Psi and Science: An Academic Approach

(noun) a general term for any or all phenomenon that cannot
be explained in terms of sensorimotor contact with the environment

Related articles and research

Terminology and Definitions

agent In a test of GESP {General ESP}, the individual who looks at the information constituting the target and who is said to "send" or "transmit" that information to a percipient; in a test of telepathy and in cases of spontaneous ESP, the individual about whose mental states information is acquired by a percipient. The term is sometimes used to refer to the subject in a test of PK. (White, p.580)
apport A physical object which has been paranormally transported into a closed space or container, suggesting the passage of "matter through matter," that is, through intervening solid material objects. From the Latin apportare, "to carry to (a place)." (

The production of objects by apparently supernatural means at a spiritualists' seance; or the objects produced. (
astral projection See out-of-body experience. (White, p.589)
channel Modern term for medium. (White, p.581)
channeling Ability to turn inward to connect intuitively with a universal source of insight and information beyond conscious awareness that is conveyed by means of writing or speaking to others, sometimes through the emergence of another personality or entity (i.e. control). Modern term for mediumship. (White, p.581)

An interesting shift began about the mid-1970's in two directions. First, there has been a general move away from mediumship (contacting departed souls) and towards channeling (the enactment of a personality, teacher, or "being" to convey spiritual teachings). (Hastings)
clairvoyance Clairvoyance (from the French clair and voyance, clear seeing) is defined as the extrasensory perception of objects or events without the presence or knowledge of such objects or events in another person's mind as an intervening factor. Clairvoyance is a direct perception of external reality without any known physical energy or sensory receptor conveying the information. (Tart, p.41)

By clairvoyance we use the generally accepted definition that it is the direct psychic perception of information about the physical state of a sensorily shielded object, place, or event by a percipient, when no living individual knows that information at the time of the clairvoyant perception. (Targ & Tart)

Extra-sensory perception of objective facts. (Rhine, p. xi)

Awareness of objects or objective events outside the sensory range of the percipient and of the consciousness of other persons. (White, p.581)

Paranormal acquisition of information about an object or contemporary physical event; in contrast to telepathy, the information is assumed to derive directly from an external physical source and not from the mind of another person. (
extrasensory perception
Perception without the function of the recognized senses. (Rhine, p.xi)

Knowledge of or response to an external event or influence not obtained via known sensory channels. (White, p.585)

Clairvoyance, telepathy, and precognition. (Tart, p.xii; indirect quote)

Paranormal cognition; the acquisition of information about an external event, object, or influence (mental or physical; past, present, or future) in some way other than through any of the known sensory channels. (
medium A person who regularly receives communications purportedly coming from deceased persons or who produces paranormal physical effects sometimes attributed to discarnate agency. (White, p.587)
mediumship The experiences and behavior involved in being a medium. (White, p.587)
near-death experience
Subjective experience of a person physically close to death, that is, in a bodily state resulting from an extreme physiological catastrophe that would reasonably be expected to result in irreversible biological death in most instances. (White, p.588)

Ordinary people who have been to the brink of death... NDEers experience some or all of the following events: a sense of being dead, peace and painlessness even during a "painful" experience, bodily separation, entering a dark region or tunnel, rising rapidly into the heavens, meeting deceased friends and relatives who are bathed in the light, encountering a Supreme Being, reviewing one's life, and feeling reluctance to return to the world of the living. (Bailey & Yates, p.27-28; excerpt, Moody, Raymond, The Light Beyond, 1988)

A predominantly visual experience undergone by persons who either seem to be at the point of death but then recover, or who narrowly escape death (as in a motor car accident) without being seriously injured. NDEs often incorporate out-of-body experiences. (
oracle In ancient times a person through whom a deity was believed to speak or otherwise reveal hidden knowledge or the divine purpose. (White, p.589)
out-of-body experience
An experience in which one's center of consciousness seems to be in a spatial location separate from that of one's physical body. (White, p.589)
paranormal A synonym for psychic or parapsychological; "para" means beyond what should occur if only known laws of cause and effect were operating. (White, p.589)

