Offered as an option to students in the final year of their undergraduate Honours Psychology degree, the course assumes that most students have had little or no previous exposure to research in parapsychology. Parapsychology is defined as the scientific investigation of apparent new means of communication or influence between the organism and its environment, known as ‘psi’. The course does not presume that psi exists, but treats this as a scientifically-testable hypothesis and reviews the findings of laboratory psi research. Moving out of the lab, we also examine people’s real-life ‘paranormal’ experiences and beliefs, and the models that have been put forward to understand these. Finally, we consider the wider scientific implications of parapsychology.
To provide an overview of the principal methods, findings, and issues in parapsychology.To encourage critical thinking about scientific claims, in parapsychology and beyond.
Students will become familiar with: the main methods used for controlled laboratory testing of claims of anomalous information transfer or influence; the findings of meta-analytic reviews of ganzfeld-ESP, PK-RNG, and DMILS research; the phenomenology of spontaneous paranormal experiences and the models that have been proposed to explain why people have these experiences; the methodological challenges involved in testing claims of anomalous communication or influence; factors leading to scientific controversies, and ways to help resolve controversies.
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