Customer Review

97 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive work, one of few on the subject, 31 Aug 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Conscious Universe (Hardcover)
Radin's book was a surprise to me. I have been often interested in the paranormal, but have always felt it completely lacked any scientific truth, and was worth little more than entertainment. Eventually, I became very sceptical to any issues that could not be easily accepted by science. This book has made me think twice by finally providing some meta-analysis that convinced me to at least stop to wonder.
To keep it short, Radin basically claims that the paranormal is real and has proof of it. He starts by defining the concept of Psi, and dedicates many pages trying to explain you the mathematical and statistical background you will need to understand the studies and the meta-analysis of the results. Radin then proceeds to expose all the evidence that has been gathered for the past years, for Telepathy, Perception at a distance and through time, Mind-Matter interaction, Mental interaction with living organisms and field consciousness. His next theme dedicates 50 pages to explain the why scepticism has been limiting the knowledge of Psi phenomena, and even approaches some metaphysics.
The book is very well organized, there is some redundancy, but no more than normal and it is often necessary. Subjects are well separated and the index is very good. What impressed me most was perhaps the way Radin provides the reader with external sources that back up his claims. The text is full of marks to references. You have about 40 pages with notes and references, which you will be able to check for yourself. If Radin claims something you might want to confirm, it most likely tells you where to go find the original document. This aspect alone would be enough to separate this work from many of the pseudocience junk on the market.
You will be left under the impression that the experiences known as "psychic phenomena" are real. Radin never refuses the possibility that these phenomena might be fully understood by science in the future, losing its "paranormal" label, but dedicates his energy in trying to prove that they are no longer based solely upon faith or absorbing anecdotes, or even in few experiments - It shows that these phenomena exist because they have been evaluated in massive amounts of scientific evidence.
Carl Sagan said extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence, and Radin does provide most of the evidence. As younger scientists become aware of these matters and innovative corporations pour resources into psi investigation, there is no doubt that the scientific community is getting very, very curious about something that is going on but cannot be explained.
Radin is very persuasive, many people might not be impressed with his writing on sociology and metaphysics, but his technical expertise on the rest of the book is obvious.
This is a very dense book to review in a short space, so I'll end up by warning those who are expecting a lot of hocus-pocus, ghost stories and x-files scripts. This book has almost nothing of that, Radin only gives a few short "reports" as the intro, but he obviously gives them no value at all and instantly proceeds to crunching the numbers. The studies are sometimes a bit dry for those who are expecting Uri Geller moments (Uri isn't even mentioned) and it might appear as if you're reading something your college forced you to, but once you get interested, it will be a delicious read. Even if you feel you might be challenged by the studies, but you don't need to be a statistician to understand it, Radin will give you the basics. So be warned, it gets zero on the Ghostbusters scale. (In fact, in many parts I could almost see Radin shrugging and saying "well uh, we have no idea on why this happens, but we are completely sure that it does happen for no known reason". Lacking some impact for Hollywood perhaps, but still engaging. :-)
Radin has convinced me that psi phenomena have indeed considerable scientific evidence behind, but that unlike what many pseudo-science fans think, those effects are extremely subtle and hard to control for any good use, at least, at present time. They cannot, however, be ignored as non-existing, or the product of ignorant minds. Nobel Laureate in Physics Brian Josephson for instance said "Radin shows the evidence in favour of paranormal existence is overwhelming".
I highly recommend it. A powerful case for the reality of parapsychological phenomena. Very professional work in a subject that has been plagued by many pseudoscience titles that do nothing but add more noise. What it sometimes likes in fun, it provides in painstaking research.
If you are a sceptic, read it, no matter if you are religious or not, with a scientific background or not. If you buy anything you hear as true, read it too. Most of all, it will challenge you to weigh the facts and think for yourself. But one view is never enough. Be sure to read several of the best sceptical works (many of which Radin mentions in the text and References) and any other you find interesting (Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan is a good title to start with) and you will understand everything better. Well worth the time. I look forward to Radin's next work.
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