extrasensory perception

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Financial, Acronyms, Wikipedia.

extrasensory perception:

see parapsychologyparapsychology,
study of mental phenomena not explainable by accepted principles of science. The organized, scientific investigation of paranormal phenomena began with the foundation (1882) of the Society for Psychical Research in London.
..... Click the link for more information.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/

Extrasensory Perception (ESP)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Extrasensory Perception, psi, Paragnosis, or ESP as it is more generally known is today commonly accepted as fact. This is mainly due to the work of Dr. Joseph Banks Rhine, one of the pioneers of parapsychology, and Dr. Samuel George Soal. For many years, Soal conducted parapsychological studies on the various forms of mediumship and statistical experiments in telepathy in England. In later years, Soal was found guilty of fraud in some of his telepathic experiments. This certainly tarnished his image, yet he had done outstanding work in the field for decades. The term “extrasensory perception” was coined by Dr. Rhine and used by him as the title of a book published in 1934.

Serious investigation of possible “thought transference” dates from the late nineteenth century, when a number of experiments were conducted in England by Mrs. A. Verrall and C. P. Sanger. By the late 1920s, in similar experiments, Miss I. Jephson and R. A. Fisher found that the everyday playing cards previously relied upon were not ideal for testing purposes. This led to the introduction of the Zener deck of cards, developed by Dr. Karl E. Zener during the 1930s. They consisted of twenty-five cards, with five each of five different designs. The designs were basic black ink on white backgrounds, showing circle, square, cross, star, and wavy lines. Today these Zener cards are used almost exclusively for testing ESP.

The point of ESP testing is to ascertain whether or not a person can know what is in another person’s mind a greater number of times than could be explained purely by chance. With one person looking at the twenty-five Zener cards, it is known that a second person would guess correctly which card was being looked at five times out of the twenty-five, if it was simply by chance. Going through the deck a number of times, the average correct guesses would be five per twenty-five cards. Scores above that are notable. As an example of what has been achieved in such tests, Hubert E. Pearce, Jr. was tested at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and guessed correctly 3,746 cards out of 10,300. In London, B. Shackleton guessed correctly 1,101 cards out of 3,789. Shackleton guessed not the actual card being looked at, but the card that was going to be looked at next! Such scores, carried out in laboratory conditions, would seem to prove beyond doubt that extrasensory perception is a fact.

If two people sit down facing one another, at opposite sides of a room, with one holding the cards in front while the other tries to guess which card is being looked at, this would not be “laboratory conditions.” No matter how impressive the scores, they would not be seriously considered. Many minor factors could contribute to the Guesser’s choices. The cards may have odd marks such as spots, specks, scratches, or other visual clues on their backs. If only unconsciously, these could help the Guesser differentiate one card from another. Another factor might be the face of the Sender. An unconscious facial movement might trigger the Guesser’s choices. Many precautions must be taken for the results to be truly under laboratory conditions. The two participants must not be in the same room. Moving on from one card to the next should be signaled by a flashing light or a buzzer. Even the cards should not be picked by the Sender; they should be shuffled by a machine and put into truly random order. Every possible precaution should be taken and even then, if your mind is set against it, you can discount the results. For example, if a person guesses 8,000 correct cards out of 10,000 (astronomical odds against chance), who is to say that if they went on to try another 10,000 they might not be so far off that the overall score would be no more than chance?

In Spiritualist mediumship the aim is to show that ESP is not a factor. Mediums contact spirits of the dead and receive from them information of an evidential nature that is unknown to the medium or to the sitter(s). It is only on later investigation that there is confirmation of the accuracy of the messages received, proving that ESP was not a factor. On the other hands, in many psychic readings (such as with tarot cards, palmistry, etc.) ESP is frequently a factor; the reader merely picking up information from the mind of the sitter. Of course, if this is complex, accurate information, then it is very credible evidence of the psychic’s ESP ability.


Buckland, Raymond: A Pocket Guide to the Supernatural. New York: Ace Books, 1969
Buckland, Raymond: The Fortune–Telling Book: The Encyclopedia of Divination and Soothsaying. Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 2004
Ebon, Martin: True Experiences in Telepathy. New York: Signet, 1967
Holroyd, Stuart: The Supernatural: Minds Without Boundaries. London: Aldus, 1975
Rhine, Joseph Banks: Extrasensory Perception. Boston: Bruce Humphries, 1934
Rhine, Joseph Banks: New Frontiers of the Mind. New York: Farrar & Rinehart, 1937
Spraggett, Alan: The Unexplained. New York: New American Library, 1967
The Spirit Book © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.

extrasensory perception

[¦ek·strə′sen·sə·rē pər′sep·shən]
The alleged phenomenon of perception or awareness of external events in the absence of any sensory stimulation arising from the events. Abbreviated ESP.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

extrasensory perception

the supposed ability of certain individuals to obtain information about the environment without the use of normal sensory channels
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Once settled comfortably in the room, they read the standardized experimental instructions which informed the participants: that they were participating in an experiment on extrasensory perception (ESP); that they were to select the card, from a choice of two, that the experimenter was thinking of and to read it out aloud; that the experimenter would respond "yes" if they had selected the correct card or say nothing at all if they selected the incorrect card.
2 Updating and extending the literature search to include PsycLit (1887-1998, using the keywords extrasensory perception, precognition, clairvoyance or telepathy in combination with mass media, television, radio, newspapers or magazines) as suggested by an anonymous referee yields only one additional eligible study (Barrington & Markwick, 1995).
[section] Certain "psychics" can communicate with one another at great distances by some form of extrasensory perception.
Pointing to the comparable brain waves of identical twins, some scientists believe that many twins possess extrasensory perception. Others believe that the close social contacts between these siblings may result in "ESP-like" events in the lives of identical twins.
May, who specializes in parapsychology (psi) research and was the former director of the Star Gate program, and Marwaha, a researcher specializing in the synthesis of cognitive sciences and psi research, provide reports of the US government program Star Gate, which researched the validity of extrasensory perception and parapsychology and their applications to problems of US national security, focusing on the basic research of the program from 1985 to 1995 in this volume, including advances in remote viewing analysis and the development of an entropy hypothesis.
Marwaha (Eds.), Extrasensory perception: Support, skepticism, and science (pp.
The first two courses offered were the four-day Inner Mind Development Seminar (IMDS) and the two-day Basic Extrasensory Perception (ESP) and Intuition Development Seminar.
15 ( ANI ): In a new study researchers have debunked the common belief that a sixth sense, also known as extrasensory perception (ESP), exists.
Their study paper shows that even though some people can reliably sense changes that they could not visually identify, it doesn't mean that they have ESP or extrasensory perception.
This gives an explanation for the extrasensory perception and premonitions and visions of the past.
The theme for this workshop was "The 11th Sense." The group believes that humans possess more than the known five senses, including the senses of beauty, danger, place, extrasensory perception (ESP) and sense of community.
Integrating Asian philosophies and New Age with a form of systematic parapsychology, Xiong covers the history of thought and practice and research methods in the field, then analyzes practices and beliefs such as extrasensory perception (including precognition, clairvoyance and clairsentience), psychokinesis (including poltergeists, levitation and paranormal healing), discarnate entities (including out-of-body experiences, personal guardian angels or demons and angel vision), altered states of consciousness (including dreams and drugs), and avenues of theoretical research.