The Conscious Universe (not a book to be scoffed at)
THE FIRST US PATENT FOR A PSI EFFECT WAS GRANTED to Princeton University researchers on November 3, 1998. Patent "US 5830064"(click for link) is entitled: "Apparatus and method for distinguishing events which collectively exceed chance expectations and thereby controlling an output." This patent specifically covers distant mental control of electronic random number generator outputs. (How interesting! See Carl Sagan quote 3 paragraphs below...)
"After 100 years of separating 'mind' from 'matter,' Science has lost its mind...."
The book I'm about to suggest is really nothing like it will seem by its description. Reading the few excerpts from Amazon below, it will be very easy for a hardcore skeptic to dismiss this book as "bullshit" with such a cursory overview (and not a moment's thought, natch). However, actually reading just the introduction of this book in your local bookstore and skimming through the enormous amount of research which comprises the rest of it, will be enough to convince fans of Brian Green (respected Superstring Authority), hardcore skeptics, wannabe occultists (and completely disinterested parties, too) that this book is something more than your average pseudo-scientific, trumped-up-research tripe thrown at New Age morons to make a quick buck.
Anyone who's read Brian Green's "Elegant Universe" and is familiar with Nonlocality and Bohm's "holographic universe" theory knows there is something very interesting going on in respectable modern thought, scientifically speaking, of course. What people are generally unaware of, however, is the serious research that has been done for the last 20 years in the field of "psi" and that this research has been convincing enough to change the opinions of even the most skeptical scientifically-minded people, like...
Carl Sagan, for instance, who (probably begrudgingly) wrote (although, he didn't have to "admit" anything):
"At the time of writing there are three claims in the ESP field which, in my opinion, deserve serious study: (1) that by thought alone humans can (barely) affect random number generators in computers; (2) that people under mild sensory deprivation can receive thoughts or images "projected" at them; and (3) that young children sometimes report the details of a previous life, which upon checking turn out to be accurate and which they could not have known about in any other way than reincarnation. "
Before I even get into WHY I'm suggesting you pick up this $25 book, I'm simply going to provide a link to Amazon.com where you can purchase it: The Conscious Universe, The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena by Dean Radin, Ph.D (I realize a PhD doesn't mean much), director of the Consciousness Research Laboratory at the University of Nevada.
"Attempting to dequackify the study of psychic phenomena, parapsychologist Radin (whose research has been sponsored by the U.S. government, AT&T, and Stanford University, among others) analyzed all the serious studies on telepathy, psychokinesis, clairvoyance, and precognition for his intriguing, exhaustive tome. "
"Uniting the latest in high-tech experiments, including irrefutable data from his own groundbreaking research, with teachings of mystics and theories of quantum physics, Radin explores myriad phenomena: from ESP to ghosts to psychokinesis. Radin reveals the remarkable extent to which psi is already tacitly acknowledged -- and exploited -- by Fortune 500 corporations and the U.S. government, then analyzes how the inevitable mass acceptance of the mind-matter link will affect social, economic, academic, health and spirtual issues. At once visionary and pragmatic, The Conscious Universe recalls the classics Godel, Escher, Bach and The Holographic Universe, yet transcends mere experiments to offer a bold new vision of the future. "
And now, my own words (much less intersting, I'm sure.)
It's always hard when you're an open-minded kind of skeptic discussing the slimmest likelihood of psychic phenomena with a very closed-minded kind of skeptic. On the one hand, the open-minded skeptic doubts everything, really, but doubting everything opens him up to the possibility of almost anything. This is where he loses the closed-minded skeptic. A closed-minded skeptic can simply not understand how you could possibly DOUBT science! He will ask rhetorically, "Do you think the earth is FLAT, too?" When you point out that he is stating a theory as if it were a fact, he will joke, "Well, gravity is just a 'THEORY,' too! Surely, you believe in gravity, don't you?!"
