Wednesday, April 19, 2006

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.

Monday, April 10, 2006

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 later admitted faking their results)."

This is a cheap shot. I could just as easily say that the reviewer neglects to mention that the history of psychical research also includes Nobel Laureates and the surprising origins of modern scientific methods. Yes, there are indeed a few cases of known or suspected faking that took place a century ago, and a few cases in the 20th century. But the fact is that occasional cases of fraud occur in all areas of science, including several notorious cases recently in physics and medicine.

"Radin then presents a summary of ESP experiments he feels meet the strictest standards of repeatability, careful design and high reliability. The experiments include attempts to send images to dreaming subjects, to influence the roll of dice and to predict future events; Radin describes the experiments and gives detailed summaries of the results. This is the most impressive section of the book; while some results can undoubtedly be explained away, many are not easy to dismiss. Radin then steps back to examine the theoretical basis for ESP, granting that the evident factuality of certain results does not justify the assumption that all psychic phenomena are therefore true. A brief history of physics leads up to Bell's theorem, a 1964 proof that quantum paradoxes cannot be explained by any "higher logic," as Einstein had long hoped. Here, Radin pins his hopes for the eventual vindication of ESP: If distant objects are related by quantum effects, then psychics may be tapping into the quantum realm to gain their insights. A final chapter reiterates the claim that ESP has been proven to a degree of certainty that no fair-minded person can deny; attempts to refute the skeptics; and predicts that, in the future, ESP will be the subject of university/scientific studies. A good summary of current ESP research, though the writer's defensiveness detracts from his core of thought-provoking data. Take it with several grains of salt."

This reviewer is disturbed that I take skeptics to task. The "defensiveness" comment refers to a section in which I discuss skeptical myths about parapsychology. These are false or misleading statements made so often that they take on an aura of truth through sheer repetition. Such statements are bunk and deserve to be forcefully debunked. Skeptics can dish out criticism, but many can't stomach it in return.