviour in everyday meaningless stimuli.
James Randi, an investigator with a background in illusion, feels that the simplest explanation for those claiming paranormal abilities is often trickery, illustrated by demonstrating that the spoon bending abilities of psychic Uri Geller can easily be duplicated by trained stage magicians. He is also the founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation and its million dollar challenge that offered a prize of US $1,000,000 to anyone who could demonstrate evidence of any paranormal, supernatural or occult power or event, under test conditions agreed to by both parties. Despite many declarations of supernatural ability, the prize was never claimed.
In anomalistic psychology, paranormal phenomena have naturalistic explanations resulting from psychological and physical factors which have sometimes given the impression of paranormal activity to some people, in fact, where there have been none. The psychologist David Marks wrote that paranormal phenomena can be explained by magical thinking, mental imagery, subjective validation, coincidence, hidden causes, and fraud. According to studies some people tend to hold paranormal beliefs because they possess psychological traits that make them more likely to misattribute paranormal causation to normal experiences. Research has also discovered that cognitive bias is a factor underlying paranormal belief.
Many studies have found a link between personality and psychopathology variables correlating with paranormal belief. Some studies have also shown that fantasy proneness correlates positively with paranormal belief.
Bainbridge (1978) and Wuthnow (1976) found that the most susceptible people to paranormal belief are those who are poorly educated, unemployed or have roles that rank low among social values. The alienation of these people due to their status in society is said to encourage them to appeal to paranormal or magical beliefs.
Research has associated paranormal belief with low cognitive ability, low IQ and a lack of science education. Intelligent and highly educated participants involved in surveys have proven to have less paranormal belief. Tobacyk (1984) and Messer and Griggs (1989) discovered that college students with better grades have less belief in the paranormal.
In a case study (Gow, 2004) involving 167 participants the findings revealed that psychological absorption and dissociation were higher for believers in the paranormal. Another study involving 100 students had revealed a positive correlation between paranormal belief and proneness to dissociation. A study (Williams et al. 2007) discovered that "neuroticism is fundamental to individual differences in paranormal belief, while paranormal belief is independent of extraversion and psychoticism". A correlation has been found between paranormal belief and irrational thinking.
In an experiment Wierzbicki (1985) reported a significant correlation between paranormal belief and the number of errors made on a syllogistic reasoning task, suggesting that believers in the paranormal have lower cognitive ability. A relationship between narcissistic personality and paranormal belief was discovered in a study involving the Australian Sheep-Goat Scale.
De Boer and Bierman wrote:
A psychological study involving 174 members of the Society for Psychical Research completed a delusional ideation questionnaire and a deductive reasoning task. As predicted, the study showed that "individuals who reported a strong belief in the paranormal made more errors and displayed more delusional ideation than skeptical individuals". There was also a reasoning bias which was limited to people who reported a belief in, rather than experience of, paranormal phenomena. The results suggested that reasoning abnormalities may have a causal role in the formation of paranormal belief.
Findings have shown in specific cases that paranormal belief acts as a psychodynamic coping function and serves as a mechanism for coping with stress. Survivors from childhood sexual abuse, violent and unsettled home environments have reported to have higher levels of paranormal belief. A study of a random sample of 502 adults revealed paranormal experiences were common in the population which were linked to a history of childhood trauma and dissociative symptoms. Research has also suggested that people who perceive themselves as having little control over their lives may develop paranormal beliefs to help provide an enhanced sense of control.
Gender differences in surveys on paranormal belief have reported women scoring higher than men overall and men having greater belief in UFOs and extraterrestrials. Surveys have also investigated the relationship between ethnicity and paranormal belief. In a sample of American university students (Tobacyk et al. 1988) it was found that people of African descent have a higher level of belief in superstitions and witchcraft while belief in extraterrestrial life forms was stronger among people of European descent. Otis and Kuo (1984) surveyed Singapore university students and found Chinese, Indian and Malay students to differ in their paranormal beliefs, with the Chinese students showing greater skepticism.
According to American surveys analysed by (Bader et al. 2011) African Americans have the highest belief in the paranormal and while the findings are not uniform the "general trend is for whites to show lesser belief in most paranormal subjects".
A 2013 study that utilized a biological motion perception task discovered a "relation between illusory pattern perception and supernatural and paranormal beliefs and suggest that paranormal beliefs are strongly related to agency detection biases".
