The study of taboo phenomena was never dome easily. It is that, unlike fields such as physics where there is a peaceful and amiable consensus on the methods and the possible results, the taboo phenomena, since the 19th century and the spiritism catastrophe, has regularly undergone denigration, falsification, disinformation, slander, pressure, personal attacks, which have blurred the results, discouraged the researchers, discredited these fields to the eyes of public opinion, and kept away financial or political support. Clearly, the researcher in these fields will have to lead a fight, in addition to the difficulties inherent to the study of elusive phenomena difficult to reproduce. But this goes further than simply denouncing manipulation as with the climate deniers nutters: it will require to tighten the experimental protocols, in order to eliminate counterfeiters who often are very skilful. But, as we see from the example of the two MANTRA studies, this situation may change the results themselves. So that it challenges the epistemologist.
(Permalink) April 2018: I totally rewrote the two sub-chapters on the two MANTRA studies, in order to better summarise this complex affair and its multiple derogatory interpretations. The previous text is on the Wayback machine.
The two MANTRA studies, the «MANTRA Pilot Study» and «MANTRA II», are two identical studies, aiming at demonstrating the effect of prayer on severely ill people undergoing coronary surgery, led in a succession in the Duke University in the United States.
The first publication of the «MANTRA Pilot Study» in Science Direct announced «Results were not statistically significant for any outcomes comparisons. There was a 25% to 30% absolute reduction in adverse periprocedural outcomes in patients treated with any noetic therapy compared with standard therapy. The lowest absolute complication rates were observed in patients assigned to off-site prayer. All mortality by 6-month follow-up was in the noetic therapies group.»
(The size of the study is comparable to the dimensions of many medical studies on which human lives are depending. There were 150 patients, which makes a statistical accuracy (standard deviation) of 2.6%. Under these conditions, the probability that these results are due to chance is extremely low.)
The second MANTRA II study in The Lancet, by the same authors, yielded zero effect for prayer, and a small effect for the «noetic cares».
(Study presented as identical to the previous, 748 patients, precision 1%)
The problem is that today we read everywhere that «the studies» showed that prayer has no effect...
Most often, ONLY the negative study is reported, while the positive one is ignored!
Some state that prayer would have «no effect», based on the sole «final outcome» null result, and throwing under the carpet the favourable result on less complications during the treatment itself («adverse periprocedural outcomes») (See the abstract above).
More subtle, some even state that «studies have shown that prayer would have «negative effects»! The lie here is more subtle, relying on the misunderstanding of statistics: there were 120 people in the noetic group, and 30 in the non-noetic group. It was therefore expected four times more deaths in the noetic group! Mortality after six months being in the order of one per cent, it was statistically obliged that the few deaths were in the larger noetic group. You can try with 150 balls, 148 white ones and 2 black ones, and randomly draw a group of 30: in 64% of the cases there is no black in this group. This pessimistic result has therefore no statistical significance.
This makes of these speeches obvious disinformation attempts. Anyway we heard incredible things on the MANTRA study, in a country (USA) where religious fundamentalists and atheist fundamentalists are rivalling of tomfooleries to show who is the most stupid.
However, beyond these useless ideological skullduggery, the true scientific question is: why two identical studies yielded so different results?
I have a suspicion: It happens that I did a retreat in the French Nalanda Monastery involved in the studies. So I was part, without being aware, of the first study. Much later, I asked the then director what happened with the second study. He was disappointed, and had put much less energy and involvement in that second study: the monastery received LESS prayer requests than with the first study! Some even had to use ready made prayer forms! So it is clear that the two studies were in facts not identical, and the shortcomings of the second study are enough to explain its failure in producing measurable effects.
A more subtle explanation is that the rash of scepticism which greeted the first positive experiment acted as a counter-prayer in the second experiment! Indeed, we cannot shield the experiment from hostile thoughts, which act as much as the intended ones! Such vicious interferences are known to occur in prayer groups. (Noetic cares were partially spared, because they have a physical component). But in a scientific study, negative interferences cannot be differentiated from the case where prayer does not work. So we must protect the experiment from these pessimistic or hostile reactions, to avoid them spoiling the result.
