Psychic
Overview
 
A psychic is a person who professes an ability to perceive
Perception
Perception is the process of attaining awareness or understanding of the environment by organizing and interpreting sensory information. All perception involves signals in the nervous system, which in turn result from physical stimulation of the sense organs...

 information hidden from the normal senses through extrasensory perception (ESP), or is said by others to have such abilities. It is also used to describe theatrical performers who use techniques such as prestidigitation, cold reading
Cold reading
Cold reading is a series of techniques used by mentalists, psychics, fortune-tellers, illusionists, and con artists to determine or express details about another person, often in order to convince them that the reader knows much more about a subject than they actually do...

, and hot reading
Hot reading
Hot reading is the use of foreknowledge when giving a psychic reading in stage magic performances, or in other contexts. The reader can gain information about the person receiving the reading through a variety of means, such as background research or overhearing a conversation...

 to produce the appearance of such abilities. It can also denote an ability of the mind to influence the world physically and to telekinetic powers such as those professed by Uri Geller
Uri Geller
Uri Geller is a self-proclaimed psychic known for his trademark television performances of spoon bending and other supposed psychic effects. Throughout the years, Geller has been accused of using simple conjuring tricks to achieve the effects of psychokinesis and telepathy...

.

Psychics appear regularly in fantasy fiction, such as in the novel The Dead Zone
The Dead Zone (novel)
The Dead Zone is a horror novel by Stephen King published in 1979. It concerns Johnny Smith, who is injured in an accident and enters a coma for nearly five years. When he emerges, he can see horrifying secrets but cannot identify all the details in his "dead zone", an area of his brain that...

by Stephen King
Stephen King
Stephen Edwin King is an American author of contemporary horror, suspense, science fiction and fantasy fiction. His books have sold more than 350 million copies and have been adapted into a number of feature films, television movies and comic books...

, or the Marvel Comics
Marvel Comics
Marvel Worldwide, Inc., commonly referred to as Marvel Comics and formerly Marvel Publishing, Inc. and Marvel Comics Group, is an American company that publishes comic books and related media...

 telepath and psychic Jean Grey
Jean Grey
Jean Grey-Summers is a fictional comic book superheroine appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics. She has been known under the aliases Marvel Girl, Phoenix, and Dark Phoenix and is best known as one of five original members of the X-Men, for her relationship with Cyclops, and for her...

.
Encyclopedia
A psychic is a person who professes an ability to perceive
Perception
Perception is the process of attaining awareness or understanding of the environment by organizing and interpreting sensory information. All perception involves signals in the nervous system, which in turn result from physical stimulation of the sense organs...

 information hidden from the normal senses through extrasensory perception (ESP), or is said by others to have such abilities. It is also used to describe theatrical performers who use techniques such as prestidigitation, cold reading
Cold reading
Cold reading is a series of techniques used by mentalists, psychics, fortune-tellers, illusionists, and con artists to determine or express details about another person, often in order to convince them that the reader knows much more about a subject than they actually do...

, and hot reading
Hot reading
Hot reading is the use of foreknowledge when giving a psychic reading in stage magic performances, or in other contexts. The reader can gain information about the person receiving the reading through a variety of means, such as background research or overhearing a conversation...

 to produce the appearance of such abilities. It can also denote an ability of the mind to influence the world physically and to telekinetic powers such as those professed by Uri Geller
Uri Geller
Uri Geller is a self-proclaimed psychic known for his trademark television performances of spoon bending and other supposed psychic effects. Throughout the years, Geller has been accused of using simple conjuring tricks to achieve the effects of psychokinesis and telepathy...

.

Psychics appear regularly in fantasy fiction, such as in the novel The Dead Zone
The Dead Zone (novel)
The Dead Zone is a horror novel by Stephen King published in 1979. It concerns Johnny Smith, who is injured in an accident and enters a coma for nearly five years. When he emerges, he can see horrifying secrets but cannot identify all the details in his "dead zone", an area of his brain that...

by Stephen King
Stephen King
Stephen Edwin King is an American author of contemporary horror, suspense, science fiction and fantasy fiction. His books have sold more than 350 million copies and have been adapted into a number of feature films, television movies and comic books...

