Friday, November 13, 2009

Rupert Sheldrake: Telephone Telepathy

Rupert's genius is developing simple, scientifically sound ways of demonstrating psi phenomena. Telephone telepathy is one of my favorites, and this video is a great way of showing how the test works, and a glimpse at the results.

ESP Trainer by Russell Targ

See this page for information about Russell Targ’s ESP Trainer app for the iPhone.

As it says on Russell’s webpage,

In a year long NASA program with 145 subjects (under Contract 953653 NAS7-100) many were able to significantly improve their scores. Four of the subjects improved their scores at the hundred-to-one level or better. This approach has been used with surprising success on Wall Street. But of course, past results are no guarantee of future performance.

Because you are learning a new skill, slower is better than faster.

If you find yourself frequently scoring 12 or more, write to the developer: Contact Russell Targ

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Dynamic entanglement in living systems

As I discussed in Entangled Minds:

From the November 3, 2009 issue of Scientific American

Wouldn’t it be nice to be an electron? Then you, too, could take advantage of the marvels of quantum mechanics, such as being in two places at once—very handy for juggling the competing demands of modern life. Alas, physicists have long spoiled the fantasy by saying that quantum mechanics applies only to microscopic things.

Yet that is a myth. In the modern view that has gained traction in the past decade, you don’t see quantum effects in everyday life not because you are big, per se, but because those effects are camouflaged by their own sheer complexity. They are there if you know how to look, and physicists have been realizing that they show up in the macroscopic world more than they thought. “The standard arguments may be too pessimistic as to the survival of quantum effects,” says Nobel laureate physicist Anthony Leggett of the University of Illinois.


This work suggests that, contrary to conventional wisdom, entanglement can persist in large, warm systems—including living organisms. “This opens the door to the possibility that entanglement could play a role in, or be a resource for, biological systems,” says Mohan Sarovar of the University of California, Berkeley, who recently found that entanglement may aid photosynthesis [see “Chlorophyll Power,” by Michael Moyer; Scientific American, September 2009].

I predict, based on this trend, that eventually a mainstream neuroscience group will seriously test whether the brains, and then the minds, of identical twins or emotionally bonded couples, are entangled. And they'll find there is such evidence. And then they'll be hailed for discovering telepathy, for the first time. Or, even better (as my colleague Damien Broderick suggests) they'll be hailed for discovering a completely unexpected phenomenon.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Big Bang Theory

This clip from the TV show, The Big Bang Theory, could be a documentary of my life, although as an empiricist I spend somewhat more time collecting and analyzing data, and then staring at computers, rather than staring at equations on whiteboards. But I can easily stare at an analysis for a few days too, so this scene isn't all that far off.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

The Noetic Universe

This is the cover of a reprint of The Conscious Universe, to be published in the UK soon. I wrote a new Preface for this book, which is aimed to ride the wave of interest in noetic science as a result of Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol.

Publishers often look for books that accommodate the public's request for more information on certain topics, and that's what happened here. I approved the publisher's recommendation for the revised title and new book jacket (which I like much more than the original jacket with the silly floating spoon!).

Friday, October 02, 2009

Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness

This is an excellent video talk on quantum mechanics and consciousness, by astrophysicist Bernard Haisch, given at the Society for Scientific Exploration meeting in July 2009 .

Mind modulated randomness?

Exploratory Evidence for Correlations Between Entrained Mental Coherence and Random Physical Systems

Journal of Scientific Exploration , Vol 23 (3), 2009

Institute of Noetic Sciences

The Monroe Institute

Abstract - An experiment tested whether mental coherence entrained in groups would affect sequences of data generated by truly random number generators (RNGs) in the vicinity of those groups. Coherence was entrained by having groups listen to a prescribed series of binaural-beat rhythms during a 6-day workshop. Two RNGs based on electronic noise and one on radioactive decay latencies were located in the building where the workshops took place. Random data were continually collected from these RNGs during 14 workshops. As controls, the same RNGs generated data in the same locations and times but during 8 weeks when no workshops took place. Other RNGs in two distant locations were run as additional controls.

An exploratory hypothesis predicted that fluctuations in entrained mental coherence associated with the workshop activities would modulate the random data recorded during the workshops. This was predicted to result in positive correlations between random data streams collected from one workshop to the next. Results showed that during the workshops the overall correlation was positive, as predicted (p = .008); during control periods the same RNGs produced chance results (p = .74). Random data generated in distant locations also produced results consistent with chance."

