August 30, 2010 § Leave a comment
Today I decided I’d look into psi and psionics a little bit – for a few reasons. First because I had stumbled upon psi a few years ago, and was shocked to see the psi wheel. When I was 7 or 8 I used to make psi wheels without even knowing what they were, I’d just cut out squares of paper and fold them into little pyramids and stack them up for fun. I came across psi again on a forum called The Veritas Society which covers a variety of topics including psi, magick, body energy arts and spirituality. I’d highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t seen it before.
As with anything in parapsychology (a field that holds a dear place in my heart for combining my two favorite things, psychology and paranormal phenomenon) people’s feelings on psionics are varied and strong and the scientific information available has been highly criticised. In my picking through articles and forums I was able to glean a few clear facts:
- Psi is not a force, like “chi” or “Qi” but rather a term for different forms of psychic phenomena such as ESP or psychokinesis (the term for the chi-like energy involved in some psi would be “psi energy” but this term is avoided by most parapsychologists)
- The term “psionics” relates specifically to energy that can be manipulated by the mind
- Psi is studied within the field of parapsychology, but parapsychologists limit their research to what can be measured and scientifically observed (this limits the study of things like psi balls, since they’re difficult if not impossible to quantify)
- Psi is broken down into two categories: Psi-Gamma, which is primarily cognitive (ESP, remote viewing) and Psi-Kappa, which is action based (telekinesis, pyrokinesis)
Techniques and mechanisms involved in psi include meditation (with a particularly strong emphasis on focal meditation, many psi websites recommend doing this for up to an hour) psi wheels (a small, usually paper wheel the subject attempts to spin) and psi balls (balls of energy manipulated by the subject, like thoughtforms)
What is proven about psi?
The Parapsychological Association insists that mind-matter interaction exists, telepathy exists and they go so far as to say that ESP is “statistically robust” meaning it has been proven in repeated trials. The largest and most well-known study on this has been the ongoing Ganzfeld experiments. In the Ganzfeld experiment, a receiver is fed white or pink noise through headphones with halved ping pong balls over their eyes with red light shone on them (a method of sensory deprivation). In another location (sometimes behind a reinforced wall, or in some sort of blocked room) a “sender” tries to communicate a message to the receiver.
The Ganzfeld studies have been repeated many times since the first experiment in the 70’s. Criticisms run the gamut from complaints that the rooms weren’t soundproofed to claims that the attribution of any statistical significance to proof of psi is a fallacy. Overall, the experiments have been largely inconclusive.
This was discouraging to me. As a girl who dreamed of being just like Matilda (if you haven’t seen the film, go do that now. It’s adorable, and I looked just like that when I was 10) I was hoping for some sort of scientific support for the possibility of telekinesis, or even just ESP. On top of that, the Parapsychological Association estimates that only about 30 or 40 parapsychologists exist in the world, and there is no established doctorate program to become one – which was a bit of a rain on my parade.
I’m not necessarily taking what I’ve read as definitive proof that psi doesn’t exist. I think it does, I just don’t know that it will ever be scientifically quantifiable, considering how susceptible these abilities are to environment and suggestion, it’s hard to imagine being able to capture it in a lab.
I believe the only way to determine if psi is real or not is to try myself – which is going to be my endeavor in the next few months. My ability to focus for long periods of time is pretty lacking (blame it on being part of the internet generation) but I’m going to give it a shot. I’ll report back later on my progress.
That’s all for tonight, folks!
Ipsa scientia potestas est,