by Dean Radin
reality of psychic phenomena is now no longer based
solely upon faith, or wishful thinking, or absorbing
anecdotes. It is not even based upon the results of a
few scientific experiments.
know that these phenomena exist because of new ways
of evaluating massive amounts of scientific evidence
collected over a century by scores of researchers."
This is part 1 of the first chapter from Dean Radin's
The Conscious Universe
makes the most powerful case for the reality of parapsychological phenomena that I have yet
He shows how recent research gives
overwhelming evidence for the existence of forms of
influence and communication at present unexplained.
clearly, powerfully and persuasively, and this book
shows that we are at a turning point in our
scientific understanding of our minds and of
Ph.D., biologist, author of A New Science of Life
and Seven Experiments That Could Change the World.
"The psyche's attachment to the
brain, i.e., its space-time limitation, is no longer as
self-evident and incontrovertible as we have hitherto been led
It is not only permissible to doubt
the absolute validity of space-time perception; it is, in view
of the available facts, even imperative to do so."
– Carl Jung, Psychology and the Occult
In science, the acceptance of new ideas
follows a predictable, four-stage sequence.
In Stage 1, skeptics
confidently proclaim that the idea is impossible because it violates
the Laws of Science. This stage can last from years to centuries,
depending on how much the idea challenges conventional wisdom.
In Stage 2, skeptics reluctantly concede that the idea is possible, but
it is not very interesting and the claimed effects are extremely
Stage 3 begins when the mainstream realizes that the idea is
not only important, but its effects are much stronger and more
pervasive than previously imagined.
Stage 4 is achieved when the
same critics who used to disavow any interest in the idea begin to
proclaim that they thought of it first.
Eventually, no one remembers
that the idea was once considered a dangerous heresy.
The idea discussed in this book is in the midst of the most
important and the most difficult of the four transitions - from
Stage 1 into Stage 2. While the idea itself is ancient, it has taken
more than a century to conclusively demonstrate it in accordance
with rigorous, scientific standards.
This demonstration has
accelerated Stage 2 acceptance, and Stage 3 can already be glimpsed
on the horizon.
The idea is that those compelling, perplexing and sometimes profound
human experiences known as "psychic phenomena" are real.
come as no surprise to most of the world's population, because the
majority already believes in psychic phenomena.
But over the past
few years, something new has propelled us beyond old debates over
personal beliefs. The reality of psychic phenomena is now no longer
based solely upon faith, or wishful thinking, or absorbing
anecdotes. It is not even based upon the results of a few scientific
Instead, we know that these phenomena exist because of
new ways of evaluating massive amounts of scientific evidence
collected over a century by scores of researchers.
Psychic, or "psi" phenomena fall into two general categories.
In both categories, it seems that intention, the mind's
will, can do things that - according to prevailing scientific
theories - it isn't supposed to be able to do.
We wish to know what
is happening to loved ones, and somehow, sometimes, that information
is available even over large distances. We wish to speed the
recovery of a loved one's illness, and somehow they get better
quicker, even at a distance. Mind willing, many interesting things
appear to be possible.
Understanding such experiences requires an expanded view of human
consciousness. Is the mind merely a mechanistic,
information-processing bundle of neurons? Is it a "computer made of
meat" as some cognitive scientists and neuroscientists believe? Or
is it something more?
The evidence suggests that while many aspects
of mental functioning are undoubtedly related to brain structure and
electrochemical activity, there is also something else happening,
something very interesting.
When discussing the reality of psi phenomena, especially from the
scientific perspective, one question always hovers in the
background: You mean this is for real?
In the midst of all the
nonsense and excessive silliness proclaimed in the name of psychic
phenomena, the misinformed use of the term parapsychology by
self-proclaimed "paranormal investigators," the perennial laughing
stock of magicians and conjurers … this is for real?
The short answer is, Yes.
A more elaborate answer is, psi has been shown to exist in thousands
of experiments. There are disagreements over to how to interpret the
evidence, but the fact is that virtually all scientists who have
studied the evidence, including the hard-nosed skeptics, now agree
that there is something interesting going on that merits serious
Later we'll discuss the reasons why very few
scientists and science journalists are aware of this dramatic shift
in informed opinion.