Some scientists have investigated possible neurocognitive processes underlying the formation of paranormal beliefs. In a study (Pizzagalli et al. 2000) data demonstrated that "subjects differing in their declared belief in and experience with paranormal phenomena as well as in their schizotypal ideation, as determined by a standardized instrument, displayed differential brain electric activity during resting periods." Another study (Schulter and Papousek, 2008) wrote that paranormal belief can be explained by patterns of functional hemispheric asymmetry that may be related to perturbations during fetal development.
It was also realized that people with higher dopamine levels have the ability to find patterns and meanings where there aren't any. This is why scientists have connected high dopamine levels with paranormal belief.
Some scientists have criticised the media for promoting paranormal claims. In a report (Singer and Benassi, 1981) wrote that the media may account for much of the near universality of paranormal belief as the public are constantly exposed to films, newspapers, documentaries and books endorsing paranormal claims while critical coverage is largely absent. According to Paul Kurtz "In regard to the many talk shows that constantly deal with paranormal topics, the skeptical viewpoint is rarely heard; and when it is permitted to be expressed, it is usually sandbagged by the host or other guests." Kurtz described the popularity of public belief in the paranormal as a "quasi-religious phenomenon", a manifestation of a transcendental temptation, a tendency for people to seek a transcendental reality that cannot be known by using the methods of science. Kurtz compared this to a primitive form of magical thinking.
Terence Hines has written that on a personal level, paranormal claims could be considered a form of consumer fraud as people are "being induced through false claims to spend their money—often large sums—on paranormal claims that do not deliver what they promise" and uncritical acceptance of paranormal belief systems can be damaging to society.
While the validity of the existence of paranormal phenomena is controversial and debated passionately by both proponents of the paranormal and by skeptics, surveys are useful in determining the beliefs of people in regards to paranormal phenomena. These opinions, while not constituting scientific evidence for or against, may give an indication of the mindset of a certain portion of the population (at least among those who answered the polls). The number of people worldwide who believe in parapsychological powers has been estimated to be 3 to 4 billion.
A survey conducted in 2006 by researchers from Australia's Monash University sought to determine what types of phenomena that people claim to have experienced and the effects these experiences have had on their lives. The study was conducted as an online survey with over 2,000 respondents from around the world participating. The results revealed that around 70% of the respondents believe to have had an unexplained paranormal event that changed their life, mostly in a positive way. About 70% also claimed to have seen, heard, or been touched by an animal or person that they knew was not there; 80% have reported having a premonition, and almost 50% stated they recalled a previous life.
Polls were conducted by Bryan Farha at Oklahoma City University and Gary Steward of the University of Central Oklahoma in 2006. They found fairly consistent results compared to the results of a Gallup poll in 2001.
|belief||not sure||belief||not sure||disbelief||belief||not sure||disbelief|
|Farha-Steward (2006)||Gallup (2001)||Gallup (2005)|
|psychic, spiritual healing||56||26||54||19||26||55 [a]||17||26|
|extraterrestrials visited Earth in the past||17||34||33||27||38||24||24||51|
|clairvoyance and prophecy||24||33||32||23||45||26||24||50|
A 1996 Gallup poll estimated that 71% of the people in the United States believed that the government was covering up information about UFOs. A 2002 Roper poll conducted for the Sci Fi channel reported that 56% thought UFOs were real craft and 48% that aliens had visited the Earth.
A 2001 National Science Foundation survey found that 9 percent of people polled thought astrology was very scientific, and 31 percent thought it was somewhat scientific. About 32% of Americans surveyed stated that some numbers were lucky, while 46% of Europeans agreed with that claim. About 60% of all people polled believed in some form of Extra-sensory perception and 30% thought that "some of the unidentified flying objects that have been reported are really space vehicles from other civilizations."
In 2017 the Chapman University Survey of American Fears asked about seven paranormal beliefs and found that "the most common belief is that ancient advanced civilizations such as Atlantis once existed (55 percent). Next was that places can be haunted by spirits (52 percent), aliens have visited Earth in our ancient past (35 percent), aliens have come to Earth in modern times (26 percent), some people can move objects with their minds (25 percent), fortune tellers and psychics can survey the future (19 percent), and Bigfoot is a real creature. Only one-fourth of respondents didn't hold at least one of these beliefs."
