Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics
This is a question that I think most people would like to have answered, so I’m taking a stab at it based on things that I’ve researched. Aiding me in this, is the help of an article by Casey Blood, PhD and his examination of quantum physics.
Most skills require ordinary concentration and thinking in order to improve, but psychic ability requires a sort of letting go. While intense focus serves us in many areas of our lives, that same focus will not serve our psychic ability at all. Calm and peacefulness are not the way we normally get things done, but check out any book on psychic ability and that’s how you have to roll if you want to have any success. You have to have confidence and you have put away not only your own doubt, but that of people around you.
What is up with that? Why should this particular ability be so difficult to identify and quantify? Seriously, it’s not like learning to shoot hoops or a baseball batting average. It’s really unpredictable.
First of all, it is increasingly obvious in quantum physics that consciousness plays a role. The observer effect in particular has something to do with this. For those that have no idea what I am talking about, here is a pretty good five minute video:
Various experiments along these lines rule out any chance that the device doing the observing is causing the effect. -It is possible to initiate the observer effect without any measuring device at all as long as a twin particle is observed.- The results of the experiments strongly suggest that the effect takes place instantaneously and by that I mean that as soon as this wave function/particle is absolutely certain to be measured, it becomes measurable; that is to say, it becomes a particle. (At least that’s the ordinary answer, but there is more to this.)
What we can take away from this is that consciousness has a mechanism for collapsing probabilities prior to our conscious awareness that that this is happening. it is one step ahead of us nearly all the time. This is our normal conscious awareness and ordinary ability to focus our attention. The probabilities always collapse ahead of our ability to sense them. The reality that we experience always seems to be there. The mechanism is quite strong and not easily overcome.
However, it is possible to unhook this part of our mind and not get engaged in this process. This is possible because at the quantum level, reality is probabilistic, not deterministic. That is to say, there is no objective reality to tie into.
The article that i cited above makes the convincing argument that there is no proof for the existence of particles and that they are merely another form of the wave function. That is to say, it doesn’t actually collapse, we are just looking at a different aspect of it. His argument is that nowhere in physics is the particle necessary for any of the math. Everything we know about subatomic particles can be found in the wave function. This sounds right to me because it is a minimalist interpretation that reduces complexity. (i.e. we are seeing two sides of the same thing.)
The wave function is also known as a probability cloud and is subject to entanglement.
From the standpoint of psychic ability, this complicates things and this may be where the skill has so many problems. Other skills, such as shooting a basketball or playing the piano, are macro skills; that is, they arise from having a body which has been trained by the mind to perform a particular task. You cannot perform these tasks without the aid of your conventional 5 senses. By macro, I mean that quantum level events are evened out not only by the sheer numbers involved in the task, but also by the fact that they are bound by the rules of conventional Newtonian physics and therefore have much more rigid boundaries, such as being confined in both time and space.
The evidence for psi fairly clearly demonstrates that it is not operating at the same macro level, but rather it is bound to the rules of quantum mechanics at the expense of classical physics. To put it another way, psychic ability behaves as if classical physics did not exist. Specifically, psychic ability can and frequently does operate outside of time and space. This is how you end up with entanglement because objects can only be separated by space and/or time. An entangled mind, which is what we have, has access to everywhere and every when and of course, everyone.
However, this is not what our minds are accustomed to experiencing. The vast majority of our life on earth is spent dealing with reality on the macro, Newtonian level. We are also wired neurologically to be adapted to this world. It is easy to see why: a living creature with too much access to “psychic” style information is not going to live very long. It will have trouble recognizing predators and dangerous situations and possibly not value its own life.
Psychic ability then, goes against the grain; we are conditioned to put survival first and that means paying attention to the physical form of the world. Psychic ability is useful only in a limited sense and that’s what we usually see. Hunches, premonitions, an eerie sense of direction, limited telepathy within close family groups etc. To go beyond this though is to move into a space where our brain wiring isn’t fully functional. We are far better wired to use our five senses than our sixth. We are ill equipped to sort out the timeless, space-less reality that we actually live in. In order to function in that space, we have to make up symbols in our minds that match our physical reality even though they have no meaning in that context.
In other words, we have a reality that we experience that has both time and space, and when we use our psychic ability we are looking at that same reality but without time and space. We know that we are wired to use our five senses to experience our physical reality, but psychic ability attempts to duplicate the sensations of physical reality without actually using those senses. We are, in effect, using a timeless, space-less reality to mock up a time and space reality in our heads. In doing so, we will be subject to the distortions of every stray thought that crosses our minds. Fantasy, fear, wishful thinking and psychic ability all use the same mock up procedure. We cannot always tell the difference between them.
In addition, there is the added effect of entanglement which can muddy the works by introducing the thoughts and images of others and here’s the hard part: we have no way of automatically distinguishing these thoughts from our own. Inexperienced people always assume that all thoughts that occur to them are their own, but we are in fact, more deeply connected than we could possibly imagine and there is no real way to separate them out. It may indeed be impossible for any person to have their own solitary thoughts.
One more thing. As I said, a wave function is also described as a probability cloud. A universe that consists of wave functions is one without determinism, which means that the future does not exist until we get there. Everything exists as probabilities right up until we experience them, when we choose one of those probabilities. With precognition, we can’t really say whether we are seeing the future or creating it; there is no way to know.
In conclusion, psychic ability is an interaction with reality on a level that we are not altogether familiar with, and our efforts to understand it are often limited by a lack of understanding about the physical principles governing this ability. It seems mysterious and magical, but it is actually right in line with quantum physics. The part that we don’t know about is consciousness and even there, we can easily deduce some of the things we need to know. From there, we can gain a clearer understanding of the mechanics of psychic ability and perhaps in the process learn something about our universe.