Discussion Forum

Should Parapsychology be considered a separate science?

Many people like William James
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/james/
believed that psychology should include the study of the total human experience including psychic and religious experiences.
Many people that study psi are psychologist and apply those standards to their research.

Many recent scientist have conducted psi experiments according to the standards of the science they were trained in like biologist Rupert Sheldrake or medical doctor Raymond Moody.

11 Comments

  • A tough call–science is the methodical study of God’s handiwork, so if it helps to narrow things down for clarification, fine. If it helps narrow minds to shunt it aside, not so fine. Perhaps in our lifetime a breakthrough will demand fine-tuning the work of parapsychology. For now, it seems best, (to me), to leave the status quo. I hope there will be great discoveries! Life is good, there is a God, keep the faith!

  • If para-abilities were real then yes I think parapsychology should be considered a separate science. But parapsychologists are still struggling with showing that these abilities are real and haven’t even gotten to the business of studying the how and why. Right now it’s not even a science. But if it gets to that point then sure.

  • I do think it should be placed in a seperate category, because it is not a form of psychology, but instead must combine psychology and physics.

  • Strictly speaking, parapsycholgy AND psychology should be no more a science than astrology. Applying scientific method does not make a discipline a science unless all conditions in an experiement are controlled and repeatable. There are pseudoexperiments done by psychologists and sociologists, but most of the literature generated by either psychology or sociology has nothing to do with it. The same applies to “political science.”

    I would say they should be separated, but it is a moot point.

  • All sciences borrow techniques, processes, and information from other sciences in order to advance knowledge within their field, and Parapsychology must do the same in order to be accepted in the scientific community. The essence of this question is whether the topics studied in Parapsychology are distinct enough from the other sciences to justify a separate classification.

    PK is a phenomenon that could be classified and studied like physics.
    Precognition, Clairvoyance, and Telepathy could be classified as enhanced perceptive abilities that could be studied as Psychology.
    The work of Mediums could, in some ways, be called Telepathy, but the claims of communication with non-physical entities takes this type of phenomenon outside of the realm of standard perception research.
    Finally, Reincarnation research currently seems to fall into socialogical sciences, but I do not know of a scientific field that is focused on the survival of consciousness beyond the physical body.

    Some of the work done in Parapsychology can easily be classified into other fields, but other work does not seem to fit into any existing science. Also, the collection of phenomenon being studied in Parapsychology does follow a common theme. Parapsychology studies consciousness and its abilities – whether it be perception, conscious force, or its existence outside of the physical body.

    These studies are unique enough from Biology, Physics, and Psychology to be considered a new scientific field. So, yes, Parapsychology is a separate science that studies the characteristics and abilities of human consciousness.

    Thanks for the question Psi!

  • I am unsure on that. There is still so much that we don’t know about that human brain that I cannot comfortably say “yes,” or “no.” Until than, I believe that maybe it is better that we take a view from both sides of the fence and not on just one.

  • No – because science experiments are repeatable and give consistent results when done properly

    Parapsychology cannot by it’s nature be classed as science as it does not give repeatable consistent results. Noone has claimed that $1m prize yet.

    One can, however, apply the scientific method to analysis of psi but this does not make it a science.

  • Yes, but only in the sense that, as in any specialized discipline, there is a vast existing literature that one needs to be deeply familiar with, both to avoid making known mistakes and to avoid wasting efforts by duplicating the wheel. So yes, a “separate discipline” is desirable because no one can be an expert in everything.

    Then again no, in the sense that if the experimental or analytical methods employed are too radically different from methods used in more conventional disciplines, then very few scientists from outside the discipline will spend the time to understand those new methods, and as a result few will believe the claimed results. So a balance has to be struck between use of specialized knowledge and use of conventional methods.

    Ideally, to do parapsychology most effectively (at least as an experimental science), it is useful to understand methods commonly employed in experimental psychology, biology, medicine and physics.

  • I don’t think so. Well from what (little) i know, the field of paraspychology is built on experimentation and empirical evidence like any other theorethical science.

    Carl Jung had some interesting thoughts on the subject.

  • Yes. Most scientists put it down because our experience of it can’t easily be turned into the numbers that some of the other sciences have. They need to remember that their science was once on this level as well.

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