In 1922, Scientific American offered two US $2,500 offers: (1) for the first authentic spirit photograph made under test conditions, and (2) for the first psychic to produce a "visible psychic manifestation". Harry Houdini was a member of the investigating committee. The first medium to be tested was George Valiantine, who claimed that in his presence spirits would speak through a trumpet that floated around a darkened room. For the test, Valiantine was placed in a room, the lights were extinguished, but unbeknownst to him his chair had been rigged to light a signal in an adjoining room if he ever left his seat. Because the light signals were tripped during his performance, Valiantine did not collect the award. The last to be examined by Scientific American was Mina Crandon in 1924.
Since then, many individuals and groups have offered similar monetary awards for proof of the paranormal in an observed setting. These prizes have a combined value of over $2.4 million.
The James Randi Educational Foundation offers a prize of a million dollars to a person who can prove that they have supernatural or paranormal abilities under appropriate test conditions. Several other skeptic groups also offer a monied prize for proof of the paranormal, including the largest group of paranormal investigators, the Independent Investigations Group, which has chapters in Hollywood; Atlanta; Denver; Washington, D.C.; Alberta, B.C.; and San Francisco. The IIG offers a $100,000 prize and a $5,000 finders fee if a claimant can prove a paranormal claim under 2 scientifically controlled tests. Founded in 2000 no claimant has passed the first (and lower odds) of the test.
An aura or human energy field is, according to New Age beliefs, a colored emanation said to enclose a human body or any animal or object. In some esoteric positions, the aura is described as a subtle body. Psychics and holistic medicine practitioners often claim to have the ability to see the size, color and type of vibration of an aura.In New Age alternative medicine, the human aura is seen as a hidden anatomy that affect the health of a client, and is often understood to comprise centers of vital force called chakra. Such claims are not supported by scientific evidence and are pseudoscience. When tested under controlled experiments, the ability to see auras has not been shown to exist.Backscatter (photography)
In photography, backscatter (also called near-camera reflection) is an optical phenomenon resulting in typically circular artifacts on an image, due to the camera's flash being reflected from unfocused motes of dust, water droplets, or other particles in the air or water. It is especially common with modern compact and ultra-compact digital cameras.
Caused by the backscatter of light by unfocused particles, these artifacts are also sometimes called orbs, referring to a common paranormal claim. Some appear with trails, suggesting motion.Bermuda Triangle
The Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil's Triangle or Hurricane Alley, is a loosely-defined region in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean, where a number of aircraft and ships are said to have disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Most reputable sources dismiss the idea that there is any mystery. The vicinity of the Bermuda Triangle is amongst the most heavily traveled shipping lanes in the world, with ships frequently crossing through it for ports in the Americas, Europe and the Caribbean islands. Cruise ships and pleasure craft regularly sail through the region, and commercial and private aircraft routinely fly over it.
Popular culture has attributed various disappearances to the paranormal or activity by extraterrestrial beings. Documented evidence indicates that a significant percentage of the incidents were spurious, inaccurately reported, or embellished by later authors.Clairvoyance
Clairvoyance (; from French clair meaning "clear" and voyance meaning "vision") is the alleged ability to gain information about an object, person, location, or physical event through extrasensory perception. Any person who is claimed to have such ability is said accordingly to be a clairvoyant () ("one who sees clearly").
Claims for the existence of paranormal and psychic abilities such as clairvoyance have not been supported by scientific evidence published in high impact factor peer reviewed journals. Parapsychology explores this possibility, but the existence of the paranormal is not accepted by the scientific community. Parapsychology, including the study of clairvoyance, is an example of pseudoscience.Ectoplasm (paranormal)
Ectoplasm (from the Greek ektos, meaning "outside", and plasma, meaning "something formed or molded") is a term used in spiritualism to denote a substance or spiritual energy "exteriorized" by physical mediums. It was coined in 1894 by psychical researcher Charles Richet. Although the term is widespread in popular culture, the physical existence of ectoplasm is not accepted by science and many purported examples were exposed as hoaxes fashioned from cheesecloth, gauze or other natural substances.Ed and Lorraine Warren
Edward Warren Miney (September 7, 1926 – August 23, 2006) and Lorraine Rita Warren (née Moran, born January 31, 1927) were American paranormal investigators and authors associated with prominent cases of hauntings. Edward was a World War II United States Navy veteran and former police officer who became a self-taught and self-professed demonologist, author, and lecturer. Lorraine professes to be clairvoyant and a light trance medium who worked closely with her husband.
