#197 – Scientific Parapsychology with Dean Radin

photo of Dr. Dean Radin

Transcript

Dean Radin, PhD, is Senior Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) and has served as president of the American Parapsychological Association four times. A little over a year ago, he gave a presentation at Google, which can be found on YouTube, and it has become the most discussed talk of the 1,031 talks given there, as of this writing. His first career as a concert violinist shifted into science after earning a masters degree in electrical engineering and a PhD in psychology from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. For a decade he worked on advanced telecommunications R&D at AT&T Bell Laboratories and GTE Laboratories; for over two decades he has been engaged in consciousness research. Before joining the research staff at IONS, he held appointments at Princeton University, University of Edinburgh, University of Nevada, and three Silicon Valley think-tanks, including SRI International, where he worked on a classified program investigating psychic phenomena for the US government. He is author or coauthor of over 200 technical and popular articles, a dozen book chapters, and several books including the bestselling The Conscious Universe (HarperOne, 1997) and Entangled Minds (Simon & Schuster, 2006). His technical articles have appeared in journals ranging from Foundations of Physics, to Psychological Bulletin, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, and Journal of Consciousness Studies. He has been interviewed for television shows ranging from Oprah and Larry King Live, to the BBC’s Horizon and PBS’s Closer to Truth, and he has presented over a hundred invited lectures in venues including Harvard, Stanford and Princeton Universities, Google headquarters, and DARPA.

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A psychology podcast by David Van Nuys, Ph.D.

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18 Comments

  1. Tom Carroll
    Posted March 1, 2009 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    Hi Dr. Dave,

    Congratulations on completing another fine episode of Shrink Rap Radio. As a regular listener, I appreciate how you weave certain themes through the various SRR episodes. During this show, your discussion of career liability resulting from being engaged in parapsychological research — a thread started with Stanley Krippner in show #30 — brought to mind for me just how important “both/and” thinking is for stimulating new scientific discoveries in any field. It seems to me that cutting-edge research requires brave scientists like Dean Radin and Stanley Krippner who have cultivated in themselves BOTH disciplined, rigorous scientific thinking AND honest, open-minded curiosity. You did a fine job of exploring this innovative balance in your interviews of these gentlemen.

    Kudos to you, Dr. Dave, for promoting “both/and” thinking and for allowing us to hear the story that many show hosts won’t feature: Competent, open-minded psychologists have discovered through experimental research that something interesting is going on with psi, though the effect sizes are small and nobody really knows how specifically these phenomena operate. It’s a bit like a movie without a conclusive ending that leaves us wondering what’s up when it’s all over.

    The broadcast media have favored covering the more dramatic and conclusive battles between the “debunkers” and the “charlatans.” There’s a place for these shows. However, there’s also a need for coverage of more complex and less conclusive issues like psi research. It’s rare that a host will listen respectfully, ask good questions, and allow the time for a guest to thoughtfully respond, which needs to happen in order to comprehend the subtlety of a topic such as psi. I felt you achieved this with your interview of Dr. Radin.

    Thanks for another great interview and for raising the bar for thoughtful, respectful discussion of psi.

    Tom Carroll
    Austin, Texas

  2. Mark
    Posted March 4, 2009 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    Is anyone else having a hard time downloading the mp3? I tried a bazillion times so far and have not had success.

  3. Posted March 4, 2009 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    Mark,

    I just tried downloading the mp3 and it works fine. I’m on a Mac and I did a right click on “Download.” If you are on Windows, you might need to do a right-click or a control-click, but if you do the right combo, it will work!

  4. Charlie
    Posted March 14, 2009 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Since Dean Radin has claimed he has bent a spoon by PK, has ESP (everyone has it), and he has possibily seen into the future. and he himself in his own, peer reviewed, experiments has psychically controlled the rolling of dice, why hasn’t Radin, himself, taken up Randi’s challenge?
    After all Radin claims those with a psychic ability are correct 30% of the time. Why doesn’t Radin show Randi and the world he knows what he is talking about? or doesn’t know what he is talking about?

  5. Mark
    Posted March 14, 2009 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Uhh, charlie, no one trusts Randi to administer a fair test. Here’s why:

    http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/swift-blog/235-george-vithoulkas-homeopathy-challenge-starting-anew.html?widthstyle=w-thin

  6. Charlie
    Posted March 15, 2009 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    An interesting response, Mark. So who would you trust to critically examine Dean Radin’s own personal psychic claims other than himself and why?

