Saturday, February 14, 2009

One year later

A little over a year after my presentation at Google, it has become the #1 most discussed talk out of the 1,031 talks given there so far. I'm pleased with this because one of the main reasons I do these public talks and participate in so many interviews is to promote dialog.

This talk was partially about the taboo of psi, which refers to the perennially strong public interest in psi (as reflected by the rating of this talk), as compared to the resounding silence about psi within the academic world.


FB said...

Here we see communications media with a high level of popular access and feedback that don't match up with cultural gatekeepers' preferences. This kind of popularization or democratization reveals social conflicts between the old media elite and the rest of society.

Oddly, though, I haven't noticed much obvious progress on psi topics triggered by the spread of the WWW. The people who read about psi on the web seem to be the same people who were buying dead-tree paperbacks on psi twenty years ago.

We can dare to hope that some communications whiz -- perhaps a young person reared in an age of digital media -- will channel the potential of new media to instigate widespread breaking of taboos against psi.

BobH said...

I don't want to sound paranoid, but is there any possibilty that the US Govt. actively "discourages" psi research? It occurs to me that with something so potentially useful (and the Govt. did at least think this in the past, as you know) the advantages would be enormous if you secretly mastered psi whilst professing publicly that it doesn't exist.

Atheistic Mystic said...

Yeah, that doesn't surprise me. That was a great talk. Any plans for another?

skiba said...

Thanks for this. Very interesting.

Dean Radin said...

Does the US government discourage interest in psi? Depends on what you mean by the US government. That entity is so immense that hardly anyone is really in charge of anything. Are there individuals who are very supportive, and others who are not? Absolutely. But is there a program of suppression? I doubt it.

skiba said...

Are the papers from those studies available online?

anonymous said...

"Does the US government discourage interest in psi? ... But is there a program of suppression? I doubt it."

Many insiders claim that the government remote viewing programs were successful.

The CIA claims they weren't.

This seems to me like evidence of a government program of suppression.

Dean Radin said...

> Are the papers from those studies available online?

If this question refers to data I mentioned in my talk, then yes some of the reports are available online. But my books and talks are based upon hundreds of journal articles. I don't know of a publicly accessible online site that has these articles available for free download. Among other reasons there are copyright issues. In an ideal world all scientific articles would be free. In the real world journals need income to survive just like anyone else.

Dean Radin said...

> The CIA claims they weren't.

The CIA's pronouncements on hot topics should be taken with a grain of salt.

> ... if you secretly mastered psi whilst professing publicly that it doesn't exist.

Yes, it would be a convenient ruse.

anonymous said...

"The CIA's pronouncements on hot topics should be taken with a grain of salt."

On the surface, I agree with this 100%, but I'm not sure what you are implying by it.

Why do you think we should take CIA pronouncements with a grain of salt?

Are you implying that it argues against my statement that the CIA pronouncement on remote viewing is evidence of a program of suppression?

I think it supports my contention. Why do we take the CIA pronouncements with a grain of salt? Because we don't trust the CIA. Why don't we trust them? Are they incompetent or too often engaged in disinformation? When incompetence supports the goals of disinformation, incompetence can be allowed or engineered in the interests of disinformation.

This is just my opinion based on what I think I know about these subjects, but I'm an outsider. If you have any more concrete information I would be very interested to read about it.


Lawrence said...

I was reading some of the William James correspondence from over a hundred years ago recently (in an old book of James's correspondence edited by Gardner Murphy if I remember right) on the controversies relating to the paranormal and how taboo it was among James's fellow academics and scientists, and nothing has changed!

Interesting how James had hoped we would have answered or come to understand some of the mysteries here by now, when with our 20/20 hindsight vision a century later we see how the mysteries have only been compounded and multiplied! So let me make a prediction based on the past hundred years of psi studies and phenomena, at the dawn of the twenty-second century the mysteries of psi will only be further compounded by new discoveries and developments.

As for whether it will still be taboo, I shakily predict so - as long as scientific materialism remains the ruling paradigm in Western academia as a whole, it will be so. I hope I am wrong though..

Sandy said...


Maybe your government does suppress information on psi; I don’t really know since I’m not an American. But there are other countries with other governments out there too… Do you really think every government suppresses psi research? I have a hard time believing that to be true. For instance, I can’t imagine the Canadian government even having the budget for such a thing. There are lots of clever scientists here in Canada who could be working on psi research unencumbered by government suppression, but I can’t really think of too many that are choosing to do so.

I think it has more to do with the discomfort many people feel when dealing with information regarding psi. For instance, I often play those Boundary Institute ESP games for fun. But strangely enough, the lower the score, the happier I get. My lowest so far has been 2736.3 to –1 (below chance). In a silly way I like to think it proves that I have no psi abilities (since it is just for fun, it doesn’t actually prove anything at all). This is despite the fact that I know a very low score could be just as significant as a high one. But a low score just feels better.

I don’t think a government conspiracy is required to force scientists to reject evidence of psi. I think scientists manage to do lots of silly things without any coercion whatsoever.

sonic said...

A biologist friend of mine recently read "Conscious Universe" and has concluded that psi effects exist.
He is not someone who would think that way ordinarily (a skeptic?)
The effort to get the word out might be slow, but it does have effects.

Jim Clark said...

Excellent talk Dean, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Keep up the good work.

anonymous said...

Hi Sandy,

I don't think every government suppresses psi research.

BobH asked about the US government discouraging psi research in a comment here and Dean said he doubted it.

I knew of this one situation where the CIA seemed to me to be engaging in blatant disinformation in order to discourage remote viewing research so I thought BobH would be interested in hearing about it. I am not trying to imply that such suppression is endemic in the US or the world. However, I think one can infer that if there is a blantat example, publicly tracable to the CIA, then there could be secret operations too. However, if there are I don't know about them.

There is some discussion elsewhere on the internet about government agents inflitrating skeptical organizations. I don't know about any evidence of that, and I don't have much of an opinion on it either way.

I tend to doubt conspiracy theories that require coordination at a high level and cooperation among a large number of groups. However we do know there were drug and medical tests done in the US on people who didn't know it and didn't agree to participate. Suppressing psi research is a pale shadow to some of the things that we know have been done.

I doubt the general lack of interest in psi research by scientists is caused a by secret government program. You are right, there are other reasons for that. However a government program could take advantage of the existing situation and would have the effect of reinforcing it. I think the CIA statement on remote viewing is just that.

anonymous said...

"I think it has more to do with the discomfort many people feel when dealing with information regarding psi."

Hi Sandy,

I think it is mostly a social artifact left over from the time science led the revolution against superstition, creationism, and anthropocentrism. Like many revolutions, they went too far and too few people have the courage to say it.

anonymous said...

"Does the US government discourage interest in psi?"

There is also the 1987 NRC report on parapsychology.
There was even a National Research Council report in 1987 which announced to the press: “The Committee finds no scientific justification for research conducted over a period of 130 years for the existence of parapsychological phenomena.” It was a total hatchet job.

anonymous said...

"Does the US government discourage interest in psi?"

DARPA sent Ray Hyman out to debunk Uri Geller in the 1970's around the time Targ and Putoff were doing experiemnts with him. Hyman reported that Geller was doing what magicians could do.

If Hyman really believed Geller was doing magic tricks then he should have explained exactly what happened and how Uri did his tricks. I'm not aware that Hyman did that. If he had, I think Targ and Puthoff would have considered Hymans reports while conducting their own research.

DARPA's attempt to discredit Geller seems to have failed. The positive results obtained by Targ and Puthoff were obtained under conditions sufficiently well controlled to allow the research to be published in Nature.