Friday, September 02, 2005

My job

My job involves exploring the frontiers of consciousness. What does that mean? To explain by example, I'll describe what I've been doing at work over the last month or so.

I co-taught a two-week summer study program on parapsychology with Dr. Christine Simmonds from the Rhine Research Center, and I was the host for the annual convention of the Parapsychological Association (PA), an international scientific and scholarly organization interested in psychic phenomena (and an affiliate of the American Association for the Advancement of Science since 1969). This year I'm serving as President of the PA.

I've been developing a number of new experiments. One is a quantum optics experiment investigating possible mind-matter interaction with photons, a second explores a possible theoretical link between quantum entanglement and telepathy, a third is investigating evidence for precognition in the human brain, a fourth is exploring the psychophysiology of gut feelings in sensing a distant person's emotional and physical condition, and a fifth is studying implicit psychokinetic effects in the local environment. I have a handful of other projects in various stages of completion, but I haven't had time to work on them much recently.

I worked on a grant proposal, I'm writing a journal article with some colleagues, and I refereed a batch of articles submitted for publication to several scientific journals. I also reviewed a children's book about ESP, and started adding content to my new website.

I spoke to a producer of a TV show who'd like to do an interview with us (the IONS research department), a journalist considering a story on our work for a national magazine, and one of the producers of the What the bleep do we know movie. I consulted with two students working on research projects, and I interviewed altered states and transpersonal psychology pioneer, Dr. Charles Tart, for an IONS web-casting show.

Emissaries from an enlightened Indian guru came to our campus to demonstrate a form of direct spiritual transmission known as diksha (or shaktipaat). I corresponded with another well-known Swami and agreed to speak at a workshop he'll be holding at IONS later in the year. And I visited a local meditation society to learn about the practice of Raja meditation.

I received an impressive packet of materials from the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, including a life-size plaster cast of a (supposed) bigfoot's footprint. This topic is a bit far afield from my usual work, but I've maintained an interest in cryptozoology over the last few decades as a result of listening to scholarly talks on these topics at the annual meetings of the Society for Scientific Exploration. There does appear to be some evidence for legendary creatures. The evidence is sporatic and difficult to clearly assess, but given that there are still vast areas of the Earth that are almost completely devoid of humans, I think it's entirely plausible that there are plenty of undiscovered species out there.

I get an average of about 400 email messages a day, of which maybe 50 are useful correspondance. I receive an average of two unsolicited manuscripts a week, often describing things like new theories of gravity, or a new angle on the convergence of science and spirituality, or stories of unusual personal experiences. I wish I could offer comments on each of these documents, but there aren't enough hours in the day.

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