Showing posts from 2008

The Will to Disbelieve

The Los Angeles Times carried an article recently by Chris Woolston, entitled "Holiday Hokum? The lowdown on 5 supposedly healthy gifts." One of those gifts was Intentional Chocolate , which readers of this blog know that I was involved in testing. That experiment employed a randomized, placebo-controlled double-blind protocol, which is the gold-standard in medical testing, to see whether chocolate exposed to the good intentions of advanced meditators would make a difference in the mood of people who ate that chocolate, as compared to the same chocolate not exposed to such intentions. The study, a pilot test involving 62 participants, showed that it did indeed make a statistically significant difference. I admit that I was surprised at the outcome of this test, but data are what they are. The whole purpose of conducting an experiment is to ask questions about how the world works, regardless of our prejudices. And the strength of empiricism is that data always trumps preconc

The Living Dead

Good article on NDEs in the (London) Times . The afterlife has long been an article of religious faith. And now scientists are finally putting the idea to the test.

How skeptics work

This is a wonderful talk by Rupert Sheldrake on the tactics, rhetoric, and in many cases, the hypocrisy, of prominent skeptics. Download the mp3 audio file here . Or a higher quality version here . Both are on Rupert Sheldrake's website.

Neuropsychology of Paranormal Experiences and Beliefs

Here is a special online issue of the journal Cortex (Volume 44, Issue 10, Pages 1291-1396, November-December 2008), on the neuropsychology of paranormal experiences and beliefs. The issue addresses the problem of why do apparently normal people, with normally functioning brains, persist in accepting paranormal (and thus, according to conventional neuroscience, delusional) beliefs. I think this line of research is interesting in that it is useful to understand the origins of cognitive biases and mistakes of attribution, including the neuropsychology of such origins. But the mechanistic worldview of classical physics and the brain-as-computer metaphor assumed by many neuroscientists makes it too easy to dismiss the possibility that some of those beliefs are based on experiences which are not mistaken or delusional, but rather, quite real.

Explore journal issue on the PEAR Lab

An issue of the Elsevier journal Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing , published in May 2007, was devoted to the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory's work. That entire issue is freely accessible and the articles therein can be downloaded from here .

New insights into the links between ESP and geomagnetic activity

By Adrian Ryan, in the Journal of Scientific Exploration , Fall 2008 A database of 343 free-response ESP trials conducted at centers in the U.K. was constructed in order to test the hypothesis that the relatively fast varying components of geomagnetic activity, geomagnetic pulsations, might be driving the reported associations between ESP, geomagnetic activity and local sidereal time. Local geomagnetic field-strength measurements taken at 1-second intervals during 99 trials, and at 5-second intervals during 244 trials, were converted by fast Fourier transform into power within five frequency bands. Two patterns were observed: ESP was found to succeed only during periods of enhanced pulsation activity within the 0.2-0.5 Hz band, but ESP effect was absent during the most disturbed periods of activity in the 0.025-0.1 Hz band. The pattern of ESP effect by local sidereal time was similar to that found by Spottiswoode (1997b), and this shape was found to be attributable to the pattern of ES

Alumni Leader

I was selected as one of two "alumni leaders" in the Fall 2008 issue of Resonance , an alumni magazine published by the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. I've posted that page here .

Telepathy on the brain

A new experiment looking for telepathy (or psi in general) in the brain, using an fMRI scanner, has been published in the International Journal of Yoga , by a group at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences , in Bangalore, India. I've posted a pdf copy of their study here . The article is entitled "Investigating paranormal phenomena: Functional brain imaging of telepathy," by Ganesan Venkatasubramanian and others. With this new study, there are now four published psi studies using fMRI technology. Three of the four found significant areas of brain specialization correlated with psi performance.

The Brain

I was interviewed for a program about the brain on The History Channel . It was shown last Monday and will be shown again Sunday, November 16 at 5:00 PM (Eastern Time Zone), Tuesday, November 25, 8:00 AM and Tuesday, November 25, 2:00 PM.