Oh, it's like trying to prove scientifically that sunshine makes people merry... Everyone knows it, and can verify it right away. But an attempt to demonstrate it scientifically would start public scepticism and ridicule in newspapers, stressing the Guinea pigs and cancelling the result...
Fact remains that positive effects seem to have been observed. But with the jargon, compounded by the lack of understanding of statistics, everyone saw what he wanted to see, from «Prayer has strongly decreased complications» down to «Prayer has increased the number of deaths».
My conclusion on the MANTRA study is that this case ultimately spoiled this field of study, without convincing anyone in one direction or in the other. Thus, we needs a real university fabric to study these things, not «teams» formed on who knows what basis. I can just, twenty years after, push more my General Epistemology:
- With the deontology described in this chapter
- With the methodology to deal with unwanted «fame effects», as we are to see a bit further.
Add to this undesirable «fame effect» two other common problems in spirituality:
- The attachment (grasping) to a spiritual state makes it more difficult to reach.
- The neuronal ego (chapter V-10) is perfectly capable of mimicking a high spiritual state. But of course it does not work... hence the frequent sensation of «incomprehensible difficulties» or «obstacles» in our practice. And the need to get back to the basic at each session: the contemplation of empty consciousness. The ego hates this.
These problems are enough to explain the difficulty of reproducing the psychophysical phenomena associated with spirituality. So they tend to happen only when not done on purpose, or only the first time. Hence the instructions given to the practitioners: not to talk about their experiences, (to protect themselves from the energy thieves, chapter V-17), and especially do not «seek the powers», because the attachment to a result chases the said result. (not to mention the destructive frustration if we fail). Hence the «boring» practices we are requested to perform: Zen, purifications, emptiness, dissolution of our visualisations, etc. without saying «how we do magic». It (would) happens naturally when we have eliminated the above defilements.
And if you are looking to scientifically replicate these experiments... I just described the experimental protocol.
(Permalink) There are in short two kinds of manipulations: The «pro-parapsychology» and the «anti-parapsychology». If the first looks less antipathic, we need to understand that they are more dangerous than the second: they have devastating effects in the media, which immediately confuse the whole scientific community with morons and counterfeiters.
Example: the outlandish Linda Cortile case, did much to bring discredit on the «alien abductions», especially since it was understood that all the «revelations» were coming only through two mysterious «witnesses», who were appearing only to Bud Hopkins... Useless to go further.
On the same topic, we see how a benign phenomenon, sleep paralysis, was disguised into a terrifying «extraterrestrial abduction» by unscrupulous authors. The manipulation was exposed by the specialist of sleep, who were already knowing the phenomenon. This will be studied in chapter VII-2.
Example: The incredible stories of Rosswell and alien conspiracies did much more to discredit ufology and break serious groups, than the ill remembered «debunking»... This is not at random if these stories were spread by the same far right media which also advertised the climate denier morons!
Example: The «new ufology» destroyed a large number of groups, at an epoch where many associations of amateurs were starting to work scientifically. The manipulation here was about to suppose a mysterious interpretation bias, which was labelling as «UFO» some objects, certainly flying and unidentified, but which semantically were not «UFOs» (Oouuuuh, that's subtle, isn't it?). From here, it was of course deduced that no UFOs were observed, and thus that extraterrestrials were not existing (Here, I don't see the relation).
Example: One of the most characterized manipulation was the project alpha, where a «sceptic», James Randi (a music hall actor), infiltrated a laboratory with two forgers pretending to be «psy subjects», but in fact using sophisticated illusionism techniques. In a first round of tests, beginner researchers were fooled, but the forgery was discovered in time, well before the publication of the results. However Randi later «revealed» that he could easily trap parapsychologists, with the complicity of the media which reverberated widely his assertions. The method of Randi, although theoretically legitimate, has clearly been pushed too far: there was a lie by omission, where only elements in favour of the sceptics were published, and orchestrated in a scandal by the populist press. This resulted in the removal of funds, closing of the concerned laboratory, and also of other NOT concerned laboratories. In short, the scientific research on parapsychology moved ten years backward... by the fault of a single manipulator.
