Friday, June 26, 2009

Witch burning


The murder of eleven elderly people in Kenya, for supposedly being witches, is a stark reminder of one reason why psi remains a taboo -- a deep seated fear of supernatural and paranormal forces. We'd probably all like to believe that hysteria about witches disappeared long ago, but as the BBC news item (linked above) says, "Residents [in the town in Kenya] have been ambivalent about condemning the attacks because belief in witchcraft is widespread in the area...." This happened in 2009, not 15o9.

Fear sustains the psi taboo even in first-world countries, partially because hysteria is just as easily inflamed in educated mobs as well as uneducated ones (witness our collective response to swine flu), but also because despite our common struggle towards rationality, there seems to be a natural human tendency to first condemn any sort of anomaly, and to ask questions later (if at all). While Western scientists exploring the bleeding edge of the known are not in danger of being literally burned, there is ample evidence for a persistent societal discomfort. This is most easily seen by observing the vast majority of the general public who are vitally interested in all things psychic vs. the far fewer than 1% of academics who are known for having any interest at all in these phenomena.

Will we ever be able to set aside our collective fears and embrace both the joy and the uncertainties of exploring the unknown? I certainly hope so, but to paraphrase something William James once said, major advancements in this particular wrinkle of the social fabric may have to be measured in centuries rather than decades.

49 comments:

Book Surgeon said...

I would also suggest that this witch burning tragedy points to another dynamic that the angry, dismissive skeptic crowd uses to suppress and deny psi and other paranormal phenomena: the supposition that belief in anything non-materialistic breeds delusion, insanity and violence.

Let's face it, a great measure of the incoherent rage one encounters from skeptics like Penn Gilette has its origins in the Enlightenment, when the newly emerging scientific establishment promoted the idea that religion and belief in religion was anathema to human progress and basically an express train back to the Dark Ages. Conflate religion with belief in the spiritual, paranormal and unexplained, stir for 100 years and add the extremism-brewing environment of the Internet and you can grow one hell of a powerful taboo.

buzz said...

The fear is that we would need to expand our worldview. The fear is that we might have to entertain the possibilities that dreams are actual experiences instead of merely fictitious image sequences ... that civilizations far older than ours are visiting us in aerial machines ... that human beings are not fundamentally material objects.

antiskeptic said...

There are a lot of people complaining about how the scientific community (or the general public) does not treat their area of study fairly - in other words with the same level critical thinking. They are right. The level of criticism usually is harder when it comes to fortean subjects. (and by fortean I mean just very generally any odd or non-mainstream subjects or phenomena) However, I am afraid that a big part of the problem is that there is too much effort being put into fighting for fairer treatment in specific areas and not enough effort being put into attempting to change the system so that proponents of fortean statements do not have to fight so hard just to get the fair treatment that they should be getting without having to fight. I believe that this skeptic mindset that causes people to believe that it is okay to treat certain subjects unfairly is the bigger culprit. To be clear, I am not talking about the original definition of the word skeptic. That definition no longer applies, as the skeptic movement has successfully hijacked the word. This skeptic mindset precedes the skeptic movement and skeptic-style scientists - it has been a big problem since humans started to think. Given the bazillions of times in history that crazy, offensive, totally insane ideas turned out to be right, you would think that us humans would have learned our lesson by now and adopted a more open-minded approach to knowledge in general. Unfortunately, the skeptic movement seems to be growing. I believe that you, Dean, once wrote about a "cultural amnesia" that shields people from learning from the past on certain issues, like closed-mindedness. Humans are not going to learn their lesson on this issue simply by getting beaten over the head a million times with the condition of being wrong. Change - at least on this issue of the skeptic mindset - has not happened spontaneously after any of the million times that the skeptic mindset has been shown to be misguided, and it is not very likely to happen spontaneously in the future. I believe that it is going to require punishment of the skeptic movement, skeptic-style scientists, and any other proponents of the skeptic movement and the skeptic mindset. I have been arguing, on various message boards, for a while now that we are going to need an "anti-skeptic" (like my name) movement to really affect change on this issue. An organization like SCEPCOP at debunkingskeptics.com is a good start. They don't have a whole lot of resources, but maybe that will change over time, or maybe there will be other, better funded organizations that will follow in their footsteps now that the ball has started rolling.

Gareth said...

That is a very disturbing story.

Some people feel that they are making the braver choice by basing their lives only on what the scientific mainstream has presented to them as fact. People who don't feel the same way are delusional kooks.

Some people feel that they are making the braver choice by basing their lives on challenging orthodoxy and exploring the possibilities that might exist on the fringe. People who don't feel the same way lack imagination and are frightened of the unknown.

Some people just live in the moment.

None of these differences are worth hurting another person over.



Some people just live for the moment.

Sharon Lynn Fisher said...

Regarding the following:

"...to paraphrase something William James once said, major advancements in this particular wrinkle of the social fabric may have to be measured in centuries rather than decades."

