'Supernormal' book review and Influence Idea thoughts

The purpose of this article is to review a book, but I thought I’d chat some more about the Influence Idea and 'Reality is Light' before the review, as they are connected. Just a quick note: The links in the following paragraphs connect to the larger articles I’ve written about these ideas, available elsewhere on this website, so feel free to switch to them if you'd like a fuller explanation.

To start off with, I'll explain the Influence Idea again, briefly. It's surprisingly simple. The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that everything in our physical universe becomes more disordered over time; this is called Entropy, but something strange is going on because Life becomes more ordered over time. Life grows, develops and reproduces, constantly increasing order in the universe. Since Life exists in the universe, and is clearly acting against Entropy, and Entropy governs all physical things in the universe then, logically, Life must be being created and maintained by a non-physical, positive, organising influence originating from outside physical reality.

I’ve thought about this idea for years, searching for a flaw in its logic, and I still can’t find one. What’s very interesting is that the Influence Idea may sound off-the-wall, but it does fit with what quantum physics tells us about reality, specifically that reality is something that arises out of our observations. This surprising but deeply profound conclusion was stated by Nobel-Prize winning physicists such as Neils Bohr, Eugene Wigner, Max Planck and others, including the brilliant mathematician John Von Neumann, so it has some intellectual weight behind it.

If the Influence Idea is correct, then reality, our space-time physical universe, is a collaborative construction by minds. It is also a reality that must logically have been started by an Original Mind. We, as minds, observe this reality through the bodies that we inhabit, which we positively influence to keep alive. Whilst doing this, we create new things from the sea of potentiality that is the quantum foundation of our reality.

Interestingly, the idea that an Original Mind created the physical universe also solves several outstanding mysteries in cosmology, such as the Baryon Asymmetry Problem, the Fine Tuning Problem and Boltzmann’s Well-Ordered Universe Problem, problems which are currently stumping materialist cosmologists. The Influence Idea is therefore not just an interesting possibility but a solution to several major puzzles in physics.

At this point, I’ll add another idea into the mix, one that I came up with a few months ago. This idea, called 'Reality is light', puts forward the idea that our physical reality is only a pattern of light or electromagnetic radiation. In other words, that there are no actual fundamental particles in our universe. This assertion may sound far-fetched but in truth, electrons, protons, neutrinos etc have never been directly observed and cannot be directly observed. All scientists ever observe is electromagnetic radiation; they then infer the existence of fundamental particles from those observations. It is therefore perfectly scientifically sound to say that fundamental particles are nothing more than nodes or vertices in the light pattern that is reality. In other words, reality is only an energy pattern and 'matter' is simply a sensual epiphenomenon. Einstein's famous conclusion, that matter and energy are interchangeable, hides a more profound truth, that there is no matter in the universe, only energy. If this is true, we shouldn't be depicting atoms as mini-solar-systems (another legacy of Classical Physics) but more like photon-path mandala patterns drawn, Feynmann-style, while obeying the rules of Quantum Electrodynamics.

If 'the Influence Idea' and 'Reality is light' are combined, then things get very interesting. If we are minds that originate outside of the space-time universe of reality and reality is only a pattern of electromagnetic radiation, albeit a very complex one, and we influence reality with our minds then, logically, we are all capable of doing things that would be regarded as supernatural and possibly even miraculous by mainstream Western society. We should, logically, be potentially able to perform telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, telekinesis, experience life after death, do remote perception, perform instantaneous mental communication unaffected by distance, be aware of previous lives, self-heal, perform ‘miracle’ healing, exist without a body, shape-shift, levitate and become invisible. Heady stuff! Clearly, nearly all of us currently aren't at this level of mental ability and these phenomena don’t happen very often, otherwise the world would be a very different place, but such abilities are scientifically possible. In addition, low levels of these phenomena should be measurable and reliably observable, even in our normal society.