In a general way, if the warnings of the «sceptics» and other «zeteticians» are useful, and even are part of the scientific approach in this area, it must be clearly understood that for most of them, their purpose is not to establish the truth, but rather to avoid the manifestation of this truth. It is not a Cartesian doubt which drives these activists, but an ideological refusal. The reality of unexplained phenomena is disturbing too abruptly some materialistic or religious ideologies, the freedom of living happily beyond the limitations of matter is deeply shocking all those who do not like to see us free and happy. It is not a coincidence if these «sceptics» are often «controversial» personalities. It is not a coincidence if the vast majority of conventional scientists approves them... from a distance.
(Added October 9, 2012) Indeed, the «classical» scientists know very well that the same methods can be used against them, the day they discover a boson that the great capitalism does not like. Well, it even already happened, and in exactly the same way, with the scandal of the climate denier morons, when a «Randi» stole emails of the IPCC to hallucinate manipulations in them. And the result is the same, now with a significant percentage of the population who believes that climate change is a conspiracy, and the blocking of vital actions in United Nations conferences. So it is not inconceivable that «classical» science could also be completely destroyed in this way, just like parapsychology, and that physicists must eventually wash dishes in restaurants or sell T-shirts, in order to support particle accelerators and Martian rovers.
(Permalink) Epistemology and fight are two antinomian notions, since epistemology aims at establishing THE truth, whatever it is, while an attacker wants to impose «HIS truth», at need with disturbing the experiments. But if an attacker tries to tamper a scientific search, or to influence the results, then to detect him and cancel his influence becomes an integral part of the experimental protocols and of the scientific process itself.
The examples above clearly point at several problems:
- Selective advertising by the media of only failures and mistakes, and their censorship of successes (publication bias), go in the way of discouraging the research and make more difficult its integration into the society.
- Impostors can tamper the results.
- At last, hostility or pessimism can intimidate the subjects, see directly modify the results. This is because, if the thought of a subject can influence a material system, then the simultaneous thought of a sceptic, or even of a simple spectator, focalized on the same system, will also influence it! They are also part of the experiment! This is clearly a parasitic effect to eliminate. You will think that this is very new or extraordinary, but this is however a fact already well known by the classical scientists: it is quite simply the placebo effect caused by the «second blind» in a medical experiment.
Let us remind that medical experiments are disturbed by the famous placebo effect: when a patient believes that he received an effective drug, his probability of being cured is higher than if he is told nothing. It is the placebo effect. The opposite effect, or nocebo effect, will make a person sick, if he thinks he got a poison when he received nothing. Then, in an experiment designed to test the efficiency of a drug, it is necessary to account with these effects. The method used is to have a group of patients receiving the drug, and a group who does not receive it. However, none of these patients knows to what group he belongs. Comparing the results of the two groups can then measure the effect of the drug, without the influence of the placebo effect. However it was found that the nurses responsible for treating these patients also have an influence! For this reason, it is proceeded by a method known as the double-blind: neither the patients (the first blind) nor the nurses (the second blind) know whom patient received the drug or not. And of course, the family of the patients does not know either! This family is usually considered as being part of the «second blind», but in an experiment in parapsychology, the entourage also includes the public, and even persons afar. In this case, they interfere from simply knowing about the experiment, a thing which does not happen in the privacy of a medical experiment. The influence of the public should therefore be considered as a «third blind», and accounted for with specific methods, as explained later in this chapter.
Scientists do not like the placebo effect, as they do not know not explain it, it looks «magical». It is downright a thorn in the side of the rationalists, confronted everyday with the evidence of the naiveté of their beliefs. Of course, no research has been conduced to explain it, except a few studies like MANTRA. The explanation of the placebo or nocebo effect is probably multiple. We may consider social or psychological actions, triggering actions of the brain on the body, through hormones, the immune system or the autonomic nervous system. We can also consider true psychic effects. The final explanation is probably a mixture of all these effects, but in the current state of knowledge it is impossible to know in which proportions.
It is clear that a parapsychology experiment such as the MANTRA study has to be conducted in double blind, and it is what was done. However the failure of the second study tells us that this was not enough: as the second experiment received a lot of advertising, it was expectable that many other persons were also «praying» for the second experiment to fail (Contrarily to the first experiment, which was led in a confidential way). This is the reason why we have to proceed away of the public «debates» for such an experiment to be valid, in TRIPLE BLIND: the patients do not know, the nurses do not know, and the public does not know.
