Tag: parapsychology

216. Dr. Dean Radin Urges Science to Examine the Supernormal

Interview examines the connection between ancient yoga practices and the science of extended human consciousness. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Dr. Dean Radin author of, A Supernormal: Science, Yoga, and the Evidence for Extraordinary Psychic Abilities.  During the interview Radin explains how he science can approach such topics: Alex Tsakiris: I wonder if we’re nibbling around at the edges of something that we have to swallow whole. As you mention in your book, Supernormal, and have mentioned previously in this interview, these yogic traditions don’t point to supernormal powers. In fact they go to great lengths to say, “Hey, it’s not about these supernormal powers. Don’t worry about them. It’s about changing your connection and how you relate to—for lack of a better word—God.” If we’re not willing to tackle the Divine then we’re playing a different game but are we playing the game? Dr. Dean Radin:   That’s a very good point. It’s true that the yogic path and many of these other mystical paths are basically pointing to enlightenment. Enlightenment is so far away from where science is that it’s probably too far a reach for now. And it’s also true that these traditions say you’re going to bump into these psychic things and don’t pay attention to them because they’re just yardsticks on the way to something more interesting. I would say that from the ancient traditions that advice was probably sound. Well, we’re in the modern age now and what science is able to do is study not the depths of enlightenment but we certainly can study the very place where mind and matter meet. It’s where the deep subjective and deep objective meet, and that is psychic phenomena. So the reason why the book is an entrée into that, it says you know what, science? We don’t know yet as scientists how to go all the way down to or all the way up to the enlightenment but we can begin to go much, much deeper than we have before. And in the process of studying the very area, that very boundary that the ancients would say not to pay attention to, well, we have to pay attention to that. (continued below) Dr. Radin's Webpage Click here for YouTube version Click here for forum discussion Play It  Listen Now: Download MP3 (37 min.) Read It: Today we welcome Dr. Dean Radin to Skeptiko. He’s here to talk about his new book, Supernormal: Science, Yoga, and the Evidence for Extraordinary Psychic Abilities. Dr. Radin, of course, is Chief Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences where he’s become one of the world’s best-known researchers on extended human consciousness. His two previous books, The Conscious Universe, and Entangled Minds, were truly ground-breaking and provide the scientific foundation for much of the current interest there is in this field. Dr. Radin, welcome to Skeptiko. Thanks so much for joining me. Dr. Dean Radin:  Thanks, Alex. It’s a pleasure to be here. Alex Tsakiris:   A lot of people are very excited about this new book of yours, Supernormal. Can you start just by telling us briefly what it’s about? Dr. Dean Radin:   Well, one way of getting into the topic is that you may know that the Dali Lama for years now has been having dialogues with scientists on the relationship between Buddhist ideas and practice and science. Primarily physics and the neurosciences. One of the things that you see when you read the transcripts of what goes on in these meetings, and have spawned a number of popular books as well, is that the Dali Lama is very interested in science and the practice of science and what science has discovered. He has said many times that if science demonstrates that something about Buddhist practice or beliefs is  incorrect that they’ll change their beliefs and practices. They’re after the truth. So that’s laudable. You would hope then that the same would be true on the scientific side, that if some scientific assumptions turn out not to be completely correct that scientists will correct them, as well. But after reading the transcripts you see that what we’re dealing with is an asymmetry. There’s a lot of interest on the part of the Buddhists on what science has to say but there’s so far very little interest on the part of science on what Buddhism has to say. You see this in stark contrast when the Dali Lama repeatedly tries to bring up issues about reincarnation and about the use of the Oracle and other things that we might consider to be psychic phenomena or related to that. The scientists present usually know nothing about these topics and they dismiss them. They dismiss them in a kind and gentle way so they don’t piss off the Dali Lama but nevertheless they say there’s no evidence so we can go on to other topics. I was just struck with this because for one thing, it really shows that the people that are talking to the Dali Lama are very straightforward, mainstream, very good at what they do, but they don’t actually know what they’re talking about when they dismiss these topics. And in almost every meeting there’s the Dali Lama or somebody else at the meeting who will try to raise well, what about telepathy? What about these issues? And it doesn’t go anywhere. So I was becoming annoyed at watching this year after year and I decided to write a book that looked in more detail at the origins of why the Dali Lama and other people say these things and what’s wrong with science.