Overall, this study involved collection and analysis of 143 billion random bits from different kinds of random number generators.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Lost Symbol, found

Dan Brown's (author of The DaVinci Code) new book, The Lost Symbol, was published yesterday. It immediately leapt to the top of the bestselling charts and will undoubtedly stay there a while.

Unbeknownst to us, or to practically anyone else because of the tight embargo on the plot, the heroine Katherine Solomon in the book is a "noetic scientist," and the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) is cited along with a fair bit of that character's view of noetic science. The fictional Katherine appears to be a composite of several real-life noetic scientists.

I am Senior Scientist at the actual Institute of Noetic Sciences. We've added a few pages to the IONS web site to provide more information about what noetic science actually is, along with our current research portfolio, some of our journal publications, and audio and video interviews. You can find that information by going to our homepage and clicking on the "In the spotlight" image.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Skeptic agrees that remote viewing is proven

Excerpt from a January 2008 item in the UK's The Daily Mail newspaper:

In 1995, the US Congress asked two independent scientists to assess whether the $20 million that the government had spent on psychic research had produced anything of value. And the conclusions proved to be somewhat unexpected.

Professor Jessica Utts, a statistician from the University of California, discovered that remote viewers were correct 34 per cent of the time, a figure way beyond what chance guessing would allow.

She says: "Using the standards applied to any other area of science, you have to conclude that certain psychic phenomena, such as remote viewing, have been well established.

"The results are not due to chance or flaws in the experiments."

Of course, this doesn't wash with sceptical scientists.

Professor Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire, refuses to believe in remote viewing.

He says: "I agree that by the standards of any other area of science that remote viewing is proven, but begs the question: do we need higher standards of evidence when we study the paranormal? I think we do.

"If I said that there is a red car outside my house, you would probably believe me.

"But if I said that a UFO had just landed, you'd probably want a lot more evidence.

"Because remote viewing is such an outlandish claim that will revolutionise the world, we need overwhelming evidence before we draw any conclusions. Right now we don't have that evidence."

Thus, a prominent skeptic agrees that (1) the study of remote viewing is an area of science, which should thoroughly obviate the skeptical epithet of "pseudoscience" once and for all. And (2) that when judged against prevailing scientific standards for evaluating evidence, he agrees that remote viewing is proven. The follow-on argument that this phenomenon is so unusual that it requires more evidence refers not to evidence per se, or even to scientific methods or practice, but to assumptions about the fabric of reality.

I agree that remote viewing would be difficult to explain using 17th century ontology, which from today's perspective would be a naive, classical physics view of reality. But I suspect it will be explained through 21st century expansions of those assumptions.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The geomagnetic field and the stock market

Because I've written about a psi-GMF link, a reader sent me this a pointer to this interesting paper from Anna Krivelyova and Cesare Robotti of the Federal Reserve Board of Atlanta:

Playing the Field: Geomagnetic Storms and the Stock Market

Explaining movements in daily stock prices is one of the most difficult tasks in modern finance. This paper contributes to the existing literature by documenting the impact of geomagnetic storms on daily stock market returns. A large body of psychological research has shown that geomagnetic storms have a profound effect on people’s moods, and, in turn, people’s moods have been found to be related to human behavior, judgments and decisions about risk. An important finding of this literature is that people often attribute their feelings and emotions to the wrong source, leading to incorrect judgments. Specifically, people affected by geomagnetic storms may be more inclined to sell stocks on stormy days because they incorrectly attribute their bad mood to negative economic prospects rather than bad environmental conditions. Misattribution of mood and pessimistic choices can translate into a relatively higher demand for riskless assets, causing the price of risky assets to fall or to rise less quickly than otherwise.

The authors find strong empirical support in favor of a geomagnetic-storm effect in stock returns after controlling for market seasonals and other environmental and behavioral factors. Unusually high levels of geomagnetic activity have a negative, statistically and economically significant effect on the following week’s stock returns for all U.S. stock market indices. Finally, this paper provides evidence of substantially higher returns around the world during periods of quiet geomagnetic activity.

Download the paper:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Something unknown

This is a trailer for a new movie on psi. I'm one of the people interviewed. It has a good clip showing the eyetracking presentiment study that I blogged about earlier.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Intuition Through Time: What Does the Seer See?

My latest presentiment study, published in Explore, coauthored with Ana Borges.

Title: Intuition Through Time: What Does the Seer See?

