Reported experiences of being abducted by alien creatures, often into spacecraft. Abductees often experience lost time and suffer loss of memory. When memories are recovered, often using hypnoticregression, abductees may report that surgical operations were performed on them. See also temporal lobe activity.
Electrical activity in the brain (about 10 cycles per second) associated with a state of mental relaxation. See also EEG.
A term used to refer to any state of consciousness that is different from "normal" states of waking or sleeping. ASCs include hypnosis, trance, ecstasy, psychedelic and meditative experience. ASCs do not necessarily have paranormal features.
Refers to cases in which animal corpses (often cattle) have been found with bizarre injuries that do not seem to have a normal explanation in terms of illness, accident or action of predators. Cuts and injuries often appear to have been carried out with surgical precision. Typically the corpse is drained of blood. Certain body parts may be absent (e.g., genitals).
A theory and practice which attempts to identify the ways in which astronomical events are correlated with events on earth (e.g., with an individual's personality and biography, or with social and political trends).
Re-emergence of ancestral characteristics; a genetic throwback.
Physical activites (e.g., arm movements, writing, drawing, musical performance) that occur without the automatist's conscious control or knowledge. Also known as motor automatism. See also automatic writing, dissociation.
Procedure in which a question is secretly written on a piece of paper which is folded or sealed in an envelope, and handed to the psychic who attempts to answer the question. Various trickery can be employed by fraudulent psychics and mentalists.
Being (or appearing to be) in two different places at the same time. See also autoscopy.
A general term for techniques that involve giving a person information about their current physiological state (e.g., heart rate, EEG). Biofeedback is used to enable people to control consciously their physiological processes.
Magical spells or rituals practiced with the intention of harming others. Cf. white magic .
An experimental control in which subjects are not informed of certain key features of the experiment. Also used to refer to a procedure where a judge is asked to compare targets and responses without knowing which responses were made to which targets. See also double blind.
A box or curtained enclosure in which a physical medium is secured and from which various phenomena may manifest (e.g., lights, objects moving, instruments played). Certain stage magicians can simulate this procedure with great effect.
A general term that refers to the paranormal obtaining of information about an object or event. In modern usage, this does not necessarily refer to obtaining information visually. Cf. clairaudience, clairsentience, ESP, psi.
A set of cards used in a card-guessing test where each card appears a fixed number of times. Statistical analysis of research data using a closed deck differs from statistical analysis of data using an open deck.
The occurrence, within a short space of time, of two or more meaningfully related events and without any apparent causal connection between them. Coincidences are sometimes bizarre and extraordinarily improbable. See also synchronicity.
A reading given with no prior knowledge of the sitter. Often a mixture of very general statements which could apply to anyone, together with inferences made from cues presented by the sitter (e.g., physical appearance, clothes, tone of voice, statements made). Cf. hot reading.
An apparition seen simultaneously by more than one person.
Concept put forward by C.G. Jung to refer to a level of unconscious thought and experience shared collectively by humans.
A technique simulating telepathy, in which the "mind reader" (who generally holds a hand or arm) responds to slight muscle movements produced unconsciously by the person whose mind is apparently being read. Also known as muscle reading, Cumberlandism or Hellstromism.
Circular (or more elaborate) formations found in growing crops, most commonly in Southern Britain. Sometimes they are associated with UFO sightings. Many formations appear to have been intelligently created and to have some symbolic meaning. Despite several "confessions" made by various individuals and groups, the crop circle mystery remains unsolved.
An association between two or more events or variables.
A mathematical index of the degree of association between two or more measures.
An apparition in which a person is seen within a few hours of an important crisis such as death, accident or sudden illness.
(a) Separate items of information, received independently by two or more mediums, which make sense only when pieced together.
(b) THE cross-correspondences is a classic case of highly complex cross-correspondences which continued from 1901 to 1932 among a group of automatists associated with the Society for Psychical Research.
Knowledge (acquired in normal ways) that may be revealed without the person remembering its source. Such memories may falsely appear to be paranormal revelations. Sometimes cryptomnesia is used as an explanation for apparently paranormal experiences such as xenoglossy or past-life memories.
Practices involving the interpretation of signs or symbols that seek to obtain oracular knowledge of events. Examples of divinatory practices are geomancy, tarot, I Ching, sortilege, and reading tea leaves.
The ability to understand the experience or emotional state of another person or animal. Often used to refer to an apparently psychic ability to experience another person's sensations, pain or emotions. Cf. clairsentience, intuition.
Strange phenomena, especially those which challenge conventional scientific knowledge. Named after the American researcher and writer Charles Fort. Fortean phenomena include those generally considered paranormal, but also bizarre non-paranormal events such as monsters and prodigies, extraordinary coincidences, and unusual rains.
The deliberate faking of paranormal phenomenena, generally for the purpose of financial gain, psychological manipulation, or notoriety. Faking for the purpose of entertainment (e.g., by stage magicians and mentalists) is not normally classed as fraud.
An ESP test in which the subject responds freely (does not choose from a fixed list of targets). For example, the subject may write down or draw their impressions, or may talk freely into a tape recorder. In order to assess the accuracy of the responses, they are compared with various targets (including the actual target) by a judge. See also preferential matching.
A technique for investigating ESP in which the person experiences an absence of patterned stimulation. This generally involves the subject wearing halved table-tennis balls over the eyes while listening to hiss (white noise) through headphones.
Mediumistic phenomenon in which the discarnate entity appears to speak using the vocal apparatus of the medium. Often the voice will sound very different from the medium's normal voice. Cf. direct voice.
