The Louisiana Psychological Association will host Dr. Dean Radin, noted psychological scientist who explores extrasensory phenomena. Dr. Radin will speak virtually on
November 7, about “Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality.” He will review the current state of research findings regarding extrasensory phenomena, called psi research, as well as relevant controversies and new areas of investigation related to quantum theory.
Dr. Radin is Chief Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) and Distinguished Professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies. He earned a BS in electrical engineering (magna cum laude, with honors in physics), and then an MS in electrical engineering and a PhD in psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Before joining the IONS research staff in 2001, Radin worked at AT&T Bell Labs, Princeton University, University of Edinburgh, and SRI International, where he worked on a classified program of psychic espionage, now commonly known as StarGate.
Dr. Radin is author or coauthor of over 300 scientific, technical, and popular articles,
four dozen book chapters, two technical books, and four popular books including the Scientific and Medical Network’s 1997 book award, The Conscious Universe (HarperOne, 1997), Entangled Minds (Simon & Schuster, 2006), the 2014 Silver Nautilus Book Award, Supernormal (Random House, 2013), and Real Magic (Penguin Random House, 2018).
His 100+ academic articles appear in peer-reviewed scientific journals ranging from
Foundations of Physics and Physics Essays to Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Psychological Bulletin, and Psychology of Consciousness. He was featured in New York Times Magazine. His 500+ interviews and talks have included presentations at Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Columbia, Cambridge (England), Edinburgh (Scotland), The
Sorbonne (Paris), University of Padova (Italy), and University of Allahabad (India).
“While at Bell Labs,” he said, “I began to publish some of my psi experiments. Then
I discovered the Parapsychological Association and later the Society for Scientific Exploration, and I presented my work at their annual meetings. I was delighted to find groups of scientists who were as interested in these phenomena as I was, and the contacts I made eventually led to appointments at Princeton University, University of Edinburgh, University of Nevada, Interval Research Corporation, and SRI International. At the latter facility, I was a scientist on a top secret US government project conducting
research on psychic phenomena.”
“I am now Chief Scientist at IONS, and I’ve spent the majority of my professional career doing what the 4-year-old Dean described as being jet propelled — probing the far reaches of human consciousness using the tools and techniques of science. Very few scientists are publicly engaged in research on this perennially interesting topic. This is not because of a lack of interest, as skeptics sometimes suggest,” he explains. “The vast majority of scientists I’ve spoken to are fascinated with psi, and national surveys we’ve
conducted show that over 90% of scientists and engineers have personally experienced one or more psi phenomena.
But science, like any social enterprise, has strictly enforced rules of what is and is not
acceptable to talk about. Despite the aspirations of academic freedom, the reality is that it’s not safe for one’s scientific career to publicly pursue controversial topics (in any domain, not just psi).”
In his book Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality, Dr. Radin summarizes the evidence for different categories of ESP.
“…after a century of increasingly sophisticated investigations and more than 1000 controlled studies with the combined odds against chance of 10104 to 1, there is now strong evidence that some psi phenomena exist.”
He reviews the research on dream psi, Ganzfeld psi, conscious detection of being stared at, unconscious detection of distant intention, unconscious detection of being stared at, dice psychokinesis, and random number generation (RNG) psychokinesis.
Psi research attracts an unusually passionate group of skeptics and Radin deals with this in his writings by careful scientific designs and corrections for various biases.
The challenge includes the fact that overall the effect sizes for psi phenomena are often
very small, even though consistent. An example is the random number generation research, or RNG. The effect is often so small that it takes modern technology to capture it.
RNG studies rely on the baseline generation of pure randomness. Engineer Robert Jahn at the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory published 12 years of
experiments on his team’s investigation of this type of mind matter interaction. The
experiments involved 100 volunteers who attempted to mentally influence the output of RNGs.
The RNG is an electronic device that generates thousands of completely random bits of information, like flipping a coin with heads or tails. In the Princeton Laboratory, participants attempted to influence the generator to shift the average to higher or lower than chance.
“They estimated that the magnitude of the psychokinetic affect was approximately equal to one bit out of 10,000 being shifted away from chance expectation” he notes. “While this may seem like a tiny effect, over the entire database this resulted in odds against chance of 35 trillion to 1.”
Radin reports that an attempt to replicate the work did not reach significance, but then he and another psychologist conducted a meta-analysis of all known RNG studies. After correcting for missing data he found the overall effect was small in magnitude but
associated with an odds against chance of 50,000 to 1.
He describes another type of RNG experiment where the generator is placed near a group of people who are asked to participate in a task for highly focused attention, such as a group of people meditating or an intense ritual. Throughout the early 2000s, studies strongly suggested that focused group mental activity was associated with unusual recordings in RNG data.
Engineer William Rowe, Radin explains, conducted formal tests investigating the subjective and objective results of these types of group efforts. The tests matched
correctly the observers’ impressions in the RNG outputs. When the group could impact the RNG data, these results were associated with warm or close feelings of togetherness, with emotional content that tended to draw people together, and when
personal involvement was more focused toward the group goal which was deeply engrossing, reported Radin. In contrast, negative results were associated with people working alone, involved in objective or analytical task, where there was low personal involvement, or with a boring task.
Another area that Radin reports on is the pre-sentient dream experience. Research on dream psi is conducted with a pair of individuals. One volunteer is the receiver and spends the night in the dream lab. The other volunteer agrees to act as a sender. The receiver goes to sleep in a soundproof, electromagnetically shielded, and otherwise safeguarded room to ensure that the participants aren’t responding to any ordinary
communications or signals.