A great deal of human activity is involved in anticipating the future, from predicting the next influenza strain to the expectations that underlie the placebo effect. Most models of anticipation take for granted that events unfold in a unidirectional flow of time, from past to future. Two experiments were conducted to test this assumption.


Pupillary dilation, spontaneous blinking, and eye movements were tracked before, during, and after participants viewed photographs with varying degrees of emotional affect. Photos were selected uniformly at random with replacement. Experiment one used 592 photos from the International Affective Picture System; experiment two used a custom-designed pool of 500 photos. Eye data before exposure to the photos were compared by using nonparametric techniques.

Outcome Measures

Eye data were predicted to show larger anticipatory responses before randomly selected emotional photos than before calm photos, under conditions that excluded sensory cues, statistical cues, and other conventional means of inferring the future.


Data contributed by 74 unselected volunteers in two experiments showed that: (a) pupillary dilation and spontaneous blinking were found to increase more before emotional versus calm photos (combined P = .00009), (b) horizontal eye movements indicated a brain hemisphere asymmetry before viewing photos, appropriate to both the emotionality (P = .05) and the valence of the future images (P = .01), (c) participants selected for independently obtaining significant differential effects in pupillary dilation showed positive correlations between their eye movements before versus during exposure to randomly selected photos (P = .002), and (d) a possible “transtemporal interference” effect was observed when the probability of observing future images was varied (P = .05 [two-tailed]). Gender splits on these tests showed that overall females tended to perform better than males.

These studies, which replicate conceptually* similar experiments, suggest that sometimes seers do see the future. This implies that developing comprehensive models of anticipatory behavior, from understanding the nature of intuition to the placebo effect, may require consideration of transtemporal and teleological factors.

* The paper has the word "conceptual," which is a typo.

Websites of interest

Here's a few interesting websites I've run across.

Stacy Horn's blog. Stacy is author of Unbelievable, an excellent book about the J B Rhine era.

Winston Wu's "debunking skeptics" site, SCEPCOP. In the spirit of the Skeptical Investigations website.

Interchange Laboratories, Inc. is developing a mind-machine interface technology.

Mark Zilberman's Intuition Tester and especially his "Artificial Intuition Device."

UC Irvine's Don Hoffman's "User interface theory of perception" and other papers and materials. Prof. Hoffman gave a very interesting lecture at the recent Parapsychological Association conference held at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Survival of consciousness

An excellent resource (articles, course handouts, and powerpoint slides) on survival of consciousness after bodily death, from Dr. Michael Sudduth, can be found here.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Combat intuition

Here's an interesting article in the New York Times, entitled "In Battle, Hunches Prove to Be Valuable." The theme is how the neurosciences are beginning to take soldiers' intuitions seriously, and for very pragmatic reasons: "Everyone has hunches — about friends’ motives, about the stock market, about when to fold a hand of poker and when to hold it. But United States troops are now at the center of a large effort to understand how it is that in a life-or-death situation, some people’s brains can sense danger and act on it well before others’ do."

Learning why some soldiers survive in combat better than others is a growing priority in the Department of Defense, and so research funds are beginning to flow.

The cited article reads like an introduction to research I've been engaged in for about 15 years. Except for one difference. Conventional paradigms assume that these intuitions are entirely due to subconscious processing, forgotten knowledge, implicit learning, etc. These are the usual information-processing explanations for intuition, and some of those explanations are undoubtedly valid.

I've been looking at a more radical possibility -- that some of the truly astounding intuitions reflect our mind's ability to transcend everyday temporal boundaries, and to perceive future events directly.
I call this ability "presentiment," an unconscious, physiological reaction to events that are about to unfold. Specifically, in lab studies I am interested in events that cannot be inferred, outguessed, or anticipated, and where there are no sensory cues to provide hints about the future. The physiological measures I and my colleagues have used include skin conductance, peripheral blood flow, heart rate, EEG, and -- as illustrated in the photo above -- eye movement, blinking, and pupillary dilation.

This line of experiments has been successfully replicated by a growing number of independent investigators, and of the 20 or so studies I'm aware of, nearly all have shown effects in the predicted direction. About half of those studies report statistically significant outcomes.

