Showing posts from 2006

25 Greatest Science Books of All Time

DISCOVER magazine (Vol. 27 No. 12 December 2006) has published a list of its editors' picks of the 25 greatest science books of all time. Nobel Laureate biologist Kary Mullis, who invented the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), provided an introduction to this article . Mullis listed Entangled Minds among his favorite science books, and he explained some of the reasons why in the Discover article. He continued with: "Books like Radin's doggedly pursue scientific evidence for ideas that have been widely, but unreasonably, discredited for decades, or even centuries. Fortunately, scientists (at least in the Western world) no longer get confined to quarters or excommunicated for their books. But when an author puts himself on the line by embracing an unfashionable idea, even though he is guaranteed to generate scorn or indifference, this should somehow be recognized." That was a nice thing to write. Thanks, Dr. Mullis.

Effects of distant intention on water crystals

Some people, when faced with claims like Dr. Emoto's "intention affects the formation of water cystals," immediately dismiss it as nonsense. Others uncritically accept the claim because it sounds nice. My first reaction is to try to replicate the claim to see it for myself. I conducted such a test with Dr. Emoto, where he and his staff were kept blind as to which bottles of water had been treated. The paper reporting the experiment has just come out. Here's the abstract: DOUBLE-BLIND TEST OF THE EFFECTS OF DISTANT INTENTION ON WATER CRYSTAL FORMATION The hypothesis that water “treated” with intention can affect ice crystals formed from that water was pilot tested under double-blind conditions. A group of approximately 2,000 people in Tokyo focused positive intentions towards water samples located inside an electromagnetically shielded room in California. That group was unaware of similar water samples set aside in a different location as controls. Ice crystals formed

Biased and blinkered mentality

In a recent article in Skeptical Inquirer magazine, physicist Stanley Jeffers (Department of Physics and Astronomy, York University) reviews the results of the PEAR (Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research) Laboratory research with random number generators (RNGs). His opinion is that PEAR's claims that intention influences randomness is not supported. He concludes: "Despite the best efforts of the PEAR group over a twenty-five-year period, their impact on mainstream science has been negligible. The PEAR group might argue that this is due to the biased and blinkered mentality of mainstream scientists. I would argue that it is due to the lack of compelling evidence." We are all entitled to our opinions. But when it comes to evaluating evidence, one would think it more than a mild oversight to fail to mention that literally hundreds of similar RNG experiments have been published by other researchers, and many of those studies were reportedly successful (and discussed recen

AAAS Symposium on Retrocausation

I gave a talk at a AAAS regional conference at the University of San Diego earlier this week; part of a symposium on retrocausation. About half the attendees were mainstream physicists hailing from the US, Europe and Israel. The linked newspaper item discusses it a bit.

Weird Science?

Snippets from a March 17, 2004 article by Ronald Bailey, entitled "Weird Science." My comments in blue. Original text in black . This article is typical of authors whose knowledge of this topic is limited to third party sources. I address these types of comments and assumptions in Entangled Minds . I won't repeat those discussions here, but I will briefly comment on a few points here. Still, a 2001 Gallup poll found that Americans continue to be credulous about the reality of psychic phenomena. About half of all Americans believe in psychic healing and extrasensory perception (ESP), and around a third believe in ghosts, telepathy, and clairvoyance. The implication is that only stupid, uneducated, credulous folk believe in such silly things. The unstated assumption predicts that the more educated one is, the less one should believe in psi. The problem is that surveys show that the relationship is significantly positive, and not negative. Skeptics don't like to talk

About the Google ads

I'm now using Google ads to help pay for the hosting fees for my site. The Google adsense program automatically searches words in the blog to decide what type of ads to display. Thus, if an ad appears for say, a psychic service, this does not mean I endorse it ! The ad is there because Google decided it matched this blog. If you don't like it, don't click on it.

Constructive criticism

From reviewer Julio C. S. Barros on (my comments in blue ): "However, I do think Radin was rather "weak" in other points. I did not like the way "consciousness" was discussed. Concepts and terminology regarding "consciousness" and "mind" seemed ill defined and sometimes confused with one another. This is very bad, because Radin's central thesis is that psi is our "experience" (Subjective perception? If not, what else?) of the entanglement of our minds with the universe and with other minds. So, what is a mind? What is consciousness, in his view? ..." This is a good point. By "mind" I usually mean self-reflective awareness, preconscious information processing, subliminal and superliminal perception, intention, attention, altered states, and so on. All of these. By "consciousness" I usually mean just self-reflective awareness. I realize that everyone has a different definition of these terms, a

