by Dan Nieman
Just think about this world for a minute. How many diverse groups of people are there? People are spread all over this planet with widely differing belief systems and experiences of the world. People go on and on arguing for their version of reality over another’s. Scientists are especially troubling in this regard, as they have become the new Church; the gatekeepers of reality. It is now the scientific establishment who gets to dictate what we believe as reality. Supposedly they are the objective, rational, harbingers of true reality, as opposed to that made up fiction of religion.
However, as I intend to show: no one or no group of people is “objective” or even can be. This is because we live in a subjective reality. The scientific establishment’s resistance to the paranormal (or any data that doesn’t fit within their present belief system) and the idea of an intelligence that forms and evolves the universe. Scientists have constructed a box of beliefs (worldview) that shapes their view of the world, and what’s possible and not possible in that world. This belief in only material objects and energy blinds them to the true nature of reality even when the evidence for it is staring them in the face.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to science. Scientific experimentation is wonderful and has led to many advances. What I’m railing against is a certain scientism that has grown up around the halls of academia. It is a scientific fundamentalism that dictates what kinds of theories are acceptable in science, and subsequently about what kinds of studies are acceptable to undertake. Any findings that might upset the dominate beliefs of the scientific establishment are attacked or just simply ignored.
It is not an environment that is open to any and all inquiry. Precisely the opposite, what you can and cannot believe is determined by the scientific establishment based on the dominating paradigm, or worldview, under which they operate. And by “scientific establishment” I don’t mean all scientists, but the majority of scientists, especially the high ranking and influential ones. Things like telepathy, communicating with the dead, or a guiding intelligence underlying the universe, to name just a few, are not open for discussion. They are impossible based on the materialistic worldview of many scientists. Even when scientists study these things, their science is labeled pseudoscience and simply ignored by the establishment.
We live in the confines of the box of our beliefs about reality, trapped by a worldview whether it’s a scientific or religious one; it doesn’t matter. There may be “objective” facts. This person did this experiment and found this result. That’s an objective fact. However, our beliefs come to define which facts we accept, which we ignore, which we ridicule, and which define our reality. Science is no exception to this rule.
As an example, just look at research into psychic phenomena performed in laboratories all around the world. Parapsychologists have been actively looking for evidence of the paranormal (think telepathy, clairvoyance, and telekinesis) for over 100 years. For over 100 years they’ve been setting up experiments and conducting tests for these things. And they’ve been finding statistically significant results.
Nowadays, a typical telepathy experiment operates on what is known as the ganzfeld protocol. This involves two people: a sender and a receiver. The receiver goes into an acoustically sealed room, dons a pair of headphones, and relaxes in a comfortable chair. Ping pong or tennis balls are halved and placed over the subjects eyes and a red light shines down from above. The receiver is then taken through a progressive relaxation routine for 15 minutes. Then for the next 30 minutes white noise is played through the headphones and the receiver is asked to articulate any thoughts or images that come to his/her mind.
You see by the design of the experiment that the idea is to eliminate any outside sensory stimulation. All you can see is soft red light and all you can hear is white noise. So there’s not much to stimulate the mind in this situation, which in theory makes one better able to pick up on subconscious images or ideas relayed by the sender. Because if telepathy is real it operates on a higher/deeper level of mind that we are usually not conscious of. Some people call this the subconscious mind, but we’ll talk more about the multi-level nature of mind in the coming chapters.
In what’s known as the autoganzfeld, which is the kind used today, a computer randomly chooses a picture or video clip from a vast library of such pictures and clips to show to the sender. The sender is in another room with a one-way audio speaker which allows him to hear the receiver, but the receiver cannot hear him. This is so the sender can receive feedback about what the receiver is mentally experiencing and make adjustments to his/her thought processes accordingly. For 30 minutes the sender concentrates on sending the picture or video clip to the receiver in the other room.
After the 30 minutes is up, the session ends and a set of 4 pictures or video clips, including the target one, is shown to the receiver who then has to guess which one the sender was trying to telepathically send to him/her. If it were merely a guess we should expect people to guess the right picture 25% of the time. However, as it turns out when the experiments are run the average hit rate is around 33%.
