Parapsychological Association (PA) är en professionell internationell organisation som bildades 1957. Efter den obligatoriska femåriga väntetiden sökte de 1963 medlemskap i AAAS, American Association for the Advancement of Science, en oerhört inflytelserik sammanslutning, men erkändes inte då. Medlemskap söktes på nytt 1967 och 1968.¤1¤ Men vid ett möte i december 1969 röstade en majoritet för PA's inträde i AAAS.¤2¤ Ordföranden kommenterade beslutet:
The commitee on Council Affairs considered the P.A.'s work for a very long time. The Committee came to the conclusion that it is an association investigating controversial or non-existent phenomena; however it is open in membership to critics and agnostics: and they were satisfied that it uses scientific methods of enquiry: thus that investigation can be counted as scientific. Futher information has come to us that the number of A.A.A.S. fellows who are also members of the P.A. is not four as on the agenda but nine.
Medlemskraven för PA är stränga. För att bli ordinarie medlem måste man ha doktorerat i något ämne, skrivit ett tillräckligt bra arbete om parapsykologi och nominerats av ett antal andra medlemmar. PA auktoriserar nationella parapsykologiska sällskaps och andra organisationers tidskrifter, samt ger riktlinjer och sätter standarder.¤4¤ 1990 hadde organisationen ca 300 medlemmar i runt 30 länder.¤5¤
This is the first of several reports to be made available by the Parapsychological Association for people outside the association who are interested in its activities. The report was written by a committee of the association's members, approved by its governing board in October, 1985, and discussed by its members at its 1985 annual convention.
The Parapsychological Association, founded in 1957 and an affiliate of the American Association for the Advancement of Science since 1969, consists of approximately 300 members in some 30 different countries. They include anthropologists, biologists, chemists, educators, engineers, librarians, philosophers, physicists, psychiatrists, psychologists, sociologists, and members of some other professions. Parapsychological Associat_on membersh_p spans a continuum of interpretations of the phenomena in question, but all members take a serious interest in their investigation.
Reports of psi phenomena concern organism-environment interactions (including those between organisms) in which it appears that information or influence has occurred which can not be explained through our current understanding of sensorymotor channels. In other words, these reports are anomalous because they appear to stand outside of science's traditional conccpts of time, space, and force. Psychology is the scientific study of behavior and experience; parapsychology studies apparent anomalies of behavior and experience which exist apart from currently known explanatory mechanisms which account for organismenvironment and organism-organism information and influence flow.
When an event is classified as a psi phenomenon, it is claimed that all known channels for the apparent interaction have been eliminated. Thus it is clear that labeling an event as a psi phenomenon does not constitute an explanation for that event, but only indicates an event for which a scientific explanation needs to be sought. Phenomena occurring under these conditions are said to have occurred under psi-task conditions. Labels such as extrasensory perception (ESP) and psychokinesis (PK) refer to the apparent direction of information or influence. ESP refers to situations in which, under psi-task conditions, an organism behaves as if it has information about the physical environment (as in clairvoyance), another organism's mental processes (as in telepathy), or a future event (as in precognition). PK refers to situations in which, under psi-task conditions, an organism's physical environment changes in a way that appears to be related to the organism's mental or physiological processes (Morris, 1982; Palmer, 1982).
Many parapsychologists dislike such terms as ESP and clairvoyance because they do not constitute an explanation and carry implicit theoretical loadings which may not be justified. A commitment to the study of psi phenomena does not rcquire assuming the reality of nonordinary factors or processes. Regardless of what form the final explanations may take, howcver, the study of these phenomena is likely to expand our understanding of the processes often referred to as consciousness and mind and of the nature of disciplined inquiry (e.g., the effect of the investigator upon the phenomenon being investigated).
It was this search for understanding, coupled with a commitment to rigorous standards of investigation, that resulted in the founding of the Society for Psychical Research (in England, 1882), the American Society for Psychical Research (in 1885), and a number of similar organizations throughout the world. Many members of the Parapsychological Association hold concurrent membership in these psychical research societies which are open to interested people in general. The Parapsychological Association, however, is a professional organization that has developed membership standards, an ethics committee, and a public information officer. Several affiliated, but independent, refereed journals serve as an outlet for some of the research reports of its members.
Survey research involves contacting random or representative samples of people and asking them whether they believe they have had various kinds of psi experiences, or collecting detailed descriptions of reported psi experiences. The analysis of survey data involves examining the relative frequencies with which various types of experiences are reported and the relationships between the experiential reports and other characteristics of the respondents. Given the difficulties involved in attempting to determine whether a reported experience actually involved psi phenomena, survey results are most often used simply to suggest patterns or relationships that can be studied by field and laboratory research methods. For a history and review of survey research methods, see L. E. Rhine's (1977) chapter in the Handbook of Parapsychology.
Field research involves the detailed study of individual situations in which there are spontaneous events. A project may consist of the systematic study of conditions associated with recurring events, as in poltergeist (or recurring spontaneous PK) investigations, or detailed examination of conditions associated with a single event, as in the investigation of individual precognitive dreams. A primary goal in field research is the attempt to determine whether or not psi-task conditions are involved by examining possible conventional mechanism explanations for the events' presence and plausibility. Field and laboratory research often overlap; when possible, the researchers manipulate suspected conventional mechanisms to see whether the event is thereby affected (e.g., Giesler, 1984, 1985).
