Glossary of terms used in the paranormal


in a test for ESP, the individual who looks at the information constituting the target and who is said to transmit that information. In a test of telepathy, the individual about whose mental states information is acquired by a recipient. Sometimes, the term is used to refer to the subject in a test of psychokinesis or the focus in a poltergeist case.


Alien Abduction

Experience of being abducted by alien creatures, often in a spacecraft.



A distinctive brain-rhythm or brain wave that is correlated with feelings of drowsiness, relaxation and disengaged attention on the part of the subject.


Altered State of Consciousness

Any mental state differing from that of the normal waking condition including dreaming, hypnosis, trance and meditation.


Animal Mutilations

Cases in which animal corpses, often cattle, have been found with bizarre injuries that don’t seem to have a normal explanation.


Anomalistic Psychology

The branch of psychology that investigates phenomena which have been explained in terms of paranormal, supernatural, magic or occult.



A phenomenon that is unexpected.



An experience, usually visual, in which there appears to be present a person or animal such as carriages and other things, who/which is in fact out of the sensory range of the experiment. Often referred to as a ghost.



A physical object that has been paranormally transported into a closed space or container.

Astral Body

An entity said to be a double of the physical body, which can separate itself from the physical body.


Astral Travel

Out of body experience.



A field of subtle, multi-coloured, luminous radiations said to surround living bodies.


Automatic Writing

A motor automatism in which a person writes without consciously premeditating the content.



Any activity carried out by a person without their conscious awareness or will.



The phenomenon in which a person's body is seen in 2 different geographical locations at the same time.



A technique that enables a person to monitor ongoing changes in one of their own physiological processes.



Psychokinetic effects brought about on living systems, such as the speeding up or slowing down of the sprouting of speeds. Also known as by DMILS (Direct Mental Influence on Living Systems).


Book Test

A test to exclude telepathy between medium and sitter as an explanation for information acquired by the medium: the communicator is requested to transmit a message referring on topics on specific pages of a book the medium could not have formally seen.


Chair Test

A test for precognition, in which a chair is randomly selected from all those set up for a later public meeting and the percipient describes the appearance, characteristics and events of a person, unknown to them, who will later attend that meeting and sit on the chair.



Undefined casual factors that are considered to be irrelevant to the casual relationship under investigation.



A phenomenon in which a person purports to transmit information or messages directly from a personality or consciousness other than their own.



Universal life force energy



Paranormal information received through hearing.



Paranormal information expressed as a sensation or feeling.



Paranormal acquisition of information concerning an object or contemporise physical event, usually visual



Someone with a talent for clairvoyance.


Cluster Illusion

Cognitive bias of seeing a pattern in what is actually a random sequence of numbers or events, or when the same data is used to both test and construct a hypothesis.


Cognitive Dissonance

Re-interpreting or reducing the importance of evidence to show the person who was right all along.


Confirmation Bias

Tendency to seek or interpret evidence favourable to already existing beliefs, and to ignore or reinterpret evidence that is unfavourable.



Two events that occur in such a way as to strike an observer as being highly related in regard to their structure or meaning. To dismiss such an occurrence as a coincidence implies that each event arose because of independent casual chains and no further meaning or significance is to be found. Sometimes, the belief that the occurrence is so very unlikely that there must be some cause for the concurrence invests the coincidence with a sense of meaningfulness.


Coincidences, Bizarre

The occurrence, within a short space of time, of two or more meaningfully related events without any apparent causal connection between them.


Cold Reading

A set of statements purportedly gained by paranormal means but which is based on broadly accurate generalisations and/or on information obtained directly from the person seeking the reading, gleaned from facial gestures, clues in conversation etc.



A personality purporting to be that of a deceased individual, believed to take control of the mediums actions and speech during trance and/or who relays messages from the communicator to the sitter. In the context of scientific investigation, a control is something introduced to provide a check on the influence of unwanted factors.   



A personality purporting to be that of a deceased individual, believed to take control of the mediums actions and speech during trance and/or who relays messages from the communicator to the sitter. In the context of scientific investigation, a control is something introduced to provide a check on the influence of unwanted factors.


Corn Circles

Circular (or more elaborate) formations found in growing crops. Sometimes they are associated with UFO sightings.


Cross Correspondences

A series of communications delivered paranormally in two or more geographically separate mediums such that the message isn't clear until the fragments are placed together.



The memory of an event or experience which has been forgotten by the conscious mind, and which may appear in awareness without the person recognising it as a memory.


Deja Vu

The feeling or illusion of having previously experienced an event or place.



A phenomenon of physical mediumship in which objects are caused to disappear.


Dermo-optical Perception

The ability to discriminate colour and brightness by means of touch.


Discarnate Entity

A disembodied being, the surviving personality of a deceased person or a spirit.



A process in which a body of awareness (perceptual, memory, physical) becomes separated or blocked from the main centre of consciousness. For example, trance speaking.



