Maximizing Human Potential


References and Connections

Dynamic Humanism References

Many of the works referenced below belong in more than one subject category since the areas of study are closely related and research draws on work across the subjects and disciplines.  My intent here is not to supply a comprehensive bibliography but to provide access to the literature through recent overviews and general assessments by researchers in the subject areas.  In most cases, these works are extensively documented so the reader can easily locate the specific research that may be of further interest.  For each entry, I have provided an annotation and often a brief description and review.  Readers who are new to the discussion raised in Dynamic Humanism and who want to pursue the issues   further may want to start with the works of  Watson, LeShan and Highwater and then move to Ornstein, Mayer, and Powell and finally to Radin.  Those who really want a fascinating, if challenging, workout can then delve into Campbell. My own work is more cultural and anthropological in focus than most of the work cited below, but there are many areas of overlap and cross-fertilization.  The essence of the dynamic humanism conceptualization as well as my ethnological work [A Little Bit of Heaven Here and The I Within Me] in the 1970’s and 80’s precedes most of the work cited below and was concurrent with the emergence of many of the research disciplines and sub-disciplines that fortunately now frame and provide a home for the discussion.

Consciousness and Transpersonal, Humanistic and Integral Psychology

Campbell, Thomas, My Big TOE: Waking, Discovery, Inner Workings, A Trilogy Unifying Philosophy, Physics and Metaphysics, (Lightening Strike Books), 2005.

    This 820+ page work in three parts constitutes a grand thesis [T.O.E. – Theory of Everything] that proposes digital consciousness as resolving all of the conflicts between the material and immaterial [dualist] conceptions of reality.  Campbell is a Ph.D. in nuclear physics who had paranormal experiences [spirit guides] as a child, who in his early 20’s discovered the pragmatic value of meditation, and who as a professional researcher in Robert Monroe’s laboratory experienced and explored the results of being in various altered states in systematic and controlled investigations in which he manifested most Psi phenomena.  Campbell is a rarity – one of the few full-range paranormal insiders [gifted subjects] who are also highly trained and careful scientific experimenters as well as expansive scientific theoreticians. Campbell has also experienced personally the depth of most states of consciousness as they relate to physical matter and non-physical matter reality, and he describes the personal ability to call upon different modes and to run different active modes simultaneously to address different parallel challenges in different experiential domains.  Campbell’s “theory” [which he mostly refers to as a model] integrates Psi phenomena as normative within its causal reality frame and posits digital consciousness as primary in a totally interconnected reality where different states of mind and perspectives correspond to levels of awareness of different aspects of reality with their often exclusive causalities.   Personally, I find Campbell’s conceptual model [summarized in Inner Workings, pp. 9-68] to be most useful.  His arguments are well stated for expanding the standard scientific model to a generalized model to include subjective reality [what Campbell calls Non-Physical Matter Reality – NPMR] and the role of consciousness within it.  I question whether the primary goal of the argument benefits from being vastly enlarged to suggest multiple layers of dynamic sets of objective [PMR] and subjective [NPMR] realities with their own independent beings, objects and laws of physics.  For most scientists, incorporating the subjective [NPMR] with its own beings, objects and laws into their model of reality [PMR] within their own operating system [OS] is challenging enough.  I find Campbell’s effort to impose a multi-layered digital computer-based interpretation on his conceptual model to be far too complex and linear to capture the wholism that Campbell’s model otherwise implies [not to mention the deterministic implications it suggests at lesser scales where the massive probabilities set by the state of the nearly infinite surrounding reality complex reduce choice/free will to virtually zero].  To propose that capturing reality could be approached “as if” it was the result of  an infinitely capable digital computer at work – “TBC” [The Big Computer] – is one thing.  To suggest that such a digital system is actually how reality is structured and “implemented” is quite another, and for me oddly mechanistic given both the essentials of Campbell’s worldview and the range of his personal experience with the subjective.  Campbell’s style is highlyrepetitive, but this can be useful for those new to the challenging and abstract task of releasing the strangle hold of the prevailing material belief complex and incorporating subjective experience into an expanded concept of consciousness, self and reality.

Cunningham, Paul F. “Textbook of Transpersonal Psychology,” [seeking publication] 2011.

    This prospective work is pedagogically oriented in a way that is still useful to most readers and researchers, and it is otherwise an up-to-date, very comprehensive and thoroughly documented overview of the field of transpersonal psychology, known by other names as humanistic psychology or integral psychology: the study of extraordinary – peak – transcendent – spiritual – paranormal – religious experience. Like Charles Tart, Cunningham is a researcher in the area of parapsychology and allows Psi phenomena a prominent place in the study of the transpersonal.

Haisch, Bernard, The God Theory: Universes, Zero Point Fields, and What’s Behind It All, (Red Wheel/Weiser), 2006.