Esalen photo

This is a funny shot of me and actor John Cleese, at a research seminar on survival of consciousness held at Esalen Institute a few years ago. John is as funny in person as in the movies.

StarGate presentation

Here's a video presentation of a piece of the history of the psi research program funded by the US government, code named StarGate, as told by the first director of that effort. Of particular interest is how that program dealt with incessant skepticism within the classified community, even in the face of repeatable, demonstrable successes. I have a certain compassion for staunch skeptics today who find it impossible to believe that psi is real. I suspect that if I hadn't witnessed a portion of StarGate's history first hand, and if I hadn't worked with or known many of the individuals involved in that program, I'd be skeptical too.

Presentiment demos

I do an interview for a documentary film or TV show typically once or twice a month. Occasionally the director wants to film a demonstration of a test in the lab, and one of the options I offer is a presentiment experiment using a skin conductance level (SCL) measurement. About half the time the director or producer decides to do the test him or herself. I noticed some years ago when I started doing these demo experiments that they often resulted in pretty good results, which I found surprising because the set and setting of interviews are not nearly as well controlled as actual experiments. But starting this year, out of curiosity, I decided to keep a closer eye on the outcomes of those demos. The image here shows the composite results after running four presentiment demos this year, so far. This is not based on a selection of results -- this is all the data from the four demos. There was one demo per interview, and each demo consisted of 40 randomly selected images out of a pool of a

An encouraging trend

The National Science Foundation publishes a biannual report called Science and Engineering Indicators . It's a comprehensive review (588 pages in the 2008 report) of developments in the US relevant to science and engineering, including a section on the public understanding of science. I've been tracking this report for years to see how the NSF views what it regards as "pseudoscience." That word first appeared in its 2000 report. Exemplars of pseudoscience in that year's report included "yogic flying, therapeutic touch, astrology, fire walking, voodoo magical thinking, Uri Geller, placebo, alternative medicine, channeling, Carlos hoax, psychic hotlines and detectives, near death experiences, UFOs, the Bermuda Triangle, homeopathy, faith healing, and reincarnation." For a section of an NSF report supposedly concerned with the lack of critical thinking skills, this is one of the most peculiar, and as such inadvertently ironic, lists I can imagine. Surely it

Extended Mind video

Rupert Sheldrake giving a talk at Google.

Finally, a practical use for PK

What is a measurement?

Nick Herbert , who wrote the classic book on interpreting quantum reality (appropriately titled, Quantum Reality ), blogged an interesting commentary on the nature of quantum measurement, and why it remains as mysterious as ever.

Job - Clinical (Transpersonal) Psychology

Posted on behalf of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology invites applicants for full-time and half-time core faculty Clinical Psychology positions. We are seeking applicants with a broad range of research and clinical experience. A candidate with research and dissertation advising skills may also serve as half-time Associate Dissertation Director. The positions are open until filled. Applicants should have a PhD in Clinical Psychology, be licensed or license eligible in California, be qualified to teach clinical psychology and to supervise students, and serve on dissertation committees in the residential (on-campus) Clinical PhD Program. Experience with APA accreditation is a plus. We invite applications from persons early in careers as well as those with more academic experience. Candidates with one or more of the following are particularly encouraged to apply: knowledge of qualitative and quantitative research methods, whole perso

Magic mushrooms

Click here for a video of a "One Step Beyond" TV program from 1961 in which the host eats a magic mushroom and then conducts an ESP test.

What gorilla?

I've posted a commentary on Reality Sandwich .

Larry King Live show

I taped a Larry King Live show last November with J.Z. Knight, Candace Pert, Fred Alan Wolf, Will Arntz (producer of the What the Bleep movie) and Edgar Mitchell. I'm told it will air on CNN Saturday, August 2 at 6pm PT, 9pm PT & Midnight PT. My main recollection of the show is that the hair and makeup artists were amazing. Because of the high resolution of HD TV, some makeup artists are now using airbrushes. I guess if you use traditional pancake, the makeup is too obvious in hi-def. I also saw the singer Wayne Newton in the green room after the show. Other than that, it all went by in a blur and I have no idea what I said.

newsclip: Global Consciousness Project

Note that the comment that they're "just looking for patterns in random data" is absolutely not true. See the website for more details on the hypothesis-testing nature of this experiment.