Indeed, the public includes people who will project their expectations on the experiment, and even hostile people wishing that the experience fails: materialist ideologists or religious fundamentalists, financial interests, etc. These people will also «pray», because, for this, it is enough to think about the object submitted to the prayers, even unintentionally. So these persons will influence the results, eventually much more than the subject himself, from their number.
(Without speaking of possible groups of nutters or satanists which could lead rituals to influence the result).
As no anti-thought shielding exists, the only mean to avoid this is that these persons do not think at all at the experiment. And the only mean for avoiding them to think at it, is that they ignore the existence of this experiment. Then the experiment is not announced, it is conduced in full discretion, to avoid that anybody thinks at it and muddle the results. The anonymity of the persons is respected, and the results are announced to the public only several years after, when the study is completed, possible errors are addressed, and the data is consolidated.
In this way, we build a kind of «Faraday cage» around the experiment!
After this third criterion, the MANTRA II study is not valid, as it received a lot of advertising, and quantity of people placed high expectation or high hostility on it. And these two are well know to kill the effect of prayer! MANTRA II had much better to be conduced in the continuation of the MANTRA Pilot Study, with the same methods, without intermediate publishing. Then, the public scientific demonstration of the effect of prayer is still to be done, in triple blind... But who will do it, now that «The Lancet» published only the negative result?
If the TWO MANTRA studies had shown negative results, these remarks would have little point, the conclusion would be that prayer would have no effect. The problem is that the first gave a positive result, and a very safe one (safe enough). The question, then, is why the second showed no effect, and why the experiments in parapsychology generally work only at random, as if there was a loose connexion in the force. The «sceptic» accounts only for the negative results, saying that the positive results are due to errors (!!!). The scientist is constrained by the positive results, but must understand why they do not always occur. This counter-prayer effect is a possible cause.
As a comparison, the study «Dutch Study» on the NDE has been done discreetly, and it was a success (also in The Lancet). In addition, this study involved a strict sorting of data. Indeed, the involved hospitals were supposed to report all cases of cardiac resuscitation, whether or not there was a NDE. Hospitals that reported a higher rate of NDE were removed, on suspicion of «publication bias». However, we note that the NDE seem better accepted than other psychical phenomena. The reason is probably the Catholic dogmas on survival (Labelled positive) and magic (Labelled satanic). So, rationalism would have roots into religious fanaticism! Bizarre? Me, I am not surprised at all, hihihi! Indeed, ideologies being caused by the structure of the thinking, they survive quite well a change of paradigm, such as religious to scientistist.
The only mean to avoid being targeted by manipulations of the «alpha project» kind, or «new ufology» kind, is to work discretely: the discussions about the management of the research are not public (And why they should be?).
So, each new study or experiment is not announced publicly. The results are displayed only several years later, when the study is complete and consolidated, and not half way as for MANTRA.
For this to work, it becomes obvious that all the researches must be led discretely: the researchers are not known, their public life does not allow to guess their true activities. The working force of scientific parapsychology must become «underground». It is only when the results are reliable and consolidated that they can be published, by associations playing a public role, which are only the visible and public part of a network which counts discreet, see secret groups.
A bit like in the «Hereafter» movie, where researchers have to work in discretion, while making their results known by a renowned writer.
Such a requirement of discretion would look astounding or paranoid, to the eyes of scientists who consider transparency and truth as ultimate values. But the purpose is not to hide failures, but to protect science itself, see to protect the scientists against intimidation or manipulation, unintentional or deliberate. This is even not the first time, and we can find numerous examples where science or technological development had to be led in secret, hiding from the public, see from the official power:
- The secret development of the well known French car 2CV during World War II.
- The development of the first French liquid ergols rocket EA-41, by an amateur of the SAP, Jean-Jacques Barré, on the Larzac plateau, right under the nose of the nazi occupier. These tests were then taken to the CIEES in Algeria, and they were the starting point of the French liquid ergols rockets Diamant, then of the European rocket Ariane.
- The Manhattan project, which purpose was certainly criminal, but which entailed a fantastic quantity of researches and work, involving up to 130 000 persons and twenty sites, the whole thing in the greatest secret. Some of the sites were even not known from the local authorities, and most workers were totally ignoring what they were working for.
- Still better, the «proximity fuse», one of the devices which allowed to win the war, involved hundreds of factories, and more than a million persons... without any leak!
