Parapsychology in the 21st Century

By Morris, Robert L. | The Journal of Parapsychology, June 2000 | Go to article overview

Parapsychology in the 21st Century

Morris, Robert L., The Journal of Parapsychology


ABSTRACT: Ten years ago the author identified ten areas of potential difficulty facing parapsychology as it approached the last decade of the 20th century: (1) Parapsychology is linked to problematic metaphysical origins; (2) Parapsychology is linked with concepts that have been exploited and misused in the past; (3) Parapsychology can he easily linked with delusional systems; (4) Parapsychology threatens the tidiness of our scientific methodology; (5) Parapsychology forces us to look at some theoretical concepts that science has found problematic in the past; (6) Parapsychology threatens fixed beliefs about how the world works; (7) Parapsychology's most obvious potential research projects often raise ethical issues; (8) Parapsychology involves the study of complex, open systems; (9) Parapsychology has difficulty in generating and testing theory-based hypotheses; (10) Parapsychology has often been labeled a pseudoscience by philosophers and sociologists of science. This paper revisits each of these ten areas and offers six strategies for parapsychology to adopt as it enters the 21st Century: (1) We need to evaluate more completely what we have learned; (2) We need to learn more from our negative results; (3) We should focus on measures that have a good track record in terms of effect sizes and consistency; (4) We need to break down the divisions between "skeptic" and "researcher"; (5) As we attract more interest from experts in other areas, we need to integrate more effectively with them and their expertise; (6) We need as individuals and as groups to be more effective at interacting with the media.

What might the future hold for us, or rather, what could the future hold for us if we are adequately proactive? Arbitrary temporal divisions such as millennia always provide a convenient excuse for planning ahead. In fact, at the beginning of this decade I published an editorial essay in the European Journal of Parapsychology entitled "Parapsychology in the 1990's: Addressing the Challenge" (Morris, 1990-1). It discussed several problematic aspects of parapsychology and how we at the Koestler Chair were planning to deal with them. I will start by summarizing them, followed by commentary, as by some criteria we have had some successes during the past decade. We have had thirteen people complete Ph.D.s specializing in parapsychology, and there are now related parapsychology units at several additional British universities: Hertfordshire, Coventry, Liverpool Hope, and University College, Northampton. All have programs started by former Edinburgh students, in addition to The University of the South Pacific, in F iji. Each of these universities is encouraging the development of potential centers of excellence in psychology/anomalistic psychology. In fact, there are two staff at Liverpool Hope and three at University College, Northampton, with strong parapsychology backgrounds; Deborah Delanoy was recently appointed a professor of psychology at UCN. Several additional British universities also have active parapsychology research. It is increasingly seen as a legitimate topic for academic research; several more include the topic in coursework, and recently I was honored to serve as President of the Psychology Section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. A new Open University textbook (Hayes, 1999) devotes half a chapter (seventeen pages) to parapsychology. The point is that we appear to be regarded as doing something worthwhile by our own academic peers who know us well, for example, those in Britain.

At the start of this decade, my essay identified ten problematic aspects of parapsychology which I felt needed to be addressed, if our field was to advance. It then presented strategies which we hoped to use in addressing each of them. The first six are conceptual, the last four linked more with methodological issues.


Problem 1: Parapsychology Is Linked to Problematic Metaphysical Origins

One of the problems parapsychology faces is that it is generally identified with the spiritualist aspects of psychical research, in which it had its roots, and with occultism, with which it is indirectly associated; the public tends to regard parapsychology as an attempt to use the tools of science to prove the existence of a nonphysical soul or to prove that we all have special occult powers. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)


1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited article

Parapsychology in the 21st Century


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.