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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Deeper is Higher - Part II

We previously discussed evidence in favor of telepathy. Now we turn to the related phenomenon of psychokinesis (PK), or telekinesis. Again there are many ways to interpret the evidence, assuming it is accepted, but it seems to be impossible to understand it within conventional materialistic philosophy. Thus it will either influence the way we understand mind or the way we understand matter.

I will mostly discuss examples that 1) were observed in the laboratory, 2) where action occurred at a considerable distance, and 3) which involve conscious will, not emotion, such as the typical Poltergeist cases.

"Ingo Swamm in 1974 was asked to influence a magnetometer which had previously been found to be extremely well-shielded and which was showing the periodic curve of the decay of a magnetic field. Swann asked where and what the apparatus was; was told to find out for himself; tried to use ESP to do so; reported success and gave a description of it which the listening physicists accepted as accurate - and at the moment he reported finding the apparatus, the previously regular decay curve flattened out. As Swann's attention turned to the group, the decay curve became regular again. An observer then asked Swann to try to increase the decay rate, and for another short interval, the decay rate became much faster (Psychokinesis, ed. Stanley Krippner, pg. 100)."

"This device [a cloud chamber] ordinarily is used to trace high energy atomic particles, whose tracks are marked by formation of fog droplets. When the healer [Olga Worrall] placed a hand at each side of the chamber, a broad wavelike fog pattern appeared. It was entirely different from that ordinarily caused by ionizing particles. Two months later, Worrall at her home about 600 miles distant tried at a prearranged time to influence the cloud chamber. Three minutes later the experimenters observed again the anomalous wavelike cloud formation. The test was repeated successfully the same evening (ibid. pg. 63)."

PK has been studied in the laboratory for over seventy years. J.B. Rhine in 1934 at Duke University began to test the idea that the fall of dice may be influenced by mental intention. In these and subsequent experiments the general populace was tested, not self-proclaimed psychics. Rhine reported affirmative findings, which spurred fifty years of further research on dice and other objects and, of course, harsh criticism. Nevertheless, most parapsychologists were convinced that PK did occur and the focus of the research turned from "proof-oriented" to "process-oriented" research; the role of mood, personality, altered states of consciousness, skepticism, individual ego identity, and other variables were tested to see how that influenced PK performance. In 1989 Dean Radin, using meta-analysis of the best experiments (based on the criteria of the critics) from 1935 to 1987, concluded that the overall hit rate for all control studies was 50.2 percent, and for all experimental studies was 51.2 percent. Statistically this results in odds against chance of more that a billion to one (The Conscious Universe, pg. 134).

In the 1969 Helmut Schmidt created a random-number generator (RNG), an electric circuit that generates either a I or 0. In short, it is an electric coin tosser.Schmidt and a host of other researches found consistently significant results and moved on to "process-oriented" research (even testing animal's ability at PK with some positive results). Radin using meta-analysis found that the RNG findings were consistent with the dice experiments (about 51 percent), and produced odds against chance beyond a trillion to one (pg. 140). Interestingly, Radin, along with Nelson and Bierman, studied the effect that groups of people could have on an RNG. They chose times where hundreds of millions or billions of people would be focused on a single place. For example, RNG's located in Princeton and University of Amsterdam were recorded during the O.J. Simpson verdict. They predicted that five independent RNG's would show unexpected order when the verdict was announced. And indeed all five RNG's suddenly peaked to its highest point in the two hours of recorded data (pg. 166).

We have barely touched the basics of PK research. For a good up-to-date summary of the research see The PK Zone by Heath.

Therein she summarizes the different theories attempting to explain PK. Energy Transfer theories, of the Eastern or Western schools, postulate some sort of semi-physical energetic force within a person which connects to the world energy. Electromagnetic theories maintain that waves carry telepathic or psychokinetic information. Acausal theories maintain that PK is the result of ESP. Mind-Matter Interplay theories suggests that the universe will change itself to match the desires of the mind. This could work in different ways: 1) the world conforms to the will of the performer, 2) PK is an illusion and the mind is informed of the right time or place to get its desired response, or 3) the mind is not separate from the universe, and to change one is to alter the other.

Although she favors Mind-Matter Interplay theories, she concludes that PK is probably not a uniform process and there is no need for only one explanation. However, what is important for us is that PK demonstrates that the power of the mind is not limited to the individual mindbody, and this suggests that it cannot be reduced to the brain, and perhaps it is of a non-physical nature.

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