The non-paranormal ability to grasp the elements of a situation or to draw conclusions about complex events in ways that go beyond a purely rational or intellectual analysis. Cf. clairsentience, empathy.
A system of healing developed by F.A. Mesmer, involving the induction of trance states and the supposed transfer of animal magnetism. People in Mesmeric trance often showed paranormal abilities such as clairvoyance.
Experiences of people after they have been pronounced clinically dead, or been very close to death. Typical features of the NDE are an OBE, life review, a tunnel experience, light, coming to a boundary (marking death), seeing dead friends and relatives, experiencing a loving or divine presence, and making a choice (or being told) to return. Occasionally NDEs can be frightening and distressing. NDEs often have profound effects on the person's later life. See also cerebral anoxia, survival.
Black magic practices involving communicating with the dead.
A series of cards used in a card guessing test where each card is chosen randomly and independently. This enables each target to be selected any number of times. Statistical analysis of research data using an open deck differs from statistical analysis of data using a closed deck.
Term coined by J.B. Rhine to refer to the experimental and quantitative study of paranormal phenomena. Now generally used instead of "psychical research" to refer to all scientific investigation of the paranormal. Cf. transpersonal psychology.
German word meaning "noisy or troublesome spirit". Poltergeist activity may include unexplained noises, movements of objects, outbreaks of fire, floods, pricks or scratches to a person's body. Unlike hauntings, which are associated with specific locations, poltergeists typically focus on a person (the focal person or poltergeist agent) who is often a young child or adolescent. Many physical mediums experienced poltergeist activity in their childhood.
Numbers generated by an electronic calculator or computer using a complex mathematical algorithm that simulates a random process. Although the numbers generated are essentially unpredictable, they are not strictly random. See also random numbers, random event generator.
Numbers generated in an unpredictable, haphazard sequence.
Random Number Tables
A printed table of random numbers, usually made up of several rows and columns of computer-generated numbers. To use the table a starting value is chosen by randomly selecting a row and column (e.g., by throwing a dice). Successive numbers are then chosen by working through the table using any previously chosen systematic rule. Suitable rules might be (1) moving horizontally to the right, skipping alternate numbers, or (2) moving vertically down, selecting every fifth number. The selected random numbers may then be used, for example, to determine target sequences.
In Buddhism, the belief that there is some continuty of mind from one life to the next. Buddhism, however, does not accept the existence of the individual soul and therefore does not view rebirth as the soul's literal re-incarnation. Cf. reincarnation. See also bardo.
(a) a statistical technique that enables predictions to be made from a set of data.
(b) a technique used in hypnosis, involving suggesting to hypnotized persons that they are returning to an earlier time. Sometimes the regression occurs spontaneously, without suggestion. See also past-life regression.
The belief that some aspect of a person's being (e.g., consciousness, personality, or soul) survives death and can be reborn in a new body at some future date. Reincarnation is often seen as a repeating cycle of death and rebirth in which future lives are influenced by past and present actions through the law of karma. Cf. rebirth.
A person inclined to discount the reality of the paranormal and to be critical of parapsychological research. Generally seeks rational or scientific explanations for the phenomena studied by parapsychologists.
A card-guessing procedure in which the subject and experimenter sit on opposite sides of a screen which has a small gap at the bottom. Key cards are hung on the screen in front of the subject (the faces may be seen or unseen). Underneath each key card is a blank card that can be seen by both subject and experimenter. The experimenter holds the target cards and the subject indicates the guess on each trial by pointing to the corresponding blank card. The experimenter then places the card in a pile on his or her side of the screen in a position corresponding to that of the indicated blank card. See also blind matching, open matching.
Results of an experiment are said to be statistically significant when they are very unlikely to be due to chance (and hence, in a psi test, are more likely to be due to psi). The chance probability is reported as the "significance level". To be considered significant, the chance probability must generally be less than 1 in 20 (5%, or 0.05).
A dream whose elements correspond closely with those in the dream of another person.
The suggestion that people are capable of unlimited ESP. The super-ESP hypothesis is often presented as an alternative to the survival hypothesis in explaining mediumistic phenomena (the medium is believed to obtain information using super-ESP powers and not directly from the spirit of a deceased person).
Mysterious movements of a table, usually occurring in a seance when a group of people place their hands on the surface of the table. Often the movements are interpreted as spiritcommunications. Also known as table-turning or table-tipping.
Electrical activity in the temporal lobes of the brain. Often associated with strange sensations, time distortions and hallucinations. Sometimes used as an explanation for seemingly paranormal experiences such as apparitions and alien abduction experiences.
Quasi-religious and philosophical system of the Theosophical Society, founded in 1875 by Madame Blavatsky. Its paranormal claims were controversially and damningly reported upon by the Society for Psychical Research in 1885.
The study of experiences, beliefs and practices that suggest that the sense of self can extend beyond our personal or individual reality. The subject matter of transpersonal psychology overlaps to some extent with parapsychology, but the two disciplines tend to have different approaches and emphases. Parapsychology is primarily concerned to investigate evidence for and against the reality of paranormal phenomena. Transpersonal psychology, on the other hand, is more interested in investigating the transpersonal significance of such phenomena (i.e., the ways in which they may give people a sense of connectedness with a larger, more universal or spiritual reality). See also mysticism.
Set of 25 cards (5 each of circle, square, Greek cross, five-pointed star, three wavy lines) designed by the perceptual psychologist Karl Zener for use in card-guessing tests of ESP. Also known as ESP cards.