3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Radin's book (***1/2) covers similar ground as Richard Broughton's excellent introduction to the topic (Parapsychology: The Controversial Science), but is more up to date (albeit, only by 6 years) and focuses more on experimental procedures and Radin's specialty: meta-analysis. Basically, meta-analysis treats a whole bunch of experiments as one big experiment. So if one study only had 10 subjects, those 10 data points can be added to the pool, giving a better picture of the actual effects being measured. At the time of writing, here are a few statistics Radin shares: dream telepathy (450 sessions, chance: 50%, result: 62%, odds: 75,000,000:1), ganzfeld (2,549 sessions, chance: 25%, result: 33%, odds: 1,000,000,000,000,000:1), ESP cards (907,000 trials, chance: 20%, result: 20.6%), all clairvoyance tests combined (chance: 50%, result: 53%), dice rolling (2.6 million dice throws, chance/control: 50.02%, result: 51.2%, odds: 1,000,000,000:1), RNG tests (832 studies, chance: 50%, result: 51%, odds: 1,000,000,000,000:1), distant mental interaction on human electrodermal activity (400 sessions, chance: 50%, result: 53%, odds: 1,400,000:1), 'feeling of being stared at' (chance: 50%, results: 63%, odds: 3,800,000:1). The confidence intervals fall outside of chance, an the results can't be ascribed to faulty methodology or the 'file-drawer effect' (i.e., unpublished negative results). In other words, there is a definite effect being measured here.
Also interesting are the 'field consciousness' studies, using RNGs during events involving large numbers of people focussing on the same thing (e.g., the Academy awards), and his 'pis in the casino' tests, both showing positive results. Interesting facts: Group PK may influence the weather. Psi improves when geomagnetic field fluctuations decrease. This ties in with the lunar cycle. New moon, medium GMF > medium spike in telepathy scores. Full moon, low GMF > high spike in telepathy scores. Waxing/waning moon, high GMF > low telepathy scores. (Four of six jackpots in one casino occurred within one day of the full moon.)
In addition to the research summaries, I think Radin's "Field Guide to Skepticism" and the following chapter is a highlight. He discusses skeptical tactics (accusations of triviality, prejudice, valid and invalid criticisms, distortions), motivations, and the psychological effects we need to keep in mind when studying psi and skeptics alike (effects of prior convictions, cognitive dissonance, expectancy effects, judgment errors, confirmation bias, representativeness heuristics, hindsight bias, suppression, reaction formation, repression, identification and introjection, dissociation, projection). Overall, while I appreciate the amount of information in the book, Broughton's book was much more of a pleasure to read. Radin's is best for the data and the sections on psychology and metaphysics, but overall, I think Broughton has written a clearer and better introduction to the topic. Still, Conscious Universe (and Radin's more recent books) is worth your time if you want to get up to speed on the research.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2000
I cannot emphasize this more: In order to fully appreciate this book, you need knowledge of statistics. Really. The book is filled with experimental designs, confidence intervals, and meta-testing, which are lost on someone who doesn't know much of statistics, and will be misleading. I originally bought this book thinking it was going to be a book of explanations and stories of the paranormal, and I was pleasantly suprised. The author works in several stories to give the unknowing an idea of what is going on, but he is more interested in proving to the general audience his beliefs. The scientific discussions are fascinating, and eye-opening. The only reason I did not give this book five stars is because the jacket and the blurbs are misleading, and the procession of thoughts is somewhat difficult to follow.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2003
First of all, I find it incredible that Dean Radin would give himself 5 out of 5 stars. That is just insanity. Giving himself 4 stars to match the average would be far more honest.
Now, that being said, I have to give credit to the dissapointing "few" scientists that try to examine the evidence for paranormal using the scientific method. The science communitiy is general prefers to dismiss out of hand any paranormal claims. Either they say that paranormal cannot be studied using scientific methods or that all evidence suggests the paranormal cannot be verified scientifically. When People come forward to attempt to examine this topic scientifically,t hey are usually laughed at, or worse, intentionally ridiculed. IT is naive to think that people may not want to believe that paranormal activity exists and will attack anyone who even attempts to examine the issue. It is certainly comendable when someone risks their reputations to publish thier findings. That doesnt make them right however. It certainly increases their credibility in my opinion. Sure there are some who merely want to capitalize on an ignorant and all to willing to believe general public but do not paint everyone with the same brush. Simply read this well written book and decide for yourself if the author is trying to con an ignorant public or is really trying to be objective about the whole thing. This book is certainly more objective that every single pro-paranormal book I have ever read. As to his use of anectodal evidence, it is simply required. THe science communinty has done so little experimentation that anecdotal evidence is all we got (in many cases). That doesnt mean the author is saying that he has proven that the paranormal exists simply because he writes about some anectodal events. Ultimately, it is up to the reader to decide if the author is being fair or not. Reading the book doesnt mean you have to agree with it.
on October 13, 2000
For the study of a subject such as the "supernatural," were facts abound, good research and an unbiased mind are prerequisites. Prerequisites that are, given man's nature, seldom met. There are, however, certain patent facts that can elevate arguments from sketchy to solid.
Objective confirmation would be needed in order to accept an occurrence as fact. Personal experience is possibly too malleable, so to speak. This is why one must consciously make an effort to weed out bias. The first step to do so may be recognizing just how much bias is a part of being human.
The Conscious Universe, by Dean Radin, is the first in a recent batch of books centering on rational arguments for the purported reality of "paranormal" phenomena.
While no book is perfect, the case is well presented. Even "skeptics" acknowledge that a number of research programs have produced results which haven't been explained within current scientific knowledge.
True skepticism is allowing facts to guide one's conclusions. This notion seems to have been lost on too many a critic of "anomalous phenomena." Indeed, on many of us.
3 1/2 stars.
on July 26, 2000
(Assuming people scroll down far enough to read this.)
To supply a sufficient perspective, one tries to review the book, but also: Parapsychology, and (of course), Radin. The book is recent. A BIG plus. (Other "classics" are old/dated. Thus the Metal-benders by Hasted, or Rene Sudre's Parapsychology [Translated from French].) The most difficult thing about the Conscious Universe, is the page and a half introduction. (Later, it is seen as an integral part.) To continue: The book has nice features. Linking "emotive" temperature with random number generators, one gets the first attempts at measuring "background psychic noise level". Also, Radin's attempts to correlate phases of the moon w/ LARGE jackpot winnings in Vegas. Wins occur in pairs. If the original is on a moon phase peak, so is the second. If the original is in a trough, *both* jackpots are in the *same* trough. His other contributions: bringing the audience up to par on the 'remote viewing' front. And, (Radin's favorite) --- meta analysis. Meta-analysis is a cute statistical method: Glue a lot of experiments together. Treat the aggregate (essentially), as one big experiment.(The book has the details.) The effect of Dr. Radin: Greenwich University (Australia) is offering the world's first accredited PhD program in parapsychology. (Related data: Neuro-Kinetik. [A parapsy resource,locatable via search engines.]) So, (to recap): Buy the book.