In July 2000, the Australasian Society for Psychical Research held an audience participation, mind-over-matter, metal-bending exercise conducted by Helge Trneny. Those attending were asked to bring with them a piece of cutlery such as a dessert spoon or fork that they didn’t mind getting bent. Everyone was asked to participate whether or not they thought that they had any ‘spoon bending’ ability. The procedure was straightforward. Helge suggested that each person hold his or her piece of cutlery loosely in one hand with thumb and forefinger, preferably in the middle. He then conducted a ten minute visualisation exercise. We were each asked to visualise a golden ball that was pouring energy progressively through our head, neck, shoulder, arm, wrist, hand and then into the piece of cutlery we were holding. This energy was ‘instructed’ to affect the spoon or fork in such a way that it became pliable enough either to bend of its own accord or so that the person holding it could effortlessly bend it into a distorted shape. We ended by shouting Bend, bend, bend in unison.
In his introduction Helge had claimed that it was largely the conscious mind’s belief that such metal-bending was impossible that prevented people from being able to do it. To counteract this, immediately after the visualisation exercise, Helge led a discussion about paranormal matters for about fifteen minutes during which we were asked to test our cutlery regularly to see if it had bent or become pliable. The idea was that, while our conscious attention was distracted, the paranormal energy would have more chance of working. However, this energy might only operate for less than a minute, so, as soon as anyone felt his or her cutlery bending or becoming soft, they should twist it into a nice sculptural shape before it set hard again. By the end of the evening about ten percent of the audience had produced bent cutlery. Some of them were astonished that this had happened because up till then, while they might have believed that such a thing was possible, they had no idea that they themselves could do it.
While that evening’s results are interesting and provocative, one could not claim that they constitute conclusive scientific proof that about ten percent of the population has some metal-bending ability. A sceptic might accuse some people of cheating or inadvertently bending their cutlery while flexing it to see if it had become pliable (although one reason the audience was encouraged to bring a piece of cutlery larger and stronger that a teaspoon was to reduce this possibility). On the other hand, I have so far attended four such exercises in which about the same percentage of the audience’s cutlery bent. For this and other reasons it could be claimed that there exists sufficient evidence to justify further research into psychokinesis (PK). The nature of that research would be up to whoever conducted it, but one way of eliminating claims of cheating would be to use short pieces of metal that were too thick to be bent manually. However, if the psychokinetic energy involved in such exercises is only just powerful enough to bend metal the thickness of normal cutlery, such an experiment might not work.
Psi, ESP and PK. Rosemary Guiley (1991, p.469) explains that parapsychologists normally use the word ‘psi’ as the generic term for both extrasensory perception (ESP) and psychokinesis (PK). She defines PK as the apparent influence of mind over matter through invisible means, such as the movement of objects, bending of metal, and the outcome of events
. PK occurs spontaneously and deliberately, indicating that it is both an unconscious and conscious process (p.479). I prefer to use the term PK to cover a larger variety of paranormal phenomena than Guiley does, for example, paranormal healing, levitation, teleportation, control of the weather (Mishlove, 2000), and inedia (the capacity to survive without eating or drinking). Many examples of PK have also been reported during poltergeist activity, otherwise known as Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinesis (RSPK). An excellent review of the early history of research into PK can be found in Brian Inglis’ 1985 book The Paranormal: An Encyclopedia of Psychic Phenomena.
A more recent book is China’s Super Psychics (1997) by Paul Dong and Thomas Raffill which gives numerous examples of the extraordinary PK talents of a selection of Chinese psychics who have what they term ‘Exceptional Human Functions’ (EHF). One of them, a man called Zhang Baosheng, has such powerful psi abilities that the Chinese government has grantedhim the status of national treasure, which entitles him to a salary, bodyguard and chauffer driven car (p.7). Zhang works for China’s Defence Ministry and occasionally gives demonstrations for foreign dignitaries. He is reported to be able to teleport objects, On one occasion, before a large number of witnesses, Zhang caused a hundred-pound [45kg] sack of sugar to move through the walls of a storehouse, ending up in front of them (p.14). The Chinese police apparently no longer bother giving Zhang driving tickets because he simply makes them disappear. Dong & Raffill claim that as a result of extensive testing of their vast population, the Chinese government has discovered numerous young people with EHF. Many of these are under special protection (p.12), so the full extent of their abilities is not known, but some of the tests that are used to select them include seeing whether they can teleport tablets out of sealed bottles or cause flower buds to open by staring at them. Dong & Raffill’s book is not particularly well written, and largely contains anecdotal reports rather than scientific research, but some of these reports are also to be found in Dr Elmar Gruber’s book Psychic Wars: Parapsychology in Espionage and Beyond (1999), which introduces the idea of psi abilities being used for military purposes.
