“The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.” – Nikola Tesla
If you google “parapsychology,” the first thing that will probably pop up is a Wikipedia entry loosely (and, in my opinion, rather offensively) defining it as a “pseudoscience.”
This is unfortunate, because it distracts the reader from realizing that psychical research, also known as ‘psi’ (or parapsychology), is practiced by various scientists and reputable institutions all over the world. This includes the study of paranormal activity and extended human human capacities like precognition and telepathy, among other things. As the University of Calgary points out, parapsychology is an interdisciplinary field which has attracted physicists, engineers, biologists, psychologists, and researchers in other sciences as well.
The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) project is a great example of this comprehensive approach to the subject — a project that ran from 1979 until 2007, it aimed to examine if there was factual basis for theories in mind/matter interaction, or extrasensory perception (ESP). Highly significant statistical deviation, far beyond what one could expect from chance, was seen there. Another example would be the University of Virginia’s Division of Perceptual Studies, in which they explore such phenomena as reincarnation, near death experiences (NDEs), and out of body experiences (OBEs).
“Studies of the so-called ‘psi phenomena’ indicate that we can sometimes receive meaningful information without the use of ordinary senses, and in ways that transcend the habitual space and time constraints. Furthermore, psi research demonstrates that we can mentally influence—at a distance—physical devices and living organisms (including other human beings). Psi research also shows that distant minds may behave in ways that are nonlocally correlated, i.e. the correlations between distant minds are hypothesized to be unmediated (they are not linked to any known energetic signal), unmitigated (they do not degrade with increasing distance), and immediate (they appear to be simultaneous). These events are so common that they cannot be viewed as anomalous nor as exceptions to natural laws, but as indications of the need for a broader explanatory framework that cannot be predicated exclusively on materialism.” (source) – Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science
The examination of these types of phenomena is vital to increasing our understanding about the nature of our reality. A lot of new science is revealing how many, and how diverse, are the factors are which influence the so-called ‘physical material world that we see around us’. So what can we learn from this information? To keep an open mind, to know that not everything we believe to be true, is, and that maybe there are components of our reality that we have yet to understand. We can learn that it’s okay to take topics like this seriously, because there is a wealth of very compelling statistical data and observation that has many scientists interested in it… and perplexed.
“There are claims in the parapsychology field which, in my opinion, deserve serious study, [with one being] that young children sometimes report 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.” – Carl Sagan
This topic has been studied by numerous scientists who belong to various academic institutions from all over the world.
One great example comes from University of Virginia psychiatrist Jim Tucker, who in 2008 published a review of cases suggestive of reincarnation in the journal Explore.(source)
In the article, he describes a typical reincarnation case, where subjects start reporting a past life experience. One common denominator of these cases is that they all involve children, with the average age being 35 months when subjects begin to report their experiences. The experiences described are often detailed and extensive, and Tucker points out that many of these children show strong emotional involvement when speaking about their claims; some cry and beg to be taken to what they say is their previous family. Others show intense anger.
“The subjects usually stop making their past-life statements by the age of six to seven, and most seem to lose the purported memories. That is the age when children start school and begin having more experiences in the current life, as well as when they tend to lose their early childhood memories.” (source)
One example Tucker describes, an American case, is of a child named Sam Taylor, who was a year and a half old when he started revealing some remarkable information:
“He looked up as his father was changing his diaper and said, “When I was your age, I used to change your diapers.” He began talking more about having been his grandfather. He eventually told details of his grandfather’s life that his parents felt certain he could not have learned through normal means, such as the fact that his grandfather’s sister had been murdered and that his grandmother had used a food processor to make milkshakes for his grandfather every day at the end of his life.” (source)
Again, this is one of hundreds of cases. Children have also been taken to their previous families, describing the qualities and characteristics of the families, and their own past lives, about which there is no possible way the child could know. Here is another specific case that was examined by Dr. Tucker, which we wrote about a couple of months ago. And there are plenty more to choose from.
These are cases involving very young children and they offer little reason to suspect a hoax. From a scientific standpoint, however, even though these cases are intriguing, they still leave us with a problem that plagues most parapsychological research today. As Tucker points out, “the processes that would be involved in such a transfer of consciousness are completely unknown, and they await further elucidation.” (source)
For a selected list of downloadable peer-reviewed journal articles reporting studies of psychic phenomena, mostly published in the 21st century, you can see here. At this link, you will find a select group of articles under the “precognition & presentiment” tab and more than enough scientific analyses to see why this topic is taken very seriously by some scientists.
A recently published study (meta analysis) in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience titled “Predicting the unpredictable: critical analysis and practical implications of predictive anticipatory activity” examined a number of experiments, conducted by several different laboratories, regarding this phenomenon.
These experiments indicate that the human body can actually detect randomly delivered stimuli that occur 1-10 seconds in advance. In other words, the human body seems able to know of an event and react to it before it actually occurs. This reaction takes the form of physiological changes in the skin and in the cardiopulmonary and nervous systems.
Quite fascinating, isn’t it?
Some of the most interesting results come from something called “dream telepathy,” where human beings have the ability to communicate telepathically with another person while they are dreaming.
