Parapsychology studies phenomena outside the normal. Pre-scientific study goes back over 100 years to people like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who, even though he created Sherlock Holmes, believed or wanted to believe in paranormal phenomena. Dickens included spontaneous human combustion in one of his novels, considered to be a paranormal phenomenon. Later, in the early to mid-20th century, Harry Houdini, the magician, exposed many fake paranormal practitioners, but hoped to find a real medium that would allow him to receive messages from departed loved ones.
For many years, research was conducted at Duke University into some parapsychological phenomena, particularly extra-sensory perception. This ended in 1965 with no conclusive results.
Uri Geller was a phenomenon of the 1970s and 1980s. He may or may not have had parapsychological abilities, especially the ability to bend metal spoons. But he certainly faked it some of the time.
George Leonard has proposed a different terminology: normal abilities are what we all recognize we have. Then there are extreme, or rare abilities. Then there are metanormal abilities, the ability to do things that, according to current science, should be impossible.
The field evolves amidst a great deal of controversy.