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205. Michael Tymn Explores the Forgotten History of Psychic Mediums

Interview with author and parapsychology investigator Michael Tymn examines the work of Leonora Piper. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Michael Tymn author of, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife.  During the interview Tymn talks about his research: Alex Tsakiris:  There are two ways we can look at this turn of the 20th century history.  We can look at it in terms of forgotten history, which is the angle you take.  If only we could go back.  If an honest person, an open-minded person would look at this data it’s pretty hard not to be extremely aware that there is a significant amount of this history that’s been lost. But, I’ve got to wonder if there isn’t a totally different way of looking at this history.  Isn’t it a textbook game plan for the kind of scientism, for the spirit of denial that we live in today?  If you want to look at how to take overwhelmingly significant evidence and bury it, sweep it under the rug, and embarrass all the people who’ve touched it, here’s the way to do it. Mike Tymn:   I agree. That’s one of the reasons I wrote this book and the four other books that I’ve written. It’s to try and resurrect this stuff because it’s so little-known. I’ve talked to a number of parapsychologists and they don’t know it themselves. I remember one who didn’t even know who Frederic Myers was. You talk about Leonora Piper, Sir Oliver Lodge, or Gladys Osborne Leonard, they’re all names they recognize but they don’t know any of the history. I don’t know what they teach them when they’re pursuing their degrees in parapsychology but they seem to avoid the early stuff. Michael Tymn's Website Click here for YouTube version Click here for forum discussion Play It  Listen Now: Download MP3 (45 min.) Read It: Today we welcome Michael Tymn to Skeptiko. Mike is the author of several books relating to afterlife communication and mediumship including, The Articulate Dead, The Afterlife Revealed, and his latest that we’re going to talk about today, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife. It’s a book published by White Crow Books which is a place where you’ll also find Mike’s excellent blog. Mike, welcome back to Skeptiko. It’s great to talk to you again. Mike Tymn:   Thank you very much for having me on, Alex. Alex Tsakiris:   So you’ve written this book about Lenora Piper, someone who many people who are interested in mediumship and history in general might know, but I think there are a lot of people who don’t know who Leonora Piper was. I guess that’s the natural place to start.

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204. Dr. Julie Beischel’s Research Asks — Does a Reading From a Psychic Medium Help Relieve Grief?

Interview with psychic medium researcher Dr. Julie Beischel explores the practical applications of a reading from a psychic medium. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Dr. Julie Beischel author of, Among Mediums: A Scientist’s Quest For Answers.  During the interview Beischel talks about her research: Alex Tsakiris: We’re taking these very deep, personally meaningful topics  in a very stark, scientific, clinical way, and that ok because it helps us get some distance from it. But on this issue of grief, if we look at it the way you have, it really breaks down pretty nicely as a question we can ask scientifically. There are people who report this condition. We’ll call it grief. We treat this condition. We send them to a talking psychologist or psychiatrist and that person talks—talks—talks—talks. Then we measure afterwards. Sometimes they’re better; sometimes they’re not. Or, we send them in and to get some kind of pharmacological treatment. They get these little pills and they take them, pop--pop--pop. They either get better or they don’t. We measure that. You’re suggested that there are some other people, ones that have a had a  reading with a medium  and they report that this has relieved them of their grief. And in the same way we’re measuring these other treatments, we can measure them. That is how it breaks down, isn’t it? Dr. Julie Beischel:   Yeah. And, that’s my training -- drug trials. I used to design these kinds of experiments.  There’s a protocol, and there’s a control group, and a treatment group, just like a drug trial. Instead of a drug it’s a mediumship reading. I designed this very specific protocol using a standardized grief instrument and two different funders have found it to be not what they were looking for. But it needs to get done. We’re now in the process of reaching out to the public to try and get support for that study. It really needs to be done. The same thing like when we just want to look at the validity of the mediumship information. We have to start at the beginning. Are they reporting specific and accurate information? Does it make people feel better? We did a pilot study and people reported anecdotally that it made them feel better. Dr. Julie Beischel's Website Help Support Dr. Beischel's Grief Research Click here for YouTube version Click here for forum discussion Also of Interest: Gerald  Gaura, a Psychotherapist treating acute, emergent psychospiritual crises, and anomalous phenomenon. Visit his blog at Parapsychotherapy X Play It (Interview With Dr. Julie Beischel) Listen Now: Download MP3 (55 min.) Read It: Today we welcome Dr. Julie Beischel to Skeptiko. As Founder and Head of Research at the Windbridge Institute, Julie is one of the world’s leading researchers studying psychic mediums. Julie holds a Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Toxicology from the University of Arizona. She’s here to talk about her new book, Among Mediums: A Scientist’s Quest for Answers. Dr. Beischel, welcome. I guess for those of us with a long memory I should say welcome back to Skeptiko. Dr. Julie Beischel:   Thank you so much for having me again.