, or the Marvel Comics
Marvel Comics
Marvel Worldwide, Inc., commonly referred to as Marvel Comics and formerly Marvel Publishing, Inc. and Marvel Comics Group, is an American company that publishes comic books and related media...

 telepath and psychic Jean Grey
Jean Grey
Jean Grey-Summers is a fictional comic book superheroine appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics. She has been known under the aliases Marvel Girl, Phoenix, and Dark Phoenix and is best known as one of five original members of the X-Men, for her relationship with Cyclops, and for her...

. A large industry exists whereby psychics provide advice and counsel to clients. Some famous contemporary psychics include Miss Cleo
Miss Cleo
Youree Dell Harris better known as Miss Cleo, is an American psychic and shaman who achieved fame as a spokeswoman for a psychic pay-per-call service from 1997 - 2003....

, John Edward
John Edward
John Edward McGee, Jr. is an American television personality and professional psychic medium. He is best known for his TV shows Crossing Over with John Edward and John Edward Cross Country....

, Danielle Egnew
Danielle Egnew
Danielle Egnew is a psychic, musician, actress, media personality, and activist known in the areas of music, film, radio and television for both performing and producing in all four genres...

, Jose Ortiz El Buen Samaritano
Jose Ortiz El Buen Samaritano
Jose Ortiz , is a Puerto Rican astrologer and internationally renowned celebrity psychic known as which translates into English as The Good Samaritan. This name was given to him by his followers and has stuck over the years...

, and Sylvia Browne
Sylvia Browne
Sylvia Browne is an American author who describes herself as a psychic and spiritual medium...

.

Critics attribute psychic powers to intentional trickery
Fraud
In criminal law, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; the related adjective is fraudulent. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation...

 or self-delusion
Delusion
A delusion is a false belief held with absolute conviction despite superior evidence. Unlike hallucinations, delusions are always pathological...

. In 1988 the U.S. National Academy of Sciences gave a report on the subject that concluded there is "no scientific justification from research conducted over a period of 130 years for the existence of parapsychological phenomena
Parapsychology
The term parapsychology was coined in or around 1889 by philosopher Max Dessoir, and originates from para meaning "alongside", and psychology. The term was adopted by J.B. Rhine in the 1930s as a replacement for the term psychical research...

." Even so, psychic powers continue to be asserted by psychic detectives
Psychic detective
A psychic detective is defined as a person who investigates crimes by using their claimed paranormal psychic abilities. A number of people claim they have psychic abilities that have allowed them to assist police in solving kidnapping and murder cases, or locating a corpse...

 and in practices such as psychic archaeology
Psychic archaeology
Psychic archaeology is a loose collection of practices involving the application of paranormal phenomena to problems in archaeology.Practitioners of psychic archaeology utilize a variety of methods of divination ranging from pseudoscientific methods such as dowsing for Electromagnetic Photo-Fields...

 and even psychic surgery
Psychic surgery
Psychic surgery is a procedure typically involving the supposed creation of an incision using only the bare hands, the supposed removal of pathological matter, and the seemingly spontaneous healing of the incision....

.

Etymology

The word psychic is derived from the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 word psychikos ("of the mind" or "mental") and refers in part to the human mind or psyche (ex. "psychic turmoil"). The Greek word also means "soul". In Greek mythology
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

, the maiden Psyche
Cupid and Psyche
Cupid and Psyche , is a legend that first appeared as a digressionary story told by an old woman in Lucius Apuleius' novel, The Golden Ass, written in the 2nd century CE. Apuleius likely used an earlier tale as the basis for his story, modifying it to suit the thematic needs of his novel.It has...

 was the deification of the human soul
Soul
A soul in certain spiritual, philosophical, and psychological traditions is the incorporeal essence of a person or living thing or object. Many philosophical and spiritual systems teach that humans have souls, and others teach that all living things and even inanimate objects have souls. The...

. The word derivation of the Latin psȳchē is from the Greek psȳchḗ, literally, breath, derivative of psȳ́chein, to breathe, blow, hence, live.

