Monday, January 21, 2008

Two recent talks

On January 16 I gave a talk at Google headquarters in Silicon Valley, which you can view here. The title was Science and the Psi Taboo.

Abstract: Do telepathy, clairvoyance and other "psi" abilities exist? The majority of the general population believes that they do, and yet fewer than one percent of mainstream academic institutions have any faculty known for their interest in these frequently reported experiences. Why is a topic of enduring and widespread interest met with such resounding silence in academia? The answer is not due to a lack of scientific evidence, or even to a lack of scientific interest, but rather involves a taboo. I will discuss the nature of this taboo, some of the empirical evidence and critical responses, and speculate on the implications.

On January 19 I gave a talk at a conference entitled "Investigations of Consciousness and the Unseen World: Proof of an Afterlife?" I talked about the implications of psi, specifically telepathy, for the possibility of survival of bodily death. Other speakers included Loyd Auerbach on hauntings, Jim Tucker on reincarnation, Bruce Greyson on NDEs, Fred Alan Wolf on a possible relationship between survival of consciousness and the quantum field, Dianne Arcangel on afterlife encounters, Arthur Hastings on the psychomanteum, and Gary Schwartz and mediumship research. There were also demonstration readings by two well known mediums.

My impression of this conference was that the preponderance of the best available evidence suggests that something does persist after death. While the search for survival, as beautifully documented in Deborah Blum's book Ghost Hunters, has been muddied by fraudulent opportunists claiming to speak to the dead, after sifting through the good, bad and ugly evidence an evidential residue has remained that the best minds could not explain away. The same is true today. Much of today's evidence can probably be explained by one or more ordinary reasons. But not all of it. And the remaining bits, the best evidence, provide very interesting clues suggestive of survival.

It might be a disembodied "soul," or perhaps persistence of memory embedded in the environment in some unknown way, or an aspect of psi, etc. Exactly what it may be is not known, but in my opinion the likelihood of explaining the best evidence away as coincidence, or wishful thinking, or one or more cognitive biases, is exceedingly small.

Given the import of the mere possibility that something survives death, one might think that this would be a hot area of research. But as with research on psi in the living, there are perhaps 5 to 10 scientists in the world who are actively studying this topic. The limiting issue is funding, not interest.

One might think that purely out of curiosity the DoD might allocate say, 0.1% of their annual budget to study what happens after death, vs. the hundreds of billions a year spent each year on technologies designed to produce death: 99.9% devoted to the death machine, 0.1% to the follow-up question, then what? Seems reasonable to me.


Tor said...

The Google talk was great Dean!

I hope that some of the comments in the audience about the statistics are not representative of the google people's statistical knowledge.

Since you've been doing talks on psi for a number of years now, have you seen any trend at all in how people respond to this in recent years?

It's strange that some science oriented people can't accept that the taboo is the reason for other scientists not looking into this. They always fall back on idea about the data being crap. I should think that anyone having studied in a university and at the same time having an interest in consciousness/psi, would have felt this taboo. I sure did.

Book Surgeon said...

Dean, do you know where we might be able to find either a transcript of your talk from the survival conference or a comprehensive summary of the entire event?

s.lewenhardt said...

Hi Dean,

great talk! These presentations clearly are valuable assets to convert peoples unfounded skepticism into healthy curiosity. Although I must say, in comparison to the speech you gave at Theosophy Hall NY, the atmosphere at google seemed quite dread. I did enjoy the aforementioned talk a bit more, it also appeared to contain more key infos for skeptics.

Did you by chance catch any hints on whether video or audio footage from the survival of consciousness conference will be publicly available?

David Bailey said...

That was an excellent talk - did you get any feedback from the people at GOOGLE after the talk?

I wonder if all the queries pouring into GOOGLE could be used in some way to explore global consciousness/Ψ effects.

The taboo is very real, in fact I am very cautious whom I discuss these ideas with.

You described as part of a reply to a question, how you cut the data from presentiment experiments - using only the most calm or emotional images to do the analysis. Have you tried plotting the presentiment effect against the emotionality of the pictures (presumably measured by their evoked response after being shown)?


david said...

I attended the second conference (Forever Family Foundation, in San Francisco) and it was quite rewarding. Your talk was excellent, Dean. I liked your coining of the phrase, "Boo Taboo".

Audio CDs and video DVDs are supposed to be available from Backcountry Productions at (303-530-3153).

Eric said...

"Given the import of the mere possibility that something survives death, one might think that this would be a hot area of research."

In his review of George Hansen's book, Michael Grosso makes a good point:

"This brings me back to survival research, for note a parallel paradox: The current U.S.
military budget is roughly $350 billion, all dedicated to the technology of death. Contrast this
with the funds available to do research on the conscious survival of death. Did I hear an
amused snicker? But all this makes perfect sense, according to Weber’s and Hansen’s logic:
For life after death would collapse the binary opposition of life and death, one of the mightiest
pillars of our social and economic structures. Why would economic status, structure, and
privilege choose to disrupt its own self-confirming worldview? Keep the trickster psi safe and
tame under the guise of horror flicks, harmless in the form of New Age bromides, and the
smooth road to disenchantment remains unobstructed. Spending billions on a military budget
designed to maintain our status as the world’s sole superpower and superstructure is perfectly
rational. The more we spend and the more we maintain the binary oppositions—life/death,
good/evil, us/them—the more we buttress structure and rationality, and thus our superior
status and extravagant financial power. To understand why there is little interest in the
scientific study of life after death, we have only to ask: What would happen to our angstdriven,
Hobbsean-paranoiac power structures, if the distinction between life and death were
dissolved by proof of life after life? This is like asking: What would happen to our legal,
governmental, military, religious, psychiatric, and entertainment industrial complexes, if a
radically effective pill, formula, or philosophy of love, courage, and ecstasy were unleashed
on the world?"

david said...