Interestingly parallel to how psi is best demonstrated through meta-analysis rather than study-by-study.

David Bailey said...

Dean,

I always wonder if this fear is instinctive, and there for some reason, rather like we fear snakes or spiders. Even young children seem to understand and fear the idea of a ghost.

One idea might be that using psi makes it easier for a predator to locate you (and everyone else in your group!).

It would be interesting to read your speculations on this subject!

Bharat said...

This is very, very sad news. It is truly apalling that something like this could happen, I hope things get better on this front. It's such a shame that fear can be used to hurt people like this.

To Book Surgeon et al.: I think the biggest problem is losing the safety, not necessarily of a worldview (though there is undoubtedly that), but of priviledge. Intellectuals in modern (French revolution onwards) times have been the most depraved of people, often taking people to war and imposing brutal restrictions needlessly and to the cause of much human suffering. This currently fashionable Whiggish argument of/for human progress that you mention, Book Surgeon, is a dangerous one and has caused a great deal of suffering, especially in the 20th century when it led to the greatest mass murders in history.

Sadly, what I mostly seem to see on the internet is similar: a group of irate and adolescent MTV intellectuals, inspired by such people as have been named often in this debates. They have been deluded into thinking that they have priviledged access to the "truth". The logical conclusion of this is obvious: everyone else must be in error and if one can somehow convince their sycophants that such views (opposing theirs) are dangerous, the results are disastrous, as we see now. Ultimately, what I mostly see is open and unaffected contempt. Contempt for the "lower orders" which is the hallmark of western Intellectuals.

It's all rather depressing. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

FB said...

Clearly this unprovoked violence was unjust and I console the families of the deceased.

However, I fear that psi was not the most important dynamic. All the victims were elderly, and elderly persons often are scapegoats. Such scapegoating often covers pragmatic self-interest. The elderly victims were probably not capable of putting up much resistance, thus they made practical targets for public blame.

Humans are naturally violent, naturally predatory, naturally clannish. When our ancestors came down from the trees, they adopted ethics and instincts suitable for cooperative hunting.

I fear that simple human instincts for violence, hunting, and group loyalty caused this killing more than fear of psi.

pec said...

Well wait -- if psi exists (and I'm sure it does), then why assume it can only be used for good? There have been witches, magicians, shamans, etc., in all societies that we know of, and they were feared as well as respected.

If an individual has super-normal powers, then they might have the ability to harm their enemies.

I think anyone who believes in psi yet denies it can be used for destructive purposes is not being very realistic.

pec said...

"Even young children seem to understand and fear the idea of a ghost."

"One idea might be that using psi makes it easier for a predator to locate you (and everyone else in your group!)."

Not just animal predators, but human enemies also. Psi could be an extremely powerful weapon, and I think it's natural and normal for people in traditional societies to fear certain kinds of witches.

Of course, Christianity made the practice of magic and divination illegal, so any kind of witch -- good or bad -- was persecuted.

Dean Radin said...

> then why assume it can only be used for good?

Quite true. There is no reason to expect that psi can only be used for "good." Larry Dossey's book "Be careful what you pray for" amply describes this literature.

But the point here is that just fear alone, without any valid means of confirming the accused witch's intentions or "skill," can cause a frightened mob to murder the innocent.

Mob behavior has been responsible for all sorts of horrific behavior. With better understanding (which is what I'd argue is needed for psi), a mob can transform into a mass movement with much more beneficial results (e.g., Gandhi's ability to galvanize highly effective nonviolent demonstrations).

FB said...

Victor Zammit addresses the witch issue in his latest newsletter as follows:
ERY URGENT: AFRICAN ‘CHRISTIAN’ HORROR – IN NIGERIA SOUTH EAST, IN AKWA IBOM:
A number of young children in South East Nigeria are branded ‘evil’, they are beaten, tortured and many of them have been maimed and brutally killed in the name of Jesus. Some 15,000 children are supposed to be ‘witches’ and their fate looks extremely grim. What happened is that there are some extreme ‘Christian Pentacostals’ who are committing most horrific crimes – for money! They call themselves ‘exorcists’ and for a price they claim they can exorcise the bad spirits from out of these children. One of them was seen dressed in a Bishop – outfit, Bishop Ulup-Aya (apparently now arrested) boasted he killed up to over 110 young children because he THOUGHT (ie, CONCLUSION WITHOUT EVIDENCE) they had bad spirits with them – and their parents could not afford to pay him. He gets some $340 for each case he handles. Other children as young as six months have been maimed on the word of this Bishop Ulup Aya. Those who are inflicting pain, suffering and torture on to children are quoting the Bible! There is a heavy Christian responsibility on to stop this madness. ALL leaders of Christianity from every sect, from everywhere – the Catholics, Anglicans and other Christian have to send representatives to stop the slaughter of the innocents. These atrocities have to be stopped now!