National Security considerations may explain why much of the published research into psi seems so insipid. I suspect that government research into both paranormal and UFO phenomena is largely classified, possibly because these two fields are so closely connected. Aliens frequently use telepathy; they heal people; they often levitate themselves and/or abductees; they seem to be able to make themselves and others invisible; they appear to go through walls which may be a form of PK or teleportation; some UFOs may travel using teleportation; and something that resembles poltergeist activity frequently occurs in abductees’ homes. This list suggests that aliens have powerful PK abilities which may result from their having developed what we could call a ‘technology of the paranormal’. If this is true, there is little doubt that the Pentagon would secretly want to do the same.
Most people have heard of telepathy or spoon bending, even if they are not sure whether science has proved their existence or not, so keeping these topics completely secret is not possible. However, all the relevant authorities would need to do is suppress the publication of their research into psi, while perhaps simultaneously issuing small amounts of disinformation to maintain public confusion about the subject. The resulting information vacuum enables any genuine sceptics to criticise psi research with impunity because so little evidence is available to contradict them.
However, it is a logical error to assume that a lack of conclusive, published evidence about a subject proves that none exists. An overview of the paranormal research that has not been done, which, for very little funding, effort and time, could have been done years ago, suggests that something suspicious is going on in this field that extends well beyond normal human bias and ignorance. A maxim from intelligence work states that while a single unusual occurrence might be normal, and twice might be coincidental, three times is downright suspicious. In light of this, we could ask how many opportunities to do serious, public research into the paranormal have fallen by the wayside in the last fifty years? In my opinion, the number is way beyond three! The question is, why is such research classified and what might they have discovered that theydon’t want us to know?
Researching PK seems to be a twofold problem. We need further convincing experiments to test the variety of ways PK may occur and secondly, a testable conceptual framework is required to explains how it works. On the other hand, a suitable theory to explain PK might produce better ideas about how to research the subject. A limited amount of investigation into various types of psi has been conducted in Europe, Russia and the United States over the last two centuries although acceptance of the results by the scientific community has been dogged by controversy. Today matters have improved somewhat and there are several universities and private organisations researching parapsychology. This article cannot canvass all the theories and experiments used in this research, but will mention a selection and also discuss the apparent link between psi and consciousness.
PEAR. The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory was established in 1979 at Princeton University by Robert Jahn, a professor of Aerospace Sciences and Dean Emeritus of the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Under the guidance of Jahn and laboratory manager Brenda Dunne, the PEAR lab has carried out a considerable amount of research into PK. They have for years been accumulating statistics on what happens when test subjects are asked to stare at a computer screen showing the results of a random-number generator (RNG) performing the equivalent of tossing a coin many times per minute. Chance dictates that a genuine RNG will produce an almost equal number of heads or tails from a large sample of tosses. The greater the sample size the more there should be exactly fifty percent heads and fifty percent tails, thus producing a straight line across PEAR’s computer screen. Subjects are therefore asked to concentrate on biasing the RNG by willing the line go up or down. In other words, they are trying to use PK to force the RNG to produce more heads than tails or vice versa. PEAR’s cumulative results reveal that this can be done to a slight extent (Radin, 1997, p.138). How does this work? How can someone who has no idea how a computer or RNG works affect its functioning in such a specific manner? If this research continues successfully, dare we hope that the computer technician of the future might be able to fix a crashed computer simply by staring at it!