The most common critique of these studies is that a form of the gambler's fallacy might explain the results that we see. This is because these studies involve sequences of repeated trials, some randomly containing calm or control trials, and some containing emotional or stimulus trials. After a few calm trials in a row, most people will start to worry that an emotional trial might appear next, and this rising anxiety might be mimicking, or as the critique suggests, might be what I've called presentiment. My colleagues and I are of course aware of this possibility, so we have looked for evidence of this sort of rising anxiety in the physiological data. So far, none of us have found any indication that such an explanation is viable, so the "presentiment effect" still stands.

My current work is focusing on understanding presentiment in the brain. We're studying how patterns of electrical brain activity are influenced by different types of future events, and how different forms of attention training modulate presentiment effects.

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.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I remember

Ah, the righteous arrogance of youth. I remember what it was like to feel intellectually superior to my college professors, many of whom seemed to be dullards who understood nothing. I grew out of that phase when I started to apply genuine skepticism, not just to others' beliefs, but to my own.

Here is a good example of a young person who fits the profile of adolescent certainty (some people never grow out of this stage). Once a Christian, she lost her faith, followed by a commonly observed flip-flop -- she became a fervent atheist.

Atheists, especially young ones in the midst of existential crisis, do not yet appreciate that their strong stance against religious faith is just faith of another color (i.e., scientism). They are also unable to distinguish between beliefs based on empirically testable ideas vs. beliefs based on faith. And like most true believers in scientism, they become very concerned that one might conduct experiments where the underlying mechanisms are not yet understood. I wish I could say that most students grow out of an over-reliance on the certainty of prevailing theories, but as I mentioned in my previous post, unfortunately many don't.

Her angst centered on an experiment studying precognition. Impossible! Violates natural law! Must be pseudoscience! With that attitude, any evidence offered, however obtained, can only be fraud, or worse.

Of course precognition is not prohibited by physics. The laws of classical and quantum mechanics are time symmetric, and there are many serious articles (this link has just a few examples) available on the topic of retrocausation, which is far more interesting and complicated than a superficial scan might suggest.

Besides my own books (The Conscious Universe is finally in paperback!), I recommend Larry Dossey's new book to get a feel for the art and science of precognition.

But doing one's homework can be so taxing....

I remember the sanctimonious pride that accompanies feelings of certainty, and I'm glad I outgrew it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

$2.5 billion spent, no alternative cures found

"Big, government-funded studies show most work no better than placebos," so say the headlines of an MSNBC article, where the $2.5 billion refers to funding over a 10 year period by the NIH's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

No alternative cures says the headline, but the body of the report mentions success with ginger capsules, acupuncture, yoga, massage, meditation, other relaxation methods ...

So what doesn't work? A few herbal preparations. The same could be said for dozens of pharmaceuticals. What else?

"... the government also is funding studies of purported energy fields, distance healing and other approaches that have little if any biological plausibility or scientific evidence."

I've said this before, but I guess it deserves repeating: Should existing scientific models and theories, all of which are tentative, determine whether basic research should be conducted on phenomena reported throughout the ages, and for which there is indeed valid scientific evidence, if you bother to look for it?

The answer has to be yes, because otherwise science comes to a screeching halt. By implicitly accepting a quasi-religious faith that we already understand everything worth knowing, science dies a slow death.

I am repeatedly astonished at how arrogant and dangerously conservative some scientists are (and how too many science journalists are so willing to parrot this nonsense. Whatever happened to the vaunted skepticism that journalists are supposed to cultivate?).

Why is this dangerously conservative? Because the same article doesn't mention that over the same 10 year period perhaps a trillion dollars have been spent on developing conventional treatments for cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, etc., and mostly what the average person sees as the result of this enormous investment of our tax dollars is skyrocketing health costs.

This is not to deny that medical progress is being made. Of course it is. Excellent progress. But the point is it takes trillions of dollars to accomplish that.

In the meantime, are there alternative methods that might also be useful, and that often have little to no side effects, and that are usually quite inexpensive? Yes, and fortunately the NIH is providing piddling grants to study them (compared to conventional medicine CAM studies are receiving chump change). But this article seems to want us to drop all such studies:

"Taxpayers are bankrolling studies of whether pressing various spots on your head can help with weight loss, whether brain waves emitted from a special "master" can help break cocaine addiction, and whether wearing magnets can help the painful wrist problem, carpal tunnel syndrome."

Are such things actually impossible? What if they actually do work? Isn't that worth finding out? The alternative is that we don't find out and useless treatments continue to be provided, or that expensive drug and surgical methods continue to be provided, many of which don't work either!