You may think this is a relatively small effect and wonder why the hit rate is not much larger. But think about the fact that we are not taught to believe in such abilities, much less to utilize them. So, very few people have much practice with this ability, and not surprisingly telepathy is relatively foreign in our everyday experience. Another way of putting it is that our society’s belief system, dominated as it is by the scientific establishment, does not include telepathy as real, much less important. In fact, the typical response is to fear or ignore such abilities even when they are experienced. Therefore, it is likely that there are strong mental blocks to experiencing such things. Our belief system shapes how we experience reality.
It is quite telling that when gifted artists were tested, their hit rate was found to be a much higher 47%. So, people who often utilize their right brains and are very imaginative seem to be able to tap the subconscious much better than those that are predominantly left-brained. It would be interesting to see if they have a much higher belief in psychic awareness or if they have had more experience with this ability than the general population, who are the test subjects in normal ganzfeld experiments.
In any event, 33% is getting right one out of every three, a significant deviation from the chance expectation of one out of every four. In fact, Mario Beauregard, in his book Brain Wars, reports that “a meta-analysis of the replication studies [of the autoganzfeld] conducted by Radin, Bierman, Bem, and Parker has revealed a hit rate of 33.2 percent with odds against chance beyond a million billion to one.” That means that it’s not just a fluke. The odds are astoundingly stacked against this result happening by chance. Telepathy is operating, not perfectly, but it’s definitely there.
In actuality, today’s telepathy experiments are just a formality, trying to prove under the strictest of conditions what has been experimentally verified by competent researchers for over 100 years. The great Armand-Marie-Jacques de Chastenet, Marquis de Puységur (really, could a name be longer?), for one, put a subject named Victor in a hypnotic state. From there Puységur was able to give unspoken mental commands to Victor, which he would dutifully obey.
Paraspychological researcher Brian Inglis explains, “Victor would behave as he was willed to behave, talk as he was willed to talk; and if willed to stop talking, he would ‘stay his thoughts, his phrases, in the middle of a word.’” This was all done without speaking a single command, but through the transmission of Puységur’s thoughts to the subject.
Puységur explicitly states:
“When he is magnetised [a form of hypnosis], he is no longer a simple peasant who can barely answer a question; he is something I cannot describe. I have no need to speak to him, I think in front of him and he understands and answers me. If somebody comes into the room, he sees him if I want him to, and speaks to him, saying what I want him to say, not always in the same words, but true to their meaning. When he wants to say more than I consider fit to be heard, I stop his ideas and sentences in the middle of a word, and I change his mind completely.”
In complete rapport with his subject, who is himself in a higher sphere of mind, it is as if they are together of one single mind. Many other researchers also found that they could influence a subject under hypnosis mentally, even when they were separated by great distances to preclude any other type of influence. There is really no other explanation for this type of phenomenon than a telepathic communication between hypnotizer and subject.
In the past, it was sometimes attributed to a hypersensitivity on the subjects part, so that they could pick up subtle muscular clues or drafts of air and somehow deduce what was in the hypnotists mind. However, this type of explanation stretches credulity and cannot possibly be taken seriously, especially when the hypnotist is not even in the same room as the subject. This suffices to show that experimentation with telepathy is nothing new and in no way are the modern day ganzfeld experiments necessary to prove its existence. Telepathy has simply been demonstrated time and time again, as well as reported by people the world over, to be beyond doubt.
However, considering there are modern day experimental proofs of telepathy we should ask the question: Do you remember that New York Times article proclaiming how scientists have found telepathy and it will enter the school curriculum next year and be taught as an established principle to all grade school children? Probably not because it wasn’t there. Do you remember learning about telepathy as a serious scientific study when you were in school? Again, I doubt it. Unless you took specialized classes in parapsychology in college you probably never heard a word about the subject. And if you did it was probably in a passing reference to “pseudoscience.” As if the controlled laboratory experiments I described are somehow less scientific than normal experiments just because they study something that’s not supposed to exist!
Indeed, telepathy is still excluded from most scientist’s belief system even though the data is overwhelmingly in favor of it. The key point is that facts themselves don’t matter, beliefs matter. When the facts don’t fit into your belief system there are a few options: ignore them, try to explain them away, or change your belief system. The first is the easiest and most common, followed by the second and third. Let’s take a look at some more examples.