University of Nevada. Dr Dean Radin is the director of the Consciousness Research Laboratory at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, and has done a considerable amount of research into parapsychology, some of it for the US government. His book The Conscious Universe: The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena (1997), is arguably the most important book available on this subject at present. As the titles of both his lab and book suggest, Radin is aware that research into consciousness is essential for a deeper understanding of psi. Radin’s work on PK also involves RNGs. He adopts the idea common among paranormal researcher that there exists a form of interconnectedness, or field of consciousness, between people and objects (p.157) and assumes that this nonlocal effect is somehow capable of transcending time and space. (For a discussion of nonlocality, consciousness and the paranormal, I recommend Michael Talbot’s excellent 1991 book The Holographic Universe.) Physicists report that the sub-atomic or quantum level of reality also displays nonlocal effects, and that sub-atomic particles are most accurately described in terms of energy and probabilities rather than as solid objects. This leads Radin to claim that consciousness can extend beyond the body to affect the probabilities of events (p.160), and that a group of focussed minds can do this more powerfully than an individual. This means that PK will affect a sufficiently sensitive physical system such as an RNG by introducing ‘order’ or information into that system and the stronger the effect, the more order it will introduce. Order is displayed as a significant increase of either the zeros or ones produced by an RNG. In other words, the RNG becomes less and less random the more powerful the field of consciousness affecting it. This sounds like the PEAR experiments described earlier, however Radin’s research goes a step further. Rather than have a group of people trying to bend a line on a computer screen by staring at it, Radin claims that any large group of people who are, for example, deeply engrossed in watching a popular event on the television, will cause an RNG temporarily to cease being random, even if those viewers do not know about the experiment. To test this theory, Radin set up several RNGs in various labs during events such as the Annual Academy Awards presentations, the announcement of the O.J. Simpson trail verdict, the US Superbowl football game, and the Opening Ceremony of the 1996 Olympic Games. His results showed that in each case the RNGs became significantly less random during these televised events, even though they were not always located where the events occurred.
Radin’s results are interesting but one could perhaps query their relevance. But, in a world increasingly reliant on computers and other sensitive devices to manage things such as the stock market, our bank accounts, hospital medical equipment, plane navigation and air traffic control, as well as satellite and nuclear missile launches, the fact that one or more people can apparently affect the working of such devices is clearly cause for concern. Radin is quoted as saying that direct mind-matter interaction (DMMI) another term for PK might cause about one-tenth of one percent of all unexplained machine failures (Wood, 1997, p.62).
Downward Causation. In an attempt to provide a conceptual model for PK, Radin introduces the notion of ‘downward causation’ using the example of someone driving a car along a street (1997, p.260). To explain why the car is moving, we might speak of the combustion of petrol in the car’s cylinders; the mechanical turning of the drive shaft; the driver’s leg muscles moving the accelerator; or the driver’s decision to go to the shops by that particular route. Where does the ultimate cause lie? There is none. It is distributed everywhere at every level of the explanatory hierarchy, all at once. One view sees causation flowing ‘up’ from the exploding droplets of gasoline and another sees causation flowing ‘down’ from the driver’s volition (p.260). Radin therefore suggests that psi effects may be the result of a form of downward causation and that parapsychology somehow straddles the edge separating the mind-oriented disciplines such as clinical and transpersonal psychology and matter-oriented disciplines such as neuroscience and cognitive science. Parapsychology explicitly studies the interactions between consciousness and the physical world. It assumes that downward causation exists in some form, and it assumes that scientific methods can be used to study this middle realm in a rigorous way (p.263).
The Society for Psychical Research, (SPR), is a private organisation based in London that has had an interest in psychical research since it was founded in 1882 by a group of Cambridge scholars. The society has continuously published the Journal for Psychical Research since 1884. Their Internet site is recommended because, among other things, it contains a worldwide directory of universities and individuals involved in paranormal research. The American Society for Psychical Research, which was founded in 1885, also has a comprehensive website (see the references at the end of this article for both addresses).
The Koestler Parapsychology Unit. The Koestler Chair of Parapsychology at the University of Edinburgh, currently held by Bob Morris, was founded as a result of a bequest by the writer Arthur Koestler. In An Overview of Psychical Research in Britain, in the SPR’s quarterly Paranormal Review, Matthew Smith points out that since Professor Morris took up his post in 1985, thirteen students have gained their doctorates in parapsychology-related subjects under his supervision, of whom seven currently hold academic posts in the UK (the other six graduates hold posts in other countries). Smith claims that six other British universities are doing research into parapsychology including the ‘Mind-Matter Unification Project’ at the University of Cambridge, led by the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Prof Brian Josephson. However, he points out that most of this research is funded by short-term grants and often centres around a single researcher, meaning that if that person moves the research moves too, or ceases.