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203. Out of Body Experience Expert Robert Bruce on Our Demon Haunted World

Interview with out of body (OBE) expert and author Robert Bruce explores extended consciousness as an open-minded skeptic. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Robert Bruce author of, Astral Dynamics: The Complete Book of Out-of-Body.  During the interview Bruce discusses why out of body experience finding don’t generate scientific attention: Alex Tsakiris:   Recently journalist, Matt Baglio, published a book called, The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist. What he was go to Rome and went to the school where the Vatican instructs priests in how to perform exorcisms. He sat in on dozens and dozens of exorcisms and what he found was that, despite the modern perception, they weren’t just bringing people in to convert them to Christianity or convert them to Catholicism. They have licensed therapists there. They say 95% of these people are not demon possessed.  But, surprisingly, they claim 5% of them are. And, they have very specific criteria that they use in determining that; and they have unbelievable stories that this journalist has gathered and that these exorcists can attest to. So it seems that this is a phenomenon that is much more prevalent than I think most of us are willing to acknowledge or even look into. I think most people just won’t even examine the evidence for it. Robert Bruce:   You hit the nail on the head there. People don’t want it to be true. They don’t want to know. They avoid the information. Now, to be a true scientist you need to be an open-minded skeptic. I mean, open-minded skepticism is pure science. You’re open-minded and you’re skeptical.  You look at the evidence and you examine the phenomena, or whatever it is, until you start to understand it. Now, I have that same approach and I approach this not just with my own experiences which made it real to me. Anybody who doubts this, and they should doubt it until they see it for themselves or experience it for themselves -- Heaven forbid. If you confront one demon or an evil spirit—even a poltergeist, a real one— you become a believer. Robert Bruce's Website Click here for YouTube version Click here for forum discussion Bonus Material: Interview with Andrew Paquette and Graham Nicholls explores experiences working with extended consciousness. Listen Now: Download MP3 (68 min.) Play It (Interview With Robert Bruce): Listen Now: Download MP3 (54 min.) Read It: Today we welcome world-renowned out-of-body experience expert, Robert Bruce, to Skeptiko. Robert is the author of several best-selling books including the one he’s probably best-known for, Astral Dynamics, which is also the domain name where you’ll find his excellent website, www.astraldynamics.com. He holds seminars around the world on out-of-body experience travel and spirituality and other related topics. It’s a pleasure to have you on, Robert. Thanks for joining me on Skeptiko. Robert Bruce:   Good day, Alex. It’s nice to be here at last. Alex Tsakiris:   Yes. Robert, you’re known as an expert on primarily out-of-body experience, what some people call astral projection. You also have quite a bit to say about spirituality in general. I read your first book, Astral Dynamics. I didn’t quite make it all the way through. It’s a pretty big, fat book. But I was very impressed. It’s very practical. A lot of step-by-step kinds of instructions. Down to earth but meaty, not like it’s light or anything like that. Packed with a lot of information.

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197. Dr. Diane Powell Uses Serious Science to Understand Psychic Phenomena

Interview with Dr. Diane Powell about her book, The ESP Enigma, and why research into extended human consciousness remains taboo.  Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with neuroscientist, psychiatrist and author Dr. Diane Powell about her book, The ESP Enigma: The Scientific Case for Psychic Phenomena.  During the interview Powell discusses why psychic abilities are not accepted by mainstream science: Alex Tsakiris: My opinion is that if you’re waiting for the paradigm shift, if you’re waiting for science to roll over and say, “Uncle. We admit it. This phenomenon is obvious; it’s self-evident,” it’s not going to happen.  What do you think? Dr. Diane Powell:   I agree and I think that, as I said, it is counterproductive to think that way. I think that people close their minds to considering new possibilities. I mean, like I said, in the early 1900’s when people thought that all of the physics had been discovered there was this whole other world out there. I believe that’s true for consciousness. I think we’re just now starting to have more and more receptivity to studying that. But still, trying to understand—I think human consciousness is just too vast a topic and you’re not going to be able to understand it with conventional materialistic science. I mean, that’s only one tool in trying to obtain knowledge. Dr. Diane Powell's Website Play It: Listen Now: Download MP3 (40 min.) Read It: Today we welcome Dr. Diane Powell to Skeptiko. Diane has an amazing background, stellar credentials, Johns Hopkins trained neuroscientist, MD in psychiatry from Johns Hopkins, as well. Faculty position at Harvard Medical School.  Salk Institute right here in my backyard in La Jolla. I mean, the credentials go on and on. She’s also written a book titled, The ESP Enigma. Dr. Powell, thank you so much for joining me and welcome to Skeptiko. Dr. Diane Powell:   Thank you. It’s a pleasure.

