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Extrasensory perception (ESP) is the alleged ability to obtain information independently of the senses known to science, using "the power of the mind."
ESP is classed as a pseudoscience by the scientific community. Evidence to support the existence of ESP is more often than not purely anecdotal ("Well, my friend swears that she knew I was going to call when I did!") or at least subject to extreme bias and selective reporting. ESP can be tested very easily with blind trials: simply asking someone to guess (ahem, "sense") what is in an envelope shows a success rate no greater than simply guessing.
Claims of ESP have been made for centuries but have never been scientifically confirmed.
The scientific examination of ESP is called parapsychology. In practice, this tends to the pseudoscientific.
Non-magical ways to read brain waves
ESP is not to be confused with contemporary research/experimentation in "reading" brain activity electronically. This is quite legitimate science and often involves established techniques such as MRI. ESP is entirely based on "the mind" reading other things, rather than equipment that has been proven to be able to do so - although this equipment doesn't "read minds" in the sense that people would think. Some research does seem to indicate that people's behaviour can be predicted based on brain activity, but this is at best 30 seconds in advance and can only be done when someone is stuck inside a MRI scanner or covered in EEG electrodes.
ESP is used to describe a large variety of individual phenomena and claims. It includes such things as:
- Precognition: Seeing or predicting events in the future.
- Clairvoyance and/or Remote viewing: The ability to see something that cannot be seen with the eyes. Such as a painting sealed in an envelope in another room.
- Telepathy: Specifically the ability to communicate with another person using the power of the mind.
- Telekinesis: The ability to move objects without touching them.