The Conscious Universe
with Dean Radin
Many people believe in the existence of psychic (psi) phenomena from personal experience, yet few people– including most scientists– are aware of the enormous amount of scientific evidence in favor of it’s existence. Prior to reading The Conscious Universe, I considered myself to be fairly well-informed scientifically, yet I was completely ignorant of the massive amount of carefully-conducted research into psi phenomena there has been over the past century. That’s why The Conscious Universe was one of the most eye-opening books that I’ve ever read in my life.
That parapsychological researchers have thoroughly addressed every skeptical criticism, and have still produced overwhelming evidence in favor of the existence of telepathy, psychokinesis, and clairvoyance, just blew my mind. How could I possibly be so ignorant of so much research? Primarily because I believed what I had heard in school, and most of the scientific community is not only ignorant of this research, but strongly biased against accepting it– for what can only be reasons of superstition or fear.
I was completely unaware that there is far more scientific evidence for psi than there is for the existence of most elementary particles, which physics accepts as reality. The results from the author’s meta-analysis of thousands of well-controlled parapsychological studies indicate statistical odds of billions-to-one in favor of psi.
Dean Radin, Ph.D., the author of this astonishing book, is a first-rate scientist, and a long-time researcher into psi phenomena himself, who conducted his studies at prestigious institutions, such as Princeton University, Bell Labs, the University of Nevada, AT&T, the Stanford Research Institute, and with the U.S. Government.
Dean is presently conducting research on the theoretical and experimental aspects of psi at a prominent Silicon Valley think-tank, the name of which I am not at liberty to mention. I interviewed Dean on May 22, 1998 at his office in Palo Alto, California. Present at the interview was my friend Jessica Pariente. I found Dean to have an extremely sharp, and highly engaging, imaginative mind. He seemed to have a deep intuitive understanding of the basic inter-connectedness between things, and is also a very warm human being.
David: What originally inspired you to study psychic phenomena?
Dean: I’m asked this question a lot, as you can imagine. And I’ve thought about it a lot. I don’t really know why. Among a lot of my colleagues, they can often point to a dramatic event in their life, or in someone’s life who is close to them– their psychic Auntie Susie, their grandmother who was psychic, or something like that. There wasn’t anything like that in my life. I’ve had my share of psychic experiences, but they never grabbed me in a way that said, you must be compelled to spend your life figuring out what this means. That’s not the motivation at all.
David: Did you ever have any particularly profound psychic experiences?
Dean: Yeah, but I guess I don’t have the personality type that has something happen, and then feels that I must spend all my time thinking and doing something about it.
David: How did you get started doing parapsychological research then?
Dean: Well, I think the answer is, I don’t remember anytime when I wasn’t interested in this topic, or in this realm of topics– things having to do with the mind, awareness, or consciousness. I’ll think, oh, it was in the second grade when I first became interested. Then I’ll remember something that was earlier and earlier, so I can’t really identify a precipitating event.
But then, of course, a social psychologist would immediately say, well what was your family like? And could that have given you a predisposition? The answer is yes. To give you an example, my mom was involved with yoga before I was born. So it was natural for me, even back in the mid-fifties, to see mom doing yoga. Of course, along with that, were lots books about yoga, lots of yogic lore, and a bunch of other things, which weren’t exactly popular at that time. But, never-the-less, I considered that, along with all of the science fiction and fairy tales that I used to read a lot. So it seemed quite natural to me that there’s much more about human potential than we usually assume.
David: Why do you think it is that so many conventional scientists have such a strong negative prejudice regarding research into psychic phenomena, and are so ignorant of the strong evidence in favor of it?
Dean: In my book I go over some of the reasons, many of which are based on fear. There’s fear that we don’t know what we think we know, the fear of losing privacy, and the fear that maybe what we think of as our precious encapsulated ego may not be so. The worst case is that it’s a complete illusion, and the best case is it’s not quite as private as we thought it was. So deep dark secrets can not actually be kept, either deep or dark, and that can be extremely threatening for someone who has something they wish to hide.
David: So you think that a lot of the negative bias from scientists is really due to their fear that someone might be able to read their thoughts?
Dean: Yeah, I’ve heard scientists say this at times, that we’re all in very serious trouble if someone knows what we’re thinking. There was a funny comment I heard somewhere that’s relevant. It was claimed that the reason why scientists in particular are disturbed about the idea of knowing other people’s thoughts is because then they would know what other people think about the way they dress. (laughter)
So you can just project that silly fear into fear about lots of things, along with a professional life, which is involved with understanding things. Scientists, in particular, who spend years honing the sharpness of their mind have all kinds of good reasons to not like it. And, of course, in addition, there’s a huge history of reasons to be skeptical. We see this topic in particular as a form of entertainment, and crazy people are associated with it– spooks and kooks of all types. Science is a conservative enterprise, and the occasional scientist who goes to a New Age fair is usually appalled.
A month ago I went up to see the Whole Life Expo, and I go because it’s sort of fun to go. But there’s so much that goes on at these expos which is worse than psuedo-science. Psuedo-science is one thing, but to portray something as scientific, so that people will be enticed to buy it, is something I strongly object to. Like most scientists then, if somebody came along and said, well, I’m psychic so-and-so, and I can do this and that, of course, the immediate reaction is realistically one of very high skepticism. So it’s easy to understand why people would just say there can’t be anything to this, it can’t possibly be real, and since there are a million things for me to do, I’ll spend time doing what I think is important, and I don’t need to spend any time on this.
David: Why do you think the various psychic abilities that humans are capable of evolved to begin with?
Dean: See, that’s a very important question. It’s not clear to me at all that it evolved, because I think we’re dealing with something which is before evolution in a sense. It’s part of the fabric of the universe. It has to be, because if it was something that evolved, it would suggest that we have created ways of transcending space and time, which doesn’t make sense. How can we create something which, from a conventional point of view, would be a violation of “laws of science”. It can’t be that way.
So, another way of thinking of it is that we make the presumption– and one that I have some faith in– that the universe was here before people showed up, that we didn’t create it as a fact of thinking about it, and suddenly it all fell into place. In fact, we have to take that faith, otherwise science would stop, because it becomes a solipsistic universe, and anything we wish to be true would be true. We could no longer do anything. So you start from the assumption that the world is given in some way, and that we’re evolving in it. And if there’s any evolution at all, it’s the evolution of a realization that the fabric of the universe is not the way that Newton saw it. Or actually it is, in his mystical sense, but not the Newtonian-Cartesian world.
David: So you see it as being an inherent part of the basic structure of the universe?
Dean: Yes, there’s some aspects of the world for which we now have the term non-locality, which nobody understands very well, but seems to be a fundamental, underlying aspect of the universe. If that is in fact the case, as it seems it must be, given theory and experiments, then in many ways psychic phenomena is something you would absolutely predict. You must predict that occasionally people would have the sense of this kind of inter-connectedness.
