is the study of mental awareness or influence of external objects
without interaction from known physical means. Most objects of
study fall within the realm of "mind-to-mind" influence (such
as extra-sensory perception, folie a deux and telepathy), "mind-to-environment"
influence (such as psychokinesis) and "environment-to-mind" (such
as hauntings). Collectively, these abilities are often referred
to as "psionics". Another definition of parapsychology is the
scientific study of paranormal phenomena.
The scientific validity of parapsychology research is a matter
of frequent dispute and criticism. It is widely regarded as a
pseudoscience, but, obviously, supporters of parapsychology reject
A number of academic institutions now conduct research on the
topic employing the scientific method, and the field of psi research
is not without high level support, with a number of eminent scientists
being of the belief that the field is worthy of analysis.
People differ in their attitudes towards the paranormal. At one
end is the devout believer who will not consider any counter arguments
or evidence. At the other end is the aggressive sceptic who dismisses
or seeks to debunk any apparent evidence for the paranormal.
Somewhere between these two extremes is the open-minded inquirer
who has no particular axe to grind and is willing to consider
the evidence on its own merits. Parapsychological research operates
somewhere in this open-minded middle ground, although (adopting
Occam's razor) the burden of proof always lies with those who
would make paranormal claims.