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 hallucination or wishful thinking. Afterwards, I had no doubt that whatever it is, it is not hallucinatory and nor is it subtle.

One highlight of the ISSSEEM meeting for me was physicist Brian Greene's talk on quantum mechanics and string theory. Nothing he said was new, but he is an entertaining speaker and presented some basic concepts with clever animations. I was hoping he would talk about the spookier aspects of quantum theory, but he skillfully avoided any hint that consciousness is inextricably wound into quantum mechanics. When a questioner from the audience asked about the possible role of intention in quantum theory, to my surprise he denied any role at all. When I gave a presentation the next day at the same conference, I gently corrected his mistake.

I thought the highlight of the SSE meeting was a presentation by Paul Hellyer, former Canadian Minister of Defence. He stated in no uncertain terms that not only are UFOs real, physical craft, but that there are aliens among us. Other speakers, including Col. John Alexander, agreed that the preponderence of the evidence for UFOs is now overwhelming, but he questioned Hellyer's assertion about aliens.

Over the years I've read a fair bit about UFOs, and I've listened to credible people saying incredible things. I've been most influenced by speaking to Edgar Mitchell, Jacques Vallee, and John Alexander, and reading Richard Dolan's works. While I haven't seen a UFO myself, I am persuaded by these researchers that UFOs are physical things in the sky (and sometimes in the ocean), they respond to radar like real physical objects, they have been observed close-up by experienced pilots, sometimes by hundreds to thousands of witnesses on the ground, and they occasionally leave physical traces on the ground. And yet, they seem to be associated with consciousness in some ill-defined way, and at times their behavior suggests that they are not entirely physical.

All this presents a significant challenge to the everyday world portrayed by the nightly TV news, which rarely mentions UFOs, and when it does it's usually just ridiculed. As a result, the topic is very rarely discussed in scientific forums, which is a pity. Just as psi offers a challenge to prevailing theories about the mind-matter and mind-brain relationships, UFOs challenge our idea about what sort of reality we think we're living in.


anonymous said…

"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 hallucination or wishful thinking. Afterwards, I had no doubt that whatever it is, it is not hallucinatory and nor is it subtle."

I was the same way until I experienced it too. I took classes at a spiritualist church and learned to give healing and also recieved healings in class. I've done a lot different types of meditation and relaxation exercises and healing is not like anything else. Anyone can experience this for themselves there is a very simple technique described on my web site:

It may take a few sessions for the healer to notice the energy flow. You may feel the energy flow during self healing or distant healing even if you don't have someone present to work with. Both the healer and the recipient can often feel the "energy". When I've felt changing intensity in the flow during healing the recipient afterwards commented that they felt the same variation. I've had recipients of distant healing who didn't know I was sending them healing at that particular time tell me they felt something. (This might be one way to verify the phenomena in a lab).

One of the sensations that is often felt is heat. It is not necessarily much higher than body temperature, but more like if you were shining infrared radiation and increased the temperature not by increasing the frequency (changing the "color") of the light but by making the light brighter (increasing the intensity). I'm not saying that is literally true but just how it seems to me. It may not even be heat but some sort of sensation like stinging which is percieved as heat. This effect is what can cause some over the counter liniments to feel hot when they are applied to sore muscles.

I don't think that kundalini energy fits into this pattern. Based on what other people report of the symptoms of kundalini energy, similar experiences I have had with kundalini, and my experiences with healing, I don't believe that kundalini is the same. Kundalini often involves muscle twitching and strong emotional flows in the practitioner. This is nothing like healing. My experiences with kundalini lead me to believe it has something to do with releasing stored stress from the muscles and nervous system. It is very closely tied to the mechanisms by which diet and nutrition affect moods and emtions because diet can have a huge impact on the amount of kundalini that one feels during meditation.

