Parapsychology is the study of mental awareness or
influence of external objects without interaction from
known physical means. Most objects of study fall within the
realm of "mind-to-mind" influence (such as extra-sensory
perception, folie a deux and telepathy),
"mind-to-environment" influence (such as psychokinesis) and
"environment-to-mind" (such as hauntings). Collectively,
these abilities are often referred to as "psionics".
Another definition of parapsychology is the scientific
study of paranormal phenomena.
The scientific validity of parapsychology research is a
matter of frequent dispute and criticism. It is widely
regarded as a pseudoscience, but, obviously, supporters of
parapsychology reject this term.
A number of academic institutions now conduct research on
the topic employing the scientific method, and the field of
psi research is not without high level support, with a
number of eminent scientists being of the belief that the
field is worthy of analysis.
People differ in their attitudes towards the paranormal. At
one end is the devout believer who will not consider any
counter arguments or evidence. At the other end is the
aggressive sceptic who dismisses or seeks to debunk any
apparent evidence for the paranormal.
Somewhere between these two extremes is the open-minded
inquirer who has no particular axe to grind and is willing
to consider the evidence on its own merits.
Parapsychological research operates somewhere in this
open-minded middle ground, although (adopting Occam's
razor) the burden of proof always lies with those who would
make paranormal claims.