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October 11, 2011

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" I believe psychic ability is a genuine, if rare, feature of consciousness."

I think psychic ability is very common and we all have it, but it's over-shadowed by our sensory experiences, and it is not reliable. I think some people are more psychic than others. A person could be born with special psychic talents, and then develop those talents and become a professional.

And as a professional, you depend on those powers always being there. And of course, they aren't, because they are not reliable. So professional psychics use some trickery, even if their abilities are real. I think that's what happened to Uri Geller.

And "skeptics," of course, decide that all psychics are fake all the time, just because some are fake all the time and all are fake some of the time.

Psychic ability is universal and underlies our conscious functioning. I believe -- and I didn't come up with this idea -- that communication is basically telepathic. Language helps to guide the process, but the process is psychic.

So everyone uses their psychic abilities all the time, without knowing it. William James described the subconscious mind as being connected to the supernatural levels, and I agree with that. We feel separate, but we are all connected and part of something greater.

Spirits really do exist and there is nothing at all surprising about the fact that some people communicate with them.

I realize I said we all have telepathic abilities all the time, and I also said they are unreliable. I should have said they are mostly subconscious, and not reliably available to the conscious mind.

I knew you'd say that.

Sally Morgan should easily be able to redeem herself. She just needs to allow herself to be tested by serious paranormal investigators like the Society for Psychical Research. If she truly is genuine and not just feeding on other peoples despair then this is what she should do. People who have payed tons of money for access to her shows and her books deserves to know.

Hear hear.

Much as I hate to agree with Jan Moir, she does have a saliant point. Death is a slammed door. I'm a skeptic, and I require evidence before I can believe something, especially if it's something extraordinary like talking to the dead. If this ability was genuine, it could be repeatedly tested under controlled conditions and it would totally revolutionise our understanding of absolutely every aspect of life. As it is, the techniques of cold reading and hot reading are well understood, and are readily used by 'psychics' in their stage shows.
Have you any idea how much of our understanding of the universe would have to be wrong to allow us to communicate with the dead?

Have you any idea how much of our understanding of the universe would have to be wrong to allow us to communicate with the dead?

Do you?

Tom, all good points.

Of course there needs to be good evidence. As it happens, I have it from my own experience, and from the research carried out by scientists and intellectuals such as William James, who came to the unequivocal conclusion that psychic functioning can be genuine - however rare.

Of course they understood the fraudulent techniques you mention but eventually ruled them out in certain cases that they investigated at length. As I did in my own experiences.

In my view, this research has never been adequately explained away. In fact, few scientists and sceptics who speak confidently on these matters know anything about it.

Of course it has huge implications for the scientific and secular worldview. Much the easiest course is to dismiss it out of hand. But some of us are willing to entertain the possibility that the materialist assumptions that underlie this worldview are flawed, and that it will gradually metamorphose into something different. From a historical standpoint, that would not be inconceivable. The world will carry on.

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  • ‘These disturbing phenomena seem to deny all our usual scientific ideas. How we should like to discredit them! Unfortunately the statistical evidence, at least for telepathy, is overwhelming. It is very difficult to rearrange one’s ideas so as to fit these new facts in.’ Alan Turing, computer scientist.

  • ‘I have noticed that if a small group of intelligent people, not supposed to be impressed by psychic research, get together and such matters are mentioned, and all feel that they are in safe and sane company, usually from a third to a half of them begin to relate exceptions. That is to say, each opens a little residual closet and takes out some incident which happened to them or to some member of their family, or to some friend whom they trust and which they think odd and extremely puzzling.’ Walter Prince, psychic researcher.

  • When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong. Arthur C. Clarke

  • ‘Science seems to me to teach in the highest and strongest manner the great truth which is embodied in the Christian conception of entire surrender to the will of God. Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing.’ Thomas Henry Huxley

  • We can always immunize a theory against refutation. There are many such immunizing tactics; and if nothing better occurs to us, we can always deny the objectivity – or even the existence – of the refuting observation. Those intellectuals who are more interested in being right than in learning something interesting but unexpected are by no means rare exceptions. Karl Popper, on the defenders of materialism.

  • If we have learned one thing from the history of invention and discovery, it is that, in the long run - and often in the short one - the most daring prophecies seem laughably conservative. Arthur C. Clarke.

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