I have long wondered about the psychological and sociological reasons for the "boo taboo". It must be complicated, but fear seems to be the main underlying component. With intellectuals and scientists, many years of indoctrination creates a deeply embedded reductionist materialist world view. In this view the paranormal including any form of survival does not exist, cannot exist. So any evidence trotted out by parapsychologists threatens to create a very uncomfortable state of cognitive dissonance, and years of established work and thought seem to be threatened. So much time and effort have been invested in the life in science (defined as reductionist materialism) that any attack on reductionist materialism is automatically interpreted as an attack on the Self. Fearing these consequences, it is much easier to reflexively dismiss the evidence without detailed examination. It won't be studied mostly because of this fear, that there might really be something there that would shake the foundations of the perceived personal Self.

Such a deep dynamic could explain why parapsychology is nearly as implacably opposed today as in the early days of psychical research, 1870-1900 (at least this is my impression).

Book Surgeon said...

Building on what you wrote, David, I think part of the taboo is also a visceral reaction to the implication that any support of a positive view of psi or survival (even if it is in no way linked to any sort of religious dogma) is akin to a crack in the dike of reason that will inevitably let the waters of magical thinking and primitive animism gush in and drown our supposedly enlightened age.

Remember, in the grand scheme of human culture, we are not so far removed from the days when everyone accepted that the earth was the center of the cosmos and imbalances in bodily humours caused disease. The angry denials and attempts at suppression of psi and survival information by skeptics and the mass media are of a piece with our evolving self-image of our society: that we are beyond such silly notions as spirituality in our role as the latest custodians of reason, as the CSI/CSICOP folks seem to like to brand themselves.

The result is a kind of unspoken cultural conspiracy: we won't take these things seriously if you won't. To do so would threaten our scientistic orientation, which is ridiculous because as Dean has shown, these phenomena are about science, not superstition or dogma. But you can't explain that to people who are terrified of being the little boy who pulled his finger out of the dike.

Dean Radin said...

I thought the questions asked at Google were reasonable for people not familiar with the relevant literature.

My only worry is that the world seems to be rapidly moving towards a redefinition of expert from a person who has spent 20+ years deeply studying a given topic, to someone who has just spent 5 minutes reading a webpage.

The organizer of the survival conference has informed me that DVDs of the talks will be sold through their website to members (anyone can become a member for free). So at some point the site should have these for sale.

David Bailey said...

Further to my previous remark, GOOGLE data might reveal that people made more queries about earthquake-related topics just before earthquakes, for example.

Regarding the taboo, I agree with much of the above, but I think most of us have a quite strong fear of psi-like phenomena. How many of us would remain calm if we walked past a graveyard and saw an obvious ghost? Part of the academic taboo may be related to that.

I wonder what that fear is all about - perhaps predators can sense psi-activity in prey, and we evolved to suppress psi and fear it in others.

s.lewenhardt said...

Whilst hoping not to drive this off-topic too far, David, I would like to propose that there is an enormous difference between the questions "Why doesn´t it seem that we had a psi-evolution all along?" and "Why are we afraid of psi right now?". Fear appears to rise in almost every area of uncertainty, whether it be psi-related or not (wolves, militarism or sociopathic neighbors anyone?). The current paradigm of creditability loss seems to explain our hyper-skepticism-problem just as well as the left-hemisphere, overrationalization of our western society, up until a point of delusional certainty about pretty much anything. - At the moment it appears to me, as if there is barely any room for additional factors, due to the weight of the existing ones.

Jime said...

Survival after death is a very interesting topic. I've always thought that only near-death experiences and experiments with mediums may give us some reliable information about afterlife (if it exists)

I recommend Titus Rivas' papers about mind-body dualism, NDEs and other psi phenomena related to the possibility of afterlife and survival of consciousness:

Shawn said...

I just watched the Google talk and spent an hour discussing it with my wife. Bravo! I was really disappointed with the comments and in awe of the diplomacy with which you addressed them.

I was surprised that no one recognized that the eagerness of Western science to explain away the empirical evidence of psi is equivalent to the patchwork of exceptions that defenders of the Ptolemaic model constructed attempting to fend off the death the geocentrism. I'm saddened by such overzealous faith in today's paradigms but i am inspired by your courage and character to illuminate the truth.

mrmagoo said...

The next stage of the presentiment work might be to test for the possible cue. Are we seeing presentiment of the image display, or presentiment of the image choice? Is there a significant anticipation effect when the emotional stimulus image is displayed on screen, but not seen by the subject? How about if the image display (seen by the subject)is delayed for ten seconds after the image choice - does presentiment occur before the image choice, or after?

Leo MacDonald said...

I disagree I think there is overwhelming evidence for suvival after death not just evidence of near death experiences, out of body experiences but older evidence like the cross correspondences, some of best direct voice mediumship, teh scole experiments, xenoglossy and reincarnation studies, apparitions, poltergeists, afterdeath communications and induced afterdeath communications, the newspaper tests. Other lines of evidence would be electronic voice phenomena [the pye record experiment] proxy sittings, automatic writing etc. As far as super psi goes i don't see that explaining away the overwhelming evidence for survival not just in humans but also cats, dogs etc] why? because in order for that to be you would have to tapping into a super computer somewhere out in space but we have no proof of that. In fact as the irreducible mind book shows the evidence for survival of bodily after death tilts in favor of it then super psi

Dean Radin said...

