- Plural of psychic
In popular culture the word psychic (; from the Greek psychikos - "of the soul, mental") refers to the claimed ability to perceive things hidden from the senses through means of extra-sensory perception. The term also refers to theatrical performers who use techniques such as prestidigitation and cold reading to produce the appearance of having such abilities. Parapsychologists attempt to study what some believe are psychic phenomena using a variety of methods such as random number generators to test for psychokinesis or the Ganzfeld experiment to test for extra-sensory perception.
The existence of extra sensory psychic abilities is disputed by skeptics who contend that there is no scientific evidence supporting such abilities and apparent psychic phenomena are nothing more than intentional trickery or self delusion. Some credit William Crookes, an English chemist and physicist, as having first used the term in describing medium and magician Daniel Dunglas Home.
Early seers and prophetsElaborate systems of divination and fortune-telling date back to ancient times. Perhaps the most widely-known system of early civilization fortune-telling was astrology, where practitioners believed the relative positions of celestial bodies could lend insight into people's lives and even predict their future circumstances. Some fortune-tellers were said to be able to make predictions without the use of these elaborate systems (or in conjunction with them), through some sort of direct apprehension or vision of the future. These people were known as seers or prophets, and in later times as clairvoyants and psychics.
Seers formed a functionary role in early civilization, often serving as advisors, priests, and judges. A number of examples are included in biblical accounts. The book of 1 Samuel (Chapter 9) illustrates one such functionary task when Samuel is asked to locate the donkeys of the future king Saul. The role of prophet appeared perennially in ancient cultures. In Egypt, the priests of Ra at Memphis acted as seers. In ancient Assyria seers were referred to as nabu, meaning "to call" or "announce". It is often said that the Pythia delivered oracles in a frenzied state induced by vapors rising from the ground, and that she spoke gibberish, believed to be the voice of Apollo, which priests reshaped into the enigmatic prophecies preserved in Greek literature. Other scholars believe records from the time indicate that the Pythia spoke intelligibly, and gave prophecies in her own voice. The Pythia was a position served by a succession of women probably selected from amongst a guild of priestesses of the temple. The last recorded response was given in 393 AD, when the emperor Theodosius I ordered pagan temples to cease operation. Recent geological investigations raise the possibility that ethylene gas caused the Pythia's state of inspiration.
- The Society for Psychical Research — Founded in 1882 to examine psychic phenomena scientifically.
- James Randi Educational Foundation — Educational resource on skepticism of the paranormal, pseudoscientific, and the supernatural.
- Parapsychological Association website — Professional organization of scientists and scholars engaged in the study of psychic phenomena.
- Psychic essay in the Skeptic's Dictionary, by Robert Todd Carroll.
- Nonsense (And Why It's So Popular) A course syllabus from The College of Wooster.
psychics in Finnish: Psyykikko
psychics in Turkish: Psişik
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