Doesn't like the bent spoon

Review of Entangled Minds by "Glass hand" on My comments in blue . "This book is utter nonsense. Spoon bending? The author, Dean Radin, fell for spoon bending??? (see endnote 1 on page 331). Sorry, but given that, his credibility is zero or less. Just as bad, Radin can only offer lame excuses (page 290) for not pursuing some of the many prizes that are being offered for a valid, definitive demonstration of psi. (If the evidence is as strong as Radin claims, he should have already walked home with several of these prizes.)" It's always interesting to see what pushes each individual over the edge. For this fellow, it's bent spoons. The spoon in question can be seen here . The fact is, as I say in the cited footnote, that I bent this spoon. So I know that the bend did not occur by ordinary force. I have spoons of the same type and have had to work hard to bend the bowl with the assistance of two industrial strength pliers. And then the resulting ben

Entangled artists

Graphic artist Teka Luttrell sent me the following curious coincidence: "About 10 days ago ... around May 11th (2006) ... all members of IONS received your book and the intro DVD to "Down the Rabbit Hole" ...which largely was about Entangled Minds . I shared the DVD with a small meditation group, too, and we all thought that your research is very cool. "On the Saturday that followed -- May 13th -- I created a very unusual piece of art for a project I'm developing. (As shown, an iris with stars inside the pupil.) "Then, last Friday, I received the new Shift magazine from IONS. I instantly noticed that the central piece of art on the cover was very similar to the artwork that I had created 6 days earlier. Of course, the magazine cover was artistically developed a couple months before it was printed. But the point is that I developed my piece without any knowledge of the Shift cover ... and these two "seemingly" separate pieces came together ... they

A poignant psychic experience

A fascinating story from a reader who gave permission to use his real name. - - - - Dear Dr. Radin, I have had a psychic experience of my own which involves your book, which I think you will find interesting. My wife had been ill with cancer for about a year and was confined to bed. I had bought the book and left it on the living room table hoping to read it when I had the time. Freda died and in my grief I tried to contact her, simply by holding the belief that this was indeed possible and visualising her while asking questions. I started to get very relevant answers and I was very intrigued. I realised that the answers might be products of my imagination so I asked Freda to give me some proof that I really was in contact with her. After a while an inner voice said "Page 4". I replied "Page 4"of what?. The voice eventually came back "Entangled Minds". So (this was in the middle of the night) I got up and went downstairs to retrieve the book and turned to

Psychic/Spiritual Assistance

People often write or call me seeking advice in how to deal psychic or spiritual awakenings, or other transformative experiences. I'm not a counselor, so I cannot offer such advice. I recommend visiting the Center for Psychological & Spiritual Health for assistance. For those who are interested in learning more about their transformational experiences, I recommend a survey project that IONS is running at .

Response to a critique on Amazon reviews

A reviewer named "Short Dog" provides a two-star review of Entangled Minds . I'll intersperse my responses in blue; the review is in black: "I hate to rain on the party of previous reviewers who gave positive comments but I do not recommend this book. For starters, the book falls under the same spell that trapped a long list of other, prior books that attempted (unsuccesfully, mind you) to make a connection between quantum mechanics and parapsychology. Talk about moth to the flame. There's nothing really new here. The mistake they make is to use one mystery, quantum mechanics, to explain another, ie, psi." I address this in the book's Introduction: "Some may object that linking the elegance of quantum theory to the spookiness of psychic phenomena is illegitimate, that it’s a mistake to claim a connection exists simply because these two domains are permeated with uncanny effects. This objection is certainly understandable. Quantum theory is a mathema

Careers in psi research

I'm often asked about how one pursues a career in psi research, meaning how does one earn a living doing this sort of research. Here's how one person asked this question (I've changed a few minor details to maintain the writer's anonymity): - - - - - - - - "I'm writing for your advice and opinion regarding a career in this type of research. I've been casually interested in the study of consciousness and extrasensory research for many years, but would like to pursue this path full-time. I have a BS in engineering and have worked in technical research for 5 years. I was able to learn and contribute to my field, publish a few manuscripts in peer reviewed journals, etc. but have decided that I need to focus my energy on something that I have a sincere interest and passion for." "I'd also like to work with researchers such as yourself who are taking a scientific approach to consciousness, ESP, etc. I think the results of this research are importa

Synchronicities redux

Here's a nice synchronicity that happened to me recently. I'll preface this by saying that while I study these experiences for a living, my daily life is as mundane as anyone else's, and I tend not to be permeated by wildly improbable psychic events. (Except in the lab sometimes.) My wife and I tend to work on our PCs at night while watching TV. Most TV is so banal that it takes 1% of our attention to track a show. The other 99% is devoted to email and other PC-related work (and the dogs, and each other). Our PCs are setup in such a way that we can't see each other's screens. So I'm scanning through dozens of emails, and I see one from a colleague who says he's updating a book he's written on deja vu, and he's calling it Deja Vu Revisited . I'm thinking that's a clever title when suddenly my wife says out loud, "I'm having the strongest deja vu." I laugh in amusement at this beautifully recursive moment. A synchronicity about a