Another elephant in the room

IONS' founder, Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, was recently in the news because he stated on a British radio show what he's been saying for years: That UFOs are real. For some reason, this time his comments caught the attention of the news media, including a New York Times blog. The Times comment was notable because it reflected the mainstream (in this context meaning something like "serious and sober") media's stance on this topic: UFOs are fodder for news of the weird, which includes anything outside a very thin slice of acceptable topics. There is plenty of evidence to support Mitchell's opinion that UFOs should be taken seriously. As with any complex topic, it takes some dedicated homework to find and digest the relevant literature. But once that is done, it is difficult to go away without the opinion that something interesting is going on. Whether "it" is ET I still find to be debatable, but that there is a genuine mystery afoot, is clear.

Compassionate Intention paper published

In EXPLORE July/August 2008, Vol. 4, No. 4 235 COMPASSIONATE INTENTION AS A THERAPEUTIC INTERVENTION BY PARTNERS OF CANCER PATIENTS: EFFECTS OF DISTANT INTENTION ON THE PATIENTS’ AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM Dean Radin, Jerome Stone, Ellen Levine, Shahram Eskandarnejad, Marilyn Schlitz, Leila Kozak, Dorothy Mandel and Gail Hayssen Objective: This double-blind study investigated the effects of intention on the autonomic nervous system of a human “sender” and distant “receiver” of those intentions, and it explored the roles that motivation and training might have in modulating these effects. Design: Skin conductance level was measured in each member of a couple, both of whom were asked to feel the presence of the other. While the receiving person relaxed in a distant shielded room for 30 minutes, the sending person directed intention toward the receiver during repeated 10-second epochs separated by random interepoch periods. Thirty-six couples participated in 38 test sessions. In 22 couples,

Post Modern Times

I was interviewed by Daniel Pinchbeck for Post Modern Times , a "series of short animated films presenting new ideas about global consciousness and techniques for social and ecological transformation." You can watch part of that interview in two videos at this link .

Two conferences

Last week I was in Boulder, attending first the annual ISSSEEM conference, and then the annual SSE conference. The former meeting was focused on subtle energies and energy medicine, the latter on scientific anomalies. There is some overlap in the interests of these two societies because no one knows exactly what subtle energies are, except that they are associated with living systems in some important way, they underlie concepts like chi, prana, and kundalini, and they're used in therapies like acupuncture, Therapeutic Touch, Reiki, and Johrei. Some people claim to feel these "energies" quite strongly, and as such they are anomalous since most instruments conventionally used to measure energies (like electromagnetic and electrostatic fields) don't detect anything. I suppose like many scientists, before I experienced a flow of subtle energies (for want of a better term) during a couple of bodywork sessions, I was skeptical that such reports were anything more than ha

Discovery Science program, June 15

On the Discovery Science TV channel on Sunday June 15 , at 9 PM eastern, 6 PM pacific in the US, a show with the peculiar title "Foolproof Equations for a Perfect Life" will be aired. This was originally aired as a BBC Horizon program on decision-making. It included a segment describing the presentiment experiment. I don't know whether that bit survived the editing for the US version, but if it does you'll see yours truly run a demo of a presentiment experiment.


This week I attended a symposium on " The Supernormal and the Superpower ," sponsored by the Esalen Institute's Center for Theory and Research. The group of about 20 religious scholars, comic book artists, writers, and historians, and scientists, discussed overlaps among mythology, religious lore, comic book superheroes, and experimental evidence that some of the superpowers (primarily psychic abilities) are real. Here's a link to a picture of the participants, from Christopher Knowles' (one of the participants) blog: The Secret Sun: Super-Normal Seminar Class Picture I'm interested in the ontological implications of real superpowers. Obviously the powers of comic superheroes are embellished for the sake of art, but I suspect that some of the powers (known as siddhis in yogi lore, charisms in Catholic lore, and attainments in Sufi lore) are based on genuine abilities not just in superheroes, but potentially in all of us. These photos show the Esalen grounds ju

Latest translation of Entangled Minds

Entangled Minds in Portuguese.