French astronomer and spiritualist Camille Flammarion
Camille Flammarion
Nicolas Camille Flammarion was a French astronomer and author. He was a prolific author of more than fifty titles, including popular science works about astronomy, several notable early science fiction novels, and several works about Spiritism and related topics. He also published the magazine...

 is credited as having first used the word psychic, while it was later introduced to the English language
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 by Edward William Cox in the 1870s.

Early seers and prophets

Elaborate systems of divination
Divination
Divination is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic standardized process or ritual...

 and fortune-telling
Fortune-telling
Fortune-telling is the practice of predicting information about a person's life. The scope of fortune-telling is in principle identical with the practice of divination...

 date back to ancient times. Perhaps the most widely-known system of early civilization fortune-telling was astrology
Astrology
Astrology consists of a number of belief systems which hold that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world...

, where practitioners believed the relative positions of celestial bodies could lend insight into people's lives and even predict their future circumstances. Some fortune-tellers were said to be able to make predictions without the use of these elaborate systems (or in conjunction with them), through some sort of direct apprehension or vision
Vision (religion)
In spirituality, a vision is something seen in a dream, trance, or ecstasy, especially a supernatural appearance that conveys a revelation.Visions generally have more clarity than dreams, but traditionally fewer psychological connotations...

 of the future. These people were known as seers or prophet
Prophet
In religion, a prophet, from the Greek word προφήτης profitis meaning "foreteller", is an individual who is claimed to have been contacted by the supernatural or the divine, and serves as an intermediary with humanity, delivering this newfound knowledge from the supernatural entity to other people...

s, and in later times as clairvoyants (French word meaning "clear sight" or "clear seeing") and psychics.

Seers formed a functionary role in early civilization, often serving as advisors, priests, and judges. A number of examples are included in biblical accounts. The book of 1 Samuel (Chapter 9) illustrates one such functionary task when Samuel is asked to find the donkeys of the future king Saul
Saul
-People:Saul is a given/first name in English, the Anglicized form of the Hebrew name Shaul from the Hebrew Bible:* Saul , including people with this given namein the Bible:* Saul , a king of Edom...

. The role of prophet appeared perennially in ancient cultures. In Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, the priests of Ra
Ra
Ra is the ancient Egyptian sun god. By the Fifth Dynasty he had become a major deity in ancient Egyptian religion, identified primarily with the mid-day sun...

 at Memphis
Memphis, Egypt
Memphis was the ancient capital of Aneb-Hetch, the first nome of Lower Egypt. Its ruins are located near the town of Helwan, south of Cairo.According to legend related by Manetho, the city was founded by the pharaoh Menes around 3000 BC. Capital of Egypt during the Old Kingdom, it remained an...

 acted as seers. In ancient Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

 seers were referred to as nabu, meaning "to call" or "announce".

The Delphic Oracle is one of the earliest stories in classical antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

 of prophetic abilities. The Pythia
Pythia
The Pythia , commonly known as the Oracle of Delphi, was the priestess at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, located on the slopes of Mount Parnassus. The Pythia was widely credited for her prophecies inspired by Apollo. The Delphic oracle was established in the 8th century BC...

, the priestess presiding over the Oracle
Oracle
In Classical Antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods. As such it is a form of divination....

 of Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

 at Delphi
Delphi
Delphi is both an archaeological site and a modern town in Greece on the south-western spur of Mount Parnassus in the valley of Phocis.In Greek mythology, Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle, the most important oracle in the classical Greek world, and a major site for the worship of the god...

, was believed to be able to deliver prophecies
Prophecy
Prophecy is a process in which one or more messages that have been communicated to a prophet are then communicated to others. Such messages typically involve divine inspiration, interpretation, or revelation of conditioned events to come as well as testimonies or repeated revelations that the...