As a Teaching
by Jacob Needleman
science has operated for centuries on the assumption
that we can understand the universe without
understanding ourselves. Jacob Needleman observes
it as a philosopher and metaphysician, from within. In
this first chapter from his book, "A Sense of the
Cosmos; The Encounter of Modern Science and Ancient
Truth" he presents us with the possibility that the
Universe is a living teaching. It is not another "New
Age" criticism of science.
Needleman has the greatest respect for science and
for the search for truth that is the heart and soul of
science. In part IV, What Is Consciousness? Needleman's
challenging reflections imply that there are states,
levels or qualities of consciousness that can be
developed within us. What is more, the implication is
that this development is the purpose of both the Cosmos
and Great Teachings.
This is part I from the first chapter of Jacob
A Sense of The Cosmos
Several years ago when I first started to write about the Eastern
religions, which are now taking root in America, I could not
understand why it was that every word I put down on paper seemed
false, why every beginning ended in a lie.
To write about our young
people and their search, their experiences and struggles, that was
more or less within my grasp.
But when I turned to the towering
spiritual systems of the Sufis or the Tibetans, for example, I very
easily lost my way. Standing before these ancient teachings, which
far surpass my understanding, I would often fall back on praising or
Gradually, I began to see that great teachings enter the world
according to an order and sequence that we are bound to find
incomprehensible. But men are impatient to have a handle of what
they do not understand. And so we fasten on one or another aspect of
a system --an idea here, a method there-- which satisfies our
The result is that all we have before us is, so to say,
a "cross-section" of the entire system. But obviously no number of
static cross-sections can add up to the flowing structure of a
Now I wish to write about the universe; and I wonder if the
difficulties will be greater or less. Is the order of the universe
any less organic than the order in the teaching of the Buddha or
It may sound strange to compare the universe to a teaching, but we
should realize that this is an absolutely fundamental question for
us if we are to move toward a deeper understanding of our place in
the cosmic order. It is not merely one authors personal brand of
metaphor; quite the contrary. The order by which a teaching is
introduced to mankind may be the most essential thing about it, more
so even than the conceptual content of the teaching itself.
apparent content varies, depending on interpretations, circumstances
and on individuals; but the sequence of experiences which a great
teaching brings to humanity at large is fixed and invariable. A
teaching is true to the extent that this sequence is a particular
incarnation of fundamental cosmic laws.
Let us, therefore, entertain the possibility that we understand very
little about what a teaching or a universe really is.
Every great spiritual teaching speaks of itself in its own way as a
mirror of cosmic reality. In the traditions of China the Tao is both
the way to truth and the way things are. In christianity the
both the teaching of Jesus Christ and the fundamental manifestation
In the Hindu tradition (including Buddhism)
both duty and the sustaining order of the universe. And in the
Hebrew tradition Torah includes not only law in the sense of the
teaching, but also law in the sense of the foundations of God's
A well-known passage in the book of Proverbs expresses
this idea without ambiguity.
Wisdom is speaking:
The Lord possessed me in the
beginning of his way, before his works of old.
I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the
When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were
no fountains abounding with water...
When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass
upon the face of the depth... when he gave the sea his decree,
that the waters should not pass his commandment; when he
appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by him...
Now therefore harken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are
they that keep my ways.
Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.
Wisdom thus speaks not only as the
teaching (the instruction) but as the divine pattern of the cosmos.
How to think about this equation of the universe and a great
teaching? It is tempting, for example, to see a teacher such as
Mohammed or Bodhidharma, who brought Buddhism to China in the sixth
century A. D., as the bearer of an extraordinary energy which is
distributed to the world in the form of ideas, actions, events,
schools, factions and the organized efforts of the community of
To compare this sort of pattern to a universe would
require that we think of reality not in terms of things but as a
ladder of processes, a great movement and exchange of energies. A
teaching would then be a copy of this cosmic process on the scale of
human time on earth. To receive such a teaching in ourselves, one's
own life would have to become yet another copy of this process.
