The Parapsychological Association, Inc. (PA) is the international professional organization of scientists and scholars engaged in the study of ‘psi’ (or ‘psychic’) experiences, such as telepathy, clairvoyance, remote viewing, psychokinesis, psychic healing, and precognition.
Such experiences seem to challenge contemporary conceptions of human nature and of the physical world. They appear to involve the transfer of information and the influence of physical systems independently of time and space, via mechanisms we cannot currently explain.
The primary objective of the Parapsychological Association is to achieve a scientific understanding of these experiences.
In view of this, PA members develop and refine methodologies for studying psi and its physical, biological or psychological underpinnings. They assess hypotheses and theories through experiments, conceptual models and field investigations, and seek to integrate their findings with other scientific domains. PA members also explore the meaning and impact of psychic experiences in human society, and assess the possibility of practical applications and technologies.
While covering a wide range of perspectives, the PA, as a whole, is committed to:
- Promoting scholarship and scientific inquiry into currently unexplained aspects of human experience
- Disseminating responsible information to the wider public and to the scientific community
- Integrating this information with knowledge from other disciplines
Psi research: balancing openness and rigor
Psi experiences have been reported throughout history, in all cultures. Even today, as multiple surveys show, a wide segment of the world’s population reports having had at least one experience that they believe to have been psychic.
These experiences, and the phenomena associated with them, are the subject matter of parapsychology. PA members use well-developed scientific methods to determine to what extent psi phenomena can be explained through presently understood processes -- whether physical or psychological -- and to what extent they may point to unknown forces and laws, or necessitate a revised model of consciousness and its relationship to the world.
Historically, science has made major advances in its understanding of the world through observation of ‘anomalies’– phenomena or data that did not fit into the concepts of the time. On the other hand, scientific and academic institutions are justifiably cautious about adopting radically new principles, and they tend to be quite conservative in accepting the reality of anomalous phenomena.
The PA is dedicated to ensuring that legitimate caution does not equate to dismissal or active avoidance, thus merely propagating our ignorance. To preclude science from stagnating into dogma, it is vital that we improve our understanding of our world, of ourselves and our experience. If new principles of physics, biology or psychology do underlie psi experiences, then our current knowledge of human nature and the world around us is incomplete -- and it will remain so, until the scientific community makes a sustained effort to understand these experiences.
An interdisciplinary matrix
Most likely, psi phenomena involve complex interactions between various subjective, interpersonal and environmental factors. Accordingly, parapsychology is an interdisciplinary field, with specialists from the biological, physical, behavioral and social sciences. Approaches for investigating psi vary widely, including laboratory experimentation, field work, analytical studies, phenomenological approaches, case studies, surveys and historical research. PA members also engage in the construction of theoretical models and the development of new methodological and statistical tools.
The diversity found within PA membership also leads to many different ‘schools of thought’ regarding the phenomena studied -- ranging from those who suspect that psi will eventually turn out to be an artifact of no major significance, to those who believe it will be accounted for through new developments in physics or biology, to those who argue that psi phenomena suggest a basis for spiritual beliefs.
PA Conventions and Publications
The PA provides an international forum for scholarly exchange through annual conferences, generally held in North America or in Europe, and through publication of the proceedings from these conferences. The PA has also sponsored special sessions for interdisciplinary scientific audiences, such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Electronic subscriptions to the PA's affiliated peer-reviewed publication, the Journal of Parapsychology, is provided to all members. The PA also publishes Mindfield: The Bulletin of the Parapsychological Association for its members.
About the organization
The PA was first established in 1957, and has been an affiliated organization of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) since 1969. As of the year 2002, there are approximately 300 PA members from all over the world.
The PA is a private, non-profit, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, governed by Bylaws and with nine elected Directors. The PA is a non-adjudicating organization and endorses no ideologies or beliefs other than the value of rigorous scientific and scholarly inquiry.