David: When I interviewed Nick Herbert a few years ago, I asked him a question about Bell’s Theorem being an explanation for telepathy. He told me that, yes, Bell’s Theorem may explain telepathy. But, he then said, the real mystery is: what explains the lack of telepathy?
Dean: That’s right. And it’s an interesting approach to what we’re actually looking at here if we start from the reverse assumption. We call this the “problem of the pork chop in the box”. In a typical clairvoyant or remote-viewing experiment you come into the room, and I say, I have an object that I’ve stuck in this box. Your job is to give me a description of it. Then later, I’ll show you what the object is. We use a pork chop as an example of something unlikely to be in a box. So you give me a description of a pork chop, and sure enough I pull it out, and there it is. Well, how did you know that?
And worse, I could decide what to put into the box tomorrow. So space-separation, shielding, and all these ordinary things that block perception are somehow not there. Many years went by trying to explain it through conventional means. We thought that perhaps it’s an electromagnetic ability that allows one to get through the box. Or perhaps I can astral project out into it. I can do all kinds of things that look like ordinary separation. I can go from here to there, but that’s probably wrong. Because every test done that looks at shielding, and looks at space and time, all show it doesn’t matter.
So, of course then, theoretically it becomes very difficult to understand how we even approach that. Well, what if you start from the opposite premise, which is that all of us know everything all the time in space and time. Then the question is, how come you’re not overwhelmed by it? And the answer is, some people are overwhelmed by it, and we call them psychotic, and have use sedating drugs just to be able to function at all. Because you could imagine how overwhelming it would be. I mean, besides all the human stuff, there’s alien stuff, there’s the inside of stars, and all kinds of bizarre things, which would be impinging on us– not because it’s coming from the outside, but because we’re already there.
David: What you’re saying is certainly in agreement with people’s mystical experiences throughout history.
Dean: Right. So the key is, how do we focus on one thing versus everything? Or one thing versus another? And right now we have a hand-waving argument, which is how do you do the same thing in a cocktail party, that is, pay attention to one person as opposed to another? Because you can internally just switch your attention so that it looks like you’re paying attention to someone, but in fact you really are paying attention to something else.
So we have mechanisms in place, and a lot of organisms have the same mechanisms to be able to focus on one thing versus the another. So, in a sense, this is no different than simply deciding to focus on what’s going to be in this thing tomorrow, versus focusing on my voice right now. Some people are naturally extremely good at that, and those are the ones we call really good psychics.
David: That’s an interesting approach, to turn everything on it’s head.
Dean: Right. In fact, we’re reviewing this book– The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot– and were just saying the other day that even if no one knew about psychic phenomena, then you would expect it from David Bohm’s holographic model of the universe that he developed twenty or so years ago. He could say at that point– from a physics point of view– that if his holographic model was correct, then what we would expect is that every so often people would have perceptions of things that are happening somewhere or somewhen else.
Then they could do experiments, discover psychic phenomena, and it wouldn’t be so surprising. But you see there’s this long lure that is tied up with religion and mysticism, and a bunch of other things which science has tried to keep at arm’s length. And that’s why people don’t like it.
David: What are some of the practical applications of parapsychological research?
Dean: Well, realistically we don’t know, I mean at any time, any time science has stumbled across some new understanding of the world it typically gas spun out into applications at the time when the invention was made, or the discovery was made, no one had any idea, so did Madame Curie think that an atomic bomb could be made, and actually work, or worse, or not worse, but a further stretch for perhaps, was that atomic energy would drive mega-watt plants. I don’t know?
I mean, maybe she couldn’t have had the imagination at the time, so we think of, well, what could it be used for? And the easiest way to answer that is what is it being used for already? It’s being used for medical diagnosis, for making better decisions, for psychotherapy, a lot more than people probably know, I mean, privately psychotherapists sometimes will admit that they use this stuff, but not very often.
David: Tell me about your research at Bell Labs with regards to developing a psi-based technology.
Dean: I can talk about what I was doing, although I can’t talk about what I’m doing now, because it’s proprietary. First of all, we don’t really understand how any of this stuff works. We have these metaphors, like how do you focus on one thing versus another. A big mystery all along has been why there’s extremely good evidence for psi perception, but there’s not good evidence for psi action. In other words, if we’re passive we can perceive all kinds of interesting things. If we try to make something happen, it’s not quite clear that that is in fact what’s happening, because there are lots of ways of appearing to make something happen, if you have the right knowledge.
David: It’s difficult to differentiate between what’s action and what’s perception.
Dean: So far it’s not possible to cleanly differentiate between something that looks like action, and something that is actually perception, but doing something at the right time. You can make all kinds of interesting things occur by knowing the right time to do something. So this issue of where does the causation lie is not so simple. But we’re working on experiments now, and I was working on this some time ago. We seem to be looking at two sides of the same coin, and are just simply deciding that they are in fact the same coin.
Something that’s precognitive or psychokinetic is identical, depending on the direction of how you look at it in time. So we’re playing with ways of turning passive perception into action experimentally. Could you make a garage door opener out of this, where you think about it opening and it does? Probably, and it may not be distinguishable, from the person’s point-of-view, as to whether they’re imagining that the door opened in the future, and the door actually opens at that time, or whether it’s because one has actually created a causal loop with the thing in the future. There are clever ways of making things occur.
David: Or making it seem like they occur.
Dean: No, it really actually will occur. Things really do occur, but they occur because of perception. See, language starts breaking down pretty quickly in this realm. Most of the reasons why you can make things happen is because once you can create something which is no longer bound by ordinarily linear progression of time, or a time-arrow which is forced to go in one direction, somewhere between “all hell breaks loose” and “anything is possible” is in the offering. I just spoke to Nick Herbert last week about one of the experiments that we were considering doing, and he suggested that we don’t do it, because of the unknowns involved.
David: Nick suggested that? I have a hard time believing that.
Dean: Yeah. Then I kept trying to press him on it. Why would we not want to do this? Because it is so much of an unknown as what’s going to happen. Most likely nothing will happen. It’ll be just one more experiment, and who cares? But we’re beginning to toy with things like causal sequences, the nature of causation all together, and causal paradoxes. And if we have the capability of experimentally creating a causal paradox, it could start things unraveling in a way that we don’t know how to predict very well. The image here is of the Navajo rug, which always has one or more pieces kind of stuck out of it.
David: To symbolize imperfection.
Dean: Yes, the eastern approach. You don’t want to offend the gods by making something perfect, so you leave something in there, and it also represents that the fabric of the universe is always in a state of being made. It’s still ready to be woven back into the fabric.
David: Or ready to be unraveled. (laughter)
Dean: Right. So we have a way of pulling a piece of lint out of the fabric of the universe, and if we succeed, we don’t know what happens, you see? Does the fabric close itself up? if you’re unlucky and happen to be in a wrong place and time, will you get sucked into it? We don’t know, you see? My faith is that the universe is actually quite strong, and robust, and it doesn’t allow big mistakes like this to be made. On the other hand, we don’t know where Black Holes come from. Maybe somebody on some planet somewhere figured it out, and tried it, and it turned the section of the galaxy into a Black Hole. (laughter)
David: Whoops! If you had access to unlimited funds for parapsychological research, where would you invest the money?
