Students of anomalistic psychology study human behavior and experiences that are generally described as paranormal. However, these scientists operate without the assumption of paranormal activity; and studies often “bust” popular paranormal myths.
Koestler Parapsychology Unit, University of Edinburgh
Located in Edinburgh, Scotland this research center has churned out studies on a wide variety of popular myths, both paranormal and psychological. Earlier this year, Dr. Caroline Watt, Senior Researcher of the Koestler Unit, worked with other scientists to tackle the claim that eye movement is an indicator of truth-telling. The study proved the popular myth – that liars look up and to the right when telling falsehoods – to be inaccurate.
Last year, Dr. Watt and Dr. Dean Mobbs published a paper on the psychology and neuroscience of near-death experiences. The study may have ruffled a few feathers in the paranormal community as it attributed symptoms of NDE’s to chemical and neurological mechanisms. The study also confronted another common misconception: that people return from the dead.
“The idea of surviving clinical brain death is mythical,” Watt said. “NDEs are sometimes reported after a person experiences some of the preliminary ‘stages’ of death — for instance, when the heart stops beating for a while and the person is then revived. I think it’s curious, however, that a survey has shown that 82 percent of individuals who have survived being actually near death do not report a near-death experience. That would seem to undermine the idea that these experiences give a glimpse into life after death.” – As quoted by Discovery News
Currently, Dr. Watt and her team are studying precognitive dreams.
The SOPHIA Research Program, The University of Arizona
This research program was originally called the VERITAS Research Program and was created to test the hypothesis that humans survive physical death in some capacity.
The original VERITAS project released an interesting study in 2006 that featured a triple-blind study confirming some psychics’ anomalous ability to glean information about deceased people without “conventional mechanisms” or telepathy. The study suggests that some mediums are capable of direct communication with the dead, but there were no hypotheses formed as to how the communication was possible.
Today, the SOPHIA Research Program investigates supernatural claims of communication. The entity communications study is currently underway, led by Gary E. Schwartz, PhD. The study is intended to investigate the psychological mechanisms behind communications experienced between humans and a wide variety of paranormal/supernatural entities.
The Centre for the Study of Anomalous Psychological Processes, The University of Northampton
Students and professors of the CSAPP seek a scientific understanding of anomalous phenomena such as extrasensory perception, psychokinesis and other supernatural experiences and states of mind. The center is currently conducting various research projects that test and re-test theories and scenarios involving psi.
Dr. Chris Roe, a Senior Lecturer at CSAPP, has researched the role of ESP in dreams. His most recent research has explored the unconscious measures of psi. Other research projects vary widely to include the role of intuition among stock traders; directed intention as related to healing; and telephone telepath – just to name a few.
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