Debating Psychic Experience

Human Potential or Human Illusion?

by Stanley Krippner and Harris L. Friedman, Editors
Foreword by Ruth Richards


Despite having a much more comprehensive understanding of the world around us today than in previous centuries, when it comes to parapsychological experiences, the debate rages on. Do such phenomena as telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and psychokinesis exist? Why is there still no consensus among experts in the field?

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Cover image for Debating Psychic Experience

September 2010


Pages 236
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Psychology/General

This book presents a provocative debate between parapsychological advocates who claim that Western science's worldview is incomplete, and counteradvocates who insist that parapsychological data is either spurious or can be explained by standard scientific principles.

Despite ongoing and repeated attempts to prove or disprove the existence of parapsychological events, there are still no conclusive findings—and certainly no consensus across the worldwide community of scholars, scientists, and proponents of psychic phenomena. Still, there is no shortage of information about this fascinating topic to allow everyone to draw their own conclusions.

This book has been expressly written to make each chapter and topic accessible to a general audience, despite containing a vast amount of theoretical material. The book is organized into two parts: in the first section, proponents of the validity of parapsychological data and critics who reject that validity state their respective positions. In the second part, each group responds to each others' statements in the form of a debate. Other experts from the United States as well as from Australia and Great Britain provide overviews and conclusions.


  • Includes contributions from 14 scholars weighing in as advocates, counteradvocates, or contributors
  • 20 examples of original artwork by Dierdre Luzwick, a world-class surrealistic artist
  • The bibliography contains a reference list at the end of each contributor's section
  • A glossary of key terms used in the book is supplied


  • This is the first book in which parapsychology's advocates and counteradvocates state their positions and then square off in response, providing a virtual-debate reading experience
  • Regardless of readers' opinions regarding the reality of parapsychological phenomena, they will be engaged and provoked by the sophistication and intensity of this debate
Author Info

Stanley Krippner, PhD, is professor of psychology at Saybrook University, San Francisco, CA. He coedited Varieties of Anomalous Experience: Examining the Scientific Evidence and was the 2002 recipient of the American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Contributions to the International Advancement of Psychology.

Harris L. Friedman, PhD, is research professor of psychology at the University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. He edits The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies and has over 100 professional publications.



"Debating Psychic Experience deserves to become required reading for sociologists, historians of contemporary science, and anybody involved in any kind of psi research."Skeptical Investigations

"A fascinating read. . . . Recommended."Choice


"This is the best scholarly book to appear on the topic of psychic phenomena in a long time. It explicitly represents both the strongest arguments for and the strongest against the major ideas, bringing the whole debate, positive and negative, up to the minute, winnowing and sifting the evidence in a very balanced treatment."
—Frank Farley, PhD, L.H. Carnell Professor, Temple University, Philadelphia, Former President, American Psychological Association

"As aspects of psychic phenomena (psi) increasingly permeate popular culture through books, movies, and other media, the body of scientific evidence for these phenomena has continued to grow. Yet it has been largely ignored by mainstream science, partly because it is difficult for someone with a casual interest to sort through the experimental evidence and the denials of that evidence from counter advocates. The history of science is filled with examples of cherished world views taking precedence over scientific evidence. Is that what is happening in parapsychology? This book provides readers with a unique opportunity to determine the extent to which the debate over the reality of psi is based on lack of evidence or on cherished but opposing world views."—Jessica Utts, PhD, Professor of Statistics, University of California, Irvine, Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Statistical Association, the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, and the Association for Psychological Science.

"It should be obvious by now that a field that has been supported by William James, various Nobel laureates, and many other eminent researchers should not be treated as simply the province of foolish or naïve people. Even after stripping away fraudulent cases, cognitive failures, and research errors, the bulk of parapsychological investigation shows that psi phenomena tenaciously continue to rear their heads in the laboratory as well as in everyday life. Nevertheless, in academia there still are a-priori unscientific judgments against the investigation of "impossible" phenomena, and ever-shifting goalposts that have gone from reasonably demanding evidence of psi phenomena to requiring 'extraordinary' evidence. It is also disingenuous for scoffers to deplore the lack of progress in psi research after some of them have done everything possible to curtail that inquiry. This volume, edited by Stanley Krippner and Harris Friedman, will help the reader begin an informed journey on an area whose significance goes well beyond the meager resources devoted to it so far. I hope that it will spur serious discussion and programmatic lines of research on phenomena that, despite their elusiveness, continue to have a significant impact on people's lives and may transform our understanding of the ultimate fabric of reality."—Etzel Cardeña, PhD, Thorsen Professor, Lund University, Sweden, and Past President of the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, the Parapsychological Association, and Division 30 of the American Psychological Association, and Coeditor of Varieties of Anomalous Experience: Examining the Scientific Evidence

"This book is an astonishingly bold examination of parapsychological research and psychic experiences that exposes the reader to the important questions asked by all scientists when investigating new and controversial phenomena."
—Donadrian L. Rice, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Psychology, University of West Georgia

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