Term for any phenomenon that in one or more respects exceeds the limits of what is deemed physically possible according to current scientific assumptions. (
parapsychology The study of behavior that cannot now be explained or described in terms of known physical principles. (White, p.589)

Field of psychical research. (Tart, p.xii)

The branch of psychology which deals with behavior that cannot be explained by known physical principles; modern term for psychical research. (White & Dale, p.244)

The scientific study of certain paranormal or ostensibly paranormal phenomena, in particular, ESP and PK. (
percipient The individual who experiences or "receives" an extrasensory inference or impression; also, one who is tested for ESP ability. (White, p.589)

A subject in an ESP test, or a person who has a spontaneous psi experience. (White & Dale, p.244)
precognition Precognition is the correct prediction of future events when there is no way of inferring what those events will be from knowledge of the present. (Tart, p.46)

Knowledge of a future event that could not have been learned or inferred by normal means. (White, p.590)

A form of ESP involving awareness of some future event that cannot be deduced from normally known data in the present. (
prescience Knowledge of things before they exist or happen; foreknowledge; foresight. (

The power to foresee the future. (Free Scrabble Dictionary)
psi A general term for any or all phenomenon that cannot be explained in terms of sensorimotor contact with the environment. Thus, psi includes both ESP and PK. (White, p.590)

A general term used either as a noun or adjective to identify ESP or PK. (
psiology Pop term for parapsychology. (White, p.591)
psychic As a noun: A person who has frequent psi experiences, occasionally at will. As an adjective: Use as a synonym for Psi. (White, p.591)
Influence of objects or processes outside the organism without the use of known physical energies or forces. (White, p.591)

PK occurs when people (we shall call them agents) affect the outcome of physical events by simply wishing for that outcome when there is no known physical explanation for that outcome. (Tart, p. 74)

Ability to produce physical effects on objects by simply wishing for them to take on such and such a condition... (Tart, p.3)

The direct influence of mind on matter. (White & Dale, p.245)

Paranormal action; the influence of mind on a physical system that cannot be entirely accounted for by the mediation of any known physical energy. (
psychometry The use of an object by a sensitive to obtain by extrasensory means impressions relating to its history or persons who have been in touch with or associated with it. (White, p.591)
pure clairvoyance Extra-sensory perception of objective facts. 'Pure' refers to the elimination of telepathy from the experimental situation. (Rhine, p.xi)

By clairvoyance we use the generally accepted definition that it is the direct psychic perception of information about the physical state of a sensorily shielded object, place, or event by a percipient, when no living individual knows that information at the time of the clairvoyant perception. Apparent clairvoyance can be theoretically explained away, however, by alternatively postulating that the information is obtained by precognitive perception of the later feedback about the nature of the target. This later event can be direct feedback to the percipient and/or telepathically mediated feedback wherein the percipient "reads the mind" of an experimenter or observer who later observes the target set. These alternative explanations can be ruled out by automation of an experiment [...] so that there is no possibility of future human observation of it by anyone. This is a pure clairvoyance experiment. (Targ & Tart)
pure telepathy Extra-sensory perception of the mental processes of another person. 'Pure' refers to the absence of objective representation of the mental act or image, which might permit of clairvoyance by the percipient. (Rhine, p.xi)
remote viewing The ability to view, by mental means, remote geographical or other targets. See also clairvoyance. (White, p.592)

A term for ESP used especially in the context of an experimental design wherein a percipient attempts to describe the surroundings of a geographically distant agent. (
sensitive A person who is "psychic," that is, who has frequent psi experiences and can at times induce them at will; similar to a medium, except communications purporting to come from the deceased are usually not involved. (White & Dale, p.247)