    In a lecture to the New York Theosophy Society,[Secret Doctrine Class, Radin stated Eastern yogis could see into the past, present and future, read another person's mind, and levitate. Radin asked his audience,"What do they know that we don't know?" See: [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5395328394840268986] 25:28

  7. Mark
    Posted March 16, 2009 at 12:30 am | Permalink

    Well, I think that the academic community (the scientific community being part of it) should examine his claims. They are probably not going to get proof of spoon bending just from Radin’s one experience, but it might give them some good leads to follow up on, like what the conditions were when the spoon was allegedly bent.

  8. Charlie
    Posted March 16, 2009 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Spell out the scientific and academic community. The Parapsychology Association praises everything (their four times past president) Radin says and does. There are a lot of other things that I have mentioned beside spoon bending. Check out Dean Radin and his strange experiments and goings on from the Wikipedia. And remember sloopy experiments can be repeated just the same as critical experiments. Also remember it was James Randi, a magician, who exposed Uri Geller and others (psychic surgeons) , etc. as charlatans not the academic and scientific communities. Since the 19th century master magicians have played a large part in the critical examination and history of parapsychology. Professional and academic psychologists were quite offended when psychical research was renamed para-psychology. They did not want to be associated with spook chasers and delusions.

  9. Mark
    Posted March 17, 2009 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Interesting…I’ll have to look up the part about people getting offended with the term parapsychology. I personally don’t like the term, myself, as I would just prefer psi. As far as the academic community goes, I would think that philosophers and scientists who specialize in psi should be the ones to judge whether or not we should believe in psi using rigorous reasoning. Of course they are not perfect, but I think that this would be a much better process then putting things in the hands of one single magician who has a clear interest in seeing his applicants fail, not to mention the fact that Randi has shown himself to lie more than once to achieve his ends.

  10. Charlie
    Posted March 17, 2009 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    Various magicians have given similar challenges since the nineteenth century. ( not a million!) Later in the 1920s Houdini offered ten thousand and Scientific Amercian Magazine offered twenty five thousand dollars. No one ever collected the money from any of these challenges. For information about psychologists being offended by the term para-psychology see: Fact and Fable in Psychology by Joseph Jastrow,1900. Jastrow was the Professor of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin. I have studied and watched the history of parapsychology for about forty five years. I find it fascinating. Rigorous thinking has for the most part been avoided. When Radin speaks about the reality of levitation and remote viewing archaeology you know exactly where he is at. When a past president of the Parapsychology Association, Stephen E. Braude, pushes his wife’s astrology charts you know exactly where Braude and parapsychology are at too. Ted Serios and Uri Geller were prime examples of gullibility in contemporary parapsychology. James Randi’s Project Alpha was frosting on the cake. There is an overwhelming desire for finding God-like powers and proof of the survival of human conscious after death that overwhelms some of the most prominent parapsycholgists and those who dabble in parapsychology. They have a hard time accepting death as the end and humans having certain physical limitations. They have lost traditional religious faith and are trying to create a new scientific Eastern religion. This has been the goal ever since the discoveries of Charles Darwin. Two very good introductions to the birth of psychical reseach, now named parapsychology, are: The Ghost Hunters by Deborah Blum, 2006 and The Spiritualists by Ruth Brandon, 1983. I strongly recommend reading BOTH books. This is the foundation of parapsychology. The preservation and understanding of myth and ritual has tremendous value. More than many peolple realize. Learn about them. Not remembering that your great dead uncle Mike had a wooden leg and that you moved the photo of a dead loved one on the dresser. John Edward, James Van Praagh and Allison Dubois, who supposedly speak to the dead are very hot right now, thanks to Gary Schwartz and company. Yes, with the public and definitely within parapsychology. They never wise up. Randi does not want his applicants to fail. He wants to collect more than a million dollars and possibily a Nobel Prize for being the one who discovers and proves the existence of paranormal abilities in unquestionable controlled experiments, that he and his subject have agreed upon. If he does, he will win a special place in science and history.

    Joseph Banks Rhine began the study of modern parapsychology after being inspired by a lecture on the reality of contacting the dead given by Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes.

  11. Charlie
    Posted March 17, 2009 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    Mark, It is a little early for this, but see http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7313554370457120575
    Has the million dollar challenge been won?

