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Margins of Reality

Margins of Reality

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Published by Jonathan Stults
A book review relating paranormal phenomena to quantum mechanics, the book was written by two Princeton Doctors of Philosophy
A book review relating paranormal phenomena to quantum mechanics, the book was written by two Princeton Doctors of Philosophy

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Published by: Jonathan Stults on Nov 14, 2007
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10/08/2013

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Jonathan Stults
 Margins of Reality
Book Review
B.J. Dunne & R.G. JahnThe main thesis of ‘Margins of Reality’ is the argument that consciousness has the abilityto bias probabilistic systems. It discusses scientific research in much detail, reflects on remoteviewing, and interweaves the quantum system as a mechanism to explain such phenomena. The book encompasses all disciplines of knowledge, as is appropriate with any discussion of consciousness, as it attempts to unite the ‘mystical’ with empirical knowledge.Section I of the book seeks to prove the consciousness of human beings in creating themechanics of reality. It discusses various vectors, defined as representing a discrete probabilitydistribution. Religious ritual, artistic endeavors, rhetoric and literary works, and every other formof spiritual commitment which responds to some hope, suspicion, conviction of supernaturalinfluences to acquire ‘divine’ knowledge to affect the course of events or to transcend them is thevector discussed. It should be noted that the perception of reality is a generic anomaly in adeterministic paradigm. Practical benefits in daily life, the desire to satisfy spiritual needs, andintellectual curiosity about the supernatural can be defined as mysticism. Shamanism, and itseventual evolution into organized religion, has been the primary method of communion with thesupernatural, and what could be loosely described as ‘God’. Needless to say, this yearning for the supernatural is with us still today.
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Mysticism and science, contrary to popular belief, are thoroughly intertwined. In recentexamples, Bohr, Bohm, Einstein, de Broglie, Schrödinger, Heisenberg, etc. have been consideredthe greatest minds in science, and all were thoroughly interested in the mystical. Pythagoras, Newton, Plato and others were likewise. Any inquiry throughout history into the nature of consciousness has been seeped in mysticism. Newton himself spent at least half his scientificendeavors on topics as diverse as alchemy and the final Revelation in the Bible.The first rigorous scientific study of anomalous consciousness phenomena began in thelate 19
th
century, when the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) and the American Society of Psychical Research (ASPR) were founded. In the late 1920’s, the first successful effort to bring psychic research into academia began with William McDougall of Harvard and Duke University.McDougall appointed J.B. and Louisa Rhine to scientifically assess the scientific validity of  psychical phenomena. They coined the term “parapsychology” and gave the Greek letter psi (Ψ)to represent this new term. They discovered two major categories of effect over the course of their research, I. “extrasensory perception” (ESP), the ability to acquire information inaccessible by known sensory channels, and II. “psychokinesis” (PK), the ability to influence objects or  processes in ways not identified by known physical means. Over the course of their research,Rhine concluded that the subjects lacked conscious control over any psi phenomena, andconcluded that psi phenomena is widespread, even a “specific human ability” inherent in us all.Usually, their research was conducted with the role of dice, as well as a deck of 25 cards, eachdisplaying one of five entoptic images; a circle, cross, three horizontal wavy lines, a square, anda five pointed star. Over the course of their experiments, astonishing results were recorded.Perhaps the greatest example is recorded in C.G. Jung’s “On Synchronicity”, where he tells of aRhine experiment which was a double-blind experiment in which the experimenter was separated
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 by a screen from the subject, who would attempt to guess which card was drawn as theexperimenter turned it up. The cards were shuffled by an apparatus independent of theexperimenter. Each subject tried to guess the correct cards 800 times. The average resultrecorded 6.5 hits per 25 cards, odds of 1: 250,000. One young man was even able to guess all 25cards correctly; a probability of 1: 298,023,223,876,953,125. The experiments further concludedthat distance was absolutely not a factor in the results of these experiments. Since the Rhineexperiments, a strong correlation has been established between psychic performance and cognate processes, personality characteristics such as attitude, motivation, creativity intelligence,cooperation vs. competition, and introversion versus extroversion. To quote J.B. Rhine, “When psi capacities transcend space and time ever so slightly or infrequently, they are revealingfundamental properties of the human mind as a whole. This capacity to intersect with the physical world through ESP and PK is thus a function of the total personality, not of anabstracted, isolated, momentary mental state.”In opposition to the results of psychic experimental results, critics note ten major objections to explain away the results: 1) demonstrable fraud in collecting and reporting data, 2)inadequate controls, faulty equipment, sensory cuing of participants, experimenter biases,selective treatment of data, suppression of negative results, improper statistical methods, andexperimental as well as theoretical incompetence, 3) lack of meaningful progress over years of study, 4) poor experimental replicability, 5) sensitivity of results to participants, attitudes, andlaboratory ambience, 6) marginal significance of most results compared to chance expectation, 7)elusiveness of effects under skeptical scrutiny, 8) absence of adequate theoretical framework, 9)inconsistency within the prevailing scientific paradigm, 10) incompatibility with personal belief systems or common sense. Undeniably, one or another of the first three objections has occurred
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