An apparitional double of a living person.



When a dowsing rod or pendulum is used to locate subterranean water etc.


Dream, Veridical

A dream where some of the dream details give information about events normally unknowable to the experient.



The substance produced out of the bodies of some physical mediums.


Electronic Voice Phenomena

Sounds said to be the faint voices of deceased individuals.



Extra Sensory Perception, commonly known as sixth sense.


ESP Cards

A deck of cards developed by Karl Zener for testing ESP. A standard pack contains 25 cards, each portraying one of five symbols. Also known as zener cards.


ESP Projection

A type of OBE (out of body experience) in which the person projecting their consciousness out of their body feels that they are out of their body, may be seen by other people at a distant point, and afterwards reports a description of what they observed.


Exceptional Human Experience

An umbrella term for many types of experience generally considered to be psychic.


Experimenter Effect

An experimental outcome that results from some aspect of the experimenters behaviour, such as unconscious communication to the subjects.


Extra Sensory Perception

The acquisition of information about an external event, object or influence other than through any of the known sensory channels.


Gambler's Fallacy

The belief that if something happens more frequently than normal during some period, it will happen less frequently in the future, or if something happens less frequently than normal during some period, it will happen more frequently in the future.



A special type of environment consisting of homogenous, unpatterned sensory stimulation.


Geller Effect

The ability to bend metal by paranormal means.

General Extra Sensory Perception

Extrasensory perception in which the information acquired may have been derived either from another person's mind or from clairvoyance, or even from both sources.



Speaking in tongues



Someone who rejects the possibility that extrasensory perception could occur under the conditions of the given experimental situation; someone who doesn't believe in the existence of ESP.



An experience involving the apparent perception of something not present.



The more or less regular occurrence of paranormal phenomena associated with a particular location.


Healing, Psychic

Healing apparently brought about by such non-medical means such as the laying on of hands.


Hypnagogic State

The transitional state of consciousness experienced whilst falling asleep.


Hypnopompic State

The transitional state of consciousness experienced whilst waking from sleep.



The state of consciousness in which a person apparently loses the power of voluntary action and is highly responsive to suggestion or direction.


Instrumental Transcommunication (ITC)

Communication through any electronic device between spirits or other discarnate entities and the living.


Introspection Illusion

An illusion of control that happens when an external event follows and is congruent with a thought without an actual causal link.



The faculty of coming to an idea directly, by means other than those of reasoning and intellect.

Kirlian Photography

A type of high voltage, high frequency photography which records on photographic film the so called ‘corona discharge’ of an object caused by ionisation of the field surrounding that object, claimed to indicate the existence of energy fields.



The raising or suspension of persons or objects into the air without any apparent agency.


Lucid Dream

A dream in which the dreamer is conscious that they are dreaming.



A form of physical mediumship in which objects are caused to take form, sometimes from ectoplasm.



A broad term embracing a number of techniques for achieving various altered states of awareness.



A person who is involved in the production of PSI in the form of mental and/or physical phenomena.



The practice of simulating telepathy performed for entertainment.



The original term for what has since become known as hypnotism.



Alternative designation for the subject matter of parapsychology.



A beneficial event attributed to supernatural or divine intervention.


Muscle Reading

A phenomena that mimics telepathy in which a person is able to interpret unconscious muscular cues.


Near Death Experience

Term applied to experiences undergone by persons who are either at the point of death but then recover, or who narrowly escape death.



The deliberate attempt to contact the spirit of a deceased person.



Practices that involve esoteric knowledge or the employment of mysterious agencies.


Ouija Board

A board marked with words, letters and numbers used to spell out messages received via ESP.


Out of Body Experience

An experience in which ones centre of consciousness seems to be in a spatial location outside of one's physical body.


Pareidolia, Auditory

Interpreting random sounds as voices.



Any phenomena that exceeds the limits of what is deemed physically possible on current scientific assumptions.


Past Life Regression

A process in which a hypnotised person is mentally taken back by the hypnotist to one or more apparent previous lifetime(s).



Someone who perceives or who has a perception-like experience, also one who is tested for ESP ability.


Photography, Paranormal

Paranormal production of images on photographic film, also known as thoughtography.


Placebo Effect

When an individual is treated with a drug or other course of treatment for an illness and their health improves although what they were given has no medical value.



Disturbance characterized by bizarre physical effects of paranormal origin. German for polter - noisy Geist - ghost.



Control by an ostensible discarnate entity, of the body of a living person.


Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc

A logical fallacy that because two events occurred in succession, the former event caused the latter.


A form of extrasensory perception in which the target is some future event that cannot be deducted from normally known data in the present.



A feeling or impression that something is about to happen, yet about which no normal information is available.



A blanket term to identify paranormal processes and paranormal causation. PSI also applies to survival  of death.



Favourable to the occurrence of PSI.