I think the term "super-psi" is unfortunate, because ordinary vanilla psi is sufficiently mysterious to account for most, if not all, of the evidence for survival. My reading of the literature tells me that through psi information can be obtained from anywhere in space or time. This means that any form of evidence for survival must be judged against this general information-gathering principle. In my view then, the evidence for survival is certainly intriguing, but it is not overwhelming.

Tor said...

What I find the most intriguing evidence for survival is the Stevenson type reincarnation cases. This is by many not considered real evidence since it is not laboratory controlled. But the cases where past life memories coincide with strong personality traits that seems to stem from a past life, along with bodily marks/deformations relating also to the previously personality makes me take notice. I suspect that something other than super-psi is going on in such cases.

Jime said...

My opinion is that there is some good evidence for afterlife, but it isn't "proved" yet. I can be wrong, because I don't have extensive research on this topic.

You can read more on the controversy between survival and super psi in these papers (and the reply to them) of philosopher Stephen Braude:

I've read somewhere that Chris Carter's next book will cover afterlife evidence. Given the excelent quality of Carter's first book, maybe he can convince most honest scientists and open mind critical thinkers of the reality of afterlife.

When you put together the best evidence for any supposed fact, cover and examine it critically, and rebut the best criticism against it, you get the strongest case for it.

Eric said...

"because in order for that to be you would have to tapping into a super computer somewhere out in space but we have no proof of that. In fact as the irreducible mind book shows the evidence for survival of bodily after death tilts in favor of it then super psi"

That's true, but advocates for "survival" have just as many problems. None of them can actually give a coherent theory of identity even in the present life. When you think about it, we're more like processes rather than "entities."

John said...

jime, just so you know, Stephen Braude himself believes in survival despite he himself putting forth the best arguments for super-psi. I just don't think super-psi works at all. There are so many shortcomings and holes in the theory that makes so far removed from parsimony and sense that it isn't even worth looking at anymore.

littlebug said...

Dean, do you think that psi, super or vanilla, adequately accounts for Drs. Stevenson and Tucker's birthmark evidence?

Dean Radin said...

The birthmark evidence is certainly intriguing, and it doesn't appear to be compatible with most flavors of psi. On the other hand, if reincarnation is true, or if one interprets psi-type information as reincarnation, then given the powerful mind-body connection I don't see why strong belief that one is another person could reshape the body to resemble that person. E.g., consider stigmata and the sometimes extreme effects of suggestion on the body under hypnosis.

david said...

Eric: "....advocates for "survival" have just as many problems (as "super-psi" theories)."

I disagree. Consider the entire range of psychical phenomena suggestive of survival. Veridical NDEs, ADA's (at-death appearances), OBEs, memories and birthmarks from previous lives, the better spirit mediumship cases, it goes on. Super-psi theories are forced to posit some incredibly intelligent subliminal or unconscious psychical process (essentially another but more powerful intelligence forming some sort of substratum below ordinary awareness) with almost godlike powers of psychic sensing, integration of data, and simulation from the data. Whereas survival theories have only to posit survival of the former human personality and its memories as the primary agent. Of course Occam's razor or the principle of parsimony is no absolute guarantor of truth, but of the two types of theories it clearly points to some form of survival as the better choice.

"None of them can actually give a coherent theory of identity even in the present life."

Perhaps you mean the continued failure to find a totally satisfactory theory of mind-brain interaction. This is hardly relevant, because the data in evidence always trumps problems with theoretical understanding of the data. The data clearly points to some form of interactive dualism, whether or not a fully worked-out theory exists. As to coherence in general, the survival hypothesis clearly is a more coherent explanation of the data than super-psi.

Of course despite all this there can be no certainty; absolute proof does not seem to be even possible. I think it is still important to maintain a lot of caution. The fear of death is extremely deep, and the unconscious mind is known to have tremendous powers of confabulation. Combined with powerful esp it seems at least conceivable that all the evidences could be essentially fabricated by the subconscious.

We also can't logically rule out some sort of "trickster" hypothesis, in which it is all an elaborate deception by agent(s) unknown.

Eric said...

"Perhaps you mean the continued failure to find a totally satisfactory theory of mind-brain interaction. This is hardly relevant, because the data in evidence always trumps problems with theoretical understanding of the data. The data clearly points to some form of interactive dualism, whether or not a fully worked-out theory exists."

No, that isn't what I was saying. My point is that survival advocates can't give any unambiguous account of "personality" or "identity." Everything that they label as being a person's "true identity" is simply a reification of an aspect of an impersonal psycho-physical process (i.e. the mind-body complex).

If someone were going to speak intelligently about "survival," then I would advise that they cherry pick ideas from Schopenhauer's philosophy (ignore the specifics of his metaphysics of the will and look at his general framework) . In my opinion, his transcendental idealistic philosophy offers a much better framework to understand "survival" than Cartesian dualism and cliched "spiritual/material" (among other New Age nonsense) language:

From Dale Jacquette's book "The Philosophy of Schopenhauer):

"Schopenhauer’s Kantian and Platonic metaphysics is tempered by its uniquely Buddhistic and Hinduistic, rather than Jewish, Christian or Islamic, concept of the soul’s salvation. The immortality of the soul is understood by Schopenhauer as the indestructibility of Will as thing-in-itself, the pure willing that transcends or underlies the empirical individual willing that Schopenhauer refers to as the will to life. As thinking subjects we are immortal only in the attenuated sense that Will willing purely within us can never be destroyed. When the world as representation in its entirety, including the representing subject’s body, ceases to exist with the passing of the representing subject’s last moment of conciousness, Will as thing-in-itself at the core of each thinking subject alone remains (WWR 2: 215). There is therefore something in each of us that is immortal. The part of us that survives death is not, according to Schopenhauer, as some sects of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have taught, the personality or self or soul of the thinking subject. It is rather the impersonal Will within, the indestructible thing-in-itself, transcending space, time and causality, that is in no way part of the world as representation or subject to any sort of change."

