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Published: Jun.9.2011

Towards a Science of the Subjective

Robert Jahn and Brenda Dunne

Although consciousness-correlated physical phenomena are widely and credibly documented, their appearance and behavior display substantial departures from conventional scientific criteria. Under even the most rigorous protocols, they are only irregularly replicable, and they appear to be insensitive to most basic physical coordinates, including distance and time. Rather, their strongest correlations are with various subjective parameters, such as intention, emotional resonance, uncertainty, attitude, and meaning, and information processing at an unconscious level appears to be involved. If science, by its most basic definition, is to pursue understanding and utilization of these extraordinary processes, it will need to expand its current paradigm to acknowledge and codify a proactive role for the mind in the establishment of physical events, and to accommodate the spectrum of empirically indicated subjective correlates. The challenges of quantitative measurement and theoretical conceptualization within such a ‘‘Science of the Subjective’’ are formidable, but its potential intellectual and cultural benefits could be immense, not least of all in improving the reach, the utility, the attitude, and the image of science itself.

Bios: Robert G. Jahn, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus of Aerospace Sciences and Dean Emeritus of the School of Engineering and Applied Science of Princeton University. He was chairman of the Board of Trustees of Associated Universities, Inc., is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautrics, and has been chairman of the AIAA Electric Propulsion Technical Committee, associate editor of the AIAA Journal, and a member of the NASA Space Science and Technology Advisory Committee. In 1979 he established the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) laboratory to enable better understanding of the role of consciousness in the establishment of physical reality. The PEAR work has been described in numerous articles in refereed journals and in the books Margins of Reality and Consciousness and the Source of Reality, both co-authored with Brenda Dunne. He is currently Chairman of the Board of the International Consciousness Research Laboratories (ICRL) and Vice President of the Society for Scientific Exploration.

Brenda J. Dunne studied psychology and the humanities at Mundelein College in Chicago and holds a M.S. in developmental psychology from the University of Chicago. From 1979 to 2007 she was Laboratory Manager of the PEAR laboratory at Princeton University, and currently serves as President and Treasurer of International Consciousness Research Laboratories (ICRL) and editor-in-chief of The ICRL Press. She is also Education Officer and a member of the Executive Committee of the Society for Scientific Exploration. With Robert Jahn, she co- authored "Margins of Reality: The Role of Consciousness in the Physical World" and "Consciousness and the Source of Reality: The PEAR Odyssey", was co-editor of "Filters and Reflections: Perspectives on Reality", and has authored or co-authored numerous articles in refereed journals on the work of the PEAR laboratory. Website: http://www.princeton.edu/~pear, http://www.icrl.org