        A provocative attempt to justify a conceptual version of God based on the science of light as offered by a major theoretical astrophysicist who retains the sense of spiritual wonder from his seminarian roots in his early experience in both family and education.  Haisch is very cleaver in his argument claiming that the evidence for an infinite conscious intelligence [God] among the spiritual practitioners of the world is as substantial as the strictly theoretical evidence from science for multiple dimensions and multiple universes as implied in quantum/string theory.  He claims that objectively the evidence for both is zero.  What he overlooks is the significant difference between attributing first cause, purpose and motivation to God that by definition can never be confirmed objectively, and the proposal of infinite discrete universes, which is a logical inference from the objective data that can be tested at least secondarily against new data and the logic of mathematics.  At any point in the scientific discovery process there will always be a margin or boundary beyond which our understanding and theories are inadequate to address cause at the next scale of reality.  God is always an option to invoke as the cause at this point of the “unknown.”  What the history of science should reveal to us is that God as explanatory cause has been in constant retreat as science has progressively filled in a natural explanation for the system at ever-greater scales.  This fact should give pause to any scientist in being willing to declare God as cause at any margin or boundary in the development of our understanding.  While Haisch’s argument fails the test of this clear historical trend, he raises many very important and legitimate concerns about the adequacy of the materialistic conception of reality that continues to inform much of western science.  However, while his focus on an immaterial or implicate or spiritual dimension of reality as primary may be correct, it does not justify the need to invoke as first cause a purposeful God, who experiences His creation through the actions of humans and other sentient beings [leaving an awful lot of the reality that God creates outside his ability to experience]. Haisch continually insists on extending what is a legitimate spiritual argument into a speculative religious proposition, all the while claiming his argument is spiritual and not religious just because it does not rely on the dogma of any specific religion.  Attributing first cause to a purposeful God [or gods/spirits] that is inherently beyond the reach of confirmation is the basis for all religion, whatever dogma arises to embellish this foundation religious contention.  Because spirituality is currentlybeyond the ability of science to test directly does not justify the notion that Haisch flirts with periodically that spirituality lies fundamentally outside the domain of science.  Theory almost always anticipates experimental evaluation, and many theories in modern times have had to wait years for experimental capabilities to emerge to test them.

Highwater, Jamake, The Primal Mind:  Vision and Reality in Indian America, (Harper & Row), 1981.

       Highwater is a controversial figure, but whatever his native American origins, in my view he wrote a very well informed assessment of the differences and similarities between the aboriginal and western worldviews [and their associated mental capabilities] which reveals that the differences are a matter of emphasis, not of kind.  The sacred principle and animistic view in aboriginal thought are found equally in art and religion in western culture.  They are just marginalized and de-emphasized rather than being given a location in the core of the western worldview.  In my view, drawing upon Highwater’s insights, an ideal culture would combine the worldview strengths of both perspectives – the sacred and the scientific, and both associated mental capabilities – the intuitive and the rational.

Lanza, Robert and Bob Berman, Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe, (BenBella Books), 2009.

        This work claims that physical theories of the universe emanating from physics have become so extreme and speculative that they have lost touch with the essential questions which they must in the end answer: how do we account for life and consciousness – given the fact that the universe is inexplicably so finely tuned in so many ways to make life as we know it possible?  Lanza’s answer is to turn the customary causal sequence on its head from consciousness and life being somehow accidentally derived within an infinite domain of evolving physical entities to the assertion that through consciousness the animal observer creates the universe.  Of course, there are always the next questions for Lanza to answer: 1) What was present, if anything, in the universe in what we now determine to have been the 10 billion years before earth formed and the thirteen billion years before human and animal consciousness? 2) Is the past development of the universe just a retro-projection of reality by human consciousness to justify and fit the option for human life? 3) If consciousness is proclaimed as the First Cause [essentially replacing God], where did consciousness come from?  It is good to be challenged by a recent, full-on idealist view of life, consciousness and the universe, even if this one is marred by excessive ego aggrandizement.  Interestingly, a radical interpretation and extrapolation of the evidence from Psi could participate in supporting the Lanza view, but he never references this domain of evidence.  For a critical review of the point of view and the basis for it as expressed in this work see: “Biocentrism Demystified: A Response to Deepak Chopra and Robert Lanza’s Notion of a Conscious Universe” by Vinod K. Wadhawan and Ajita Kamal [just Google]Personally, I find unproductive the extreme positions of either the realist or the idealist views regarding what is the nature of the relationship of consciousness and reality because neither alone provides a successful platform for pragmatic living.  Humans must live their lives in the dynamic of the awareness of these two different perspectives [corresponding to the material and spiritual views] balancing the mental capabilities that are allied with each to address their physical, social and spiritual challenges.

Ornstein, Robert, The Evolution of Consciousness, (Simon and Schuster), 1991.