"See previous post on Schopenhauer who essentially solves, without realizing it, the theoretical possibility (beyond empiricism) of how this situation might be understood. His version, which never even mentions reincarnation (and isn’t about that), might give a hint. It is not a question of a psyche-soul surviving death, but of the source of representations that was never born and never dies in a relationship of space-time and something not in space-time. Unless you have developed an alternate possibility by whatever method, that bardo would induce complete blackout. Remember the ‘experiencer’ you take as you doesn’t survive death.
Note that Schopenhauer didn’t believe in souls, and wasn’t trying to explicate reincarnation. His indirect stumbling backwards into the solution is therefore all the more valuable, ironically."

Moritz730 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
david said...

"....The part of us that survives death is not, according to Schopenhauer, as some sects of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have taught, the personality or self or soul of the thinking subject. It is rather the impersonal Will within, the indestructible thing-in-itself, transcending space, time and causality, that is in no way part of the world as representation or subject to any sort of change."

This kind of concept taken as stated directly conflicts with the evidence that I have summarized. Much more evidence in psychology adds to this to show that the Self is the central fact of human consciousness.

There is a new, brilliant, fascinating and exhaustively detailed summary review of the empirical evidence from more than a century of research and investigation for the reality
of psychical phenomena and the paranormal, plus an analysis toward a comprehensive theory of psi. This is Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century, by Edward F. Kelly, Emily Williams Kelly, Adam Crabtree, Alan Gauld, Michael
Grosso, and Bruce Greyson. I think it undoubtedly will be a classic.

The authors (who are some of the leading researchers today) demonstrate that the most satisfactory theory of mind encompassing all this empirical evidence and not ignoring it is some form of interactive dualism, as was the conclusion of the great early investigator of psychical phenomena F. W. H. Myers and to some extent by William James. However, as did Myers and James, the authors realize that such a dualism is not ultimate, and that a neutral-monist type of model incorporating interactive dualism as one of its levels of consciousness would be a more comprehensive approach. A model "...(represented in the West by historical figures such as Plato, Plotinus, and the German idealists, and in the East by the higher schools of Hindu philosophy and the wisdom traditions) that sees consciousness itself as the fundamental reality in nature, flowing outward or downward to its most matter-like aspects, and then back up again in the course of cosmic evolution." "....Within such a top-down neutral-monist framework, human personality would be pictured as a complex system made up of the same kind of "stuff" throughout. The system consists of a heirarchy of levels or strata of the types recognized in particular by Myers, James, and the wisdom traditions. Each level is characterized by its own form of psychophysical organization and has both interior and exterior aspects that allow it to participate in some form of experienced world appropriate to itself. The activities of these different strata are somehow interconnected, and coordinated in greater or lesser degree, by something like Myers' Subliminal Self, or by a (overarching) consciousness that somehow underlies or pervades the whole structure."

lightseeker said...

David, what you've described from "Irreducible Mind" really rings a bell with me, speaking from my own intuitive and psychic experiences.

What Eric described as that which survives death as Schopenhauer's "Will," I equate with one's "oversoul" or a higher aspect of one's consciousness. It is pure consciousness. While one is embodied as a human being, what we think of as the "self" is a combination of that particular body/brain's personality or ego and individual consciousness (or soul). The individual consciousness is a projection/extension of the oversoul; the subconscious mind is the gateway or conduit to the oversoul/higher Self.

The oversoul exists independently of time and space and can be accessed by the self or individual consciousness - this is how psychics/mediums operate - by expansion of the individual self/consciousness (via the subconscious) into the oversoul (or even group oversouls beyond - more below). While we are in the body, it's very hard to separate consciousness itself from the "I" or ego of our individual self and personality. I just read a great analogy - think of the statement "I AM"; the I is the ego or individual sense of self/consciousness (while embodied), and AM represents the ocean of one's consciousness. The I cannot exist apart from the AM. While we're in the body, we perceive the I is separate, but in reality it is not. The I is just the tip of the iceberg that is visible above the water (i.e., subconscious/unconscious)....

When a person dies, the individual soul/consciousness ("I") is subsumed into their oversoul. Whether one believes in reincarnation or not, the oversoul contains all prior personality aspects or souls from its many incarnations (whether perceived linearly in Earth's history or not; some hold that past lives actually happen all at once, now - the oversoul projects itself into different bodies in different times/places based on the life experience the oversoul needs or desires to have for growth/evolution). To the Buddhists or Hindus, the oversoul is a pearl bracelet, and each pearl represents the individual consciousness/soul or personality/self of a previous lifetime. The oversoul is the accumulation of many personalities from lifetimes of experience. The more evolved the oversoul, the more pearls it contains. The individual self, which must live and operate in the physical world, is concerned with the physical details of one's life situation (job, family, comforts, etc.), whereas the oversoul ("Will") is mainly interested in growth and expansion/evolution of consciousness.