This is where the book review comes in. In ‘Supernormal’, Dean Radin reports on how a large number of modern scientific experiments support the views of ancient yogi that everyone is potentially capable of performing abilities that are seen as supernatural and impossible to mainstream western science. These abilities were known as siddhis to the ancient adepts of yoga and were manifest abilities that arose naturally as a person developed their mental focus and mental state. The abilities mentioned in Radin's book correlate closely to the list I described above. Radin explains in his book that there are a lot of reports throughout history of people witnessing advanced examples of such abilities but, more importantly for his book, he explains how low level versions of these abilities have been shown scientifically in a raft of carefully and thoroughly conducted tests. In this way, Radin's book supports 'The Influence Idea - Reality is Light' hypothesis by reporting on scientific studies whose results match the hypothesis's expected consequences, in particular with regard to the relationship between ourselves and reality.

Many of the experiments and studies reported in 'Supernormal' have been ignored or carelessly dismissed by materialist scientists, but as Radin points out, there's nothing wrong with them, they're just as thorough as tests that are held up as official landmarks in the scientific world. Radin goes to great lengths in his book to make this point clear. For example, the book looks into the important experiments conducted by Daryl Bem that showed that people were affected by their own future. These experiments were published in a respectable journal and were reported in the New Scientist magazine. Not surprisingly, the materialist science community went to great lengths to find a way to discredit the results, including an attempt to refute them using Bayesian Statistics, which is essence is all about interpreting results based on expectations. In 'Supernormal', Radin clearly explains the problems and flaws in this refutation, and in great detail.

For someone wishing to read a clear and thorough account of the tests performed by respected scientists in the last few decades that refute the materialist view, I'd definitely recommend 'Supernormal'. For someone who’s after a light and entertaining read, I'm not sure I could recommend the book. Radin is very thorough about describing all the relevant experiments, and keen to report on the dismissals of these experiments’ findings by materialist scientists and also why such dismissals are wrong and irrational. All of this is good and needed, but this inevitably causes the book to get monotonous at times. For someone who's used to a popular science style of someone such as Bill Bryson or John Gribbin, they could find the book hard going. I'd also not recommend the book for someone whose keen to learn more about ancient yogic practices. Although yoga is mentioned on the cover, it only plays a small part in the book; the ancient yoga siddhis (or 'supernatural powers') are mostly used as a way to support the feasibility of the results of the experiments.

During the book, a thorny and very important question pops up repeatedly:

‘There is a huge amount of evidence now that indicates that the materialism is wrong. In other words, that the belief that only physical things exist and our minds are nothing more than an illusory by-product of physical activity is an irrational delusion. Instead, as physics greats such as Neils Bohr, Max Planck, John Von Neumann, Eugene Wigner and others pointed out nearly a century ago, the truth is that our minds are the foundations of reality, not the other way around. Why can’t mainstream science accept this fact?’

It's an important question. Eugene Wigner, in his long article on the mind-reality problem, also considered this problem. His view was that scientists much prefer the idea that reality is a physical system that is unaffected by our mental state and that our consciousness is an illusory epiphenomenon. If this was true, then what they are studying - physical reality - becomes the important thing; a mechanical, predictable, consistent, objective system unaffected by the illusory elusiveness of the mind.

But if reality isn’t the important thing but is instead, just a pattern of energy created by minds, then the situation for scientists is very different. In this scenario, it’s the state of our minds that is the important thing. Reality, by comparison, is little more than a shifting-sand, energy-only environment that our minds collaboratively create. The roles have been reversed. Suddenly, what the scientists have been dedicating their lives to studying becomes little more than a sophisticated hologram that is constantly altered by mental intent. This switch in priority would be very unappealing to someone who is keen on the idea of a solid, independent, separate, physical reality, someone who prefers reality to be more like a train-set or mechanical clock than a hallucinogenic trip. Because of this, it's understandable that many scientists will inevitably fight tooth-and-nail to their last breath to stop this reversal of priorities. Albert Einstein famously spent the last half of his life fighting the conclusions of quantum physics. He refused to give up his belief that the universe was a physical, objective reality that existed outside of observation, even though Quantum Physics showed scientifically that this view was invalid. Einstein failed to prove his view scientifically but his unscientific belief and viewpoint still dominates science today.

How can this problem be resolved, how will it be resolved? In my next blog on this topic, I’ll speculate on what might happen.