extrasensory perception

Function: noun
Date: 1934

: perception (as in telepathy, clairvoyance, and precognition) that
involves awareness of information about events external to the self not
gained through the senses and not deducible from previous experience
-- called also ESP

telepathy

Function: noun
Date: 1882

: communication from one mind to another by extrasensory means

clairvoyance

Function: noun
Date: 1840

1 : the power or faculty of discerning objects not present to the senses
2 : ability to perceive matters beyond the range of ordinary perception

precognition

Function: noun
Etymology: Late Latin praecognition-, praecognitio, from Latin
praecognoscere to know beforehand, from prae- + cognoscere to
know -- more at COGNITION
Date: circa 1611

: clairvoyance relating to an event or state not yet experienced

telekinesis

Function: noun
Etymology: New Latin
Date: 1890

: the production of motion in objects (as by a spiritualistic medium)
without contact or other physical means

The Rhine Research Center By D. Trull

The Rhine Research Center Institute for Parapsychology is one of the world's oldest and best known foundations devoted to paranormal study. A non-profit organization based in Durham, North Carolina, the Center applies scientific methods toward the exploration of extrasensory perception and psychokinesis as valid human capabilities.

Rhine Research Center is located next door to Duke University, and it owes its existence to Duke and one of its most fascinating academics. In 1927, Dr. J. B. Rhine (1895-1980) began conducting studies of psychic phenomena in the university's psychology department. Originally planning a career as a minister, Rhine was educated as a botanist. He didn't become interested in the paranormal until he attended a lecture given by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Along with his wife, biologist Louisa E. Rhine, and Duke psychology department chairman Dr. William McDougall, he amassed a huge volume of trailblazing research into possible hidden powers of the mind.

By the time Rhine established the Duke University Parapsychology Laboratory in 1935, his work had already garnered nationwide attention. He coined the term "extrasensory perception," and for decades he and his wife were regarded the leading authorities on ESP. Rhine was the first experimenter to perform psychic testing using Zener cards (with their now-familiar five symbols of circle, square, star, plus sign and wavy lines), which were developed for him by his Duke colleague Dr. Karl Zener.

Rhine took his studies away from Duke in 1962, with the establishment of the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man (FRNM). He felt that an independent, privately-funded organization would afford the controversial field of parapsychology the scientific freedom itrequired and deserved.

Rhine is often popularly remembered as the man who "proved" that psychic powers existed. While he did collect some compelling test results that indicated statistically unlikely accuracy among his subjects, subsequent examinations of his work have concluded that procedural flaws and probability loopholes invalidate any claims of proof.

Nonetheless, Rhine is generally well-respected today -- even by skeptics like James Randi for his pioneering spirit and devotion to scientific fact. Rhine did his share of debunking and was not apologetic about it; in fact, his expose of a fake spiritualist led to Rhine's denouncement by his original inspiration, Arthur Conan Doyle.

In honor of the 100th anniversary of J. B. Rhine's birth, FRNM was rechristened as the Rhine Research Center in 1995. In addition to its continuing studies into ESP and psychokinesis, the Center regularly offers classes and lectures to students and the general public, and is kept busy by visitors, letters and phone calls asking about all things psychic.

Dr. Richard S. Broughton, the Center's current Director of Research, describes a typical encounter with a journalist in his book Parapsychology: The Controversial Science (Ballantine, 1991). Broughton sums up Rhine Research Center's reason for being in the following response to the oft-asked question of whether he believes in what his organization studies:

"'No, I don't believe in it,' I replied, and then I watched the reporter's face take on a familiar perplexed look. Of course I then had to explain to the startled reporter that I regard 'belief' as something appropriate in matters of faith, such as in religious questions, but not in matters of science. One's religious beliefs might require what theologians would call a 'leap of faith' precisely because there is no evidence to support them. As a scientist I do not take leaps of faith with my subject matter. I study the evidence."