- The development of the first computers, still during the war. The contribution of Alan Turing, one of the founders of computer science, was recognized only years after, when the secret was lifted.
- In France, the first scientists opposing nuclear plants had to use pseudonyms to be able to express in ecology reviews. (We pay the price for it, now).
- Sooner in history, astronomists, alchemists and Free Masons prepared the ground for the scientific revolution, juggling between persecutions and destruction of books, while preserving their technical knowledge into secret fraternities. Parapsychology is about in the same situation today.
Today we are certainly not in an armed conflict situation, but we still have a social war against science, which can go until physical crimes, as seen with the climate denier wackos and the dreadful failures of the negotiations of Copenhagen and Cancun.
These ugly schemes are anyway the usual welcome of any new form of thought, on behalf of the usual few percent of sociopaths. It is totally useless to face these people, it is much better to consecrate our energy to work, go ahead and dodge their blows (Like Galileo), rather than engaging in an useless fight which will nor help neither prevent History to advance at its own pace.
Existing parapsychology research groups can continue to work as they use to do, organise conferences and formations, run Internet sites and reviews. But it must not be possible to find easily who does the researches, and even not where they are taking place. It is also required to partition the research into units which act independently the ones of the others, see which ignore each other. The first reason is to limit the havoc in cases of infiltration, as seen with the two impostors of the alpha project. The second is that if a research unit is compromised (fault, media cabal), the others are sheltered.
Cabals such as the alpha project shall take place again. Persecutions are not impossible. Let us not wait for being confronted to them.
Added March 2021: as a proof, the incredible cabal led by wikipedia and other groups hostile to the Human spirit, which forced the Princeton University to remove without explanation the pages of the PEAR experiment. The censored site, the archive, the new site, and the wikipedia discussion page. But the most compromising fact is that wikipedia could even manage to make its history removed from the wayback machine!
The «psy subjects» (and other special personalities such as UFO witness, NDE experiencers, etc.) are obviously critical to the research, because they offer the opportunity of more frequently observing elusive or rare phenomena. But they are also the gateway through which nutters and manipulators can enter. Therefore all necessary precautions must be taken against counterfeiters, but also against any troubled personalities claiming to «have psy powers».
The research on spiritism in the 19th century was ruined by impostors claiming to be mediums, in a time where the fledgling psychology was still unable to detect them. In the case of Project Alpha, the first tests easily eliminated the pretentious, but the two professional illusionists were able to go way too far. Yet it is imperative to eliminate them as soon as the first tests, before offering them the least caution.
However, psy subjects are not experiment material. They are persons, who must be respected. First of all, being friendly and sympathetic toward them will facilitate their cooperation, and the obtention of results either. Most will enjoy a natural, peaceful and harmonious setting, and will be intimidated by modern cold and noisy offices. If we need them for extended periods, it may be useful, even essential, to support them socially, see financially, without imposing them conditions which would limit their personal lives. In particular, if we no longer «need» them, we must think that they will need resources, housing, etc.
(Although somebody enjoying psy powers will have much better use of his time than working in an office)
At last it is necessary to protect the psy subjects against any influence or intimidation. For this, strict anonymity is required.
Publications must be about consolidated results, in peer referee. It would be interesting that specialized reviews (ideally one) gather the publications, papers, news, etc. of the various organisations and opinions. It would also be interesting that private colloquia take place regularly, gathering the specialists away of the speculations of the public and the media.
This is obviously not an invite to cut ourselves of the public: public conferences and conventions are still possible, but the direction of the work is done in private.
Today Internet and the virtual worlds allow to publish reviews and to organise international meetings at a very modest cost, and without dependency on the edition business. In this way, if somebody wants to reinterate the «new ufology» coup, his book has no implicit caution from the researcher community.
All the studies must be registered, including the ones which did not worked, to avoid the publishing bias into the meta-studies.
Funding is always a critical issue. We need a stable and independent funding, rather relying on a network of informed people trusting the research, rather than the unreliable institutional funding or variable money gifts from the public. What we should not see again is building the Allen Telescope, but being unable to operate it...
