Thursday, July 11, 2013 12:27 PM
It is a particular honor to be nominated to serve as president of the Parapsychological Association, because it is so exciting right now to be a parapsychologist. While we have grown as a discipline we have been almost invisible to the mainstream largely because we have searched for order and meaning where most scientists would not assume it to exist. It is to our credit that we have found order, and are finding more all the time. But there have also grown up around us some subtle barriers that we might not know exist if we hadn’t pressed against them. Now we are pressing against them more.
Lately we are carrying our findings more to the arena of mainstream science. The subtle boundaries of academic apartheid we find in the process arise tacitly for most scientists -- our findings seem surprising and dubious. But for a few, our expulsion from the workshop of science has a religious zeal.
We are pushing against these barriers. Some physicists among us are raising basic theoretical issues about how physical nature is put together. Some psychologists are carrying better data into widely read venues, while others (I try to be one) are offering ways to understand how “paranormal” processes fit right in with “normal” ones. Some of our physicians are taking evidence about the physical power of intentionality into major medical centers, while biologists and neurobiologists are carrying parapsychological findings into their disciplines and showing that extrasomatic processes must be taken into account. This is also true of our philosophers and anthropologists and historians and psychotherapists who are carrying parapsychological findings and perspectives into their disciplines. And beyond science, but surely circling back to it, we are putting forth more evidence that our phenomena are not only real, they can be applied (a recent report shows that real remuneration can come from the use of psi effects applied to the stock market).
We are a small group but we are getting more uppity, less intimidated, noisier. We need to join the larger workshop of science, and they need us and our phenomena as well, whether they know it or not, or like it or not.
As we push these boundaries, we could all feel rather separate. We need the PA to remind us that we are together and share a common mission – to enrich mainstream science with our work. There will be dangers in getting more attention. With attention comes scrutiny, some of it unfair. We will have to work together to achieve the best responses we can.
We must also responsibly inform the non-scientific public about our findings, and dispel misunderstanding about them.
Another danger may arise from our practical success, if that continues. What kind of a world will it be if psi can be reliably applied? What ethical issues arise? We must begin to think about that, because for the time being few others are going to.
I would be pleased to try to help lead these efforts for a time.