There are linked videos at:
http://www.victorzammit.com/week6sixsix/

pec said...

"Mob behavior has been responsible for all sorts of horrific behavior. With better understanding (which is what I'd argue is needed for psi), a mob can transform into a mass movement with much more beneficial results (e.g., Gandhi's ability to galvanize highly effective nonviolent demonstrations)."

Mod behavior results from people joining together to fight something they perceive to be a threat. It might turn out that it wasn't a threat after all, but they couldn't know that a the time. I do not believe that horrific behavior results from ignorance and lack of enlightenment -- I know that puts me in a very small minority.

Gandhi's success would not work in every similar context. We can't expect non-violent actions to give us our way every time, and we can't expect disobedience to always be rewarded instead of punished.

Anyone who thinks that every conflict of interest can be resolved in some nonviolent way is mistaken, in my opinion. Of course that's just my opinion, but I really think pacifist ideas lack a solid foundation in reality.

When conflicts cannot be resolved in other ways, the last resort is always violence. This is a hard truth that is found on every level of nature.

No amount of spiritual evolution or enlightenment can change the laws of nature. I think we should try to understand psi better, because scientific curiosity is part of human nature. But understanding psi will not make us more peaceful or safer.

On reason materialism and secular humanism became so popular in the educated classes was their rejection of the super-natural, and all the terrifying "superstitions" that go with it.

Parents are very happy to tell their children there is no such thing as ghosts. Eventually, the child will stop seeing them, and join the sanitized, de-mystified, comforting world of materialist secularism.

If psi is every accepted by the mainstream, we will be forced to face the terrors we thought we had escaped. We didn't escape, we just swept it all under the rug. Now our society is careening towards chaos, maybe because we thought we could disconnect from the spirit worlds.

We stopped being terrified of the great mysterious powers, and look what happened. I don't believe we will ever triumph over nature and super-nature and become fearless gods.

pec said...

Ugh, there were a lot of typos in the comment I just posted. I hope it made sense anyway. And I hope I don't sound like I despise humanity, because I really don't. I think we are doing what we have to do -- evolve creatively -- even if it often leads to madness.

My point, in general, is that we should recognize and accept that our civilization is insane, and that it's ok anyhow. We should accept that we are ignorant and violent and insane, and that is our nature and the gods must have wanted us that way.

Instead, we are (many of us) idealistic, driven to fix everything up and make it nice. We are either secular humanist atheists, or Christians, or Buddhists or New Agers. All of these groups reject what I see as the truth about our species.

We are creative, destructive, competitive, peaceful, loving, hating -- in other words we are part of nature.

I don't have any idea what it's like on the higher planes, but on this plane we are not going to create a peaceful heaven.

anonymous said...

Anyone who thinks that every conflict of interest can be resolved in some nonviolent way is mistaken, in my opinion."


There is a lot that has been written about nonviolence as a set of tactics and as a strategy. The better you understand this information, the better you will be able to know when and how to apply it. A good starting point for anyone who wants to learn more would be the wikipedia article on nonviolence and the Albert Einstein Institution web site:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonviolence




http://www.aeinstein.org/organizations6563.html



People who have studied or lived through one or more nonviolent revolutions have a lot of well thought out ideas on the subject. For example, a couple of aims of nonviolent struggles can be separating a regime from its means of exercising power, and delegitimizing a regime in the eyes of subjects and the rest of the world by forcing it to demonstrate it's repressive nature.

You also have to understand the shortcomings of violent means to understand the benefits of nonviolent action. For example: Violent tactics will put the revolutionaries and the regime on identical moral ground which may reduce internal and external support. Violent means may also increase the risk replacing the regime with an equally repressive one.

pec said...

"You also have to understand the shortcomings of violent means to understand the benefits of nonviolent action."

Everyone understands it. I wrote an answer but it didn't survive moderation. I will try a very short answer. Everyone knows and no one likes violence. But like it or not, in my opinion, physical force is inevitable throughout nature, and can't always be avoided.

pec said...

My last comment survived moderation so I will try another short one. I want to explain why I think violence (physical force) is a basic fact of nature. For example, consider atoms -- they maintain their existence by exerting force against anything that tries to enter their space. This territorial instinct is the basis of survival, and found at all levels. The cells in our bodies survive by having walls and exerting pressure against other cells. In our social context, we carefully guard our personal space (mostly unconsciously).

And on the level of tribes or nations, the defense mechanisms are diplomacy and, when that fails, war.

There have been times and places when war was glorified to a depraved extent. Strong nations have preyed on weaker nations. War originally evolved from normal animal territoriality, but it has certainly been misused.

Nuclear weapons took all the "fun" out of war and we can no longer afford to play around with it. But of course we do anyway.

Many people think we can evolve beyond war, maybe by electing a compassionate and enlightened world government. But I strongly disagree, because any world government would become all-powerful, and any all-powerful government eventually evolves toward corruption and tyranny.