One (or two) review gathering the publications in peer referee is what lacked to the UFO movement to defend itself of the «new ufology». Ufologists had no united review, each group had its own! How, then, was done the collective thinking of the movement? With books, published as personal initiatives by self-proclaimed experts. These books were given a lot of publicity, or they remained unknown, depending only on the commercial interests of some book publishers. Thus, only the opinions accepted by the publishers could be discussed in ufology! Conversely, anybody was allowed into the circuit, to become a «peer», simply by writing «a book on UFOs»! This is what did Michel Monnerie, who was even not a researcher. But he had the support of publishers hostile to the UFOs.
Added March 2016: In more, these book publishers, far from helping the scientifical study of UFOs, were publishing these books into «collections» on archaeology-fiction and other pseudo-mysteries. This was in fact speaking against ufology, with assimilating it to these balderdashes. Indeed many just refused to read these books, simply after seeing the name of one of these «collections». In more, the «book» format, initialy intended for novels, was diluting the point of the authors, in comparison with the conciseness of the «science publication» format.
Thus, scientific publications in peer referee, articles or studies, will be the base, the reference defining the state of advance of the study of parapsychology. Anyone will always be able, starting from this, to write popularization or reflection books. But anybody wanting to «publish books», as it was done in ufology, will have to base their thoughts on real experiments, if they want a scientific caution for their work. Otherwise, their publications will remain unconnected to the actual research.
The financial supports will always ask for accountancy on the use of their money. To satisfy them requires a total respect of the scientific method. But the above precautions also are a serious warranty that this work will not be destroyed by a nutter or a media cabal.
In short, the plan I am explaining here is a discreet research, which works silently, with its own publishing and internal checking, WITHOUT ALLOWING ITSELF TO BE DEPENDENT ON MEDIA OR PUBLISHING COMPANIES, without having accountancy to show either to movements of conspirationist nutters, or to «sceptical» pseudo-philosophers.
Added August 2018: learned the hard way on the Internet: it is useless to «reply in the debates», especially in the media which submit to the system. Do not feed the trolls!
These methods much look like spy stories. Technically, they are, with however a huge difference: spying is a cruel world, paranoid and without scruples, while science is, on the contrary, a world which defends human values such as transparency, human rights and freedom.
Ce ne serait de toutes façons pas la première fois que la connaissance, le droit ou la libertédevraient se cacher du public, voire des pouvoirs publics: popopopom les scientifiques parlent aux scientifiques…
(Permalink) Added September 2021.
The International Metapsychic Institute devotes a page to this intriguing phenomenon. Basically, in a test, people who do not believe in psi effects do not give randomly right or wrong answers, but more wrong answers. So there is still a psi effect, and these answers have just as much proof value as the right ones. But, if we are not careful, the average of the answers will cancel out, giving an apparently negative test.
This phenomenon raises several kinds of questions:
How does psi-missing occur? Since this is a true psi phenomenon, it cannot be caused by the brain, which is a material object incapable of producing such effects. It then comes from the person's consciousness. It would therefore be the equivalent of a neurosis (Chapter V-12), but occurring in the spiritual consciousness, instead of the brain. This is what the tradition calls karma, resulting in this case from materialism (ignorance, or misunderstanding of the nature of the world). Psi-missing is therefore a proof of the existence of people's karma. Karma which, like a neurological neurosis, selects the person's life experiences. Hence the confirmation bias of his or her prejudice. It is a miserable and frustrating life experience, similar to being locked in a frightening conspiracy internet bubble.
How to protect experiments from psi-missing? Strictly speaking, psi-missing is also an effect. However, if we accounted this effect in experiments, we would expose ourselves to malicious criticism such as «they count negative results!» For this reason, I think it would be better, in a study intended for publication, to select healthy psy subjects, and if we need a control group, to take people at random. I also think that it would be more interesting to measure the variance of the results, which might be a better criterion than the mean.
This again refers to psy subjects, the ones who appear more gifted than the average.
Psi-missing contributes to failures to replicate experiments, especially if the controls and replication attempts are made by hostile people. Hence the interest to account with it in the experimental protocols for reproduction.
My opinion would however be to stop trying to convince the psy deniers (A work to be redone at each generation anyway, since it will not be published by the media, and therefore «forgotten»). I think it would be better to work discreetly on a network of relationships, especially among scientists and spiritual people. Unfortunately, we are still scattered among groups each waving its «freedom of expression», while we need an university with a curriculum of proven knowledge, statistical courses, archives, publications and peer referee.
