Parametersetting Theory


PARANORMAL PHENOMENA/THEORY. = extra-sensory perception = parapsychology = psi phenomena. The paranormal class of effects refers to supernatural events/ results ("beyond the normal") that are inexplicable by the usual laws of science and/or reason. The related terms extra-sensory perception (ESP) (including clairvoyance, precognition, and telepathy) and psychokinesis (PK) are generic terms for various hypothetical paranormal phenomena that involve experiences having no direct sensory contact, or refer to perception without the use of sense organs (cf., concordant twin theory - the proposition that identical twins will be able to communicate via ESP to a higher degree than concordant twins, and that - even if separated either at birth or soon after - such twins in the future will have similar preferences and lifestyles as well as identical physical ailments). The American parapsychologist Joseph B. Rhine (1895-1980) claimed to have coined the term extra-sensory perception in 1934, but the Haitian-born German physician/psychical researcher Gustav Pagenstecher (1855-1942) anticipated the notion in his book published in 1924 [cf., the German ophthalmologist and psychical researcher Rudolf Tischner (18791961) who studied the ESP phenomena of telepathy and clairvoyance in the 1920s; the term ESP was used, also, by the adventurer/ scholar Sir Richard Burton (1821-1890) in 1870; and the French psychical researcher Paul Joire (1856-1931) used the term ESP in 1892 to describe the ability of persons who have been hypnotized to externally sense things without using their ordinary senses; the phenomena of ESP may even have been indicated in Biblical times]. The first systematic study of ESP was conducted in 1882 when the Society for Psychical Research was founded in London, England (the American Society for Psychical Research was founded in 1885). However, the first ESP studies were rarely experimental in nature, and consisted mostly of researchers merely bombarding "sensitives/ psychics" with questions under conditions that resembled prosecuting lawyers questioning a defendant in a court of law. The following paranormal phenomena have received the most attention: clairvoyance or remote viewing - the extra-sensory visual perception of events/objects; clairaudience - the ability to sense sounds that are beyond the range of normal hearing; pre-cognition - the perception of events/objects in the future (or of another person's future mental processes) without the use of the sense organs (cf., pre-recognition hypothesis - posits that an expectation of an event occurs as the result of previous experiences in similar situations, and that future events "cast their shadow" before they happen, allowing certain "sensitive" people with psychic abilities to predict disasters and catastrophes); psychokinesis/telekinesis/parakinesis - the movement or change of physical objects simply by mental processes without the use of physical force or direct intervention; telesthe-sia - perception of events or objects that are beyond the range of the individual's sense organs; telegnosis - know-ledge of distant objects/events obtained without the use of the sense organs; and telepathy - perception of another person's mental processes without the use of the sense organs. One of the major requirements or criteria for valid scientific findings/results is that of replicability (i.e., obtaining the same results across studies that are repeated using the same procedures); however, unfortunately, the majority of research on paranormal phenomena lacks reproducibil-ity/replicability and, accordingly, many psychologists remain skeptical concerning the existence of such hypothesized events [cf., change effect - a tendency for scores to drop temporarily following the change in experimental conditions in parapsychological tests; decline effect - the tendency for scores on psi phenomena tests to decline within a run, a session, or an experiment; preferential effect -in ESP research, this refers to a class of differ ential effects in which the positive scoring, i.e., "hitting," on one of the two contrasting conditions is associated with the individual's preference for that condition; sheep-goat effect - the tendency for individuals who believe in the possibility of ESP (the "sheep") to obtain scores above the mean chance expectation, as compared to those who do not believe in ESP (the "goats") who tend to score below the expected mean in ESP tests]. See also PSEUDOSCIENTIFIC/ UNCONVENTIONAL THEORIES. REFERENCES

Pagenstecher, G. (1920). A notable psychometric test. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 14, 386-417.

Pagenstecher, G. (1924). Aussersinnlicher wahrnehmung (Extra-sensory perception). Leipzig: Mutze. Tischner, R. (1925). Telepathy and clairvoyance. London: Kegan, Paul, Trench, & Trubner.

Rhine, J. B. (1934). Extrasensory perception.

Boston: SPR/Humphries. Zusne, L., & Jones, W. H. (1982). Anomalistic psychology. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

PARAPRAXIS THEORY. The Austrian physician and psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) proposed parapraxis theory in which minor errors in speech or action (such as "slips" of the tongue, of the pen, or of action) are viewed not as random events, but often as representative of fulfillments of the individual's unconscious desires or wishes. The notion of "parapraxis" (in Greek, "beside or beyond a deed," and in German, "faulty performance") in parapraxis theory may be examined in the psychoanalytic milieu/context for possible clues concerning repressed thoughts and desires by the use of a therapeutic technique similar to dream analysis involving free association and interpretation of latent content of verbal and behavioral protocols. Parapraxes have been referred to, also, by psychologists as "motivated errors," and by laypersons as "Freudian slips." See also FREUD'S THEORY OF PERSONALITY.

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