Mad Science Becoming Respectable? It's More Likely Than You Think...

Mad Science Becoming Respectable? It’s More Likely Than You Think…

pscienceMainstream scientific interest in psi, and related topics, are gaining traction. A recent article by Etzel Cardeña at Frontiers In Human Neuroscience, with the help of 100 signatories, calls upon the scienfic community for open discussion on all aspects of consciousness, portending a serious challenge to reductionist materialists contending the mind is the brain. A mere epiphenomena of gray matter regulating the biological processes of life.

Frontiers In Human Neuroscience isn’t some fly-by-night publication established to promote alternative theories, I’m looking at you Melba Ketchum. They’ve been around since 2007, and in 2013 the Nature Publishing Group purchased a controlling stake in Frontiers’s journals.

With the rise of rabid, reddit pseudoskeptics, jumping on the bandwagon headed by Richard Dawkins, P.Z. Myers, the late Christopher Hitchens, James Randi, among many others maintaining alternative models of consciousness are non-falsifiable.

Etzel makes a strong case for a silent majority supporting inquiry into topics labelled as ‘woo’, like ESP, precognition, and remote viewing.


Research on parapsychological phenomena (psi) is being carried out in various accredited universities and research centers throughout the world by academics in different disciplines trained in the scientific method (e.g., circa 80 Ph.D.s have been awarded in psi-related topics in the UK in recent years). This research has continued for over a century despite the taboo against investigating the topic, almost complete lack of funding, and professional and personal attacks. The Parapsychological Association has been an affiliate of the AAAS since 1969, and more than 20 Nobel prizewinners and many other eminent scientists have supported the study of psi or even conducted research themselves.

Despite a negative attitude by some editors and reviewers, results supporting the validity of psi phenomena continue to be published in peer-reviewed, academic journals in relevant fields, from psychology to neuroscience to physics e.g., (Storm et al., 2010; Bem, 2011; Hameroff, 2012; Radin et al., 2012).

Increased experimental controls have not eliminated or even decreased significant support for the existence of psi phenomena, as suggested by various recent meta-analyses.

These meta-analyses and other studies suggest that data supportive of psi phenomena cannot reasonably be accounted for by chance or by a “file drawer” effect. Indeed, contrary to most disciplines, parapsychology journals have for decades encouraged publication of null results and of papers critical of a psi explanation. A psi trial registry has been established to improve research practice.

The effect sizes reported in most meta-analyses are relatively small and the phenomena cannot be produced on demand, but this also characterizes various phenomena found in other disciplines that focus on complex human behavior and performance such as psychology and medicine.

Although more conclusive explanations for psi phenomena await further theoretical and research developments, they do not prima facie violate known laws of nature given modern theories in physics that transcend classical restrictions of time and space, combined with growing evidence for quantum effects in biological systems.1

Cardeña’s not alone when it comes to demanding science clean house, with a recent article at Edge asking “What Scientific Idea Is Ready For Retirement?” Some of the topics up for review are intriguing.

For example, Frank Wilczek’s suggestion to retire the distinction between mind and matter.

We have learned what matter is. And our new matter, informed over the course of the twentieth century by the revelations of relativity, quantum mechanics, and transformational symmetry, is far stranger and richer in potential than anything our ancestors could have dreamed of. It can dance in intricate, dynamic patterns; it can exploit environmental resources, to self-organize and export entropy.

Douglas Rushkoff argues that atheism shouldn’t be a prerequisite for being a scientist.

By starting with Godlessness as a foundational principle of scientific reasoning, we make ourselves unnecessarily resistant to the novelty of human consciousness, its potential continuity over time, and the possibility that it has purpose.

Maybe the next time TED decides to have someone discuss maverick science, they won’t be so quick to bow to pressure and marginalize people like Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock.


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  1. Eric Hogan

    02/12/2014 at 12:03 AM

    Your snarky comment about Melba Ketchum almost kept me from bothering what turned out to be a good article about science finally starting to open up to psi research.

    I’m curious whether your critisism of her stems from the way she got her results published, or with the results themselves. If I had put the amount of work her team had put in to their tests, and then couldn’t get it published because of the subject I could understand going the route she did.

    Even if you disagree with the propriety of that move, it doesn’t effect the paper itself, does it?

  2. Eric Hogan

    02/12/2014 at 12:09 AM

    Please just delete my last comment. It has an embarrassing amount of grammatical and spelling errors. Thanks.

    • Chris Savia

      02/12/2014 at 5:16 AM

      You made a few salient points and contributed to the dialogue. Grammar and spelling are secondary to the message. Thank you.

      I’ve read up on Ketchum’s methodology, read the paper too, and either she published waaay too early or she’s up to shenanigans.

      Whether she believes herself to be sincere, or she’s another Rick Dyer remains to be seen.

  3. Padma

    02/14/2014 at 1:50 AM

    Consciousness is subtler than matter. How can the subtle be a product of the gross?

    All matter arises from the zero-point field, infinite potential energy underlying the gross universe. So even materialists must concede that consciousness is a product of the zero-point field.

    The divergence of science from philosophy was based upon a hypothesis that matter is fundamental and mind just an epiphenomenon. This was disproven by experiments in quantum mechanics, yet the establishment is still in denial.

    Why are conditions (constants of physics) so ideally suited to life evolving? Perhaps because consciousness (the infinite light of consciousness which is an emergent property of the zero-point field) is fundamental, while the observable universe is a dream being hallucinated by “G/d”, aka universal consciousness, which has fallen under the illusion of duality and fragmented into infinite pieces of which we are all one, not recognising the true nondual nature of reality.

    The story of Lucifer’s fall is the Light of Consciousness falling from its nondual essence into the hell of duality. Satan is the ego. Lucifer is the Light of consciousness.

    We are all Satan, we are all God. Failure to recognise the Truth, believing in the separation of ego, is the Original Error. (“sin”).

    The laws of physical reality are dependent on collective karmas.

    There is a story of a yogi meditating in the mountains with his master. The disciple would fly down to the valley to fetch water when needed. One time, he was seen by a villager. The villager’s karmas, belief in the solidity of material reality, conflicted with the yogi’s pure experiences. The yogi fell from the sky and hurt his knees. Perception and karma, quantum signatures (samskaras) in individuated, infinitely entangled quantum consciousness-fields (“soul” or “mental continuum”) determine physical reality.

    Smoke some DMT and see whether consciousness has an effect on observable reality. Do peer review by setting up controlled experiments to prove the phenomenon of shared hallucinations.

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