In the discarnate state, the oversoul has the ability to present or project any personality aspect of itself that it wishes to those of us here on this side (e.g. to a medium or psi experiencer) - perhaps the personality the perceiver best relates to from life (e.g., the deceased grandfather) or a favorite personality of the oversoul from innumerable previous lifetimes. An oversoul may wish to be perceived as a certain "personality" or form that is more accessible and possibly less frightening to the perceiver. (NOTE: I believe ghosts are those personality aspects that have not for one reason or other been properly subsumed or integrated back into the oversoul - they are aspects which are "stuck" in the lower, near-earth planes of consciousness - perhaps due to a traumatic death and/or being overly attached to places or people on Earth - it's an aspect that is not evolving along with the oversoul. In Buddhism, the object of detachment is to overcome such earthly, emotional attachments forged during physical life in order for the soul to move on, evolve and experience "the void" or in other words, to "lose the self" in the "cosmic soup" or oneness of the universal consciousness. It's hard to grasp, but a sense of oneness means one has overcome all "selfish" attachments. "Ghosts" in the haunting sense have failed this, and so remain in much lower realms of consciousness - equivalent of "hell.")

Each oversoul (and thus each individual consciousness/self) is part of many higher oversouls. As consciousness continues to expand higher/outward to greater realms or levels, one's oversoul is subsumed** in a group oversoul/consciousness (could be one or more of a family, ethnic, gender or national group), up to the oversoul of global or human consciousness, and finally up to a universal (or "God"/Source) consciousness which contains all group oversouls beneath it/within it. **Subsumation is an eternal state of being - not an action at a moment of time - think of strata. The stratum above contains all stata below it. The individual consciousness/self/personality is but the tip of the iceberg or an inverted pyramid, so to speak, nested within and part of all the many overlapping oversouls above it. On lower levels, group oversouls may or may not overlap - however the higher the level, the more overlap there is. The highest stratum contains all strata below it.

Because of the "noise" of the physical world/reality and our need to function within it, most people in their waking consciousness are not aware of these oversouls of consciousness, not even their own immediate oversoul! Sadly, from about age 5-7, we (our brains) have been taught to filter out all "background noise" - some of which is likely psi or our own oversoul attempting to communicate with and guide us.

It is access to one's oversoul that allows for psi phenomena. It is the oversoul that can communicate freely with other oversouls, be they individual oversouls or group oversouls; it is the oversoul that operates beyond the time-space of this 3D world. A psychic or medium is able to expand consciousness beyond his/her individual consciousness to the oversoul, or even higher into varying levels of group oversouls. Exactly what the oversoul (or Will/spirit) is - as consciousness - is the really big question. Some, such as Stuart Hameroff, see it as plugged into or part of the most basic quantum level of space-time geometry (at the Plank level) of the universe - maybe this is what "universal or God/Source consciousness" is.

So, what "survives" death on an eternal continuum (outside of time and space) is really the oversoul - pure consciousness (aka Will or spirit) without a "personality" as we think of it - but the oversoul subsumes and contains the personality or individual soul/consciousness of the human being who has died or "passed over" - as just one of many personality aspects it has subsumed over many accumulated lifetimes. The personality lives on as *one aspect* or facet of the oversoul. The oversoul of humanity (Jung's collective unconscious - or the Akashic records) contains the personality aspects and memories of every human who has ever lived!

Consciousness, on many varying and overlapping levels, is a kind of ONENESS or UNITY, that also retains aspects of individual consciousness or personality. I believe the model for consciousness is both monistic and dualistic at the same time. It appears dualistic because an oversoul (the "AM") may project an individual personality ("I") to the perceiver/psi experiencer, but that oversoul is part of group oversouls above it and ultimately one with the universal oversoul or consciousness at the highest level (the "I AM THAT WHICH I AM").

Pardon me for lack of scientific terms, as I'm not a scientist, and if my terms sound "new age-y" well, I'm sorry for lack of better terminology to get my concepts across. Our ancient ancestors did the best they could with the limited, non-scientific vocabularies of their times... I hope you are able to picture how I conceive consciousness from my own psi experiences, and not just from what I've read or studied.

I must read "Irreducible Mind" - thanks, David!

Enfant Terrible said...

Mr. Dean Radin,

in 2006, you said, about Emoto's Research:

"A triple-blind replication of this effect is presently underway."

We are now in 2008. What happened with this research? Was it published?

Atheistic Mystic said...

That was a great talk Dean.

I have been trying to get some of the militant atheists/pseudo-skeptics over at Richard Dawkins forum to watch it, while utilizing critical thinking skills.

Predictably, they resist tooth and nail, even up to the point of lying . They will tell bold-faced lies in order to preserve their "truth".

If anyone is interested in helping me persuade them to watch it, please join me in either of these threads:

Dean Radin said...

To Enfant Terrible:

Last year I submitted an article to a journal describing the results of a triple-blind replication of the Emoto water crystalization effect. I'm presently revising the article to answer the reviewers' comments. I expect that article will be published this year.

david said...

Lightseeker, thanks for a superb explication of your concept of consciousness. This resonates with a lot of my experiences and study of the subject, and is compatible with most of the phenomena of psychical research. I think it must at least be in the right direction. However, we have to keep in mind that ultimately such realities must be fundamentally beyond real human comprehension, so that elaborate theoretical metaphysical structures created by humans are pale shadows at best of the true realities.

I have a couple of problems with and comments on this system. According to NDE accounts, at least during the initial stages of physical death the human personality remains discrete and separate. This is also indicated by at-death appearances, which are reported to be of the just-deceased personality, sometimes with urgent needs of communication. So there is some variable period after death when the human personality is "merging" into Soul consciousness and still retains aspects of the unique human personality.

If one is inevitably subsumed into the "oversoul" to which the previous personality with its memories and experiences are just one of many different roles, whatever it is that "survives" in this form is alien to the human personality. So, though it may indeed be true in some sense, it would seem that this understanding of our ultimate nature and fate as human beings is not reassuring or helps to assuage existential fears of annihilation.