        This classic work remains mostly current in its overview of research related to consciousness and in its proposal of the need for humans to develop more sophisticated control for access and use of the various components of mind that eons of biological evolution fostered but that are not refined sufficiently to meet the severe collective challenges of modern humankind.  Ornstein rejects the claims of both excessive rationalism/materialism and hyper-asceticism/mysticism in favor of balance in the use of all human faculties and modes of mentation: emotional, rational, intuitive, and spiritual.  Ornstein’s views in this regard are very close to my own.  In this work and his The Psychology of Consciousness in various editions from 1972 to 1996, Ornstein has been a major influence in the development of modern consciousness studies as well as in the field variously referred to as humanistic, transpersonal, or integral psychology.

Rosenblum, Bruce and Fred Kuttner, Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness, (Oxford Univ. Pr.), 2006.

        This is a work in non-technical language by two established physicists at the University of California, Santa Cruz that summarizes their academic course for non-physicists in which they seek to 1) review “the experimental facts and their accepted explanation by quantum theory” that underlie the quantum enigma [the measurement problem] and 2) explore the “contending interpretations of what it all means” [specifically the relevance for understanding the relationship of consciousness to physical reality].  The authors are as much concerned with encouraging non-scientists to avoid overstating the implications of quantum mechanics as they are with informing non-physicists about the real challenges that quantum mechanics poses to the standard western, materialist worldview.  R and K identify the parallels between the quantum enigma and the mysteries of consciousness and suggest that certain interpretations of quantum theory may resolve both apparent dilemmas.  They then suggest that the key to this resolution is to demonstrate that consciousness directly impacts physical reality, but they give only the most cursory consideration to evidence for Psi, and especially PK, as providing the “proof” they are seeking.  The authors explore in the end a very speculative and expansive/liberal view of the possible role of consciousness in creating the universe, and at one point they recognize the major potential relevance of Psi research to their pursuit, but they are surprisingly cavalier in offering a “pass” on seriously evaluating the Psi literature. Readily available at the time was Radin’s very successful 1997 book, The Conscious Universe: The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena, which both provides a comprehensive review of Psi evidence and suggests its relationship to consciousness through quantum theory.  R and K never mention it.  Absent the evidence from Psi, the authors come just short of the mark in really putting together insights from quantum mechanics to penetrate the creative relationship of consciousness to physical reality.  As a result, they end up leaving the breakthrough statement to a number of others, especially Radin in his later work Entangled Minds, also offered in 2006.

Wilber, Ken, Integral Spirituality, (Shambhala), 2003/2006.

        Wilber’s special area of interest is human spirituality and the worldviews of the various meditative traditions, especially those of Eastern origin.  This work opens with an extension and refinement of his integral model presented in his earlier work, Integral Psychology, (Shambhala) 2000.  Wilber’s Integral Operating System [IOS] or Map is based on his definition of linear interrelated developmental sequences of states, stages, levels, lines, types and quadrants.  Wilber and his followers propose that this system can be used to characterize the essential aspects of all areas of human behavior and society, as well as their interrelationships.  Wilber and his views are accorded a prominent place in both consciousness studies and humanistic, transpersonal and integral psychology. His work is comprehensive and well documented, and it allows a significant place for both paranormal and spiritual experience.  Wilber’s IOS certainly is productive in extending the relevance of wholistic, intuitive awareness to all domains of life and culture. Personally I have many serious reservations about the nature and independence of the IOS analytical units and the way they are related in Wilber’s extremely complex integral model. From my perspective, IOS is a conceptualization that requires a great deal of refinement before it warrants application and implementation, but Wilber’s Integral Institute is enthusiastic about promoting implementation of his system in all aspects of society.

Zelazo, Philip, Morris Moscovitch, Evan Thompson, eds. The Cambridge Handbook of Consciousness, (Cambridge Univ. Pr.), 2007.

        A comprehensive review of the literature and research by experts in the field of consciousness studies with emphasis on cognitive and neurological approaches – includes one chapter on quantum-based approaches.

Creativity and Intuition

Bohm, David and F. David Peat, Science, Order and Creativity, (Routledge), 1987.

        Science supposedly begins with the commitment to the principles 1) that all understanding – theory – is inherently limited by the current state of knowledge and 2) that knowledge can accumulate but never be complete.  In a basic philosophy of science statement Bohm and Peat suggest that much of science has become fragmented – separated from the larger picture and the essential questions that give meaning to the specific pursuits of scientific investigation.  Bohm and Peat review the many ways [from perception to conception to theory to paradigm to worldview] that science can lose its open-mindedness and sense of the whole and become stagnant and inflexible – and thereby uncreative.  According to the authors, creativity arises when all of the gates are knowingly left open that are too often shut down by excessive commitment to theory, paradigm and worldview.  An open gate at every juncture of perception, conception, and level of order, as well as free flowing awareness and attention are required to sustain high creativity.  And contact through consciousness with the generative, implicate order is essential for creativity to be achieved and expressed in the realm of the explicate order [everyday reality] whether in the form of art or science.  Given the very significant and comprehensive challenges of modern civilization, Bohm and Peat suggest that a major leap or surge in creativity across all domains [a new generative order, an open dynamic between the implicate and explicate] is essential if humanity is to progress and achieve the next level of integration and development.  In my view, the discussion in this work may be a bit thick for some, but the points made in this volume in one form or another should be completely understood and incorporated by anyone who aspires to be a true physical, natural or social scientist – or an interpreter of religious or artistic behavior or products.  Bohm’s views are prophetic at many levels.

