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for both extrasensory
perception (ESP) and psychokinesis
(PK) as proposed in 1946 by the British psychologists
Drs. Robert Thouless and W. P. Weisner. The reasons for their proposal were
that "psi" is the twenty-third letter of the Greek alphabet commonly
used in parapsychology to include both phenomena of ESP and PK because both
are closely related. However, since that time the term often has been inaccurately
used to include almost any paranormal experience or phenomenon.
Theories concerning the functioning of psi have been difficult to formulate
because it defies most laboratory experiments to describe it activity in
physical or quasi-physical terms. It operates outside of the boundaries
of time and space. No physical variables influence psi in laboratory testing.
Theories that psi is some sort of a wave, particle, force, or field have
been advanced and discarded. Psi is not, nor is it affected by the four
forces of physics; strong nuclear force, weak nuclear force, gravitational
force, or electromagnetic force. It is not subject either to the law of
thermodynamics or the law of gravity. Psi requires no exchange of energy,
which is pretty remarkable in incidents of apparent PK; for example, according
to the mechanical laws of physics, the dematerialization of a copper penny
would require the energy of a small nuclear bomb. Psi defies the theory
of relativity which states that no particle or object can move faster than
the speed of light which is 186,000 miles per second.
All such psi defiance to be defined in physical terms has forced researches
to look elsewhere for explanations. Some occultist believe psi is a vibration
manifested throughout the world, but most scientists view this possibility
Since it is almost impossible to identify psi through laboratory experimentation
one way that has been found to identify it is through the measurement of
the involuntary physiological processes in the autonomic nervous system
of laboratory test subjects. The most common measures are the galvanic skin
response (GSR), which records the activity of the sweat gland., and the
plethysmograph, which measures the changes in blood volume in the finger
that are caused by the dilation and constriction of blood vessels. Less
often use is the electroencephalograph (EEG), which measures brain activity.
The GSR and plethysmograph are used to detect emotional arousal. Their use
in psi tests indicate when the subject is confronted with emotionally charged
targets as opposed emotionally neutral targets. Autonomic activity increases
when information that is emotionally charged for the percipient appears
to be conveyed psychically.
Studies with ganzfeld stimulation show that an alpha state of brain-wave
appears to be conductive to psi. Psi performance improves with a positive
mood and expectation is provided by the experimenter in a friendly atmosphere.
Psi decreases when the experimenter sets up conditions for anxiety, a negative
mood, expectation, boredom, and a hostile environment. A.G.H.