Dean: You mean on what topic I would invest it on?
David: Yeah, let’s say I just gave you a 100 million dollars to invest. What would you do with the funds?
Dean: Well, I wouldn’t do it in one thing. What I would probably do is carve up a large chunk of it for pure research, because much of what we’re doing here is trying to answer the question: what the hell is going on? How can we see the pork chop in the box? And if we have an idea, like a holographic universe, how can we test that to see if we’re right? And what are the consequences? All that basic research.
I think I’d also put a large chunk into distant healing, or healing in general, because the evidence now is very clear in support of these phenomena– whether their causal, perceptive, or whatever– can be used to help people get better. Then you have a gigantic pragmatic reason for pushing that research as fast as you can. We’re talking somewhere between a remote placebo effect, to possibly changing an individual’s past, and therefore affecting their present.
Again, the language doesn’t quite fit right, but something like that seems to be the case. If you simply decide that if you weren’t feeling very well on Tuesday, you can change Monday, so that they will feel okay on Tuesday. We see those kinds of effects, even in the laboratory. And if that’s true, that’s pretty good. That’s optimum preventative medicine, isn’t it? See?
Then we can just stop all the other medicine, and just say okay, we’ll cure people at the point before they get sick. Or we’ll prevent then from getting sick. Then it’s much easier to easier to solve anything basically. There are ethical reasons, and planetary reasons to wonder about whether we should do that or not, because if we suddenly had the cure for all diseases we’d have such a massive population explosion that would cause it’s own kind of suffering.
David: Or people could use those same abilities for harm. The power can be used both ways.
Dean: Exactly. And it probably is being used both ways. So there’s reason to do a lot of basic research on this, and not simply assume that our ignorance will protect us, because in this case ignorance is not bliss.
David: What do you think are some of the most important implications of parapsychological research?
Dean: But I haven’t finished spending your hundred million dollars yet. (laughter) Another large chunk of it I think I would want to fund research on the healing the split between science and religion. I would actually pay scholars, and maybe philosophers, to think about the consequences of kind of starting over again. Go back three hundred years, and make a new agreement between Newton, Descartes, and the religious scholars of their day. Figure out a way to begin again, so that we fix the split. I think that the process of this splitting it has pushed society in directions that have been quite bad.
On the same token, I’d like to have people like medical ethicists and philosophers– who worry about values and so on– figure out the consequences of getting a very good hand on what’s going on here. Like Nick had a question about the physics of unraveling the universe, my question is: if we were extremely successful at understanding what’s going on, what impact would that have on the future? For society? For individuals? I don’t know what the answer is, and I would rather pay people who think about it all day long to come up with some kind of a reasonable guess. Or maybe more than a guess, perhaps something that’s testable.
The biggest thing actually that I would do with a lot of money is do what was done here. The real purpose here is media– future media and future entertainment technologies. We’re here as a gamble that the implications actually do impact future technologies. So wouldn’t it be cool if we were the place that came up with it, and we got her working on it. But who knows what’s going to happen.
David: What do you think are some of the most important implications of parapsychological research?
Dean: I kind of get stuck on implications, because from a scientific point of view, in a sense, it’s extremely mundane. The history of science shows that for a long time scientists have a good sense of what they think the world is like, and then somebody comes up with a nutty idea and revolutionizes everything. There’s great chaos, and then it settles back down. It goes through these cycles over and over again, and the speed with which those cycles are changing are getting shorter and shorter. What used to take centuries, became decades, and now takes like six months.
The direction that science in general seems to be moving is perfectly compatible with the idea that there is some kind deep interconnection between things. There’s a quickly growing interest in religion and science, and the two are probably not incompatible, but, perhaps, are two sides of the same coin. I mean, they’re different obviously, but they may not need to be as different as people have thought. So where does it fit in?
One time I gave a talk where I was suggesting the topic of psychic phenomena as the middle ground between science and religion. This was because it addresses a lot of the phenomena that give religion it’s power– namely things that look supernatural, therefore can’t be us, and must be from some higher place or something. Yet all our research suggests that the cause of all this is people. It’s not disembodied entities doing it; it’s us doing it.
If you follow the logic out– especially with Eastern ideas, and even some Western notions about how reality is created– and if it truly is the result of an interaction between observation and some formless stuff out there, then parapsychological phenomena is just the tip of the iceberg. The evidence almost suggests that a solipsistic view of the world might be right, that we are engaged in continuous creation by virtue of our observation.
David: But solipsism implies that there is only one person doing it.
Dean: Yeah, each person is there own solipsistic source. In this case it’s like a collective that is deciding how things shall be. And I don’t like that too much. My dad always said that if solipsism were real, then take the solipsists, stand them in front of the highway, and see what happens when the truck hits them– because in there universe it won’t make any difference. They say it will just be a figment of their imagination, and they can decide that it’s not going to hit them.
But then you start thinking about the folklore in which precisely that occurs. There are cases in which you simply decide that you don’t wish to be under this particular circumstance, and you are not. And from an external perspective, funny things happen. A person is there, then that person is longer there. Or the thing that was going to hit them is no longer there. Or it suddenly swerved. Or something happened where a light came in the sky. All kinds of weird stuff occurs, and if you don’t just dismiss all of it, then the world probably is much more malleable than we think.
David: What sort of relationship do you see between psychic phenomena and altered states of consciousness?
Dean: Our ordinary state of awareness seems to have evolved in a direction where it is extremely good at excluding psychic or mystical awareness, and here evolution makes a certain sense. Let’s say that the primordial state is awareness of everything. So now you’re an organism in which there are tigers around trying to eat you. If you sustained that sense of awareness of everything you’re not going to live very long, in which case it would behoove the organism not to pay an enormous amount of attention to what is right around here– with maybe little glimmerings of things that might be threatening in your immediate vicinity. We don’t need to know what’s going on on Mars at the moment.
So if you go through enough generations of that kind of organism, then you’re going to get really good at not being psychic. You’ll have a sense that our world is in very sharp, snapped focus around us, which is exactly the way we perceive the world. Yet, under the right conditions, either through brain damage, or through drugs, drumming, or something, you push somebody slightly out of that ordinary state, and suddenly that larger awareness often times creeps in. And it doesn’t matter what state it is, provided it’s not this state, the ordinary awareness state.
David: That’s very similar to what Aldous Huxley said in Doors of Perception about Big Mind and Little Mind.
Dean: That’s right.
David: Are you familiar with any research that studied the relationship between the psychedelic experience and psychic phenomena?
Dean: There’s some interesting new experimental evidence developing right now actually. This research is not being done in the United States, because you can’t get away with it here. But I have a colleague in Amsterdam who has been running telepathy studies using psilocybin, with amazing results.
David: What kind of studies?
