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Key Words Frequently Used in Parapsychology


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Less technical expression than “agent,” used to denote the person or subject designated as the “transmitter” of telepathic information. Compare Receiver.  Back to top of page

A person who frequently experiences extrasensory perception and who can sometimes induce it at will. Compare MediumBack to top of page

A tribal medium, witch-doctor, or priest accredited with supernatural powers as originally exemplified by Siberian tribes. [From the German Schamane, derived from the Russian shaman, derived from Tungusic samânBack to top of page

Term originally used by Gertrude Schmeidler 1943) to describe a subject who does not reject the possibility that extrasensory perception could occur under the conditions of the given experimental situation; this somewhat narrow meaning has been extended to refer also, tentatively, to persons who believe that ESP exists as a genuine phenomenon, or even to persons who obtain high scores on various so-called “projective,” “scalar,” or “checklist” measures of belief in (and/or experience of) different sorts of putative psi phenomena. Compare Goat. See also Sheep-Goat EffectBack to top of page

Term introduced by John Beloff and David Bate (1970) to describe a subject who is sure that their score on a test of extrasensory perception will be high, by virtue of their own psychic ability.  Back to top of page

Term first used by Gertrude Schmeidler to describe the relationship between acceptance of the possibility of extrasensory perception occurring under the given experimental conditions, and the level of scoring actually achieved on that ESP test: subjects who do not reject the possibility (“sheep”) tend to score above chance, those rejecting the possibility (“goats”) at or below chance; the terms “sheep” and “goat” are nowadays often used in a more extended sense, and “sheep-goat effect” may thus refer to any significant scoring difference between these two groups as defined by the experimenter.  Back to top of page

A discrete incident of ostensible spontaneous psi.  Back to top of page

Term coined by Frederic Myers to refer to events occurring beneath the “threshold” of conscious awareness. [From the Latin sub, “below, under,” + limen (liminus),  “threshold”]  Back to top of page

Continued existence of the consciousness of the individual person in some form and for at least some time after the destruction of their physical body; life-after-death; not to be considered synonymous with “immortality,” which implies unending existence. See also Reincarnation; Spirit Hypothesis.  Back to top of page

Term coined by Carl Jung (with Wolfgang Pauli, 1955) to refer to the occurrence of acausal but meaningful coincidences. [From the Greek synchronos, derived from synchronizein, “to be contemporary with,” derived from syn-, “with,” + chronos, “time”]  Back to top of page

Term coined by Frederic Myers to refer to the paranormal acquisition of information concerning the thoughts, feelings or activity of another conscious being; the word has superseded earlier expressions such as “thought-transference.” See also General Extrasensory Perception. [From the Greek ele, “far away,” + pathein, “to have suffered, been affected by something”]  Back to top of page
An instance of telepathy in which there seems to be a time lag between the agent’s attempt to transmit the target, and the percipient’s awareness of that target.  Back to top of page

The paranormal acquisition of information concerning the future mental state of another conscious being.  Back to top of page
See Photography, Paranormal.  Back to top of page

See Telepathy.  Back to top of page

A state of dissociation in which the individual is oblivious to their situation and surroundings, and in which various forms of automatism may be expressed; usually exhibited under hypnotic, mediumistic or shamanistic conditions. [From the Old French transe, “passage,” ultimately derived from the Latin transire, “to go across”]  Back to top of page

See Communicator; Control.  Back to top of page

Term introduced by Michael A. Thalbourne (1991a), meaning literally “the tendency to cross the threshold into awareness.” Persons exhibiting a high degree of transliminality are more likely to believe in, and claim experience of, paranormal phenomena, as well as to report more magical ideation, a more creative personality, more mystical experience, greater religiosity and more fantasy-proneness, as well as a history of experience resembling clinical depression and mania. Therefore, transliminality is defined as “susceptibility to, and awareness of, large volumes of imagery, ideation and emotion — these phenomena being stimulated by subliminal, supraliminal and/or external inputs.” [From the Latin trans, “across, beyond,” + limen (liminis), “threshold”]  Back to top of page

Truthful; corresponding to, or conveying fact. [From the Latin veridicus, derived from verum, “truth” + dicere, “to say”]  Back to top of page

The original name given to the ESP cards; named after the perceptual psychologist Karl Zener, a colleague of Rhine’s, who apparently suggested the symbols to be used on the cards (circle, cross, square, star, and wavy lines).  Back to top of page

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