Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation
Edwin C. May and Sonali Bhatt Marwaha recently published a two volume collection of articles, Extrasensory Perception: Support, Skepticism and Science (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2015). Here I present an interview with Ed May about this work.
The book, I believe, is one of the most important high level publications about parapsychology published in recent times, with emphasis on ESP experimental and theoretical work. The first volume is subtitledHistory, Controversy and Research, and the second Theories of Psi.
Here is the table of contents, followed by the interview:
VOLUME 1: HISTORY, CONTROVERSY, AND RESEARCH
Foreword James Fallon
The Fundamentals of Psi, by Edwin C. May and Sonali Bhatt Marwaha
Part I: History of Psi Research
A Brief History of Psi Research, by Nancy L. Zingrone and Carlos S. Alvarado
Mind and Knowledge at the Margins: On the Possible Revitalization of Research on Mind and Knowledge through a Reunion between Philosophical and Psychical Research, by Anand Jayprakash Vaidya
Part II: Psi Research and Skepticism
ESP, Causation, and the Possibility of Precognition, by Richard Corry
The Psychology of Belief and Disbelief in the Paranormal, by Christopher C. French
A Skeptical Eye on Psi, by Eric Jan Wagenmakers, Ruud Wetzels, Denny Borsboom, Rogier Kievit, and Han L. J. van der Maas
Part III: Psi Research
What Constitutes Replication in Parapsychology?, by Jessica Utts
Anomalous Cognition and Psychokinesis Research in European Labs, by Patrizio Tressoldi and Michael Duggan
Anomalous Cognition/ESP and Psychokinesis Research in the United States, by Loyd Auerbach, Dominic Parker, and Sheila Smith
Anomalous Cognition and Psychokinesis Research in Australian and Asian Labs, by Lance Storm and Adam J. Rock
Evidence for Precognition from Applied Remote Viewing, by Joseph W. McMoneagle
Psychophysiology and Anomalous Cognition, by Dean Radin
Neuroscientific Investigation of Anomalous Cognition, by Michael A. Persinger
Variation of ESP by Season, Local Sidereal Time, and Geomagnetic Activity, by Adrian Ryan and S. James P. Spottiswoode
VOLUME 2: THEORIES OF PSI
Foreword James Fallon
Fundamental Issues for Psi Theorists, by Sonali Bhatt Marwaha and Edwin C. May
Part I: Theories of Psi
Higher Dimensions of Space and Time and Their Implications for Psi, by Bernard Carr
Physics beyond Causality: Making Sense of Quantum Mechanics and Certain Experimental Anomalies, by Richard Shoup
Remembrance of Things Future: A Case for Retrocausation and Precognition, by Daniel P. Sheehan
What You Always Wanted to Know about the Observational Theories, by Brian Millar
Entropy and Precognition: The Physics Domain of the Multiphasic Model of Precognition, by Edwin C. May and Joseph G. Depp
The Multiphasic Model of Precognition, by Sonali Bhatt Marwaha and Edwin C. May
Consciousness-Induced Restoration of Time Symmetry, by Dick J. Bierman
Activational Model of ESP, by Zoltán Vassy
Experimenter Psi: A View of Decision Augmentation Theory, by Edwin C. May
The Model of Pragmatic Information, by Walter von Lucadou
First Sight: A Way to Thinking About the Mind, and a Theory of Psi, by James Carpenter
Anomalous Cognition and the Case for Mind-Body Dualism, by David Rousseau
Part II. The Future of Psi Research
Has Science Developed the Competence to Confront Claims of the Paranormal?, by Charles Honorton
Next Step: Process-Oriented Research: Guidelines for Experimenters, by Edwin C. May and Sonali Bhatt Marwaha
Appendix 1: General PK Protocol
Appendix 2: AC Protocol
Appendix 3: Research Organizations and Journals
Can you give us a brief summary of the book?
