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Paranormal is an umbrella term used to describe a wide variety of reported anomalous phenomena. According to the Journal of Parapsychology, the term "paranormal" describes "any phenomenon that in one or more respects exceeds the limits of what is deemed physically possible according to current scientific assumptions."[1]

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  • Yet scientists are required to back up their claims not with private feelings but with publicly checkable evidence. Their experiments must have rigorous controls to eliminate spurious effects. And statistical analysis eliminates the suspicion (or at least measures the likelihood) that the apparent effect might have happened by chance alone.
Paranormal phenomena have a habit of going away whenever they are tested under rigorous conditions. This is why the £740,000 reward of James Randi, offered to anyone who can demonstrate a paranormal effect under proper scientific controls, is safe. Why don't the television editors insist on some equivalently rigorous test? Could it be that they believe the alleged paranormal powers would evaporate and bang go the ratings?
Consider this. If a paranormalist could really give an unequivocal demonstration of telepathy (precognition, psychokinesis, reincarnation, whatever it is), he would be the discoverer of a totally new principle unknown to physical science. The discoverer of the new energy field that links mind to mind in telepathy, or of the new fundamental force that moves objects around a table top, deserves a Nobel prize and would probably get one. If you are in possession of this revolutionary secret of science, why not prove it and be hailed as the new Newton? Of course, we know the answer. You can't do it. You are a fake.
Yet the final indictment against the television decision-makers is more profound and more serious. Their recent splurge of paranormalism debauches true science and undermines the efforts of their own excellent science departments. The universe is a strange and wondrous place. The truth is quite odd enough to need no help from pseudo-scientific charlatans. The public appetite for wonder can be fed, through the powerful medium of television, without compromising the principles of honesty and reason.
  • Richard Dawkins "Human gullibility beyond belief,— the “paranormal” in the media". The Sunday Times. 1996-08-25.
  • Jean: We are now seeing the beginnings of another stage of human evolution. These mutations manifest at puberty, often triggered by periods of emotional stress.
Senator Kelly: Thank you, Miss Grey. It was quite educational. However, it fails to address the issue that is the focus of this hearing. Three words: are mutants dangerous?
Jean: That's unfair, Senator Kelly. The wrong person driving a car can be dangerous.
Senator: We do license people to drive.
Jean: Yes, but not to live. Senator, mutants who've come forward and revealed themselves publicly have been met with fear, hostility, even violence. It is because of that hostility that I am urging the Senate to vote against mutant registration. To force mutants to expose themselves...
Senator Kelly: Expose themselves? What do mutants have to hide that makes them so afraid to identify themselves?
Jean: I didn't say they were hiding.
Senator Kelly: Let me show you what is being hidden. I have here a list of names of identified mutants living right here in the United States.
Jean: Senator Kelly...
Senator Kelly: A girl in Illinois who walks through walls. What's to stop her from walking into a bank vault? Or into the White House? Or into their houses? And there are even rumors of mutants so powerful that they can enter our minds and control our thoughts, taking away our God-given free will. The American people deserve the right to decide whether they want their children to be in school with mutants. To be taught by mutants. Ladies and gentlemen, the truth is that mutants are very real. And they are among us. We must know who they are, and, above all, we must know what they can do.
  • Computers are good at following instructions, but not at reading your mind.
    • Donald Knuth (1984) cited in: Jorge Angeles (2011) Dynamic Response of Linear Mechanical Systems. p. 419
  • The whole art [of paranormal debate] thus consists of getting the charlatans to speak on the one hand and the distinguished scientists to speak on the other, provided the latter have nothing relevant to say on the subject.
    • Jacques Ninio, on how news organizations avoid using professional magicians to shed light on deceptive paranormalist practices, in The Science of Illusions, unspecified edition, unspecified page
  • How many people here have telekinetic powers? Raise my hand.
    • Emo Philips, in E=MO² (1985)
    • Subsequent variations on the joke by others:
    • All of you out there who believe in telepathy, raise your hand. All right. Now, everyone who believes in telekinesis...raise MY hand.
    • Everyone who believes in telekinesis, raise my hand.
  • When I think of me as a psychic, I get hung up because I seem to be in the company of so many nuts. Writers may be as nuts as anyone else but it's a nuttiness that doesn't bug me — there's no dogma attached.
  • Tall and slender, and appearing about thirty years old (no doubt she's actually somewhat older), Lt. Commander Deanna Troi is half Betazoid. Although Betazoids are telepathic, human descendents have only limited telepathic ability, which in Troi's case is mainly limited to being able to "read" the emotions of others. (We consider there to be nothing 'paranormal' in this ability. For example, Spock's mental abilities in the original series were explained as an extrapolation of the often accepted science theory that all life in the universe is somehow related.
  • Ace: When I was little, Cadmus used to make me play all kinds of games, but they weren't any fun either. They'd strap me into their machines and poke wires into my brain. "Ace, can you move this object with your mind?" Yeah, I can move it. They weren't really games, you know. They were training me. Turning me into a weapon "for justice," they said. They got their weapon. I got cheated out of my childhood.
Batman: I know what that's like.
Ace: You do, don't you? You don't have to answer. I've read your mind. That's how I knew you weren't going to use Mrs. Waller's weapon on me.
Batman: No, I wasn't.
Ace: You were going to try and talk me into fixing what I've changed before I die.
Batman': Yes.
Ace: I'm dying very soon.
Batman: Yes.
Ace: I'm sorry. Would you stay with me? I'm scared.
Amanda Waller: He sat with her until her time came.
  • Professor Trevor 'Broom' Bruttenholm: What is it that makes a man a man? Is it his origins, the way things start. Or is it something else, something harder to describe? For me it all began in 1944, classified mission off the coast of Scotland. The Nazis were desperate. Combining science and black magic they intended to upset the balance of the war. I was 28, already a paranormal advisor to President Roosevelt. I could never have suspected that what would transpire that night would not only effect the course of history but change my life forever.
  • If psychics were truly successful and if their results were not simply the consequence of trickery (at worse) or good interviewing skills (at best) — then why don't law enforcement agencies have psychic detective squads, a real X-files Unit, or other ways to integrate these paranormal investigative capabilities?
    • Clint Van Zandt, former FBI profiler; quoted in "Shoe leather, not sixth sense, breaks cases open",, (30 Marc 2005)


  1. Glossary, The Journal of Parapsychology, Parapsychological Association, accessed August 5, 2006

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