Regarding UFO's... Before I've had a chance to investigate a controversy I tend to side against those demostrating symptoms of cognitive dissonance since that phenomena correlates strongly with self deception.
Unknown said…
Wihtout wishing to be disparaging towards Brian Greene, there might be something ofa political reason. String theory is being very heavily criticised (especially by the ubiquitously grumpy Lawrence Krauss who's nonsensical objections to Hameroff's work leave me deeply unimpressed) and perhaps even leaning towards anything related to psi might provide the Kraussians with another stick to beat the Stringers with.

Was he present at your lecture, Dean? And have you two chatted before or since?
Dean Radin said…
... perhaps even leaning towards anything related to psi might provide the Kraussians with another stick to beat the Stringers with.

Undoubtedly true. It's wise to not pour fuel on the fire.

Greene wasn't at my lecture. I think he left immediately after signing some books. I haven't had the opportunity to speak with him directly.
Zetetic_chick said…
I think some UFOs area real, in the sense of being physical objects. I think it's out of question.

The discussion is about the nature and cause of UFOs. Are they space craft of aliens? Are they "projections of our mind"? Are they conventional objetcs like airplains?.

My opinion is that UFOs phenonenon is multi-causal: there is not one hypothesis alone that explain that phenonenon.

I think some UFOs "could be" of extraterrestial origin, but I'm not sure.

A website dealing with different types of evidence for UFOs phenomenon is:

On subtle energies, I once had an interesting experience: one "bio-energy" expert moved me from behind without touch me (it was like a soft push and pull). I felt as dismayed and lacking equilibrium.

I couldn't explain that experience. And I don't have explanaition yet.

I tend to believe that subtly energies exist, but it's very elusive and hard to detect it with normal scientific instruments.

Also, I've know "alternative medicine" physicians who, using "subtle energy", treats patients with terminal diseases.

As far I've observed, some of the patients cure (inexplicably, for official medicine) and others don't. But in the case of healings, it have been a complete healing and recovery (for surprise of conventional physicians, some of which have said "it's a miracle").

This anedoctal evidence (but supported by radiographs, and clinical recovery, and the surprise of conventional doctors) makes me think that it's real. It type of energy seems to exists, and some people seems to know methods (if imperfect and fallible) to manipulate it.

There is a russiam reseracher and physicist named Kostantive Korotov who developed a technique called GDV. It suppossedly permits to detect subtle energy and human bio-energetic field (it's like Kirlian camera, but more specific and sophisticated). The GDV have been accepted by Russian Ministry of Health as a Medical technology.

Hear an interview with him in youtube:

More info:
Chuck said…
It seems that Superconducting Quantum Interference Device (SQUID) may be useful in detecting 'subtle energy' though the technique seems to be subject to a lot of unexplained 'noise'. Are there any experienced researchers using SQUID to study subtle energy? A controversial 'torsion field' theory has been used to explain some of the controversial phenomena. Is there any good evidence supporting the torsion field theory so far?
anonymous said…
Is there a conference where remote viewers, psychics, mediums, parapsychologists and psychical researchers all get together and exchange ideas?

I was reading the military remote viewing manual (which is avialable at various places on the internet) and noticed they have a lot of practical knowledge, for example how to eliminate inadvertent telepathy from interfering with the remote viewing. This might be of interest to mediums.

I've also spent a good amount of time at spiritualist churches hearing mediumship demonstrations and also taking mediumship classes myself. Mediums have their own way of training and their own practical knowledge which might be of interest to remote viewers.

I think it would be interesting and illuminating to all if mediums and remote viewers cross trained.

It might also be useful for parapsychologists to be involved in conversations among remote viewers and mediums because it might help them to better understand the subjective experience of being psychic which might help them to design experiments to get a larger effect size.
Dean Radin said…
What you've described would be similar to the conferences of the International Review Viewing Association. There are (or were, given the sorry state of the economy) a half dozen conferences a year by different groups on various aspects of psi phenomena, ranging from practice, to applications, to science. In style, they cover the spectrum from psychic fair to academic seminar.
Chuck said…
It seems that International Remote Viewing Association is not posting any new conferences (the most recent was in 2006).
Dean Radin said…
They'll probably run a conference this or next year, but I imagine that like everything else these days, whether and when it takes place will depend on the state of the economy.

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