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Published: Jun.9.2011

Using Parapsychology to Test Fundamental Physics

York Dobyns

Although physicists are by no means the field most hostile to parapsychology, many physicists have chosen to attack parapsychological results on the basis of claims of their impossibility or at least implausibility. Despite this hostility, the reality is that the increasing sophistication and power of parapsychological experiments has recently reached the point where these experiments can be used to test important aspects of physical theory. Two important areas of unresolved theoretical speculation in physics are addressed by parapsychological results published in the last three years.

The quantum measurement problem has been one of the fundamental mysteries of physics since the development of quantum mechanics. The many disparate "interpretations" of quantum mechanics are spawned by our essential ignorance regarding such basic questions as what constitutes a measurement and what actually happens during a measurement. In 2008 Dean Radin of the Institute of Noetic Sciences published experimental results showing that a particular state of focused attention could function as a measuring instrument, to the extent that it could be detected by its effects on quantum interference. The existence of a "measuring instrument" that consists solely of a human mind has the potential to resolve many issues regarding the proper role of consciousness in interpretations of quantum mechanics. Accomplishing this resolution, however, would require many more experiments of the Radin type to establish the limits and properties of the phenomenon.

Retrocausation has been of concern in physics since the appearance of advanced waves in the equations of classical electrodynamics, and began to be taken very seriously with the discovering of metrics in general relativity that allow the existence of closed timelike curves. In 1989 Echeverria, Klinkhammer, and Thorne (EKT) established that spacetimes with closed timelike curves do not generate time paradoxes. Their physical model leads to predictions for the behavior of any system containing retrocausal effects, including those where only information rather than a physical artifact moves from future to past. In 2011 Daryl Bem of Cornell published a series of experiments in presentiment which appear to be the first parapsychological experiments both sufficiently robust and appropriately designed to offer a direct test of the existence of the EKT mechanism. If such a test produced positive results, a secondary consequence more interesting to consciousness researchers than to physicists would be a demonstration that micro-PK is an inevitable consequence of the existence of precognition or presentiment, through a physical mechanism completely unrelated to the DAT hypothesis published in JSE in the 1990s.

Bio: York Dobyns holds a Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University. He spent 20 years at Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research studying the relation of human consciousness to the physical world.