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The Science of Why So Many People Believe in Psychic Powers

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  • By Cindy Simpson
  • Published: 06/01/21 9:38 PM EDT
  • Updated: 06/21/21 5:26 AM EDT

The Science of Why So Many People Believe in Psychic Powers

Although it might sound ridiculous to some individuals, people worldwide still believe in a variety of superstitions, supernatural phenomena, and psychic powers. According to a Gallup survey conducted in 2015, about three in four Americans believe in paranormal phenomena, the majority of which profess the belief in extrasensory perception. Since there is no scientific evidence that proves the existence of various supernatural phenomena, it is pretty challenging to explain why an individual believes in specific psychic power.

However, there are a couple of widespread explanations why so many people believe in psychic powers. While some people think that it is all about the lack of analytical skills and the mysterious nature of psychic abilities, others associate strong beliefs with hopes for a better future. In this article, you will find the top 10 most popular reasons why over a quarter of people believe in supernatural powers.

What Is a Psychic Power?

Before we actually list the reasons why people believe in supernatural abilities, let’s explore the psychic power meaning.

Psychic power is a supernatural ability embedded deep within the human mind and spirit, enabling him/her to gain insights into a wide range of situations and aspects of life. The information is obtained by hearing, seeing, feeling, or sensing things from sources other than ordinary sensory channels. Psychic powers also allow psychics and mediums to describe paths a person should follow to achieve success, happiness, health, and peace of mind.

“Psychic power” is a general term that defines a multitude of individual psychic abilities. If a person possesses psychic power, it does not necessarily mean that he/she practices every single psychic ability. It just implies that the person had been gifted with at least one psychic power.

In fact, there are hundreds of unique psychic abilities that involve the use of different tools and techniques. However, some psychic abilities do not rely on any tools whatsoever. Rather, a psychic or medium gains insights into a given situation without using any additional tools other than his/her supernatural skills.

Some of the most popular psychic abilities include:

  • Divination
  • Mediumship (Channeling)
  • Remote Viewing (Telaesthesia)
  • Telepathy
  • Psychometry (Psychoscopy)
  • Astral Projection (Mental Projection)
  • Energy Medicine

When speaking about psychic abilities, people often think of astrology, palmistry, Tarot reading, or numerology. Although these four reading techniques are widely used by psychics and mediums, they are not considered as pure psychic abilities. Rather, they are just used to complement psychic readings and gain insights into a broader range of situations.

While the psychic power list above includes just a few of the most widespread psychic abilities, there are a lot more psychic skills people possess. To learn more about psychic powers, check out these 20 strange methods of divination.

Why Do People Believe in Psychic Powers?

As a matter of fact, all supernatural phenomena are considered as pseudoscience examples as there is no confirmatory evidence that would prove the existence of psychic experiences. Still, a wide range of people believe in psychic powers and some of them have even reported that they have experienced the presence of spirits themselves.

Pseudoscientific theories are not based on facts. Rather, they are based on beliefs, claims, and practices that are incompatible with scientific methods. Hence, it is pretty challenging to explain or verify certain supernatural phenomena or abilities. Obviously, we cannot just prove an individual’s subjective beliefs, ideas, and assumptions wrong.

Although there have been so many reported psychic scam cases, people are still into various psychic services, such as psychic readings, spirit communication, astral projection, and others. Still, the reason why people believe in psychic powers remains unexplained.

However, there are some popular claims that explain the rationale behind psychic believers. We have carefully selected 10 of the most relevant reasons why over a quarter of the human population believes in psychic powers.

1.    The Nature of Psychic Powers

The most popular reason why people believe in psychic powers is that the nature of psychic abilities is quite mysterious. Although there is no scientific evidence that proves the existence of supernatural phenomena, millions of people worldwide still practice particular psychic reading techniques.

In some cases, psychic readings are pretty vague, general, and almost impossible to validate. As explained by the Barnum Effect, people are likely to believe that claims and personality descriptions apply explicitly to them, while the details could actually apply to almost anyone on earth. Accordingly, when people receive general psychic readings that are tailored to a larger group of people, they perceive them as the descriptions of their own personality and rate them as incredibly accurate.