Astrophysicist and computer scientist Jacques Vallee studied the UFO phenomenon for many years and wrote a series of books on the subject from the 1960s up until the early 1990s. He was a very open minded man who wanted to understand what these UFOs were, if they were physically real, and how they affected human populations who came in contact with them. But to his surprise, his astronomer colleagues were for the most part only interested in ignoring the phenomenon. He complains:
“On two occasions I have tracked some unknown objects, using small telescopes. A few of my astronomer colleagues made similar observations, and, after making inquiries, we became aware of sightings kept confidential by professional astronomers the world over. The objects we were tracking were not spectacular, but the reaction they elicited among French scientists fascinated me. Instead of asking if these seemingly maneuverable and “impossible” objects could be a manifestation of some advanced technology (and in some cases they may well have been terrestrial), they thought only of suppressing the records. They did this by denying every observation, by blaming it on airplanes or planets when the documentation was unassailable, and by destroying the data when it was demonstrated that no airplane could have behaved as the objects did.”
So much for objective scientific inquiry. I do have some sympathy for these astronomers who were suppressing, ignoring, and even destroying data because I realize that we live in such a close minded society, especially among mainstream scientists. I can just imagine one of these astronomers coming out and saying that he tracked a UFO by telescope and releasing the data that it couldn’t have been a planet, airplane, or conventional phenomenon. This poor astronomer would be immediately subjected to ridicule by his colleagues who would propose some bullshit theory about what he saw (think swamp gas). If he were at a university, they might marginalize him and make sure he never gets tenure. It’s not easy to challenge the orthodoxy. It’s much easier not to push the boundaries of belief, just better to stay quiet, shut up and do real science!
Sometimes scientists are even barred from publishing in a journal solely because their conclusions about the phenomenon are on the wrong side of the ideological fence. Such was the case with optical physicist Bruce Maccabee. He went to Kaikoura, New Zealand to investigate some well documented UFO sightings involving multiple witnesses, movie footage, and radar tracking. He spent a good month in Kaikoura analyzing the data and interviewing the witnesses. To his surprise, “an article appeared in the Journal of Atmospheric and Terrestrial Physics concluding that refracted lights from Japanese squid boats were responsible for the sightings.”
Having done his own in-depth research, Maccabee had reached the opposite conclusion, namely, that it was an unidentified phenomenon and couldn’t be explained on the basis of mirages or other terrestrial phenomena. So, he decided to submit a rebuttal to the Journal explaining his position. UFO researcher Thomas Bullard sums up what happened nicely: “The editor rejected his article, saying it contained no ‘real science,’ in an apparent demonstration that a study based on extensive investigation did not merit publication if it arrived at an unacceptable answer, while a study based on nothing more than newspaper reports breezed into print as long as its results conformed to proper scientific opinion.”
Is this not the case with all belief systems though? You readily accept findings that fit nicely within your preexisting belief system even if the evidence is flimsy, while rejecting or ignoring strong evidence to the contrary. Science, the supposed objective arbiter of truth, turns out to be no different. It’s not about the evidence. Belief system comes first, evidence second.
Let’s take a look at another UFO related scandal involving the Condon Committee, which was a group formed at the University of Colorado headed by physicist Dr. Edward Condon and commissioned by the Defense Department to study UFOs in the late 60s. Given a healthy sum of money to the tune of half a million dollars, their investigation into the UFO matter was strikingly short. Thomas Bullard reports that investigations started early in 1967 and wrapped up in the spring of 1968. Another intriguing detail to clue us in to possible bias in the final outcome is that Condon, who “never thought very highly of the subject,” made a public speech in January of 1967 stating “that he thought there was nothing to UFOs—‘but I’m not supposed to reach that conclusion for another year.”
In a similar vein, Jacques Vallee tells us that within a year of beginning their study, “field investigations were nonexistent. Questionnaires were sent out to witnesses, but only one assistant was available to encode the results for the computer file. . .” This prompted a minority faction of the committee to rebel and publish a memorandum to the effect that “the Condon Committee had never intended to look seriously into the UFO problem.” Afterwards Dr. Condon fired the minority group and proceeded to run the project his way, which according to Vallee was essentially to not take the phenomenon seriously.
Of course, the final report stated that the official study of the UFO phenomenon should be abandoned. But the more intriguing part of the scandal involves what happened to the committee’s files afterwards. Were the files opened to the public and the scientific establishment for independent review? Far from it, Vallee reports that after the committee released their report stating that UFOs were not worthy of study, the University of Colorado locked up the project’s files, which were later “transferred to a private home and were burned shortly thereafter.”