 inspired by Apollo during rituals beginning in the 8th century BC. It is often said that the Pythia delivered oracles in a frenzied state induced by vapors rising from the ground, and that she spoke gibberish, believed to be the voice of Apollo, which priests reshaped into the enigmatic prophecies preserved in Greek literature. Other scholars believe records from the time indicate that the Pythia spoke intelligibly, and gave prophecies in her own voice. The Pythia was a position served by a succession of women probably selected from amongst a guild of priestesses of the temple. The last recorded response was given in 393 AD, when the emperor Theodosius I
Theodosius I
Theodosius I , also known as Theodosius the Great, was Roman Emperor from 379 to 395. Theodosius was the last emperor to rule over both the eastern and the western halves of the Roman Empire. During his reign, the Goths secured control of Illyricum after the Gothic War, establishing their homeland...

 ordered pagan temples to cease operation. Recent geological investigations raise the possibility that ethylene
Ethylene
Ethylene is a gaseous organic compound with the formula . It is the simplest alkene . Because it contains a carbon-carbon double bond, ethylene is classified as an unsaturated hydrocarbon. Ethylene is widely used in industry and is also a plant hormone...

 gas caused the Pythia's state of inspiration.

One of the most enduring historical references to what some consider to be psychic ability is the prophecies of Michel de Nostredame
Nostradamus
Michel de Nostredame , usually Latinised to Nostradamus, was a French apothecary and reputed seer who published collections of prophecies that have since become famous worldwide. He is best known for his book Les Propheties , the first edition of which appeared in 1555...

 (1503 – 1566), often Latinized to Nostradamus, published during the French Renaissance
French Renaissance
French Renaissance is a recent term used to describe a cultural and artistic movement in France from the late 15th century to the early 17th century. It is associated with the pan-European Renaissance that many cultural historians believe originated in northern Italy in the fourteenth century...

 period. Nostradamus was a French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 apothecary
Apothecary
Apothecary is a historical name for a medical professional who formulates and dispenses materia medica to physicians, surgeons and patients — a role now served by a pharmacist and some caregivers....

 and seer who wrote collections of prophecies
Prophecy
Prophecy is a process in which one or more messages that have been communicated to a prophet are then communicated to others. Such messages typically involve divine inspiration, interpretation, or revelation of conditioned events to come as well as testimonies or repeated revelations that the...

 that have since become famous worldwide and have rarely been out of print since his death. He is best known for his book Les Propheties, the first edition of which appeared in 1555. Taken together, his written works are known to have contained at least 6,338 quatrain
Quatrain
A quatrain is a stanza, or a complete poem, consisting of four lines of verse. Existing in various forms, the quatrain appears in poems from the poetic traditions of various ancient civilizations including Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, and China; and, continues into the 21st century, where it is...

s or prophecies, as well as at least eleven annual calendars. Most of the quatrains deal with disasters, such as plagues, earthquakes, wars, floods, invasions, murders, droughts, and battles – all undated.

Nostradamus is a controversial figure. His many enthusiasts, as well as the popular press, credit him with predicting many major world events. Interest in his work is still considerable, especially in the media and in popular culture
Nostradamus in popular culture
The prophecies of the 16th century author Nostradamus have become a ubiquitous part of the popular culture of the 20th and 21st centuries. As well as being the subject of hundreds of books , Nostradamus' life has been depicted in several films , and his life and prophecies continue to be a subject...

. By contrast, most academic scholars maintain that the associations made between world events and Nostradamus' quatrains are largely the result of misinterpretations or mistranslations (sometimes deliberate) or else are so tenuous as to render them useless as evidence of any genuine predictive power.

In addition to the belief that some historical figures were endowed with a predisposition to psychic experiences, some psychic abilities were thought to be available to everyone on occasion. For example, the belief in prophetic dreams was common and persistent in many ancient cultures.

Nineteenth century progression

In the mid-nineteenth century, Modern Spiritualism became prominent in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

. The movement's distinguishing feature was the belief that the spirit
Spirit
The English word spirit has many differing meanings and connotations, most of them relating to a non-corporeal substance contrasted with the material body.The spirit of a living thing usually refers to or explains its consciousness.The notions of a person's "spirit" and "soul" often also overlap,...

s of the dead could be contacted by medium
Mediumship
Mediumship is described as a form of communication with spirits. It is a practice in religious beliefs such as Spiritualism, Spiritism, Espiritismo, Candomblé, Voodoo and Umbanda.- Concept :...

s to lend insight to the living. The movement was fueled in part by anecdotes of psychic powers. One such person believed to have extraordinary abilities was Daniel Dunglas Home
Daniel Dunglas Home
Daniel Dunglas Home was a Scottish physical medium with the reported ability to levitate to a variety of heights, speak with the dead, and to produce rapping and knocks in houses at will. His biographer Peter Lamont opines that he was one of the most famous men of his era...

