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Thursday, 27 November, 1997, 08:35 GMT
Majority of Britons 'believe in paranormal'
The British Psychological Society calls it the X-Files factor - belief in the paranormal has never been so popular. But while programmes like the X-Files are simply entertainment, there are many people who take the whole subject far more seriously.

One of the biggest surveys ever carried out into the paranormal shows that belief in the reality of extra-sensory perception, such as telepathy and clairvoyance, is widespread among educated adults.

The study obtained 6,238 responses to questionnaires placed in the British newspaper the Daily Telegraph in March 1994.

The results showed that nearly 60% of adults believe in ESP, although there was a big difference between the sexes. Among women, 70% profess to being believers compared to 48% of men. Age appeared to make little difference, with only the youngest group - readers under 25 - being slightly less convinced.

Dr Susan Blackmore, of the University of the West of England, Bristol, who carried out the research, told the BBC's Today programme, that she defined ESP as communication between people which should not happen according to what is known about how the brain works.

"It's any kind of communication. If it's telepathy it's from one person to another, if it's clairvoyance it's from some object or distant event, if it's precognition it's from the future, without using the recognised senses," she said.

But she added that after 25 years looking for cases of ESP, she had not found any. "The scientific evidence is extremely, extremely weak", she said. But asked if she believed in it herself, she replied: "Well it's got to be possible. We can't rule it out."

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