In 1952, the Warrens founded the New England Society for Psychic Research, the oldest ghost hunting group in New England. They authored numerous books about the paranormal and about their private investigations into various reports of paranormal activity. They claimed to have investigated over 10,000 cases during their career. The Warrens were among the very first investigators in the controversial Amityville haunting. According to the Warrens, the N.E.S.P.R. uses a variety of individuals, including medical doctors, researchers, police officers, nurses, college students, and members of the clergy in its investigations.Stories of ghost hauntings popularized by the Warrens have been adapted as or have indirectly inspired dozens of films, television series and documentaries, including 17 films in the Amityville Horror series and five films in The Conjuring Universe with two more yet to be released.
Skeptics Perry DeAngelis and Steven Novella have investigated the Warrens' evidence and described it as "blarney". Skeptical investigators Joe Nickell and Ben Radford concluded that the more famous hauntings, Amityville and the Snedeker family haunting, did not happen and had been invented.Extrasensory perception
Extrasensory perception or ESP, also called sixth sense, includes claimed reception of information not gained through the recognized physical senses, but sensed with the mind. The term was adopted by Duke University psychologist J. B. Rhine to denote psychic abilities such as intuition, telepathy, psychometry, clairvoyance, and their trans-temporal operation as precognition or retrocognition.Second sight is a form of extrasensory perception, the supposed power to perceive things that are not present to the senses, whereby a person perceives information, in the form of a vision, about future events before they happen (precognition), or about things or events at remote locations (remote viewing). There is no scientific evidence that second sight exists. Reports of second sight are known only from anecdotal evidence given after the fact.Ghost Adventures
Ghost Adventures is an American television series about the paranormal that premiered on October 17, 2008, on the Travel Channel. Produced by MY-Tupelo Entertainment (a merger of MY Entertainment and Tupelo-Honey Productions), the program follows ghost hunters Zak Bagans, Nick Groff (until season 10), and Aaron Goodwin as they investigate locations that are reported to be haunted. The show is introduced and narrated by Zak Bagans.Ghost hunting
Ghost hunting is the process of investigating locations that are reported to be haunted by ghosts. Typically, a ghost-hunting team will attempt to collect evidence supporting the existence of paranormal activity. Ghost hunters use a variety of electronic devices, including EMF meters, digital thermometers, both handheld and static digital video cameras, including thermographic and night vision cameras, as well as digital audio recorders. Other more traditional techniques are also used, such as conducting interviews and researching the history of allegedly haunted sites. Ghost hunters may also refer to themselves as "paranormal investigators."Ghost hunting has been heavily criticized for its dismissal of the scientific method. No scientific study has ever been able to confirm the existence of ghosts. The practice is considered a pseudoscience by the vast majority of educators, academics, science writers, and skeptics. Science historian Brian Regal described ghost hunting as "an unorganized exercise in futility".Incantation
An incantation is a magical formula intended to trigger a magical effect on a person or objects. The formula can be spoken, sung or chanted. An incantation can also be performed during ceremonial rituals or prayers. Other words synonymous with incantation is spells, charms or to bewitch. In the world of magic, the incantations are said to be performed by wizards, witches and fairies.In medieval literature, folklore, fairy tales and modern fantasy fiction, enchantments are charms or spells. This has led to the terms "enchanter" and "enchantress" for those who use enchantments. The term was loaned into English around AD 1300. The corresponding native English term being "galdr" "song, spell". The weakened sense "delight" (compare the same development of "charm") is modern, first attested in 1593 (OED).