, who gained fame during the Victorian
Victorian era
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

 period for his reported ability to levitate to various heights and speak to the dead.

As the Spiritualist movement grew other comparable groups arose, including the Theosophical Society
Theosophical Society
The Theosophical Society is an organization formed in 1875 to advance the spiritual principles and search for Truth known as Theosophy. The original organization, after splits and realignments has several successors...

, which was co-founded in 1875 by Helena Blavatsky (1831–1891). Theosophy coupled spiritualist elements with Eastern mysticism and was influential in the early 20th century, later influencing the New Age
New Age
The New Age movement is a Western spiritual movement that developed in the second half of the 20th century. Its central precepts have been described as "drawing on both Eastern and Western spiritual and metaphysical traditions and then infusing them with influences from self-help and motivational...

 movement during the 1970s. Blavatsky herself claimed numerous psychic powers.

Late twentieth century

By the late twentieth century psychics were commonly associated with New Age
New Age
The New Age movement is a Western spiritual movement that developed in the second half of the 20th century. Its central precepts have been described as "drawing on both Eastern and Western spiritual and metaphysical traditions and then infusing them with influences from self-help and motivational...

 culture. Psychic reading
Psychic reading
A psychic reading is a specific attempt to discern information with clairvoyance and the resulting statements made during such an attempt. The term is commonly associated with paranormal-based consultation given for a fee in such settings as over the phone, in a home, or at psychic fairs...

s and advertising for psychics was very common in the 1990's and readings were offered for a fee and given in settings such as over the phones, in a home, or at psychic fairs.

Belief in psychic abilities

In a survey, reported in 1990, of members of the National Academy of Sciences, only 2% of respondents thought that extrasensory perception had been scientifically demonstrated, with another 2% thinking that the phenomena happened sometimes. Asked about research in the field, 22% thought that it should be discouraged, 63% that it should be allowed but not encouraged, and 10% that it should be encouraged; neuroscientist
Neuroscientist
A neuroscientist is an individual who studies the scientific field of neuroscience or any of its related sub-fields...

s were the most hostile to parapsychology
Parapsychology
The term parapsychology was coined in or around 1889 by philosopher Max Dessoir, and originates from para meaning "alongside", and psychology. The term was adopted by J.B. Rhine in the 1930s as a replacement for the term psychical research...

 of all the specialties.

A survey of the beliefs of the general United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 population about paranormal topics was conducted by The Gallup Organization
The Gallup Organization
The Gallup Organization, is primarily a research-based performance-management consulting company. Some of Gallup's key practice areas are - Employee Engagement, Customer Engagement and Well-Being. Gallup has over 40 offices in 27 countries. World headquarters are in Washington, D.C. Operational...

 in 2005. The survey found that 41 percent of those polled believed in extrasensory perception and 26 percent believed in clairvoyance
Clairvoyance
The term clairvoyance is used to refer to the ability to gain information about an object, person, location or physical event through means other than the known human senses, a form of extra-sensory perception...

. 31 percent of those surveyed indicated that they believe in telepathy or psychic communication.

A poll of 439 college students conducted in 2006 by researchers Bryan Farha of Oklahoma City University
Oklahoma City University
Oklahoma City University, often referred to as OCU, is a coeducational, urban, private university historically affiliated with the United Methodist Church...

 and Gary Steward of University of Central Oklahoma
University of Central Oklahoma
The University of Central Oklahoma, often referred to as UCO, is a coeducational public university located in Edmond, Oklahoma. The university is the third largest in Oklahoma, with almost 18,000 students and approximately 434 full-time and 400 adjunct faculty...

, suggested that college seniors and graduate students were more likely to believe in psychic phenomena than college freshmen. 23 percent of college freshmen expressed a belief in paranormal ideas. The percentage was greater among college seniors (31%) and graduate students (34%). The poll showed lower belief in psychic phenomena among science students than social science and education students.