See psychic. (White, p.593)
second sight See clairvoyance. (White, p.593)
sixth sense Older term for ESP. (White, p.593)
spontaneous psi experiences An unanticipated experience of ESP or PK that occurs in the course of daily living. (White, p.594)
synchronicity Term adopted by C.G. Jung for the simultaneous occurrence of a given subjective state and an external event which serves as meaningful paralleled to the subjective state, and vice versa, in the absence of any causal connection between the two. (White, p.594)

Term coined by Jung to indicate that an acausal principle could account for psi occurrences, or, as he preferred to call them, "meaningful coincidences." (White & Dale, p.248)
target In a test of ESP, the object or event that the percipient attempts to identify through information paranormally acquired; in a test of PK, the physical system, or a prescribed outcome thereof, the that subject attempts to influence or bring about. (White, p.595)
telekinesis Older term for Psychokinesis, still preferred in the USSR and Eastern Europe. (White, p.595)

The movement of objects at a distance by paranormal means. (White & Dale, p.248)
telepathic impressions Subjective imagery whose source is outside the individual's organism. (White, p.595)
telepathy Extra-sensory perception of the mental processes of another person. (Rhine, p.xi)

Extrasensory awareness of another person's mental content or state. (White, p.595)

Mind to mind contact over a distance. (Tart, p.3)

The paranormal acquisition of information about the thoughts, feelings, or activity of another conscious being. (
teleplasty Coined in pop-culture in the comic/film Hellboy, teleplasty describes the capacity of a spirit or other non-physical entity to use a psychokinetic type of power to move objects, manipulate organic matter, and interact with electronics or machines.
thought transference See telepathy. (White, p.595)
transpersonal That which extends beyond the individual or personal. (White, p.595)

Definitions are from the following sources:

Bailey, Lee W., and Yates, Jenny. The Near-Death Experience: A Reader. Routledge: New York, 1996. "prescience." August 31, 2012. < > "apport." August 16, 2015. < >

Free Scrabble Dictionary. "prescience." August 31, 2012. < >

Hastings, Arthur. Online summary. Survival of Bodily Death, An Esalen Invitational Conference, December 6 - 11, 1998.

Parapsychological Association (, Historical Terms Glossary.

Rhine, J.B. Extra-Sensory Perception. Bruce Humphries: Boston, 1964.

The Rhine Research Center (, Glossary of Terms.

Targ, Russell, and Tart, Charles. Pure Clairvoyance and the Necessity of Feedback. Published: Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 1985. Online replication of article.

Tart, Charles. PSI: Scientific Studies of the Psychic Realm. E.P. Dutton: New York, 1977.

White, Rhea A. Parapsychology: New Sources of Information, 1973-1989. The Scarecrow Press, Inc.: Metuchen, NJ, & London, 1990.

White, Rhea A., and Dale, Laura A., Parapsychology: Sources of Information. The Scarecrow Press, Inc.: Metuchen, NJ, 1973.

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This page created by Sandy Stahlman, who graduated from the University of Rochester and continued to study at the University of San Francisco and at Central Washington University's Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute. Sandra is an American mystic, a stigmatic, and a shamanic practitioner with a specialization in trance mediumship and non-human animal telepathic communication. In addition, she has studied Mindfulness Meditation with Shinzen Young, and worked hard at her daily yoga practice, ultimately achieving a Kundalini Awakening in 2001. Sandra is also trained in non-human animal enrichment for captive animals; and continues to explore Playcare for Pets just to keep her two feline children, Apache and Brianna, especially entertained, and excelling in their educations :) Her time at CWU offered her the chance to talk to a family of chimpanzees who use American Sign Language to speak to each other, themselves, and their human friends and visitors. These chimpanzees now live at The Fauna Foundation. Sandra became permanently disabled after a severe low-back herniation that left her sciatic nerve half-way severed in the early 2000's. She's no longer working, but feel free to email with an new ideas for this page. xoxo!


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