Jonathan Stults

Margins of Reality Book Review
B.J. Dunne & R.G. Jahn

The main thesis of ‘Margins of Reality’ is the argument that consciousness has the ability to bias probabilistic systems. It discusses scientific research in much detail, reflects on remote viewing, 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 the mechanics of reality. It discusses various vectors, defined as representing a discrete probability distribution. Religious ritual, artistic endeavors, rhetoric and literary works, and every other form of spiritual commitment which responds to some hope, suspicion, conviction of supernatural influences to acquire ‘divine’ knowledge to affect the course of events or to transcend them is the vector discussed. It should be noted that the perception of reality is a generic anomaly in a deterministic paradigm. Practical benefits in daily life, the desire to satisfy spiritual needs, and intellectual curiosity about the supernatural can be defined as mysticism. Shamanism, and its eventual evolution into organized religion, has been the primary method of communion with the supernatural, 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 recent examples, Bohr, Bohm, Einstein, de Broglie, Schrödinger, Heisenberg, etc. have been considered the 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 scientific endeavors on topics as diverse as alchemy and the final Revelation in the Bible. The first rigorous scientific study of anomalous consciousness phenomena began in the late 19th 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, and concluded 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, each displaying one of five entoptic images; a circle, cross, three horizontal wavy lines, a square, and a 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 a Rhine 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 the experimenter turned it up. The cards were shuffled by an apparatus independent of the experimenter. Each subject tried to guess the correct cards 800 times. The average result recorded 6.5 hits per 25 cards, odds of 1: 250,000. One young man was even able to guess all 25 cards correctly; a probability of 1: 298,023,223,876,953,125. The experiments further concluded that distance was absolutely not a factor in the results of these experiments. Since the Rhine experiments, 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 revealing fundamental 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 an abstracted, 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, and experimental 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, and laboratory 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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throughout the history of psychic research. This can be explained in general by a lack of resources endowed into this field of research, for other “classical” branches of science with far more applicable (i.e., profitable) means are favored ahead of it. In addition, only quite recently have sufficiently sophisticated equipment, data-processing techniques, and physical models have come into existence. These far more advanced technological methods of conducting these experiments have led to progress in the field of psychic research. Objections 4-8 must be examined from a dichotic view. Specifically do those characteristics invalidate the results, or do they really illuminate the basic nature of the phenomena? Factors currently beyond experimental control may answer this question, as does the possibility of quantum-level phenomena occurring on a macroscopic scale which manifests themselves with only fractional probability on any given occasion. Precise diagnostic equipment and the ability for computers to accumulate extremely large data bases and thus allowing systematic trends to occur beyond the basic statistical static trend. The evasiveness of the occurrence of psychic phenomena under critically controlled scientific experiments may bring to light a number of consciousness abilities. Art, music, literature, philosophy, and romantic courtship are usually not facilitated by rigid constrains imposed by the incomplete scientific method, or by the presence of unsympathetic observers. A favorable atmosphere is important facilitators of the aforementioned endeavors. Nobody can doubt that such creative achievement could occur in a sterile or hostile environment. Thus, either psychic research as a whole is invalid or all the important parameters acting upon the phenomena have not been accepted in the theories. The final two criticisms can be rejected on the basis of the human intellect to keep on evolving, as it has throughout history. Section II of the book deals with the development of a program to directly address the role of consciousness in the creation of physical reality. The limitations of creating a device to
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test psi phenomena were circumvented by using microelectronic circuitry to perform the essential functions of counting, displaying, processing, and using an analogy from the Rhine experiments, “flipping.” The Random Event Generator (REG) was created for just such a purpose. White noise created by random events such as radioactive decay were translated into binary pulses. The authors seem very confident in the accuracy and validity of the REG system. By a chance of less than one part in a million, the subjects were able to alter the binary data in a positively correlated way. A comfortable, positive atmosphere was provided for the subjects. It is possible that consciousness may act as an entropy-reducing agent. A device called the Random Mechanical Cascade (RMC) was created to further test psi effects. 9000 balls trickle downward from a funnel around a quincunx array of 330 pegs, allowing the balls to bounce in a completely random fashion. Like the RMC experiments, the effects of conscious affecting the direction in which the balls fall is absolutely clear. A state of immersion, whenever the subject attempted to influence the falling of the balls, was critical in the psi affects which resulted. A feeling of resonance, not control, with the machine proved most effective in influencing its results. The authors conclude the section with stating that such consciousness-related effects as normal amongst humans, not anomalous. Section III deals with the topic of precognitive remote perception (PRP). Here, the authors mention the importance of precognitive abilities in shamanistic societies. Various examples of a subject performing PRP were given, with fantastic statistical odds. Statistical parameters are set, to ensure scientific validity. No evidence was found that suggested the ability of PRP to diminish with distance. Likewise, no evidence was found that suggested deterioration of the information with the degree of precognition or retrocognition up to several days. Once again, the ability of the operator to “tune-in” with the machine was instrumental in the ability to
