Acknowledging psychic phenomena

“In science, the acceptance of new ideas follows a predictable, four-stage sequence. In Stage 1, skeptics confidently proclaim that the idea is impossible because it violates the Laws of Science. This stage can last from years to centuries, depending on how much the idea challenges conventional wisdom. In Stage 2, skeptics reluctantly concede that the idea is possible, but it is not very interesting and the claimed effects are extremely weak.

Stage 3 begins when the mainstream realizes that the idea is not only important, but its effects are much stronger and more pervasive than previously imagined. Stage 4 is achieved when the same critics who used to disavow any interest in the idea begin to proclaim that they thought of it first. Eventually, no one remembers that the idea was once considered a dangerous heresy.” … …

“The most important indication of a shift from Stage 1 to Stage 2 can be seen in the gradually changing attitudes of prominent skeptics. In a 1995 book saturated with piercing skepticism, the late Carl Sagan of Cornell University maintained his life-long mission of educating the public about science, in this case by debunking popular hysteria over alien abductions, channelers, faith-healers, the “face” on Mars, and practically everything else found in the New Age section of most bookstores.

Then, in one paragraph amongst 450 pages, we find an astonishing admission:
“At the time of writing there are three claims in the ESP field which, in my opinion, deserve serious study: (1) that by thought alone humans can (barely) affect random number generators in computers; (2) that people under mild sensory deprivation can receive thoughts or images “projected” at them; and (3) that young children sometimes report the details of a previous life, which upon checking turn out to be accurate and which they could not have known about in any other way than reincarnation.”

Other signs of shifting opinions are cropping up with increasing frequency in the scientific literature. Starting in the 1980s, well-known scientific journals like Foundations of Physics, American Psychologist, and Statistical Science published articles favorably reviewing the scientific evidence for psychic phenomena. The Proceedings of the IEEE, the flagship journal of the Institute for Electronic and Electrical Engineers, has published major debates on psi research.

Invited articles have appeared in the prestigious journal, Brain and Behavioral Sciences. A favorable article on telepathy research appeared in 1994 in Psychological Bulletin, one of the top-ranked journals in academic psychology. And an article presenting a theoretical model for precognition appeared in 1994 in Physical Review, a prominent physics journal.”

(These are extracts from Dean Radin’s ‘The Conscious Universe’ Chapter 1)

Comment: It is good to see Sagan’s admission. I wonder when other defenders of the status quo can be expected to follow suit.