The Wall

Friends often ask, how is your new book doing? They're asking about sales, as though there's a magical courier that whispers hourly updates in my ear. I don't believe in magic of the supernatural type (psi is not that sort of magic), but we do have a modern version of a quasi-magical courier -- the sales ratings on On that front I see a nice trend developing. I requested that Entangled Minds be cross-listed as both a Science book and as a Religion-Spirituality book . The first category is appropriate because this book is ultimately about science. The second category is necessary because topics like psi are historically associated with the occult, so in existing book categories there's nowhere else to place it. Within these two categories, as of this posting the book is rated #2 among Science/General books, and #2 in Religion-Spirituality/Occult . I'm pleased to see this, because the wall between science and the occult is a vestige of old prejudices th

Psi experiences

I often receive emails from readers about their psi experiences. Here's one I received today from Paul H: - - - Let me relate some interesting things that have happened to me in my 46 years. On at least two occasions I had a dream of a plane crash, every last detail, airline, city, etc. Two days before the crash I told my friends at work (I work in aviation ...) about the details. Sure enough it happened exactly as I described it. Or when I was in the Air Force ..., I showed the guys a trick that freaked them out so badly I actually LOST friends. What I did was have myself and a friend sit facing each other with his left middle fingertip touching my right. Then I told him to shuffle a deck of cards. Then I told him to set it down and just think of the card. I got all 52 correct. It was NOT a trick, I could SEE the card in my mind like it was on a TV screen! Those guys never treated me the same. Or, I had premonitions all four times when my grandparents died. I told my wife ahead of


A sharp-eyed reader found a mistake in a figure caption in Entangled Minds . The caption for Figure 3-1 had the genders reversed. The caption should read: "Average responses to questions about belief in unusual experiences, for women (black squares) and men (white diamonds), with error bars indicating the likely range of the 'true' average value."

Library gremlin and Entangled Minds

I received an interesting email from a reader. I've heard many similar stories over the years about the "Library Angel" (also referred to as a gremlin, demon or fairy, depending on your prediliction). This Trickster-like gremlin causes books to fall out of shelves in front of you, or on top of you, apparently to force you to pay attention to something that you are seeking but keep overlooking. The reader writes: "You and I were introduced in a most unusual way today. I was in Barnes and Nobles today in San Diego. I was standing in front of the shelves of books in the new age section. I saw a couple of books fall from the shelf and in very quick automatic response I held my right hand out to catch them. "You can imagine my surprise when I realized there were no books falling. I was left with a feeling of where the heck are these books. I KNOW I saw it fall. "I studied this event for a few minutes trying to figure out what happened. I traced my arm movements

Entangled Minds is available

Entangled Minds is available now via online bookstores and can be ordered by brick and mortar stores. It will show up in Borders, Barnes & Noble etc. over the next month or so. I plan to use this blog to respond to questions that may arise by people who are reading the book, and to respond to valid critiques and questions that may arise in published reviews.

They can dish it out, but they can't take it

Kirkus Reviews has offered a review of a prerelease version of Entangled Minds . Overall it's not a bad review. But there are a few remarks I'd like to respond to. My responses are in blue text. "An attempt to enlist quantum mechanics to explain ESP phenomena. Radin (Institute of Noetic Sciences) begins by describing quantum entanglement, in which subatomic particles separated by large distances appear to exchange information about their physical states almost instantly. He then detours into an attack on ESP debunkers." The last sentence apparently refers to a chapter about who believes in psi, and why. It focuses on differences between what mainstream science believes vs. what the public believes. It has nothing to do with debunkers. When I see defensive phrases like "an attack on ESP debunkers," I know that the person writing regards him or herself as the attackee. "A history of psychic research follows (neglecting to mention that some of the pioneers

Junk Skepticism

In a March 14, 2006 essay in the New York Times science section, Dennis Overbye, the Deputy Science Editor at the Times, explains why he thinks the message about quantum observation effects, as portrayed in the movie, What the Bleep do we Know , is wrong. At one point in the essay he bolsters his point with the off-hand statement, "The parapsychologists were booted from the American Association for the Advancement of Science 30 years ago." Wrong. In 20 seconds of web searching Overbye could have discovered that the Parapsychological Association (PA) has been an affiliate of the American Association for the Advancement of Science since 1969, and it remains to this day a member society in good standing. I know because I've served as President of the PA for four terms, including this year, and I've been a member of the AAAS for over 20 years. You can verify the PA's status at the AAAS affiliates webpage . This is an example of what happens when something that "e