David Bailey said...

> then why assume it can only be used for good?

Well true, but people seem to fear any use of psi - even by friends who are presumably 'on their side' - whereas, say, having a powerful fighter in your (primitive) group might be seen as an advantage. This is why I wonder if its use makes a person more visible to predators.

Sandy said...

This is why I wonder if its use makes a person more visible to predators.

David, you may be on to something.

I had the opportunity to talk to someone who has a background in religious anthropology about my own anomalous experiences. He started by asking questions about my family history, in particular questions about older women in the family who never married. He pointed out that most families have examples of such women who in many cases were psychically gifted. In many cases these women were very attractive individuals who chose not to marry. And people traditionally gave credence to the dreams and precognitive feelings expressed by these individuals.

I had women like this in my family. There were stories of suitors left at the altar when one of my more infamous great aunts repeatedly panicked at the thought of giving up an independent lifestyle. And I remember my mom passing along information that auntie had a dream that warned about something, and everyone took it seriously at the time. But this sort of thing was talked about very discretely, and eventually these women passed away.

Society has tended to marginalize such women as maiden aunts or spinsters. And yet they were often very charismatic. I think they did have something about them that made them more noticeable somehow. People sensed whatever it was about them that made them different. Maybe people with that quality still resonate as being on the fringe of society and somehow dangerous.

Hayden said...

Scares the crap out of me. I practice spiritual healing... as in, the spirits do it, I don't, but I'm there "facilitating." Works, much to my own amazement. And I just don't know how shamans make peace with the fear of other humans: it's something I think about too much.

Not that I'm suggesting that it might not be a reasonable response to someone who has gone off of the tracks. But this incident smells more like social engineering by Christians or like persecution of disadvantaged groups. Nothing like mob tactics to "teach a bunch of people a lesson" to make everyone else toe the line. sigh.

Does use of psi alert predators? Interesting question.... humans ARE predators and used it for thousands of years - still use it - to track their prey. My guess is that it doesn't, but someone will have to check it out first hand to find out.

FB said...

"Does use of psi alert predators? Interesting question.... humans ARE predators and used it for thousands of years - still use it - to track their prey."

There are many kinds of "predation" in human society. A police psychic is "hunting" for evidence or criminals. A military remote viewer is "hunting" for military intel. Quite probably there are psychics in less polite niches of society, divining the future for drug lords, etc.

The USA and the former USSR both engaged in military psychic research. Who knows if there were espionage struggles between rival sides? Perhaps a Russian clairvoyant saw an American counterpart looking for Russian clairvoyants! Perhaps psi "alerted" the Russian to the American intrusion.

It would be interesting to see a battle of wits between (e.g.) remote viewers working for two sides of a political conflict. Considering the high human costs of political conflict, however, perhaps it would be better to visualize/pray for less destructive uses of power.

Bharat said...

Off-topic, apologies etc.

Dean: I've been taking a brief peruse through Chris Nunn's 'From neurons to notions' and he has discussed the significance of Jung as well as the possibility of EPR/entanglement occuring in the brain and appears to place it top of his table of attractors (which I read as broadly equivalent to Jungian archetypes, in a concrete, physical sense). I wonder what your take on his thinking is and how relevant is it for you and your work? I gather he knows you because you're quoted quite a bit at the end.

B

David Bailey said...

Hayden said "But this incident smells more like social engineering by Christians or like persecution of disadvantaged groups."

I totally agree - the more aggressive Christian groups are a total menace, I was thinking about the underlying reason why people fear psi.

Sandy, Thanks for those comments. One other reason for my idea regarding the innate fear of psi, is that Rupert Sheldrake seems to get very impressive psi results with dogs - who are obviously predators rather than prey animals. Cats also show big effects.

Dean - do you think fear of psi is innate, and if so, why?

Bharat said...

Off-topic again, but I thought this might itnerest some here. Drs. Sheldrake and Wolpert are having a public wager on developmental biology. Enjoy!

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20327161.100-what-can-dna-tell-us-place-your-bets-now.html?full=true&print=true

David said...

I think this points to a long history of fear concerning people who seem to have telepathic abilities. I believe early priests back as far as the Bronze age were the first to start the persecution of those who had special abilities such as TP, PK.etc. This connects with the Kabbalistic legends of the 'Circle Drawers', often called Nazirites or Rechabites like Honi, long thought to be related to the family of Jesus, his brother James and cousin John and also putatively, Judas. The stories indicate a deep long-standing awe and fear held by the priests for these mysterious people, as well as a great love for them among the 'people of the land', those who were considered 'human dust'!
These legends are also connected with
Sirius the dog star and some early and fascinating monumental ruins up in the Golan Heights built focused on this star built circa 3,000 BC.

Marco said...

"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds"

Albert Einstein.

I live in Canada and I strongly believe that in order for telepathy research to become popular culture, the society must fundamentally be democratic alond with facilitating human rights.