Dean: These are the Ganzfeld experiments, like I describe in my book. Since basically drugs of any type are freely available in Holland, they went to find volunteers that were willing to do a Ganzfeld experiment under the influence of psilocybin. I forget whether they provided it, or they asked you to bring your own, but they had some way of standardized measures of how much psilocybin you were getting. So the person who was the receiver in the experiment was the one under the influence. And they had exceptionally high hit rates. Then the next stage, which was started last year, is the same thing, only this time the sender and receiver are both under the influence of psilocybin. We don’t know what will happen, so we’ll see.
David: Has this study been written up and published in a journal?
Dean: I think they’re waiting for the current experiment to be finished before they right it up and publish it.
David: Wow, that’s really exciting. Has anyone else done anything like that? I think I heard of a telepathy study done in the fifties with mescaline.
Dean: There were some studies done. There were studies done with LSD as well, before it became Schedule 1. And lots of informal studies with marijuana, occasionally with Ayahuasca. I guess Ayahuasca is the main one because one of the psychoactive components– harmaline– in particular seems to be an interesting component.
It’s too bad that all of the drug research stopped, especially the psychedelics by the late sixties. I think there is a high likelihood that we would have learned that some areas of the brain can be stimulated, which suppresses our ordinary kind of a phase-lock way of seeing the world, and would open the doors of perception in such a way that it would still allow you to focus. Because if you just opened it wide you’d go crazy because of all the stuff.
But if you can still focus, then you have a chance of creating a super-psychic for a short period of time. I think that something like that actually does occur. But since most of the recreational use of drugs is generally done under conditions where when you’re under the influence, you no longer want to do anything. For most drugs, you’re no longer thinking about trying an experiment, and it’s even hard to set the experiment up in advance.
David: Oh we’ve done that.
Dean: And you can still go ahead and do the experiment?
David: Oh sure. I know a number of people actually. We’ve just done simple staring and telepathy– like, guess which color or a song I’m thinking of– experiments with LSD and marijuana, but often with astonishing results.
Dean: Oh, well that’s good then. But with some of the drugs that’s difficult. I was interested in the use of XTC or MDMA and it’s super-sensory enhancement, because it’s still tranquil enough, and one retains very good focus. It sounds like it would be a good drug, and it’s probably misnamed. It should be empathy, not ecstasy. Well, that sounds a lot like telepathy, so let’s do experiments. It would be very interesting to bring people in a lab, or at least under conditions where somebody else is actually controlling what’s happening, because otherwise it may become too recreational and people won’t want to do it.
David: I know somebody who was on MDMA when they took part in one of Rupert Sheldrake’s staring experiments. He was the recipient of the staring in the experiment, and he was right about 85% of the time, which is a very high hit rate.
Dean: That’s not surprising to me. If we could do those studies legally here, I think we would make very fast progress. The other approach though, which is actually happening, is to find the natural talents– because there are folks out there whose brains are wired just slightly differently, and they can do this all the time– and do brain scanning, PET studies, functional MRI, and maybe EEG topological mapping to find out what in fact is going on in their head, which is different than ordinary people. Or different in their head when they’re highly psychic versus not.
David: Has there been anything like that done?
Dean: There have been EEG studies, but they were probably not looking at the right area of the brain. It’s more likely that we’ll need to use PET scanning techniques.
David: Have any sex differences been found among people with regard to psychic abilities?
Dean: Very few.
David: I surveyed four hundred people in Los Angeles and Santa Cruz, and a significantly higher proportion of women reported psychic experiences, compared to men.
Dean: Anecdotally there are some observations about who is likely to naturally be more psychic. As a man, it’s not a straight man, but a gay man. It’s a gay man with a particular body type. For women it’s likely to be, not a gay woman, but a straight woman, again with particular body types. That’s where some of the stereotypes come from, because observationally we know this. We don’t know why that is, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were brain differences. There must be.
So the PET studies have not been done, but they are being prepared to be done. In addition to optimizing everything we know, studies will be done with identical twins with histories of psychic phenomena– not only for themselves, but their families. And where one or both are musicians, because that’s another indicator, especially early childhood training in music, and even more specifically, early childhood training in music on stringed instruments. However, there is not much hard data on this yet, so this is a highly speculative guess based on some limited data.
Jessica: What’s your sense of how music might influence the development of these kinds of abilities?
Dean: Well, the line of research came out of the observation that creative people generally have a much higher belief in psychic phenomena; correlations are very high, like .6, .7, or .8. Given the observation, empirical tests were done with different kinds of creative people to see who would be better in a telepathy test. It turns out that musicians are best, especially early-trained musicians. We know from other research that their corpus callosum is different from most other people’s.
If you’re an early-trained, string musician in particular, where one hand is doing something complicated, and the other hand is doing something even more complicated, the hemispheres need to talk to each other at a much higher frequency or facility, than in a person who is not trained to do complicated things with both hands, listen to the music, analyze it, do pitch intonation, and lots of other things. The brain is very fully engaged.
Jessica: So it’s a capacity for simultaneity?
Dean: Or a hemispheral integration of a higher order than is usual.
David: You know there’s culturally-created differences too in how brains respond to music. PET scans were done with American and Japanese musicians, and they found that Japanese musicians used their left hemisphere when they were performing more than American musicians, who used their right hemispheres more.
Dean: No, I didn’t know that. I do know that the musicians who are trained to read music are different than musicians who are learned by ear.
David: Their training is such that their brains actually get wired or programmed differently?
Dean: That’s right.
David: There’s more left hemisphere activity in people who were trained to read music?
Dean: That’s right, because it becomes another language. I was trained as a classical violinist, and played for many years. More recently I’ve switched into the banjo, because it’s just more fun. When I play the violin, or the banjo, I can not speak. I become aphasic. What it feels like internally is that whatever brain mechanism is used for language articulation is exactly the same mechanism for articulating music.
So it’s not surprising to me that some brain areas begin to specialize in these ways. There’s something perhaps we don’t know, but maybe for somebody to be perceived as good psychic in a lab test, where we’re asking them to articulate, they have to have this strange combination of perhaps right-brain intuitive who-knows-what, and a very fast connection to the other side so they can articulate it.
David: What sort of relationship do you see between science fiction and true scientific progress?
Dean: It certainly looks like a lot of science fiction is a precursor to what happens later. I’ve been to a number of scientific conferences where science fiction authors have been invited to give their view. So where the ideas come from, and what is considered to be an interesting thing to do, is probably all bubbling up out of the same source. And science fiction writers are just good at making a story out of it.
David: And it influenced you as a child too.
Dean: Oh yeah. That, folk tales, and fairy tales. The fairy tales are so rich with a mythological or a folklore suggestion as to what’s actually going on that I’ve paid attention to it. I’ve probably learned more about archetypal structures of the world through fairy tales than anything else. Many times actually, and even in my work, I have this sense that archetypes are real in a strange way, almost in a morphogenetic way, and that they are influences that we can’t quite perceive, but they actually make things happen. They’re almost palpable at times. And I’ve felt that, sometimes in terms of the direction of research, or even in something as mundane as analyzing an experiment, that there is an archetypal push underneath it. So I don’t know what to make of that other than there it is.