Behind and Beyond the Brain

Here are a few pictures from the Bial Foundation conference, Behind and Beyond the Brain , which took place during the last few days of March in Porto, Portugal. This picture is during a panel discussion held after the second day's main session, on the theme of emotions and psi. From the left it's me, Roger Nelson, Dick Bierman, Daryl Bem and Stefan Schmidt. Here I am on the final panel discussion at the end of the conference, with moderator Fernando Lopes da Silva, Ralph Adolphs and Paul Ekman. One thing that struck me during this conference, which was about two-thirds on the cognitive and social neurosciences and one-third on psi, was how similar the practice of today's neurosciences are to what I used to do when I was an electrical engineer (EE): reverse engineer black boxes. As an EE I would figure out how electronic devices worked by tracing circuits, injecting signals, studying the operation of components both in and out of the circuit, and in general see how change

Report from Portugal

I just spent a week in Porto, Portugal, at the 7th biannual symposium of the Bial Foundation. This unique Foundation is supporting perhaps 80% of the world's experimental psi research, and it also supports mainstream studies in psychophysiology and the neurosciences. The symposium brings together researchers from all these domains, and the three-day conference is unusually eclectic and interesting. This one was no different -- the theme was emotion, and there were some very interesting presentations about the neuroscience, cognitive and social science of emotions, as well as a half day of talks on psi and emotion. I discovered at the meeting that the Portuguese translation of Entangled Minds was published last year, so I bought a copy. I'll post more about this meeting, perhaps including some pictures and videos I took in Portugal, when I return home. (I'm writing this from Dulles airport near Washington DC, waiting for a flight.)

Money for nothing (sort of)

I meditate about an hour a day. Sometimes during a meditation I get a flash of information, seemingly out of the blue. Last Friday morning I got a flash that a large sum of money was going to appear in my bank account. This money would appear unexpectedly, anonymously, and it would be large enough to make me do a double-take. I figured this money for nothing scenario was a nice fantasy, but I didn't make much of it otherwise. Friday evening I checked my bank account (online), not expecting to see anything unusual, but I was still curious given my morning information flash. When I saw the amount in my checking account I practically fell off my chair. The modest amount I keep in the account had increased very substantially. Funds had been wired into my account a few minutes before I checked it, and because it was still a pending transaction there wasn't any information on who had sent it. So I did indeed anonymously and unexpectedly receive a very large sum of money. As it turns

Flat line memories

I haven't read Dr. Allan Hamilton's new book, The Scalpel and the Soul , yet, but based on hearing him in a radio interview, I am intrigued. For example, this short video clip describes a striking NDE case in one of his patients. If this clip doesn't work (it seems Firefox doesn't know what to do with this), try this page and scroll down to the link o n this line: " To watch a Video Interview..." I find it refreshing that Hamilton admits that all sorts of miraculous events (meaning extraordinary experiences) occur in hospitals all the time. But as with scientists' psi experiences, most physicians are afraid to talk about them.

Subvert the dominant paradigm

While surfing I ran across dedroidify and its associated blog . Such sites remind me of the exploratory spirit of Harvard psychiatrist John Mack . These two sites are good repositories of conspiracy and consciousness-related links, videos, and commentary. I am not a big fan of most conspiracy theories, in the sense that I don't actively worry about what the Illuminati or aliens or Opus Dei may be up to. But I do think it's important to question authority. However, I am not in favor of mindlessly overthrowing anything until the consequences of the new (paradigm, government, etc.) is better understood. Anarchy might be fun for 20 minutes, but after Shiva's passion subsides and you'd like to call out for pizza delivery, you better hope that you haven't accidentally torched the telephone system.

10 short clips

The Global Oneness Project site has posted 10 short video interviews that I did in January.