Thus, taking christianity for a model, one must ask: What was the
teaching of Jesus? Was it only what he said? Or does it not also
include what he did and suffered? But does the teaching stop even
A critic may claim that Jesus failed because christian life
has become what it has become. But is not the distortion, the
crucifixion of the teaching, also, in a larger sense, part of the
And if a man is to become a Christian, perhaps it
is absolutely necessary that he witness the same process of
distortion within himself. How else will he understand that it is in
one's own thought and emotion that the "crucifixion," the
of the truth, really takes place?
Yet another line of speculation--again purely by way of opening this
issue: Spiritual teaching is often spoken of as indirect. What is
meant by this, I think, is that such a teaching does not act by
persuasion, which is a form of compulsion and seduction, but rather
by providing certain kinds of experiences.
For a man who is
searching for truth, these experiences are such that they cannot be
assimilated only by a part of himself, the isolated intellect, for
example. They require that a person receive them with the whole of
Writing in the nineteenth century in a massive onslaught against the
theologians and philosophers who wanted to make the Christian
teachings accessible solely to the intellect, Sören Kierkegaard put
the point as follows:
The communication of results is an unnatural form of intercourse
between man and man, in so far as every man is a spiritual being,
for whom the truth consists in nothing else than the self-activity
of personal appropriation, which the communication of a result tends
And then, comparing God to a teacher, he writes:
For no anonymous author can more
cunningly conceal himself, no practitioner of the maieutic art
[the art of the midwife] can more carefully withdraw himself
from direct relationship than God.
He is in the creation,
and present everywhere in it, but directly He is not there; and
only when the individual turns to his inner self, and hence only
in the inwardness of self activity, does he have his attention
aroused, and is enabled to see God.
The prophets and spiritual innovators
who have written of the universe as bearing the "signature of God"
must surely have included something like the above in their
Certainly, reality is as "silent" as any Zen master. And
perhaps the only way for us to understand reality is through a more
complete assimilation of the experiences which it presents us, both
joyful and painful.
Yet the universe is so vast, our planet so small
and our lives on it so inconsequential that a teaching is necessary
in order for men to be exposed to the full range of events which
take place in a cosmos.
by Dean Radin
In 1985, a
report prepared for the Army Research Institute
bottom line is that the data reviewed in this report
constitute genuine scientific anomalies for which no
one has an adequate explanation or set of
explanations.... If they are what they appear to be,
their theoretical (and, eventually, their practical)
implications are enormous."
part 2 of the first chapter from Dean Radins book
The Conscious Universe
The most important indication of a shift from Stage 1 to Stage 2 can
be seen in the gradually changing attitudes of prominent skeptics.
In a 1995 book saturated with piercing skepticism, the late
Carl Sagan of Cornell University maintained his life-long mission of
educating the public about science, in this case by debunking
popular hysteria over alien abductions, channelers, faith-healers,
the "face" on Mars, and practically everything else found in the
Age section of most bookstores.
Then, in one paragraph amongst 450
pages, we find an astonishing admission:
At the time of writing there are three claims in the ESP field
which, in my opinion, deserve serious study:
(1) that by thought
alone humans can (barely) affect random number generators in
(2) that people under mild sensory deprivation can
receive thoughts or images "projected" at them
(3) that young
children sometimes report the details of a previous life, which upon
checking turn out to be accurate and which they could not have known
about in any other way than reincarnation
Other signs of shifting opinions are cropping up with increasing
frequency in the scientific literature.
Starting in the 1980s,
well-known scientific journals like Foundations of Physics,
Psychologist, and Statistical Science published articles favorably
reviewing the scientific evidence for
Proceedings of the IEEE, the flagship journal of the Institute for
Electronic and Electrical Engineers, has published major debates on
Invited articles have appeared in the prestigious
journal, Brain and Behavioral Sciences. A favorable article on
telepathy research appeared in 1994 in Psychological Bulletin, one
of the top-ranked journals in academic psychology. And an article
presenting a theoretical model for precognition appeared in 1994 in
Physical Review, a prominent physics journal.
In the 1990s alone, seminars on psi research were part of the
regular programs at the annual conferences of the American
Association for the Advancement of Science, the American
Psychological Association, and the American Statistical Association.
Invited lectures on the status of psi research were presented for
diplomats at the United Nations, for academics at Harvard
University, and for scientists at Bell Laboratories.
