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History of Psychology: Cards to Test Your ESP!

By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.
Associate Editor

History of Psychology: Cards to Test Your ESP!In 1870, British explorer Sir Richard Burton allegedly coined the term “extrasensory perception” or ESP. But it wasn’t until the 1930s that the term became popular thanks to Joseph Banks (J.B.) Rhine (1895-1980).

Rhine was actually a botanist who became interested in parapsychology after listening to a lecture from Scottish author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, according to an article in APA’s Monitor on Psychology by Nick Joyce and David B. Baker, Ph.D. Doyle declared that there was scientific evidence to prove that it was possible to talk to the dead.

Rhine wanted to validate parapsychology and began working with his wife Louisa and Professor William McDougall at Duke University in 1927. According to the Rhine Research Center, before Rhine, researchers mostly explored psychic phenomenon by working with mediums to see if an afterlife really existed.

Rhine, however, wanted to know first whether the living had ESP capabilities, so he focused on testing Duke University students instead.

What did he find out?

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