Dean Radin – 2
conventional colleagues, in that the dismissals they make about psi are simply based on ignorance. It became tedious to try to educate people one at a time. I tried to explain this in the preface to my book. The story is based on true events.
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 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 where to find the literature because I’ve been doing this for a long time, but most people have no idea. So I wrote a book which was the kind of book that I wish I had twenty years ago, because it would have saved me an enormous amount of work. I tell people that they can at least start from here (using my book), and learn what we know and don’t know. Then we can go on from there.
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 been invited to give lectures at places like the Cavendish Lab at Cambridge University, as well as technical places like here (Interval Research Corporation), and to hospital grand rounds. Most of these have been conventional audiences, interested enough to be there, but not knowing very much about the topic. And they mostly go away with pretty much the same opinion as someone who runs across the book and reads it–they weren’t aware that there was so much that was actually done and known at this point. Usually the minimum response is, this is really interesting. And 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 can’t get the resources that are necessary to allow 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 to manifest. 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 I hear. It’s not from scientists, it’s from people who have already fully accepted this, and say, what’s the big deal? Why are you 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, research 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 the answer in retrospect. And the history of science shows, I think, that there hasn’t been anything yet that we shouldn’t have studied. I can’t think anything. Politicians have used badly occasionally, but I think in general science has vastly improved people’s lives.
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. That’s like a religious idea.
Dean: Exactly, and yet, that’s one of the probably five or six big criticisms that I