Extra Sensory Perception Essay

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The term Extra Sensory Perception, or ESP, denotes the ability to gather information by means not related either to common five sences or to persons previous experience. The most common abilities classified as ESP are telepathy, precognition and clairvoyance. Studies of ESP, together with vast number of other unexplained psychic abilities attributed to human brain such as, but not limited to, pyro- and psychokinesis, astral projection, bioenergetic healing and so on are grouped under the term of parapsychology.

Abilities grouped under the term of ESP were rumoured to exist from times of old, but conventional science started to examine them only in late XIX century. Since 1884, British Society for Psychical Research began to experiment with card-guessing, the ESP definition method bordering between clairvoyance and telepathy (the subject was to tell the card in sealed opaque envelopes, to tell the card at certain place on the table in other room and so forth). At 1930s, they were joined by American experiments (by J. B. Rhine and L.

Rhine), and the results were thoroughly analysed in order to find any deviations from statistical norm. Though not all experiments were equally conclusive, some methods of guessing were found to produce results unexplained by statistics. Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher (1990), English mathematician who was assisting the Society for Psychical Research in analysis of its experiments, wrote: In any case the frequencies differ much more than they would in 748 cards drawn independently and truly at random. The 12 degrees of freedom score 50. 5267 and of this the preference component contributes 24.

1360, a very marked preference, nearly five times its standard error. ¦ in Table E you certainly have got a phenomenon. In British Society for Psychical Research Ina Jephson and S. G. Soal did their experiments with playing cards; after it was found that people choose some cards more often than others based on numerical value, set, or color, J. B. Rhine in Duke Univercity, North Carolina, decided to find a more emotionally neutral media for experiments. A set of special cards with simple symbols on them was developed, called Zener cards after the name of Karl Zener, their inventor.

There were 25 cards total in the pack, with 5 each of circle, cross, star, wavy lines and square. With only 5 types of cards it was easier to analyse the results first by manual accounting, then by computers. Now, Zener cards are the common practice used in ESP experiments. Later, J. B. Rhine (1940) and his Duke Univercity colleagues collected information about their own studies and previous experiments in ESP from XIX century to present time. Considering Duke Univercity experiments, they reported some most unusual results, differing from statistical expectations:

In one set of experiments, 2400 total guesses were made and an excess of 489 hits were noted¦ The statistical probability of this outcome is equivalent to odds of 1,000,000 to 1¦ ¦ 27 of the 33 [sets of experiments] produced statistically significant results. In Soviet Russia, independent researches in ESP were made with significant successes. Ostrander and Schroeder (1970) in their review Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain cite the results of experiments by some Karl Nikolayev and Yuri Kamensky.

Not only they have sent and received telepathic pulses from each other being in different cities 400 miles apart, but their brains were scanned while performing acts of ESP. It was reported that different areas of the brain were becoming active depending on what kinds of information visual or sound was being telepathically received. More, the telepathic pulses Nikolayev claimed to be receiving were also indicated by EEG machine connected to his brain, and the distinction between long and short pulses was definite. Soviet parapsychologists studies were later put to some use by Western inventors.

Ostrander and Schroeder (1997) in their second book tell about some experimental military devices based on ESP principles: Highly reliable sources tell us the Western military saw possibilities in Sergeyevs remote sensors and did some inventing of their own. They created a special helmet to help pilots handle the split second moment of maximum danger when an enemy plane carrying a rocket approaches. The unconscious percieves an event an instant before it becomes conscious to us. The sensors in the helmet pick up a shift in the brains fields in advance and automatically trigger firing a missile before the pilot could do it consciously.

Still, there is a wide field of questions that lies before the parapsychological studies. For example, the fact is noted that people who believe in ESP show better results in parapsychology tests than those who do not. This itself is one of the best arguments in favour of accepting ESP as science-proven. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research (2007) tells about one case of such studies: Seventy-four participants were recruited through media advertisements. The experimenters employed blind coding and recoding procedures, and let the participants touch the objects to obtain impressions. Six trials were completed.

Participants were categorised as either psychic, ESP skilled (N = 44), or non-psychic, ESP experients (N = 30). The ESP skilled group scored higher psi-hitting than the ESP experients group, who scored at the level of mean chance expectation. The difference between groups was significant. So, the question of whether the ESP can be classified as scientific fact is still open, but there are very definite arguments for it to be considered as such.


Fisher R. A. (1990). Statistical Inference and Analysis: selected correspondence of R. A. Fisher, edited by J. H. Bennett. London: Oxford University Press J. B. Rhine, J.G. Pratt, Charles E. Stuart, Burke M. Smith & Joseph A. Greenwood. (1940). Extra-Sensory Perception after Sixty Years. A Critical Appraisal of the Research in Extra-Sensory Perception. New York: Henry Holt & Co. , Inc. Ostrander, S. & Schroeder, L. (1970). Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. Ostrander, S. & Schroeder, L. (1997). Psychic Discoveries: The Iron Curtain Lifted. New York: Marlowe and Company. Parra A. & Argibay J. C. (2007, July). Comparing psychics and non-psychics through a token-object forced-choice ESP test. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, pp. 80-90.

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