A spiritual practitioner often observes this kind of phenomenon. Since the attainment of «psychic powers»is the main criterion for great realizations, the practitioner is often tempted to «verify». Frustrating verification, because «it works»... once, not to be repeated afterwards. The classical explanation is that the ego is all excited by «its»success, and it starts doing «grasping», which then radically prevents the spiritual consciousness from manifesting (part V). More subtle, we could have a spiritual karma like «no, it is too beautiful, I do not deserve this». The impostor syndrome, spiritual version!
It it opportune to unveil psy phenomena to the general public?This is what we are going to see in the next sub-chapter:
(Permalink) This question is not simple. If we see the terrible consequences of the nuclear experience, it is clear that the scientists who discovered the chain reaction of uranium would have done much better to keep silent forever. A secret group, Pugwash, was consequently created to protect humanity from the release of other disastrous discoveries. Useless, since the private companies which are hurrying, all safeties inactivated, in the fields of biology and genetics, eliminate in advance any humanitarian or ecological consideration. Thus we can think that everything discoverable will be discovered. So it is better to prevent than to cure: The wise must discover first, in order to regulate the use before new disasters fall on us.
Can parapsychology lead to catastrophes? The idea is appalling of a dictator enjoying powers stronger than any arm, or able of remote controlling people against their will, and even without their knowledge. As a matter of facts, in the United States and the USSR as well, several attempts were made to use such powers for intelligence purposes, see for military action at a distance. Happily, it seems that nothing resulted of this. For now...
However, parapsychology brings a completely different risk. And this risk already happened, bringing more casualties and civilisation losses than all the other wars together.
As an example, if one looks at the message of Jesus, it can be summarized with «let us love each others». But Jesus gave an enormous weight to his message, by producing miracles (which historical existence is attested by several classical Latin authors, including Pliny the Younger and Flavius Josephus, the later having possibly met eyewitnesses. It is therefore not stories invented in the following centuries: the earliest Christians, as soon as the arrival of Saint Paul in Rome in the 40', were convinced of the existence of these miracles). This is fine, but the problem which emerged is that some people claiming to be disciples of Jesus massively used these miracles as cautions to justify crimes which were totally at the opposite to the original message of love: inquisition, massacres, stakes, religious wars, crusades, colonization, puritanism, sexual mutilations, burning of books, discrimination, destruction of knowledge, cultural and physical genocide, etc. etc. etc. So, the risk is that people place huge expectations or imputations on possible discoveries in parapsychology, or blindly trust anybody showing psy powers, and then engage in attitudes dangerous for themselves or for others. When we see the magnitude and duration of the crimes committed by religious fanatics, we can legitimately be worried.
A probable reason, more delicate, is what Bertrand Méheust called «elusivity»: he noticed that, as extraordinary as an UFO observation may appear to a witness (violation of physical laws, cosmic or spiritual revelations), the courses of events never reaches the point where the whole society is confronted in an irreversible and indisputable way to the reality of the phenomenon, or to the philosophical upheavals it implies. If this principle of elusivity also applies to all the parapsychological phenomena, then the proof of their existence may remain accessible only to the elite who is able to accept their existence without throwing a fit. Not to speak of their possible uses, such as healing prayer...
This may well explain the failure of the second MANTRA study. It is also very remarkable that it is its author himself, Mitchell Krucoff, who decided to publish only the failed experiment in «The Lancet», while the successful one was never published under the form of a science paper. Knows only who wants to know...
The Mahayana Buddhism has a strict attitude towards the demonstrations of spiritual power. Buddhism recognizes the existence of such powers. However, to search for them is considered as futile, since they are the consequence of spiritual obtaining of much greater value. But there is more specific. Bodhisattva vows engage to use them, if it helps the evolution and happiness of other beings. However it is forbidden to Buddhist practitioners to show their spiritual powers, supposed or real. But this brings this paradox, of many Buddhist masters who describe the criteria for obtaining these powers, who meet these criteria, but who behave like quite ordinary people. Just some elusive manifestations are attested about special events, such as the Karmapa's infancy, or the cremation of some Lamas. (Added March 2021: several cases of Tukdam since took place in Europe, including one I personally attended. And this is not elusive, it is the big deal! Well, still, elusivity manifested in another way: nobody speaks of this!). Presumably the reason for this Buddhist circumspection is the risks of such powers being used as caution for criminal attitudes, as in the example of the Catholic fundamentalism. But I think there is another more subtle reason: the goal of the spiritual development is not power, but wisdom and heart. So people need to engage on the spiritual path, not in order to increase the powers of their egos, but on the contrary, in order to liberate their minds from this ego, and to develop their love for others. Only when we have realized this, the powers become a useful aid, instead of a terrible trap. Thus, it is infinitely better to follow a Gandhi or an Abbé Pierre without powers, rather than a cult leader who has some.