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perform statistically significant results. Interestingly, electromagnetic affects within the range of 1-50 cycles per second, in accordance with the human brain wave spectrum, was noted as a possibility. However, to provide a test to prove this theory is inconclusive. Section IV goes on to discuss the possible interactions of quantum mechanics with the ability to perform psi phenomena. Quantum wave phenomena and the dual nature of waves/particles is proposed as a possible resonance between consciousness and the ability to perform psi phenomena. I am interested in this proposed theory, but was disappointed that in the entire book, the issue of quantum non-locality was never mentioned. The quantum “tunneling” effect, proposed by de Broglie, is also cited as an explanation for the ability to perform PRP. By using this effect, the authors propose that when a wave system in consciousness is elevated from cavity-bound to free-wave status, it may gain access to all consciousness in space-time and thus enables a person to be able to perform PRC. Once again, as I have observed in my research before, the consciousness of atoms is debated. It seems possible to me, and is something I need to research further. Resonance with other individuals is once again promoted as being instrumental in performing PRP. Reports of the ability to perform PRP among participants is consistent with quantum tunneling mechanisms. For instance, subjects would report that they would shut off the external world, and picture a blank movie screen in their head. Dream-like visions would ensue, flowing in. I have tried this technique myself, and have perceived many things, such as various people from around the world, or when I think about a specific person, abstract images flow into my mind allowing me to perceive what that person is doing or not. I know for a fact that this is caused by something more than just my imagination. Interestingly, Einstein saw the mystic ramifications of quantum mechanics and psi phenomena: “Body and soul are not two different
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things, but only two ways of perceiving the same thing. Similarly, physics and psychology are only different attempts to link our experiences together by way of systematic thought.” Section V discusses the implications of quantum mechanics and psi phenomena. The authors' state that applying the scientific method in an atmosphere of ‘love’ (in a very broad sense of the word, probably most akin in ancient Greek terminology as to be agape) is a valid measure of the study of thoughts in the technical realm. The bonds of consciousness between humans or between humans and technical devices are required for psi phenomena to occur. “Selfless investment of self can affect physical reality.” The term ‘information’ may require redefinition; for instance, PRP phenomena cannot be extracted from classical information systems. Each consciousness is able to achieve psi phenomena, given its ability to resonate with its environment. The separation of science from mysticism, and more precisely, science from metaphysics, is only a few hundred years old. For millennia before then, the two were intertwined. The anomalies in psi phenomena suggest that the separation has become too extreme, in fact counterproductive. An interesting quote from James Jeans demonstrates this; “…the physical theory of relativity has now shown that electric and magnetic forces are not real at all; they are merely mental constructs of our own, resulting from our rather misguided efforts to understand the motions of the particles. It is the same with the Newtonian force of gravitation, and with energy, momentum and other concepts which were introduced to help us understand the activities of the world-all prove to be mere mental constructs, and do not even pass the test of objectivity.” Morphogenetic fields, although controversial, has its basis in the fact that consciousness can influence living organisms. Interestingly, I read that in doctor’s brains, the portion of the brain responsible for empathy is suppressed far above the average population, suggesting that doctors
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make decisions based on scientific, incomplete judgments and not those where an atmosphere of ‘love’ (in its most general term) is cultivated. C.G. Jung reported that in an atmosphere of empathy, the patient and himself have experienced profound psi phenomena. In an unrelated topic, the authors state that the entire psychological process of learning could be an entropyreducing mechanism. To conclude, it is the subject’s state of mind, not just his tactics, which elicits psi phenomena. I wish I had more time to elaborate on the precise quantum mechanical systems and how they function, including topics such as quantum wave tunneling, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, Gödel’s Theorem (proving the greatest paradox of all; the paradox which is within all of mathematics), and especially the Einstein-Rosen-Poldosky Paradox thus proving quantum non-locality to be the most ‘scientifically proven theory in the history of science.’ To briefly explain the significance of quantum nonlocality, a tiny electron in an atom is split in two, thus forming two new electrons; if one of the pair was sent 15 trillion light years away, and began to spin, than instantaneously without a nanosecond’s hesitation will the other electron of the pair would spin simultaneously. This does not violate Einstein’s General or Special Theories of Relativity, for no energy is transferred. Because the electron’s share a common bond, they have an ‘instinctual’ connection uniting them. The significance is profound, and undoubtedly relates in some way among humans sharing a common identity, as well as in psi phenomena.

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