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Over 20 years ago, a Harvard-trained neurosurgeon and researcher named Norman Shealy was introduced to a young woman with a special gift: She could see illness in other people with only her intuition to guide her. After extensive testing, Dr. Shealy concluded that her ability to diagnose illness even from remote distances was 93 percent ...
Much of the world's population believes that intuition is real and that we as human beings can come to a direct knowing of various phenomena outside of the normal range of our five senses. It is only in the last few decades, however, that rigorous scientific studies have suggested the existence of intuitive abilities.
Part of the challenge in scientifically demonstrating the reality of intuition is that much of our intuitive experience occurs spontaneously and outside the confines of a controlled laboratory setting. From hunches to gut feelings to just "knowing" when something feels right (or wrong), these experiences that are quite real to us in the moment are often not replicable in a controlled setting—and are thus very difficult to approach scientifically. Because of this fact, many scientists have been quick to dismiss the existence of intuition and intuitive abilities.
Over the last few decades, however, scientists and researchers have discovered that intuitive abilities are a natural and normal part of being human. Further, these abilities are a skill that can be developed with practice and can be applied in a variety of ways to improve our lives and the lives of those around us. Though often associated with the "paranormal," researchers are seeing that intuition is an innate faculty of the human being and far from anything occult, strange, or abnormal. In fact, the exact opposite may be true: it may be abnormal to rely only on the rational mind for information and guidance in living our lives.
Most of the scientific research related to intuition has been conducted within the field of parapsychology. True parapsychological study is scientifically rigorous and based on strict and controlled laboratory research; it arose as a discipline to investigate intuitive and other abilities using the scientific method. Unfortunately, however, the term "parapsychology" has come to be popularly used to explain any and all bizarre phenomena—from revealing the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle to tracking Bigfoot to channeling the Pleiadians.
There are some researchers who have deemed parapsychology a pseudoscience, claiming it is wrought with methodological flaws, thus making any claims to experimental success questionable or even deceptive. Many mainstream scientists insist that despite more than a century of research not one study has demonstrated conclusive evidence of psychic or intuitive abilities.
In this section, we will explore serious scientific research and what it has to say about intuitive abilities. According to professor and respected researcher Dr. Charles Tart, there are four basic parapsychological phenomena that have been shown to exist beyond any reasonable doubt. There are now dozens to hundreds of respected studies that have been performed in each of these areas that demonstrate statistically significant outcomes.
After a brief tour through the history of research in the area of intuition, we will explore three of these phenomena in turn, noting significant studies that have been conducted. The three areas we will explore are telepathy, clairvoyance, and precognition.
The first group to conduct serious research in the area of intuitive ability was the Society for Psychical Research (SPR). Founded in London in 1882, it appears to have been the first systematic effort to organize scientists and scholars for a critical and sustained investigation of intuitive and other unexplained phenomena. An offshoot of the SPR, the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR), opened in 1885 under the guidance of pioneering psychologist William James. James was the author of the landmark The Varieties of Religious Experience.
The SPR focused their studies on a number of areas, including telepathy, hypnotism, the materialization of objects, hallucinations, and the general field of psi phenomena. Psi is the 23rd letter of the Greek alphabet, referring to "mind" or "soul." SPR's stated purpose is to understand "events and abilities commonly described as psychic or paranormal by promoting and supporting important research in this area" and to "examine allegedly paranormal phenomena in a scientific and unbiased way."
The SPR is alive and active today, hosting events and continually updating its comprehensive online library. It is also the publisher of the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, which has been published continuously since 1884.
For more information about the Society for Psychical Research, please see www.spr.ac.uk/expcms
For more information about the American Society for Psychical Research, please see www.aspr.com. They are located at 5 West 73rd Street, New York, NY 10023, and can be reached at 212-799-5050.
In the early 1900s, academic research began to focus upon the varied field of extrasensory perception (ESP). In 1911, Stanford University became the first academic institution in the United States to study and publish its research in the area of ESP. In 1930, Duke University followed and introduced the use of student volunteers to conduct a variety of ESP-based experiments. These early efforts at Stanford and Duke were the first experiments utilizing a quantitative, statistical approach to the study of intuitive ability. The research at Duke in particular introduced standards for laboratory testing of ESP at universities around the world.