Claxton, Guy, Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind: How Intelligence Increases When You Think Less (Harper-Collins), 1997.

    A thoroughly documented assessment of the research on the relationship of different mental operations to overall human intelligence by an expert in the field who is also informed regarding eastern systems of spiritual awareness.  Claxton identifies as problematic the excessive emphasis in western culture on intellect and the analytical process seated in language based thought and the de-emphasis on intuitive, non-language based mental operations.  Claxton reviews the many kinds of tasks that require intuitive based thought, many of which are impeded by the intrusion of intellect/analysis/language.  In general the research consensus is that intuition generates ideas while intellect evaluates them, and that both are equally essential capabilities.  Claxton recommends the need for balanced development of all mental processes in order for humans to be most successful and the need for cultures and worldviews that promote this balance.  This is very much my own view.

Kaufman, James C. and Robert J. Sternberg, The Cambridge Handbook of Creativity, (Cambridge University Press), 2010.

        A comprehensive review by experts of the literature and research in the field of creativity.  The work is thoroughly documented and provides an excellent way into the academic study of the human creative process and the variables that relate to creativity.

Kaufman, James C. Creativity 101, (Springer), 2009.

        Outlines and reviews the different approaches to defining and to identifying the characteristics of creativity and the factors that promote and are associated with it.  Research focuses on the variables that contribute to the creative process and that characterize creative products, people and contexts.  From my perspective, Wallas’ proposal of a five stage creative process is particularly noteworthy:  preparation, incubation, intimation, illumination and verification. This sequence correlates interestingly with points where differential major inputs from reason and intuition occur demonstrating the dynamic nature of the mental processes usually involved.  Reason dominates in the opening preparation and closing verification stages while the core stages reveal reason and intuition operating in tandem.  The culminating stage occurs with the largely intuitive insight of the illumination stage. This Kaufman work identifies and references extensively the key researchers and the relevant studies in the different review categories, which themselves are drawn from prominent analytical schema in the field.  Includes an extensive bibliography, which facilitates further investigation.

Holistic/Spiritual Healing

Dossey, Larry, M.D., and Stephan A. Schwartz, Compilers, Therapeutic Intent/Healing Bibliography of Research, available for pdf download at:

        Bibliography to 2001 by two of the specialists in the field of psychic/intentional healing – organized into subject categories – that surveys the research literature which reveals that “there is increasing evidence that consciousness can manifest nonlocally, at a distance, in ways that are health-relevant.”  Includes brief annotations for many entries.

Benor, Daniel J., M.D., Healing Research, 4 volumes (Wholistic Healing Publications), 2001-2008.

    Comprehensive review and assessment of the research and literature on spiritual, psychic, shamanistic, and mind-body healing together with professional supplements that assess the scientific quality of the research studies themselves.  Benor has engaged in a life-long pursuit of spiritual healing and formulated his own approach to mind-body healing as a result of both his comprehensive assessment of the work of others and his own experience as a professional practicing psychiatrist.  While his assessment accepts that the overall evidence clearly reveals that spiritual healing is substantive, he is careful and straightforward to point out the strengths and weaknesses of the reports and studies in this area.  Benor is very interested in contributing to seeing studies in this area improved to meet the most rigorous scientific standards, and his 4-volume overview work is honored and referenced by highly credentialed experts in the field.

Walsh, Roger, The World of Shamanism: New Views of an Ancient Tradition, (Llewellyn), 2007.

