A few links of possible interest on a Sunday afternoon.
Dean Radin, noted parapsychologist and author of The Conscious Universe and Entangled Minds, has a new book out called Supernormal. Here's the publisher's description:
Can yoga and meditation unleash our inherent supernormal mental powers, such as telepathy, clairvoyance, and precognition? Is it really possible to perceive another person's thoughts and intentions? Influence objects with our minds? Envision future events? And is it possible that some of the superpowers described in ancient legends, science fiction, and comic books are actually real, and patiently waiting for us behind the scenes? Are we now poised for an evolutionary trigger to pull the switch and release our full potentials?
Dean Radin, Director of Research at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) and bestselling author of The Conscious Universe, presents persuasive new experimental evidence for the existence of such phenomena. He takes us on a thrilling scientific journey and challenges outdated assumptions that these abilities are mere superstition. Focusing on Patanjali's mysterious Yoga Sutras -- 2,000 year-old meditation practices believed to release our extraordinary powers -- Radin offers powerful evidence confirming that sometimes fact is much stranger, spookier, and more wonderful than the wildest fiction.
Brian Whitworth, a computer scientist who has written some fascinating essays on "the virtual-reality conjecture," has put out a new essay in beta form (i.e., it's unfinished but available for comment). It's called "The Matter Glitch."
I've been reading an online edition of Volume 2 of On the Cosmic Relations, by Henry Holt (1914). Chapter 34 (the first chapter in this volume) offers extended excerpts from Richard Hodgson's report on Mrs. Piper. After the drubbing that Hodgson took in connection with the Dean Bridgman Conner case a few posts back, it's interesting to read his own words and see how judicious and professional he seems to be. In person he may have been different, but in print he does not come across as excitable or emotional.
Hodgson is mainly interested in dealing with the "secondary personalities" theory of Mrs. Piper's mediumship. He had been sympathetic to that interpretation in his earlier researches, but has now moved away from it, and he gives his reasons at length.
Hodgson sums up:
The persistent failures of many communicators under varying conditions; the first failure of other communicators who soon develop into clearness in communicating, and whose first attempts apparently can be made much clearer by the assistance of persons professing to be experienced communicators; the special bewilderment, soon to disappear, of communicators shortly after death and apparently in consequence of it; the character of the specific mental automatisms manifest in the communications; the clearness of remembrance in little children recently deceased as contrasted with the forgetfulness of childish things shown by communicators who died when children many years before, – all present a definite relation to the personalities alleged to be communicating, and are exactly what we should expect if they are actually communicating under the conditions of Mrs. Piper's trance manifestations. The results fit the claim.
On the other hand these are not the results which we should expect on the hypothesis of telepathy from the living. That persons who must be assumed on this hypothesis to be good agents otherwise, should fail continuously and repeatedly with certain persons as "communicators"; that first communicators of a clearer type should show, especially when themselves professedly directly communicating, the peculiar strangeness which they do even to experienced agents who are familiar with the modus operandi of the communication; that there should be a special temporary bewilderment shown in cases immediately after death and that this should be followed in a few days by a comparatively complete clearness in various cases where there is no assignable change in the agent (unless it were a diminution of his telepathic power); that there should be specific mental automatisms which suggest, not the mind of the supposed agent, or the mind of the supposed percipent, but the mind of the "deceased" person; that memories of little children recently deceased should have a special telepathic agency, – such results we have no reason to expect from what we know or have reason to surmise concerning telepathic action between one incarnate living person and another.
Further there are certain kinds of successes with particular communicators connected with their knowledge and recognition of friends, shown most notably in the case of G.P., but exhibited to some extent by others also … which suggest the recollections and continued interest in personal friends living which we should naturally expect from the alleged communicators themselves, but for which there seems to be no adequate cause in Mrs. Piper's percipient personality.
In general, then, we may say that there are on the one hand various limitations in the information shown through Mrs. Piper's trance, which are prima facie explicable on the assumption that it comes from the alleged communicators, and for which we can find no corresponding limitations in the minds of living persons; and on the other hand, that there are various selections of information given in connection with particular communicators, which are intelligible if regarded as made by the alleged communicators themselves, but for which discrimination there is no satisfactory explanation to be found by referring them to Mrs. Piper's personality.
To rephrase the above: Recently deceased communicators typically have trouble communicating unless assisted by a more experienced communicator; but with practice, they develop greater skill. Those who suffered a long debilitating illness prior to death are more likely to be confused and disoriented in their first communications, but often improve later. Different communicators will come through with varying levels of clarity even when addressing the same sitter; since neither the medium nor the sitter has changed, why should some communicators consistently do better than others if their messages are the product of telepathy with the sitter? Communicators show an active interest in people and events that were important to them in life, but which are of no special importance to the medium. Finally, young children come through with consistent clarity, supposedly because their thoughts are easier for the spirit control to interpret; again, if the messages are telepathic, why should one class (age group) of communicators be reliably better than another?
As I said, this is only a summary; see the chapter for the details.
I've patched together two essays out of some of my blog posts. They're now on my website.
"The Diamond" talks about a meditative exercise that was meaningful to me.
"N-Space, M-Space, and Consciousness" is a compilation of various posts on ultimate reality as information processing and consciousness.
There's nothing new here; I just wanted to put the material into essay form.
In case anyone missed it, Greg Taylor of The Daily Grail posted a brief article (with many links) about the scandals in organized skepticism.
By the way, Greg's forthcoming book Stop Worrying ... There Probably Is an Afterlife, is excellent - probably the best general introduction to the subject that I've read.