Book Review: Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality
by R.J. Carter
Published: May 24, 2006
I've had, it seems, more than my fair share of exposure to paranormal research of late. Life tends to operate with these confluences. When I wrote Alice's Journey Beyond the Moon, all of a sudden I began bumping into Carrollian references everywhere I turned. And now that, with Troy Riser's help, I've completed Time Hunter: The Sideways Door -- an adventure that involves a pair of psychically powered time travelers entering a parallel timestream -- I'm suddenly influxed with media on time travel, parallel dimensions, and psychic abilities.
I've decided my next book should be about money. Or maybe chocolate.
Perhaps this whole weird phenomenon could be explained, however, by Dean Radin in his exhaustively thorough book, Entangled Minds : Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality from Paraview Pocket Books. The core of this book is the exploration of psi and it's potential relationship to quantum physics. Scientists have already determined that subatomic particles can become entangled, causing them to react to each other regardless (it would seem) of the distance between them. If subatomic particles can become entangled, why not larger ones? Maybe that's what causes one person to feel anxiety, dread or even pain when someone close to them is suddenly beset with a physical calamity?
Or what causes an author to become bombarded by elements of a novel he's concentrated so hard on for months on end.
Before delving too deeply into the subject, let's learn a little bit about the author and his background with the subject matter. Dean Radin is, by his own admission, no newcomer to the world of psi phenomena:
This is a bold claim, and I always get little alarm bells going off when someone tells me their background included Top Secret projects. Partly because I knew a man who claimed his Top Secret past included being a secret service agent for President Kennedy, who also had a friend that could perform the Dim Mak death touch. (Why both of these guys with such specialized abilities were working the counter of a run-down comic book shop is beyond me.) But also because I've had my own share of TS work in my background, and it just ain't that glamourous.
In the 1980s, I worked on a top secret psi research program for the U.S. government (now declassified). At the first research briefing I attended, I was shown examples of high-quality remote viewing obtained under exceptionally well-controlled circumstances. I asked in amazement, "Why is psi still considered controversial by the scientific mainstream? Why not just conduct an experiment of 20 or 30 trials with this type of remote viewing skill? That ought to convince anyone that psi is real." The answer, explained to me patiently by physicist Ed May, was smiple. He said, "You're making the 'rational man' mistake." He meant that we usually assume that science is a rational process, but it's not. When we're presented with evidence that counters our prior beliefs, instead of the new evidence swaying us toward a new or revised belief, it tends to reaffirm our prior beliefs. Well, I thought, that's completely ridiculous. It's got to be a mistake. Unfortunately, after witnessing precisely these reactions to the data for twenty years, I have reluctantly concluded that the "rational man" hypothesis is indeed false.
That said, Radin nonetheless comes off as a very credible proponent. His work is extensively footnoted as well as independently verifiable. And Radin also makes clear that he knows the woods into which he has wandered, taking care to alert the reader to stay on the path and out of the swamps:
Entangled Minds is not Chariots of the Gods. This is no lightweight tabloid designed to sensationalize the subject or tantalize the reader. Unless, of course, you get really excited about page after page of graphs of meta-analyses (which are analyses of analyses -- statistics on statistics). If you are, there are enough funnel graphs in here to keep you happy for months.
Also bear in mind that just because there's reason to believe that a few psi effects are real, this doesn't automatically mean that everything "paranormal" is suddenly true. Claims of Elvis and Bigfoot drag racing UFOs in the Bermuda Triangle should not be confused with the results of controlled laboratory experiments. Maintaining an open mind is essential when exploring the unknown, but allowing one's brains to fall out in the process is inadvisable.
Radin does provide a good deal of anecdotal evidence for psi ability, but much of the focus is on the very small things that, in experiments, seem to have the most statistical bearing. Random number generators, EEG and galvanic response testing of isolated twins, and the ever-fascinating double-slit experiment involving single photons and an observer are just some of the many well-documented cases explored by Radin. In these cases, it seems that psi is very plausible when it comes to manipulating subatomic particles solely by the intent of the person observing.
In a market overrun by hokum and hoax, it's refreshing to find a book that actually makes a strong, science-based case for the paranormal. It may not prove a thing -- but it may give you more to think on.
But don't think too hard -- you might bruise the reactive little protons floating around you.