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Some Properties of the Interactional Organisation of Displays of Paranormal Cognition in Psychic–Sitter Interaction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 August 2000

Robin Wooffitt
Department of Sociology, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 5XH, UK
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This paper presents a sociological investigation of instances of a class of claimed paranormal phenomena: the apparent demonstration of paranormal means of cognition by psychic practitioners, such as mediums, psychics, clairvoyants and tarot-card readers. Using a conversation analytic perspective, this paper examines recordings and transcripts of sittings between psychics and members of the public. It describes a linguistic sequence through which (unattributed) information is offered by the psychic, accepted by the sitter and then established as coming from a paranormal source. This form of analysis is located within an emerging social scientific interest to explore ostensibly anomalous human experiences to enrich understanding of everyday behaviour. In this case, it is argued that analysis of the socially organised properties of exchanges in which apparently successful demonstrations of paranormal cognitive abilities are accomplished can contribute to broader debates about the relationship between discourse and cognition.

Research Article
Sociology , Volume 34 , Issue 3 , August 2000 , pp. 457 - 479
© 2000 BSA Publications Ltd

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