fictional/magical phenomenon

Telepathy [1] is the hypothesis that some people can communicate to others by thought, instead of through the known senses.[2]

An experiment which takes away someone's senses to demonstrate telepathy.

The term was coined by classics scholar and psychologist Frederic William Henry Myers in 1882.[3] Sigmund Freud did experiments with his daughter Anna where he attempted to communicate with her telepathically.[4] In 1930 Upton Sinclair wrote a book about his experiments with his wife in telepathic communication entitled Mental Radio.[5]

Eysenck's opinion


Professor Hans Eysenck of London University's Institute of Psychiatry stated "Unless there is a gigantic conspiracy involving some thirty university departments all over the world, and several hundred highly respected scientists in various fields, many of them originally skeptical to the claims of the psychical researchers, the only conclusion that the unbiased observer can come to is that there does exist a small number of people who obtain knowledge existing in other people's minds, or in the outer world, by means as yet unknown to science".[6]

Scientific reception


A variety of tests have been performed to demonstrate telepathy, but there is no scientific evidence that the power exists.[7][8][9]

A panel commissioned by the United States National Research Council to study paranormal claims concluded that "despite a 130-year record of scientific research on such matters, our committee could find no scientific justification for the existence of phenomena such as extrasensory perception, mental telepathy or 'mind over matter' exercises... Evaluation of a large body of the best available evidence simply does not support the contention that these phenomena exist."[10] The scientific community considers parapsychology a pseudoscience.[11][12][13][14] There is no known mechanism for telepathy.[15] Philosopher and physicist Mario Bunge has written that telepathy would contradict laws of science and the claim that "signals can be transmitted across space without fading with distance is inconsistent with physics".[16]



  1. taken from the Greek τηλε, tele meaning "distant" and πάθεια, patheia meaning "to be affected by". It follows the model of sympathy and empathy.
  2. 2004The American Heritage College Dictionary: Fourth Edition Houghton Mifflin Company page 1417
  3. Tart, Charles T; Huston Smith & Kendra Smith 2009. The end of materialism: how evidence of the paranormal is bringing science and spirit together. Raincoast Books, Oakland CA, page 99.
  4. Gay, Peter 1988 Freud: a life for our time. WW Norton and Company New York, page 445.
  5. Peters, John Durham Speaking into the Air: A History of the Idea of Communication The University of Chicago Press 1999 page 107
  6. Milton, Richard 1996. Alternative science: challenging the myths of the scientific establishment. Park Street Press Rochester, Vermont, page 53.
  7. Simon Hoggart, Mike Hutchinson. (1995). Bizarre beliefs. Richard Cohen Books. p. 145. ISBN 978-1573921565 "The trouble is that the history of research into psi is littered with failed experiments, ambiguous experiments, and experiments which are claimed as great successes but are quickly rejected by conventional scientists. There has also been some spectacular cheating".
  8. Robert Cogan. (1998). Critical thinking: step by step. University Press of America. p. 227. ISBN 978-0761810674 "When an experiment can't be repeated and get the same result, this tends to show that the result was due to some error in experimental procedure, rather than some real causal process. ESP experiments simply have not turned up any repeatable paranormal phenomena".
  9. Terence Hines. (2003). Pseudoscience and the Paranormal. Prometheus Books. p. 144. ISBN 978-1573929790 "It is important to realize that, in one hundred years of parapsychological investigations, there has never been a single adequate demonstration of the reality of any psi phenomenon".
  10. Thomas Gilovich. (1993). How we know what isn't so: the fallibility of human reason in everyday life. Free Press. p. 160
  11. Daisie Radner, Michael Radner. (1982). Science and Unreason. Wadsworth. pp. 38-66. ISBN 0-534-01153-5
  12. Mario Bunge. (1987). Why parapsychology cannot become a science. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 10: 576-577.
  13. Michael W. Friedlander. (1998). At the fringes of science. Westview Press. p. 119. ISBN 0-8133-2200-6 "Parapsychology has failed to gain general scientific acceptance even for its improved methods and claimed successes, and it is still treated with a lopsided ambivalence among the scientific community. Most scientists write it off as pseudoscience unworthy of their time."
  14. Massimo Pigliucci & Maarten Boudry. (2013). Philosophy of pseudoscience: reconsidering the demarcation problem. University Of Chicago Press p. 158. ISBN 978-0226051963 "Many observers refer to the field as a "pseudoscience". When mainstream scientists say that the field of parapsychology is not scientific, they mean that no satisfying naturalistic cause-and-effect explanation for these supposed effects has yet been proposed and that the field's experiments cannot be consistently replicated."
  15. Charles M. Wynn, Arthur W. Wiggins. (2001). Quantum leaps in the wrong direction: where real science ends... and pseudoscience begins. Joseph Henry Press. p. 165. ISBN 978-0309073097 "One of the reasons scientists have difficulty believing that psi effects are real is that there is no known mechanism by which they could occur. PK action-at-a-distance would presumably employ an action-at-a-distance force that is as yet unknown to science... Similarly, there is no known sense (stimulation and receptor) by which thoughts could travel from one person to another by which the mind could project itself elsewhere in the present, future, or past."
  16. Mario Bunge. (1983). Treatise on basic philosophy: Volume 6: Epistemology & methodology II: Understanding the world. Springer. pp. 225-226. ISBN 978-9027716347
    • "Precognition violates the principle of antecedence ("causality"), according to which the effect does not happen before the cause. Psychokinesis violates the principle of conservation of energy as well as the postulate that mind cannot act directly on matter. (If it did no experimenter could trust his own readings of his instruments.) Telepathy and precognition are incompatible with the epistemological principle according to which the gaining of factual knowledge requires sense perception at some point."
    • "Parapsychology makes no use of any knowledge gained in other fields, such as physics and physiological psychology. Moreover, its hypotheses are inconsistent with some basic assumptions of factual science. In particular, the very idea of a disembodied mental entity is incompatible with physiological psychology; and the claim that signals can be transmitted across space without fading with distance is inconsistent with physics."