The receiver’s brain waves and eye movements are monitored throughout the night. When the technician sees that the receiver enters REM sleep, the sender is notified. The sender, who has been assigned a random picture, attempts to transmit the image to
the receiver. The technician wakes the receiver and asks him or her to describe their dream.
In 2003, a team of British psychologists reviewed all the dream psi studies that were
conducted under controlled conditions, a total of 47 experiments. They concluded that the overall hit rate was 59.1% rather than the expected 50% by chance. While the 9.1%
may seem small on practical levels, explains Radin, it is associated with an odds against
chance of 22 billion to 1.
“While the overall effect was small in terms of absolute magnitude,” Radin writes, “it
wasn’t due to dumb luck. The odds that the dice studies were due to chance alone were 1096 to one. By contrast, the results of control experiments were well within chance expectation.”
“After examining these phenomena through the lens of science for over 40 years, I’ve concluded that some psychic abilities are genuine. This means there are important
assumptions within the prevailing scientific worldview that are seriously incomplete.
I’ve also learned that most people who confidently claim to have 100% reliable psychic
abilities are mistaken, sometimes innocently and sometimes fraudulently. Spontaneous psi effects can be startling and in some cases transformative, but hardly any form of human conscious behavior is 100% reliable, especially subtle consciousness-related effects like psi.”
Dr. Radin has even taken on what is considered the central mystery of quantum mechanics.
This mystery begins with the classical experiment called the two slit experiment. If
researchers shine a monochromatic light on a barrier with one slit, they see a simple stripe on the background.
But if researchers use a barrier that includes two slits, so that the light can pass through the two openings, it registers on a background in an “interference pattern,” with many stripes. It is thought that the light passes through both slits, creating two waves whose ripples then interfere with one another.
But if researchers “spy” on the light, this profoundly changes what happens in the experiment. When the researchers place a detection device in the apparatus to see which slit the light has traveled through, the interference pattern vanishes, and two separate stripes emerge. The wave pattern it Is said to collapse. Leave the detector device in the apparatus, but unplug it, and the interference, wavelike pattern returns.
Into this conundrum Dr. Radin jumped, substituting conscious meditators for the detection devices.
He and his team conducted six experiments “using a single-photon double-slit apparatus to test von Neumann’s notion that the quantum wavefunction or interference pattern is ‘collapsed’ by what he called a psychophysical interaction.” His team asked individuals to direct their attention toward or away from the optical system and they found evidence supportive of an interaction that “appears to ‘steer’ the wavefunction to either reduce or to sharpen interference fringes.”
Published in Quantum Biosystems in 2015, “Psychophysical interactions with a single-photon double-slit optical system,” seems to be causing discussion in the scientific community.
One of the downsides for Dr. Radin’s choice of research is he often called to defend the scientific experiments against skeptics who are passionate about the nonexistence of psi phenomena. This criticism includes objections about the often small effects size.
The charge on the electron is also very small,“ Radin points out. “But so what? This confuses the magnitude of an effect with its existence. In any case, many modern psi experiments test randomly selected college sophomores and other unselected
participants. As a result, the weak effects often observed in the laboratory are probably due to the fact that the people being tested aren’t talented in the skills of interest.”
One example of a very talented psi individual, described in Entangled Minds, is Joseph McMoneagle, a remote viewer in the US Army’s formally top-secret project, StarGate.
McMoneagle had been repeatedly tested numerous times in double blind laboratory experiments and had been known to have the ability to describe objects at a distance sometimes in spectacular detail, explains Dr. Radin.
In one experiment, all that McMoneagle knew was that a person he had met would be visiting a technological site., It was somewhere that could be reached within an hours drive around Silicon Valley in Northern California, but the range of possibilities of this type of facility in Silicon Valley is the enormous, explained Radin. As it turned out, the target that the person arrived at was a particle beam excelerator, and that’s exactly what McMoneagle drew.
“Where are also, of course, reprehensible con artists masquerading as psychics and charging huge sums for their services,” Dr. Radin said. “These classes of so-called psychics are easy targets for skeptics, who wrongly assume they are representative of everyone who claims psychic abilities. There is a huge anecdotal literature about psychic phenomena, but the evidence that convinced me was not only the results of my own experimental studies, but analyses of the cumulative empirical evidence collected by qualified scientists under well-controlled conditions, and published in peer-reviewed scientific journals,” he said.
“There is always room for scholarly debate about these topics, and I know a number of informed scientists whom I respect who hold different opinions and interpretations. But I’ve also learned that those who loudly assert that there isn’t any scientifically valid evidence for psychic abilities, or worse, that these phenomena are impossible, don’t know what they’re talking about.
“For example, my bio page on Wikipedia fails to mention any of the scientists who have endorsed my work, including two Nobel Laureates. Nor does it mention that in 2018 I was one of 35 invited speakers at a major international science conference sponsored by Merck KGaA, of Darmstadt, Germany, which included 5 Nobel Laureates and other prominent mainstream scientists. I am also a jury member of two European-based prizes for advancements in biomedicine; in one case the prize is 1 million Euros, and in the second case it is 300,000 Euros.
“My interest in psi phenomena was not motivated by having psi experiences,” Dr. Radin said. “It was instead sparked out of an intuitive sense that the mind is far more mysterious and powerful than we know. Through education and experience I’ve also come to appreciate that these experiences are not just curiosities. They’re also responsible for most of the greatest inventions, artistic and scientific achievements, creative insights, and religious epiphanies throughout history. Understanding this realm of human experience thus offers more than academic interest — it touches upon the very best that the human intellect and spirit have had to offer.”