I’ve finally had a chance to begin reading Dr. Dean Radin’s book Entangled Minds. He’s a long-term scientific researcher of psi (psychic ability) now with the Institute of Noetic Sciences. His history includes Bell Labs, SRI, Princeton and a classified program with the US government. You may remember him from the What the Bleep film. The book is an interesting exploration of the research, history and controversy of the field along with a proposal that psi can begin to be explained with quantum mechanics. He also has a good sense of humor.
Because psychic abilities tend to show up during spiritual development, I thought it worth exploring some of his points.
“Entanglement” is a term from quantum physics that refers to “connections between distinct particles that persist regardless of distance.” For example, if the spin of one particle is changed, the other changes also, instantly, even if miles away. Einstein called this “spooky action at a distance.” This quality is turning out to be more pervasive and robust than first thought. Some scientists even suggest everything is entangled as it was all together in the big bang. That’s certainly a common idea in spiritual circles.
“Bio-entanglement” (entanglement in biology) is being explored as way to explain some aspects of living systems. There are models of quantum mechanics in brain function, for example, to explain how nerve signals travel so fast. As Radin observes, this could also help explain psychic ability.
The controversy part is related to the dogma I mentioned on the Foundation of Belief. Most science is founded in a materialist paradigm that can become dogmatic. Even quantum physicists are forever seeking particles (at massive cost) when they’re studying energy (waves). Anything non-physical that cannot be addressed by materialism may be put down to belief or superstition.
Now – I’ll certainly agree that there is no end of nonsense and charlatans about in the psi arena. But to suggest such experiences don’t exist is to ignore much of our history. Even the history of science is full of intuitive leaps, unusual experiences, and curious beliefs.
To show how strong the negative bias is, the US National Science Foundation (NSF) considers that a belief in psi is evidence of either ignorance or mental deficiency. As Radin observes “In other words, if you’re an eccentric introvert and believe in clairvoyance and telepathy, you might have an official psychiatric disorder.” This kind of dogma is not only non-scientific, it can be quite destructive. While this may sound harsh, pronouncements like the above are bigotry; if they don’t think like me, there’s something wrong with them.
Amusingly, Radin uses the NSF’s own data to demonstrate that the better educated are more likely to believe in psi phenomena. (a majority) He notes that higher education does tend to reduce belief in “religious paranormal” concepts (such as heaven and hell) but increase belief in psi. Many scientists have seen evidence of psi but avoid research due to career and funding issues arising from the bias. It’s right up there with cold fusion.
But we’re still debating belief. Many people believe in psi because they’ve had direct experiences of it. Funnily enough everyone, even scientists, has metaphysical experiences. The mind is metaphysical and unexplained by science (let alone self-awareness). If science doesn’t understand mind, how can it know it’s limitations?
In some of Radin’s research, he’s identified a generalized profile of people more likely to have psychic experiences. “a left-handed female who is thirty-something or younger, physically highly sensitive, suffers from chronic anxiety, is somewhat introverted, makes decisions based more on feelings than logic, practices one or more of the creative arts, engages in some form of mental discipline like meditation, is open to unconventional claims, and is interested more in possibilities than facts.” (Adam the Dreamhealer is an interesting contrast to some of this)
You may recognize someone you know. (laughs) You also may note the right brain qualities. This is related to fluid vs crystalline g (intelligence). Crystalline g is what traditional IQ tests report and relates to the left brain mode that science fosters. Culture-neutral IQ tests are more pattern-recognition based and they’ve discovered test fluid g. People who are more prone to lateral and creative thinking have stronger fluid g. Such people are not less intelligent, they just use intelligence in a different way. An artist may be poor at math but a genius at capturing the essence of someone.
“Latent Inhibition” is a term that refers to “an unconscious brain process that degrades our ability to pay attention to stimuli that have had no consequences in the past.” In other words, if it’s not deemed important or relevant, the sensory information never reaches our conscious mind. This is what allows us to stay stable and focused, to drive a car on the highway while we carry on a conversation, and so forth. We screen out the vast majority of the sea of sensory information we’re barraged with. If we haven’t learned to recognize psychic impressions, we’ll just screen all that out too.
Latent Inhibition can be illustrated with the related “Selective Attention”, where we screen out what is not related to our focus. Magicians use this all the time. A video example.
If latent inhibition is low, this can lead to mental illness as we struggle to process the flood. This is why some tend to pathologize psi. However, low latent inhibition is also associated with “openness to experience” which in turn is associated with divergent thinking and creativity. Radin observes that if the mind is strong enough, we can take in and process much more. Higher intelligence thus correlates with an ability to be more open. (potentially)
This illustrates the closeness of genius and madness plus profound spiritual shifts.
Because psi is energetic, it’s heavily influenced by emotions. If you reject it, it will tend to suppress the experience long term due to Latent Inhibition. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. For some, it can be self-preservation. Many kids learn to filter it out. Plus there’s a set of skills we need to develop. Psychics I’ve talked to typically have to learn how to turn it off, how to protect themselves from others junk, and how to keep the connection high so they don’t fall into the mud. This is where a spiritual connection can be a profound value for the open. But with a little understanding and the right approach, they sky is not the limit.
Feel the force, Luke!