Chapter 8

Psi and Science



Psi and Science



If there exists any magick in the sense that most practitioners believe then there must exist a direct and largely unexplored mode of interaction between Mind and Reality. Beyond the known psychological aspects of the mind lie such gray areas, most powerfully exemplified by the collection of phenomena that fall under the heading of Parapsychology, or Psi for short. However, unlike most scientific summaries of the state of the art we are going to focus on aspects that have a direct relevance to group working and additionally manifest undeniably powerful effects. With one or two notable exceptions the laboratory work of the past decades has been sterile and pointless and out of necessity has almost always focused on the fragile abilities of individuals. Any effects manifested have only been seen when statistical analyses are performed which leads to arguments over protocols, cheating, unconscious biases and so forth. The end result is that the believers constantly try to convince hardcore skeptics with ever more rigorously controlled experiments, all to no avail. Meanwhile, out in the real world, there are intense manifestations of Psi phenomena in settings which are remarkably similar to group oriented ritual magick, most notable amongst these being the modern séance.
There is a whole slew of types of Psi but generally they fall into one of three categories, that of extrasensory information acquisition and perception (ESP), that of psychokinetic (PK) effects and those that purportedly involve contact with other intelligence. The latter includes ghosts, spirit contacts, various hauntings, reincarnation, angels and demons and (depending upon inclination and beliefs) UFO contacts. All these are, or have been, recorded as part of magickal practices through the ages and so it is worth looking at the state of the art from a scientific point of view to discover what may be learned in order to extend our capabilities.
Before we move on to examining specific experiments we need to define exactly what we are seeking. The various psychic talents and phenomena are listed here according to their group:

Information:

  • Telepathy – direct communication between minds.

  • Psychometry – acquisition of past information from an object.

  • Clairvoyance – acquisition of contemporary information via “Remote Viewing”.

  • Astral Projection – a more “personal” variation on clairvoyance where the person believes they leave their body and travel in space and/or time.

  • Reincarnation – transfer/continuity of (at least) information or “souls” between lives separated in time.

  • Precognition – acquisition of information from the future.

Physical Effects:

  • Psychokinesis (PK) – movement of physical objects either microscopic or macroscopic, including teleportation (apports).

  • Healing, or inducing illness/disease.

Intelligent Entities:

  • Mediumship – also known as “channeling”, contact with the spirit world.

  • Hauntings – perception of the immediate and seemingly intelligent presence of non-corporeal entities whether formerly Human or not.

  • Poltergeist phenomena – hauntings with a significant objective physical component.

  • Demonology – visitations by non-Human intelligent entities.

