Journal of Nonlocality and Remote Mental Interactions February 2003 Vol II Nr 1
The scientific controversy over remote mental interactions has been raging for over a century - unfortunately the nature of the dialogue often seems arrested at the level of pre-teen arguments. Is that due to frustration before the lack of a viable theory? But such a theory cannot develop in the absence of official support for a serious experimental programme. Is it the poor statistical evidence? That rationale is difficult to support once one takes an honest look at the reports issued between 1981 and 1995 by US government investigative bodies such as the Congressional Research Service, the Army Research institute, the National Research Council, the Office of Technology Assessment and the American Institutes for Research - all of which independently concluded that the experimental evidence for certain types of psychic phenomena was "genuine", not due to methodological flaws, and had a statistical significance "far beyond what is expected by chance" - in the words of principal investigator (and skeptic) Ray Hyman, the "departures from chance appear to be too large and consistent to attribute to statistical flukes of any sort" (Radin, pp. 4).
The unwillingness of the scientific mainstream to confront the challenge and implications of such evidence might have a partial explanation in the uncertainty associated with the replicability of psi experiments: indeed, while the overall statistical proof for the existence of these phenomena is overwhelming, the probability that a given experiment will be successful is less than 1. We do not yet know the full set of conditions leading to effective psi functioning and while it appears that every human being has some degree of ability, even the most talented subjects in the field are occasionally prone to failure.
Is psi function non-deterministic? Indeed, we have every indication that it is - and the papers in this issue will strive to show why. But where the benefits have been valuable enough, we have shown that we were willing to put up with indeterminism in our scientific pursuit - be it the fundamental indeterminism of quantum computation, or the practical one of non-linear dynamics.
We believe that psi research - the study of nonlocal conscious interactions - should be judged with the same standard; and that, as in these two other examples, every effort should be made to discover the laws allowing us to make probabilistic predictions, chart the dynamics and use the functional maps of psi interactions with the greatest effectiveness.
We are standing today before a journey unlike any other in the history of mankind: the significance of nonlocality for our understanding of space-time, matter and consciousness is practically impossible to overestimate. We are setting out to discover, not a new continent or the earliest snapshots of the Big Bang, but the very fabric that supports these phenomena and their reflection in our intelligence.
Contrary to what many would like to believe, psi research is not the product of the human mind trying to cling to a primitive need for religious reassurance. On the contrary - it takes the highest form of intellectual and spiritual courage to abandon the solid conventions of which our world and sense of self are built. It is the ultimate challenge - and very few among us have had the courage to take that leap so far.
We hope that their example is followed.
Radin, Dean The Conscious Universe: the Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena, Harper Collins, New York NY, 1997