Personally I'd much rather spend my tax dollars looking for simple, effective, cheap methods that work, regardless of what existing theories are comfortable with. Go back just 20 years and large swatches of what used to be taken for granted in science and medicine have radically changed. So how can anyone today possibly believe that now we finally understand everything?

Forgive my rant, but this MSNBC article is exactly what is wrong with "big science," medicine, and how research in these fields are often reported. For shame MSNBC!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"My faith was broken ..."

Last week the National Public Radio program "All Things Considered" mentioned one of the distant intentionality studies that my colleagues and I published last year. The study showed that in emotionally bonded couples where one was healthy and the other was being treated for cancer, that when the healthy partner sent compassionate intention thoughts towards their loved one, then the physiological state of the patient, who was isolated at a distance, responded. This is one of a few dozen similar studies conducted over the past few decades. Cumulatively they show repeatable evidence that we are connected in spooky ways that resemble on a macro scale what quantum entanglement is on the micro scale. [These studies were not designed to test whether that connection affects healing.]

It was predictable that some people would not like the NPR program. One of those comments appeared today in the Huffington Post by someone who was clearly miffed by the very concept that thoughts might influence the world. When I see such strong opinions expressed, it is almost always the case that the person offering those opinions doesn't actually know anything about the underlying empirical data. And the emotional pressure underlying that opinion, especially among scientists, very often can be traced to a deeply held anger against religion, which they imagine which is what motivates these experiments [It doesn't, at least not for me. I'm agnostic about religion.]

In this case, the author of that op-ed admits his bias: "When I was young, my faith was broken by God's apparent stony silence in the face of such [medical and other] agonies...." That same faith can be broken by discovering that Santa Claus is really your dad, or that the Tooth Fairy is really your mom. Some children never recover from the humiliation at being fooled by supposedly trustworthy adults, so like a steel trap their minds snap shut and forever after disallow certain ideas.

The problem is that in this case there is empirical evidence that has nothing to do with religious faith, or any sort of faith, that supports the idea that our thoughts actually do influence the world around us. A little bit. And not nearly to the extent that a child's imagination thinks they ought to. In addition, the quantum connection is not so easy to dismiss after all, at least for those who are willing to rationally ponder the evidence. My books and the book Quantum Enigma discuss all this in more detail.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Superpowers Symposium 2009

Chris Knowles provides an excellent summary of a symposium on "superpowers" I attended at Esalen Institute in Big Sur last week. I am used to attending scientific conferences, which are often heavy on details, data and statistics. By contrast, this meeting was heavy on the humanities and light on science, a challenging but very refreshing change for me.  My talk was entitled "Reality 3.3," in which I attempted to show how our models of common sense have evolved over time. I identified 3 major shifts in historical worldviews, and I speculated about a 4th (Reality 4.0) that is almost on the horizon.

The most startling part of the meeting for me was when Jacques Vallee spoke in detail about a UFO flap in Brazil. I hadn't realized the extent to which the Brazilian military was involved in studying that case, which persisted for three months, or the strength of the evidence, some of which is still classified.  

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Mystical Roots of Science Fiction

Here is a teaser of an audio clip interview with Jeff Kripal, author of the upcoming Authors of the Impossible (due out in early 2010). I've read an advance copy of that book, and I think his take on why people have always been drawn towards the paranormal is exactly right. As the blurb about his book says on the EnlightenNext website:

[It's] about the relationship between mysticism, pop culture, and the paranormal. Weaving together an interesting combination of sources--from Philip K. Dick to the human potential movement to the UFOlogy of French astronomer Jacques Valle—he describes why he thinks that our general cultural obsession with science fiction, as seen in the popularity of TV shows like Heroes and movies like The X-Men, is a modern expression of the same spiritual impulse toward the “supernormal” that lies at the heart of all religious traditions. But as Kripal points out, these new sci-fi mythologies are distinct from the traditions in that they are oriented toward the future rather than the past, allowing us to see our present-day culture as a more primitive version of what has yet to evolve.
Unlike many scholars who dismiss our impulses towards the supernormal as mere fantasy, Kripal recognizes that these impulses reflect something that is quite palpably real, meaningful, and important.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Two recommended books

This is Dr. Larry Dossey's new book on premonitions, ranging from anecdotes to scientific evidence to possible meaning and value. Written in Dossey's crystal clear style, and saturated with endnotes and references, this is an excellent overview of what we currently know about the mind-bending experience of knowing the future before it arrives. I advise caution when thinking about retrocausation, because if you try to figure it out it will make your brain hurt. Fortunately, this book goes a long way towards relieving that particular pain.