Some people also believe that psychic abilities can be activated or enhanced through the study and practice of various disciplines and techniques such as meditation, with a number of books and websites being dedicated to instruction in these methods. Another popular belief is that psychic ability is hereditary, with a psychic parent passing their abilities on to their children.

Science fiction

The use of psychic abilities as a plot device or super power is common in fiction
Fiction
Fiction is the form of any narrative or informative work that deals, in part or in whole, with information or events that are not factual, but rather, imaginary—that is, invented by the author. Although fiction describes a major branch of literary work, it may also refer to theatrical,...

. Psychic abilities in science fiction are often depicted as inborn and heritable, as in Alfred Bester
Alfred Bester
Alfred Bester was an American science fiction author, TV and radio scriptwriter, magazine editor and scripter for comic strips and comic books...

's The Demolished Man
The Demolished Man
The Demolished Man, by Alfred Bester, is a science fiction novel that was the first Hugo Award winner in 1953. The story was first serialized in three parts, beginning with the January 1952 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction, followed by publication of the novel in 1953. The novel is dedicated to...

, A. E. van Vogt
A. E. van Vogt
Alfred Elton van Vogt was a Canadian-born science fiction author regarded by some as one of the most popular and complex science fiction writers of the mid-twentieth century: the "Golden Age" of the genre....

's Slan
Slan
Slan is a science fiction novel written by A. E. van Vogt, as well as the name of the fictional race of superbeings featured in the novel. The novel was originally serialized in the magazine Astounding Science Fiction . It was subsequently published in hardcover in 1946 by Arkham House, in an...

, Anne McCaffrey
Anne McCaffrey
Anne Inez McCaffrey was an American-born Irish writer, best known for her Dragonriders of Pern series. Over the course of her 46 year career she won a Hugo Award and a Nebula Award...

's Talents & Tower and the Hive series, and the television series Babylon 5
Babylon 5
Babylon 5 is an American science fiction television series created, produced and largely written by J. Michael Straczynski. The show centers on a space station named Babylon 5: a focal point for politics, diplomacy, and conflict during the years 2257–2262...

. Another recurring trope
Trope (literature)
A literary trope is the usage of figurative language in literature, or a figure of speech in which words are used in a sense different from their literal meaning...

 is the conveyance of psychic power through psychoactive drugs, as in the Dune
Dune (novel)
Dune is a science fiction novel written by Frank Herbert, published in 1965. It won the Hugo Award in 1966, and the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel...

novels and indirectly in the Scanners
Scanners
Scanners is a 1981 science-fiction horror film written and directed by David Cronenberg and starring Jennifer O'Neill, Stephen Lack, Michael Ironside, and Patrick McGoohan...

films, as well as the ghosts in the Starcraft franchise . Somewhat differently, in Madeleine L'Engle
Madeleine L'Engle
Madeleine L'Engle was an American writer best known for her young-adult fiction, particularly the Newbery Medal-winning A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, and An Acceptable Time...

's A Wind in the Door
A Wind in the Door
A Wind in the Door is a young adult science fantasy novel by Madeleine L'Engle. It is a companion book to A Wrinkle in Time, and part of the Time Quartet .-Plot summary:...

and Robert A. Heinlein
Robert A. Heinlein
Robert Anson Heinlein was an American science fiction writer. Often called the "dean of science fiction writers", he was one of the most influential and controversial authors of the genre. He set a standard for science and engineering plausibility and helped to raise the genre's standards of...

's Stranger in a Strange Land
Stranger in a Strange Land
Stranger in a Strange Land is a 1961 science fiction novel by American author Robert A. Heinlein. It tells the story of Valentine Michael Smith, a human who comes to Earth in early adulthood after being born on the planet Mars and raised by Martians. The novel explores his interaction with—and...

, psychic abilities may be achieved by any human who learns the proper mental discipline, known as kything in the former work and grokking in the latter. Popular movies include The initiation of Sarah
The Initiation of Sarah
The Initiation of Sarah is a "re-imagined" remake of a 1978 horror film, The Initiation of Sarah. It premiered on ABC Family on October 22, 2006 as part of their "13 Nights of Halloween" special.-Plot:...