When I further observe the structure of our current post secondary institutions (Universities) Current students in the west have to pay extraordinary amounts of moneys while having institutions completely dominate them financially, allowing little room for debates and allows nothing more than credentials validated by grades and students' ability to please. The side effects is that grades reward selfishness let alone politicises the youth while making them submit to a fear structure which has nothing to do with I.Q.

The reality is that the opposite of the current status quo would require a creative movement which establishes new common denomenators greater than the lowest possible one. But the current homogenus structure eliminates distinctive or extremist personalities including creative one. Creative in the sense that it excludes those who are in the persuit of the infinate as opose to logic.

Such structure would include not only those who try to initiate new areas of research, but ultimately individuals who make decisions for the social good vs. short term and selfish gains.

Consequently to the posting added, I disagree that "it will take a few more centuries as oppose to decades" for telepathy movements to take place.

In order to change the current structure, I think that it will take a masculine movement to take place. Not a male vs. female but masculin in terms of personality.

I have currently terminated university education and 70% of the population was female and 30% male. Interesting enough through statistics I found that the majority of males had feminin type personalities and the majority of women had masculin personalities.

How do I differenciate the difference between mentalities? Male personalities have tendency to persue the infinite and hunt for knowledge. There's an aggressive component added to this perhaps due to testosterone levels being higher in males than females.

A female mentality is based on the idea that everyone should be guided for their own sake, that no ones feelings should be hurt, That individuals may not succeed to far or will embarass others or the idea that there's certain things that the cognition of man should not investigate.

In other words, I believe that a telepathy movement is plausible if there's the integration of the scientific truth, law and politics.

Marco

pec said...

"Male personalities have tendency to persue the infinite and hunt for knowledge."

"A female mentality is based on the idea that everyone should be guided for their own sake, that no ones feelings should be hurt,"

I hope you won't find this offensive, but you don't know what you're talking about. If men can have feminine personalities and women can have male personalities, then your whole statement is pure nonsense. It also happens to be rubbish and an insult to women in general. But that's not why I disagree with it -- I am not a feminist and I acknowledge there are some real differences between men and women. But the idea that men are more interested in hunting for knowledge while women are meek conformists is a towering pile of rubbish.

Some people are more conformist and conventional than others. But anyone with eyes and ears can look around and see that there are millions and millions of conventional conformist men. Most people are conformists, and we are all conformists to some degree or we can't live in society.

Lots of testosterone may make you more aggressive and competitive, but I very much doubt it makes you think more deeply or creatively. If anything, it may interfere with clear thinking.

You're just repeating some age-old myths, the kind of ideas that have stripped women of their confidence and self-respect. If you cannot change your views, please keep them to yourself.

And yes, I am a woman and no, I am not a conventional conformist.

Sandy said...

A female mentality is based on the idea that everyone should be guided for their own sake, that no ones feelings should be hurt

Pec, I found that statement pretty silly too. As a woman who has served in my country’s military, I’m sure I’ve caused hurt feelings on occasion. Not that I’m a mean person, but I’d rather see a soldier cry now than see him or her do something stupid that would cause that individual to be injured later on down the line.

FB said...

"If men can have feminine personalities and women can have male personalities, then your whole statement is pure nonsense."

I would have to see a complete paper describing the data collection and analysis before I called it nonsense.

It might very well be an alternate system of psychology that correctly describes the observed data. It might even be repeatable. If it is repeatable, I wouldn't call it nonsense.

However, if it's so offensively worded that 99% of the educated population CALLS it nonsense without reading it, no one will bother to repeat the experiments.

pec said...

"I would have to see a complete paper describing the data collection and analysis before I called it nonsense."

It's nonsense to describe a typical male personality and a typical female personality, and then say men can have female personalities and women can have male personalities. He was just describing a type of personality he likes and another type he doesn't like as much. And since, it appears, he is male, he labels the preferred type as male. Men have been doing this for ages. It is mere nonsense and yet another excuse to feel superior to someone.

We don't need data analysis to see that men and women differ, and that women are less physically aggressive. But stating, without any evidence at all, that "Male personalities have tendency to persue the infinite and hunt for knowledge" (implying that female personalities don't) is merely something the commenter dreamed up to make himself feel superior.

I do think, however, that our society has been becoming feminized and wimpified. But that is a different problem.

FB said...

Recall what Marco originally wrote: "Interesting enough through statistics I found that the majority of males had feminin type personalities and the majority of women had masculin personalities."

Nullius in verba! I refuse to believe that a statistical claim is sense or nonsense before I have actually seen the numbers!

Marco's original claim was that he had proved something with statistics, but he didn't give a link to his paper, or any calculations or data.

I won't denounce Marco's claim as nonsense until I have seen the exact statistics that Marco refers to but has not yet cited exactly.