About 30 years ago, when I first became seriously interested in parapsychology, Charles Tart was one of a handful of scientists I approached who provided me with some encouragement. Most of my other colleagues and elders at the time suggested it would be better to do something else. Anything else. But Charley's approach to parapsychology, the clever experiments he conducted, and the way he framed the broader context of this topic (which evolved into the field of transpersonal psychology), convinced me that parapsychology was the most interesting of the many possible research directions I could have taken. The theme of his latest book is that scientific (or I should say, scientistic) models based solely on materalistic assumptions are wrong, and here are the reasons why. In building his case, he provides quick overviews of most of the lab-based and observational evidence (ESP to NDEs, and everything in between). He also analyzes the cognitive pathology of hyper-skepticism in some detail to show why materialism rules and why psi research remains on the scientific fringe despite the mounting evidence. While Tart does not discuss it, I strongly suspect based on his analysis that besides psi, three other topics are likely to be worth serious consideration as well: cold fusion, homeopathy, and UFOs.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

IONS 2009 Conference

This is IONS' biennial conference. I will be giving a presentation on advances in psi research, including preliminary results of my recent experiments involving the effects of consciousness on a double-slit optical system, a workshop with Dr. Julie Beischel on the evidence for survival of bodily death, which is planned to include a demonstration session with a research medium, and an evening experiment in collective awareness and intuition.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Superstitions of modern science

Two examples of unquestioned adherence to the 17th century mechanistic assumptions underlying the supposedly modern brain sciences. From Time magazine, "why we're superstitious," in which superstitions are reduced entirely to quirks of brain functioning. And from Newsweek, more on the same, both referring to a book entitled Supersense.

My problem with such efforts is not with the neuroscience, which is undeniably interesting. Rather, I'm worried that the authors of these books, and the journalists who write the articles, haven't bothered to do their homework. For example, the author of Supersense says in response to the question, "What are some examples of things that people believe science will one day explain?"
Telepathy, precognition, anything that involves the mind. Typically they will think that humans have this untapped potential for connecting with each other over large distances, which would violate the current laws of physics as we currently understand them. Of course, they always respond with, "Well, the current laws of physics are always changing, so how can you be so certain that these things aren't real?" Well, we can't prove these things don't exist, but then they never really lay themselves open for scientific investigation. That's why it's really problematic to talk about them as being real science.
Some day, perhaps a young, naive journalist will ask,"Exactly what laws of physics are violated by these beliefs?" And "why can't we study these beliefs?" And "have they in fact been studied?" And "what do the results show?" Four simple, innocent questions, which when answered with empirical evidence in a calm, rational manner, would radically challenge the whole thrust of these books and articles. And that, of course, is why older journalists don't even bother to ask the questions.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Remote viewing as applied to futures studies

Article by James H. Lee, published in Technological Forecasting & Social Change, vol 75 (2008) 142–153.


Remote viewing is set of related protocols that allow a viewer to intuitively gather information regarding a specific target that is hidden from physical view and separated from the viewer by either time or distance. Research suggests that the same processes used to gather spatially non-local information can also be used to gather information that is temporally removed from the observer. This paper reviews the most common protocols for remote viewing — including Coordinate Remote Viewing (CRV), Associative Remote Viewing (ARV), and Extended Remote Viewing (ERV).

This remains a controversial field of study. While over 30 years of data has been gathered with statistically significant results frequently occurring under laboratory conditions, skeptics are not convinced that RV is a useful pursuit. In addition to this, some of the output from RV can be vague and subject to personal interpretation.

A number of factors have been shown to improve the success rate for remote viewing, including the use of experienced subjects, individual testing, feedback of results, and a short time-interval between the percipient response and the targeted future event. Finally, there also appears to be a relationship between the effectiveness of remote viewing efforts and sidereal time, which may be interpreted as evidence that some aspects of RV are subject to the same physical laws as are other phenomena studied by science. Remote viewing and related processes merit further exploration and study. While remote viewing may never be completely understood, it has the potential to make a meaningful contribution to the professional futurist′s toolbox.

