Speculative PSI

Keith Chandler. Psi: What It Is and How It Works: A Central Model for Parapsychology. Author's Choice, 2001.

Having read this book I am little further forward in actually understanding how the author imagines psi, if it exists, actually works. Like many of its ilk this book indulges masses of scientific jargon from a variety of disciplines, but doesn't actually transmit any meaning. The following is an example of the sort of thing one finds throughout this book: "I need to note that, although [a diagram in the book] has a similar appearance to EEG recordings it is not intended to represent electrical brain waves but modulations of an individual's non-energetic carrier wave in the cognitive field ... Projective memory is the low energy/high probability model that forms the default background for our daily life pursuits. Field configurations below its threshold are buffered or constrained to the level of normal projective memory because they entail identity threatening memories .. "

Behind all this jargon is Chandler's central rejection of scientific naturalism in favour of world view in which individual minds arc 'refractions of Cosmic Mind', which may or may not be God. This is identified with the zero-point energy field. Needless to say he rejects Darwin in favour of teleological evolution, aimed at producing minds like ours. The extinction of hominids such as the Neanderthals is evidence of this, so I assume the genocide of the Neanderthals is meant to part of God's plan. Whether the genocide of the native Americans or the Australian aboriginals was part of the same plan we are not told.

When it comes to parapsychology it becomes clear that Chandler's estimates as to the possibility of various paranormal phenomena depend less on the empirical evidence, than whether the phenomena would fit his hypotheses. Thus telepathy is in, pure clairvoyance is out. The explanation for psychokinesis appears to be that Cosmic Mind alters the local laws of probability and physics while simultaneously putting unusual expectations in the brain/minds of the participants. Don't ask what the explanation for precognition is because it involves lots of jargon with words like 'holoprcscnt .

This book therefore illustrates the central problem that parapsychological writings have, it is not so much the odd facts, (or purported facts) as the mountains of metaphysical speculation heaped around them. 'Theories' like Chandler's are simply ad hoc speculations which appear to be based, if anything, on some kind of personal revelation, rather than evidence. Furthermore they are not at all radical new ideas, they represent essentially a reactionary rejection of the modem scientific world view. Thus all that is new in Chandler's presentation is a thin robe of jargon. The naked ideas underneath are ones which were prevalent in the early years of the last century, and can be found in the writings of Whitehead, Bergson and de Chardin. -- Peter Rogerson, from Magonia 80. January 2003

1 comment:

Terry the Censor said...

Web-based vanity press produces incomprehensible book? Shocking!