However, according to many teachings, during and after physical death a person never loses himself, his sense of "being me". How can we understand this in the context of the above?

Also, of course we have to reject a number of other spiritual traditions which fundamentally assume the continued existence of the unique soul of the unique human personality.

Jime said...

Atheistic Mystic,

Those atheists/pseudo-skeptics won't watch it, and if they do, they'll use to confirm their own beliefs. Most of them have a very sophisticated intellectual method of self-delusion.

As you wrote: "Predictably, they resist tooth and nail, even up to the point of lying . They will tell bold-faced lies in order to preserve their "truth""

They can't be persuaded with rational arguments or evidence against their beliefs. Don't waste your valuable time with them.

Take a look in this article titled "How to Respond to a Supercilious Atheist" by Alan Roebuck:

Another good article is MORAL PSYCHOLOGY AND THE MISUNDERSTANDING OF RELIGION by psychologist Jonathan Haidt:

Also, the book "Irrational Atheist" can be downloaded (free) here:

I recommend you this book. The author criticize the "new atheism" of Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens.

Book Surgeon said...

Personally, it's not atheism per se that irritates me. I'm an atheist in the purest sense: an a-theist, meaning I don't believe in the concept of a deity, which I find to be a transparent human construct. But that has nothing to do with my interest or strong sense of the reality of psi, the causative power of consciousness, or many other phenomena regarded as "paranormal" or "supernatural."

My problem with the modern atheist movement is the conflation of nonbelief in a personal God with dogmatic skepticism about psi and the paranormal in general. It's as if the dogged, angry disbelief in faith leads to an automatic lumping of all these other fields into one file folder labeled "superstitious nonsense." I have found many atheists who were otherwise very intelligent people completely unable to make the intellectual leap required to see that while psi, postmortem survival and other subjects may seem to be of a piece with deistic belief, they are really more likely to be non-supernatural aspects of our complex natural reality that we simply do not understand. But most hardcore atheists can't or won't make that leap. Having made the personal, psychological commitment to disbelieve in one thing, they must disbelieve in all.

It's a sad, self-limiting state of affairs that contributes to the angry pseudoskepticism that hampers true psi research.

Dean Radin said...

I couldn't have said it better than Book Surgeon. I'd only add that I regard the act of holding unshakable convictions about complex topics, like what consciousness is for, what it is capable of, does the universe have purpose, is there a God, etc. as astounding feats of hubris.

What is worse is when conviction is refined to the point of willfully rejecting open-minded inquiry, which of course is standard operating procedure in cults of all stripes, both religious and scientistic. That said, if I were forced to choose among cults to side with, I'd choose the latter, because at least in that cult there's the possibility that ideas can change.

John said...

Book Surgeon, I think the problem ultimately comes down to seeing faith as the ultimate irrationality and science as the ultimate rationality. While I believe that you should base your beliefs off the scientific findings, specifically believing in "Science" will cause you to invest an emotional stake in it, and hence will fight anything that threatens your belief system, just like the fundamentalist Christians are fighting evolution. Anything that isn't definitively proven by "Science" (which is defined as the current materialist paradigm) is regarded as superstition and nonsense and if you want to have anything to do with this stuff, then you're superstitious and full of nonsense yourself. They actively block inquiry in to the paranormal because it threatens their belief system. Back when I identified as a skeptic (of the Randi-type) I thought "psi" was a load of silly crap, I could never understand why other skeptics wanted to BLOCK inquiry. As far as I saw it, even though I felt that the paranormal was bunk, I figured that there was no harm in investigating it, as long as the funding was private (and I still feel that way, but I extend it to all the sciences except for those who have immediate practical usage, like medical science or energy research). Now, I believe that psi phenomena are likely real, but nothing has really changed. It's simply a shift in what I think is most likely real, as opposed to the fundamentalists, who are very sure they know exactly how the world works. The difference between them and I is that I know that I know nothing, and that anything is possible.

It's a shame more can't think like that.

Jime said...

I agree with Book Surgeon, John and Dr.Radin.

Atheism is an option like theism or agnosticism. In fact, I'm an agnostic (of soft atheist), but I have interest in spirituality and I'm open to the existence of God. And I accept the scientific evidence for some paranormal phenomena.

I'm very critic of dogmatism, religious or secular. I see the "new atheism" movement as a pseudo-philosophical and pseudo-skeptical movement intended to promote materialism and scientism as a worldview.

As Book Surgeon wrote: "My problem with the modern atheist movement is the conflation of nonbelief in a personal God with dogmatic skepticism about psi and the paranormal in general"

It's true. In fact, in the books of new atheists you can read entire chapters debunking the paranormal. They try to mix up religion beliefs with serious paranormal research. It's a clear sign of dishonesty and ignorance.

For example, take a look at this article of Richard Dawkins titled "What's wrong with the paranormal?":

Dawkins uses ignorant, misinformed and pseudo-scientific arguments. He didn't deals with the best scientific evidence for psi (as presented by Dr.Radin in his books) and uses as reference popular books of other pseudo-skeptics. He didn't refer to peer-review journals, but take seriously the "amazing" Randi's book Flim Flam.

Dawkins isn't doing serious science when he criticizes the paranormal. Neither he's doing serious philosophy of religion when he attacks God and religions with simplistic (and ofter fallacious) reasoning (Most philosophers of religion laughs on Dawkins' rhetoric and arguments.)

A response to Dawkins' article on paranormal may be read at:

As a matter of fact, atheists also can change their minds, using reason and science (not faith) to make a deistic/theistic worldview.