As often happens when a paper reporting some aspect of psi reaches a positive conclusion, and appears in a journal not known for entertaining this topic, the editors of the journal add a special apologetic notice to help absolve themselves from any blame (or flames). In this case the editors wrote:

Note: The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, with no implication of agreement by either the editors or the Advisory Board. The question it raises is whether further research into this controversial area as a technological forecasting approach is desirable, or unwarranted as being based on questionable fringe science. It is interesting to note, for example, that experimental research on instinct or intuition by Dr. Gerd Gigerenzer, director of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, indicates that intuitive wisdom often outperforms the calculations of experts (see his book ʽʽGut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious" (2007); also New York Times, August 28, 2007).

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

More from the Huffington Post

Why What Frightens 'Skeptics' Frightened Einstein

by Philip Slater

"I'm fascinated by the fanatical zeal with which self-styled skeptics pounce on non-ordinary events and try to discount them--largely by the liberal use of words like 'preposterous'. Posing as 'scientific', these ideologues are clinging to a materialism long since discredited by quantum physics..."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Huffington Post article

An article entitled "The Science of Distant Healing" by Harvard psychiatrist Srinivasan Pillay appeared in the Huffington Post blog on March 24. It mentioned an experiment my colleagues and I published a few years ago where we tested whether one person's healing intentions influenced a distant person's physiology. You can find the abstract of this article by clicking here.

Some of the comments after the article positively seethe with anger. I've always been fascinated by such apoplectic outbursts, not just because they are sparked by mere ideas, in this case the idea that our minds may have unrecognized abilities, but also because they are shouted to exhaustion by people who probably regard themselves as rational.

It's always tempting to respond to such comments, but I've found that doing so is just a waste of time. Meaningful dialog cannot occur if one side is overwhelmed by strong emotion. My primary reaction now is compassion for those who feel so threatened by ideas that they can no longer control themselves.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Shrinkrap Podcast

Here's an interview I did for Shrink Rap Radio, with Dr. David Van Nuys, Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Sonoma State University.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Journal of Scientific Exploration online

Downloadable pdfs of many of the articles that have appeared in the Journal of Scientific Exploration are now available from the society's new website. The articles can be found here.

Randi Backs Out of Challenge with Homeopath George Vithoulkas

"A long tussle concerning the validity of Homeopathy between the world`s most famous homeopath and probably the world`s most well known `quackbuster` appears to have come to head in December 2008 after 5 years of to-ing and fro-ing...."

Click here to read the full article.

Much more detail about this issue from Vithoulkas.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Matching Funds Drive for Macro PK Research

The Parapsychological Association, one of the 262 affiliated societies of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), recently received a generous donation from Mrs. Marion Roller to establish a new endowment for research. The Gilbert Roller Fund supports scientific investigations into macroscopic psychokinetic phenomena such as those reported in sitter-groups, séances, and poltergeist activity, and/or theoretical approaches to help explain the nature of such large-scale physical effects.

Between now and May 1, 2009, Mrs. Roller will match, dollar for dollar, any donations made to the Gilbert Roller Fund to support this important line of research. Traditionally most of the modest support for parapsychological research has come from individuals and foundations with the vision and courage needed to support science on the cutting edge. Your contributions will enable qualified researchers with professional knowledge of past investigations of this type to continue to explore reports of large-scale psychokinetic phenomena.

The Parapsychological Association is the premier international professional society for scientists and scholars interested in exceptional human experiences. Members are engaged in the empirical and theoretical investigation of a wide range of phenomena, including those labeled telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and evidence suggestive of survival of consciousness after bodily death.

Donations can be made to the Gilbert Roller Fund electronically by clicking here, or by check mailed to the Parapsychological Association at P.O. Box 24173, Columbus, OH 43224. The PA is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and donations are tax-deductible in the USA.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

One year later

A little over a year after my presentation at Google, it has become the #1 most discussed talk out of the 1,031 talks given there so far. I'm pleased with this because one of the main reasons I do these public talks and participate in so many interviews is to promote dialog.

This talk was partially about the taboo of psi, which refers to the perennially strong public interest in psi (as reflected by the rating of this talk), as compared to the resounding silence about psi within the academic world.

The science behind psychic phenomena

A surprisingly neutral article about psi in Time magazine. Surprising because Time has traditionally felt it necessary to psi-bash whenever possible. It cites Diane Powell's new book, The ESP Enigma, which I think is pretty good.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Monday, February 09, 2009

Psi Research Studentship for EU Nationals

Research Degree Studentship

£8,125.00 per annum plus tuition fees for 3 years (including £1,000 research expenses p.a.)

