Science Of The Lost Symbol


What Is Noetic Science?

Noetic derives from the Greek word nóēsis, which means, in its most basic and literal sense, “understanding,” “thinking,” or “relating to the intellect.” It describes that which is apprehended through reason.

Let’s start by looking at conventional science, the kind you are familiar with from school. As it is most commonly conducted in the Western world, science is a method of acquiring knowledge about the natural world (and in its modern applications that include humankind’s contribution to the world through technology, medicine, etc.) using the scientific method. The scientific method is based on the observation, description and experimental investigation of natural phenomena, such that hypotheses and theories can be offered to explain aspects of nature, and experiments can be conducted and replicated by others to test those theories.

While we tend to think of science as logical and factual, and view it as offering scientific truths and natural laws that are unchanging and incontestable, the bedrock tenet of science is that its claims must be falsifiable—that is, they must be able to be tested and proved wrong. That’s how science differs from religion, which is based on faith or belief and is not inherently testable or its claims falsifiable. And that’s also why one constant of science is that it is always changing. New knowledge and understandings are continually overturning even the most basic concepts of science. We all know how Copernicus overturned the conventional thought of the time that the earth was the center of the universe by theorizing that the earth revolves around the sun, and then Galileo confirmed that theory by providing evidence. Their contribution fundamentally changed our conception of our place in the cosmos, an upheaval in thinking that, in the case of Copernicus, was dubbed the “Copernican revolution.” Science advances by overturning what was once accepted as “truth” by providing evidence for a more complete truth or a substantially revised truth. That’s why, as British philosopher and statesman Edmund Burke said, “We must all obey the great law of change. It is the most powerful law of nature.” That overturning, that change, may be so startling and unexpected that it is felt to be revolutionary. The evidence noetic scientists are amassing heralds that we are on the cusp of a major revolution not only in our conception of ourselves but of our understanding of how the universe works.

We turn now to noetic science, or, more accurately, to the noetic sciences, since noetic research is being carried out across many scientific disciplines. It is exactly what its name implies—science. Its investigators use the scientific method to study aspects of nature that are deemed “frontier” because they are at the leading-edge of conventional scientific knowledge. The Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS), a research and education organization in Petaluma, California, describes the range of noetic sciences this way: “Noetic sciences are explorations into the nature and potentials of consciousness using multiple ways of knowing—including intuition, feeling, reason, and the senses. Noetic sciences explore the ‘inner cosmos’ of the mind (consciousness, soul, spirit) and how it relates to the ‘outer cosmos’ of the physical world.” That’s a broad definition, including as it does research into the mind-body interaction, consciousness, the paranormal (often called psi research), alternative and complementary healing, subtle energy, information imprinting (as into water or other substances), the human body-field, and other aspects of nature and human biology that are routinely dismissed by conventional science.

A convenient, if somewhat irreverent, way to think of noetic scientists is that they study the “white crows” of science. The renowned psychologist William James once said that if you believe all crows are black and you see one white crow, you have to revise your belief about crows. There are a lot of white crows in physics, medicine, biology, healing, and consciousness studies. For the most part, these white crows reveal themselves as experimental anomalies: they are the aspects of nature that scientists have caught glimpses of in their experiments or from repeated observations, but that fall so far outside the boundaries of conventional theory that they defy belief and so are not taken seriously or are ignored. But the white crows exist. In fact, there are so many of them that it’s impossible to ignore them any longer. Noetic scientists are the researchers who are willing to go white-crow hunting.

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