NEW (not in the book):
The first US patent for a psi effect
was granted to Princeton University researchers on November 3,
Patent "US 5830064" is entitled: Apparatus and method for
distinguishing events which collectively exceed chance
expectations and thereby controlling an output.
specifically covers distant mental control of electronic random
number generator outputs. (click below
The Pentagon has not overlooked these
From 1981 to 1995, five different US government-sponsored scientific
review committees were given the task of reviewing the evidence for
psi effects. The reviews were prompted by concerns that if psi was
genuine, it might be important for national security reasons.
would have to assume that foreign governments would exploit psi if
Reports were prepared by the Congressional Research Service, the
Army Research Institute, the National Research Council, the
of Technology Assessment, and the American Institutes for Research
(the latter commissioned by the Central Intelligence Agency - CIA). While
disagreeing over fine points of interpretation, all five of the
reviews concluded that the experimental evidence for certain forms
of psychic phenomena merited serious scientific study.
For example, in 1981, the Congressional Research Service concluded
"Recent experiments in
remote viewing and other studies in
parapsychology suggest that there exists an "interconnectiveness" of
the human mind with other minds and with matter.
interconnectiveness would appear to be functional in nature and
amplified by intent and emotion."
The report concluded with
suggestions of possible applications for health care, investigative
"the ability of the human mind to
obtain information as an important factor in successful decision
making by executives."
In 1985, a report prepared for the Army
Research Institute concluded that,
"The bottom line is that the data
reviewed in [this] report constitute genuine scientific
anomalies for which no one has an adequate explanation or set of
If they are what they appear to be, their
theoretical (and, eventually, their practical) implications are
In 1987, the National Research Council
reviewed parapsychology (the scientific discipline that studies of
psi) at the request of the US Army.
The committee recommended that
the Army monitor parapsychological research being conducted in the
former Soviet Union and in the United States, they recommended that
the Army consider funding specific experiments, and most
significantly, they admitted that they could not propose plausible
alternatives to the "psi hypothesis" for some classes of psi
Dr. Ray Hyman, a psychology professor at
the University of Oregon and long-term skeptic of psi phenomena, was
chairman of the National Research Council's review committee on
He stated in a 1988 interview with the Chronicle of
Higher Education, that
"Parapsychologists should be
rejoicing. This was the first government committee that said
their work should be taken seriously."
In early 1989, the Office of Technology
Assessment issued a report of a workshop on the status of
parapsychology. The end of the report stated that,
"It is clear that parapsychology
continues to face strong resistance from the scientific
The question is - how can the field improve its
chances of obtaining a fair hearing across a broader spectrum of
the scientific community, so that emotionality does not impede
objective assessment of the experimental results?
final result of such an assessment is positive, negative, or
something in between, the field appears to merit such
In 1995, the American Institutes for
Research reviewed formerly classified government-sponsored psi
research for the CIA at the request of the U. S. Congress.
Statistician Jessica Utts of the University of California, Davis,
one of the two principal reviewers, concluded that,
"The statistical results of the
studies examined are far beyond what is expected by chance.
Arguments that these results could be due to methodological
flaws in the experiments are soundly refuted. Effects of similar
magnitude to those found in government-sponsored research … have
been replicated at a number of laboratories across the world.
Such consistency cannot be
readily explained by claims of flaws or fraud…. It is
recommended that future experiments focus on understanding how
this phenomenon works, and on how to make it as useful as
possible. There is little benefit to continuing experiments
designed to offer proof..."
Surprisingly, the other principal
reviewer, skeptic Ray Hyman, agreed:
"The statistical departures from
chance appear to be too large and consistent to attribute to
statistical flukes of any sort…. I tend to agree with Professor
Utts that real effects are occurring in these experiments.
Something other than chance departures from the null hypothesis
has occurred in these experiments."
These opinions are even being reflected
in the staid realm of college textbooks. One of the most popular
books in the history of college publishing is Introduction to
Psychology by Richard L. Atkinson and three co-authors.
A portion of
the preface in the 1990 edition of this textbook reads:
"Readers should take note of a new
section in Chapter 6 entitled ‘Psi Phenomena.' We have discussed
parapsychology in previous editions but have been very critical
of the research and skeptical of the claims made in the field.