David: I tend to see archetypes as the result of a state of consciousness. When you’re in a certain state– let’s call it the collective consciousness, as opposed to the collective unconscious– you see things in an mythic or nuero-genetic way, what seems to be the prototype behind ordinary appearance. I’ve experienced certain states where you just look at someone’s face and see all the archetypes unfolding, and they take on a sense of reality. Whereas in other states, archetypes become more like dream images, or something that’s mostly unreal.
Dean: Right. But then see the underlying question is (and I have to think about this in more depth than I have so far, because next May I’m going to give a talk on the ontological reality of the imaginal world) if you have a dream, or you’re in some funny altered state, and you perceive the world differently does that mean that the world is actually different? Or is it all like a giant hallucination? Well, it’s not so clear.
But we’re talking here about something in a larger sense. If you have a dream, lucid or otherwise, and in the dream you imagine that you’re walking down the street and a green monster jumps out of a building, we would immediately all say that’s not real. That was just your fantasy. But is there an ontological reality to it as well. Now, if everyone else couldn’t see it, but you happened to be in a funny state where you did see it, and that’s where it came from, in your dream, it wasn’t an imaginary monster. It is real in some way. We know, for example, in out-of-body experiences, and in a lot of psychic just things in the lab, that I can imagine that there’s something on the other side of the wall, and sure enough it really is there. And not just for me, but for everyone. So the lines blur between imagination and consensus reality.
Jessica: And if you acted in that state?
Dean: If you did an action in the dream, and that action was observable to people not just in your dream, but everywhere else. Then it says that the ontology of your imagination somehow impinged on the world itself. And I think that does happen. It happens probably more often than we know, but not in the way that we’re normally aware of. It certainly happens in our experiments, because a psychic experiment is precisely doing that. It’s taking imagination– since most of this stuff happens in your head– and it attempts to change the world in such a way that other people can witness it. And we do see those results.
So we know that at least in micro-scale levels it’s true. Whether it scales up to the realm seeing the green monster as Godzilla, which manifest in a way. It’s now in the movies. It’s sort of real, except it’s a consensus reality in people’s minds. Well, does it exist in reality? I don’t know.
David: The boundaries can get blurry.
Dean: Yeah. It becomes very obvious in the whole UFO business, with visions of the Virgin Mary, and that sort of thing– where lots and lots of people will see something. All will agree that something was seen, but nobody has any clear idea about what it was they saw.
David: Or also when people who suffer from Multiple Personality Disorder switch personalities, there are sometimes physical changes in the body that happen almost instantaneously, that really aren’t explainable in conventional ways.
Dean: Right, and there you have something like an imaginal change. You imagine that your personality changes, and the body changes as well, too quick for it to change otherwise. So they blur into each other. They mix in interesting ways.
David: What was your motivation for writing The Conscious Universe?
Dean: Partly it was frustration in dealing with more conventional colleagues, in that the assumptions that most scientists make are simply based on ignorance. It became tedious to try to educate people. So in my preface explain this. The story is actually true.
David: On the train.
Dean: Yeah. That was one of many similar kinds of instances that I’ve been in where there was debate going on– usually between scientists, and not people from the general public– but never-the-less a debate going on which was completely uniformed. I felt this was a pity. There’s a lot of information that’s available, but where do you go to get it? I knew it because I’ve been doing this for a long time. So I wrote a book which was the kind of book that I wish I had twenty years ago, because it would have saved an enormous amount of work. I’d tell people that they can at least start from here, and realize what we know and don’t know. We can go on from there. But otherwise all the rest of it is just a gigantic waste of time.
David: How has the scientific community reacted to your book?
Dean: I’ve gotten lots of nice comments from scientists, ranging from psychologists to physicists and astrophysicists. I’ve given lots of lectures at places like the Cavendish Lab at Cambridge University, as well as technical places like here, and to hospital grand rounds. Most of these have been conventional audiences, interested enough to be there, but not knowing very much about it, and they come away with pretty much the same thing that someone who runs across the book and reads it– they’re simply not aware that there was so much that was actually done and known at this point. And the minimum response is, this is interesting. And actually that response, from my perspective, is great. That’s all I’m looking for.
See, in order for me to be able to do this work, and for our colleagues to do this work, to be perceived as a maverick is the last thing in the world that a scientist wants to be perceived as, because it means that you’re constantly struggling against the mainstream. You can’t get the funding. You have the no respect. You don’t have anything that allows you to do your work.
David: But, of course, we all know how those mavericks often appear in retrospect, from a historical perspective. (laughter)
Dean: I know, I know, and it’s inevitable when trying to get something new done. The irony in this case is that it’s not new at all. It’s only new for a very small strata of science. As far as the rest of the world is concerned, this stuff is old hat. In fact, that’s often a criticism. If there’s any criticism I get most often, it’s not from scientists, it’s from people who have already fully accepted this, and say, what’s the big deal? Why are struggling so hard to show small statistical effects, and trying to convince a bunch of scientists who don’t care one way or the other?
David: Well, funding seems like a good reason.
Dean: No, the answer is that the same criticism could have been said for virtually anything in the past. So back when everyone expected that the spirits were driving the engines of everything, there were a couple of mavericks out there who said, you know, maybe we should test some of these ideas, and see if they hold up, and which would have gone completely counter to what the mainstream opinion was. People got burnt at the stake for such suggestions. Never-the-less, we’ve come pretty far in understanding some aspects of the world I think, and I have every reason to believe that we will eventually understand this stuff as well.
The hope is that we’re smart enough to know what to do with that knowledge. Science, in a sense, is amoral, in that it doesn’t consider whether it’s moral to learn something new or not. I’ve struggled with this idea until I then remind myself, after going through these struggles, that I’m not smart enough to know whether I should study this or not. I will only know that answer in retrospect. And the history of science, I think, shows very clearly that there has been nothing that we have studied were we shouldn’t have known it. I can’t think anything. We’ve used things in a bad way occasionally, but I think in general it has made people’s lives easier.
David: How could one possibly argue for ignorance?
Dean: But I get that all the time. (laughter) Even among scientists, that maybe there are some things we shouldn’t know.
David: Forbidden zones where man shouldn’t tread. Well, that’s like a religious idea.
Dean: Exactly, and yet, that’s one of the probably five or six big criticisms that I get. Another other one is, it’s the work of the Devil, obviously, and so you shouldn’t do this. Then other things like, if you’d like to have a comfortable living, you shouldn’t do this because you won’t get funding.
David: Speaking of which, is there any connection between the publication of your book The Conscious Universe and the fact that you are no longer at the University of Nevada?
David: What’s the relationship?