Any word can be an incantation as long as the words are spoken with inflection and emphasis on the words being said. The tone and rhyme of how you speak the words matter on the outcome of the magical effect. The tone, rhyme, and placement of words used in the formula matters in influencing the outcome of the magical effect. The person who is speaking magical words usually commands for the magic to be carried out. The incantation performed can bring up powerful emotions and remind one of a sense of awe in childhood.Surviving written records of historical magic spells were largely obliterated in many cultures by the success of the major monotheistic religions, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, which label some magical activity as immoral or associated with evil.James Randi Educational Foundation
The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) is an American grant-making foundation. It was started as an American non-profit organization founded in 1996 by magician and skeptic James Randi. The JREF's mission includes educating the public and the media on the dangers of accepting unproven claims, and to support research into paranormal claims in controlled scientific experimental conditions. In September 2015, the organization said it would change to a grant-making foundation.The organization administered the One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge, which offered a prize of one million U.S. dollars to anyone who could demonstrate a supernatural or paranormal ability under agreed-upon scientific testing criteria. The One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge was terminated in 2015. The JREF also maintains a legal defense fund to assist persons who are attacked as a result of their investigations and criticism of people who make paranormal claims.The organization has been funded through member contributions, grants, and conferences, though it will no longer accept donations or memberships after 2015. The JREF website publishes a (nominally daily) blog at randi.org, Swift, which includes the latest JREF news and information, as well as exposés of paranormal claimants.Levitation (paranormal)
Levitation or transvection in the paranormal context is the rising of a human body and other objects into the air by mystical means or meditation. Some parapsychology and religious believers interpret alleged instances of levitation as the result of supernatural action of psychic power or spiritual energy. The scientific community states there is no evidence that levitation exists and alleged levitation events are explainable by natural causes (such as magic trickery, illusion, and hallucination).Magic (supernatural)
Magic is a category in Western culture into which have been placed various beliefs and practices considered separate from both religion and science. Historically, the term often had pejorative connotations, with things labelled magical perceived as being primitive, foreign, and Other. The concept has been adopted by scholars in the study of religion and the social sciences, who have proposed various different—and often mutually exclusive—definitions of the term; much contemporary scholarship regards the concept to be so problematic that it rejects it altogether.
The term magic derives from the Old Persian magu, a word that applied to a form of religious functionary about which little is known. During the late sixth and early fifth centuries BCE, this term was adopted into Ancient Greek, where it was used with negative connotations, to apply to religious rites that were regarded as fraudulent, unconventional, and dangerous. This meaning of the term was then adopted by Latin in the first century BCE. Via Latin, the concept was incorporated into Christian theology during the first century CE, where magic was associated with demons and thus defined against (Christian) religion. This concept was pervasive throughout the Middle Ages, when Christian authors categorised a diverse range of practices—such as enchantment, witchcraft, incantations, divination, necromancy, and astrology—under the label magic. In early modern Europe, Italian humanists reinterpreted the term in a positive sense to create the idea of natural magic. Both negative and positive understandings of the term were retained in Western culture over the following centuries, with the former largely influencing early academic usages of the word.
Since the nineteenth century, academics in various disciplines have employed the term magic but have defined it in different ways and used it in reference to different things. One approach, associated with the anthropologists Edward Tylor and James G. Frazer, uses the term to describe beliefs in hidden sympathies between objects that allow one to influence the other. Defined in this way, magic is portrayed as the opposite to science. An alternative approach, associated with the sociologists Marcel Mauss and Émile Durkheim, employs the term to describe private rites and ceremonies and contrasts it with religion, which it defines as a communal and organised activity. Many scholars of religion have rejected the utility of the term magic, arguing that it is arbitrary and ethnocentric; it has become increasingly unpopular within scholarship since the 1990s.
Throughout Western history, there have been examples of individuals who engaged in practices that their societies called magic and who sometimes referred to themselves as magicians. Within modern occultism, there are many self-described magicians and people who practice ritual activities that they term magic. In this environment, the concept of magic has again changed, usually being defined as a technique for bringing about changes in the physical world through the force of one's will. This definition was pioneered largely by the influential British occultist Aleister Crowley.Paranormal Activity
Paranormal Activity is a 2007 American supernatural horror film co-produced, written, directed, photographed and edited by Oren Peli. It centers on a young couple (Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat) who are haunted by a supernatural presence in their home. They then set up a camera to document what is haunting them. The film utilizes found-footage conventions that were mirrored in the later films of the series.