PK and Healing. If PK is the effect of the mind on matter, then it could be claimed that paranormal healing is a type of PK. There are various types of healing and several books have been written on the subject (Krippner & Villoldo, 1986). A common method is the laying on of hands, while some people appear to be able to heal at a distance by, for example, praying with the patient over the telephone (O’Neil, 1988). Shamanic healing has occurred throughout history in almost every part of the planet. Shamans claim that their paranormal healing powers are provided or augmented by helping spirits from some sort of otherworld, and many shamans learn the art by first healing themselves during what is termed shamanic initiation illness (Eliade, 1951/1989; Kalweit, 1992).
Paranormal healing raises several questions. Using your own consciousness to direct energy to bend a spoon that you are holding is one thing, but how does energy (if that is what it is) from one person’s mind enter someone else’s body and heal an infection, a wound, or a cancer? Does the healing power possess a form of diagnostic intelligence that knows what is needed in an organic or bio-chemical sense, even if the healer has no medical knowledge? Even so, knowing a patient’s medical requirements is still not the same as being able to provide them by paranormal means.
Gruber (1999, p.162) quotes a Russian experiment into PK-healing in which groups of mice were exposed to lethal doses of gamma rays. In one of the examples, healers treated the animals about twenty minutes before they were exposed to the lethal dose. All the mice in the four untreated control groups died, while in the groups that had received prior healing, the death rates were ninety per cent, fifty per cent, forty per cent and twenty-two per cent respectively. It seems extraordinary that an animal can be healed before it has been injured, but what makes this case even harder to explain is that the most successful of the healers (the one with the twenty-two per cent death rate) had been doing remote healing, from a town thirteen hundred kilometres away!
The possible community health benefits and financial savings are alone sufficient incentive to justify comprehensive research into PK-healing, but we should also be aware of the potential ramifications if such research was successful. What, for example, might the pharmaceutical and medical equipment industries have to say about the future possibility of doctors, or the public at large, being able to heal without drugs and all the other paraphernalia of modern medicine?
Inedia is closely related to paranormal healing because both appear to involve some form of physical change within the body. The Catholic stigmatist Therese Neumann stopped eating and drinking in 1927 and survived for the next thirty-five years. Michael Talbot (1991) reports that, although she lost nearly nine pounds [4 kg] in blood during the weekly opening of her stigmata, her weight returned to normal within a day or two later (p.153). How is this possible? She was obviously not materialising food within her own stomach because investigations at the time revealed that she did not go to the toilet (p.153). So was she using a form of PK to generate, within her own body, the energy required to stay alive? I suspect that various agribusinesses might not be too amused if people start learning how to survive without eating, although many in the Third World might welcome such a gift.
Theories. Any theory to explain PK will need to include all aspects of the phenomenon, although different types of PK might work in different ways. Obvious questions about PK are: What is its connection to consciousness; what is the energy involved, and how does it operate at a distance from the body? Is that energy a new fundamental force not yet discovered by physicists, or an unknown variation of the existing ones? Physicists currently believe that there exist only four fundamentalforces: the strong and the weak nuclear forces, gravity and electromagnetism.
In his book Superminds: An Investigation into the Paranormal (1976), which documents his research into metal-bending, John Taylor who was then Professor of Mathematics at King’s College, London suggests that, the human operator emits the electromagnetic intentionality field which interacts with
a piece of metal (p.138). He admits that an alternative candidate for the intentionality field is a so-called psi field, which is involved in some way with physical objects; it is not in physical space but in some other space or spaces (p.139). However, he claims that if this psi-field is entirely non-physical, it would never be able to interact with the physical world and cause the bending of metal (p.139). This is a common scientific objection to PK theories. But, researchers who dismiss the possibility that there exists a form of ‘non-physical energy’ that can interact with physical matter are being unscientific if they simply make such an assertion without doing any research to prove it.
