What is ESP?

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  • Written By: Niki Foster
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  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2018
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Extra-sensory perception (ESP) refers to any phenomena in which one gains information through means other than the recognized physical senses. It is therefore a broad category. Though ESP has never been scientifically proven and has numerous critics and skeptics, many laboratory test results have strongly favored its existence, and many people claim personal experience with it. ESP includes such phenomena as telepathy, out-of-body experiences, clairvoyance or remote viewing, precognition or seeing the future, aura reading, and other instances of intuition and knowledge acquired without the use of the physical senses.

The field of study that deals with ESP, known as parapsychology, was developed by J. B. and Louisa Rhine at Duke University in the 1930s. The Rhines popularized the term, along with psi, the hypothetical agent through which the mind experiences ESP. They also introduced the use of Zener cards, designed by psychologist Karl Zener, to test it in the laboratory. The Zener cards consist of a deck of 25 cards with five different symbols, and perception is tested by recording the accuracy of the test subject's guesses about the symbols on cards he or she cannot see.


Though many laboratory experiments suggest that ESP is a real phenomenon, none are definitively conclusive, and many more have been unsuccessful. Critics complain that the experiments favoring it were conducted with improper methodology. ESP is, by its nature, difficult to test, since there is little consensus over how it works or what exactly would prove its existence. Few people are truly disinterested when it comes to this subject.

Interestingly, some laboratory tests on ESP found that those who believe in psi are more likely to score above chance when guessing Zener card symbols, while those who do not believe in psi often score below chance. Another interesting result showed people in a relaxed state of mind, such as hypnosis, to make accurate guesses about Zener cards twice as often as chance would indicate, while those who are not hypnotized tend to score around chance.


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Post 16

Is ESP when a person says a word and at the same time it might appear anywhere, like on tv or radio or a sign of some sort?

Post 15

I believe ESP is an innate gift and it has to be wholly experienced by those who possess to confirm its presence in within. One has to relive such special experiences to have a better grip of its understanding. Alternatively, I also believe that ESP can be trained by going through a relatively long period of hypnotherapy / hypnosis as well as subliminal training.

Post 14

@ChanDawn: I agree with you and I hope that upon recognizing the pattern that you were able to somewhat change and control parts of it.

I think Zener card tests are slanted in that there are sets of the same images. If all 25 cards were different, then I think the results would not only be more similar from person to person, but would more closely follow chance than anything extrasensory.

Post 13

Esp is largely pattern recognition. Just as Rainman and many other real people have the ability to count spilled toothpicks or cards even with multiple decks, others who do not seemingly suffer any disorder that would cause a heightened awareness of numbers or patterns still have the ability.

If you doubt what I say than try this experiment. Write to the best of your recollection the dates of all the traumatic events and monumental achievements of your life. Only events that affected you personally. Now (if you don't trust my timeline, look at a childhood development book/chart), categorize the events in relation to the first year of your life.

The first emotionally and mentally stressful thing you will ever go

through is being born. The first physical stress (barring illness and injury) is teething, that happens at about four to six months. Eating solid foods is a transitional obstacle and a minor achievement that happens at about six to eight months. Walking and talking are monumental achievements and happen around the same time between eight and 12 months.

So the categories are emotional/mental stress, physical pain/injury, minor obstacle, major achievement. Example: I was born in November, and more people and pets close to me have died between the end of October and the beginning of December and I have lost more jobs at the end of the year than any other time.

I would have gotten teeth between March and May. I have had three miscarriages from the end of February to the beginning of May. I would have taken to solid foods over the summer. I have changed residences more than 20 times in my life and at least 15 of those moves were between May and August. Also, I have made the majority of major decisions during that time.

And finally, I would have spoken and/or walked somewhere around August or September. My best ideas and most beautiful paintings including the ones I've been paid for were all in those months. The pattern may not be exact and other things may happen outside of the norm, but there is a pattern to everything. World history, American history, personal history. You just have to figure it out. There is a math that can be applied.

Post 12

Yes it is handed down.

Post 11

why try and explain it? we who have it know it's there and we should except it! Those who does not well you don't so what you don't the brain is like a puzzle. you have to put the pieces together, i know, but if you can't do it all at once, don't do it all at once. just take your time. years from now you'll figure out it's there, and you figure out what it means to you.

Post 9

I believe I have ESP because over the last several years I have been having various visions. At first they would happen in the first few days of seeing this and as I got older the visions started to happen weeks after the vision but after seeing the vision actually happen I get a headache like my brain can't handle it. And whenever I try to change it from happening I can't.

Post 8

I think I have esp because I keep having dreams that happen the next day. If I have esp can I help people with it? Please answer me.

Post 7

I have been seeing parts of the future in my dreams, and a day or two later, it happens, and I get a weird sensation, like, "Ooh, that's what it meant." I don't get it. Only one time it was wrong, when I remembered what it was and I stopped it from happening. Will someone please tell me why I can do this? This started like last September.

Post 6

Liza: i really don't know what ESP should feel or look like. could someone comment on their experiences?

Post 5

My name is Bobbi and i have ESP. It runs in the family but skips generations. I am learning how to control it but it isn't really working as well as i like. anyone got tips?

Post 4

whitney that's okay. my sister has it and she is 10. i think it is fine. i don't know how she got it and it for sure doesn't run in the family.

Post 3

Whitney: I have ESP and it's very weird. It runs in my family. By the way, I'm only 12. am I supposed to have it at my age? Or do I have to be older?

Please answer this for me!

Post 2

I was very impressed with the impartial and factual reporting of this article. Very well done!

anon3312: I wish there were simple answers to your question. There are not. Even among those who have studied psionics for years, there is controversy or psi ability being derived genetically or through training of the mind. I personally do not believe it to be genetic, though I myself come from a long 'line' of psychically active people. It is my belief that all people are inherently capable, it is how the subject is handled in childhood and by society at large that determines whether an individual uses/develops it. Precognition and empathy were considered 'normal' in my family and nothing special, so it was never suppressed. There are many forums on this subject available. Google 'psionics' and wade through the game sites and poorly run forums. Warning: not easy. I hope you find the information you seek.

Post 1

How does ESP become of the body is it handed down from generation to generation?

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