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193. Dr. Daryl Bem on the Quantum Theory Secret Psychologists Need to Know

Interviews from the 2012 Parapsychology Association conference with Dr. Daryl Bem, Dr. George Williams, Dr. Athena Drewes and Dr. Robert Van de Castle. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris and Dr. Richard Grego for interviews from the 2012  Parapsychology Association conference. During one of the interviews Dr. Daryl Bem reveals the secret psychologists need to know about quantum theory: Dr. Daryl Bem:  Quantum theory, quantum mechanics, has never had an empirical failure.  That is, to the degree you can measure, within the error of measurement, every prediction made by quantum mechanics has come true. The thing that so boggles the mind of physicists in the 20th Century was no one knows how it works. So even Richard Feynman, who won a Nobel Prize for all of this said, “Stop beating yourself up by asking ‘But how can this be?’ Nobody knows how this can be.” And psychologists and non-physicists generally don’t know that conundrum exists in physics. They say, “Well, I don’t have the mathematical knowledge to know what quantum mechanics is.” They should give themselves more credit. No one knows. No one has an understanding of the mechanics of how it works. Now some psi researchers actually think quantum mechanics does contain the seeds of an explanation. It has to do with what we call “Quantum Entanglement.” Now, there are technical arguments why that won’t work, but every week in physics there’s usually some new paper that shows entanglement at higher temperatures than we would have expected. Or, at longer distances. Or, at a more macro level.  So some of psi researchers believe that’s this is going to be it. Dr. Richard Grego's Website (full audio interviews) Click here for YouTube version Click here for forum discussion Play It: Listen Now: Download MP3 (48 min.) Read It: Today we welcome back Dr. Richard Grego to Skeptiko. Rich, as you may remember, has brought us some kind of feed on the street interviews, most recently a few episodes back from The American Psychology Association Conference. This time, he has a series of interviews that he recently conducted at the Parapsychology Association meeting for 2012 and I believe that was in Durham, North Carolina, is that right, Rich? Dr. Richard Grego:  Yes, it is.

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187. Graham Nicholls, Out-of-Body Experiences Aren’t All About Angels and Demons

Interviews with author and out-of-body experience expert Graham Nicholls explores misconceptions about OBEs. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Graham Nicholls, author of Navigating the Out of Body Experience: Radical New Techniques. During the interview Nicholls discusses some misconceptions about out-of-body experiences: Alex Tsakiris: Your answer is very much in line with Dr. Rupert Sheldrake there, so you guys are on the same page, but I just don’t know how we can walk that fine line of --okay, don’t worry, “science” will figure this out eventually. There are a number of well known out-of-body experiencers who talk about a much more rich spiritual landscape that they feel like they’ve traversed and have come back and tell us about. They’ll tell you about lower levels; they’ll tell you about different kinds of beings, including what we would call evil or demonic beings up to beings we would associate with a lot of religious traditions. They’ll tell you directly that they’re related to some religious traditions. So I guess my point is I think we’re obligated to really take that stuff much more seriously once we cross over and say yes, this really is happening. I don’t know how we can really have such a wall and say it’s all going to be explained. Graham Nicholls:   I don’t feel there’s a wall. I feel I’ve explored a lot of those kinds of ideas.  I’ve found that those things just didn’t hold up. Alex Tsakiris:   Didn’t hold up in terms of as you went and tried to explore them yourself and validate them, you couldn’t personally validate them. Is that what you’re saying?  Graham Nicholls:   But not just me personally. Also the people I work with… I’ve tried to really dig beyond the preconceptions and step outside of the box a bit and saying, “What might actually be going on,” rather than just going with the presumption that it’s all spiritual and demons and Angels and that kind of thing. If I saw those things or if I saw a consistency across cultures with everyone I worked with, I would take those things onboard. But the thing is I don’t see that so it doesn’t give me a strong reason to take them onboard. Graham Nicholls' Website Click here for YouTube version Click here for forum discussion Play It: Listen Now: Download MP3 (38 min.) Read It: Alex Tsakiris:   Hi Graham. It’s so great to have you back on Skeptiko. Graham Nicholls:  Hi Alex. It’s great to be back on.

