EVOLUTIONARY THEORY AND PSI: REVIEWING AND REVISING SOME NEED-SERVING MODELS IN PSYCHIC FUNCTIONING.
ABSTRACT: This paper is a response to a call made by Richard Broughton (1988) to ask and try to answer questions on the "why" of psi, rather than (concentrating on) the "what," "when," or "where." A number of parapsychologists have proposed that the function of psi may be to serve the needs of organisms in a way that benefits their survival or effective functioning. Early theories focused on a psychodynamic perspective. A more pragmatic need-serving model called the "Psi Mediated Instrumental Response" or PMIR was proposed by Stanford (1974a, 1974b). Of all the need-serving models, the PMIR model has been the most extensively discussed. While it has the potential for a heavily biologically based emphasis, it does not do so explicitly, and, indeed, later revisions appear to de-emphasize the straight biological need component (Stanford, 1990). This paper argues that the most obvious explication of a need-serving model of psi ought, in the first instance, to be heavily if not entirely based on evolutionary princ iples. This paper attempts to do that by presenting a neo-Darwinian need-serving model of psi. This newer model is titled Evolution's Need-Serving Psi (ENSP) to denote this heavy slant towards a biological emphasis, and it gives an explanation as to why psi is likely to be based more on unconscious rather than conscious mechanisms. Furthermore, it argues why psi, despite theoretically conferring an evolutionary advantage on organisms, is an imperfect ability. It does this by postulating that ENSP operates by only partially scanning the environment for need-serving information. ENSP suggests that studies such as the presentiment studies (Bierman, 1997; Radin, 1996) or the Defense Mechanism Test studies (Haraldsson & Houtkooper, 1995; Watt & Morris, 1995) are likely to be successful in demonstrating psi. ENSP also attempts to explain how training studies to enhance psi abilities could be altered to be more likely to show an increase in psychic functioning. ENSP predicts that psi is most likely to operate with r espect to information relevant to a person (or any organism's) biologically related family; and it is likely to be more useful in an unpredictable environment than in a predictable one.
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|Publication:||The Journal of Parapsychology|
|Date:||Sep 1, 1999|
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