The literature of psi research is large and diverse. (‘Psi’, from the Greek letter ψ, is now generally used to denote the psychic functions of telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition and psychokinesis.) A good place to start is the history of the Society for Psychical Research, which describes the ideas and approaches prevalent in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Separate articles discuss the work of key thinkers of the period, such as Frederic Myers, William James, Charles Richet, and Edmund Gurney.
DD Home, Eusapia Palladino and Marthe Beraud (Eva C) were mediums that produced so-called physical phenomena of the séance type. Leonora Piper is a good early example of research in mental mediumship. An outstanding twentieth-century case of psychokinesis is Ted Serios.
Experimental Parapsychology covers the development of contemporary protocols such as Ganzfeld and Remote Viewing and the use of random event generators. (Separate articles will cover these and others in greater detail.) See also articles on ESP in dreams, meditation and psychedelic drugs, and on Cleve Backster, who tested the possibility of awareness in plants in the 1960s.
Past Life Memories Research describes an activity pioneered by Ian Stevenson in the 1960s and of continuing interest to researchers. Children Who Remember a Previous Life summarizes some sixty cases. Separate articles describe individual cases in more detail.
Poltergeists provides an overview of spontaneous psychokinetic disturbances, and there are a few case study examples, including original reports (Cideville, Stans, Worksop). An overview of hauntings and apparitions is in preparation, as are a number of haunting case studies – in the meantime see Edmund Gurney and Cheltenham Ghost.
Anthropology and Psi Research and Mediumship and Spirit Possession describe anthropological approaches to supernatural belief.
Psi Healing Research assesses the existing research into methods such as intercessory prayer, therapeutic touch, Reiki and Johrei.
Many writers here touch on the question whether consciousness survives the death of the body. The topic is dealt with directly in articles such as Postmortem Survival, Leonora Piper and Patience Worth. Key proponents of survival include Oliver Lodge, Richard Hodgson and James Hyslop.
Psi research is rife with controversy. If you're unsure how seriously to take it, you may be interested in this list of some two hundred eminent intellectuals - scientists, thinkers and artists - who were able at least to accept that psi phenomena might occur.
Deception has often been detected on the part of participants who make special claims (although very rarely on the part of investigators, such as the case of the experimenter Samuel Soal). Yet mediums suspected of sometimes cheating also appeared to produce genuine effects in controlled conditions (Henry Slade, Eusapia Palladino). An analysis of eyewitness testimony contests the claim that witnesses of paranormal occurrences can never be trusted, while the entry on James Randi’s Million Dollar Challenge points out weaknesses in his approach as a means to discover the truth.