Dean Radin – 2
is that these folks are simply telling the truth. They are not aware of the evidence. That’s an expression of ignorance, which is fine. We’re all ignorant about lots of things. But the fact is that there is an enormous amount of evidence for anyone who wishes to go looking for it.
Here’s one way of thinking about this. Rupert Sheldrake was visiting here (Institute of Noetic Sciences) this week. Last week he was involved in a debate on the evidence for telepathy at the Royal Society of Arts in London. His opponent was a biologist named Lewis Wolpert, who is a well-known skeptic and promoter of science in England. In the debate Rupert was presenting the experimental evidence for telepathy, and Wolpert acted as the devil’s advocate. Wolpert’s position was that telepathy doesn’t exist because we know it doesn’t exist, and anyway there’s no evidence that it exists. If you expand those words to twenty minutes of repetition around the same theme, then that was his position.
Rupert, on the other hand, presented one study after the other–showing, here’s some evidence, here’s some more, and here’s some more, and so on. The debate was cast in terms of a scientific court, where the members of the audience–about a hundred people–were the jury, and there was a judge that would rule on the case. Well, 80% of the people agreed with Rupert. The overwhelming majority was such a shock to the reporters present that a few days later it appeared as a news item in the journal Nature with the title, “Telepathic charm seduces audience at paranormal debate.” The article reported that the debate had won hands down in favor of telepathy. So, this is just a microcosm of what goes on all the time. Many scientists are unaware of the evidence because they either wish to not pay attention to it, or because it just isn’t visible in their orbit.
There’s another aspect to this, which occurs when you discuss taboo topics. There’s a big difference about whether something will be mentioned in private or in public. Rupert and I were comparing notes on this. We both found that in private, most people–including the vast majority of scientists–will admit that, even though they may not know the literature very well, they’ve had personal experiences, or someone that they know and trust has reported things that do not seem like they can be accounted for by the usual explanations, like coincidence or wishful thinking. So, privately many people are willing to admit that there’s something interesting going on, far more than publicly. As soon as you are going to commit something to paper, or to the press in some way, you become more circumspect about what you’re going to say. It’s a lot easier to then act the role of the skeptical scientist and say, well, I don’t know of any evidence, which is portrayed as a dismissal of the topic rather than what it really is, an admission of ignorance.
Many of these scientists are not aware of my book, or any of the other books written on this topic, which as you know show in great gory detail that we do have ways of studying these things. We may not have very good theoretical explanations for them yet, but the fact is, for over a century, we’ve had empirical ways of studying psi. And if we believe in empiricism as reflecting something about what’s really going on out there, then there’s very little doubt that these phenomena do exist.
David: It really is interesting how strangely taboo this particular research topic is. I almost feel like I’m possession of secret knowledge by knowing about all these successful psi studies. I find it simply unbelievable how few people know about this research, how many scientists that I talk to are either unaware of it, or they immediately dismiss it.
Dean: It’s partially because there’s kind of an understanding that if experiments of this type were really true, then they should have already appeared in Nature or Science because it’s truly revolutionary. But what many scientists working in the mainstream don’t appreciate is that there are publication biases that prevent certain topics from appearing in the mainstream scientific press. Of course anyone who’s been working in a controversial field knows this immediately, that certain things simply can not make it to press. But if you haven’t worked in an area of high controversy you would never have any reason to suspect this. You’d have no reason to guess that prejudice exists in science like it does anywhere else. So it’s frustrating of course. Rupert and I have talked about this extensively, and we’re trying to crack this nut, but it’s a slow process. It’s like Affirmative Action; prejudice carries enormous inertia, and it will not go away unless an affirmative stance is taken to counter it. Unfortunately, in science, there is no equivalent of