Originally developed as an independent feature and given film festival screenings in 2007, the film was acquired by Paramount Pictures and modified, particularly with a new ending. It was given a limited U.S. release on September 25, 2009, and then a nationwide release on October 16, 2009. The film earned nearly $108 million at the U.S. box office and a further $85 million internationally for a worldwide total of $193 million. Paramount/DreamWorks acquired the U.S. rights for $350,000. It is the most profitable film ever made, based on return on investment, although such figures are difficult to verify independently as this is likely to exclude marketing costs.The film is the first (chronologically, the third) entry in the Paranormal Activity film series. A parallel sequel and prequel, Paranormal Activity 2, was released in 2010. The success of the first two films would spawn additional films in the series: the prequel Paranormal Activity 3 in 2011, and Paranormal Activity 4 (the sequel to the second installment) in 2012. A spin-off, The Marked Ones, was released in 2014, and the fifth and final installment, The Ghost Dimension, was released in 2015.Paranormal romance
Paranormal romance is a subgenre of both romantic fiction and speculative fiction. Paranormal romance focuses on romantic love and includes elements beyond the range of scientific explanation, blending together themes from the speculative fiction genres of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Paranormal romance may range from traditional category romances, such as those published by Harlequin Mills & Boon, with a paranormal setting to stories where the main emphasis is on a science fiction or fantasy-based plot with a romantic subplot included. Common hallmarks are romantic relationships between humans and vampires, shapeshifters, ghosts, and other entities of a fantastic or otherworldly nature.
Beyond the more prevalent themes involving vampires, shapeshifters, ghosts, or time travel, paranormal romances can also include books featuring characters with psychic abilities, like telekinesis or telepathy. Paranormal romance has its roots in Gothic fiction. Its most recent revival has been spurred by turn of the 21st century technology, e.g. the internet and electronic publishing. Paranormal romances are one of the fastest growing trends in the romance genre.
Examples of authors specializing in this genre include Dani Harper, Nalini Singh (author), Jessica Bird, Kresley Cole, Christine Feehan, Kelley Armstrong, and Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight series. According to 2013 statistics by the fantasy publisher Tor Books, among writers of urban fantasy or paranormal romance, 57% are women and 43% are men, whereas men outnumber women by about two to one in writing historical, epic or high fantasy.Paranormal television
Paranormal television is a genre of reality television. Its scope comprises purportedly factual investigations of paranormal phenomena, rather than fictional representations found in such shows and films as The Ghosts of Motley Hall, Ghostbusters, Scooby-Doo and Rentaghost.Parapsychology
Parapsychology is the study of paranormal and psychic phenomena, including telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, near-death experiences, synchronicity, reincarnation, apparitional experiences, and other paranormal claims. It is considered to be pseudoscience by a vast majority of mainstream scientists.Parapsychology research is largely conducted by private institutions in several countries and funded through private donations,
and the subject almost never appears in mainstream science journals. Most papers about parapsychology are published in a small number of niche journals.
Parapsychology has been criticised for continuing investigation despite being unable to provide convincing evidence for the existence of any psychic phenomena after more than a century of research.Psychokinesis
Psychokinesis (from Greek ψυχή "mind" and κίνησις "movement"), or telekinesis (from τηλε- "far off" and κίνηση "movement"), is an alleged psychic ability allowing a person to influence a physical system without physical interaction.Psychokinesis experiments have historically been criticized for lack of proper controls and repeatability. There is no convincing evidence that psychokinesis is a real phenomenon, and the topic is generally regarded as pseudoscience.Synchronicity
Synchronicity (German: Synchronizität) is a concept, first introduced by analytical psychologist Carl Jung, which holds that events are "meaningful coincidences" if they occur with no causal relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related. During his career, Jung furnished several different definitions of it. Jung defined synchronicity as an "acausal connecting (togetherness) principle," "meaningful coincidence", and "acausal parallelism." He introduced the concept as early as the 1920s but gave a full statement of it only in 1951 in an Eranos lecture.In 1952 Jung published a paper "Synchronizität als ein Prinzip akausaler Zusammenhänge" (Synchronicity – An Acausal Connecting Principle) in a volume which also contained a related study by the physicist and Nobel laureate Wolfgang Pauli, who was sometimes critical of Jung's ideas. Jung's belief was that, just as events may be connected by causality, they may also be connected by meaning. Events connected by meaning need not have an explanation in terms of causality, which does not generally contradict the Axiom of Causality but in specific cases can lead to prematurely giving up causal explanation.
Jung used the concept in arguing for the existence of the paranormal. A believer in the paranormal, Arthur Koestler wrote extensively on synchronicity in his 1972 book The Roots of Coincidence. The idea of synchronicity as extending beyond mere coincidence (as well as the paranormal generally) is widely rejected in the academic and scientific community.