Birthday thoughts

I received lots of nice e-cards and notes today for my 14th birthday, some from friends I haven't seen in nearly 40 years, some from people I've only met on the Internet, and some from colleagues, local friends and family. Thank you all for your kind thoughts. To celebrate this rare day, my wife and I saw the movie Jumper. The plot revolved around the question, What if some people could teleport where ever they wished, and other people really hated them because they believed only God should be able to do that? The special effects and scenery were good, but the plot was disappointing because it didn't develop beyond adolescent power fantasies. The only thing the protagonist jumper could imagine doing with his miraculous powers was to rob banks and live like a playboy. And the only thing the people chasing the jumpers could imagine was to kill them. I kept hoping that one of the characters would mature and provide a deeper story line. That didn't happen, but I still thoug

SF Chronicle interview

I was interviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle last week. Here’s a link to the article . The comments after the article are entirely predictable.

The Paranormal and the Politics of Truth

To gain a better understanding of the psi controversy (and topics labeled paranormal in general) from a sociological point of view, I recommend this 2007 book by Jeremy Northcote. Until I became involved in psi research, I didn't pay much attention to the sociology, politics, philosophy or history of science. I just assumed that science was as we were taught: a rational, logical enterprise, independent of all those troubling human frailties so evident in sociopolitics. But of course the way science is actually practiced is nowhere near as pristine as we were led to believe. As I encountered the irrational side of science, this led me to wonder what in the world had gone wrong with the way that science is taught. And that led me to study the human factors involved in science as a social effort towards "truth-making." As a sociological study this is fascinating, so I'm grateful to Northcote for publishing this book (and likewise to Chris Carter for his book, Parapsychol

Dialog with Lynne McTaggart

Click here to access a recent conversation I had with Lynne McTaggart, author of the bestselling book, The Field, and the recent followup, The Intention Experiment . This dialog is hosted by the Institute of Noetic Sciences.

Three videos

This is a good video of a remote viewing trial, conducted some years ago by folks at the American Society for Psychical Research in New York City. Click here This is an interesting video of skeptic Michael Shermer testing Vedic astrologer Jeffrey Armstrong. Click here And here is one I recently participated in. Click here .

BBC Horizon program

Last year I was interviewed about presentiment for a BBC Horizon program on decision-making. You can see a brief clip of the show here .

Testing nonlocal observation as a source of intuitive knowledge

This paper has been published. You can find the abstract at by searching for "dean radin intuition." If you want a copy of the full paper send me an email (dean at noetic dot org).

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 p

The levitating pillow

I often receive stories of psychic experiences. Occasionally I ask the poster if I may repost the story here. (I change names and identifying places upon request, as I did in this post.) I enjoyed reading Entangled Minds , and I've been perusing older posts on your blog. I just read the "Entangled Artists" entry from May 22, 2006 - the coincidental similarity of Teka Luttrell's art and the Shift cover, and I want to share a similar story with you. When I was around 18 (many years ago!), I discovered the music and lyrics of an artist who became a mentor of sorts to me, in that his music opened my mind to expanded consciousness and spirituality - and the beginning of psi experiences for me, which I'm certain is no coincidence! This person was then (still is) very spiritual, very creative, and living on the West Coast at the time. While I was in college, one night before I went to bed, I'd been focusing very intently on this mentor, meditating to his music with h

Why I'm not a skeptic

No, not why I'm not skeptical , or critical-minded, because those traits are essential in science. Rather, I don't consider myself a "skeptic," as in a card-carrying member of a skeptical society, because most (not all) of the people I know who belong to such societies are loud, arrogant, angry, and cynical. I prefer to spend time with people who are quiet, humble, calm and hopeful. This came to mind after reading one of Steven Novella's blog s. In it he parrots skeptical mantras that are known to be wrong. I won't bother to address them here because they are addressed in detail in Entangled Minds. But I will respond to two comments. First: "There is no proposed mechanism for ESP that amounts to a reductionist model based upon established physics or biology." This is a peculiar complaint, because if we can only accept things in terms of what we already understand, then science is no longer an open system. It collapses into the worst sort of mindless