He might have no citations beyond a "factoid" from a newspaper, or he might have a literature review, or he might have original research. Show me the numbers first, and then I'll try to make a reasoned argument about whether the statistics are correct.

Marco, if you have your calculations up on the web, please post a link.

They burn witches in some places ... I hope the statistics community doesn't burn people for talking about "nonsense"...

Patrick said...

Hi Dean, I thought I would extend an invitation to participate in my blog discussion on psi and your work:

http://tacoseasoning.blogspot.com/2009/07/to-burk.html

Enfant Terrible said...

Mr. Dean Radin,

One of the phenomen which has a deep replication in the Parapsychology 's field is the phenomen know as 'entangled minds' (as we can see by the references below). This is ideed the name of your last book.

01. DUANE, T. D. & BEHRENDT, T. Extrasensory electroencephalographic induction between identical twins. Science, v. 150, p. 367, 1965;

02. WALLACE, R. K. & UNDRITH, G. S. Intersubject EEG coherence: is consciousness a field? International Journal of Neuroscience, v. 16, p. 203-209, 1982

03. REBERT, C. S. & TURNER, A. EEG spectrum analysis techniques applied to the problem of psi phenomena. Behavioral Neuropsychiatry, v. 6, p. 18-24, 1974;

04. TARG. R. & PUTHOFF, H. Information transmission under conditions of sensory shielding. Nature, v. 251, p. 602-607, 1974.

05. GRINBERG-ZYLBERBAUM, J. & RAMOS, J. Patterns of interhemispheric correlation during human communication. International Journal of Neuroscience, v. 36, p. 41-53, 1987.

06. GRINBERG-ZYLBERBAUM, J.; DELAFLOR, M.; SANCHEZ, M. E. & GUEVARA, M. A. Human communication and the electrophysiological activity of the brain. Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine, v. 3, p. 25-43, 1993;

07. GRINBERG-ZYLBERBAUM, J.; DELAFLOR, M.; ATTIE, L. & GOSWAMI, L. The Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox in the brain: the transferred potential. Physics Essays, v. 7, p. 422-428, 1994;

08. RICHARDS, T. & KOZAK, L. Evidence of correlated functional MRI signals between distant human brains. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, v. 9, p. 122-128, 2003

09. WACKERMANN, J.; SEITER, C.; KEIBEL, H. & WALLACH, H. Correlations between brain electrical activities of two spatially separated human subjects. Neuroscience Letters, v. 336, p. 60-64, 2003.

10. STANDISH, L. J.; KOZAK, I.; JOHNSON, L. C. & RICHARDS, T. Electroencephalographic evidence of correlated event-related signals between the brains of spatially and sensory isolated human subjects. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, v. 10, p. 307-314, 2004;

11. RADIN, D. L Event-related EEG correlation between isolated human subjects. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, v. 10, p. 315-324, 2004.

12. STANDISH, L. J.; KOZAK, I.; JOHNSON, L. C. & RICHARDS, T. Replicable Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Evidence of Correlated Brain Signals Between Physically and Sensory Isolated Subjects The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Dec 2005, Vol. 11, No. 6: 955-963

But to prove this phenomen, the scientists in many of their experiments use a tool called fmri. Recently, scientists discover that this technology is not a trust one.

a) http://www.edvul.com/pdf/Vul_etal_2008inpress.pdf

b) http://www.edvul.com/pdf/vul-pps-reply.pdf

Does it mean that all the experiments which gave evidence to the phenomen of 'entangled minds' are not realiable? The experiments will have to restart from zero?

Best wishes.

Dean Radin said...

> Does it mean that all the experiments which gave evidence to the phenomen of 'entangled minds' are not realiable? The experiments will have to restart from zero?

No. Only two of the studies you've cited used fMRI, and they are simply repeating what has been observed with EEG designs.

thecrookedhalo said...

"Will we ever be able to set aside our collective fears and embrace both the joy and the uncertainties of exploring the unknown?"

Dean, since I've never commented on any of your previous posts, I just wanted to let you know that you are one of my intellectual heroes. Thank you very much for your contributions to science and, on a personal level, my own life. I am sure you have been a help to many more people than you know.

To respond to your question, I think that people will have to first accept that there is actually an "unknown" in order to investigate it. Fundamentalism of any variety first sets out to abolish any sense of ambiguity. The reigning forms of fundamentalism in our own culture -- scientism and Christian fundamentalism -- do not allow for the unknown. They both serve as metanarratives that seek to explain everything away. Hence, one first has to break the trance of certitude that believers in these camps are held spellbound under if they are to acknowledge "the unknown", let alone get them to investigate it with joy. A third, and perhaps larger group of people, are simply too weary from everyday life to take the unknown seriously.