In 1937, J. B. Rhine, one of the original researchers at Duke, published a landmark book titled New Frontiers of the Mind: The Story of the Duke Experiments. In it, Rhine summarized the research at Duke for a more general audience and introduced Duke's findings to the community. It was in this book that Rhine introduced the term "parapsychology" to the public (it had been coined some 40 years prior but remained rather obscure) to describe the new field of research that was now being conducted.
Dr. Rhine's work continues to this day through the Rhine Research Center in Durham, North Carolina. Dr. Rhine also leaves behind him the establishment of the Journal of Parapsychology, a semiannual peer-reviewed publication "devoted primarily to the original publication of experimental results and other research findings in extrasensory perception and psychokinesis." It also contains reviews of "literature relevant to parapsychology, criticisms of published work, theoretical and philosophical discussions, and new methods of mathematical analysis."
For more information about the Rhine Research Center and the Journal of Parapsychology, please see www.rhine.org.
References to several scholarly and scientific articles representing a wide range of information about psi, parapsychology, and consciousness research arranged alphabetically by author, compiled by the Rhine Research Center: http://www.rhine.org/researchlinks.htm
Current studies being conducted by the Rhine Research Center http://www.rhine.org/researchcurrent.htm
As Dr. Rhine and others continued their research in the newly designated field of parapsychology, Rhine proposed the formation of an international professional society to, according to the organization's constitution, "advance parapsychology as a science, to disseminate knowledge of the field, and to integrate the findings with those of other branches of science." Thus emerged the Parapsychological Association, which holds annual conventions and publishes the proceedings as Research in Parapsychology.
Under the direction of anthropologist Margaret Mead, the Parapsychological Association took a large step in advancing the field of parapsychology in 1969 when it became affiliated with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the largest general scientific society in the world.
Today, the Parapsychological Association consists of about 300 full, associate, and affiliated members worldwide and maintains its affiliation with the AAAS. The annual AAAS convention provides a forum where parapsychologists can present their research to scientists from other fields and advance parapsychology in the context of the AAAS's lobbying on national science policy.
For more information about the Parapsychological Association and dozens of informative articles and studies on intuition and related topics, please see www.parapsych.org.
For abstracts from the Fiftieth Parapsychological Association Annual Convention, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, August 25, 2007, presenting recent research in the field, please see www.parapsych.org/PDF/paabs07.pdf.
The 1960s and 1970s brought an explosion of public interest in the fields of intuition and spirituality. Correspondingly, it was an active time for research in related areas and the formation of key organizations such as the Institute of Noetic Sciences. The Stanford Research Institute (SRI) began engaging in parapsychological research, and the scope of the field grew by leaps and bounds.
During this time, with public exploration of yoga, meditation, and psychedelic journeys at an all-time high, researchers were busy trying to understand the many nonordinary experiences being reported by people of all walks of life. The view of parapsychology as some fringe form of science began to diminish. The field began to be taken more seriously and seen as an important area of scientific research.
For example, in 1979, a survey of more than 1,100 college professors in the United States found that only 2 percent of psychologists expressed the belief that extrasensory perception was an impossibility. A far greater number, 34 percent, indicated that they believed ESP was either an established fact or a likely possibility. The percentage was even higher in other areas of study: 55 percent of natural scientists, 66 percent of social scientists (excluding psychologists), and 77 percent of academics in the arts, humanities, and education.
The surge in paranormal research continued throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s. By the end of the 1980s, the Parapsychological Association reported members working in more than 30 countries.
In the last couple of decades, academic research in parapsychology has slowed in comparison to the boom in the '70s and '80s. For a variety of reasons, many of the university-based programs have closed or otherwise lost funding. There are still several universities conducting intuitive and parapsychological research, including the University of Virginia's Division of Perceptual Studies and the University of Arizona's VERITAS laboratory. Most research in the field, however, is now being conducted in the private sector.