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185. Dr. William Bengston’s Hands On Healing Research Ignored by Cancer Industry

Interview with St. Josephs College sociology professor Dr. William Bengston examines his extensive scientific research into hands on healing. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Dr. William Bengston about his book, The Energy Cure: Unraveling the Mystery of Hands-on Healing.  During the interview Bengston describes his experiments with hands-on healing: Dr. William Bengston:   …starting from these clinical that, for example, malignant growths respond quickly and benign growths don’t respond so quickly, I thought to myself, ‘How are we going to get a handle on this? How are we going to go from spontaneous clinical experience to very controlled conditions?’ I wanted an absolute air-tight, no question about it, experiment that if it worked you didn’t have a viable counter-hypothesis… So, we looked at treating cancer in mice. At the time we started this, the longest lifespan for a mouse with this particular type of cancer was 27 days. No mouse in literally thousands of experiments had lived longer than 27 days after injection with this particular mammary cancer. And you knew exactly how many mice would die and what particular day after injection because it’s again, very well documented, found in labs all over the world. …So I put my hands around the cages of the mice for about an hour a day. I suspected at the time that healing, if it were to work, would be something analogous to radiation. But instead, the cancer started to grow and I thought it was failing. So the tumors grew and I said, “Let’s call it off. Why put the mice through this?” But I got talked into going a little longer. The tumors kept growing bigger and bigger. Then they developed this ulceration on the tumor and I really thought it wasn’t working. The ulceration grew and the tumor imploded and the mice were completely cured. Alex Tsakiris:   And this was unprecedented medically in this particular experiment with these particular mice, right? Dr. William Bengston:   Never happened before for any reason. So the world’s longest living mouse after being injected with this particular cancer was 27 days.  In our experiment the mice went through this process of growth then ulceration then implosion, and the mice were cured. I used to say they remitted but that’s the wrong word because remitted means a reduction in symptoms or temporary disappearance. These mice are cured for life. So we watched them and we leave them for two years and they live out their normal lifespan hanging out, being completely happy. Alex Tsakiris: Let’s finish this story, Bill. So, the world changes. You received the Nobel Prize for Medicine. Cancer treatments around the world are revolutionized and this has become the most highly researched area of medicine, right? I got all that right? Dr. William Bengston:   Uh, except for the entire scenario. This isn’t something where because we’ve cured a bunch of mice, therefore the cancer industry folds their tent. William Bengston's Website Click here for YouTube version Click here for forum discussion Play It: Listen Now: Download MP3 (68 min.) Read It: Alex Tsakiris: Today Today we welcome Dr. William Bengston to Skeptiko. Bill is a Professor of Sociology at St. Joseph’s College in New York where he specializes in research methods and statistics and is the author of The Energy Cure: Unraveling the Mystery of Hands-On Healing. Here’s the real interesting part: Dr. Bengston is an amazing healer himself. For the past 30 years he’s compiled a series of carefully controlled scientific experiments that challenge not only our ideas about healing and medicine but about energy, about belief, about science in general, and how we practice it, and a whole bunch of other stuff that I hope we can get to. Bill, welcome to Skeptiko. Thanks so much for joining me. Dr. William Bengston:   Thanks for having me on, Alex.