I imagine that you and posters on this blog are familiar with the writings of David Fontana. I recently picked up a copy of his "Creative Meditation & Visualization." While reading that book it quickly occurred to me that Fontana has decidedly become a writer for those who have embraced the unknown. One of his earlier books, "Is There an Afterlife?" was a bit more reserved and impersonal and was the book that made me aware of his work in parapsychology. I enjoyed his meditation book since I've decided to embrace the rather numinous sounding "unknown" but I fear that such a departure from the reserved, impersonal, scholarly approach has made him something of a "woo maestro." He even goes so far to endorse the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn within the meditation book. That's OK with me, but I think this forfeits any protection from the skeptics and debunkers that seek to discredit his work.

What I'm trying to get at is that, as some Jungian analysts have pointed out, "the unknown" is the province of the "Trickster." Many notable occultists and others with purported psychic abilities share much in common with the Trickster archetype. On one hand, they demonstrate truly anomalous abilities and, on the other, engage in fraud and deceit. They win hearts seemingly just to break them. They are often amoral. These are difficult characters to get along with for long because they exasperate us. Ambiguity is difficult to take for long. It is highly frustrating. Who likes to be frustrated?

Balancing checkbooks, mowing lawns, dealing with a faltering economy, job loss, and other slings and arrows of outrageous fortune are enough for the bulk of us to handle. It's no wonder many people tune out or become angry when they are asked to acknowledge the unknown -- let alone to investigate it with joy.

Dean Radin said...

Thanks for your kind words.

I agree with much of your comment. The ambiguity I was referring to was more about the Trickster-like data we must deal with, rather than the ambiguities often associated with exceptional personalities.

The former presents an intellectual puzzle where we must struggle against premature explanatory collapse. The latter presents frustrations that I agree are, at best, unnecessary annoyances.

antiskeptic said...

Hi Dean, I hope you don't mind me posting off topic. I have been toying with the idea of making a silly web fighting game which involves various proponents of fortean claims beating the hell out of prominent skeptics in painful and gratuitously violent manners. I may never go through with making it into an actual game, but if I did would it piss you off if I used your name and likeness as one of the good guys in this game?

Dean Radin said...

Thanks for asking. Use of my name or image might imply that I was endorsing or otherwise involved in production of the game. I cannot deny that I am sometimes angered by gratuitous skepticism, but I'm not in favor of gratuitous violence in any context.

antiskeptic said...

I understand. As with many of these types of comedy games, it is not meant to be taken literally. (or seriously) Sort of like Mortal Kombat - except with skeptics versus believers. However, if even in light of that you still don't want to be a part of it then I won't make you one of the combatants.

Goonch said...

Hey Dean, recently I got around to listening to your most recent CoastToCoast interview which was great.

I really got the good vibe feelings that you're truly getting this material out there after you mentioned the out-of-country meeting.

The psyleron RNG is going to have to be my christmas present at the year's end.

BobH said...

If proponents of mainstream beliefs aren't killing people that hold contradictory views, they're controlling, repressing, and indoctrinating them.
It is so sad that in these 'enlightened times' we live in a world where, in some people's eyes, holding a different belief is still punishable by death.
Only recently people took to the streets, firing guns into the air and shouting death threats to a lady who had the audacity to name her teddy-bear after a prophet. What does this say about the mentality of the majority of people in the world? Doesn’t it worry you? Doesn’t it explain why there is so much anger, and fear and persecution? Why is it that people seem unable or unwilling to resist the mob mentality and think for themselves?
Millions of people have died defending their faith or have suffered at the hands of persecuting and intolerant religious zealots. Thousands continue to suffer today. Intolerance, as it exists in the world today, is the real ‘weapon of mass destruction’. It’s ironic that, historically, the most intolerant people are those who preach love and tolerance as virtues.

antiskeptic said...

I can't say that I entirely agree with you, BobH. I hate to admit it, because it makes me sound like a skeptic, but there are some ideas that we should be more intolerant of than others. The proponents of rape and pedophilia should be given a much harder time than the proponents of more mainstream ideas when trying to prove these beliefs, and we should certainly be intolerant of such things unless and until those proponents can meet their higher burden of proof by providing some pretty exceptional reasoning. Now I'll certainly agree that total closed-mindedness is not good in anything. There should always be, at least in theory, a way for the proponents of a belief to change my mind even about crazy-sounding or deeply offensive ideas like rape and pedophilia. I always try to keep at least a small but reasonable amount of open-mindedness about every statement that I hear. I try to never allow myself to snuff out possibilities entirely, as I do not think that it is intellectually honest to do so. If that type of absolute certainty is what you are railing against when you talk of "intolerance" than I am with you. However, insisting that proponents of certain beliefs have a higher burden to reach, and even structuring our society to make it harder for people who have such beliefs to act accordingly (or even to have such beliefs at all) is not always inappropriate.

FB said...

BobH:Only recently people took to the streets, firing guns into the air and shouting death threats to a lady who had the audacity to name her teddy-bear after a prophet. What does this say about the mentality of the majority of people in the world? Doesn’t it worry you? Doesn’t it explain why there is so much anger, and fear and persecution?

antiskeptic:I hate to admit it, because it makes me sound like a skeptic, but there are some ideas that we should be more intolerant of than others.

