Edgar Dean Mitchell
many times. I’ve reached the point of where I can almost do it at will.
David: How did you become interested in the scientific study of psychic phenomena?
Edgar: Quite a few years ago, back in the Sixties, I got introduced to J.B Rhine’s work over at Duke University, and I became interested in the whole field of so-called “paranormal” phenomena. By the way, I hate the word “para”. I’ve come to realize there’s nothing “para” about it. It’s very normal stuff. So I studied Rhine’s work, as well as the research of quite a few others in the field–who had worked a great deal at it–and I came to realize that the evidence was very strong. Dean Radin, and a number of research people, have compiled a meta-statistics on all sorts of paranormal phenomena, and it’s very clear that it’s real. It’s there, and it’s working, in spite of the fact that science didn’t believe it can, or as the dogma of science says no, it can’t be. And that is because they didn’t have a mechanism. Well, we now seem to have a mechanism, so it cuts the legs out from under any scientific objections that come from classical thinkers. Because it is quite true–there isn’t an explanation in classical science. It appears to require quantum science to be able to explain the non-local aspect of the so-called psychic information transfers. The non-local information transfer is clearly a quantum phenomena.
David: Why do you think that so many scientists have difficulty accepting the evidence for psychic phenomena?
Edgar: It’s not hard at all to understand. Let’s go back to Newton. Even before Newton, a few years back to René Descartes. Are you familiar with Descartes’ work?
David: Sure. I read his Discourse on Method in college.
Edgar: Okay, so you know about that the Cartesian duality that René Descartes pronounced–the separation of body-mind, physicality-spirituality. He essentially declared two realms of existence–the material realm and the supernatural realm–and that has been dogma in the Western world for almost four hundred years now, because what it did was it freed intellectuals to pursue an understanding of nature without oversight by the Inquisition. It prevented them from being burned at the stake, tortured, and the things that went on with Galileo and Bruno, etc. But somehow or another it has become a part of the dogma that science doesn’t look at things like consciousness–that that is the realm of theology. So it also deeply engendered this notion of a material, atomistic world, a deterministic word, where, if you knew the state vectors of atoms and molecules at any point in time, then, in principal, you could compute them forever after. And it suggests that consciousness is simply an epiphenomena of the classical material world, a byproduct of these collisions of atoms and molecules.
Well, that was true until quantum physics came along in the early Twentieth Century. The formulation of the early quantum principles immediately suggested how mind-matter interact. As a matter of fact, the earliest formulations required the observation of the system to collapse the state vector, or the wave function, in order to make a measurement. So there is directly an interaction of mind-matter. But, basically, virtually all physicists, after touching that subject, and examining it a little bit, run like hell. They refuse to look at it. And it’s because of this ages old Cartesian tradition, that says that this is getting into theology, and science isn’t about theology. And it’s become entrenched in our academic systems for four hundred years. That’s the only explanation I can give you. It’s been enculturated, and it’s just damn wrong. It’s just wrong, that’s all.
David: Do you think that being in a gravity-free environment might enhance the capacity for psychic phenomena
Edgar: I’m not sure that being in a reduced gravitational environment has much to do with it, but I suppose it could. We don’t know. We haven’t done any studies on that, and we can’t do studies on that very handily, so there’s nothing that’s that systematic about it.
David: What do you think happens to consciousness after death?
Edgar: All I can do is state the evidence. Let me give you my position, and my approach to this, because it’s very important and germane. My take is that the universe is natural. It’s a natural universe, and therefore knowable. If Descartes was right, then the supernatural aspect of the universe is not knowable by humans; it’s only knowable by God, if you will. Well, I reject that postulate. I’m a positivist, in the sense of Karl Popper’s investigation. We may not be able to prove things, but we have to advance by creating hypotheses, and then try to falsify them. So I have made the single assumption in my work that the universe is natural, and proceed, therefore, to try to understand consciousness in terms of that. That means it’s knowable, and if we push on it we can gain understanding and data.
Now, essentially, we have two major philosophies–science and theology. There’s the materialist philosophy, which is science. Classic Newtonian physics believes that everything is based upon matter, and the interaction of molecules is deterministic. The other philosophy is the Idealist, which is the basis of theology, and that believes that everything is consciousness, and that consciousness is independent of matter. If that is so, then it’s assumed that the universe is unknowable. So I simply make the unitary assumption that the universe is knowable and natural, and to pursue and extend our science, of course, we have to look at subjective phenomena. Then we will eventually get to the answer. And so far I haven’t been wrong. Everything we approach seems to be right.
Now, to answer your question, does consciousness survive death? The modeling we can so far does not accommodate that idea. It doesn’t point in that direction. The most advanced modeling we can do at the moment, I believe, is called “quantum holography”–which I’ve been very forward in working with and pushing. Essentially it says that the historical events of all matter are preserved in its quantum holographic record, and it’s preserved non-locally, which means it is useful or usable by future generations. Now, there’s a lot of ‘ifs’, ‘ands’, and ‘buts’ that go with this, but this is the sound-bite version.
So this supports the idea that information is there available to us at the psychic or subjective level, and it’s rooted in this quantum holographic phenomena. But this does not suggest that consciousness can exist independently of the living system. It merely says the information is available to the living system. So there’s a whole host of ramifications to this. It seems that this quantum holographic phenomenon is a mechanism for non-local information in nature. I’ve written a paper on this subject called “Nature’s Mind: The Quantum Holograph”.
Others have picked up on it, and we’re pushing it very hard. It seems to be responsible not only for psychic abilities, as we understand them, but also the basis of why we have perception at all. So the modeling, so far, suggests that information about existence is preserved following life. We haven’t yet been able to account for discarnate consciousness. I don’t know how to account for that, or how to model that. That is an article of faith among a lot of religious people, but as a scientist I can’t model that yet. Although I think we’ve made enormous progress in modeling much of psychic stuff, we haven’t been able to model life after death.
David: What is your concept of God, and do you see any teleology in evolution?
Edgar: Again, look for the evidence. The holographic model suggests that matter is necessary for consciousness to exist, that it is a phenomenon of complexity, but rooted in the quantum principles of entanglement, coherence, and non-locality. The model also suggests that nature is a learning organism, or a learning system–as opposed to the classical notion of evolution being an accidental mutation and natural adaptation. This mechanism suggests that nature is a learning system, all the way down to the subatomic level, and that’s quite a different take. We’re currently working very hard on a quantum cosmology, because if what we’re saying is correct, it’s very likely that the Big Bang is wrong. And there’s a lot of people starting to jump on that bandwagon–that the Big Bang is not the right answer. But we’’ll see. It’s going to take some time.
For me, the mystical experience, as the basis of religion, is probably a quantum event, and it can probably be explained in terms of quantum mechanics. Now, I won’t state that with a great deal of certainty. I will say that if that isn’t true, then we still have to get through and