Tuesday, August 7, 2018

DEAN RADIN & REAL MAGIC: The Science Behind Clairvoyance, Telekinesis & Telepathy, LAW OF ATTRACTION

.times of israel

Is Kabbalah real? One scientist sees no trick in humanity’s esoteric traditions

Psychologist and author Dean Radin often faces a dilemma when he speaks publicly: Which hat should he wear? For Radin, the answer to this figurative question depends on the audience.
“If I’m in a group of academics I’ll say I’m a psychologist. That’s what my PhD is in,” Radin shares in a recent interview with The Times of Israel.
“The reason I wouldn’t say a parapsychologist is because that word conjures up magazines at the grocery store. And it’s so pervasive, how people think about parapsychology and paranormal as ‘woo woo,’ that it’s just easier to not to go into it,” he says.


Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality

Entangled Minds (EM) is a sequel to Dean Radin's 1997 defense of psychic phenomena The Conscious Universe (CU). EM is CU for Dummies: more of the same, but in a casual, conversational style, and aimed at non-scientists who are likely to be impressed by references to quantum physics.  In my review of The Conscious Universe, I describe how Radin distorts the history of psi research, omitting the seedy side of the story, and abuses statistics to make his case for the paranormal. He repeatedly shouts out the incredible odds against chance of getting some result in an experiment that allegedly demonstrates telepathy, precognition, or psychokinesis, yet he still can't find a single person in any of these experiments who is even aware of a psychic ability, much less able to demonstrate one under properly controlled conditions. In the end, what needs to be explained is not psychic phenomena but why Radin and other parapsychologists think these experiments demonstrate psi. The true believer will not be deterred, however. Radin thinks psi will some day be explained by fitting it into a framework of quantum phenomena. This skeptic isn't convinced that there is anything to be explained except Radin's belief in the reality of psi despite overwhelming evidence against it.
Radin knows that polls show that most people believe in some sort of psychic phenomena. So, he is not in a minority when it comes to belief. He notes, however, that there are only about 50 scientists around the world engaged in full-time psi research (p. 7). This disparity is not due to scientists recognizing that psi research is probably a waste of time. In Radin's view, ordinary people believe in psi because "they see farther into the depths of the world than other people do" (p. 51). Scientists, he claims, are afraid to admit that they believe in psi. They don't engage in psi research because they would be looked on as mentally deficient if they did. Radin thinks that skeptics consider believers stupid and have succeeded in putting the fear of God into both ordinary folks and scientists. They dare not admit their beliefs for fear of being ridiculed. He doesn't consider the possibility that pandering by the media and ignorance of affective, cognitive, and perceptual biasesmight account for some of those beliefs in the paranormal. Nor does he blush when he mentions that many great minds have believed in psi and done psi research, including some Nobel laureates.
He even misuses the brilliant experiment on inattentional blindness at the University of Illinois to try to give support to his view: just as many people don't see things that are right before their eyes, scientists and skeptics are blind to the reality of psi (p. 44). This is clearly hogwash. Nothing sells like the paranormal. The popularity of psi increases with each new television program featuring ghosts or mediums. Scientists may be staying away from psi research because they don't see any future in it. If there were much hope of finding anything important by psi research, scientists would be fighting for the opportunity to be the one to make the first great discovery. You don't need to have precognition to see the future of this discipline. The past provides plenty of solid evidence that the future looks dim.
believers in psi are not stupid
Even though Radin provides little evidence for the claim that scientists and skeptics view people like him as stupid or uneducated, he spends an entire chapter arguing that believers in psi are not stupid and uneducated, but "normal." He seems to be confusing stupidity with ignorance. Even educated people are ignorant of many things, including many things about perception and the psychology of belief. As he did in CU, Radin distorts the truth by quoting out of context. One egregious example comes in his suggestion that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has declared that belief in psi is a mental disorder (pp. 36-37). There are several mental disorders, it is true, that manifest themselves in part by "odd beliefs or magical thinking," including superstitious beliefs and beliefs in clairvoyance or telepathy. Radin admits this, but the reader is left to figure out how to make sense of his suggestion that psychiatrists consider people like him to be mentally ill. The least he could have done is note that most people don't consider a person mentally ill if his delusions are shared by numerous other people in his social group.
Radin's attitude toward believers in psi and skeptics in EM belies his degree in educational psychology. He should be well aware that there is a great body of psychological literature supporting the notion that belief or disbelief in the paranormal or supernatural is not a matter of intelligence or education. Why a brilliant man likeBrian Josephson would spend his days in pursuit of psi or an equally brilliant Murray Gell-Mann would consider pursuit of psi a waste of time is not going to be answered by looking into their IQs or their educational experiences. Why Richard Dawkins finds atheism a natural consequence of science and Francis Collins finds science leads him to belief in God is not going to be understood by probing into their intellects or education. Likewise, there are believers and skeptics who suffer from various mental disorders or brain malfunctions, but those disorders don't provide an adequate explanation for why many people who don't suffer from such disorders believe or disbelieve in the paranormal or supernatural. This is not the place for a full-blown discussion of the psychology of belief. I recommend as a starting place the short article by Jim Alcock called "The Belief Engine." Alcock uses a machine metaphor to introduce some basic notions about beliefs, starting with the claim: "Our brains and nervous systems constitute a belief-generating machine, a system that evolved to assure not truth, logic, and reason, but survival."
Radin's dismissal of critics
In both his books, Radin devotes extensive space to dismissing criticism without reviewing a single skeptical evaluation of the data for psi. He ignores the critiques of Ray Hyman, David Marks, Jim Alcock, Susan Blackmore, C. E. M. Hansel, and the like. He has two main reasons for dismissing critics: 1) they don't look at the data, but reject psi research outright as mistaken or fraudulent; and 2) skepticism and critical analysis of psi research are "outdated" (p. 79), "stubbornly incredulous" (p. 89), and  "insufficient" (p. 246). The irony of reason number one is obvious. Reason number two seems to be little more than a defense mechanism and excuse for not doing the hard work of answering critics.


  1. Kabbalah and Telekinesis are not the same thing.
    the Torah forbids certain types of "black magic" such as witchcraft, Kishuf, etc.

    these ancient forms of witchcraft existed long ago. There is a dispute between Rambam and Ramban as to whether they are real or not.

    "Kabbalah" is the seforim that were revealed or produced after the closure of the Shas, and was not anything that people knew about beforehand.

    Rav Saadia mocks the concept of gilgul, Rambam mocks the concept of tziruf otiot, etc. It was only gradually that the Kabbalah and the Zohar became accepted.

    Does Kabbalah include telekinesis? There is a mishnah which says someone who can move things from a distance eg cucumbers, is subject to the death penalty.

  2. That reminds me of the old joke that a father claims his son is a magician.

    "He can make my stomach turn when I'm in the other room."

  3. Sanhedrin
    ז,יא המכשף--העושה מעשה, ולא האוחז את העיניים. רבי עקיבה אומר משום רבי יהושוע, שניים לוקטין קישואים--אחד לוקט ופטור, ואחד לוקט וחייב; העושה מעשה חייב, והאוחז את העיניים פטור.


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