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Dr. Eric Wargo has turned Carl Jung’s synchronicity idea upside down by suggesting a link to successfully replicated precognition experiments.

photo by: Robbert van der Steeg

One of the mantras I’ve learned on Skeptiko is, “follow the data wherever it leads.” As truth seeking mantras go this one is pretty good. I’ve had to endure some helpings of humble pie after doing an about-face on my cherished beliefs, but that’s part of the process . Sometimes, however, following the data isn’t enough. On today’s episode of Skeptiko Dr. Eric Wargo, creator of TheNightShirt.com and author Trauma Displaced in Time, gives us a new way to look at data that’s been staring us in the face all along. Has Dr. Wargo cracked the code of Synchronicity,  déjà vu  and remote viewing. Let’s find out:

Eric Wargo: …I’m really starting to think in terms of our relationship to time as kind of this circuit. We’re completing these circuits [and] moving through life sort of oriented toward future rewards. This I think explains a lot. I had a series of blog posts about a year ago where I took on Carl Jung’s concept of synchronicity using this model. And I think it explains so-called meaningful coincidences much better than synchronicity can because really all it says is we are orienting constantly, unconsciously, toward information from our future. And we’re orienting toward rewards specifically in our future. But when we are completely unconscious of that fact–when we find this thing that we are unconsciously orienting towards, we feel this surprise and shock. It feels like some intelligence in the universe is guiding us or that God has sort of given us a sign. But I think it’s just really ourselves. We’re oriented toward [future reward] unconsciously, precognitively; and because our society doesn’t allow us to even think about the possibility of precognition, we throw up our hands and say well it’s some bigger organizing force in the universe. It’s archetypes. It’s collective unconscious or whatever. I think this PSI model of precognition, specifically precognition for our own future rewards, I think this explains synchronicity perfectly.

Alex Tsakiris: And just let me interject because one point to take from that is part of what you’re saying is an unavoidable natural fallout from these presentiment and precognition experiments we have. It’s unavoidable, right? That’s what the data clearly says. So if you’re a student at Northwestern University and you’re told you’re going to win five dollars if you guess the right picture before it’s even selected by the computer, and that motivates you, and we can demonstrate that you’re therefore able to orient yourself towards the future that’s coming. Then it’s only a question of to what extent you’re right–not whether you’re right or not because you’re clearly right. The experiment shows that. It’s just to what extent that does play a role in guiding our lives.

Eric Wargo: That’s a great example. Exactly.

Click here for forum discussion

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Read Excerpts From Interview:

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Alex Tsakiris: Whenever we say, “[more], metaphysical”…” I mean, [all theories of consciousness are] metaphysical. It’s like when you say, “appeal to a model of consciousness” well, it’s just one model versus another. It’s just one paradigm versus another. So it’s a completely viable to say that consciousness is somehow a fundamental principle or primary element of the universe. That’s not less science-y than to say “mind=brain.” To say that all our tools are engineered to study mind=brain? Okay, that’s an engineering issue. We have nice MRI [technology] and all of these other fancy tools that allow us to study it that way, but to say, “it appears  consciousness is somehow fundamental,” it’s not appealing to “greater metaphysics” to say that. It’s just saying it’s a paradigm shift that we need to make based on the data.

Eric Wargo: I think you’ll find a lot of disagreement about how much data actually supports that idea. Let me tell you, I agree with you. I think that consciousness is super important and it’s fundamental but I don’t think we’re to a point yet where we can really say how consciousness interacts with physical systems. Quantum physics is sort of where those questions are really posed most pointedly, [but] there’s no agreement in that community about the role of consciousness. For everyone who points to the necessary role of the conscious observer in measurement and so forth, you have as many physicists saying that that’s a misinterpretation of the data. And I personally, as much as I like to dabble in quantum [theory], and I am no quantum physicist. I’m just not able to judge who’s right here so I’m just hesitant to say that there needs to be this–what you’re saying–we need to have this paradigm shift where consciousness is a part of our scheme of things. I’m hesitant to say that. I don’t know. I’m not as confident of that as you are.

Alex Tsakiris: Fair enough. I do think you’ve done a fabulous job of exploring it and advancing this [theory]. So, we’re going to move on from this topic because we could talk forever about it because I devote a lot of time to it. I think this point you make on presentiment, precognition, being somehow deeply linked into the data that we’re seeing from PSI is really an important point. I really think it turns parapsychology in a new direction that needs to be explored more. You really need to be commended for that. But I’m going to move on and talk about some other really cool things that we may not agree on but can have a fun dialogue. Tell us about jouissance. Am I saying that right? And psychoanalysis. What are some of your thoughts about what we’re missing there that might play into these mysteries that we’re trying to understand.

Eric Wargo: Sure. One of the prevailing ideas…this goes back to the idea of models or sort of old conceptions of psychic phenomena that I think people still maintain but maybe haven’t questioned them enough. And one of them goes back to the very beginnings of Psychical Research [and] to Frederick Myers in the 1880s. He came up with this concept of telepathy and he noticed that psychic phenomena of all kinds centered on trauma. They centered on powerful emotions, particularly painful emotions, crises, death, and the phantasms of the living [experiences, such as] mothers would see apparitions of their sons who were dying on a battle field far away … that sort of thing.

