Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The people part of Parapsychology

The human being is designed from millions of years of natural selection to be function as an interpersonal animal.  Two news stories caught my eye this week and point out the biological foundations of our spiritual and technological advancement.  One is the news that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's policy change for employees to be at work with each other, and the other is from Sheila M. Eldred's blog regarding love and the paranormal (

Now you find yourself as an average person and you have probably experienced some ESP type of event, maybe deja vu, some synchronicity, seen a ghost, had a precognitive dream, the list could go on of events that mainstream science dismisses as some illusion or imagination.  And more than likely, these strange occurrences involved people close to you, a good friend, a family member.  They involved a relationship, someone important in your life. 

Many people debating Marissa Mayer's decision to change the Yahoo policy point out how valuable interpersonal interaction is to successful enterprises.  We have to agree that its a fact that human beings are interpersonal animals.  There is no human being alone, we evolved and currently flourish in a world that requires one-on-relationships, its a one-on-one universe we live in.  Our economy, our society exist because our subconscious minds are working on relationships.  The very definition of human, of economy, of society, is about relationships.  How you think, what you think about, how you measure yourself and your world, is done amidst an environment that requires relationships.  So your brain and your mind are designed for relationships, for one-in-one co-creation of civilization and your survival with it.  The human mind has evolved in the environment of relationships. 

So of course we can expect actual interaction to help creativity, work dynamics, and initiative.  All the cues, all the environmental variables that humans have adapted to, are put into action in the interpersonal event.  Even in our high tech, information age, most of the talk is about social media.  We reach out and try to find new tools to improve our surviving and thriving, but we still have to work with the full set of shared, human traits that brought us here, which is the face-to-face relationship. 

Access to PSI information is an evolved trait in animals, just as are the interpersonal social structures in the human subconscious.  Your mind is constantly searching for and utilizing subliminal information, some of which are PSI obtained.  Normally, your unconscious is picking up on sensory cues and sending out information unconsciously that benefit from and contribute to the interpersonal environment, and some of that information is PSI info. 

And of course we would expect love and romance and friendship to receive the bulk of PSI help, they are the primary interpersonal relationship that natural selection has to work with.  So if the human, interpersonal environment has evolved in humans, then we would expect PSI information would first show up to improve and involve those most instrumental to our survival.  The literature is chocked full of examples of the importance of relationships in PSI events.  The experimenter effect, sheep/goats effect, the decline of success in PSI testing, and many other phenomenon show the importance of the interpersonal in PSI events.  Even Dr. Bem's recent studies that found that sexual content of the targets had a strong effect on successful PSI make this clear.  This is just what you'd expect to see if PSI perception is about relationships, as sexual interaction is quite interpersonal and often factors strongly in the process of natural selection.

Both news stories bring us back to the recognition that we are not just social animals, but interpersonal, relationship animals, and that is how our minds work.  Whether we are running a successful organization, or working to scientifically understand the functioning of the unconscious mind processes that allow our human lives to exist, we are doing it with the strongly evolved traits of a human, relationship based creature.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Function and processing of ESP data in the brain

In an earlier blog I discussed the importance of carefully discerning the elements of "parapsychological" events so they can more clearly be understood and studied.  I have recently been using evolutionary psychology to take a new (for me anyway) perspective on parapsychological events, and it has been helpful in teasing out aspects of certain phenomena that could be accounted for as brain mechanics, so that the anomalous cognition parts can be more clearly described.  I do not see this new viewpoint as clearing up the mystery, nor is it necessarily superior to other perspectives, but to the extent Charles Darwin has some contribution to make to science, I think it can find some place in the study of parapsychology.

