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Psionics is an umbrella term used by parapsychologists to describe psychic abilities, such as telepathy, psychokinesis, pyrokinesis and others.[citation needed] Alleged practitioners of psionics are called psychics, and sometimes refer to themselves as psions.[citation needed] Parapsychology, a pseudoscience begun around 1889, aims to study psionic and other supernatural claims.[1] A large industry exists whereby psychics provide advice and counsel to clients.[2] There is no evidence that psionic abilities exist.[3]


John W. Campbell, an editor of a science fiction magazine, became enthused about fringe science[4] and, according to the The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction, he went on to define Psionics as "Engineering applied to the mind".[5] His encouragement of Psi led author Murray Leinster and others to write stories such as The Psionic Mousetrap.[4]

The term comes from psi (‘psyche’) and the -onics from electronics (machine), which implied that the paranormal powers of the mind could be made to work reliably.[6]


Psionic abilities appear frequently in science fiction, where they are used as a substitute for magic and provide characters with abilities that are normally seen in the fantasy genre.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Melton, J. G. (1996). Parapsychology. In Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology. Thomson Gale. ISBN 978-0-8103-9487-2. 
  2. ^ Matthew Nisbet (May–June 1998). "Psychic telephone networks profit on yearning, gullibility". Skeptical Inquirer. [dead link]
  3. ^ Cordón, Luis A. (2005). Popular psychology: an encyclopedia. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press. p. 182. ISBN 0-313-32457-3. "The essential problem is that a large portion of the scientific community, including most research psychologists, regards parapsychology as a pseudoscience, due largely to its failure to move beyond null results in the way science usually does. Ordinarily, when experimental evidence fails repeatedly to support a hypothesis, that hypothesis is abandoned. Within parapsychology, however, more than a century of experimentation has failed even to conclusively demonstrate the mere existence of paranormal phenomenon, yet parapsychologists continue to pursue that elusive goal." 
  4. ^ a b The Greenwood encyclopedia of science fiction and fantasy. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. 2005. ISBN 0313329508. 
  5. ^ The Routledge companion to science fiction (1st ed. ed.). London: Routledge. 2009. p. 410. ISBN 0415453798. 
  6. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary". Retrieved 2014-01-29. 
  7. ^ Poul Anderson. "Fantasy in the Age of Science", p 270, Fantasy ISBN 48-51518