    Walsh regards shamanism as the beginning in simpler nomadic and hunter-gather cultures of the “higher” spiritual traditions in complex cultures. In Walsh’s view, shamans are the first spiritual general practitioners serving multiple spiritual functions: divination, healing, ritual leader of communal transcendent states, spirit medium, caster of spells/curses, priest/spiritual advisor, etc.  Walsh employs a number of defining frames in his evaluation of the shamanistic tradition: seven step spiritual development from eastern traditions, five stage development of the hero, and the integral spirituality model of Wilber.  Walsh identifies all the psychological, social and contextual variables that can account for the positive results of shamanistic practice, and he allows that Psi may play a part.  But Walsh does not accept as applying to shamanism the direct parallel evidence that he himself cites for the positive effect of Pk and ESP in healing events.  Studies must be of shaman themselves and in the limited way Walsh defines shamanism to be relevant – this despite all of the parallels between the conditions that facilitate both shamanistic behavior and Psi, and the common reports of Psi among shaman.  While Walsh is liberal in his assessment of the importance of altered states of consciousness in shamanism, he is very cautious in his assessment of the relevance of Psi as a participating factor – a predictable consequence of his long time investigation of altered states in various spiritual traditions and his limited involvement in the study of Psi.  Walsh utilizes Wilber’s complicated and controversial spiritual evolution model to distinguish shamanism from the mostly ascetic spiritual traditions focused on personal enlightenment that have emerged in complex societies.  Walsh is a splitter rather than a lumper, though he recognizes that shamanism is a solid member of the spiritual family of traditions and the originating source of all later such traditions.  Contains a good bibliography relating the subjects of shamanism, spiritual practice, and consciousness studies.

Mysticism, Meditation and Religion

Gellman, Jerome, “Mysticism”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2010 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).

        Comprehensive, recently updated, and fully documented overview of the subject of mysticism covering the alternative schools and approaches to study, analysis and interpretation.

Harris, Sam, The End of Faith:  Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason, (Norton), 2004.

        A provocative work which challenges the idea that tolerance in the modern context as advocated by religious moderates is a viable solution to address the problematic consequences of the worldwide movement toward religious fundamentalism.  For Harris, the time has come for humanity to free itself from all antiquated religious dogma and to allow critical thinking based on reason and the scientific method to lead humankind into a productive future.  Harris documents the reliance of most major religions on at best a 12th century geocentric view of the universe and of man’s centrality in it – entirely inappropriate to define a productive perspective in the modern world.  While much of Harris’s critique is valuable, it is my view that his religious versus secular duality fails to distinguish between religion and spirituality.  The non-dogmatic spiritual option allows human intuitive competence a respected place along side reason and the intellect. When such intuitive competence is developed and refined, it can be a vital source for creative insight, for revealing the interconnected and holistic nature of reality, and for making both more complete awareness of reality and significant pragmatic consequences available to humankind.  In his zealous rejection of religion, Harris overreaches and in my view encounters the “baby with the bathwater” problem.

Walsh, Roger and Deane Shapiro eds.,  Meditation: Classic and Contemporary Perspectives, (Aldine), 1984. (Reprinted 2008).

        A comprehensive medically [physical, mental, psychological and social health] oriented survey of literature and research on meditation to 1984 by experts in the field.  Thoroughly documented.  Needs to be updated to cover more modern, related research.

PSI, Paranormal and Parapsychology

Alcock, James, Jean Burns, Anthony Freeman, eds., PSI Wars: Getting to Grips with the ParanormalExeter, UK (Journal of Consciousness Studies, vol. 10), 2003.

        Edited volume from the impartial English journal, Journal of Consciousness Studies, including reviews of research on Psi phenomena by qualified scientists pro and con.  The reader can decide whose arguments are informed by the bulk of the scientific evidence as judged by the standards of established scientific inquiry and procedure. Of course, we have to recognize that there is no ideal scientific study/experiment or absolute scientific truth and that commitment to the core assumptions of one scientific paradigm or another informs the analytical perspective of the different reviewers.  For discussions of the worldview assumptions that inform the skeptical view other than this work, see especially the entries for Radin, Mayer, Schoch, Tart, and Campbell. Each in its own way evaluates the “belief system” [paradigm] of standard objective physical science and the way it restricts true open-mindedness when it comes to examining the reality of subjective consciousness.

Cardenza,  Etzel, and Steven Jay Lynn, and Stanley Krippner, eds. Varieties of Anomalous Experience: Examining the Evidence, Washington D.C. (American Psychological Association), 2000.  476pp.

        Comprehensive and authoritative overview by experts in the field of parapsychology of Psi and consciousness related research.

Henry, Jane, ed., Parapsychology: Research on Exceptional Experiences, (Routledge), 2004.

        Recent overview by a large number of experts in the subfields of psychical or paranormal research citing the major research in each sub-area.  Includes the views of more skeptical researchers who point out some of the pitfalls of paranormal investigation and study.

Hunter, Jack, “Anthropology & The Paranormal:  Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Paranormal Beliefs and Practices,” Anomaly:  Journal of Research Into the Paranormal, 43 (2009) 24-36.

        Argues for describing and studying subjective [spiritual and psi phenomena] as well as objective [material] human experience using an internal-immersive, experiential, and phenomenological approach rather than the external observer, positivist and objectivist approach that has prevailed in the discipline of anthropology – even under the modern banner of cultural relativism.  Raises the old problem of the social scientist “going native.”  Hunter started the journal, Paranthropology:  Journal of Anthropological Approaches to the Paranormal.