. Psychic characters are also common in superhero
Superhero
A superhero is a type of stock character, possessing "extraordinary or superhuman powers", dedicated to protecting the public. Since the debut of the prototypical superhero Superman in 1938, stories of superheroes — ranging from brief episodic adventures to continuing years-long sagas —...

 comic book
Comic book
A comic book or comicbook is a magazine made up of comics, narrative artwork in the form of separate panels that represent individual scenes, often accompanied by dialog as well as including...

s, for instance Jean Grey
Jean Grey
Jean Grey-Summers is a fictional comic book superheroine appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics. She has been known under the aliases Marvel Girl, Phoenix, and Dark Phoenix and is best known as one of five original members of the X-Men, for her relationship with Cyclops, and for her...

 and Professor X
Professor X
Professor Charles Francis Xavier, also known as Professor X, is a fictional character, a Marvel Comics superhero known as the leader and founder of the X-Men....

 from the Marvel comic X-Men
X-Men
The X-Men are a superhero team in the . They were created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, and first appeared in The X-Men #1...

.

Criticism and research

Parapsychological research
Parapsychology
The term parapsychology was coined in or around 1889 by philosopher Max Dessoir, and originates from para meaning "alongside", and psychology. The term was adopted by J.B. Rhine in the 1930s as a replacement for the term psychical research...

 has attempted to use random number generators to test for psychokinesis
Psychokinesis
The term psychokinesis , also referred to as telekinesis with respect to strictly describing movement of matter, sometimes abbreviated PK and TK respectively, is a term...

, mild sensory deprivation in the Ganzfeld experiment
Ganzfeld experiment
A ganzfeld experiment is a technique used in the field of parapsychology to test individuals for extrasensory perception . It uses homogeneous and unpatterned sensory stimulation to produce an effect similar to sensory deprivation. The deprivation of patterned sensory input is said to be conducive...

 to test for extrasensory perception, and research trials conducted under contract by the U.S. government to investigate remote viewing
Remote viewing
Remote viewing is the practice of seeking impressions about a distant or unseen target using paranormal means, in particular, extra-sensory perception or "sensing with mind"...

. Some of these tests such as the Ganzfeld have been put forward as evidence of psychic phenomena by parapsychologists, and according to the Parapsychological Association, the consensus within that field is that there is good evidence for extrasensory perception, psychokinesis, and presentiment. Critics such as Ed J. Gracely say that this evidence is not sufficient for acceptance, partly because the intrinsic probability of psychic phenomena is very small.

Critics such as Ray Hyman
Ray Hyman
Ray Hyman is a Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon, and a noted critic of parapsychology.-Career:...

 and the National Science Foundation
National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation is a United States government agency that supports fundamental research and education in all the non-medical fields of science and engineering. Its medical counterpart is the National Institutes of Health...

 suggest that parapsychology has methodological flaws that can explain the experimental results that parapsychologists attribute to paranormal explanations, and various critics have classed the field as pseudoscience
Pseudoscience
Pseudoscience is a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status...

. This has largely been due to lack of replication of results by independent experimenters.

The evidence presented for psychic phenomena is not sufficiently verified for scientific acceptance, and there exist many non-paranormal alternative explanations for claimed instances of psychic events. Parapsychologists, who generally believe that there is some evidence for psychic ability, disagree with critics who believe that no psychic ability exists and that many of the instances of more popular psychic phenomena such as mediumism
Mediumship
Mediumship is described as a form of communication with spirits. It is a practice in religious beliefs such as Spiritualism, Spiritism, Espiritismo, Candomblé, Voodoo and Umbanda.- Concept :...

, can be attributed to non-paranormal techniques such as cold reading
Cold reading
Cold reading is a series of techniques used by mentalists, psychics, fortune-tellers, illusionists, and con artists to determine or express details about another person, often in order to convince them that the reader knows much more about a subject than they actually do...

, hot reading
Hot reading
Hot reading is the use of foreknowledge when giving a psychic reading in stage magic performances, or in other contexts. The reader can gain information about the person receiving the reading through a variety of means, such as background research or overhearing a conversation...