According to Stanley Krippner, Ph.D. and professor of psychology at Saybrook University in California:
A wealth of anecdotal and clinical material exist which supports the possibility of telepathic effects occurring in dreams (Krippner, 1974). However, an experimental approach to the topic did not become possible until psycho physiological laboratory technology became available. It was discovered that sleeping research participants awakened from periods of rapid eye movement (REM) activity were frequently able to recall dream episodes. As a result, it was possible to request a “telepathic receiver” to attempt dreaming about a target stimulus that was being focused on in a distant location from a “telepathic sender.” (source)
The ‘Star Gate’ Project
The “Star Gate” project was a Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) program that examined parapsychological phenomena for more than twenty years before it was unexpectedly shut down.
One of the most interesting revelations (imo) when it comes to science and the paranormal comes from its remote viewing program.
Remote viewing is the ability of a person to describe a remote geographical location up to several hundred thousand kilometers from their actual physical location. It’s not just one person who can do this — many people have been shown to have this ability, and this is a verified fact. The CIA and NSA, in conjunction with Stanford University, were involved in the scientific study of parapsychological phenomena that lasted more than two decades; they delved into remote viewing as part of this project.
As reported by a publication in the journal Scientific Exploration (linked above), one of the study’s participants, Ingo Swann, was able to successfully describe and view a ring around Jupiter that scientists had no idea existed at the time.
Quantum Double Slit Experiment
In this experiment, a double-slit optical system was used to test the possible role of consciousness in the collapse of the quantum wave-function. The ratio of the interference pattern’s double slit spectral power to its single slit spectral power was predicted to decrease when attention was focused toward the double slit as compared to away from it. The study found that factors associated with consciousness “significantly” correlated in predicted ways with perturbations in the double slit interference pattern. (source)
“Observations not only disturb what has to be measured, they produce it….We compel [the electron] to assume a definite position…. We ourselves produce the results of measurement.” (source)
“It was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.” – Eugene Wigner, theoretical physicist and mathematician who received a share of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963
“A fundamental conclusion of the new physics also acknowledges that the observer creates the reality. As observers, we are personally involved with the creation of our own reality. Physicists are being forced to admit that the universe is a ‘mental’ construction. Pioneering physicist Sir James Jeans wrote: ‘The stream of knowledge is heading toward a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter, we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter. Get over it, and accept the inarguable conclusion. The universe is immaterial-mental and spiritual.’ ” – R.C. Henry, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University , “The Mental Universe”; Nature 436:29,2005)
This is a great experiment to show the connection between consciousness and our physical material world.
Out of Body Experiences & Near Death Experiences
Below is a video of Dr. Bruce Greyson speaking at a conference that was held by the United Nations. He is considered to be one of the fathers of near death studies. He is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Science at the University of Virginia.
In the video he describes documented cases of individuals who were clinically dead (showing no brain activity) but observing everything that was happening to them on the medical table below at the same time. He describes how there have been many instances of this – where individuals are able to describe things that should have been impossible for them to have knowledge of. Another significant statement by Dr. Greyson posits that this type of study has been discouraged due to our tendency to view science as completely materialistic. Seeing is believing, so to speak, in the scientific community. It’s unfortunate that just because we cannot explain something through materialistic means, it must be instantly discredited. The simple fact that “consciousness” itself is a non-physical “thing” is troubling for some scientists; as a result of it being non material, they believe it cannot be studied by science.
“Our results show that medical factors cannot account for the occurrence of NDE. All patients had a cardiac arrest, and were clinically dead with unconsciousness resulting from insufficient blood supply to the brain. In those circumstances, the EEG (a measure of brain electrical activity) becomes flat, and if CPR is not started within 5-10 minutes, irreparable damage is done to the brain and the patient will die.” (source)
Another study comes out of the University of Southampton, where scientists found evidence that awareness can continue for at least several minutes after death. In the scientific world this was thought to be impossible. The study, published in the journal Resuscitation, is the world’s largest of its kind. (source)
Healing At A Distance
“Over the past thirty years, significant scientific research has been conducted on the potential effectiveness and value of distant healing practices. The practice of distant healing is drawing increased attention as an important component of integral medicine models that blend a range of approaches to health and healing. Many leading health professionals and spiritual leaders believe distant healing practices may significantly expand the capacity to facilitate healing.” (source) Marilyn Schlitz, PhD, President of the Institute for Noetic Sciences (IONS)
Another study published in the journal Explore in 2008, examined the effects of human intention on the autonomic nervous system of a human “sender” and the distant “receiver” of those intentions.
The design of the study went as follows:
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, one of the pair was a cancer patient. In 12 of those couples, the healthy person was trained to direct intention toward the patient and asked to practice that intention daily for three months prior to the experiment (trained group). In the other 10 couples, the pair was tested before the partner was trained (wait group). Fourteen healthy couples re- ceived no training (control group). (source)
The study concluded that a strong motivation to heal another, and for one to be healed themselves, may enhance this phenomenon. It concluded that directing intention toward a distant person is associated with the activation of that person’s autonomic nervous system — in this case, using measurements of skin conductance.
Originally published on Cosmic Scientist