Little known publications are vulnerable to disinformation.
(Added September 2021) Disinformation already has dramatic effects on mainstream science (climate denial, covid19 denial...) despite the existence of academies, public status, popularization journals, etc. which allow it to speak with one voice, and (in theory) louder than the idiots.
The problem is that all this is absent from psychophysics, due to the lack of access to scientific journals and mass media. Thus recent scientific and observational confirmations remain ignored by the general public (reductive disinformation). It is then enough not to mention them, to pretend that these advances never happened. And in 15 years we shall be asked again to prove everything, in an endless cycle.
Worse, any information can be distorted with impunity, in order to mislead the public and the governments: sects, false theories, distorted real theories, vicious concepts, etc. speak without denial or correction. There even are magazines specialized in this sport, well financed and widely distributed to the general public. An extreme example of this boosting disinformation is Nexus, which funding is anonymous. But there are several others, more discreetly disguised as scientific journals or free ecology magazines, using either «scientific» vocabulary, or words adapted to the target audience. Thus, for the uninformed, the voice of the specialist is indistinguishable from the elucubrations, without the said specialists being able to make their denials or corrections heard. Even classical science is a victim of this process, for example in dietetics or in medicine.
This situation makes that it is better not to divulge anything to the general public, as long as we do not have means at least equal to those of classical science.
On the other hand, we need our own universities, otherwise the next generation of psychophysicists will also confuse our work with nonsense, and they will in turn embark in useless attempts to convince skilled denial sophisticians.
All this is very disturbing for the scientists, whose purpose is precisely to check the existence of a phenomenon, and then to make this phenomenon known from the general public.
What I advocate here is to focus for now on the examination and study of the phenomena, with the use of the discrete methods described in the previous sub-chapter. Indeed, if the existence of the parapsychological phenomena is beyond doubt today, still much remains to be done to understand them, and find why they appear or not. The disclosure will come in time, when there will be a strong enough body of knowledge to offer, or useful applications by specialists aware of the potential hazards. In the meantime, those interested can still easily find public associations and journals. So the interested persons can still learn, and if they meet the criteria, they can join the researchers, as scientists or as psy subjects.
(Permalink) Parapsychology, from its relationship with the mind, poses us a challenge: we cannot study it as we would study a chemical in a test tube, since it involves our own thinking (This is precisely the purpose of this book, to expand the scientific approach to this case). In these conditions, it seems necessary that everyone involved in this research also involves in a spiritual discipline aimed at least to clean our minds of the most common neurosis. In addition, there is strong evidence (especially in NDE) that parapsychological phenomena are connected with the idea of an harmonious life. If so, Parapsychology could only be used to provide love, beauty and harmony, to find a more beautiful and harmonious life. It may even happen that we can study it only for this purpose!
So, this should orient any research, in coordination with such positive humanitarian purposes.
These conditions are anyways indispensable to avoid disputes and divisions between groups, or between people working together in a centre. This will also offer a more favourable and pleasant setting, both for the psy subjects, the workers, and even for the sponsors.
Ufology was an example of what we must not do: people becoming enemies as a function of their opinions, see of their personalities, and each one creating his own sect hostile to the others, instead of helping for a common purpose. Then, any shock or mistake unavoidably impacts the whole group, and anybody coming to destroy can easily put his pick between loose blocks that no cement holds together.
This requirement of a psychological or spiritual work is an advice that I give regularly to everybody, since I understood its necessity, following the ridiculous failures of the hippie communities in the 1960' years. Since, I see the world dividing itself in two categories: 1) those who followed this advice, and are succeeding into something, and 2) nothing.
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