Dean: Well, unfortunately the administration at UNLV changed half-way during my time there. I was perfectly happy there for two years. Then the new administration came in, and they had marching orders to change the perception of UNLV as a laughing stock. I mean, after all, it is in the middle of Las Vegas (laughter), and no one takes Las Vegas seriously, so why should they take this university seriously. What people who haven’t lived in Las Vegas don’t realize is that there’s a piece of Las Vegas which is very mainstream. The university, the faculty, and the government are actually much more than mainstream. They are ultra-conservative in reaction to perception of the rest of the city.
So the local politics, the university and so on, are extremely conservative. There’s also a very strong religious influence, a kind of hidden influence from the Mormons, because they were the first to settle the town. All of the buildings on campus at the university have two numbers on them– 1958 and 5058. Why? Because it’s the Mormon calendar. It’s very pervasive in an invisible way for most tourists, yet it’s there. So now you have new people coming in who are trying desperately to make UNLV a credible university, because it doesn’t make any list of schools that people want to go to. They would like to change it. It’s a big place, with 20,000 students, and it’s growing quickly. And everyone likes there place to be the best.
So now they’re dealing with some crazy guy who’s getting a lot of publicity world-wide for parapsychology of all things that it could be, and they don’t like that. And I understand. I’m even sympathetic to how they must have felt, although I don’t particularly agree with the way they went about it.
David: How did they go about it?
Dean: Well, I was expecting to get a continuation contract. Every six months you’d get a new contract. Then one day I got a separation contract, and I said, what is that? They said that the university has decided it no longer wants to engage in the research you’re doing.
I listened, looked at my boss, and I said, they can’t be serious. You can’t not renew somebody’s contract because you don’t happen to like the topic of the research– because that’s a violation of rule number one of academic freedom, which is not just the principle, it’s actually written down as part of the rule. You can’t do this. So when I protested they immediately changed their tune. And every time they raised another issue I challenged that, and they kept changing it, over and over and over. Finally it became very clear that they wanted me out no matter what. So I figured, well, they don’t want me here, I don’t want to stay, and so I left.
David: What do you personally think happens to consciousness after the physical death of the body?
Dean: I expect that what we think of as ourselves– which is primarily personality, personal history, personality traits, and that sort of thing– all goes away, because it’s probably captured in some way in the body itself. But as to some kind of a primal awareness, I think it probably continues, because it’s not clear to me that that’s captured by the body. I think it’s actually it’s captured by everything. So you have a funny thing. If you go into a deep meditation, and you lose your sense of personality, that’s probably similar to what it might like to be dead.
On the other hand, if you’re not practiced at being in that deep state, or are not actually paying attention, it’s not clear that your consciousness would stay around very long. In other words, you might have a momentary time when you have this sense of awareness, and then it just dissolves. It goes back and becomes part of the rest of everything. So it’s like a drop that settles into the ocean and disappears into it. Whereas some people, who either spend a life-time preparing in meditation, or who are naturally adept, may able to become a drop. They may be able to settle into the ocean, and still have a sense of their “dropness”, even though they’re kind of mushed out.
Then maybe one’s sense of awareness would increase dramatically, and yet still have a sense of holding it together. Of course, all this probably occurs beyond time. The state is probably not locked into space and time as we normally think of it. So, presumably, you would have access to everything, everywhere. I imagine that something like that is the reason why ideas of reincarnation have come about, because people remember something about it. They may even remember something about the process of coming out of this ocean into a drop, into a particular incarnation, because the drop becomes embodied in a sense. And maybe that’s out of choice, I don’t know.
David: So you’re of the opinion that it’s possible that not the same thing happens to everyone after they die. Perhaps some people merge back into everything, and some people are able to maintain some element of their individuality.
Dean: If there’s anything that a psychology student learns on the first day it’s that people are different, and that’s true of everything. Everything is different from everything else, even fingerprints change. All kinds of strange things happen. I used to take palm prints once a week for years. When I was kid I had read in palmistry book that you could change your fate, because the lines in your hand could change. And I thought, that’s interesting. So I started doing this, and sure enough, it does change. I don’t why. I guess I’d be more surprised if it didn’t change.
David: Your whole body is in continual motion.
Dean: Everything’s changing. It’s very fluid. So if you wish that your life-line did something else, rub your hands, wait a couple months, and it’ll happen. So it’s like your parents said, don’t hold that funny face because it’ll stick. Well, they’re right. It will stick (laughter). We’re fluid enough to be able to make almost anything happen.
Jessica: Have you noticed whether or not people with greater psi capacities have a more highly developed moral sense?
Dean: I wish that were true, but I don’t think it is. This is a generalized capacity that some people have to naturally be able to perceive these things. And, of course, if you could perceive what somebody else’s thoughts or emotions were, you’d have enormous control over them. I’ve seen this, and I’m reasonably sure that the folks are genuine in what they’re doing. But they use it for manipulation, and I don’t particularly think that’s moral. This is one of the reasons why all of the spiritual literature is constantly warning people against developing psychic abilities for themselves, because it’s a seduction.
Jessica: When you were talking before about psychotherapists that you’ve spoken with, you said that they use it a lot more in their work than most people might think. Can you explain what you mean by this?
Dean: I’ve heard a lot of stories about an issue that a patient is currently dealing with showing up in the therapists dream. Or the patient will have a dream about something that’s going on in the therapist’s life. Sometimes it can be mundane, but often times it’s symbolic of whatever the underlying issue is, and it may not have come out in therapy. As you can imagine, you’re very intimate with somebody for months, and by trying to discover what’s really going on underneath the surface, that person gets in your head. You can’t avoid that person being in your head, especially from a therapist’s point of view, where you’re trying to dig something out, and the person is resistant to it.
You have very high motivation, probably on both sides, to get it out, even though the patient may not know that. So if you have access to other elements of that person’s life, the dream state is likely were it’s going to come out, but not always. Sometimes a therapist will just get a sense that he or she knows what it is. It’s such and such, and the person will say, how in the world did you know that? Because it’s something that never came up before, and therapist’s says I don’t know, it was just obvious, or it came to me or something.
You see, in this town, Silicon Valley has all kinds of psychic stuff happening all over the place, probably much more so than Las Vegas. You normally think of as Las Vegas as the town built on wishes, and it is. It’s a psychically numinous place, because there is lot of wishing going on. But this town is quite different. Silicon Valley is also built on wishes, visions and dreams, but it’s different because in Las Vegas the people are a little bit passive. You kind of wait around hoping that you’ll get something. In Silicon Valley a lot of effort is spent on taking those visions and making them come true. Until I’d actually lived in both places, it wasn’t obvious to me that there’s a close similarity between the two, with the exception that Silicon Valley actually makes things happen.
David: But with Hollywood and all, isn’t a lot of California’s focused on turning dreams into reality? In fact, on some level, can’t you say that about every civilization.
Dean: Yeah, but some places make things happen faster, and the vision is more…
David: More active?
Dean: More active, and maybe broader. Because I’ve lived in the mid-west also, and the mid-west has a much more comfortable feeling to it because things don’t change that quickly. There’s more comfortable, conventional style, so wild visions are very difficult to get implemented.
David: That’s because all the real mavericks leave, and head to California.
