Re: PSI: Skeptics Opinions Needed.
Thu, 5 Aug 1999 00:46:38 EDT

Paul Hughes wrote:

>I'm going on record now (and risking my humble reputation) by
>admitting that I've had several experiences which I have yet to
>explain within current scientific knowledge. This may be due
>not to any 'paranormal' phenomena, but my own ignorance
>of science itself. I'm *not* claiming nor do I wish to be labeled
>a psychic. Quite the opposite. Instead, I'm urging the more
>skeptically and scientifically inclined list members to scrutinize
>me report and offer their opionions.

Thanks for a really good post that will hopefully see us through a nice round of skeptical thought. Experiences like this are, I think, relatively common, and I always hate to see them swept under the rug in the name of "rationalism." This is precisely the approach I advocate when dealing with the so-called "unexplained."

Re. your "out of body" experience: I return agian and again to the notion that _maybe_ there is some empirical basis for this sort of thing. Most reports are, I'm quite cofident, lucid dreams (a fact that really doesn't take mush away from their sense of wonder). But "dream" experiences that make actual predictions are another story, and seem to imply some sort of causal mechanism. I don't know what this is. I'd assume it would have to have something to do with quantum non-locality. Or maybe a person's consciousness can actually remain intact in some unkown plasmic state for short durations. Either way is fascinating, and I hope reproducable.

I've never had an experience quite as compelling as yours, but I've had some apparently "prescient" dreams. These came during my junior high years, and would persist to the point of being a nuisance. In retrospect, I can't help but wonder if they were linked to some hormonal mechanism beginning to stir in my brain at the time. They haven't repeated since (at least not to a degree where I take any conscious note of them).

I don't dismiss "psi" outright. It could be an organic response to quantum phenomena we simply don't understand entirely right now; there's certainly no need to invoke the "supernatural."

Someone asked earlier on a related thread if there were any science fiction writers in the house who had a take on psi. I've had one book published (a collection--check and if you're interested) and have hopes for the one my agent is presumably shopping around right now. As a person interested primarily in ideas, I think the concept of "psychic powers" would be most interesting if attributed to a _technology_ (i.e. neurofeedback nanomachines uplinked to some sort of utility fog). To me, this is more interesting (from a SF standpoint) than the popular notion that we all have psychic powers but they're generally unused because we don't use that part of our brains. You run across this theory a lot in "fringe" literature, and while there _might_ be something to it, it's not at all useful scientifically--yet.

Again, thanks for the casefiles, Paul.

--Mac Tonnies