This is especially true for horoscopes. Daily, weekly, monthly, or annual free horoscopes we see on a bunch of websites have been designed to be suitable for a larger group of people rather than specific individuals. Therefore, they include a variety of general and vague claims that could apply to anyone reading the horoscope.

After receiving a couple of vague psychic readings, people believe in the existence of psychic powers even more. However, they do not always think of why a specific claim or description seemed to be relevant. They do not acknowledge the fact that the same exact reading could possibly be accurate if someone else was in their place.

Besides, psychic readings are hardly possible to be validated. When an individual receives a reading, he/she does not really know whether the predictions are ever going to come true. However, if the individual gets a couple of accurate but vague personality or life descriptions, he/she is more likely to believe that the predictions were also correct. Still, one cannot really tell if predicted events will ever occur.

2.    The Lack of Analytical and Critical Thinking Skills

Some skeptics explain psychic beliefs by a lack of general intelligence and analytical or critical thinking skills. To either verify or decline such claims, Stephen J. Gray and David A. Gallo conducted a study about the cognitive differences between paranormal believers and skeptics. They built the cognitive differences hypothesis and noted that the way individuals process information might contribute to the formation of various paranormal beliefs. They assumed that memory accuracy and analytical thinking would be two of the most influential factors.

To empirically test the prevalent hypothesis, Gray and Gallo conducted 3 studies in which they recruited groups of strong believers and strong skeptics through an online screening process. To ensure the relevance of the results, all participants were selected based on similar primary demographics, such as age, gender, and education level.

As a result of laboratory and online testings, Gray and Gallo concluded that there were no substantial differences in memory distortion, autobiographical memory distortion, and working memory capacity. However, skeptics consistently outperformed psychic believers on tasks involving analytical or critical thinking skills and vocabulary. Clearly, differences in analytical and conceptual thinking might contribute to the formation of various psychic beliefs.

The study also demonstrated that psychic beliefs are closely linked with a variety of benefits and the degree of life satisfaction. As research results suggest, paranormal beliefs are associated with greater well-being and more substantial meaning in life. Believers have reported that they are pretty satisfied with their lives and future potentials.

Although various researchers have already attempted to find the differences between the cognitive abilities of believers and skeptics, the majority of them failed. The study conducted by Stephen Gray and David Gallo is among the most comprehensive tests of various cognitive skills of those believing in psychic powers or criticizing them.

3.    The Existence of Mixed Evidence

Another reason why so many people are deeply convinced by the existence of psychic powers is that there is mixed evidence of paranormal phenomena in general. Due to the fact that some scientific research offers positive findings, believers are encouraged to have confidence in their thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions. Such studies reinforce psychic believers’ viewpoints about the genuineness of supernatural abilities. Unfortunately, people usually ignore the fact that studies with positive findings about psychic powers are often criticized and not even repeated to verify the results.

One of the studies showing that humans have some psychic powers was conducted by Daryl Bem, a respected social psychologist and professor emeritus at Cornell University. It took 8 years, 9 experiments, and over 1,000 participants for Bem to prove that humans have some supernatural powers to foresee the future. Specifically, Bem tested if people actually possess two variants of psi, precognition and premonition (of future events). According to the research results, humans DO have some sort of psychic powers, enabling them to anticipate the future for a clearer path ahead.

Unfortunately, other researchers failed to replicate and verify questionable evidence proposed by Daryl Bem’s psychic power test.

4.    The Popularization of Psychic Services

Another factor that facilitates belief in psychic powers is the popularization of a wide range of psychic services through different psychic reading platforms. During the last two decades, the psychic industry has snowballed. While individuals could consult psychics only face-to-face in the past, the 21st-century technological advancements made it possible to communicate with advisors remotely.

Nowadays, you can speak with a psychic or medium without leaving your home. Depending on what you prefer at the moment, you can receive guidance via phone, e-mail, live chat, or audio/video call. Along with being incredibly convenient to use, online psychic readings are relatively affordable compared to those delivered in person. Hence, more people are enthusiastic about receiving accurate psychic readings on a budget.

