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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

out-of-body experience (also, OBE or OOBE) Mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 by Saint Paul:  

      I know a Christian man who fourteen years ago (whether in the body or out of it, I do not know——God knows) was caught up as far as the third heaven.

      The word ecstasy is derived from the Greek, meaning “out of place” or “out of body.”
      Parapsychologist Charles Tart has defined the phenomenon as  

      an event in which the experiencer (1) seems to perceive some portion of some environment which could not possibly be perceived from where his physical body is known to be at the time; and (2) knows at the time that he is not dreaming or fantasizing.

      However, this definition also matches (1) the experience anyone has of listening on the telephone, watching a television broadcast, or hearing a radio program, and (2) it is difficult to imagine how one can know that he “is not dreaming or fantasizing,” if Webster's definition of an hallucination is  

      the apparent real perception of sights, sounds, etc., that are not actually present.

      Given the exceedingly complex nature of the cognitive process in human beings, it cannot be said with any degree of certainty that sensory/perception malfunctions do not occur that give the strong impression of being “real” while in actuality there is no corresponding situation or event.
      Parapsychologist Susan Blackmore covered the subject thoroughly in her books Parapsychology and Out-of-the-Body Experiences (1978) and Beyond the Body (1982).

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Copyright (C) 1995-2007 James Randi.

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