The most well known of these private research organizations is the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS), cofounded in 1973 by former astronaut Edgar Mitchell and industrialist Paul N. Temple to encourage and conduct research on human potentials. Headquartered in Petaluma, California, the Institute publishes a quarterly magazine called Shift: At the Frontiers of Consciousness and houses an active research laboratory and retreat center.
Current IONS projects in the area of intuitive development include "experimenter effects and the remote detection of staring," "gut intuition experiment," "consciousness during lucid dreaming," and "experience of percipients in the ganzfeld ESP situation."
To read about IONS-sponsored research in the area of intuition, please see www.noetic.org/research/capacities.cfm.
The Parapsychological Association remains active to this day. They remain clear that the presently available, cumulative statistical database for experiments studying some parapsychological effects provides strong, scientifically credible evidence for these effects. This includes presentiment, ESP, and mind-matter interaction. The Association asserts that an increasing number of parapsychologists are moving beyond proof-oriented research, because they believe experimental success has already been established, and they are instead looking at more detailed factors to better understand the phenomena.
Parapsychological research has also been augmented by other subdisciplines of psychology. These related fields include transpersonal psychology, which studies transcendent or spiritual aspects of the human mind, and anomalistic psychology, which examines paranormal beliefs and subjective anomalous experiences in traditional psychological terms.
In conclusion, the validity of intuitive and psychic abilities has been pointed toward using the scientific method for many decades now. If you are interested in learning more about how science has studied these abilities and what modern-day researchers are discovering in these areas, please see the Scientific Research section of our Recommended Books guide. There you will find information and links to some of the pioneering researchers and institutions involved in this work today.
"Clairvoyance" is a term derived from the French language usually translated as "clear vision." It is generally used to refer to the ability to access information about a person, an object, a place, or an event by means other than the five human senses. One who possesses such ability is referred to as a clairvoyant (one who sees with clear vision).
While both clairvoyance and telepathy involve what is called extrasensory perception (ESP), clairvoyants access information directly from the external source in question; in telepathy, in contrast, information is transferred "mind-to-mind," from one individual to another. This is the primary distinction between these two forms of intuitive ability.
Many research studies on clairvoyance have produced results significantly above chance and many respected researchers are convinced of the reality of these phenomenon.
The following review of the experimental literature in the area of clairvoyance was conducted by Dr. Fiona Steinkamp. The various studies offer a number of models that attempt to explain how clairvoyance and precognition might work. Dr. Steinkamp points to significant data supporting the phenomena while also offering a critique of current studies with the goal to promote more conceptually rigorous research in the future.
To read Dr. Steinkamp's assessment, please see http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2320/is_2_63/ai_58517906.
For more information about Dr. Fiona Steinkamp and her research in the fields of intuitive abilities and parapsychology, please see www.parapsych.org/members/f_steincamp.html.
The stated goal of the Anima Project is to provide valid statistical analysis with respect to the existence of clairvoyance. It seeks to gather data from online participants, through a specially designed card game, which will be rigorously analyzed according to the scientific method. The experiments are open to the public and presented in a way that is accessible to nonscientists. Unlike previous studies in clairvoyance, the Anima Project seeks to eliminate human error and bias during data collection through applying cutting-edge statistical techniques.
For more information about the Anima Project and to participate in these studies on clairvoyance, please see www4004.ssldomain.com/animaproject.
One of the best-known methods to test for the existence of clairvoyance are "Zener Cards"—specially designed cards (similar to regular playing cards) designed by psychologist Karl Zener. The cards were first used by parapsychologist J.B. Rhine in the 1930s to run a series of experiments designed to measure different levels of extrasensory perception in a variety of participants. The Zener deck consists of five distinct cards, each with one of the following symbols: a hollow circle, a hollow square, a hollow five-pointed star, a Greek cross, and three vertical wavy lines. Each deck consists of 25 cards, five of each design.
The way the test works is that the experimenter chooses a card from the shuffled deck, notes the symbol on the card, and keeps track of the answer of the person being tested. The results are then analyzed for statistical significance.
Try the Zener experiments yourself through the following online tests:
Remote Viewing is a specific type of clairvoyance that refers to the gathering of information about a distant or unseen target using means beyond the ordinary five senses. The technique has a rich and somewhat secretive history bound up in the intelligence community within the U.S. government, specifically as related to the Stargate Project, a research program designed to determine whether the military could benefit through the development and use of psychic abilities.