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184. Dr. Rupert Sheldrake Sets Science Free From Dogma

Interview examines how scientific assumptions about materialism and consciousness have constrained us. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with biologist and author Dr. Rupert Sheldrake about his new book, Science Set Free: 10 Paths to New Discovery.  During the interview Sheldrake explains his post-materialist worldview: Alex Tsakiris: I think that’s part of the problem. I think all these questions of the spiritual are not buried deep in these scientific questions you pose -- they’re right there under the paper-thin surface of them.  Take survival of consciousness, if we just look at the data and we say, “That seems to suggest that consciousness survives death,” well, for any man on the street, as well as any scientist, that proposition immediately launches us into deep questions of the spiritual. I don’t know how you can get around that. Dr. Rupert Sheldrake: I think it’s quite important to decouple these.  Although the science is very relevant to these issues it doesn’t map in such a way that to be an Atheist you’ve got to be a Dawkins-style materialist or to be a religious person you’ve got to be a dualist. I think what we’re heading for is a post-materialist worldview which is what my book is trying to point the way towards. We could have a holistic way of looking at things, a scientific investigation into things, which leaves these bigger questions open. For example, in one chapter of the book where I’m dealing with the dogma that memories are stored as material traces inside the brain that becomes the question, are memories stored as material traces in the brain? I’m not confident memories are stored in brains. I think that brains are more like tuning devices, more like TV receivers than like video recorders. Now that’s really a scientific question, how is memory stored? We can do experiments to try and find out how memory works. So for materialists it’s a simple two-step argument. Memories are stored in brains; the brain decays at death, therefore, memories are wiped out at death. Whereas, if memories are not stored in brains then the memories themselves are not wiped out at death. They’re potentially accessible. That doesn’t prove they are accessed, that there is personal survival. It just means that’s a possibility whereas with materialism it’s an impossibility. So one position leaves the question closed and the other leaves it open. Rupert Sheldrake's Website Click here for YouTube version Click here for forum discussion Play It: Listen Now: Download MP3 (38 min.) Read It: Alex Tsakiris: Today we welcome back to Skeptiko biologist and author, Dr. Rupert Sheldrake. He’s here to talk about his latest book, The Science Delusion. If you’re here in the U.S. you’ll find it at Amazon under the title, Science Set Free. Rupert, welcome back and thanks for joining me. Dr. Rupert Sheldrake:  It’s very good to be with you again.

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178. What Does Science Have to Say About Synchronicity? New Research. Surprising Results.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBd-3T8gWnQ One researcher's creative experiment reveals a surprising link between synchronicity, spirituality and the paranormal. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Robert Perry, author of, Signs: A New Approach to Coincidence, Synchronicity, Guidance, Life Purpose, and God's Plan. During the interview Perry explains his research: Robert Perry: CMPE which stands for a Conjunction of Meaningfully Parallel Events. It’s basically an extreme form of synchronicity. Most of our paranormal events that we’re studying now, they’re inner experiences with hopefully a veridical component but in the end they seem to say something about our abilities or our ultimate nature being perhaps immaterial. But with CMPEs their statement seems to be more about something other than us that seems to giving us messages. Alex Tsakiris: I’m just not quite sure that we can make that last leap because there’s this whole idea of time and that maybe time is not linear. But also in terms of you and I being co-creators of our reality. So we get back to this idea of what’s reality and how is reality being created and experienced and again, what’s our relationship to time? Robert Perry: We shouldn’t act like anything is substantive yet however I think that there is a contemporary bias, even among those of us who are into the paranormal; a bias against sort of agents that are beyond the human. Maybe, if we take NDEs seriously for instance, it looks like that experience involves a certain amount of initiative from the Other Side. Maybe something coming to the human level from the Other Side is part of how life works. Robert Perry's Website Click here for YouTube version Click here for forum discussion Play It: Download MP3 (44 min.) Read It: Alex Tsakiris: Today we welcome back to Skeptiko Robert Perry. Robert’s here to talk about his book, Signs: A New Approach to Coincidence, Synchronicity, Guidance, Life Purpose, and God’s Plan. He’s also here to tell us about a pilot study he’s done about this work along with Dr. Bruce Greyson that is suggestive that he really is onto something here. So Robert, thank you for joining me. Welcome back. Robert Perry: Oh, it’s a great pleasure and I’m very honored to be here. I love the show and listen every week.

