July 23, 2013

Duke University and Parapsychology

Remember these famous ESP cards?

I am starting to get a handle on certain life events again and so my blog is returning to "normal" with a post about the paranormal. This post is actually specifically about parapsychology and Duke University, which is a highly respected research institution. In fact, Duke University was the second institution of higher education in the United States to start studying parapsychology, right after Stanford University.

Parapsychology is an interesting beast. Unlike cryptozoology, which is the study of unknown creatures, in parapsychology (which is the study of psychic abilities) many researchers are academics. The Rhine Research Center is one of the better-respected parapsychology research facilities and for years it was connected to Duke University. Now the center is no longer associated directly with the university, but many Duke alumni work there.

As the people who run the center explain, researchers there use the scientific method to explore the possibility of psychic abilities. And what is uncovered in this research can be a little astounding, even though the researchers fully admit they do not have all of the science to fully explain some of their findings. Of course the center has weathered some intense criticism about its work, since there are plenty of who doubt the validity of any scientific work that even hints at the existence of psychic abilities.

One of the missions of the center is to educate the public. There is a museum and library that are both available to the public. People from the community can take part in workshops that explore topics such as psychic experiences and remote viewing. Speakers who are former government administrators, astronauts and military leaders go to the center for forums. There is also an extensive bookstore, which you can order from online. Average people can also sign up for memberships that provide tiered levels of benefits. You can also subscribe to the center's podcasts, which are quite interesting.

The Rhine Research Center conducts quite a few interesting experiments. To give you a taste of what they are about, they were the institution that originally created those ESP cards used to test someone's psychic abilities (remember the intro to Ghostbusters?). A more recent experiment involved setting up what the Center calls a "Light Lab" that uses the principles of electrical engineering to measure any light or energy emitted by different people. Average people emit little to no light, but experiments in the lab showed that certain healers and people who practice meditation for long periods of time actually emitted some measurable light (one researcher called them "huge spikes" of energy).


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I knew of the center, but didn't know it was once connected to Duke. The university is known more for its medical program and facility.

Steven said...

Alex, I reference the med school's research all the time.

Robin said...

I imagine that they do get some eyebrows raised at them by researchers who consider themselves more "reputable." Personally, I find it fascinating.

Steven said...

Robin, it is a fascinating subject that seems to make certain people quite uneasy.

VR Barkowski said...

Fascinating information, Steven. I don't understand why so many academics and laymen alike refuse to accept the possibility of psychic ability. Individuals have been proven to have all types of unique abilities. Why is it so unbelievable that certain folks are more sensitive? Sure, there's a lot of chicanery when it comes to storefront psychics. So what? Astronomy started as astrology.

Any academic who dismisses a theory out of hand while scoffing at use of the scientific method, should bow his or her head in shame.

VR Barkowski

Steven said...

VR, sadly there are limits to open-mindedness in the Ivory Tower.