• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Does the paranormal exist because we believe or do we believe because it exists?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Does the paranormal exist because we believe or do we believe because it exists? Parapsychology, the study of the paranormal, is a relatively new and indefinite field of psychology; with the term psi - anomalous (unexplained) phenomena - only being introduced by Thouless in 1942. It was later defined by Krippner in 1977 as 'interactions between organisms and their environment (including other organisms) which are not mediated by recognized sensorimotor functions.' With investigations into the presence of the paranormal within our society still developing to warrant scientific merit, the current body of experimental evidence is lacking and deemed by many as inconclusive. Regardless of the uncertainty of research, surveys have revealed that the public's belief and curiosity in the paranormal is unprecedented (Alcock,J.E., 1990). Therefore to address the title, I will firstly split it into two questions: Do we believe in the paranormal because it exists? - This will be discussed with reference to the history of the paranormal, the development of the arguments and the dominating research. Or does the paranormal exist because we believe? - This will be discussed with reference to the popularity that the concept of paranormal has garnered in modern culture, the human belief system and the influence it has had on our perceptions and previous experiments. ...read more.

Middle

To further emphasize this point Schmeilder also identified that disbelievers scored significantly below chance, and when compared, the difference between the two was so significant that it is now feared that the arguments between parapsychologists and sceptics has now spilled over into the experiments. Many psychology experimenters have been accused of inflicting demand characteristics on their participants, and paranormal experiments are no different. Schmeilder (1958) proposed that the belief orientation of the experimenter or research team conducting the experiment could have a 'psi-inhibitory' or 'psi-conductive' effect on the participant. I.e. if the participant felt that the people coordinating the results were cynical of their answers or their performance, they gained a lesser score; probably from holding back as not to embarrass them or avoiding being made to feel uncomfortable through questioning (Alcock, J.E, 1990). Schmeilder has shown participants to gain more significant scores if the experimenter is for example more enthusiastic about the answers the participant is making, this is not to say that the experimenter inflicts psi ability on them, but that they do tend to express themselves more. There are many other experimental factors that may have constituted fraud, however I want to concentrate on this main influencing factor of 'belief' compromising the existing validity of evidence. ...read more.

Conclusion

(Wolfman 1977) The conflict between many scientists and the parapsychologists will continue if scientists look to the paranormal as 'nonsense' or as a threat, they must work together to find the definite answer: Paranormal is "in principle physically impossible and outside the range of human capabilities as presently conceived by conventional scientists." (Tobacyk, 1995) The public (no matter what the media may speculate) and researchers should not expect a revolutionary finding, it may take some time: 'No single person has been able to demonstrate unique proficiency in psi, and such a person is generally no longer expected to exist' (Teresi.,S. 2000) Researchers must be encouraged to investigate: 'The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) has offered one million dollar prize for anyone to submit proof that their claims of having repeatable paranormal ability are true' (Frazier,K. 1998 p258). Adapting a critical thinking, non-biased approach: Society of Psychical Research (1882) founded, established objectives 'to examine without prejudice or prepossession and in a scientific spirit those faculties of man, real or supposed, which appear to be inexplicable on any generally recognized hypothesis' (Frazier, K. 1998 p 256). And to remember: 'An extraordinary degree of evidence is often demanded in support of extraordinary claims.' (Irwin, H.J., 2004). As they say there's no smoke without fire.................... ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Psychometrics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Psychometrics essays

  1. The Neural Workings Behind Altruistic Behavior: Is it Human Nature or a Function of ...

    they received the money for themselves or when it was offered to be given to charity. Those who cared more about the money going to charity (displayed in the greater brain activation) were found to be twice as likely to make charitable donations voluntarily.

  2. Cerebral asymmetry- To what extent is brain function lateralized

    was to assess the extent of activity associated with silent reading, was to look selectively at the temporal-lobe activity involved in naming objects within particular categories. Damasio and colleagues recorded the PET movement in the left temporal lobes of healthy subjects while they named images presented on a screen.

  1. In an attempt to solve both these problems two experiments will be conducted, one ...

    Although the null hypothesis has to be accepted, I feel that although the results were not statistically significant, they do still provide some support for the evidence looked at in the introductory section. The findings were in keeping with Loftus and Palmer's study into the effects of leading questions of

  2. The sheep-goat effect - A study on how extra-sensory perception belief affects repetition avoidance.

    This could be due to coincidences which have happened to a person e.g. they dream that someone is going to have a plane crash and the next day someone in their family gets involved in a plane crash, the person then states that they had a premonition about this and their belief in ESP is increased.

  1. What kinds of evidence do researchers draw on when considering the

    After only 36 hours of the experiment one prisoner became acutely emotionally disturbed, and experienced uncontrollable crying and rage - his identity with the role was affecting his personality. Interestingly, the other participants did not attempt to intervene to help this participant who was clearly distressed, instead they remained within

  2. The aim of this investigation was to investigate if 'chunking' in STM will be ...

    Although Waugh and Norman were investigating the serial probe technique and Shalice followed up with a faster progression through the list, they were still investigating recall and thus the same concept can be applied and referred to. In addition, in reference to the introduction we can see that Miller calls

  1. Cognitive processes effecting Heart Rate: Testing Lacey's Intake-Reject Hypothesis

    This study seeks to test Lacey's intake-reject hypothesis. There will be two independent variables to the tested, the first of which being the type of task undertaken. There will be two types of task: Mental arithmetic (an example of rejecting environment, therefore increasing heart rate) and Visual Search (an example where intake from environmental factors is required, leading to a decrease in heart rate.

  2. Theories of Personality. Hans Eysenck: The Factor Theory

    Extraverts are less mature generally than introverts. For extraverts to learn the appropriate behaviors, it takes many more instances of pairing the lying, or stealing or other behavior with punishment before the lessons are learned. Eysenck advocated three major behavior therapy techniques that have been used successfully to treat a variety of phobias, enuresis, obsessions, compulsions, test anxiety, and public speaking anxiety.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work