Dean: Yeah, that’s true. The ones who can’t stand it anymore eventually leave and go somewhere else.
David: What potential do you see for research into the psychic powers of animals?
Dean: I don’t think I talked about that at all in my book, and there is a pretty long history of it. A large percentage of J. B. Rhine’s research was spent on psychic tracking in animals, such as looking into the stories about dogs or homing pigeons finding their way home over great distances. Now we understand that some of the navigational abilities are due to magnetic senses, and probably odor, and that sort of thing. So there’s some normal explanations for it, but not always.
But see, again, it fits into the idea that if this were a trait that humans developed, then we might wonder if animals developed it as well from an evolutionary perspective. But if it’s something more like the world revealing it’s true nature to us, and if it reveals something about the nature of inter-connectedness through psychic phenomena, then animals must have the same stuff happen all the time.
We don’t see psychic phenomena in ants, but maybe it’s because we haven’t been looking for it. Maybe ants don’t need it, or they can’t use the information because they don’t have a kind of cognitive processing capability able to recognize when it’s there or not. We don’t really understand enough about human consciousness to make any strong statements about any other form. But I would expect that all animals, certainly any one that would be recognized as sentient, does have a form of psychic awareness. Maybe they need to be in an altered state, we don’t know.
David: Are you working on a new book?
Dean: I had originally proposed to my editor that I would write a trilogy; that there would The Conscious Universe, The Intuitive Universe, and some other kind of universe. The idea was that first you talk about the evidence, you establish that we’re talking about something real. The second question that everyone always asks is, well, how does it work? So I wanted a book on theory, written in a popular enough way so that people would read it, and get something from it. Because there’s actually quite a lot to say about theory. Then the third is a book about, well, okay, we don’t understand the theory too well, but it’s probably real, so what do we do with it? That would be a book about practical applications and personal sense of it. What does it feel like to be psychic? I know a lot of really good natural psychics, and they have interesting stories about what it’s like to perceive the world differently.
Jessica: What are some of the shared characteristics among natural psychics?
Dean: Well, it depends on how far into psychopathology you want to go. Some people who are psychotic are actually probably very good psychics, but they can’t control it. So the folks that I’ve dealt with are naturally highly psychic, but are able to deal with it. And their sense of the world– I guess in a word– is much more meaningful then someone who is more locked into their head. Because it’s through the sense of meaning and emotion that they connect things. That’s were the focusing seems to come from. So these experiments are examples of world-class psychics being asked to do mundane things.
(Looking at drawing on the wall from remote-viewing experiment) All those were classified secret and above up until about 1995, I think.
David: God, isn’t that extraordinary? This one I recognize from the book. (Then, looking at a well-known illustration of someone pushing through into a new reality– only the old reality was in black & white, and the new one was in color.) I’ve never seen that done in both color and black & white before.
Dean: Oh I did that. The Man Escaping the Mundane World.
David: That was clever. (laughter) Like the Wizard of Oz.
Dean: See, the original of that is a color picture, where everything is in color. I decided that’s not really what I suspect is happening here, that the mundane world actually is sort of grey, as compared to all of these other amazing things out there. So I just got rid of the color in one place, and super-saturated it in the other, to illustrate that once you get outside of here you have a-whole-nother universe.
Jessica: It’s weird to me, because he’s escaping from seems to be more of what we think of as “out there”– the landscape– whereas what he’s moving into– a kind of mystical space– seems to be more like something I think of is in my head. Does that make sense?
Dean: Yeah, but see that it raises this issue of, when you dive deeply into your mind, where do you go? Well, it’s easier to show it that way, then it is to show somebody diving into their head. (laughter) But it’s something like that.
So the editor said, those are interesting books, but nah. Nobody wants to hear about theory. There’s so many books on practical stuff who cares? So we talking about other possibilities, because I like writing, and this was a fun exercise, so what else could I do? And we came around to the idea that what people really are interested in, and what sells…
David: Is a how-to book. (laughter)
Dean: Maybe, but what also sells are stories, something like amazing psychic tales of the unexpected.
David: Of course it could be done credibly in a similar style to the one that Oliver Sacks used.
Dean: Yeah, that would be an approach– anecdotes of real things that happen to real people. And I actually I thought of a twist on it, which was, psychic experiences that have happened to scientists. Scientists don’t often admit it, but all kinds of funny things have happened. So that’s one way of approaching it. But then I thought there’s actually a better way, or a different way, which is to make up a story– a fiction based on what we know now, plus a little bit of speculation on what is likely to happen. We were discussing this, and my literary agent was there, and they all got excited because they immediately saw movie potential.
There’s several scenarios I have in mind for stories, all of which were on the verge of actually being true– some of which takes advantage of old stuff that was secret, and which we know is true, but very few people know about it. And those can spin into stories that are much more realistic than what Scanners or Fire Starter showed. All those movies have pushed it way beyond the bounds of anything that we think is real. But the real stuff is more interesting, because it gets pushed into directions people probably haven’t thought about. So they suggested I should write a treatment for a book or movie.
Jessica: Be careful about turning the treatment over to some crappy Hollywood writer, who fills it with this really bad dialogue, and breaks your heart.
Dean: Well, if it turns back into Scanners, I would be very disappointed. None of these films are very realistic, but the ones that are closest to reality, are the one’s that have to do with time paradoxes are probably the ones that are most interesting. One which was actually reasonably done was Millennium, with Kris Kirstoferson who played a crash investigator for the FAA. There’s a crash, and he gets pulled into this time paradox thing where he notices there’s something wrong with the people who ended up dead on the airplanes, because they seemed like they would actually have been the real people, but they weren’t somehow. He’s puzzling about this when it turns out they have some link to the future, and it gets kind of mushed around.
The movie is done nicely, because it actually points out some of the problems with casual paradoxes, and how things can happen before they did, and funny stuff– some of which we actually think is real. Because we’re doing experiments now– which are actually part of a long line of study– in which we’re changing the past. You can change something which is already done, and through clever ways, you can detect that it in fact has occurred. I don’t know how to explain this very well, but there are of ways of perceiving that will turn into action. You can make things happen by virtue of perceiving, by starting from something which is fairly passive, and turning it into something which actually occurs.
This is actually based on some real magickal techniques– where if you wish for something to occur, you don’t grunt and groan mentally to try to make it happen, you reconstruct the past in a way so that it becomes an inevitable outcome, even if it seems unlikely as a normal outcome. You re-arrange the past. It’s almost as if you could step outside of time and can literally make anything happen by arranging things to all hold together in the right place at the right time. So something like that seems possible. We’re doing it all on micro-scale levels, but never-the-less we can see that in principle, it looks like that’s something that’s possible.
Here’s an example. The last experiment I did at UNLV was a study on distant healing. There have been many studies looking at distant healing through space, so I wasn’t really interested in that. I was interested in distant healing through time. Because, for relativistic reasons, if you can do it through space, you have to be able do it through time. For this study I also wanted to use healers in their indigenous culture, where the culture supports the idea of distant healing.