, or even self-delusion
Delusion
A delusion is a false belief held with absolute conviction despite superior evidence. Unlike hallucinations, delusions are always pathological...

. Magicians
Magic (illusion)
Magic is a performing art that entertains audiences by staging tricks or creating illusions of seemingly impossible or supernatural feats using natural means...

 such as James Randi
James Randi
James Randi is a Canadian-American stage magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of paranormal claims and pseudoscience. Randi is the founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation...

, Ian Rowland
Ian Rowland
Ian Rowland is a writer and entertainer who lives in South Croydon, just outside London, England. He is the author of The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading.He regularly gives lectures where he debunks paranormal phenomena....

 and Derren Brown
Derren Brown
Derren Victor Brown is a British illusionist, mentalist, painter, writer and sceptic. He is known for his appearances in television specials, stage productions and British television series such as Trick of the Mind and Trick or Treat...

 have demonstrated techniques and results similar to those of popular psychics, but they present psychological explanations as opposed to paranormal ones.

In January 2008 the results of a study using neuroimaging
Functional magnetic resonance imaging
Functional magnetic resonance imaging or functional MRI is a type of specialized MRI scan used to measure the hemodynamic response related to neural activity in the brain or spinal cord of humans or other animals. It is one of the most recently developed forms of neuroimaging...

 were published. To provide what are purported to be the most favorable experimental conditions, the study included appropriate emotional stimuli and had participants who are biologically or emotionally related, such as twins. The experiment was designed to produce positive results if telepathy
Telepathy
Telepathy , is the induction of mental states from one mind to another. The term was coined in 1882 by the classical scholar Fredric W. H. Myers, a founder of the Society for Psychical Research, and has remained more popular than the more-correct expression thought-transference...

, clairvoyance
Clairvoyance
The term clairvoyance is used to refer to the ability to gain information about an object, person, location or physical event through means other than the known human senses, a form of extra-sensory perception...

 or precognition
Precognition
In parapsychology, precognition , also called future sight, and second sight, is a type of extrasensory perception that would involve the acquisition or effect of future information that cannot be deduced from presently available and normally acquired sense-based information or laws of physics...

 occurred, but despite this no distinguishable neuronal responses were found between psychic stimuli and non-psychic stimuli, while variations in the same stimuli showed anticipated effects on patterns of brain activation. The researchers concluded that "These findings are the strongest evidence yet obtained against the existence of paranormal mental phenomena." James Alcock
James Alcock
James E. Alcock is a Professor of Psychology at York University . He has been a professor at York since 1973. Alcock received his BSc from McGill University and a PhD in Social Psychology from McMaster University...

 had cautioned the researchers against the wording of said statement.

A detailed study of Sylvia Browne
Sylvia Browne
Sylvia Browne is an American author who describes herself as a psychic and spiritual medium...

 predictions about missing persons and murder cases has found that despite her repeated claims to be more than 85% correct, "Browne has not even been mostly correct in a single case." Concerning the television psychics, James Underdown
James Underdown
James Underdown has been the executive director of The Center for Inquiry Los Angeles since 1999. The Center for Inquiry is a non-profit educational organization with headquarters in Amherst, NY, whose primary mission is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and...

 states that testing psychics in a studio setting is difficult as there are too many areas to control, the psychic could be getting help from anyone on the set. The editor controls everything, they can make a psychic look superior or ridiculous depending on direction from the producer. In an Independent Investigation Group IIG expose of John Edward
John Edward
John Edward McGee, Jr. is an American television personality and professional psychic medium. He is best known for his TV shows Crossing Over with John Edward and John Edward Cross Country....

 and James Van Praagh
James Van Praagh
James Van Praagh is a self-proclaimed medium who has written several books on spirituality and spirit communication.-Early life and career:Van Praagh was born in Bayside, New York and is the youngest of four children...

they discovered that what was actually said on the tape day, and what was broadcast to the public were "substantially different in the accuracy. They're getting rid of the wrong guesses... Once you pull back the curtain and see how it's done, it's not impressive at all."

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