LeShan, Lawrence, A New Science of the Paranormal:  The Promise of Psychical Research, (Quest Books), 2009.

        A basic primer by a long time researcher and expert in psychical research that at the same time addresses the key issues in the scientific study of the paranormal.  While scientists in mathematics and physics have accepted the fact that their theories [assumptions and laws] are valid only in limited domains or areas of reality and that these valid theories can conflict at a fundamental level across these domains, many social scientists have not achieved this level of sophistication in accounting for different aspects of human behavior, especially behavior related to consciousness – like the paranormal. LeShan suggests that explaining Psi and productively exploring the nature of these abilities require social scientists to accept this multilevel approach to theory as well as being willing to recognize the need to delimit the range of reality to which their everyday materialistic and mechanistic “theory” of reality applies.  LeShan also argues that in order to be productive Psi research needs to combine the real world, wholistic insights of the case study of gifted subjects with the evaluative results of controlled variable experiments in the laboratory setting.  The two approaches offer different, but equally valuable information to the overall scientific investigation of Psi.  I definitely agree, and my own research is of this case study type.

Mayer, Elizabeth Lloyd, Extraordinary Knowing:  Science, Skepticism, and the Inexplicable Powers of the Human Mind, (Bantam), 2007.

        Framed as a personal journey into understanding, a very well-respected psychoanalyst, academic, and scientist describes her personal experiences, her experiences with talented intuitives, and the evidence from the research literature that lead her from skepticism toward acceptance of Psi, and eventually to become a promoter of the very significant potential for science, society, and humankind of the scientific study of Psi and what she calls intuitive intelligence in general.  Mayer devotes a lot of time to discussion of the pervasive suppression [essentially based on fear] of Psi experience and research results within the scientific community and especially in psychology.  She argues that this denial serves both to retard potential human development and to fixate science.  Mayer limits her review of Psi to intention/healing and telepathy [with a small excursion into precognition] as she seeks to identify the key variables that determine access to paranormal capability.  Referencing her participation in an ongoing international, interdisciplinary research group, Mayer proposes a conceptual model [Modular Model of Mind] as a useful way to characterize the interrelationships between consciousness and unconsciousness and the classical and quantum views governing physical reality.  She suggests that this model, which allows a legitimate place for what otherwise seem to be diametrically opposed perspectives of consciousness and physical reality can alleviate fear, promote discussion, and keep the scientific conversation moving and productive.  From my vantage point, the discussion of this model, which is recognized as being mainly heuristic, comes just short of recognizing that the connections among its quadrants would better capture reality if they were understood as continua rather than as related dualities.  Mayer is too often inclined to view intellectual and intuitive processing as an either-or choice with entirely separate associated mental states and sources in either consciousness or unconsciousness.  Her assessment would benefit if she posited a continuum along which reason and intuition operate with a large domain where both competencies [also to include emotion] overlap, are simultaneously active, and integrated rather than discrete.  Mayer’s own reported experience with gifted subjects reveals persons who both relax and let go of a focus within everyday reality while they sustain the observational and linguistic abilities to report what comes into consciousness.  The connections that account for Psi may occur at what is mainly an unconscious level – as Mayer claims, but the knowledge gained intuitively is available to consciousness simultaneously with ongoing intellectual/observational processes.  Most Psi phenomena require connectedness, but most are not manifested at the extreme location on the consciousness continuum [ecstasy, unification] where intellect and observation are fully excluded, as the dualistic tendency in both Mayer’s presentation and the Modular Model of Mind] imply.

McTaggart, Lynne, The Field:  The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe, (Harper Collins), 2002.

        McTaggart’s thesis is that the quantum based Zero Point Field is the foundation for all information, communication and effective relationship among all phenomena in the universe from subatomic particles to brain function, to mind, to human consciousness, to Psi phenomena, etc.  McTaggart draws primarily upon the research of Puthoff, E. and R. Targ, Braud, and Jahn and Dunne with input from Radin of the Institute of Noetic Sciences to review the implications of a select interpretation of quantum mechanics for the understanding of the basis of human consciousness and the source of paranormal phenomena.  Her work is in essence a synthesis and interpretive extrapolation of the work of these theorists, researchers and scientists.  McTaggart’s focus on the importance of the field phenomena is central to much recent interpretive work in physics [both micro and macro] and both consciousness and Psi studies.  The emergent view in physics that even the small amount of matter in the universe is really a form of energy renders primary the infinitely interconnected field characteristic of all energy and supports interpretations like those of McTaggart, Bohm, Campbell, and Radin.

McTaggart, Lynne, The Intention Experiment, (Free Press), 2007.

