PSYCHIC Definition of
(Investigator 86, 2002 September)
The word 'psychic' pertains to the mind or soul; mental, as distinguished from the physical and physiological. It is commonly used today by people when referring to the paranormal, occult or supernatural.
Those claiming to possess extraordinary powers use the word to describe their particular abilities and attributes regardless of how they are applied or manifested. Thus a clairvoyant's ability to see the future would be described as 'psychic', as would a tarot card reader's intuitive reading, a dowser or water diviner's art likewise, and the power to move objects using the human mind (telekinesis) would also be a physical manifestation of psychic powers.
Through loose and general use the word 'psychic' has become a generic term, it is inevitable therefore, that as I deal with the various aspects of the paranormal there will be some grey areas where it is not possible to finely distinguish between some of the exponents such as a visionary, clairvoyant or a prophet; a tarot reader, cartomancer or a palmist; a thought photographer, mentalist or a medium.
Because of the tremendous diversity of paranormal claims, I have sub-categorized divination. Water divining or dowsing for example is attributed by its exponents to psychic ability; psychometry to intuition, and a multitude of other methods devoted to interpreting traditional signs and symbols from predetermined standards and known as the Mantic Arts. Very few of the Mantic Arts are practised in the modern western world, although some have survived and developed into more sophisticated forms. As a matter of interest, and as an indication of man's pre-occupation with what the future holds in store, they are listed under that heading.
In the absence of any empirical evidence that 'psychic' powers exist, the claim to possess extraordinary gifts is purely subjective, and the onus of proof is on the individual claimant. However, investigating the extraordinary claims of contemporary psychics is a relatively easy matter provided that the claims made are specific and that pertinent information is available.
The explanation of how these putative powers are acquired in the first place varies from individual to individual. Some claim to be born with them, others attribute them to a traumatic experience or an accident, and many claim simply to have developed them through psychic training seminars and courses.
That the 'psychic' business is big business cannot be denied, particularly when it comes to training seminars. The American Entrepreneur magazine reported as far back as 1982, that many of these seminar programs are phenomenally profitable for the operators. For example: Silva Mind Control of Laredo, Texas, grosses about $15,000,000 a year. Mind Probe Inc. of Los Angeles takes in over $15,000 at each monthly lecture, and EST of San Francisco takes in over a quarter-million dollars per month.
The knowledge required to set up in the 'psychic' business is minimal, you don't have to know anything about the subject matter to enter this fascinating business. There is even a guide available for those wishing to hop on the bandwagon, "Manual #46 Psychic-Training Seminars", tells all.
Even the small fry run of the mill astrologers, palmists, tarot readers and 'psychic' consultants advertising in the local newspapers make a fair living, charging anything from $40 to $100 an hour for their questionable services, working from home and with minimal overheads.
Without exception, the ability to perform by those who claim to possess any form of psychic power disappears when subject to controlled tests. While their excuses are manifold – unknown negative influences, distractions, scepticism, and vague unscientific explanations, there is every reason to doubt that any form of psychic energy actually exists.
Occasionally one hears of a self-proclaimed psychic who really gets carried away with belief in his powers. In Moscow, in October 1989, a Mr E. Frenkel, who apparently felt that he had found the universal secret of psychic-biological power, tested his belief by standing in front of bicycles, cars and a streetcar to stop them. As an ultimate test of his powers, he jumped in front of a train near the southern city of Astrakhan and was run over and killed!
The following are fairly representative and cover most of the major aspects of the paranormal:
- Joan of Arc (visions and voices),
- Sai Baba (miracles),
- Blavatsky (spiritualism and charlatanism),
- Brown (automatic writing),
- Cayce (predictions and absent healing),
- Dixon (prognostications),
- Geller (ESP and psychokinesis),
- Nostradamus (the ambiguity and vagueness of predictions), and
- Stokes (necromancy).
Visionaries and prophets are usually associated with ancient history. Lacking authoritative sources of information, an objective assessment of their veracity in the twentieth century becomes a matter for educated speculation by scholars, psychologists and psychiatrists. A more comprehensive listing can be found in my book, Magic Minds Miraculous Moments.(From: A Skeptic's Guide to the New Age, Harry Edwards)
Investigator Magazine Home Page