What energy operates during other forms of PK? For example, does the paranormal capacity to levitate an object or oneself involve a form of anti-gravity, or an entirely unknown type of energy? Whichever it is, the military might be extremely interested in this ability, especially in the light of reports that many aliens appear to levitate both themselves and abductees during close encounters. In his book Into the Crystal: The Miracles of Peter Sugleris (1993), paranormal researcher Dr Berthold Schwarz publishes several photos of Peter levitating both himself and other objects, although the pictures were not taken under controlled conditions. What might the world be like in future if some people learn to levitate themselves at will?
Other questions about PK abilities are: Why are some people good at it while others are not? Is it possible to learn how to do it without meditating for many years, and why is it that being abducted by aliens appears to develop or enhance a person’s psi abilities? Assuming that science will one day be able to explain PK, will we be able to create machines or robots that can use it, and could we perhaps use genetic engineering to enhance it in future generations of humans? Some scientists are already discussing the possibility of creating conscious computers (Wright, 1996; Taubes, 1998).
Consciousness. One of the most prevalent theories about paranormal powers such as PK is that they are related to altered states of consciousness. This largely results from the observation that many mystics, yogis and saints develop paranormal abilities after years of meditation (Yogananda, 1946/1983), although there are also people who seem to be born with PK abilities, or who develop them spontaneously after receiving a bang to the head or an electric shock (Perry, 1993). The problem with hoping that an understanding of consciousness will help explain PK is that science knows almost as little about the nature of consciousness as it does about psi. Nevertheless, research into consciousness is now considered by many to be one of science’s most important subjects and does not have such a controversial history as parapsychology. Unfortunately, despite today’s relative abundance of books on consciousness, the neuroscientists, philosophers, psychologists, and physicists involved cannot even agree on what consciousness is, let alone how to research it (Searle, 1998). Philosophical debate over what is called the ‘mind-body problem’ is centuries old and raises some interesting questions. For example, if humans are consciousness, does that mean that some or all animals are as well? If the mind and body are separate phenomena, then how do they interact with each other, and what, if anything, is consciousness made of?
The conventional scientific position is that consciousness is simply an illusory by-product of the brain. Numerous researchers adopt this opinion with dogmatic insistence. At the other end of the spectrum are those who take into account PK, near-death experiences (NDEs), out-of-body experiences (OBEs), remote viewing (RV), and similar experiences that suggest that consciousness, or some aspect of it, can function beyond the body. However, I believe that we need to be careful in assuming that the debate is simply about whether consciousness can transcend the body or not, although that is what it looks like at first glance. The truth may be considerably more complicated. One suggestion, based largely on Eastern philosophy, is that consciousness is the fundamental underlying substance of reality and that the brain is a device that enables us to experience it in an individualistic sense while we are resident in our bodies. If this is the case, then why are we not all more psychic, and what is actually happening during NDEs and OBEs? Are people taking their individual portion of consciousness with them during such experiences, or are they using some form of universal consciousness? Would an information technology specialist be the best person to research how it is that a person’s individual consciousness can sometimes appear to connect up to an Internet-like, nonlocal form of universal consciousness?
The evidence of PK suggests that there is something about the fundamental nature of reality that facilitates a transfer of energy and/or information between the human mind and matter. This suggests that we may have a lot more to learn about the relationship between consciousness, information, energy, and matter. For example, Guiley (p.468) points out that, according to conventional physics, the PK ability to materialise or dematerialise an object the size of a twenty cent coin would require the energy of a small nuclear explosion. So how could anyone do it? Perhaps science has made the mistake of assuming that knowing one way of doing something automatically excludes any other way. There may be a simpler, non-nuclear way that matter can be created or dematerialised that does not involve energy in the way physicists currently believe it should. In other words, perhaps something other than what we call ‘energy’ can produce matter. If research reveals this to be the case, it would revolutionise our understanding of the nature of reality, and possibly upset a lot of scientists.