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170. Dr. Daryl Bem Responds to Parapsychology Debunkers

Interview with Cornell University Professor Emeritus Dr. Daryl Bem looks at the reaction to his groundbreaking parapsychology experiments. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with noted psychology professor Dr. Daryl Bem. During the interview Bem discusses the reaction to his research among parapsychology opponents: Alex Tsakiris: What do you think is going to happen with this latest round of debunking? The skeptics have risen up and it seems like a very well-organized, concerted effort to knock down your research. What do you think their game plan is? What do you think is going to happen? Dr. Daryl Bem: Well, I think the flurry of activity in the popular media will just sort of die down. When I look at Google News on it there are still four or five articles that pop up in which it just shows how successful Wiseman is at getting his point of view out. I have been replying to people who’ve asked me to reply to blogs and things of that sort. Without accusing him of actually being dishonest, he has now published the three studies that he and French and Ritchie tried to get published in several journals that rejected it. I replied with a comment on that. If there’s anything dishonest there, it’s when you publish an article, even if it’s of your own three experiments—they did three experiments that failed trying to replicate one of my experiments—you always have a literature review section where you talk about all the previous research and known research on the topic before you present your own data. What Wiseman never tells people is in Ritchie, Wiseman and French is that his online registry where he asked everyone to register, first of all he provided a deadline date. I don’t know of any serious researcher working on their own stuff who is going to drop everything and immediately do a replication... anyway, he and Ritchie and French published these three studies. Well, they knew that there were three other studies that had been submitted and completed and two of the three showed statistically significant results replicating my results. But you don’t know that from reading his article. That borders on dishonesty. Dr. Daryl Bem's Website Play It: Download MP3 (45 min.) Read It: Today we welcome Dr. Daryl Bem to Skeptiko. Dr. Bem is a very highly regarded social psychologist and Professor Emeritus from Cornell who created quite a stir last year with his paper, “Feeling the Future: Experimental Evidence for Anomalous Retroactive Influences on Cognition and Affect.” Alex Tsakiris: Dr. Bem, it’s a great pleasure to have you on Skeptiko. Thanks for joining me. Dr. Daryl Bem: Good to be here.

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165. Dr. Caroline Watt Defends, There is Nothing Paranormal About Near-Death Experiences

Interview with Parapsychology researcher Dr. Caroline Watt explains why, despite criticism, she maintains, “there is nothing paranormal about near-death experiences.” Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with University of Edinburgh professor Dr. Caroline Watt, co-author of, There is nothing paranormal about near-death experiences: how neuroscience can explain seeing bright lights, meeting the dead, or being convinced you are one of them. During the interview Watt discusses her research into near-death experiences: Alex Tsakiris: The other thing that upset me about the paper was the way it was picked up by so many science publications; Scientific America, NPR, BBC, Discovery, Discovery News. It’s not a strong paper. Yet, it gets echoed back through the mainstream science media as some kind of breakthrough about near-death experiences. Even though it directly contradicts all the leading researchers in the NDE field. Dr. Caroline Watt: The leading researchers in the NDE field may publish their papers and have them reported as well. It’s an open forum. If it says something interesting, then it will be reported.  Everybody can have a say. It’s not like I have some kind of privileged access. Alex Tsakiris: I’m not suggesting that. I’m saying that what gets picked up and perpetuated through the science media is reflective of the current position, even if that position isn’t supported by the best data. I’m saying your paper got traction even though there’s not a lot behind it. I’m saying you cited references incorrectly.  And you referenced skeptics like Dr. Susan Blackmore who admits to not being current in the field. Dr. Caroline Watt: As I said, it was intended to be a provocative piece. It’s not claiming to be balanced. The paper, if it wasn’t limited to two or three pages, I could have dealt more thoroughly with many different aspects because there’s more to near-death experiences then the dying brain hypothesis. It would have been a longer and more in-depth paper, but that wasn’t the paper that we wrote. Dr. Caroline Watt Play It: Read It: Alex Tsakiris: Today we welcome Dr. Caroline Watt to Skeptiko. Dr. Watt is a founding member of the Parapsychology Unit at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and has taught and researched parapsychology for 25 years. She is well published in the field, many peer review journals, and is also the author of the most popular textbook in parapsychology, An Introduction to Parapsychology. If we can add to all that, we can also mention that she has also served as a president and board member of the Parapsychological Association. Dr. Watt, it’s a great pleasure to have you on Skeptiko. Thanks for joining me today. Dr. Caroline Watt: Thanks, very much, for inviting me Alex.