And although we still have strong reservations about most of the
research in parapsychology, we find the recent work on telepathy
worthy of careful consideration."
The popular "serious" media haven't
overlooked this opinion shift. The May, 1993, issue of New
Scientist, a popular British science magazine, carried a five-page
cover story on telepathy research.
It opened with the line,
research has long been written off as the stuff of cranks and
frauds. But there's now one telepathy experiment that leaves even
the skeptics scratching their heads."
And in the last few years,
Newsweek, the New York Times Magazine, Psychology Today,
Nightline, national news programs, and television and print media
around the world have begun to moderate previously held Stage 1
They're now beginning to publish and broadcast Stage
2-type stories taking scientific psi research seriously.
If all this is true, then a thousand other questions immediately
Why hasn't everyone heard about this on the nightly news?
Why is this topic so controversial?
Who has psi?
How does it work?
What are its implications and applications?
These are all good
questions, and this book will attempt to answer them through four
"If all this is
true, then a thousand other questions immediately bubble
up. Why hasn't everyone heard about this on the nightly
news? Why is this topic so controversial? Who has psi?
How does it work? What are its implications and
applications? These are all good questions, and this
book will attempt to answer them through four general
themes: Motivation, Evidence, Understanding and
This is part 3 of the first chapter from Dean Radins
The Conscious Universe"
Theme 1 - Motivation
Why should anyone take psychic phenomena
The answer rests on the strength of the scientific
evidence, which stands on its own merits. But to fully appreciate
why the scientific case is so persuasive, and why has there been any
scientific controversy at all, we have to take a bit of a circuitous
That route will first consider the language used to discuss psi to
show how many confusions over this topic are due to misunderstood
and misapplied words (Chapter 2).
This is followed by examples of
common human experiences that provide hints about the existence and
nature of psi phenomena (Chapter 3). We will then consider the topic
of replication, where we will learn what counts as valid scientific
evidence (Chapter 4).
And we'll end with meta-analysis, where we
will see how replication is measured and why it is so important
In sum, the motivations underlying this scientific exploration can
be found in mythology, folk tales, religious doctrines, and
innumerable personal anecdotes. While sufficient to catch everyone's
attention, stories and personal experiences do not provide the hard,
trustworthy evidence that causes scientists to confidently accept
that a claimed effect is what it appears to be. Stories, after all,
invariably reflect subjective beliefs and faith, which may or may
not be true.
Beginning in the 1880s and accumulating ever since, a new form of
scientifically valid evidence appeared - empirical data produced in
controlled, experimental studies. While not as exciting as folklore
and anecdotes, from the scientific perspective these data were more
meaningful because they were produced according to well-accepted
scientific procedures. Scores of scientists from around the world
had quietly contributed these studies.
Today, with more than a hundred years of research on this topic, an
immense amount of scientific evidence has been accumulated.
to the assertions of some skeptics, the question is not whether
there is any scientific evidence, but,
"What does a proper evaluation of
the evidence reveal," and "Has positive evidence been
As we'll see, the question of
replicability - can independent, competent investigators obtain
approximately the same results in repeated experiments - is
fundamental to making the scientific case for psi.
Theme 2 -
Theme 2 discusses the main categories of psi experiments and the
evidence that the effects seen in these experiments are genuinely
The evidence is based on analysis of over a thousand
experiments investigating various forms of,
The evidence for these basic phenomena is so
well-established that most psi researchers today no longer conduct
Instead, they focus largely on
"process-oriented" questions like, What influences psi performance,
and How does it work?
Also presented are experiments exploring how psi interacts with more
mundane aspects of human experience like unusual physical effects
associated with the "mass mind" of groups of people (Chapter 11), psi effects in casino gambling and lottery games (Chapter 12), and
applications of psi (Chapter 13).
Theme 3 -
The wealth of scientific evidence discussed in Theme 2 will show
that some psi phenomena exist, and that they are probably expressed
in more ways than anyone had previously thought.
The vast majority
of the information used to make this case has been publicly
available for years. One might expect then that the growing
scientific evidence for genuine psi would have raised great
curiosity. Funding would flow, and researchers around the world
would be attempting to replicate these effects.