Psychic services are popularized by a large variety of successful psychic reading platforms, including Kasamba, Keen, Oranum, California Psychics, the Psychic Power Network, and others. Since millions of people consult psychics through these platforms annually and share their genuine experiences in the form of reviews, individuals tend to believe in psychic powers even more.

Why would anyone think that psychic powers are just fictional if the psychic industry consists of millions of satisfied customers, right? As the number of psychic reading platforms increases, more people are likely to believe in the existence of psychic powers.

5.    Ads Featuring Inspirational Success Stories

You have probably seen ads featuring ladies and gentlemen sharing their personal experience with psychic readings. They typically talk about how a psychic or medium helped them find their true love or enable them to speak with their deceased loved ones. They might even tell you how a psychic confronted their cheating partners.

When hearing such inspirational success stories, people tend to believe that psychic powers DO exist. They are tempted to consult psychic advisors themselves to improve the quality of life and simply have a better future. Just because an actor/actress narrated a made-up story, some people think that psychic advisors can actually guide one through challenging passages of life.

6.    Hope for a Better Future

Another factor that explains psychic beliefs is that devastated people do everything in their power to improve the quality of life. In the hope for a better future, these people believe in supernatural phenomena without thinking and examining the credibility of psychic powers. What else can a person do if nothing seems to be working out in his/her life? He/she will definitely listen to a psychic or medium who promises to make his/her life more enjoyable and exciting.

Therefore, people who have experienced severe issues with their romantic relationships, family connections, career, or health are more likely to believe in the existence of psychic powers. This supernatural phenomenon seems to be the only solution to their endless problems and physical, emotional, and mental suffering.

7.    The Only Chance to Communicate with the Deceased Loved Ones

If someone has just lost a person or even a pet he/she truly loved, the only way to communicate with the deceased loved one is through channeling. Mediums claim to have a set of unique psychic powers, enabling them to speak with the spirits from the other world. When this is your only chance to connect with your beloved people or pets once again, you will not start questioning the genuineness of the power, right? You will just do literally anything to know how your loved ones are feeling in the other world.

8.    Hope to Find Missing People

Another reason why so many people strongly believe in psychic abilities is that psychics are the only people who promise to find missing family members, romantic partners, or even pets. In some cases, psychics have successfully identified suspects and even found lost people. When individuals hear psychic detective stories, they hope to find their loved ones through the help of supernatural powers.

Due to the fact that various documentary films depict how psychics have found missing people and bodies, psychic believers are encouraged to have faith in psychic powers.

9.    Personal Experiences Associated with Supernatural Phenomena

Personal and body experiences associated with paranormal occurrences are among the factors that promote people’s belief in psychic powers. A person who has experienced certain psychic phenomena might consider oneself as a hidden power psychic. Those you have noticed that they can read other people’s minds also believe in psychic powers. Some people have also reported that they constantly encounter spirits of the deceased loved ones.

Along with mediums, mind readers, or clairvoyants, there are people who believe in psychic powers just because of their near-death experiences. Life-threatening coma survivors have reported that they felt how they were leaving their bodies and moving through a tunnel towards something bright. While psychic believers consider this experience as the proof of life after death, scientists claim that near-death experiences are purely biological.

According to these scientists, near-death experiences are pure hallucinations caused by dissociative drugs (ketamine, LSD, PCP, DXM, others). Near-death experiences are often associated with out-of-body experiences people face while being on drugs.

Some people have also reported that they have increased their psychic abilities through psychic power training. Thile this might seem absurd, one can truly awaken his/her psychic sence and develop psychic powers through continuous practice.

10. Statistics and Surveys

Last but not least, statistics and survey results also promote people’s belief in psychic powers. According to a Gallup survey, every three in four Americans believe in at least one paranormal phenomenon, such as ESP, haunted houses, ghosts, telepathy, clairvoyance, channeling, or reincarnation. Other research results suggest that over a quarter of the entire human population believes that psychic powers exist.

As individuals notice that so many people believe in psychic abilities, they start questioning their own beliefs. Why would millions of people trust psychics and mediums if they are totally fake, right? This is how positive statistics facilitate society’s belief in various psychic phenomena.

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