Confirmation bias

From a recent reader review of The Conscious Universe . This review provides a nice demonstration of the confirmation bias: If you believe that psi does not exist, but then you encounter evidence indicating that psi does exist, the confirmation bias will cause you to find reasons to reject the positive evidence, which in turn will make you more convinced -- and hence confirms -- that your original hypothesis was correct. Because this bias is rife throughout science, I discuss it and other biases in The Conscious Universe . Incidentally, I doubt that the reviewer read the book carefully, because I never, ever use the term PSI. The correct word is psi. The reviewer writes (excerpt): The main reason why I found this book unconvincing is that if PSI existed it would be easy to demonstrate. No meta-analysis of a huge number of studies is needed, one good experiment suffices. This argument might seem appealing, except for one very important problem: Human performance is highly

A Turkish translation

This is the cover of the Turkish translation of The Conscious Universe , published in 2005. Someone must have forgotten to inform me that this edition was out, as I discovered it by accident. I ran across the book jacket image while surfing, and thought it looked familiar. Then I looked more closely and saw that my name was on the cover!

New Down the Rabbit Hole poster

This is the new marquee poster for the Bleep movie, emphasizing that it's an extended director's cut, and not -- as some people apparently thought -- an entirely new movie.

Who should see "Down the Rabbit Hole"

Certain kinds of people shouldn't see the movie, What the Bleep: Down the Rabbit Hole . If you have no interest in questions like "Who am I," "What is consciousness," or "What is the nature of reality," then don't waste your time seeing this film. If you think meditation and yoga are New Age nonsense, then don't waste your money. If you are devoted to a traditional religious doctrine, then don't even think about seeing this film. If you are a scientist who believes that the current scientific picture of the universe is essentially complete, then avoid this film as it will make you angry. If you believe that psychic and mystical experiences are completely explanable as the delusions of the ignorant, don't waste your time. In short, if you are a devotee of orthodoxy, do not see this film . On the other hand, if you are interested in the big philosophical questions, practice meditation or yoga, are naturally intuitive, do not believe that

ESP for kids

Here's a children's book on ESP that I was a consultant for, published in January 2006. Click on the image to jump to it at Barnes and Noble.

What the bleep

I attended the San Francisco premier of Down the Rabbit Hole last night. The theater was at maximum capacity (about 400 people). The movie itself is long (2 hours 40 minutes) and is essentially an extended version of the original What the Bleep, with some very good new animation and nearly all new interviews. Those expecting an entirely new film will be disappointed, but if you're looking for a more in-depth version of the first film you'll be satisfied. For those who still can't get enough, a 5 hour DVD version is in the works. Realistically you're not going to learn quantum mechanics from watching this film, or for that matter the biochemistry of addiction, or the mystical foundations of religion, or the ontological implications of living in a holistic universe. But it's an entertaining introduction to very some complex and fascinating topics. After the show, Mark Vincente (the director), Fred Alan Wolf and I did a Q&A with the audience for about an hour. This

On skepticism

Open-minded skepticism is the foundation on which science rests. But just as there are pseudoscientists who profess ideas as though they are grounded in empiricism (but aren't), there are also pseudoskeptics who present critiques as though they are grounded in knowledge (and aren't). After 25 years of investigating psychic phenomena, much of it in university and industrial research settings, I've heard every criticism imaginable leveled at this topic, from rants about how telepathy supposedly violates unspecified "laws of physics," to scientists claiming that this is the work of the devil (I'm not kidding). Some critiques are valid, and as such they've been extremely valuable in helping to advance the research. But the majority of so-called skepticism is more accurately regarded as pseudoskepticism. Such critiques are outdated, illegitmate double-standards, distortions of actual research, or flat out wrong. Pseudoskepticism is easy to sustain because it&#

Still life

Here's a still from the new What the Bleep movie, subtitled "Down the Rabbit Hole." I was interviewed for what seemed like forever (probably about 4 hours). I don't recall the details of what I said, which will make watching the movie more interesting for me. So far, I've done about 30 interviews for television shows. This was my second movie-related appearance. The first was for a mini-feature on remote viewing, which can be found on the DVD of the movie Suspect Zero .

Fun with philosophy

I appear in the sequel to the highly successful independent film, "What the Bleep Do We Know," appearing in theaters soon. Who would have thought that a film that tackles difficult epistemological issues would be a hit? I suppose clever animation and a good sound track can make even fundamental questions in philosophy fun again.