Scientific research on remote viewing begin at the Stanford Research Institute in Palo Alto, California, in the early 1970s. Early researchers Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff coined the term "remote viewing" in 1974 to describe this particular methodology of accessing data from a remote location in time and space. Remote viewing has been popularized over the last few decades by authors and researchers such as David Morehouse, Joseph McMoneagle, and Courtney Brown.
To read about Russell Targ's discoveries with remote viewing, please see www.espresearch.com/limitlessmind.
For an article by Lance Storm published in the Journal of Parapsychology summarizing and reviewing research on remote viewing, see http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2320/is_2_67/ai_n6032973
For more information about remote viewing, please see the following article from pioneering remote viewer and teacher David Morehouse here »
Precognition refers to a process whereby a person perceives information about events which have not yet taken place, through means outside of the five senses. In common parlance, precognition is often referred to as "seeing the future."Pioneering researchers J.W. Dunne and J.B Rhine conducted research in the early 1900s that sought to study the nature of precognition and its scientific validity. In 1927, Dunne published the results of his research in his parapsychological classic, An Experiment with Time. Shortly after, J.B. Rhine began his research of precognition in the 1930s at the Duke University Parapsychology Laboratory. Modern research continues this day at the Rhine Research Center in Durham, North Carolina, and at other independent research centers such as the Insitute of Noetic Sciences in Petaluma, California.
Included below are additional resources where you can read about scientific studies on precognition and what researchers have discovered about its nature and validity:
Stanford University's Precognitive Science online project: http://nostoc.stanford.edu/jeff/precog
Survey of precognition studies from 1935–1987: www.lfr.org/LFR/csl/library/HonortonFerrari.pdf
Experimental study on precognition: www.scientificexploration.org/journal/jse_15_3_vasilescu.pdf
Information on the Mobius Psi-Q test on precognition www.stephanaschwartz.com/PDF/Psi-Q%20I%20Report.pdf
Dean Radin's article "Precognition, Presentiment, and Remote Viewing," from the Esalen Center Conference: www.esalenctr.org/display/confpage.cfm?confid=2&pageid=5&pgtype=1
Beyond the Blog's article on the science of precognition: http://beyondtheblog.wordpress.com/2008/01/27/the-science-of-precognition
Ken Euler investigates the science of telling the future: www.thevarsity.ca/article/17854
There continues to be a lively debate in the scientific community as to whether intuitive and psychic abilities have been demonstrated with statistical significance. While many researchers are convinced that overwhelming evidence demonstrates the existence of extrasensory perception and intuition, others doubt the validity of the experiments to date.
To learn more about what science has to say about intuition and intuitive development, we refer you to our We Recommend section where you will learn about the key scientists and research organizations involved in the field, including a list of recommended books that discuss scientific research in the field.
The word "telepathy" comes from the Greek language and is translated literally as "being affected at a distance." The term refers to the transfer of information—thoughts, feelings, emotions, higher ideas, and so on—between individuals by some means other than the five senses. The term originated in 1882 by Fredric W. H. Myers, a founder of the Society for Psychical Research, as a replacement for the earlier expression "thought-transference." In popular culture, one who is skilled in telepathy is said to be able to "read the minds" of others.
One of the most interesting studies conducted on telepathy originated with Dr. Daryl Bem at Cornell University. Bem was concerned that much of the research to date on telepathy had been designed in a way that was faulty and prejudiced. He believed that the scientists who had conducted past research were so biased toward showing that telepathy existed that they skewed the data as a result. To prove once and for all that these studies could not be replicated in a strict and controlled fashion, Dr. Bem set out to design the most rigorous tests to disprove the existence of these so-called intuitive abilities.
For six years between 1983 and 1989, Bem worked with 240 randomly selected students at Cornell University. He split the students into two groups, each placed in one of two soundproof rooms. One group of the students was asked to look at random pictures and to mentally project these images to the students in the other room. The other group was asked to report on whatever mental images were revealed to them. By comparing the "received" and "sent" images, researchers could look for any significant correlation.