        A recent, well-documented, review and assessment of the scientific research which identifies the variables that influence the interaction of thought/intention and effect in the physical world – positive and negative psychokinesis.  McTaggart covers the building evidence that atomic and molecular level phenomena exhibit many of the anomalous characteristics of subatomic quantum phenomena – suggesting that quantum characteristics are pervasive in reality and to be expected to occur at the macro level.  She also suggests that the Zero Field, possibly together with energy in the form of coherent light and/or some quantum component of electromagnetism, are the basis for connection and effect of quantum based thought across space and time. Along the way McTaggart also points to the implications of her assessment for all individuals to appreciate the potential participation of their thoughts in “creating” their own lives.  McTaggart’s assessment of the role of thought/intention/consciousness in the realization of reality is well stated, cogent and provocative, whatever the value may be of the mass participation experiment in intention to which her work builds.

Powell, Diane Hennacy, The ESP Enigma: The Scientific Case For Psychic Phenomena, (Walker), 2009.

        A review of some of the major evidence for the paranormal in the traditional categories: telepathy, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, and precognition.  The work also builds the author’s framework to account for Psi, which she refers to as the Mobius mind model [the dynamic and transformational relationship of the internal and external views of reality and self].  Powell adds evidence from her specialty as a neuropsychiatrist [DMT produced by the pineal gland and the key role of the limbic system] to the extant theories of holographic and quantum based notions of consciousness and the universe to account for Psi phenomena.  Ultimately she suggests that the overall evidence supports the need for a revolutionary shift in our worldview and primary scientific paradigm from observation in a material [matter] world to participation in a world defined by a variety of field forces [energy].  Powell explicates well what can be difficult concepts, and her work extends in a new way what are the current propositions that both account for Psi and integrate it into a normative worldview framework.  One of the better places for newcomers to start who are willing to engage in a serious examination of the substantial challenge that paranormal phenomena pose to the still prevailing monistic and materialistic scientific paradigm.

Radin, Dean, Entangled Minds:  Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality, (Simon and Schuster), 2006.

            Radin claims two sources for evidence that Psi exists:  the ubiquity across all cultures and all time of similar reports of human paranormal experience [anecdotal evidence], and the positive results of systematic and controlled laboratory experiments designed to test for Psi and the variables that influence its occurrence.  Radin produces a well-documented review of the history of Psi investigation, of the continuing sources of rejection of Psi among the skeptics, and of the outstanding experimental results of research in the various standard Psi categories for individuals as well as for group effects.  Entangled Minds is essentially a reworking and theoretical expansion of Radin’s earlier The Conscious Universe:  The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena [1997].  It is the best among several works that explore interrelating Psi, consciousness and quantum theory.  Radin assumes that the minds, brains, and bodies of humans are entangled in an infinitely entangled, wholistic universe, as required by the interpretations of quantum mechanics that he adopts.  Radin’s proposal is essentially the following: 1) everything is fundamentally in contact [entangled] with everything else, 2) whatever happens to one entity instantaneously affects all other entities through their entangled condition [beginning with the unity in the Big Bang], 3) the appearance of separation among discrete entities is an artifact of our perceptual apparatus and the need for the conscious mind to focus on immediate material and social reality, 4) entanglement alone is sufficient to account for information sharing and physical effect across infinite space and time – no “signal” passing or special force or field is necessary to account for paranormal phenomena, 5) at the unconscious level humans are always connected through infinite entanglement to the larger whole, and especially to entities of recent contact and interest, 6) imagination provides the bridge between unconscious awareness and conscious awareness accounting for insight and occasional Psi breakthroughs to consciousness, 7) for the manifestation of more sustained insights and Psi gifted capabilities, conscious attention and intention are sufficient to “navigate” [focus and filter] within entangled connectedness to access or affect any and all other entities in any  manner unimpeded by either space or time, and 8) Psi phenomena are normative when the states of consciousness that facilitate imagination and “navigation” are activated and utilized.  Radin’s assumptions are HUGE, but they have a reasonable basis in the evidence to date for quantum characteristics that are pervasive at the micro and macro levels of physical reality.  Radin is well aware that his proposition depends on many preceding contentions of a closely related nature by others.  He is also aware of the hypothetical, even speculative, nature of his “theory,” but given his assumptions, his overall proposition is logically derived and is further supported by evidence for the fit of the subcomponents in the theory.  Like Thomas Campbell, Radin is one of a rare breed of scientists who combine the capabilities of a systematic experimenter with regard to detail of experimental setup and procedure with the expansive conceptual interests of a macro scale theorist.  To his additional credit, Radin is a good writer and an effective presenter.

Schoch, Robert M. and Logan Yonavjak, The Parapsychology Revolution:  A Concise Anthology of Paranormal and Psychical Research, (Tarcher), 2008.

