Promoting scholarship and scientific inquiry into currently
unexplained aspects of human experience
Disseminating responsible information to the wider public and to
the scientific community
Integrating this information with knowledge from other
Psi research: balancing openness and rigor
Psi experiences have been reported throughout history, in all
cultures. Even today, as multiple surveys show, a wide segment of the
worlds population reports having had at least one experience that
they believe to have been psychic.
These experiences, and the phenomena associated with them, are the
subject matter of parapsychology. PA members use well-developed
scientific methods to determine to what extent psi phenomena can be
explained through presently understood processes -- whether physical
or psychological -- and to what extent they may point to unknown
forces and laws, or necessitate a revised model of consciousness and
its relationship to the world.
Historically, science has made major advances in its understanding
of the world through observation of anomalies phenomena or data
that did not fit into the concepts of the time. On the other hand,
scientific and academic institutions are justifiably cautious about
adopting radically new principles, and they tend to be quite
conservative in accepting the reality of anomalous phenomena.
The PA is dedicated to ensuring that legitimate caution does not
equate to dismissal or active avoidance, thus merely propagating our
ignorance. To preclude science from stagnating into dogma, it is vital
that we improve our understanding of our world, of ourselves and our
experience. If new principles of physics, biology or psychology do
underlie psi experiences, then our current knowledge of human nature
and the world around us is incomplete -- and it will remain so, until
the scientific community makes a sustained effort to understand these
An interdisciplinary matrix
Most likely, psi phenomena involve complex interactions between
various subjective, interpersonal and environmental factors.
Accordingly, parapsychology is an interdisciplinary field, with
specialists from the biological, physical, behavioral and social
sciences. Approaches for investigating psi vary widely, including
laboratory experimentation, field work, analytical studies,
phenomenological approaches, case studies, surveys and historical
research. PA members also engage in the construction of theoretical
models and the development of new methodological and statistical
The diversity found within PA membership also leads to many
different schools of thought regarding the phenomena studied --
ranging from those who suspect that psi will eventually turn out to be
an artifact of no major significance, to those who believe it will be
accounted for through new developments in physics or biology, to those
who argue that psi phenomena suggest a basis for spiritual beliefs.
PA Conventions and Publications
The PA provides an international forum for scholarly exchange
through annual conferences, generally held in North America or in
Europe, and through publication of the proceedings from these
conferences. The PA has also sponsored special sessions for
interdisciplinary scientific audiences, such as the American
Association for the Advancement of Science.
There are five PA-affiliated, peer-reviewed journals: The Journal
of Parapsychology, the Journal of the American Society for Psychical
Research, the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, the
European Journal of Parapsychology, and the International Journal of
Parapsychology. PA members publish their work in these journals, as
well as in the journals of their respective disciplines or in
About the organization
The PA was first established in 1957, and has been an affiliated
organization of the American Association for the Advancement of
Science (AAAS) since 1969. As of the year 2002, there are
approximately 300 PA members from all over the world.
The PA is a private, non-profit, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization,
governed by Bylaws and with
nine elected Directors.
The PA is a non-adjudicating
organization and endorses no ideologies or beliefs other than the
value of rigorous scientific and scholarly inquiry.