Bem was quite surprised to learn that there was in fact a statistically significant correlation between the pictures sent and received. Not sure what to make of this, he ran the experiment several more times, using different groups of students. Again to his surprise, the results continued to show, in a statistically significant way, that the mental images "received" by the students correlated with those "sent" from the other group in a completely different location. After 11 such sessions, Bem was compelled to report that there was in fact significant evidence to support the existence of telepathy.
More information about Dr. Daryl Bem at Cornell University: http://dbem.ws
Dr. Dean Radin, formerly with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, is senior scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences. Dr. Radin has spent the majority of his career experimentally probing the far reaches of human consciousness, including the study of intuitive abilities.
Dr. Radin has conducted a number of studies demonstrating the existence of telepathy and how our connectedness as human beings allow for us to communicate in ways beyond the ordinary senses. One of the most fascinating of these studies involved an experiment Radin conducted where one man directly influenced the blood pressure of another, in a totally different location, through thinking either positive or negative thoughts about the other. The man with the fluctuating blood pressure had no knowledge of the experiment. This experiment has been replicated in Japan, showing very similar results (though using heart rate instead of blood pressure).
These and other studies show that telepathy and other trans-sensory abilities are not just expressions or parlor gimmicks, but rather scientifically verified facts. Though it is not known for sure how this level of nonverbal communication takes place, it appears our bodies and minds are sensitive to some type of energetic exchange. Dr. Radin continues to explore these abilities to this day and has written extensively on his discoveries.
Read an article by Dean Radin on the nature of telepathy and what he has discovered about its existence in the lives of human beings here »
Read chapter one of Dr. Radin's The Conscious Universe: www.deanradin.com/Chapter1.html
For more information about Dr. Dean Radin, please see www.deanradin.com.
A 1995 study by William MacDonald of Ohio State University found that people who regularly pray are more likely to have telepathic experiences than people who don't pray. MacDonald explained these findings by saying, "In one sense, the results aren't surprising. You can think of prayer as a type of mind-to-mind communication between a person and God. So prayer and telepathy are related concepts."
Read an article about William MacDonald's discoveries published in USA Today: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1272/is_n2603_v124/ai_17107563/?tag=content;col1
The ganzfeld technique is an experimental process designed to test for the existence of telepathy. Involving various methods of sensory deprivation, the subject is blocked from receiving any information through the eyes or ears. Another person, in a completely different location, then attempts to send images or signals of some sort to the subject. The subject then reports the images that come to him in the condition of sensory deprivation.
The idea behind the ganzfeld experiments is that our natural abilities of extrasensory perception are usually drowned out by the vast amount of information we are usually receiving through our five senses. Thus, when these senses are closed off, our natural intuitive abilities will come to the foreground organically.
Many researchers are convinced that results from the ganzfeld experiments demonstrate the reality of telepathy to a statistical significance. Others are skeptical.
For more information about the ganzfeld experiments, please see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ganzfeld_experiment
And the following article from Science Frontiers online, "Ganzfeld Experiments: Do They Prove Telepathy Exists?"
Rupert Sheldrake is a British scientist and author who is well-known for his theory of morphic resonance, the notion that there is a field within and around a morphic unit that organizes its characteristic structure and pattern activity. Sheldrake has also conducted research and written about intuitive abilities, including the existence of telepathy. According to Sheldrake, his research and studies have convinced him that telepathy is a normal ability in both humans and other animals and not a paranormal occurrence.
Sheldrake's website provides visitors with several opportunities to contribute to his ongoing research in telepathy, through both offline and online experiments. To participate in Sheldrake's research, please see the following.
Offline experiments: www.sheldrake.org/Onlineexp/offline
Online experiments: www.sheldrake.org/Onlineexp/portal
In summary, statistically significant scientific studies have been conducted over the last several decades that suggest that telepathy is a real phenomenon and can, in fact, be developed with instruction, guidance, and practice. To learn more about what science has discovered about telepathy, we invite you to explore the Scientific Research on Intuition and Parapsychology and Organizations and Programs sections.