Laboratory research involves deliberately produced psi-task conditions, i.e. occasions when there has been a effort to rule out conventional mechanisms of person-environment interactions. For example, sensory cues to the nature of target items in ESP tests can be eliminated by physically separating subjects from the target material and by ensuring that experiments do not know the identity of the target. Conscious or unconscious interference can be eliminated by using statistically random sequences of target events. Laboratory PK tests use target systems whose normal behavior is well known and understood. In addition, they separate the subject from the target systems to eliminate physical contact. Discussions of problems in laboratory research and approaches to establishing laboratory psi-task conditions can be found in the chapter by Morris (1978, 1982) and Rush (1977, 1982) in Volumes 1, 2, and 3, of Advances in Parapsychological Research. Laboratory and field research can be oriented toward demonstration of the existence of psi or toward questions about the processes of psi phenomena.
Demonstration research involves comparing observed events with what would be ordinarily expected in a single carefully defined situation. In this type of research, statistically unlikely outcomes under psi conditions indicate that events have occurred that do not appear to be explicable by known mechanism, and are unlikely to be coincidence, but do not give information about how or why the events occurred.
Process research involves studying factors related to the outcomes of psi tests in either a field or laboratory setting. This may mean examining correlations between the outcomes and variations in psychological or physical factors. Or it may involve creating differences in psychological or physical conditions and comparing outcomes under the different conditions. Depending on the variables measured or manipulated, process research can be used to evaluate hypotheses about processes that may be fundamental to the occurrence of psi phenomena or about processes that may affect the strength or accuracy of the phenomena but are not fundamental to their occurrence. An example of the former type of research would be a study designed to see whether random physical processes are more sensitive to PK effects than are deterministic processes. An example of the latter would be a study asking whether people's psychological characteristics interact with the performance in different types of testing situations.
Criticisms of parapsychology often take the position that the extrachance scores obtained by parapsychologists are due to flawed experimental procedures in the positive studies or to the failure to report negative or nonsignificant findings. The former criticism has been responded to by detailed analyses (e.g., Pratt, Rhine, Smith, Stuart & Greenwood, 1940) and debates (e.g., Honorton, 1985; Hyman, 1985). The latter criticism does not appear to be valid; a successful attempt to locate unpublished ESP studies found almost as many with extrachance results as with chance results (Blackmore, 1980). Furthermore, this is not only a problem in parapsychology; research in the social and behavioral sciences in general are concerned with the frequency with which investigators fail to publish negative or nonsignificant results. The Parapsychological Association in 1975 instituted a policy against the selected publication of only positive experiments.
Defects in experimental procedures have been observed by parapsychologists themselves (e.g. Akers, 1984; Stanford & Palmer, 1972), and members of the Parapsychological Association are devoted to improving the quality of their research. At the same time, Parapsychological Association members have often been in the forefront of exposing fraudulent and irresponsible practitioners who use the title parapsychologist without the knowledge of, or the commitment to, rigorous scientific standards.
Implications of parapsychological data must be cautiously considered. While the data do not establish processes that underlie psi phenomena, their apparently systematic relationships with psychological variables such as testing conditions and subjects'beliefs and personality do suggest that some intemally consistent processes are at work. At the same time, it is clear that very little is currently known about the operations and limitations of psi phenomena. For this reason, claims of practical applications of psi should be treated with extreme caution. Such considerations are especially important when claims are made for medical uses of psi. When the health of a human being is at stake, it is usuallybetter to err on the side of skepticism than on the side of credulity. The Parapsychological Association takes the position that none of the accumulated data justify discouraging a person from seeking competent medical care for an illness. Skepticism also needs to be exercised in regard to commercial claims that psi ability can be trained or used for making personal decisions.
Parapsychology has a century-old tradition by bringing scientific imagination and rigor to the study of phenomena typically ignored by other investigators. Whatever the eventual outcome of this search may be, it can not help but add to the sum of knowledge about humanity and the human condition.
Giesler, P. V. (1984). Parapsyehological anthropology: I. Multi-method approach to the study of psi in the field setting. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 78, 287328.
Giesler, P. V. (1985). Parapsychological anthropology: II. A multi-method study of psi and psi-related processes in the Umbanda ritual trance consultation. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 79, 113-166.
Hyman, R. (1985). The Ganzfeld psi experiment: A critical appraisal. Journal of Parapsychology, 49, 3-49.
Morris, R. L. (1982). An updated survey of methods and issues in ESP research. In S. Krippner (Ed.), Advances in parapsychological research: Vol3, (540). New York: Plenum Press.
Palmer, J. (1982). ESP research findings: 1976-1978. In S. Krippner (Ed.), Advances in parapsychological research: Vol3, (41-82). New York: Plenum Press.
Rhinc, L. E. (1977). Research methods with spontaneous cases. In B. B. Wolman (Ed.), Handbook of parapsychology, (59-80). New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.
Rush, J. H. (1977). Problems and methods in psychokinesis research. In S. Krippner (Ed.), Advances in parapsychological research: Vol.l, (15-78). Ncw York: Plenum Press.
Rush, J. H. (1982). Problems and methods in psychokinesis research. In S. Krippner (Ed.), Advances in parapsychological research: Vol3, (83-114). New York: Plenum Press.
Stanford, R. G. & Palmer, J. (1972). Some statistical considerations eoneerning proeessoriented research in parapsychology. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 66, 166-179.