Scientist Ciaran Has Got the Mind for Psychic Matters; HE Took Part in the Controversial TV Seance Programme to Contact the Late Princess Diana but Now Parapsychologist Ciaran O'Keeffe (above) Is Testing Whether We Are a Nation of Psychics. Education Reporter CLAIRE STOKER Makes Contact

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IF THERE'S something strange in your neighbourhood this man is definitely the person to call. Watching the movie Ghostbusters as a child led Ciaran O'Keeffe to choose a career many only dream of - or have nightmares about.

He is a lecturer in Parapsychology at Liverpool Hope University College and visiting haunted houses is part of his job.

This weekend Ciaran, 32, is taking part in the National ESP Challenge Live, the country's biggest ever test of our extra-sensory perception on TV.

Ciaran says: ``By rigidly testing the viewing public, using ESP trials and tests on other psychological phenomena, we may finally provide a scientific answer to the elusive question-is ESP possible?''

This will include a test on whether viewers and those in the studio can all think of the same image by concentrating together.

As a scientist Ciaran looks for evidence to back up claims of paranormal activity, from ghostly sightings to telepathic powers.

He also took part in a recent controversial televised seance when mediums attempted to contact the late Princess of Wales. He admits the seance didn't work because all the information that came from the mediums was already in the public domain.

Ciaran says he agreed to take part in the debate that aired after the seances to keep an eye on what was going on and ensure there was nofraud. It was an ethical problem to get involved but I felt as it was my area of expertise,I could observe if the mediums said they were getting accurate information from Diana.''

Ciaran became interested in ghost studies from an early age. A degree at the University of Liverpool followed before Ciaran started at Liverpool Hope's Psychology department, specialising in parapsychology and psychicdetection.

Parapsychology is the scientific study of ESP, which includes telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition and psychokinesis - moving objects, or mind control over matter.

``Within the field of parapsychology you are always going to get people at both ends of the spectrum, believers and cynics about the possibility of paranormal phenomena,'' says Ciaran. ``As scien-tists, our job is to test for these.''

Ciaran is so far unconvinced about the reality of psychokinesis based on his research but he has an open mind when it comes to precognition.

He said: ``Precognitionis very difficult because when people say they have predicted the future,often this comes out after the fact.

``A lot of people said after September 11 that they had dreamt about it beforehand but that's very difficult to prove.''

The difference between telepathy and clairvoyance is best described using the envelope test. If you put an object into an envelope and someone says what it is by reading your mind, that's telepathy but if they work it out by getting the information from the object, that's clairvoyance. …