IONS Innovative New Scale to Measure Extraordinary Experiences and Beliefs

July 16, 2020
Nina Fry-Kizler, Science Team

IONS Scientists recently developed and validated the Noetic Experience and Belief Scale — a 20-item survey for evaluating paranormal beliefs and experiences. Belief in the paranormal is widespread worldwide, however, having a belief in the paranormal does not necessarily mean having experienced the paranormal. A paranormal experience refers to an individual’s memory of an experience that one judges to be genuine. A concise questionnaire that adequately evaluates beliefs as distinct from experiences does not currently exist. To address this gap, IONS created the Noetic Experience and Belief Scale (NEBS) to evaluate paranormal beliefs and experience as separate constructs.

The memory of a paranormal experience relies on a different mental construct than a belief based on environment, education, reasoning, and neural structures. Paranormal belief and experience are often correlated when measured simultaneously. Prevalence of reported paranormal experiences evaluated over the last 40 years in a variety of populations has ranged from a low of 10% in Scottish citizens to a high of 97% in United States enthusiasts. In a study of 1,460 participants in the US, 67% reported having had an ESP experience, 31% a clairvoyant experience, and 42% contact with the dead. More recently in the United States, 89.3% of the general population, 89.5% of scientists and engineers, and 97.8% of paranormal enthusiasts reported at least one paranormal experience.

Until now, specificity of the work in this field has been limited by the lack of questionnaires that adequately separate paranormal belief from experience in a concise manner. Using ambiguous measures can lead to confounding the two constructs of belief and experience, and blur results. Instruments that do separate these constructs are long and not conducive to the time constraints of many studies. The Noetic Experience and Belief Scale (NEBS), addresses these limitations and is a powerful new tool for the IONS larger research program on extended human capacities. By studying these phenomena, we aim to gain a deeper understanding of the nature of consciousness and the reach of human potential.

For more information on the Noetic Experience and Belief Scale (NEBS), visit Measuring extraordinary experiences and beliefs: A validation and reliability study.

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