Wednesday, November 13, 2013

On Orthopsychology and Parapsychology

             On Orthopsychology and Parapsychology

             My cat Charles can appear to teleport. Once I turned around in my chair to see him coming out of the wall. “I saw that!” I said, and he winked at me. I turned my head and there was Katniss sitting there like she had been there all along. I said, “You’re good!

             Some friends of mine have observed similar phenomena and concluded that cats are psychic; but to me, a “psychic” power is “parapsychological” -  i.e. one where the practitioner outwits the witness. I define ‘orthopsychology’ as psychology where the investigator is smarter than the subject, ‘parapsychology’ as psychology where the subject is smarter than the investigator. Therefore orthopsychology tends to be Classical; its logic is rationalist and its results are reproducible; whereas parapsychology tends to be Romantic; its logic is surreal and its results are... elusive. “Psychic” powers are “mental” powers, where ‘mental’ comes from the Latin “mentir”, to lie.

             So yes, by that definition, cats are definitely psychic. So are Penn and Teller. But though Penn, Teller and cats are parapsychological to us, they are orthopsychological to themselves. Disillusionment is the price of mastering illusion.

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