Recently, former atheist, member of CSICOP and critic of the paranormal, philosopher Antony Flew, became a deist. He even don't believe in afterlife, but he thinks now that there is good evidence for God (The Aristotelian God). Read this long interview on Flew's change of mind:

Another good interview (2007) on his recent and controversial book "There is a God" may be read at:

Eric said...

"My problem with the modern atheist movement is the conflation of nonbelief in a personal God with dogmatic skepticism about psi and the paranormal in general."

The problem is that "atheism" has been conflated with this sort of reductionist scientism that is straight out of the 19th century. The primary reason why the mainstream scientific community is scared sh*tless of psychic phenomena is because psi challenges the philosophy of positivistic reductionism. Positivistic reductionism is what gives the scientific community economic, political, and sociological power in a democratic society. It ensures that the scientific community is the "top dog" and that it has jurisdiction over "reality." Mainstream scientists are extremely scared of giving any credence to psi because it has traditionally been associated with religion. It also explains why the mainstream academic community is hostile to attempts to understand quantum mechanics philosophically (often for good reasons since there has been a lot of New Age abuse in this area...also, this statement wasn't intended to imply that QM explains psi).

Eric said...

"The author criticize the "new atheism" of Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens."

Actually, Harris is open to psi and Ian Stevenson's research. He actually defended Dean and Stevenson on one of those village atheist podcasts. Here is the link:

He talks about his interest in psi about 3/4 of the way into the podcast.

John said...

I think that Harris is by far the most reasonable of the "new atheists." He doesn't seem to subscribe to the extreme "scientism" that the other ones do.

Regardless, fundamentalists are the same side of the dogma coin.

Book Surgeon said...

John, it appears you and I had the same kind of experience. I, too, was a dogmatic skeptic and a rather arrogant atheist (I'm embarrassed at the tone of some of my past high-handed pronouncements to believing friends). But I had a deeply disturbing psychological experience that compelled me to begin investigating and to find out whether there was anything of substance to the paranormal, postmortem survival and so on. I did not expect to find anything but gauzy New Age claptrap, and I was vehement about not being fooled or self-deluding. Imagine my surprise when I discovered a huge body of good evidence and a subculture of excellent research into consciousness and the mind that defies the angry materialism and scientism of this time! It's been quite an eye-opening journey, and like you, I am humbled by all that I do not know, and awed by all that may be.

I also wonder, what is the difference between a mind that will make such a leap and the pseudoskeptical mind that refuses to budge despite any evidence? It's clearly more than a leap of intellect; one's self-image has to come into play, one's "need" to know something different from one's personal paradigm. I think this would be a fascinating subject for study.

Jime said...


I've reading the papers published in the "anti-matters" website. They can be downloaded for free:

A very interesting paper is that of Dr.Schwartz and Dr.Pearsall titled: "Acquisition of Donor Traits by Heart Transplant Recipients". This paper, originally titled "Organ Transplants and Cellular Memories" may be read fully here:

It could be evidence for a non-brain origin of consciousness. If people can adopt some psychological traits of donors, it suggests that "mind" or "consciousness" isn't only in the brain, but in all the organs.

It's hard to me to understand how psychological traits can be transfered with a organ transplant; but the evidence seems to be there.

lightseeker said...

As a tangent to what jime posted, check out this science news article:

Genetic 'telepathy'? A bizarre new property of DNA

Scientists are reporting evidence that intact, double-stranded DNA has the “amazing” ability to recognize similarities in other DNA strands from a distance. And then like friends with similar interests, the bits of genetic material hangout or congregate together. The recognition — of similar sequences in DNA’s chemical subunits — occurs in a way once regarded as impossible, the researchers suggest in a study scheduled for the Jan. 31 issue of ACS’ Journal of Physical Chemistry B.

It seems to suggest that consciousness may even reside in our DNA! This may explain the mystery of cell mitosis, too. (Has anyone read Gregg Braden's "The God Code" - how the ancient Hebrew name of God is actually coded in our DNA? It's pretty amazing.)

Read the entire article here:

Dean Radin said...

Evidence of something I've known for many years: technically and scientifically oriented people are as interested in psi as anyone else:

As of today, about 4 weeks after my talk at Google, the YouTube video of that talk is rated 4.5 out of 5 stars, it has been watched 7,245 times, and it's the 7th most discussed video and the 19th most watched video out of 667 Google Tech Talks available on YouTube.

John said...

Congratulations, Dean, I think you're really making a difference in the world. That must feel good. :)

Jime said...

Dr.Radin, do you know the books of philosopher David Ray Griffin on parapsychology? As far I know, Dr.Griffin have written two books on it (or related to it):

1)Parapsychology, Philosophy, and Spirituality: A Postmodern Exploration.

2)Religion and Scientific Naturalism (this book isn't on parapsychology, but Griffin added a complete chapter on it)

I've not read these books, but I've seen very good comments on them. Griffin approach to the topic isn't scientific but philosophical (he explores the relation of philosophy with parapsychology).

Griffin is best known by his exhaustive critical analysis of the official story of 9/11. See as example:

I have interest in the philosophical implications of parapsychology's scientific evidence for paranormal phenomena. Most philosophers aren't interested in (and don't know) the best scientific evidence for paranormal phenomena. So, many of their speculations are without solid foundation on the best pertinent evidence. (It's most obvious in the philosophers of mind)

Dean Radin said...

I think Griffin's book Parapsychology, Philosophy, and Spirituality is very good (in fact I was reading it today), and I've read his book on 911 too. I recommend both. I haven't read the second reference you've cited.

Atheistic Mystic said...