Extrasensory Perception: Support, Skepticism and Science is a two-volume set that introduces ESP—also known as anomalous cognition—and psychokinesis, addressing the history, research, philosophy, and scientific theories surrounding the phenomena. With contributions from leading research scientists from within the field of parapsychology and other areas of study, this volume addresses the fundamental questions that the evidence of ESP evokes; examines ESP research from across the world; and explores the controversies, skepticism, and contemporary criticism disparaging the field.
Written for a multidisciplinary audience ranging from physicists to psychologists to lay persons, the volumes present the scientific validity of the field. Volume 1 addresses the historical, philosophical, skeptical, and research viewpoints; volume 2 lays out the current theories on ESP. The theories range from a hyperdimensional model, QM based models, entropy, neuroscience and psychology based models, including a dualist approach. Chapters reveal how strict scientific protocols and state-of-the-art technologies enable scientists to pinpoint and investigate ESP abilities. Appendices include a glossary of key terms in parapsychology, ESP research protocol, ESP research organizations, skeptic associations, and recommended reading.
What is your background in parapsychology, and with the topic of the book specifically?
I have been active in parapsychology since 1971. From 1975-1994, I was part of the on-going US Government-sponsored psi program to apply remote viewing and psychokinesis in problems of intelligence during the Cold War and to understand their properties and mechanisms. From 1985 until the close of the program in 1995, I was the contract and researcher director of the program, best known by its last code name Star Gate. In 1996, I founded the Laboratories for Fundamental Research (LFR) in Palo Alto, CA, where we have been continuing research ever since. In the Star Gate program, the focus of research was on psychokinesis and remote viewing/precognition.
Based in India, my co-editor Sonali Bhatt Marwaha (PhD Psychology) worked with K. Ramakrishna Rao for eight years, where she was introduced to the field of psi research primarily from the perspective of Indian psychology. She has been a research associate with LFR since 2006, and currently we are working on a number of projects. Based on her background in psychology neuropsychology, and Indian psychology, her interests are in the theoretical aspects of psi.
What motivated you to prepare this book?
In the process of working on our multiphasic model of precognition, we were faced with a number of fundamental questions about the nature of psi and the models that address this complex problem. Researchers from other disciplines are generally discouraged from psi research because of the seemingly “logical impossibility” of psi—especially precognition. While data is available for all to see—in peer reviewed research articles, and the many books that provide an update on the research—we felt that there was a need for literature that expressly stated the fundamental question that psi researchers address and the theoretical advances in the field. Praeger/ABC-CLIO Publications provided us the opportunity when they asked us to work on these two volumes, rather than on another multivolume series that we are currently working on (to be published by McFarland).
As our area of expertise is primarily in informational psi (ESP), it seemed appropriate that we focus on this area. In our previous work, Anomalous Cognition: Remote Viewing Research and Theory (2014), we focused on experimental research and presented a sampling of previously published research papers. We thus felt the need to explicitly put forth the fundamental problems that psi research addresses—the nature of time, causality, and information. As we see it, psi is a process rather than a singular event, thus requiring different models to address various points in the process. As we stated in our model, we have formally divided the problem space into the physics domain and the neuroscience domain. This will enable experts from various disciplines to address only that aspect of the psi problem that falls within their domain of expertise. Our current two volumes have attempted to widen the topic beyond our own current thinking to include stalwarts of psi research, skeptics, and mainstream scientists from a variety of disciplines.
Why do you think your book is important and what do you hope to accomplish with it?
In our view, the data are in. There is statistical and qualitative evidence for the existence of an information transfer anomaly the mechanism of which we currently do not understand. In our view, the evidence for micro-psychokinesis is questionable, as the data can be accounted for by informational psi.
This book is an important contribution to the psi literature as it lays out the fundamental problems that psi research addresses, discusses the fundamental issues for psi theorists, presents an overview of research and current theories, and suggests guidelines for researchers for developing a process-oriented research program.
With this book, we hope to emphasize the fundamental issues that underlay the manifest ESP experiences. In our view, the final theatre for the understanding of psi rests in the physics domain, with the neuroscience domain having the potential to provide clues for it. This book has the potential to serve as a textbook for introductory and advanced courses in psi.