After all, the
implications of genuine psi are profoundly important for both
theoretical and practical reasons. But this has not yet been the
case. Few scientists are aware that any scientifically valid case
can be made for psi, and fewer still realize that the cumulative
evidence is highly persuasive.
In Theme 3 we consider why this is so. One reason is that the
information discussed here has been suppressed and ridiculed by a
relatively small group of highly skeptical philosophers and
scientists (Chapter 14).
Are the skeptics right, and all of the
scientists reporting successful psi experiments over the past
century simply delusional or incompetent? Or there is another
explanation for the skepticism?
We will see that because scientists are also human, the process of
evaluating scientific claims is not as pristinely rational or
logical as the general public believes (Chapter 15).
The tendency to
adopt a fixed set of beliefs and defend them to the death is
incompatible with science, which is essentially a loose
confederation of evolving theories in many domains. Unfortunately,
this tendency has driven some scientists to continue to defending
outmoded, inaccurate world-views.
The tendency is also seen in the
behavior of belligerent skeptics who loudly proclaim that widespread
belief in psi is due to a decline in the public's critical thinking
ability. One hopes that such skeptics would occasionally apply a
little skepticism to their own positions, but history amply
demonstrates that science progresses mainly by funerals, not by
reason and logic alone.
Understanding why the public has generally accepted the existence of psi and why science has generally rejected it requires an
examination of the origins of science (Chapter 16). In exploring
this clash of beliefs, we will discover that the scientific
controversy has had very little to do with the evidence itself, and
very much to do with the psychology, sociology and history of
Discussions about underlying assumptions in science rarely surface
in skeptical debates over psi, because this topic involves deeply
held, often unexamined beliefs about the nature of the world.
much easier to imagine a potential flaw in one experiment, and use
that flaw to cast doubt on an entire class of experiments, than it
is to consider the overall results of a thousand similar studies. A
related issue is how science deals with anomalies, those
extraordinary "damn facts" that challenge mainstream theories.
with an understanding of the nature and value of anomalies, and how
scientists react to them, we will explore the role that prejudice,
in the literal sense of "pre-judging," has played in controlling
what is presumed to be scientifically valid.
Other issues, like how
scientific disciplines rarely talk to each other, and the historical
abyss between science and religion, make it abundantly clear that if
psychic experiences were any other form of curious natural
phenomena, they would have been adopted long ago by the scientific
mainstream on the basis of the evidence alone.
Beyond the themes of motivation, evidence, and understanding,
resides the question, So what? Why should anyone care if psi is real
Theme 4 -
The eventual scientific acceptance of psychic phenomena is
The origins of acceptance are already brewing through
the persuasive weight of the laboratory evidence.
converging theoretical developments from many disciplines offering
glimpses at ways of understanding how psi works (Chapter 17). There
are explorations of psi effects by major industrial labs, evaluation
of claims of psychic healing by the Office of Alternative Medicine
of the National Institutes of Health, and articles about psi
research appearing in the "serious" media.
As acceptance grows, the implications of psi will become more
apparent. But we already know that these phenomena present profound
challenges to many aspects of science, philosophy and religion
These challenges will nudge scientists to reconsider
basic assumptions about space, time, mind, and matter.
will rekindle the perennial debates over the role of consciousness
in the physical world. Theologians will reconsider the concept of
divine intervention, as some phenomena previously considered to be
miracles will probably become subject to scientific understanding.
These reconsiderations are long overdue. An exclusive focus on what
might be called "the outer world" has led to a grievous split
between the private world of human experience and the public world
as described by science. In particular, science has provided little
understanding of profoundly important human concepts like hope and
meaning. The split between the objective and the subjective has in
the past been dismissed as a non-problem, or as a problem belonging
to religion and not to science.
But this split has also led to major technological blunders, and a
rising popular antagonism toward science.
This is a pity, because
scientific methods are exceptionally powerful tools for overcoming
personal biases and building workable models of the "truth." There
is every reason to expect that the same methods that gave us a
better understanding of galaxies and genes will also shed light on
experiences described by mystics throughout history.
Now let's explore a little more closely what we're talking about.