Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics
I’ve always been a little interested in linguistics ever since I took a course in it in college and this is an area that offers a glimpse into the general population and its unconcious acceptance psi ability. This fascinates me. Although there are many experiences which require descriptions of things for which we lack vocabulary, there are also other, psychic experiences that are so common they have their own vocabulary.
For some cultures, such as Indian and Chinese, this is ingrained. The vocabulary dealing with psychic experiences are quite nuanced and explicit. In English, there is very little. In Chinese for example, there is a term for psychic energy: Chi. A very simply one syllable word that encompasses their understanding of the of this. In English, no such specific term exists. We have to say “psychic energy.” We are borrowing from physics. We do not have our own word in common usage, so we work around it.
So Chi becomes “the force”, “energy” or “vibes” or “psychic energy” in English. What we don’t do is use the simpler Chinese term. That’s because the cultural differences carry over into nuances in how we perceive energy and by default, how energy actually behaves. To put it in different terms, the way we see the world through our cultural biases has a very real effect on the energy itself as it bends to our will. Hence, the cultural differences in perception become tangible differences in the energy. Thus, Chi is one thing, and “The Force” is another. They are different because we perceive them differently.
So we can’t all use the same words. In English, where we don’t have a culture of accepting psychic ability, we also don’t have an accepted vocabulary for it. It’s not the sort of thing where someone can sit down and just make something up, it has to be commonly accepted.
Some words describing psychic ability are so common that they are not even perceived in that manner. Words such as “hunch” or “inspired”, phrases such as “I just had a feeling about it”, “It just came to me.” or “feeling in my gut” are describing psychic activities even though practically no one thinks about it in those terms.
Some of the more obvious vocabulary that we do have that is native to the English language has come about during my lifetime. The earliest that I can remember is the word/phrase “vibes.” People are said to have “good” or “bad” vibrations, reflecting both the acknowledgment of the importance of science in our culture, by correctly identifying a fundamental aspect of physics and simplistically labeling psychic feelings about people. There are not gradations here. Either people have good or bad vibrations.
“Luck” is basically a psychic term. The word “Mojo” originally referring to a type of charm from an African American folk belief known as hoodoo. Now it refers to having a “magic touch.” Again, this is a psychic ability. So is having a “green thumb.”
If we look around, we can find a lot more examples of language demonstrating a culture actually rife with psychic ability and experiences. It’s pervasive in our language even though we have a sizable population denying its existence. People aren’t denying the existence of mojo and hunches because they are mainstream and not regarded as psychic. Look a little closer though, and you’ll see that it reflects a population far more at home with this attribute of consciousness than they realize.
One thing I have noticed through the years is that it is becoming more acceptable to speak in terms of vibes and feelings about things. I heard these phrases coming from people I would never guess would be thinking in those terms. Something is shifting subtly beneath the surface that I can’t put my finger on. It is certainly interesting to observe.