Science and the taboo of psi

The taboo of psi

Do telepathy, clairvoyance and other “psi” abilities exist?

The majority of the general population believes that they do, and yet fewer than one percent of mainstream academic institutions have any faculty known for their interest in these frequently reported experiences.

Why is a topic of enduring and widespread interest met with such resounding silence in academia?

The answer is not due to a lack of scientific evidence, or even to a lack of scientific interest, but rather involves a taboo. In this talk researcher and author Dean Radin discusses the nature of this taboo, some of the empirical evidence and critical responses, and speculates on the implications.

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 weak.

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 talk 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.

Dean Radin is a Senior Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences and four-time former President of the Parapsychological Association. He holds an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a masters degree in electrical engineering and a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Dean has worked at AT&T Bell Labs and GTE Labs, mainly on human factors of advanced telecommunications products and services, and held positions at Princeton University, Edinburgh University, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, SRI International, Interval Research Corporation, and Boundary Institute. At these facilities he was engaged in basic research on exceptional human capacities, principally psi phenomena.

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