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157. Spirit Medium August Goforth Skeptical of Reincarnation

Psychotherapist and Medium claims communication with spirits reveals no reincarnation. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with August Goforth, author of The Risen.  During the interview Goforth discusses his beliefs about reincarnation: Alex Tsakiris: You said that through your communication with on the other side that reincarnation isn’t a core part of the overall spiritual plan. Could you be wrong? August Goforth: I have a huge library of books written by mediums and spiritualists that go back almost a couple hundred years. I noticed not a single one mentioned reincarnation. Alex Tsakiris: I’ve spoken to plenty of mediums and many of them have talked matter-of-factly about reincarnation as being a reality.  And I’m a little bit familiar with some of the medium literature out there, and I think the idea of reincarnation comes up quite a bit. August Goforth: It does now. It’s only been maybe in the past 10 years. I would also suggest that it’s a function of the ego-mind that invents these ideas about reincarnation because of its fear of losing its own consciousness. I may have these dreams or these feelings about an experience of being someone from the 14th Century and I get names and I get all kinds of facts and dates and rather than separating myself from it, there’s something about me--the ego-mind will do this, it will grab onto it and sort of put it on like a costume and say, “Okay, this is me. I’m having a past-life experience.” Me not realizing consciously that I just experienced someone else’s life and they told me about their life in a dream or an astral experience. When I woke up, somehow it became very blurred and I had this desire because I don’t want to die, I want to live on, that if I can convince myself that I had these past lives that gives me a sense of continuity. It gives me a sense of feeling alive and grounded. I feel more expanded. Alex Tsakiris: For reincarnation the best scientific work—and I’m sure you’re familiar with it—is the work of Ian Stevenson at the University of Virginia and now Jim Tucker at the University of Virginia has followed up on this work. They have thousands at this point of cases of well-documented reincarnation accounts. It’s quite a body of research; it’s very impressive to anyone who looks at it. So I can listen to what you’re saying and I can be open to hearing it, but how do we resolve that? How do we resolve that when it brushes against what I think is some good, down-to-earth science that I can really lay my hands on? August Goforth: I don’t know. These are just suggestions of how I’m interpreting what information has come to me as best as I can. My bias, if any, is that I’m not interested myself in reincarnation and God – no – I don’t want to come back to this place. But there are people who do or have a belief. It’s a core belief in some way or it’s necessary. But it seems more and more to me that everyone’s experience, whatever it is, is ultimately their own final test of what’s true for them. The Risen Website Play It: Download MP3 (29:00 min.) Read It: Alex Tsakiris: What Skeptiko is about is really three things. First, it’s about understanding the overwhelming scientific evidence that consciousness survives death. So if you just, from a science standpoint, if you look medically people die. They are brought back to life. And they have these incredible encounters with what happened when they had no brain, which means they were dead. August Goforth: About the survival of consciousness, yeah.

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150. Dream Interpretation a Spiritual Journey Says Lucid Dream Expert Robert Waggoner

Lucid dreaming expert Robert Waggoner explains how to become aware of our dreams while we’re dreaming, and how paranormal dreams can lead to a journey of self-discovery. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with author, and lucid dream expert, Robert Waggoner.  During the interview Waggoner explains how paranormal dreams can reveal future events: Andrew Paquette: Can you give an example of something like that where you’ve been in a dream and you’ve asked for some kind of future information, you’ve been given it, and later on in a waking state you were able to verify this? Robert Waggoner: Sure. One time a good friend of mine asked me if I’d ever sought out the lottery numbers while lucid dreaming. That had never occurred to me and I asked him if he had. He said, “Oh yeah,” and he told me what happened. He said he became consciously aware and that he asked for the numbers of the MegaLotto or whatever it was called in his state, to appear when he opened up something. So he opened up a book or something, and he saw six sets of two numbers. And during the lucid dream he was really excited and he started to memorize them as quickly as he could. So there’s the first number, 26 and the next number is 3 and the next number is 17. And it goes on and on. He said he was really working hard to memorize the set of six two-digit numbers. When he woke up from the lucid dream he immediately reached for his dream journal and began writing them down as quickly as possible. He says he got the first three exactly right but from then on his memory failed him. He just couldn’t recall the exact order. So a week later when the MegaLotto happened, he said he got the first three exactly right but then the other ones, the order had been goofed up. He’d transposed the numbers as anyone might. Robert Waggoner's Website Play It: Download MP3 (47:00 min.) Read It: Andrew Paquette: Tonight we welcome Robert Waggoner, author of the book, Lucid Dreaming and a frequent speaker on the subject of lucid dreams. Welcome to the Skeptiko program, Mr. Waggoner. Robert Waggoner: Thanks, Andrew; I’m happy to be here.

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