So the way that it’s set up is, I got some friends who are in Brazil, and they found some Umbanda mediums, who are basically spiritualistic type healers in Brazil. And they were going to do the healing from Brazil, while the American subjects were in my lab in Nevada. So there’s six thousand miles of separation, and when you do this kind of study normally you want to do it in lock-synch, so that you’re locking when sending is an intention from Brazil to what the physiology is in Nevada. And it’s not that easy because it’s six thousand mile of separation, and you have to use some kind of method to tie it all together.
So I figured that this has been done, and I didn’t want to do it again. So I thought that instead of replicating the same experiment, we’d do it with a time displacement. So in June I brought twenty-one people into the lab. I had them sit down for twenty minutes, recorded their physiology, and they went home. So far nothing else happened. The next month I sent all the data down to Brazil, and they had a computer program where the medium would see the person’s picture presented for a minute, and then the picture would go away. It would come back again, randomly on and off, for over twenty minutes. So it would be randomly on ten minutes and off ten minutes, and the medium’s task was to send healing thoughts when they saw the person’s image there.
And, of course, the other thing is that when they’re sending it, they have to realize that that was done June of last month, on this day and this place. So they were instructed to focus their healing thoughts backwards in time for that person, at that time. The interesting thing is in this culture people would say, huh? In that culture they say, oh okay. (laughter) See, because in that clairvoyant condition it’s all kind of mushed together, and it doesn’t matter. So there are these mediums in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with a computer in front of them on an altar, with candles.
David: Oh, I love it.
Dean: The other thing is that the head of the temple was very concerned to not secularize what they do. So in order to get the best possible chance for the experiment to work, the other mediums, who were not currently involved in the experiment, were instructed to pray for the success of the experiment while they weren’t doing their part of the task. I figured okay then, I’ll take that. I’ll take anything that works.
So now what we have is a data-set after the fact. We have a month worth of recorded data from twenty-one’s people, but no one had looked at the results yet. That data has just been sitting there. Meanwhile, next month you have a data-set which no one has looked at yet, and the mediums are placing their attention at randomly-selected minutes, out of twenty minutes and sending their healing thoughts backwards in time. Then my colleagues in Brazil sent me the method of decoding the data, because the only thing that I didn’t have was the medium’s intention a month later.
So now, a month after the medium’s finished their stuff, I had all of the codes to de-code the timing and the data, So I could go in, and for each subject look at the difference between their physiology when they were being intended, and when they were not. There was ten minutes of one, and ten minutes of the other. So for each subject then you have a contrast between the healing period and the not healing period.
The only time I can compare the data meaningfully is when I knew what the mediums did. Then I have instructions of random staring and not staring. So when you do that to kind of decoding what you’re hoping to find is that there’s a significant difference in people’s physiology when they’re being looked at versus when they’re not. And that’s what I found. Statistically it wasn’t a whopping effect, it was like a probability of .01. But that means odds were 100 to 1 of seeing as large of changes in physiology during the staring period versus not.
The direction of the effect was that in all twenty-one people the tendency was that when the medium was sending thoughts to them, they were systemically becoming aroused. So their heartbeat and the breathing rate increased, and their electrodermal activity increased and so on. Everything went in the direction of becoming aroused.
So if this were an experiment just separated in space, it’s not too difficult to understand what’s going on, because we can imagine there’s radio waves or some bizarre thing. But this is now separated by six thousand miles in space and a month in time, but I expected to see something like this. Now when you start thinking about how do we explain what actually occurred, you deconstruct what must have happened in order for this to work. If you start thinking of it forwards in time, then somehow, even though we didn’t know it yet, when they were being recorded for twenty minutes in the laboratory, they behaved differently during one set of ten random minutes versus another.
All of the subjects did that, even though they had different random schedules. That would require of us of extremely good precognition of something about the future. Well, it’s possible, but it doesn’t seem very likely. The other way is you look at it backwards in time. Then the mediums are doing something. Other than my intention, their intention is the operative thing that’s occurring in the future. Their intention in the future is causing our, their past, or my present, to behave in a certain way so that their future will be right, and that my desire in the future will be right too in a successful experiment. So somehow you can see that there are funny loops that are created. Intention creates loops in time that can cause you to get things right now that wouldn’t otherwise have occurred. Now, what we don’t know is, if we do an experiment like that, do the things in the future have to occur?
In other words, let’s sat that we’ll do an experiment right now. I will record your physiology, and we’ll say that tomorrow someone, the best healer in the world will try to heal you ten out of the twenty minutes. If we analyze that data right now would we see an effect? Well, in some respects we don’t know how to analyze it yet because we don’t know which minutes were the random minutes. So we just go look through all possible random minute combinations, and find out that, sure enough, one possible random sequence resulted in a very significant difference in your physiology. Well, we can then say that it looks like the person in the future is going to have this particular sequence. Then you go ahead, and tomorrow somebody uses a random number generator to create a sequence. And wouldn’t it be surprising if the one sequence that we thought must occur, in fact occurred?
Now you can see how something which looks precognitive, our knowledge of that, turns it into a creation of an effect. So this is one of the ways we’re getting around the idea of, or creating the idea of turning precognition into action. The key is that you have knowledge. If you didn’t have knowledge you’d have no way of telling the difference. And the nice thing is it works, kind of.
David: That’s astonishing. Now that I’m listening to you it makes more and more sense to me. If time and space are truly parts of the same continuum, then effects created across space should work across time as well. I guess that would mean that everything that’s ever going to exist, already exists in some sense, and the reason that things seem separated across time and space is basically an illusion of sorts.
Dean: Kind of an illusion, yeah. We don’t really know if everything is only happening now, so that there really isn’t any future or past. Yet we have a lot of records of the past, and a lot of projections of the future which seem to come true, so it’s not very clear.
David: But doesn’t physics treat all of the space-time continuum as a single block, where the passage of time seems to be due to psychological reasons?
Dean: That’s true in physics only in very deep levels. But it’s not true once you start jumping up into thermodynamic realms, where there is an arrow of time. It’s why this tape runs in one direction, Never-the-less, there are other aspects of the world which are also there, and they co-exist in some way that we don’t understand very well. But we have access to that realm, and this suggests that we have ways of mucking about with it, in a sense, in a pre-time realm, and then bubbles up into what we experience. That’s why the idea of healing someone in the past, or making something happen in the future, all of that can occur, but not at this level. It has to occur somewhere else. And we can apparently do that. “Do” is not the right word exactly, and neither is “cause”. We don’t know what the right word is.
David: Perhaps our language creates deficiencies in our ability to describe it.
Dean: That is very clear. It is very clear that we are bound by language. That’s the reason why we scream at each other in our meetings a lot– because in trying to discuss this with language, which is bound in time, we’re trying to use a tool for something that it’s not built for. So we all get very frustrated, and that either means we have to come up with new words, or new ways of thinking to get around it. It’s slow, but we’re moving in those directions.