        A collection of major essays in the parapsychological research literature from the 1920’s to 2008 with surrounding commentary by the editors. As a geophysicist, Schoch as the primary researcher and editor, is cautious and inclined to seek explanations for Psi in various mechanisms of energy transference, but the theory section of the work covers alternative views informed by quantum mechanics that suggest a more primary basis for the interconnectedness required by paranormal phenomena.  Schoch is accurate in indicating the speculative nature of these quantum-based proposals. There is considerable attention paid 1) to the historical context of the problems and challenges associated with Psi research as well as 2) to the underlying reasons that such deep skepticism persists – mainly supported by the materialistic assumptions of the prevailing, dominant worldview and scientific paradigm. The associated resource and bibliography section is comprehensive and is alone valuable in indicating the wealth of substantial research in the field of psychical research.  The editors’ introduction and conclusion together with commentaries for each section and before each article assist in leading the reader to key studies in this additional literature.

Talbot, Michael, The Holographic Universe, (HarperCollins), 1991.

        A well-documented and provocative work which explores the notion that the universe and human consciousness and reality are structured as a hologram where the part contains the whole and the whole contains the part and where at the wholistic end of the spectrum the time and space limitations of ordinary material reality disappear.  In this context, paranormal phenomena are important evidence of the ability of consciousness to bridge the divide between the material and the immaterial domains of reality by displaying awareness and effect across what is otherwise understood as impossible separations associated with material time and space.  Talbot uses David Bohm’s division of reality into explicate and implicate domains, which Bohm extrapolates from quantum mechanical theory, to inform much of his interpretation.  Talbot’s work is useful both for its provocative thesis and its comprehensive survey of much of the literature related to the anomalies in human behavior that cause consternation for the standard material/objective world view of science as it traditionally approaches consciousness and the paranormal.  In my view, the work suffers in its commitment to a dualistic conception of reality – viewing all phenomena from either a material/explicate or immaterial/implicate perspective – rather than employing the concept of a continuum from the explicate to the implicate and locating phenomena differentially at appropriate points along this continuum.  It is also the case that the hologram may be more a productive metaphor for exploring the interconnected aspect of reality than the actual structural basis of reality.

Tart, Charles T.  The End of Materialism: How Evidence of the Paranormal Is Bringing Science and Spirit Together, (New Harbinger), 2009.

        A personally framed review of select paranormal laboratory research in both the more credited, standard Psi categories [telepathy, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, precognition] and the less well-substantiated areas [OBEs, NDEs, reincarnation, mediumship] by one of the long-time, very careful Psi laboratory investigators, who also identifies himself as a spiritual seeker.  Tart includes psychic healing as a separate division within his credited categories, though most researchers would suggest that healing is a pragmatic result of one or more of the standard Psi capabilities.  Tart avoids the assessment of theories of how Psi works and asserts that the fact of Psi phenomena alone both discredits the strict materialistic conception of reality and supports the need to examine scientifically all spiritual aspects of human experience more fully and with greater vigor. He argues that the basic principles of essential science must exclude the rigid commitment of scientism, which leads to pseudoscience denials of all legitimate data/experience that does not fit existing assumptions and theories.  Useful also for the four appendices that identify current electronic, organizational, researcher and bibliographic resources in the field of paranormal research.

Violette, John R.  Extra-Dimensional Universe: Where the Paranormal Becomes the Normal, (Hampton Roads), 2001.

    A very provocative, well-documented work containing a logical argument for an extra, macro dimension in space-time, which is accessed by humans only by means of cosmic [higher] consciousness.  Violette demonstrates how when we allow for this extra, macro dimension we can reasonably account for the array of paranormal phenomena that are universally reported in human culture and that form some of the major anomalies for the standard three dimensional plus time model of science.  He also suggests how his proposed extra dimension can resolve some of the difficulties that accompany the various interpretations in modern physics – especially quantum mechanics.  Violette’s discussion of time as an infolded attribute of space is cogent and illuminating in itself.  Reservations about the Violette thesis surround the black box [untestable] nature of his proposed 4th macro dimension and the cosmic consciousness with which it is associated in a fixed evolutionary staged sequence that seems to violate the wholism he claims for 4th dimensional reality.  Resting his proposition on the need for a totally new and undefined mathematics of 4th dimensional geometry renders his proposition speculative and largely beyond experimental confirmation.  Violette may be correct in his contention, but there are 3-D explanations that allow for a continuum of reality and of consciousness, which require fewer “leaps of faith” and that can be investigated productively – now.

Watson, Lyall, Supernature (Hodder and Stoughton), 1973 and Beyond Supernature (Hodder and Stoughton), 1986.

        These are older, but well documented, overviews of mystical and paranormal phenomena by an evolutionary biologist.  For those not familiar with the results of parapsychology, these works may be a good place to start as Watson begins with a review of the subtle but unseen effects of known and recognized natural phenomena and moves to consider the more challenging Psi phenomena.  Watson also suggests an evolutionary sequence for human mental competence that recognizes the importance of the rational but suggests that it is now time to retrieve and develop complementary intuitive modes of knowing and doing.