Correction: I was too optimistic as I tend to be sometimes. skeptiko is not a group of skeptics but consists of ordinary open-minded people ready to challenge the standard worldview. Thanks for Jani Lassila for informing me.
First some background. Dr. Dean Radin working as chief scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) has studied various paranormal phenomena about which telepathy, precognition and psychokinesis are examples. He has written a book with a rather provocative title Real Magic: Ancient Wisdom, Modern Science and a Guide to the Secret Power of the Universe. I sense some hidden humor in the title but Radin poses quite seriously the question whether magic be in some sense real.
Why Radin is suddenly taken seriously by some skeptics?
Most skeptics of course continue to close their eyes and ears but the fact that this interview has been done shows that there are also educated skeptics ready to challenge their own beliefs.
Radin did some time ago very interesting experiment, which is a modification of double slit experiment. In quantum world particles have also wave aspect. The incoming particles/waves (say photon or electrons) go through two slits. As waves they go through both simultaneously. One has detectors behind the slits and one finds that either detector fires: one detects individual particles and they go through either slit. The distribution of counts however shows diffractive interference pattern: as if one would have wave had gone through both slits.
What was new that there was also a person involved: either meditator or ordinary person. The person concentrated to intend that particles go through either slit, say A. Radin reports that this yielded observable effect on the interference pattern when the person was meditator. The experiment was carried out also remotely. The person intending was at other side of the globe and had a net connection to the experimental apparatus so that he/she could see it. Also now the effect was sawn! Needless to say, if these findings can be replicated by others, they have revolutionary implications. Maybe the experiment replicated by Radin again and again has finally started to have an effect on even skeptics.
I have myself written an article about TGD based explanation of the effects (see About the double-slit experiment of Dean Radin). The explanation relies on the notions of magnetic body (MB) carrying dark matter identified as phases of ordinary matter with non-standard value heff of Planck constant. Together with zero energy ontology (ZEO) these notions are fundamental in TGD inspired theory of quantum biology and consciousness. The magnetic flux tubes containing dark photons propagating along them and serving also as correlates for entanglement between the systems at their ends are in basic role in the explanation: the intention is realized by this kind of signal between subject person and the system (now the particle beam arriving to the double slit system). Our magnetic bodies are predicted have layers with size of even Earth size and even larger and this might allow to understand the remote effect.
The interview does not mention the above experiment, which - besides the book of Radin - has very probably has motivated it. The discussion beging with questions about how Radin has been able to tolerate the rather primitive reactions of vulgar skeptics. Radin admits that it has not been easy. The recipe is simple: do not react instantaneously, control your impulses. This is difficult. From my own experience I however think that complete censorship and silencing are even more difficult to tolerate than direct personal attacks. In these attacks at least your existence is admitted.
Idealism, materialism, dualism or something else?
Philosophies behind theories of consciousness are usually classified to idealistic, materialistic, and dualistic. As Chalmers demonstrated, it is very difficult to distinguish the dualistic theories from materialistic ones if one demands consistency with physics, which he identifies as classical physics. If one accepts standard quantum physics, this conclusion generalizes.
The discussion is mainly about idealism contra materialism. Radin counts himself as an idealist in the sense that mind is real for him. Mind would be the fundamental existence; mind over matter and matter as a conceptual creation of mind; consciousness everywhere - pan-psychism. Materialism states that consciousness is a property of matter. Or even that consciousness is an illusion as Dennett puts it: even open-minded layman realizes that illusion itself is one particular conscious experience so that consciousness as illusion is something very circular.
With the progress in neuroscience and quantum biology the materialistic position is becoming increasingly harder to defend. A good example is near-death-experiences (NDE): it is becoming clear that the neuro-science explanations fail. Materialism has transformed to what is referred to as post-materialism in the discussion. What is new that post-materialism takes consciousness seriously, something deserving scientific study, and already this is is a victory of rational thinking. I did not however learn what post-materialism really is: if it is meant to bring in something interesting there is no other way than to give up the basic attitude and accept that consciousness has causal powers and is much more than a property of material state, or even illusion.
Beside the mainstream philosophies about Universe and consciousness there are also other philosophies. In TGD inspired quantum theory of consciousness is not a property of material system but is in quantum jump, state function reduction re-creating the universe (or part of it): something between two physical realities in the usual sense. This is basically a generalization of quantum measurement theory allowing to solve its basic paradox without giving up as in Copenhagen interpretation or by introducing some other weird interpretation.
An essential additional element is zero energy ontology (ZEO), which changes dramatically the view about physical states: not time=constant snapshots of 4-D time evolution but pairs of these snapshots at different time- pairs of initial and final states connected by a deterministic time evolution. This fits very nicely with the notion of function in biology, notion of behavioral pattern in neuroscience, and the notion of computer program in computer science. Free will like initiates a new program which can be chosen.
From this perspective the period of materialism can be seen as a tragic outcome of the belief that deterministic laws of physics are inconsistent with free will, that mathematics denies this consistency. Tragic because the notions of ethics and moral become totally empty in fully deterministic Universe and this is probably one of the main reason to the situation in which civilization and speciei are at the verge of extinction. Mathematics does not actually deny free will. In TGD view one has two causalities: the causality of free will assigned with state function reductions, and the causality of field equations. There is no conflict between them.
The misunderstanding is also a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of time. There are actually two times: the experienced time as sequence of state function reductions - re-creations - and the geometric time of physicist appearing in the field equations. These times differ from each other as even child can understand: subjective has not future, geometric time has. Subjective time is irreversible, geometric is not. These times however correlate: we can assign to subjective time flow a sequence of clock readings and this together with the fact that the contents of our sensory experience is in good approximation about 3-D time= constant snapshot of space-time (of length about .1 seconds actually, a fact that physicists have not noticed) has led to the confusion. Physicists have magnificent computational skills but make incredibly elementary errors in conceptual thinking. And even worse: quite too often they refuse to even admit their blunders!