The University of Northampton invites applications for a three-year part-time (.65) PhD studentship to support a research project investigating the role of lability in performance at a computer-based micro-psychokinesis task. The successful applicant will be based in the Centre for the Study of Anomalous Psychological Processes (CSAPP), an institutionally recognised Research Centre within The University of Northampton. Supervisory support and research training shall be provided by staff from CSAPP and the School of Social Science within the University.

The bursary is part of a project led by Dr Chris Roe and funded by the Fundação Bial, Portugal, and will involve

• survey work to develop and psychometrically evaluate a new questionnaire-based measure of lability;

• a series of three experimental studies to assess the relationship between lability and performance at a laboratory-based micro-psychokinesis task

•some details of these projects are determined by the conditions of funding, but there will be some scope for the successful candidate to modify or extend the research goals

Applicants should possess a good Honours or Masters Degree in Psychology or a related discipline and be able to demonstrate some familiarity with Parapsychological research methods and findings. The studentship is open to EU nationals only.

Deadline for applications: 4 March, 2009

It is intended that interviews will be held: week beginning 16th March, 2009

Start date: To be negotiated

For an application pack, please email:, or call 01604 892812.

Additional informal enquiries can be made to

Please quote reference: UN09CSAPPMICROPK

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Rhine Center

The Rhine Research Center website has a nice new look, and their latest newsletter provides a good overview of their current activities.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Lecture on the Global Consciousness Project

This is an excellent introduction to the Global Consciousness Project by physicist Peter Bancel. It's part of a 5-part series of videos.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Collective consciousness and the inauguration

This is a plot of odds against chance for data from the Global Consciousness Project on the evening before and day of the Obama inauguration. The red arrow points to the moment when the oath of office was being recited. This is an exploratory analysis, so it shouldn't be regarded as persuasive as a preplanned analysis would be. But still, the coincidence in time between what was arguably the single most anticipated moment by hundreds of millions of viewers during the inauguration, and the spike in odds at the same time, is quite striking. Further analyses of this event will eventually be posted at the GCP site.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Enduring Enigma of the UFO

Here's a pdf copy of my article on UFOs as published in the current IONS Shift magazine.

"Despite significant evidence that something unusual has been going on in the skies above planet Earth, serious investigation remains taboo. The result: far more questions than answers. Like psi phenomena, the topic of UFOs provides a litmus test for what we think we know — or want to."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Quantum biology

Nice article on the Discover website on quantum biology. This article even mentions a possible quantum-consciousness link without smirking.

In Entangled Minds I discussed why I believe the writing is on the wall: The more we look, the more we'll find quantum effects in biology. And not just minor hiccups, but fundamental processes that, without quantum connections, would not exist at all. Some time later we'll find these effects operating in the nervous system, and later in the brain. At that point psi will graduate from the fringe to the mainstream, and then all those strange phenomena studied for over a century, but poorly understood, will be accepted and regarded as being just slightly ahead of their time.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Water crystal replication study

Radin, D., Lund, N., Emoto, M., Kizu, T. (2008). Effects of distant intention on water crystal formation: A triple-blind replication. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 22(4), 481-493.

An experiment tested the hypothesis that water exposed to distant intentions affects the aesthetic rating of ice crystals formed from that water. Over three days, 1,900 people in Austria and Germany focused their intentions towards water samples located inside an electromagnetically shielded room in California. Water samples located near the target water, but unknown to the people providing intentions, acted as "proximal" controls. Other samples located outside the shielded room acted as distant controls.

Ice drops formed from samples of water in the different treatment conditions were photographed by a technician, each image was assessed for aesthetic beauty by over 2,500 independent judges, and the resulting data were analyzed, all by individuals blind with respect to the underlying treatment conditions.

Results suggested that crystal images in the intentionally treated condition were rated as aesthetically more beautiful than proximal control crystals (p = 0.03, one-tailed). This outcome replicates the results of an earlier (double blind) pilot test.

(I'm afraid I don't have paper reprints or e-prints of this yet, so I can't send anyone a copy of the full paper.)

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Thinking about telepathy

I wrote an article a few years ago for a journal published by the Royal Institute of Philosophy called Think. Someone reposted that article here.

From the description of this journal: "Think is edited by Stephen Law and published three times each year. The central aim of Think is to provide to a very wide audience – including schools, colleges and the general public – highly accessible and engaging writing by philosophers pre-eminent in their fields."

(I'm not a philosopher, but the publisher was kind enough to invite me to write an article, so I did.)