One of the many wonderful things about evolutionary parapsychology is that you are bound by the rules inherent in natural selection.  That means I cannot make up brain processes that make perfect sense and would work great, but aren't part of the available range of variables present in the current structure.  For example, wheels are great mechanical devices for locomotion but you just don't see any animals with them.  This is why we can run into such trouble when trying to develop a model for understanding PSI processes.  Like in other areas of reasoning, we are helped when we create a model that has some explaining power for our present mystery.  Parapsychology has tried to explain what is going on by saying it is like radio, or electromagnetism, or atomic rays, or quantum mechanics, and today we encouraged that we will soon discover that the brain is like a computer.  This comparison bothers people, and should to the extent the model overtakes the facts.  A computer is not a mind and a mind is not a computer. 

But... (and you knew there was going to be a "but") when it comes to information processing, in that regard both computers and minds are constrained by the rules of natural selection.  The act of "recognizing a thing" requires a process that is trying to achieve the same thing in the same environment, so you can expect convergent evolution with the animal brain and the computer brain.  This is wonderfully explored in the book I am currently reading, "How to Create a Mind" by Ray Kurzweil.  In this book he is describing how AI in machines and the human brain can be better understood by noting how they both go about their functions.  This book is talking about how information is processed, and along with Dr. Carpenter's recent book "First Sight" and an older book by Dr. Christine Hardy "Networks of Meaning", you start to get a pretty solid picture of how PSI data is processed.

Stir into that mix the ideas presented in earlier blogs here, that natural selection demands PSI not be consciously controlled, then you can start to see that the PSI dampening structures are probably built into the neural networks, and evolved by necessity as perception and memory was evolving in animals, long before homo sapiens came along.   The brain is processing PSI data, as Dr. Carpenter's book describes, though unconsciously.  It is probably the case that PSI data is processed at the level that  basic sensory input would be, but the input is by design shut off as soon as that data is moved to the next level of perceptual and functional processing (as Kurzweil describes so well).  We see this phenomenon in Remote Viewing, where the act of "naming" or "recognizing" breaks the flow of PSI data.  The basic sensory level of the data provided by PSI is well described by the telepathy drawing experiments done by Ingo Swann, Mary Craig Sinclair and Rene Warcollier.  It looks like PSI is feeding data into the perceptual process but at a level not accessible directly by consciousness.

Again, the laws of natural selection require that the PSI data, or any sensory data, is not too successful, it is only to give a slight advantage to the organism in the current environmental situation.  If the natural neural process is to shut off PSI data once a slight survival advantage is given, what would happen the little bit of PSI data does NOT fix the problem?  Along with PSI, the human mind has lots of processes to keep us safe.  These include memory, sensory data, reflexes, social mores, emotional attachments and others.  We are complex.  All those things work together, and evolved in our species, to keep us alive and reproduce our DNA.  We know in other processes, that when one survival mechanism breaks down, others usually on the back burner are  by necessity pushed to the fore.   So we would expect to see PSI phenomenon such as poltergeist activity in households where the social and interpersonal processes that are supposed create security are not working.  Likewise we see more PSI in folks who had rough family situations as kids, and we see more reports of PSI events in individuals who have dissociative episodes, again, the normal processes are not working, so PSI data keeps coming until the required result is reached.  And in cases where DNA survival seems unlikely, brain processes would throw out all the stops and PSI data would likewise be unchained, and this is what you see in a near death experience so well cataloged in the literature. 

Again, trends in parapsychology research are toward unconscious behaviors, and this makes sense when seen through the eyes of evolutionary parapsychology.  I am looking forward to seeing how research results reflect on the natural processes of which PSI data access is an evolved part.  I am finding as I read book after book on current research on the mind and other biological processes, how PSI events fit right in. 

The content of these blog entries I have been posting is not necessarily the view of the RRC, but instead that of a humble board member.  I am emphasizing the the important and impressive work done by the Rhine Research Center scientists and staff by noting where it fits into more widely publicized and less "controversial" science going on out there (as described by Kurzweil) or foundational as in the case of Darwin's ideas.  The website is chocked full of great information on the research they are doing, and I hope these few blog entries show how the phenomena studied by parapsychology are an integrated part of our evolving understanding of the human experience.

-Benton R. Bogle