Science Of The Lost Symbol


Is Noetic Science a Legitimate Science?

It’s a given, considering their penchant for exploring the “white crows” of their disciplines, that noetic scientists are mavericks and even visionaries. For the most part, however, they also are well-trained scientists, having undergone the same scientific education and training, and attained the same credentials and degrees, as their conventional science colleagues. They know the scientific method and they use it. Most started their careers in the halls of academe doing conventional science. However, they chose to veer off from the pack to explore the shadowy corners of their disciplines, and then they ventured farther still outside the norm to try to shed light on the anomalies they found there.  They know that today’s enticing mysteries are tomorrow’s mundane facts. You have only to think of germ theory, tectonic plate theory, and even quantum physics itself to know that theories that were once dismissed—and even scoffed at as crackpot—have now entered the mainstream, in some cases so thoroughly that we forget they were once frontier theories themselves.

So, yes, the noetic sciences are legitimate sciences. Noetic scientists—and let’s be clear that they don’t call themselves “noetic” scientists but think of themselves simply as scientists—use the same methodology as their conventional research counterparts, although since they are on the frontiers of science, they also have to invent new ways of teasing out nature’s secrets.

It is true, however, that because the noetic sciences are exploring the realms of what are largely considered immaterial things—such as consciousness, healing energies, intention and belief, and so on—they are often considered “non-scientific” and their science is often labeled “pseudoscience.” When it comes to modern noetic research, those labels are undeserved. Before microscopes were invented, germs were impossible to imagine, never mind study. Germs are material things, so with technological advances they became relatively easy to study. How much more difficult is it to study consciousness? New imaging technology may help us understand the brain and its dynamics, but it is unlikely to help us image consciousness. So noetic scientists often have to approach their research in creative ways. As Emily Dickinson wrote, “Tell the truth, but tell it slant.” Because of the nature of their subject matter, noetic scientists sometimes are required to approach their research from the slant instead of head-on, as conventional science does. And that often leads to misunderstandings about what they are doing and how they are doing it. But noetic scientists don’t dismiss the scientific method; they are simply applying it in areas where it is difficult to do so.

Because of the increased scrutiny that today’s noetic scientists are under from their colleagues in conventional science, the fact is that they usually take extraordinary precautionary measures when designing their studies, instituting controls to account for every possible criticism of their experimental protocol. Dean Radin writes in his book The Conscious Universe: The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena, the standard to which current noetic scientists are held is much higher than the standard required of scientists working within the accepted theoretical paradigm. In fact, there appears to be a double standard, one that noetic scientists for the most part are prepared to live with. As Radin notes, the quantity of evidence required to make claims in the noetic sciences is much higher than that required in conventional science:

“Sometimes, when an effect is predicted on the basis of a well-respected theory, or when the people reporting the effect are prominent scientists, or when the claim is not too remote from accepted scientific knowledge, then just one or two successful studies can convince scientists that a claimed effect is real. A striking example is the evidence upon which the ‘omega-minus’ particle was accepted in physics. The omega-minus particle was considered to be ‘found’ on the basis of only two events out of a total of nearly 200,000 experimental trials. In other words, an event with an extremely poor replication rate—observed only once in a hundred thousand times—was still considered sufficient to convince most physicists that the particle was real.” (The Conscious Universe, 49)

Alas, the same standard is not sufficient for frontier scientists, especially noetic scientists. They have produced odds of tens of thousands to one in some of their experiments, and sometimes odds of trillions to one, and still their data is dismissed and the noetic sciences in general are considered by their conventional counterparts to be pseudoscience. This happens even when their experiments are successfully repeated by other, independent scientists. Belief sometimes trumps objectivity in science, and some scientists simply refuse to believe the evidence. We briefly discuss why below.

In this website, we will be presenting some of these noetic studies. To read about the entire body of this research, there are no better compilations of the scientific evidence than Radin’s two books, The Conscious Universe and Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality. 

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