Information and Consciousness. What unknown connections might exist between consciousness, information, energy, and matter? I earlier mentioned Radin’s idea that the PK ability to affect an RNG can be seen as introducing order or information into the workings of the RNG. Radin writes that, Other theorists familiar with the RNG studies agree that what seems to be happening in mind-matter interaction phenomena is better described in terms of exchanges of information rather than by the application of conventional forces (1997, p.279). Similarly, Guiley (1991, p.478) writes that, If one assumes the existence of extrasensory perception (ESP), then PK is a necessary consequence. In physics, if information is obtained from a system (as with ESP) then the system is disturbed (resulting in PK).
In a provocative article entitled The Puzzle of Conscious Experience in Scientific American, the philosopher David Chalmers writes that consciousness might be explained by a new kind of theory
. For example, it will probably involve new fundamental laws, and the concept of information may play a central role. These faint glimmerings suggest that a theory of consciousness may have startling consequences for our view of the universe and of ourselves (1995, p.62). Chalmers does not discuss paranormal phenomena in his article, but he does propose that conscious experience be considered a fundamental feature, irreducible to anything more basic (p.65). This sounds like Transcendental Monism which Radin (p.255) defines as the theory that, the mind is primary, and in some sense causes matter. The ultimate stuff of the universe is consciousness. The physical world is to the greater mind as a dream is to the individual mind. Consciousness is not the end product of material evolution; rather consciousness was here first. This theory clearly has an Eastern religious flavour to it which, not surprisingly, alienates some researchers but should not exclude it from serious consideration. After all, it might turn out to be correct.
In what might seem like an echo of these ideas, the well-known author and physicist Paul Davies writes that, Normally we think of the world as composed of simple, clod-like, material particles, and information as a derived phenomenon attached to special, organised states of matter. But maybe it is the other way around: perhaps the Universe is really a frolic of primal information, and material objects a complex secondary manifestation (1999, p.3). Davies points out that it was the American physicist John Archibald Wheeler who first came up with this idea when he coined the phrase it from bit, in which ‘it’ refers to solid matter, while ‘bit’ refers to the basic unit of information in a modern computer. However, Davies cautions against an unquestioning acceptance of such ideas. History provides [several] examples where a concept from technology has been projected onto nature and used to construct a cosmology (p.3). Newton gave us the clockwork universe, steam power provided the idea of measuring events in terms of energy, and computers have introduced the even more abstract notion of nature itself being a computational process. Davies adds that while all these metaphors, capture some legitimate aspect of physical reality. None provides a complete description (p.3). Davies does, however, conclude with the optimistic suggestion that, If information is indeed poised to replace matter as the primary ‘stuff’ of the world, then an even bigger prize may lie in store. One of the oldest problems of existence is the duality between mind and matter. In modern parlance, brains (matter) create thoughts (mental information). Nobody knows how. But if matter turns out to be a form of organised information, then consciousness may not be so mysterious after all (Davies, 1999, p.3).
In his comments about the possible link between consciousness, information, energy and matter, Paul Davies does not mention research into psi. However, four years earlier, Prof Robert Jahn gave a similar analysis with reference to PEAR’s research into PK. Jahn pointed out that science’s focus has progressed from an interest in physical mass, to the notion of energy, and that now a third physical currency, information, has taken centre stage, and clearly will dominate science and its applications over the foreseeable future (1995, p.400). He also notes that, while the conversion of mass into energy forms the backbone of nuclear physics, A similar transmutability of energy into information, and vice versa, although somewhat more subtle, may well drive 21st Century science and many of its applications (p.400). Given that PK research demonstrates that an operator is able to insert information into an otherwise random string of binary digits
it now falls to science to represent how consciousness, beyond acquiring and utilising physical information, can generate it as well (p.400).
A possible example of PK inserting information into an otherwise random process might be a clairvoyant who reads the future by shuffling and then laying out a set of cards. Shuffling is generally assumed to put cards into a random order, but might it be possible that, when shuffled by a competent clairvoyant, information about the future is somehow inserted into that random order?
As if to demonstrate the accuracy of Jahn’s prediction about the future relevance of information to science, the cover story of the 17 February 2001 edition of New Scientist claims that research by Anton Zeilinger at the University of Vienna, may eventually demonstrate that the essence of quantum mechanics is information (Von Baeyer, 2001, p.26). While the article does not mention PK, it does tell us that Zeilinger’s research group has demonstrated the futuristic phenomena of quantum teleportation and quantum encryption (p.26).
