The history of clairvoyants and psychic powers dates back thousands of years and the practice is almost as old as mankind itself. The term Clairvoyance is derived from the French words “clair” meaning clear and “voyance” meaning vision. It is used to refer to the ability to gather information about something or someone using means other than the known human senses. A person who is able to use such skills is called a clairvoyant, meaning “one who sees clearly”. Clairvoyant readers differ from people who claim to be telepathic; in so far as that they do not claim to gather the information straight from the mind of another individual, rather gaining it directly from an external physical source.
There have been examples of clairvoyants throughout history across a variety of cultures, with many clairvoyant skills being associated with religious and shamanic figures. Many ancient tribal rituals, including traditional sweat lodges, also involve some form of clairvoyance, with many of the participants entering into a trance-like state. Ancient Hindi religious texts even state that clairvoyance is one of the skills which can be achieved via meditation and personal discipline.
During the 19th Century, the number of ordinary people claiming to have psychic abilities, such as clairvoyance, began to increase. This coincided with the growth in popularity of the spiritualist movement in America and Europe. It became more popular for people to pay clairvoyants for their services. Some clairvoyants allowed big groups of people to visit them at once and visiting a clairvoyant reader became a popular form of entertainment amongst middle and upper class citizens in the UK.
By the 20th century, scientific researchers began to conduct experiments on the phenomenon. Research was largely qualitative and participants were usually asked to identify or provide information about a random, concealed target object. A major development in clairvoyance research happened when JB Rhine, of Duke University, introduced a standard methodology and standard statistical approach to analysing data. This allowed large levels of data to be compared and contrasted.
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The US government even funded a long-running project on remote viewing, which was carried out from the 1970s to 1990s, at Stanford Research Institute.
During the cold war, both the USA and Soviet intelligence agencies attempted to harness the skills of clairvoyant readers to gather classified information about foreign countries and internal threats. Both countries funded programmes which sought to study and improve clairvoyants’ abilities in the hope that they could be used as successful espionage tools. Police agencies around the world also turn to clairvoyants occasionally to help them to get leads in criminal investigations. However, the laws of many of these countries state that information gathered from a psychic are inadmissible as evidence.