The Roots of Coincidence Hardcover – 7 Feb 1972
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An excellent study of ESP by a gifted populariser of scientific & psychic research. with chipped dw, 1972
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He chronicles much of the research done to confirm E.S.P. and discusses both the flaws and results, results that tend to favor the existence of psychic abilities despite the fact that rigid scientific methods demotivate participants and suppress such abilities. Mr. Koestler makes the point repeatedly that coincidence, synchronicity, and parapsychology cannot necessarily be bottled up or tapped on demand, but that sometimes precipitating events will trigger such events. (I've experienced such things first-hand and concur with this view.)
Mr. Koestler---like other divergent thinkers such as Robert Anton Wilson, Fritjof Capra, Karl Pilbram and others---turned to physics for explanations for these phenomena, believing that an intrinsic link must exist between these two seemingly disparate disciplines. His writing on this subject is fairly strait-forward, though because this book is more than 30 years old, much of what was then state of the art now seems quaintly misdirected (sort of like the depiction of the giant HAL artificial intelligence in "2001: A Space Odyssey").
An essential point, for me, are that Mr. Koestler takes great pains to show that learned, prestigious persons---e.g., Jung, Rhine, Kammerer, Eddington---have been delving into this research for centuries, often at great personal cost to their careers or images.
Rereading this book now, I tend to side with Jung's view of refusing "to commit the fashionable stupidity of regarding everything I cannot explain as a fraud." In other words, I'm not sold on everything here, but I think this well-articulated treatise on parapsychology that well-worth the time. Or put another way (with apologies to Lennon): All we are saying is give E.S.P. a chance.
I admit that the examination of the statistical approach to parapsychology almost bored me to the point of putting the book down. It is well written, but the subject is inherently boring for some of us. It is with the discussion of the classical sort of experiments such as those carried out by the Society for Psychical Research that the book gets really interesting. This is carried on into the comparison of Kammerer's Seriality and Jung-Pauli's Synchronicity. What I found most fascinating of all was the author's speculation on the connections with the Pythagoreans, Neo-Platonists, and the philosophers of the Renaissance (the Harmony of Spheres, the anima mundi, correspondences, and the sympathy of all things.) He goes on to mention the similarity to the underlying Oneness of Christian mystics, Buddhism and Taoism. He even points out the connection to the thoughts of Schopenhauer.
I now see that many profound thoughts that I attributed to others were expressed here first. It would have saved me some time to have read it first. No wonder so many others quote from it.