  12. Mark
    Posted March 18, 2009 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    “When Radin speaks about the reality of levitation and remote viewing archaeology you know exactly where he is at.”

    Ya know, I’m done with this conversation. You have already made up your mind, as has Randi and most every other vocal magician. I would not have any of you running a test for the paranormal – because you all DO want it to fail.

  13. Charlie
    Posted March 19, 2009 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    You are wrong. I expect someday in the future the quality of people investing the paranormal will improve. There is some evidence this is happening very slowly. But not yet. I suspect emotional and mental contagion will be the answer not ESP. Maybe someday critical scientists wiil find the answer. Dean Radin with his phases of the moon affecting slot machines and enhanced chocolate doesn’t make the my list. yhttp://www.survivalafterdeath.org.uk/articles/dingwall/responsibility.htmet

  14. Posted March 19, 2009 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    Charlie, I’m reluctant to drag this thread out any longer but I feel compelled to make the observation that all your criticisms of Radin have been ad hominem. You’ve not make any substantive critique of the research designs that he described in the podcast or in his books. And, you seem to discount the fact that his research has been independently replicated by a variety of labs around the world.

  15. Charlie
    Posted March 20, 2009 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    For Shrink
    http://www.intentionalchocolate.com/content/Research.htm Radin DI,
    Hayssen G, Walsh J. (2007). Effects of intentionally enhanced chocolate
    on mood, Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing. , Volume 3, pp.
    485-492 ‘Effects of
    Concsiousness on the Fall of Dice: A Meta-Analysis” by Dean I. Radin
    and Diane C. Ferrari, presented at the 33rrd Annual Convention of the
    Parapsychologhical Association, Chevy Chase,MD., August 16-20, 1990

    http://deanradin.blogspot.com/ Monday 18 Jun 2007, Two
    Recommended Books:”Opening to the Infinite” by Stephan A Schwartz,
    also the author of”The Secret Vaults of Time: Psychic Archaeology and
    the Quest for Man’s Beginnings” and ”The Alexandria
    Project ”Seeking psi in the casino. Radin, C.I. & Rebman, J. M. (1998), Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 62 (850), 193-219
    Radin’s lecture See: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5395328394840268986 25:28
    Though I may be incorrect I think what a person says is just as important as their work. You get to know an indiviual’s directions and thoughts.

    There is no record of Dean Radin working in cooperation with his critics to make every effort to prove his hypothesis wrong by subjecting it to the most withering attacks they can dream up. The refusal to accept an idea until it has run a gauntlet of testing is the very reason scientific truth has value. Sloppy experiments can be repeated as well as critical ones. I get the impression that people who interview Radin already consider him a star, have done little research on the history and validity of Radin’s odd variety of experiments and and without question believe everything that Radin says at that time. Even when talks about bending a spoon, exactly the way he preferred using only a gentle touch. http://www.deanradin.com/spoon.htm http://www.deanradin.com I have nothing against the man other than the quality of his work which I find very questionable.

    While Dean Radin was at the Conscious Research Laboratory, University of Nevada, Las Vegas he worked with remote viewer Joseph McMoneagle. Radin conceptualized a future machine that as yet did not exist. McMoneagle used his remote viewing into the future in an effort to obtain information concerning this machine to produce patentable ideas.

    The Ulitimate Time Machine: A Remote Viewer’s Perception of Time and Predictions for the New Millennium by Joseph McMoneagle, Hampton Roads, Publishing Co., Inc., 1998, p.109

  16. Charlie
    Posted March 21, 2009 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    In the real world friends are allowed to disagree.

  17. Charlie
    Posted March 27, 2009 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    To Shrink:
    These two critical reviews of Radin’s very popular books: The Conscious Universe and Entangled Minds delve into some of Dean Radin’s experiments and comments. Much of this is over my head. I am just a grunt. Perhaps you will find these reviews of interest too.

    http://www.skepdic.com/refuge/radin1.html

    http://skepdic.com/refuge/entangledreview.html

  18. Bumshway
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    Charlie, I’m not sure why you’re trying to bring Radin’s personality into question.

    You need to cite specific problems with the data as well as what is wrong with the many, many other people’s work in successfully replicating it. You criticize other people for not following up on Radin enough and yet you show nothing short of an astounding lack of knowledge regarding his work and psi literature in general.

    And the idea that somebody should pass a magician’s test in order to garner credibility is ridiculous.

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