Tag: psi

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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



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.

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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.

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.

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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.

145. Stanley Krippner Lends Scientific Weight to Paranormal Dreams

Professor of Psychology and well-respected researcher Dr. Stanley Krippner explains how his research supports the reality of precognitive dreams.

Join Skeptiko guest host and paranormal dream expert Andy Paquette for an interview with legendary psychology researcher Dr. Stanley Krippner..  During the interview Dr. Krippner discusses whether or not the evidence for paranormal dreaming is well established:

Andy Paquette: You’ve been studying dreams for the most part for the majority of your career. Do you feel that the case for precognitive dreaming is proven?

Dr. Stanley Krippner: No, I don’t think anything in science is proven. Science is always open-ended. There’s always a chance of revising scientific theory based on new data.

Andy Paquette: Of course, that would work both ways, as well, wouldn’t it? So what you’d really be talking about is what does the currently available information indicate?


Dr. Stanley Krippner: That’s right.

Andy Paquette: And in your case, from what you’ve seen, what do you think the currently available information indicates?

Dr. Stanley Krippner: I think you can make a strong case for precognitive dreams.

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Alex Tsakiris: Today we’re joined by Andy Paquette, who is a former Skeptiko guest and is also the author of Dreamer: 20 Years of Psychic Dreams and How They Changed My Life. Now, Andy is joining us today because he recently attended the 2011 Study of Dreams Conference in The Netherlands, where he was also a presenter. While he was there he was nice enough to snag a couple of interviews for us and he’s here to share them with us. So Andy, welcome and tell us what you’ve been up to.

111. Parapsychology Researcher Dr. Stephen Braude Battles Against “Sleazy Arguments”

Interview with Dr. Stephen Braude reveals challenges and opportunities of controversial psi research into mediumship and psychokinesis.

Research into controversial topics like psychic mediums is tough, but some researchers find it’s made even tougher when skeptics favor the weakest cases over the strongest.
Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for and interview with Professor of Philosophy and psi researcher, Dr. Stephen Braude. During the interview Dr. Braude recounts his entree into psi research, “… there was all this other stuff that had been happening outside the lab from séances and anecdotal reports and I figured if I was an honest intellect I at least needed to become acquainted with it before I rejected it summarily. So I first studied the evidence for large-scale, and physical mediumship in particular. That was a momentous event because the evidence blew me away… I discovered that the evidence was much cleaner than people made it out to be.”

Braude continues, “The usual arguments about the evidence being easily dismissed because of poor observation or poor conditions of observation demonstrated really a lack of command of the evidence. One of the things that struck me was that people were dismissing the non-experimental evidence by appealing to the sleaziest of arguments. They would focus on the weakest pieces of evidence and then generalize from that, which is simply straw man reasoning. The principle on which I operated all along is that the cases that matter from outside the lab have to be the strongest cases, the ones that are the hardest to explain away.”

Dr. Stephen Braude

Adam Curry at Psyleron, a company that explores the connection between the mind and the physical world.

Update from Dr. Sam Parnia

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Adam Curry: So Steve, can you give me a little capsule about who you are?

107. Massimo Pigliucci on How to Tell Science From Bunk

City University of New York Professor skeptical of near-death experience, likens NDE researchers to astrologers.

There's pseudoscience, bunk, scientific nonsense, and then there's real science… at least according to Dr. Massimo Pigliucci author of, Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science From Bunk.

Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Professor Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. During the hour-long interview Dr. Pigliucci rejects claims of near-death experience science.  When asked to explain why so many NDE researchers have concluded otherwise Dr. Pigliucci stated, " that's like saying the vast majority of astrologers are in agreement with the fact that astrology works."

Pigliucci also offers his opinion on how non-scientists should choose sides on controversial science issues like climate change, "I am about to go to the Amazing Meeting in Las Vegas, which is organized by the James Randi Foundation, and I fully expect to upset several people there because my presentation will be about how skeptics are not scientists and therefore, they shouldn't really pass judgment on issues for which the scientific community has reached a consensus. For instance, let me give you an example. Several skeptics, including James Randi, are skeptical of the notion of climate change and global warming. Well, I'm sorry, but that's not their place. They're not climate scientists; they know nothing about climate science. And frankly, they don't have the expertise to pass judgment."


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Alex Tsakiris: Today we welcome someone who—let me get this straight—has three PhDs, is that right?

Dr. Massimo Pigliucci: That's correct.

Alex Tsakiris: So Dr. Massimo Pigliucci is a Professor of Philosophy at the City University of New York. He's a well-known thinker and writer in the skeptical community, and he's also the author of  several books, including his latest that we're going to talk about today entitled, Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science From Bunk. Dr. Pigliucci, welcome to Skeptiko.

Dr. Massimo Pigliucci: It's a pleasure to be here.


102. Dr. Peter Bancel Assists Goldsmiths, University of London With Global Consciousness Project

Interviews with Tamas Borbely of Goldsmiths College and Dr. Peter Bancel of the Global Consciousness Project reveal common ground on revolutionary research.

The notion of a collective global consciousness is accepted truth within many cultures, but scoffed at by modern scientists. That may change. Once skeptical researchers investigating the 10-year Global Consciousness Project are finding solid data to support the conclusion that we're all connected.

Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris an interview with Tamas Boberly of Goldsmiths College at the University of London, and Dr. Peter Bancel of the Global Consciousness Project. During the 50-minute interview Mr. Boberly recaps his analysis of the work done so far, "I've been reading the papers that Dr. Nelson and others produced on the Global Consciousness Project and it is my impression that they have a very, very solid methodology and a very good grasp of the statistics that are used... and if you look at the results, obviously the results they report are astronomical. They are very, very convincing. I think the only criticism, which is perhaps even unjust, could come in the form of claiming that because of the lack of a clear-cut definition for these events, perhaps not all, the negative results are reported. And like I said, I'm not suggesting that this is the case. But defining the events in advance would be an excellent way of silencing critics, because otherwise, having looked at the database that they have compiled in the past decade or more, it is certainly very convincing."

Dr. Peter Bancel describes his involvement with the project, "I came into the project after it had been going for a couple of years and even at that point the cumulative effect of these events that Roger Nelson had been looking at had considerable significance. So one of the first things I set out to do was to see if I could find something methodological or otherwise wrong in how the project was set up. I was asking myself if there was anything fatal, and there wasn't at all."

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Alex Tsakiris: We're joined today by Tamas Borbely, who is a research assistant at Goldsmiths College at the University of London. Tamas is one of the researchers that Chris French has tasked with looking into the Global Consciousness Project and doing a little bit of collaborative work and making an attempt to see if any of that research makes sense or needs further analysis. So with kind of a stumbling introduction, Tamas, welcome to Skeptiko.

Tamas Borbely: Hello, Alex.

100. Dr. Garret Moddel Brings Psi Research to University of Colorado Classroom

Professor at University of Colorado's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering guides students through experiments demonstrating unexplainable psychic phenomena.

With a stellar academic and professional background Dr. Garret Moddel had little to gain by venturing into controversial research on psychic phenomena.  But for a professor who long ago tackled quantum engineering cutting edge research comes naturally.

Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with University of Colorado engineering professor Dr, Garret Moddel. During the 40-minute interview Dr. Moddel describes the challenges of bringing controversial research into the classroom, "I spent most of my career doing essentially quantum engineering, which is engineering little devices based upon quantum mechanical principles. Then about ten years ago on Sabbatical, I got in contact by accident with a physicist who had a library full of books on the science of psychic phenomena. I was absolutely blown away. I couldn't believe what I saw. I ended up spending the whole Sabbatical going through his library. After that, I was convinced that this is really where the new science and revolutionary ideas are going to come from, so I still continue my mainstream research and most of my colleagues don't know about my psi phenomena research, although it is on my website. I think they choose not to know."

Dr. Moddel's students learn about the science behind these strange phenomena and prove to themselves that they exist, "the course goes through the history of psi research and we use different textbooks depending on the time. Right now the two textbooks that I'm using are Dean Radin's Entangled Minds, which is just a wonderful, wonderful book describing psi research and then also Chris Carter's book on Parapsychology and the Skeptics, which takes a wonderful philosophical view of all of this and puts it in perspective. Then each student or each group of students must carry out an independent psi research project. This has to be high quality research. It's got to be publishable quality research. Half the grade depends upon it. And they take it quite seriously. They come up with very creative experiments."

The Society for Scientific Exploration (SSE) is a professional organization of scientists and scholars who study unusual and unexplained phenomena. Subjects often cross mainstream boundaries, such as consciousness, ufos, and alternative medicine, yet often have profound implications for human knowledge and technology.

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Alex Tsakiris: Let me give you some of the highlights from the Curriculum Vitae of today's guest. Let's start with electrical engineering degree from Stanford, master's and PhD in applied physics from Harvard, professor at University of Colorado, former CEO of a venture-backed high technology start-up. And on top of all that, President of the Society for Scientific Exploration.

73. Skeptoid’s Brian Dunning Finds Global Consciousness Project Lacking

Guest: Brain Dunning, host of the popular Skeptoid Podcast, joins Alex Tsakiris to discuss how skeptics view the Global Consciousness Project.

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Alex Tsakiris:    Welcome to Skeptiko, where we explore controversial science with leading researchers, thinkers, and their critics. I'm your host, Alex Tsakiris, and on today's show, the Global Consciousness Project.

We're going to come at this from a number of different angles. The way I got here is really I think the biggest part of this story, but more of that will come later. First let me tell you a little bit about what the Global Consciousness Project is.

71. Michael Schmicker, Best Evidence of PSI

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Guest: Michael Schmicker, Author of, Best Evidence: An Investigative Reporter’s Three-Year Quest to Uncover the Best Scientific Evidence for ESP, Psychokinesis, Mental Healing, Ghosts and Poltergeists, Dowsing, Mediums, Near Death Experiences, Reincarnation, and Other Impossible Phenomena That Refuse to Disappear

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Alex:    Welcome to Skeptiko where we explore controversial science with leading researchers and critics, I am your host Alex Tsakiris and today we have a great, delightful interview for me with Michael Schmicker the author of a couple of books that I am going to tell you about as we get into the interview - it´s pretty long, I am going to jump right in to it, here it goes.

We are joined today by the author of a couple of very interesting books that we are going to talk about, the first Best Evidence, an investigative reporter´s three year quest to uncover the best scientific evidence for ESP, pyschokinesis, ghosts, poltergeists, dousing, mediums, near death experience, reincarnations and other impossible phenomena that refuse to disappear. Quite a long title but one that really tells what the book is about, the other book we are going to talk about is The Gift, ESP, the extraordinary experiences of ordinary people - a book he co-authored with Doctor Sally Rhine Feather who is the daughter of J.B Rhine the founder of the famous Rhine Research Center at Duke. So if all that is a way of introduction Mike Schmicker welcome to Skeptiko.