With apologies to Leibnitz and his famous "Let us calculate," I propose that it is safer to think in abstract terms than in concrete, sensory terms.

I advocate absolute freedom of expression for mathematical logic proofs. (I do not accept that a logic proof spray-painted on a church is primarily intended as a proof; I suspect it is primarily intended as vandalism. So for this discussion, assume logic proofs are written on one's own paper or published on one's own website.) I do not think anyone is going to incite a riot with a logic proof. I do not think anyone will yell "Fire" in a crowded theater by means of Boolean algebra. Mathematical logic proofs are IMHO humanity's pinnacle of rationality.

I advocate some humble restrictions on more graphic forms of communication. Very young children should not be enticed to watch hardcore pornography, IMHO. However, if the subject matter of pornography were to be abstracted away into a logic proof, the end result would not be identifiable as pornography.

I don't think it's the "ideas" we have to be selective about. I think we must be careful about our sensory imaginings. Be careful about movies. Be careful about advertisements. But abstract ideas seem safe to me. Even the abstract claim "There is no God" does not move me, because it is clearly a contention to be dealt with by logic. However, if someone were to make a misleading movie that encouraged people to live in an anti-spiritual way, I would regard such a movie as harmful propaganda.

FB said...

Dr. Radin, I hope you won't be offended by a little bit of light-hearted silliness:


Examining permutations of a sequence of letters denoted 12345:


Radin = 12345
Randi = 12534
Satan = 12345
Santa = 12534

Thus Radin is to Randi as Satan is to Santa. Satan makes us feel uncomfortable, but must be dealt with. Santa makes us feel comfortable, but can safely be ignored.

BobH said...

Antiskeptic,
If there are some ideas that we should be more intolerant of than others, who will be the judge? No matter what laws are drawn up, we are all intolerant of different things and that's the crux of the problem.
It goes without saying that in a civilised society there are some taboo areas. But punishing someone for rape isn't the same as persecuting someone because of their race, gender, or beliefs.
The latter is often a sort of "intolerance with extreme prejudice".
In the Holy Wars of the past, and the ones going on today, the non-believers are killed because they have different beliefs. But does anyone deserve to die in arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin especially when there is a very good chance that the angels don't exist, and even the nature of the pin itself is questionable?

Dean Radin said...

FB, that permutation is hilarious.

antiskeptic said...

Well, perhaps I should not have used the word "intolerant." I would prefer that we think of it as a spectrum - with less and more tolerance. I believe that the best reasoning that we have available to us at any given time should be the judge of which ideas that we are more or less tolerant. I do want to reiterate that absolute intolerance is not good and that all ideas should at least be given some serious thought (with the possibility of changing their positions on the issue) by the intellectuals of the society. (even the idea that absolute intolerance is okay) However, this is not the same thing as saying that everyone should be allowed to believe whatever they want at any given time, which I am not advocating.

anonymous said...

Dean Radin wrote:

"The murder of eleven elderly people in Kenya, for supposedly being witches, is a stark reminder of one reason why psi remains a taboo -- a deep seated fear of supernatural and paranormal forces."


In Europe what was called witchcraft was "part of the practice of women and men wise in the rural magic arts and healing based on arcane plant knowledge."


http://dailygrail.com/features/witches-brews


"The magical and medicinal plant lore of the rural “wise woman” (or man) in Anglo-Saxon, Medieval and Early Modern Europe may not occupy a period we can properly call prehistory, but we can say that it was outside history, in that it was a living knowledge largely overlooked or dismissed by the ruling classes and the sophisticates, or discouraged and repressed by the Church. The Church-orchestrated witch-persecutions of the late Middle Ages transformed what was in fact a quietly surviving country tradition into what was hysterically and neurotically seen as a satanic activity."



However in Africa witchcraft is slightly different:

http://www.modernghana.com/news/245491/1/girls-confession-stuns-worshippers.html


"Olivia had told her parents (the father and a step-mother) that she was forced to send her mother (now deceased) to a witches camp where she was slaughtered for a feast."


Western fear of psi may be rooted in efforts by the church to maintain control over people.

In Africa it might be due to real concerns about dangerous cults.

Dean Radin also wrote:

"Fear sustains the psi taboo even in first-world countries, partially because hysteria is just as easily inflamed in educated mobs as well as uneducated ones (witness our collective response to swine flu), but also because despite our common struggle towards rationality, there seems to be a natural human tendency to first condemn any sort of anomaly, and to ask questions later (if at all)."


Political/religious propaganda and dangerous cults have to take part of the blame for fear of psi - I don't think it is entirely due to innate human characteristics.

Celestial Elf said...

Great Post, I thought you might like my machinima animation about The Wise Woman, The Witch
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5luL_gNy-zE
Bright Blessings ~