Nov 29 2013

A Possible Non-Supernatural Quantum Model of Precognition – Part 4

Published by at 10:45 pm under Consciousness,PSI

[Note: This is taken from a research paper I wrote in 2007.  It’s entirely possible that research since then has entirely refuted my interpretations of the Transactional Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. This piece is being presented “as-is” or, rather, “as-was.”  I am particularly interested in feedback and discussion, as I realize I’m making some ambitious suggestions in this series.]

Part 1   Part 2   Part 3

Part 4: My Presentiments, Exactly!

Recent studies into the phenomenon of precognition have focused on what is called “presentiment”, or “presponse”. Rather than dealing with spontaneous cases, or after-the-fact reporting, precognition, in the form of presentiment is being tested in the laboratory. Such laboratory experimentation goes back at least as far as 1933. Early tests involved decks of cards, and later random number generators. These tests seemed to indicate a statistical probability for some kind of precognition in the test subjects (Radin, 2006, p. 162).

Unfortunately, these sorts of tests – called “forced choice” – tend to have diminishing results as they progress. Parapsychologist Dean Radin, in his book Entangled Minds (2006) attributes this to possible boredom (p. 163). Having participated in a number of forced choice tests, I am inclined to agree. In 1946, A.J. Good suggested an experiment that might detect unconscious forms of precognition, using EEGs to determine if a subject could anticipate when a light would flash. This experiment was not carried out, however, Zoltan Vassy, a Hungarian physicist decided to test skin-conductance responses to determine whether test subjects were able to unconsciously anticipate electric shocks. These tests were later modified further by Radin.

In Radin’s experiments, electrodes are attached to the subject’s palm to detect skin responses. The subject is then shown a variety of images on a computer screen, randomly selected from a pool. These images are classified as either “calm” (photos of landscapes, nature scenes, calm people, etc.) or “emotional” (photos with erotic or violent content, or accident scenes) (Radin, 2006, p. 165). These trials were repeated 30-40 times per session. In Radin’s first experiment at the University of Nevada, “presentiment” was noticed in 24 subjects, with the odds against chance at 500 to 1 (Radin, p. 166). After a number of replications, Radin’s experiments produced results in favor of presentiment at odds of 125,000 to 1 (Radin, p. 168).  Radin describes presentiment as follows:

The idea of presentiment assumes that we are constantly and unconsciously scanning our future, and preparing to respond to it. If this is true, then whenever our future involves an emotional response, we’d predict that our nervous system would become aroused before the emotional picture appears. If our future is calm, we’d expect to remain calm before this picture appears. Of course, after an emotional or calm picture appears the response is well understood as the “orienting reflex”…A more general prediction of presentiment is that the body responds in advance of a future event in proportion to how emotional that future event will be. Extremely emotional future events will produce larger responses (before the picture appears) than mildly emotional future events. Likewise, extremely calm events will produce smaller responses than moderately calm events (Radin, p. 166).

These are exactly the responses Radin and his team obtained in their experiments. There seemed to be an intuitive, unconscious knowing taking place. Lest this sound like a strange ability that might be a skill found only in a few gifted humans, similar abilities have also been identified in earth worms (Radin, pp. 170-171).

As exciting as the results in Radin’s presentiment studies are, and as promising as they may be, these are small scale events occurring on an individual basis. It might be tempting to write this sort of thing off as an “evolutionarily advantageous” skill set, yet this falls prey to the fallacy of labeling-and-discarding. It still does not explain the phenomenon, or how it might work. Presentiment is exciting. Yet, as it deals with small scale events on an individual basis, it seems to be on the low-end of the spectrum of precognitive experiences. Precognition also seems to deal with larger events. While skeptics may be quick to label individual cases of precognition as coincidence at best, and fraud at worst, it is nevertheless interesting to look at large scale events, and how they affect not only individuals, but collections of individuals.

To understand this further,  the next part will focus on two particularly catastrophic events in recent history: The sinking of the Titanic in 1912, and the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Up Next: The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events

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Sources:

  • Radin, D. (2006). Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality. New York: Paraview Pocket Books.

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