Hi Dean,

I think it was during the Q&A session of the talk you gave for Google. The topic of Randi's million dollar challenge came up. You said you submitted an application to take Randi on with the presentiment experiments?

I'm wondering what the status of that is. Did you ever hear back from Randi about it?

Dean Radin said...

It wasn't me but my colleague Dick Bierman who applied based on the presentiment experiment. After a short discussion he never heard back again. This article describes his efforts:

After the Google talk I inquired about using a telepathy test for the challenge, via a person at Google who was interested. I haven't received any response.

kaugust said...

Hi Dean,

Since you said that converging lines of evidence are strongly suggestive of survival, I wonder what evidence, specifically, you have in mind. If you were to outline the case for survival from that remaining core evidence, what would be in that outline? For instance, you might point to birthmark evidence in cases of the reincarnation type generally, noting a specific case as representative of strongest particular instance (or one of the strongest). What, specifically, do you think most strongly makes a case for survival? Thanks.

Dov Henis said...

Basic Scientific Study Of Life Ceased In 21st Century,
An Adverse Effect Of Technology Culture

A. From "Societal Implications Of Science And Technology Evolution"

"Basic, non-applied science, since the 18th century Enlightenment the banner of social and societal evolution out of entrenched traditional doctrines and values, has been abandoned and presently barely survives in few institutions. Enlightenment's inherent philosophy and attitudes in regards to individualism, universal human progress and the applications of reason have been pushed off the western culture highway by the ever rising flood of values, attitudes and texture of life of the technology era."

IMO this sad state of affairs is most obvious and prominent in the field of basic life science.

B. Life study in the 20th century slowed to halt by "scientists guilds"

- Guild: an association of people with similar interests or pursuits; especially : a medieval association of merchants or craftsmen.

I posit that the defacto slow-to-halt of the basic study of life in the 20th century is a consequence of the authoritative power handed by the public at large to scientists guilds, coupled with the fact that the present scientific guilds are indeed conserved replicas of medieval guild associations, coupled with their modus operandi.

People think that in the scientists guilds operational and editorial decisions are made on purely scientific grounds...

C. A fresh authoritative scientific organization needed

I suggest that an Enlightenment course of societal evolution matrixed on rational scientific grounds may become probable and possible only if and when a fresh authoritative scientific organization is established "by and for the people including scientists" in which scientists operate and make editorial decisions on scientific rather than on political grounds...

Dov Henis

Foxy said...

Life After Death - the wonderous question. For me, a most compelling case has been made by Michael Newton Phd, with his books Journey of Souls and Destiny of Souls. These books (and one other) have been out for some years now. Does anyone know if there has been published corroboration of his work?

Atheistic Mystic said...


Do you happen to know if there are any transcripts of your talks available?


Dean Radin said...

I'm not aware of any transcripts made of these talks.

Invisible Pills said...

I would like to pick your brain about this. It seems like, if I am interpreting most of you correctly, that you all may support the possiblity of survival after death via Natural means, that the afterlife is a natural phenomena. My question is, for those who accept this possiblity - if it is entirely Natural why don't we see more natural interactions between the deceased and the living? I apologize if this isn't the most intellectual question, I am just curious of perhaps this afterlife is comparable to PSI in which it's occurrences of interactions are not detectable on a wider scale.

Dean Radin said...

If it is entirely Natural why don't we see more natural interactions between the deceased and the living?

I'm not sure what you mean by "natural" in this context, since anything that happens is natural. But if you look into the literature on After Death Experiences, you'll find that these sorts of interactions occur all the time, to lots of people, across cultures and throughout history.

Invisible Pills said...

Thank you for your reply.

Yes essentially what I am saying is if these experiences are a natural phenomena and not supernatural then why doesn't the natural phenomena occur on a wider scale where they can be empirically declared as fact. If it is thought to be natural then my assumption is we would have evidence on why it is natural. I do know there is anecdotal testimonies throughout history but are these stories truly sufficient in saying that this is factual? If it is a natural phenomena wouldn't we see more evidence of it? Wouldn't there be more stories expected even taking into account that there are probably unreported instances? Or should we possibly assume that we do not have the tools to truly investigate the natural phenomena of an afterlife.

I have read Greyson, Parnia, Fenwick and many others, sometimes it seems like the same anecdotes are recycled, but if it was an entirely natural phenomena I would think there would be an abundance of evidence daily where the issue would no longer be "Is there an afterlife" but more of "What is the afterlife like" It just seems like we have not gotten to that point yet because we still can not answer the first question.

Anyway, thanks for your time Dean, I appreciate your responses. However I am sure you are probably busy and possibly do not have the time for a back and forth exchange, so is there any literature you might recommend that may answer these questions I have?

Atheistic Mystic said...


About the talk at Theosophy Hall in New York. Quick question. I convinced a skeptic to watch it, and he asked a question I can't answer. He said,

"He did an adequate job in describing the Ganzfeld experiments and was fairly convincing about the results up until he showed the funnel-plot graph of effect-size and sample size (around minute 34-35). Apparently neither he nor anyone in the audience noticed that the funnel that supposedly indicated that they were not leaving studies out was centered on 0 effect. The only reason that the mean of all the results yielded a positive indication was that there were far more results to the right of the funnel center than there were to the left of the funnel center. If the funnel was complete and it did indicate psi then the funnel would be centered on some positive effect and there would be roughly the same number of results on either site of the funnel, but this is obviously not the case from the slide."

What should I tell him?

Dean Radin said...

The ganzfeld funnel plot (see Fig 6-7, p. 121 in Entangled Minds)is not centered on 0.