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fall outside of chance, an the results can't be ascribed to faulty methodology or the 'file-drawer effect' (i.e., unpublished negative results).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.
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.