There is also some discussion about some paranormal phenomena: remote viewing (RV), remote healing, psychokinesis, telepathy, precognition, etc... Out-of-body-experiences (OBEs) and near-death-experiences (NDEs) are real phenomena which neuro-science tries to get rid of by somehow patologizing them. Also hypnosis, which even most skeptics accept as real, is very difficult to explain using mere neuroscience but for some reason paranormal researchers have not devoted so much attention to it.
The study of these phenomena is extremely difficult in principle. If these phenomena are possible, one cannot exclude the possibility that just the wish of the researcher to observe the phenomenon, can produce it. If so, the only manner to proceed is to really understand what these phenomena theoretically, and then try to eliminate the experimenter effect.
In TGD Universe all these phenomena are possible and play a key role even in ordinary biology. A hierarchy of conscious entities is the basic prediction: suddenly we have made time travel to the pre-scientific animistic world! Self has sub-selves, which it experiences as mental images and self is mental image of higher level self. Higher levels in the hierarchy correspond to the gods and angels of the pre-scientific world view. In TGD inspired biology this leads even to the proposals about hierarchy of collective EEGs and gene expressions.
Magnetic bodies (MBs) are onion-like structures, which can have layers with size measured using astrophysical length scales, can fuse to larger ones and the formation of flux tube connection between MBs is the basic element of directed attention. We would be highly dynamical networks having as nodes cells and other units connected by flux tubes. One can model mental images as connected sub-networks: not only in brain but also in biological body, where hormones and other information molecules give rise to emotional expression as dynamics of cell networks.
In this framework even our own consciousness involves the basic paranormal phenomena: our magnetic body controls the biological body and receives sensory input from it mediated by EEG and its scaled variants. Magnetic flux tubes carrying dark matter in TGD sense provide correlates for remote mental interactions. Even social structures could be understood in terms of quantum physics relying on the notion of magnetic body, and one can even say something non-trivial about the experience of loneliness! The notion of network replaces the idea about isolated particles by adding the flux tubes between them. Amusingly, this view is emerging also in condensed matter physics, where people talk about tensor networks. All roads lead to Rome.
In ZEO self is identified generalization of Zeno effect to a sequence of small state function reductions analogous to weak measurements. When self dies it re-incarnates as time-reversed self. The basic notions are active and passive boundaries of causal diamond (CD, intersection of future and past directed light-cones). During the lifecycle of self the active boundary is shifting reduction by reduction farther away from the stationary passive boundary and at which also the members of state pairs defining zero energy states remained un-affected. In the death of self the roles of active and passive boundaries change and CD begins to increase in opposite boundary at opposite boundary.
This need not imply that time-reversed self would remember anything about its previous life-cycle. It is quite possible that the MB associated with the organism remains and there is continuity of conscious experience. NDEs and OBEs be understood as experiences involving only MB and no input from brain. Also the third-person perspective of consciousness would correspond to MB: dying person literally sees himself from above. In this interpretation is correct, the re-incarnation would be different self. One can of course ask, what happens when we fall asleep. Do we die and re-incarnate as time reversed entity at some level of self-hierarchy? Does second re-incarnation give rise to us after wake-up?
I think that mentioning ghosts in a company of skeptics is a real challenge for even for the bravest and most hard leathered paranormal researcher. In ZEO might ghosts could correspond to conscious entities living in opposite direction of time. If these entities interact with us, this interaction could reveal that they indeed have opposite direction of time: second law would hold true in opposite direction. From our perspective temperature differences and concentration gradients would grow. This kind of phenomena have been indeed reported and they part of the folklore associated with ghosts.
The kind of phenomena apparently defying second law populate biology. Fantappie proposed long time ago the notion of syntropy assignable to second law in non-standard time direction. In TGD inspired biology time reversals are in fundamental role: for instance, motor action involves a signal in geometric past (creation of sub-..-subself with non-standard arrow of time) initiating neural activities in geometric past. This would explain Libet's strange findings that the experience of free will is preceded by neural activity (in geometric time).
Is there something in magical traditions?
Magical traditions are also discussed: this is actually the topic of the book of Radin. Before the emergence of science as we usually understand it, the world looked very different. Consciousness was not assigned with human brain. Animistic thinking dominated: spirits, angles, and gods populated the world. All living beings were regarded as conscious - even non-living systems. Ironically, the democracy of consciousness is now making comeback since the correlations between behavior and the state of central nerve system are very similar for insects and humans. Insects can even suffer depression according to these criteria and similar cure can help! Even bacteria behave in some respects like conscious entities and the collaboration of proteins at nano-level brings unavoidably in mind a working team. If pan-psychism is accepted (what it really means is of course not at all obvious) then this pre-scientific world view does not look so primitive anymore. The emergence of Newtonian physics was unforeseen step in the evolution of mathematical and physical consciousness but also a drawback due to its own limitations.
Theurgy consisted of magical rituals trying to affect gods more favourable. Some people had as goal henosis, unification with the divine. Of course, there are still such people but they are minority in western science dominated culture. Radin asks whether these rituals might be something more than theatre. Perhaps the very fact that there is a concentrated highly emotional directed attention of many minds, is what what matters and gives rise to magic. For instance, religious rituals define annual social rhythms analogous to EEG rhythms but in much longer time scale, and could serve to synchronize individual brains just like neurons are synchronized. The magnetic body of collective consciousness would control the behavior of its "neurons".
For a summary of earlier postings see Latest progress in TGD.