Occultism is the study of supposed supernatural forces and the belief and attempt in the possibility of controlling them. Occultism is often associated with the practice of black magic and other rites for satanic or evil purposes. The object of the occultist may be esoteric knowledge, health, domination over others, wealth, psychic or physical powers, satisfaction of scientific curiosity, the performance of acts of religious ritual and worship, or to be a benefactor of humanity. Occultism thus appeals to, among others, megalomaniacs, would-be Messiahs and those with schizophrenic tendencies. The sense of possessing secret knowledge which develops in the occultist, aggravates existing personality disorders; and some of the techniques (magical, yogic) may be injurious to the physical health of the practitioners, their helpers, and their victims. Occultism may also be criminal.
Occultism occurs in developed countries, more especially among the rich, the effete, and the deviant. In primitive societies where the occult is part of the social structure, only certain people study and practice it.
The study of supranormal faculties of man which lie in the main beyond the range of readily and universally testable knowledge is a valid scientific endeavour in which thousands of universities, research organizations, and study groups have participated for more than 50 years. The study and control of the hidden forces of nature has been central to the entire history of science and has resulted in the discoveries of Pasteur, the Curies, and so many others who have unlocked cells, genes, molecules, atoms and stars to reveal their mysteries. The hostility against occultism is a manifestation of ignorance of its methods.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.