ESP or Extrasensory Perception Introduction and History Part 2

History and information about ESP or extrasensory perception, introduction to the field of mind reading and other psychic phenomena.


There are many variables which seem to affect ESP. The relationship between the people involved is very important. Many family memebrs have experienced a rapport which appears to be telepathic, but they learn that this can be spoiled by emotional differences. The same thing occurs in the laboratory. A good relationship between the person being tested (the subject) and the experimenters and anyone else involved is vital. Without this, the subject cannot relax, and relaxation has a strong link with significant ESP scores.

Because ESP seems to work at a subconscious level it is not fully controllable, and tests are being conducted to find out what helps it and what hinders it. Caffeine seems to be effective in producing higher scores, and sodium amytal has reduced scores to the chance level in some tests. Apart from this, results of research with drugs and with alcohol have so far been confusing, some pointing one way and some another. One's personality and attitude toward ESP may also play a part. Extroverts and believers in ESP usually have higher scores than do introverts and skeptics.

Recent research suggests that harder ESP tasks are often more likely to achieve success than comparatively easy ones. It seems that, faced with a simple test such as picking one symbol out of a choice of 5, the mind attempts to analyze intellectually which is right, rather than use ESP. However, when faced with an almost infinite number of possibilities from which to choose, the mind more or less throws up its hands in horror and quits. This leads to the quiescent, relaxed state of mind in which ESP is most successful. In one test, 2 separate subjects were given the geographical coordinates of a place unknown to them or to the experimenters and told to describe what was at that location. Their descriptions of an island--the location of a mountain, docks, and the orientation of an airstrip--all fit the tiny speck of an island in the Indian Ocean which was the target. One even mentioned correctly that the language spoken there was French.

This test highlights another strange thing about ESP, which is that distance seems to make very little difference to its success.

Because of all the variables and complications involved, the problem of designing a repeatable experiment in parapsychology has not yet been overcome. In most branches of science an experiment designed by one researcher can be repeated by another, and very similar results will be obtained by both. There are so many variables affecting ESP that this has not yet been done in parapsychology. The best hope in this direction seems to be in the use of small animals instead of people as subjects. Presumably they are less moody. It is important that a repeatable experiment be perfected, because most branches of science regard ESP as unproved, and possibly nonexistent. They are therefore not willing to cooperate in finding out exactly what it is and how it works. A repeatable experiment will help to overcome their opposition.

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