Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Do you believe in psi?

Like a lot of authors, I imagine, I'm sort of this half-and-half mashup of critical thinker (hello, internal editor) and open-minded creative free spirit. Born and raised in Oklahoma, I got a healthy dose of superstition from my Granny. My pulse always jumps to find I've got an important appointment on Friday the 13th, though my common-sense half knows better. And I still eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day. 
My photo of the old Colman School in Seattle.
Home to Seattle Psi Training Institute in my novel Echo 8

I can roll my eyes with the best of them when it comes to anything in the woo-woo category. I write sci-fi, and I believe in the power of scientific minds and scientific explanation. And yet ... 

I've lost count of how many times I've dreamed about something before it happened. In fact, just this morning I was woken from a dream by my phone ringing. The dream was about a truck that my ex-husband had apparently (only in the dream) left in front of our house. Big truck, like the ones that haul cars. He'd left it parked far from the curb and I had to move it. But each time I moved it and got out, I found it was still far from the curb. 

So back to that phone call. It was my landlord upstairs reminding me the garbage collectors were coming today. We live in a cul-de-sac and are supposed to park elsewhere on garbage day, but both my partner and I had forgotten. I scrambled into my clothes and flew out with both sets of keys (he was in the shower). My partner drives a truck that was broken into recently, and the thieves messed up the ignition, so first I struggled with the key. Also, it has an old camper on it, and you can hardly see out the camper window, so then I struggled to back up a hill looking only through the rearview mirrors. 

The Edgefield Hotel, formerly a poor farm.
By Ian Poellet (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)
or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)],
via Wikimedia Commons
You probably see where I'm going with this. And this happens at least every couple of months. Some dreams are more striking than others, like the time I dreamed about a ghost while staying in a hotel outside Portland. (Turned out the ghost had been seen by many guests.) 

So I have this history, but also I think there's just a part of me that wants to believe that we don't have all the answers yet. In fact we know we don't. Take quantum physics.   

In quantum physics, to the best of our understanding, observers affect (you might even say effect) outcomes. So of course there's been lots of talk about quantum physics from a "power of the mind" perspective. The lead researcher of the Institute of Noetic Sciences in California recently published a paper in Physics Essays about how groups of meditators affected the outcomes of double-slit experiments. The researcher, Dean Radin, wrote the book Entangled Minds about how quantum physics may enhance our understanding of psi phenomenon. (This book was critical to the development of parapsychologist Tess Caufield, heroine in my recent sci-fi romance release Echo 8.) It's a compelling read about a marginalized branch of science, and it contains a fascinating history of parapsychology. 

One note Dr. Radin sounds often in the book is how even scientists can be prejudiced and refuse to accept facts if the implications of those facts don't fit with the scientist's worldview. The guy who first suggested the idea of our circulatory system was laughed at by his peers. One went so far as to say (paraphrase), "If he thinks he can actually hear this in the body, he's deranged."

I guess my conclusion here, if there is one, is there's plenty of room for a thinking person -- even one who reads lots of science books -- to question conventional beliefs about psi. In Entangled Minds Radin cites studies that have shown folks who indicate some level of belief in psi tend to be well-educated (while the opposite is true for superstitious beliefs). 

Certainly plenty of sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal authors include elements of psi in their stories. But what do they actually believe about it? What do you believe? Have you experienced psi phenomena (or anything you couldn't explain) first-hand? Do you have a psychic Granny (or Auntie, or sibling)? If you do believe in psi are you out of the closet about it? 

8 comments:

  1. I believe in it. I say I've been lucky most of my life, but there are things I've avoided because I've had this little voice in my head that tells me where not to go, what not to do. Like taking a different footpath and finding out someone got hit over the head by a falling branch the same day, or not taking a certain route and hearing about a car accident that happened there about the time I would have been on that road.

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  2. Yes, I believe in gut instincts, too. You clearly have some good ones! I tend to second-guess myself a lot - wonder if I'm jumping to conclusions or giving my emotions too much power - and that can make it hard to be sure whether it's my gut that's talking to me.

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    1. Oh, I get that too! I've often been accused of overthinking things, twisting myself in knots about whether I made the right decision. My daughter does it as well. >_<

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  3. Oh, I believe in psi talents, UFOs and all manner of things, but I'm completely tone deaf to all of it. Alas! My oldest daughter is very sensitive to "presences," but the most I can admit to is a feeling of melancholy on the many Civil War battlefields around Fredericksburg. And I have a highly developed sense of intuition, but it doesn't approach clairvoyance.

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    1. I've felt that too, Donna. When I lived in Memphis I used to enjoy visiting the Shiloh memorial. The grounds are so beautiful and peaceful, but at the same time there is no escaping that feeling that something really heavy happened there.

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  4. I totally believe. I've had personal experiences that are chilling.

    One time when I was very young, my much older sister and I were out touring the local roads on a Honda when we both were struck with an overpowering thought to "Go to Skyline!" Skyline was the local ski lodge where my sister worked in the winter. When we arrived, we found the elderly owner had fallen off a ladder and broken his leg and hip. He couldn't move and was in serious condition. Sis called the ambulance. He survived and eventually recovered. But who--or WHAT--had sent us that psychic urgent message?

    Another time, David and I traveled with some friends to an old hotel in northern New Mexico that dates back to the Old West. The rooms and suites were named after famous patrons who had stayed there--Wyatt Earpp, Bat Masterson, and Annie Oakley to name a few. We had some eerie experiences in the lounge area--odd sounds, the feeling of a presence that actually spilled the drink of one of our friends (while she was holding it!)--but that night, I was visited in my dreams by a series of cowboy types who were friendly enough but warned me to "watch out for the Dark One." Later we learned that the hotel is considered one of the most haunted in North America, and is inhabited by a particularly nasty spirit believed to be that of an evil-tempered ranch hand who won the hotel in a poker game and then was murdered in his sleep the same night! One of the rooms on the second floor was barricaded. No one was allowed to enter. It was the room where he died and, according to accounts, possessed by a very negative and violent energy. Yikes!

    So, oh yeah, I believe in psi. I'm just not sure what it is. Is it ghosts, or telepathy, or some form of energy that has slipped the bonds of time and space and can be mentally intercepted? All I do know is that there are strange, strange forces at play in our world.

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    1. Wow, both very interesting stories! I've heard another ghost story of yours about a cruise, but I don't think I'd heard these. My own theory about ghosts is similar to one of yours -- that it's a kind of residual energy rather than an actual spirit. In my own hotel story, I thought it was significant that I hadn't seen the ghost, but dreamed about it (though when I woke it felt so real I pulled my feet up in the bed because I thought someone was standing over the end of it). I speculated that there was enough of a mark left on the hotel by the people the original woman had caused stressed (either while she was living or in the form of a "ghost") that I was picking up on that.

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