In his book, The Fifth Miracle (1999), Paul Davies discusses the connection between consciousness, information, matter and the origins of life in the universe. He suggests the possible existence of a Law of Complexity. Whereas the laws of physics merely shuffle information around, a complexity law might actually create information, or at least wrest it from the environment and etch it onto a material structure
. My proposal means accepting that information is a genuine physical quantity that can be traded by ‘informational forces’ in the same way that matter can be moved around by physical forces (p.242). This leads him to propose a vision of a self-organising and self-complexifing universe, governed by ingenious laws that encourage matter to evolve towards life and consciousness. A universe in which the emergence of thinking beings is a fundamental and integral part of the overall scheme of things. A universe in which we are not alone (p.256). These are fairly radical comments and, while they do not verify or explain the existence of psi abilities, they do illustrate how some leading physicists are in all seriousness proposing ideas that, in the not too distant future, may lead to an acceptance and understanding of a causal link between consciousness and matter, and perhaps even the existence of aliens as well!
Love and Resonance. Resonance occurs when the frequency of a force or vibration that is applied to something, matches that object’s natural frequency and therefore greatly increases in power. There are numerous examples of resonance in nature and science. For example, many musical instruments are designed so that they will resonate with the musical notes that they produce and thus amplify that sound. Resonance can at times produce dramatic physical effects. Some opera singers can shatter glass, and soldiers break step when walking over bridges in case the frequency of their marching matches the resonant frequency of the bridge, thus causing it to collapse.
It is often claimed that consciousness, too, can operate at different frequencies. Terms such as vibrations and wavelengths are used to describe various altered states of consciousness. In speculating on the dynamics of PK, Jahn introduces the concept of resonance. The most common subjective report of our most successful human/machine experimental operators is some sense of ‘resonance’ with the devices some sacrifice of personal identity in the interaction a ‘merging’ or bonding with the apparatus. As one operator put it: ‘I simply fall in love with the machine’ (1995, p.402).
Jahn’s comment about sacrifice of personal identity is interesting because one of the fundamental instructions to those hoping to achieve spiritual enlightenment is that they must learn to transcend or eradicate their egos. While we are told that paranormal powers are a distraction on the arduous pathway towards self-realisation, there is no doubt that, as mentioned earlier, advanced meditators are the ones who most frequently develop paranormal abilities. In shamanism, too, the shaman must learn to achieve ecstasy literally meaning to stand outside oneself to enter the appropriate state of consciousness to gain paranormal abilities such as healing. It seems, therefore, that to use PK to bend a piece of metal, move an object, or heal someone at a distance, you have to achieve a transpersonal state of consciousness in which you can actually ‘feel’ or ‘touch’ that object or person with your mind: so that your being resonates or merges with theirs in a truly physical sense.
Conclusion. It seems clear that, despite the work of researchers like Radin and Jahn, the scientific community has no clear understanding of how PK abilities work. In my opinion, Jahn’s suggestion that like quantum systems, consciousness appears to have both a ‘particle’ and a ‘wave’ aspect (in McCrone, 1994, p.37), may be the most fruitful pathway to follow. The wave aspect allows quantum systems occasionally to penetrate physical barriers
. So, by analogy, the mind might be able to reach beyond the brain and have a faint resonant influence on the surrounding world (p.37).
But these ideas have been around for at least a decade. Why has more concrete research into such matters not been published? As Radin puts it, Psi-based manipulation of the fundamental properties of space, time, matter, and energy would lead to unimaginable revisions of reality. This is not a wild speculation, but a virtual certainty (1997, p.290). I believe Radin knows what he is talking about, and I would add that perhaps the most significant difference between the human race and the extraterrestrial beings that appear to be visiting Earth at present, is that they have comprehensively researched paranormal phenomena and we have not. If this is true, it puts us at a tremendous disadvantage until we catch up with them.
If classified research into psi abilities is taking place, one might therefore query the motives of those maintaining the secrecy and ask how much longer they intend keeping us in the dark? However, if classified research is not taking place, then it is high time we woke up and allocated appropriate funding to do the research ourselves.
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Source: Journal of Alternative Realities - Volume 9, Number 1 2001