Alex Tsakiris: Teenage girls who had a traumatic upheaval point in their life, right? They report this at a much higher rate.

Eric Wargo: Exactly. So [Myers] … I don’t know if he said this but Jeffrey Kripal sort of summarized his thinking: trauma was the energy of telepathy. It’s what sort of energizes or zaps phenomena and creates this connection between people. And so there’s this basic idea that at least tacitly informs a lot of thinking in Psychical Research and ESP research in the 20th Century, that psi phenomena are somehow this connection between people across space and time, and it’s fueled by trauma [and] powerful emotions–usually powerful negative emotions. Traumatic feelings. Lately I’ve been going back to some of the classic cases in ESP research. Let me just say I think there’s something we’re missing there. What it could be in a precognitive model is not that we’re connecting to other people across space but we’re connecting to ourselves in the future; connecting to our own future moments of learning about traumatic information or traumatic facts. Moreover, what might be fueling that is not negative emotions but positive emotions; the positive, ambivalent feelings that we have about crises and tragedies that occur to other people. So I use this in my reading of 9/11 for instance. Huge disasters like the Titanic and 9/11 and so forth, they’re associated with all kinds of precognitive, presentimental phenomena. [Such as] dreams. People have dreams beforehand or visions of the disaster or whatever. So I looked at 9/11 and thought about it. Unless you were directly involved, unless you lived in New York or DC and had loved ones in the attacks…our feelings when we were all riveted to the TV on that day, they were, on the surface…yes, it was trauma. It was horror. It was grief, and everything else. Just terrible feelings. But there was a reason we were drawn to those images. And that thing drawing us was this excitement that we couldn’t acknowledge publicly. We couldn’t say, I’m excited to see this, but yet people just repeatedly looked at those images. And that’s true of any trauma or disaster and that’s sort of basic to trauma in psychoanalysis. People keep returning to these negative stimuli.

Jacques Lacan, the French psychoanalyst, there’s this French word jouissance which fits that perfectly. It’s this kind of pleasure and pain feeling…this kind of excitement from really negative, horrific, bad things. It’s almost a masochistic kind of feeling. So I started wondering whether it may not be those positive things, those positive rewards that we get from big events that might not be the real link in PSI phenomena. And it goes back to the–some of the presentiment research done in the lab. The strongest effects that people experience in these laboratory experiments are to positive rewards like erotic images. And I think there may be some link to our basic reward system — that we are precognitive or presentimental for future reward.

Alex Tsakiris: Let me just close that loop. What I heard you say is that the future payoff is somehow the resolution of that trauma in our future life in a way that kind of propels us forward. Did I get that right?

Eric Wargo: Yes. I’m really starting to think in terms of our relationship to time as kind of this circuit. We’re completing these circuits [and] moving through life sort of oriented toward future rewards. This I think explains a lot. I had a series of blog posts about a year ago where I took on Carl Jung’s concept of synchronicity using this model. And I think it explains so-called meaningful coincidences much better than synchronicity can because really all it says is we are orienting constantly, unconsciously, toward information from our future. And we’re orienting toward rewards specifically in our future. But when we are completely unconscious of that fact–when we find this thing that we are unconsciously orienting towards, we feel this surprise and shock. It feels like some intelligence in the universe is guiding us or that God has sort of given us a sign. But I think it’s just really ourselves. We’re oriented toward [future reward] unconsciously, precognitively; and because our society doesn’t allow us to even think about the possibility of precognition, we throw up our hands and say well it’s some bigger organizing force in the universe. It’s archetypes. It’s collective unconscious or whatever. I think this PSI model of precognition, specifically precognition for our own future rewards, I think this explains synchronicity perfectly.

Alex Tsakiris: And just let me interject because one point to take from that is part of what you’re saying is an unavoidable natural fallout from these presentiment experiments that we have. It’s unavoidable, right? That’s what the data clearly says. So if you’re a student at Northwestern University and you’re told you’re going to win five dollars if you guess the right picture before it’s even selected by the computer, and that motivates you, and we can demonstrate that you’re therefore able to orient yourself towards the future that’s coming, then it’s only a question of to what extent you’re right–not whether you’re right or not because you’re clearly right. The experiment shows that. It’s just to what extent that does play a role in guiding our lives.

Eric Wargo: That’s a great example. Exactly.

Alex Tsakiris: Let’s ask a second question: do we have to go all the way? Because–and I understand where you’re coming from now–you’re saying, here’s the field, guys. Now go plant and plow and do everything you have to, and let’s cultivate that and see how far we can get down that materialistic explanation that we might get from doing that grunt work. I do question about whether we have to throw everything into that and say, well then, that explains God; it explains miracles; it explains science; it explains angels…it explains everything. They don’t necessarily have to go together. There can be, as the evidence seems to suggest to me and I know you don’t totally go there but there’s an almost infinite complexity to this extended consciousness field; and there does seem to be other entities who reside at other levels that seem to have some influence on our life. In a very general sense that’s what some of the data seems to point to. But I understand what you’re saying or what I hear you saying, and correct me if I’m wrong–it’s just, hey guys, let’s put the blinders on and explore this a little bit because we’re actually getting some useful data here that might propel us forward.

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