The major problem is that Psi research has been in process for over a century and little real progress has been made. So little, in fact, that most scientists are skeptical that there is any such thing as psychic phenomena at all. This includes all of the above and especially the third category in those cases not amenable to laboratory testing. The reason for this is largely due to the fact that Humans are immensely complex and what is at best usually a small statistical effect is swamped by uncontrolled and largely subjective variables. Another drawback is that there are no suitable theories of Psi that both meshes with modern scientific knowledge and leads to significant testable predictions. Nor, so far, has it been possible to remove the Human factor from Psi experiments although PK experiments come the closest as performed by organizations like Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR), which we shall look at in more detail.
The problem with checking Psi theories in the lab is that the effects are so subtle that simply believing, or disbelieving, in
any theory can provide the confirmation one is looking for. Belief is crucial, and Nature seems to follow on behind. One might assume that theories only become really testable when Psi is being manifested on a massive scale. However, since a major function of theory is to indicate ways in which Psi might be made to manifest far more strongly it becomes something of a chicken and egg situation unless the theory is absolutely correct. If it is only partially correct then the effects of experiments designed to test it can be masked by the effects engendered by the belief it instills. There is also the strong possibility that standard scientific procedures, such as the separation of the scientist from direct involvement with the experiment may be impossible, even when others perform that experiment. It is essentially another manifestation of the Placebo Effect, this time operating on external physical reality. It also does not help that many Psi effects are so far outside of the current boundaries of theoretical physics that few physicists see any worth in pursuing theories of Psi. However, if the retro-causality described later were proven to exist beyond doubt it would lead to a revolution in science and technology.
Given Occam's Razor, which says that in general the simplest explanation is the one most likely to be true, it is reasonable to assume we do not possess a myriad of independent Psi powers, but only one that manifests in various forms. In what follows we are going to assume that the “information” and “physical effects” categories above are the major manifestations of Psi and the “intelligence” category is only loosely connected to the others as a kind of group-mind overlay. Furthermore, that for all practical purposes there are only two Psi effects – acquisition of information (however the mind cares to dress it in various synaesthetic and illusory guises) and variants of PK. However, even this distinction may not be necessary since there exist theories which indicate that information traveling backwards in time may result in force-like characteristics. Even so, the massive PK effects described later in this chapter seem to stretch such hypotheses to breaking point.
Much of this is reminiscent of Quantum Mechanical Entanglement and the measurement process. Naturally this has led to a great deal of theorizing but so far no model proffered has led to any substantial new physics that can be tested in the standard scientific manner. That is to say, with machines demonstrating Psi effects in place of Humans. Whether this is at all possible is unknown at present, although perhaps the advent of Quantum Computers might alter the situation.
It is also fair to say that all Psi phenomena involve mental states that are not normally accessible to most people most of the time. This being so, the more esoteric magick then becomes the art of engineering suitable mental states conducive to the directed application of Psi phenomena. Anyway, we will start our rather partisan survey with the more scientifically acceptable research carried out at Princeton, partly because it provides probably the best laboratory evidence of PK and partly because the methods it uses have a direct bearing on the Global Consciousness Project featured later.

Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) 1


The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) program was established at Princeton University in 1979CE by Robert G. Jahn, then Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, to pursue rigorous scientific study of the interaction of human consciousness with sensitive physical devices. Most of the published work has been on the effect of conscious intent on the outputs of random event generators (REG), and the following data is abstracted from a paper2 summarizing results over a twelve year period. The main type of REG used creates an output from noise generated at the Quantum level from reverse biased semiconductor junctions, which is then suitably conditioned. It provided 200 bit binary strings of zeros and ones counted at the rate of 1000 per second that in PEAR terminology constitutes a trial. The results are presented to the person attempting to influence the machine, known as the operator, by one of several methods ranging from lights on the machine to computer graphics. The operator is typically required to perform one of three actions or intentions. These are:

  • To not exert any conscious influence on the machine in order to establish a baseline reading of bit counts, that is, get a series of readings where the person is not trying to do anything (although they may still be having an effect).

  • To try to deliberately create results above this baseline

  • To try to deliberately create results below this baseline.

The latter two attempts are collected in runs of 50, 100, or 1000 trials, depending on operator and protocol variations, and compounded over a number of experimental sessions into predefined data series of a specified number of trials, ranging from 1000 to 5000 per intention. Data processing is carried out at the session level. More details concerning protocols and so forth can be found on the PEAR website. The results determined from some two and a half million trials with over one ninety operators are the main focus of this section, especially with regard to what they can tell us from the point of view of magickal operations. In this respect they are extremely interesting, especially in light of the rest of this chapter. The overall effects occur at a level of about 1 in 10,000 per bit of processed data, which although tiny adds up to produce overall results that are statistically significant in the extreme. It is from these that the more fine-grained results can be abstracted. They can be summarized as follows.

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1 Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research, C-131, Engineering Quadrangle, Princeton University, Princeton NJ 08544-5263

2 Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 11, No. 3, 1997. Correlations of Random Binary Sequences with pre-Stated Operator Intention: A Review of a 12-Year Program – R. G. Jahn, B. J. Dunne, R. D. Nelson, Y. H. Dobyns, and G. J. Bradish