The use of psi in such a way that the target at which the subject is aiming is correctly responded to in a test more frequently than would be expected if only chance were operating.



The use of psi in such a way that  the target at which the subject is aiming is responded to incorrectly or influenced in a direction contrary to aim more frequently than would be expected if only chance were operating.



An individual who possesses and uses psi ability.


Psychic Surgery

A form of psychic healing practiced particularly in the philippines, in which diseased tissue are said to be removed without the use of surgical instruments, bleeding, infection and the like are inhibited paranormally. The term is also used of surgery in which the surgeon operates whilst in a trance.


Psychokinesis (PK)

The direct influence of mind on a physical system that cannot be entirely accounted for by the meditation of any known physical energy.


Psychokinesis, Macro

Large scale psychokinetic effects that can be seen with the naked eye.


Psychokinesis, Micro

Small scale psychokinetic effects that require the use of statistics to be detected.


Psychokinesis, Retroactive

Psychokinesis affecting events that have already occurred.



The practice in which sensitives hold an object in their hands and obtain paranormal information about the object or its owner.






The claimed ability to detect radiation within the human body. Also known as radiesthesia.



A form of survival in which the human soul, or some aspects of self is, after the death of the body reborn into a new body.


Remote Influencing

The application of psychokinesis to biological systems.


Remote Viewing

A neutral term for general extrasensory perception introduced, especially in the context of an experimental design in which a percipient attempts to describe the surroundings of a geographically distant agent.


Remote Viewing, Associational (ARV)

A form of remote viewing in which the area where a desired item might be located is divided up into a finite number of discrete locations. Each of the possible locations or addresses is associated or linked with a laboratory based token object or picture. The viewer is then asked to describe the associated target-object thereby indirectly choosing a particular target-location or address.



A form of extrasensory perception in which the target is some past event that could not have been learned or inferred by normal means.



An apparition of a deceased person



A technique for obtaining paranormal impressions by gazing into a reflective surface.



A meeting of one or more persons. Generally but not always, with a medium for the purpose of eliciting physical phenomena and/or for receiving communications from the deceased.


Second Sight

Psychic ability


Selection Bias

Remembering positive results and forgetting negatives


Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

People bring events that they have precognised to pass but without their conscious knowledge.



The person or subject designated as the transmitter of telepathic information.



A person who frequently experiences extrasensory perception and who can sometimes induce it at will.



A subject who does not reject the possibility that extrasensory perception could occur under the conditions of the given experimental situation. A person who believes ESP exists as a genuine phenomenon.


Super Sheep

A subject who is sure that their score on a test of ESP will be high, by virtue of their own psychic ability.


Sheep-Goat Effect

The relationship between acceptance of the possibility of extrasensory perception occurring under the given experimental conditions and the level of scoring actually achieved on that ESP test.



A person who sits with a medium at a seance.



A session or interview with a medium. Seance.



A discarnate entity


Spirit Hypothesis

The theory that individual consciousness survives the death of the body in the form of a spirit and that it may be communicated with by living persons.


Spirit Photography

The photographing of supposed self-portraits of discarnate entities.


Based upon the belief that survival of death is a reality and on the practice of communicating with deceased persons.



Marks that appear spontaneously on the surface of the body in imitation of the wounds believed to have been received by christ at the crucifixion.



Events occurring beneath the threshold of conscious awareness.



A term for the paranormal that suggests psi is outside of or above nature.



A belief that a given action can bring good luck or bad luck when there are no rational or generally acceptable grounds for such a belief.



Continued existence of the consciousness of the individual person after the destruction of their physical body.



The occurrence of acausal but meaningful coincidence.


Table Tilting/Tipping

A form of motor automatism in which several persons place their fingertips on a tabletop causing it to move and rap out messages by means of a code.



Older term for psychokinesis



The paranormal acquisition of information concerning the thoughts, feelings or activity of another conscious being; thought transference.


Telepathy, Emotive

Process of transferring kinaesthetic sensations through altered states.


Telepathy, Latent

Telepathy in which there seems to be a time lag between the agents attempt to transmit the target and the percipients awareness of that target.


Telepathy, Precognitive

Paranormal acquisition of information concerning the future mental state of another conscious being.


Telepathy, Superconscious

Tapping into the superconscious to access the collective wisdom of the human species.



Remote viewing


Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy

Cluster illusion


Token-Object Reading

A state of dissociation in which the individual is oblivious to their situation and surroundings and in which various forms of automatism may be expressed.



The tendency to cross the threshold into awareness. Persons exhibiting a high degree of transliminality are more likely to believe in and claim experience of paranormal phenomena.


Travelling Clairvoyance

Remote viewing.


Unconscious Perception

Inferring that a certain event will probably happen in a certain context.



Truthful; corresponding to or conveying fact.



The act of speaking in a language ostensibly unknown to the speaker


Zener Cards

ESP cards consisting of 25 cards with symbols printed on them.

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