This last event is really telling that they were not serious about studying UFOs and UFO related events. It’s fine if you want to conclude that there’s nothing to the phenomenon. But the least you can do as a respectable body of scientists is release the data you’ve collected so that other scientists and scientific bodies can do their own analysis. For example, they could have said, “Here you go, take a look at these files and you’ll see that it’s just a bunch of hallucinating farmers and truck drivers staying up too late popping caffeine pills. (And probably smoking joints) Take a look; I’m sure you’ll come to the same conclusion.” Releasing the data and giving a statement like that would have been ok, although it would have pissed off farmers and truck drivers. But burn the data? Is this a scientific committee or a medieval Catholic Church?
In the 1700s people were also seeing things in the sky. Not only that, they were claiming that these rocks in the sky were falling to Earth. We call them meteorites today, but in the 1700s the suggestion of space rocks falling to Earth was just plain ludicrous. I can hear the scientists of the day wailing, “What kind of bullshit is this? Rocks! Falling from the sky! What are these peasants smoking?” Of course, the scientists of that time may have employed a slightly different linguistic style in their thought processes, but I think I’ve captured the meaning of what they would have thought.
It was in France that this whole fiasco came to a head. Thankfully, the scientists at the prestigious French Academy of Science were up to the task of putting these bullshit rumors of rocks falling from the sky to rest. So, in 1772 this prestigious group of distinguished pipe smoking scientists (I’m guessing on the pipe smoking) studied reports of rocks falling from the sky; what we now refer to as meteorites. What was their conclusion? You guessed it:
“There are no such things as hot stones that have fallen from the sky because there are no stones in the sky to fall. Reports of the phenomenon must have other explanations–delusionary ‘visions,’ stones heated after being struck by lightning, stones borne aloft by whirlwinds or volcanic eruptions, and so forth.”
Here we come to the central problem; the problem which faced the prestigious French Academy. That is, how could it be possible? You see, they had no way to understand how meteorites could exist, as their scientific belief system was still primitive in terms of understanding space. If you had no conception of an asteroid belt or meteorites in space, how could you possibly believe in rocks falling from the sky? It just seemed so absurd at the time, so impossible.
The same is true for the astronomers tracking UFOs, or poor professor Condon who got himself balls-deep in UFO data and didn’t know what to make of it. Science just can’t fathom how an alien spacecraft would get here. The distances are too vast and wormholes require too much energy to create and keep open to be plausible. There’s just no way to understand them. (And theorizing UFOs popping in from other dimensions is still way outside the box for most scientists to venture) It also doesn’t help that aliens don’t land on the White-House lawn like good aliens should. That, or immediately attack us and take over our planet like the movies suggest. Many scientists just can’t wrap their heads around intelligent beings who would come here and not do one of these things. But you have to ask yourself: Are we really in a position to judge the actions of a higher intelligence? They may have a meta-logic all of their own. Instead of openly manifesting and giving us all the solutions to our problems, maybe they want to covertly guide us in ways that we are only beginning to piece together.
Telepathy and other psychic phenomena are no different. Scientists just can’t fit it into what they know to be true. They have no idea how telepathy could exist. In fact, most scientists still think that the brain produces the mind as an epiphenomenon, or that the mind is reducible to neural firing in the brain. The former is the view that somehow the complex workings of the brain give rise to the mind, which exists as a secondary phenomenon not reducible to brain activity, but still dependent on it for existence. The latter is the view that all mental events are just patterns of neural activity in the brain; in other words, we can reduce the mind to the physical activity in the brain.18 Both of these views require the brain for the mind to exist and neither can explain how one mind could transmit information directly to another mind. Since mind, in these views, is limited to a person’s brain and nervous system functioning, how could one person’s brain send a nerve (or neural) impulse across space to affect another person’s brain?
So you see, we need a new belief system that can allow for what is now considered the paranormal. In order for science as a whole to accept the data, they need to be able to understand it within a broader system of thought. We need to have a belief system that makes the paranormal normal. Otherwise we’ll go on living in our nice little box and fearing and ignoring major aspects of reality. In essence, we will stifle further advancement of knowledge by shunning the very phenomena we should be most interested in.
Daniel Neiman holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He is currently an independent researcher with a focus on altered states of consciousness and life after death. He currently lives in Seoul, South Korea where he teaches English and researches in his spare time.
Visit his website at http://www.anomalousexperience.com/