The closed-minded skeptic believes only what is "observable" and "provable," even if the "observation" is nothing more than a closed circuit: a seemingly logical, though purely theoretical, mathematical equation he may not even understand and which is by no means provable. He is the type of person who will accept modern theories as if they were fact, citing the pseudo-"scientific" argument that a popularly accepted "theory" only differs from a "fact" in that its methods are "less rigid" and therefore the results are "less turgid." This is the same general semantic principle a politician will use to sway a peaceful crowd into fighting for what he believes in, despite the fact there is clearly a possibility that what he believes in is entirely wrong.
Realize: the word "possibility" is not the same as "a slim chance." Now... a possibility is a possibility; a slim chance is a slim chance! The two are not synonymous! In the case of comprehending the nature of the universe, scientific theory is actually closer to a "slim chance" than it is a "possibilty," for the simple fact that some firm beliefs which were once considered "scientific fact" have actually been disproven over time... by science! Furthermore, ideas which were once considered scientifically "impossible" or "implausible" have, over the years, turned out to be entirely possible and, in fact, these "impossible" ideas have become downright commonplace! A real simple example-- probably too simple for you real "smart" types-- is FLIGHT! Human air travel! It wasn't science that invented airplanes, it was two dipshits who owned a bicycle shop!
So, okay, I'll admit that I have recommended books in the past. Books with wacky names. You've probably researched them on the internet and decided I was out of my fucking gourd. How could any SANE person suggest the sort of books I suggest OVER AND OVER AGAIN?! Of course, the answer has to be confusing if I am to pretend I am a sensible individual. Maybe my answer will be "confusing," but I'm just going to explain honestly: ALL of these books I have recommended (and I am very judgemental) provide very enlightening insights into the nature of belief -- they explain the difference between WHAT IS POSSIBLE vs. WHAT WE THINK IS POSSIBLE, but they are far from "New Age." In fact, the books I recommend, you have to search to find. They are, in fact, very unpopular! Believe me, I've read that New Age shit-- it's fucked! A few books I mention frequently are "SSOTBME" and "Thundersqueak." (Try to find THOSE at ANY bookstore!) But these kinds of books are not written for the closed-minded skeptic. In fact, if it weren't for me, you just see how long it would take you to come upon those books (likely NEVER). Sure, these books could very possibly blow the fucking buttons off the clamped-down, logical mentality of a closed-minded skeptic, if given a fair chance, but I doubt a closed-minded skeptic could actually read and comprehend more than a few pages... but, more likely, HE WOULD NEVER FIND THESE BOOKS. These books are like "FUBU" clothing: For Us, By Us. In other words, "if you don't get it, and if you're not LOOKING FOR IT, good luck!"-- because you're fucked! You'll NEVER find it, unless you're already on the right track. (By the way, "On The Right Track" is a great Gary Coleman movie-- I can't recommend enough! [Well, okay, I can... and I think I just did... it's a bad movie, actually.... funny, though!])
There are dozens more books I could suggest of a similar nature, but the problem with most of these books is that they are obscure and often written under pseudonyms by people who don't want to be labeled as "crackpots." I have discovered that these people are actually people of impressive status, despite the counter-culture nature of their material, but this knowledge would do little to assure the reader that they are credible authors. Another thing that doesn't help one goddamned bit: these books are written by people who sometimes might claim to be "magicians" and just as often, they will quote people like Jesus, Crowley, Paracelsus, Steiner or Castaneda while in the same breath they will quote more "respectable" figures such as Einstein, Jung or Bohm, weaving the threads together in a style similar to the Nobel Prize winning "Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid." While most of these anonymous "crackpot" authors have vastly more knowledge of science, literature, philosophy than your average closed-minded skeptic, these authors are simply not afraid to state the most outrageous of ideas, if only to "break" the reader's mind into accepting its limited understanding of "reality" and to clearly place NEW signposts which point to the old, preexisting labels people have wrongly used to understand their world. Point being, many things we simply accept as "fact" are not fact at all.
Imagine my surprise when I saw "The Conscious Universe" compared to "Godel, Escher, Bach: The Eternal Golden Braid"! This was what convinced me to spend the $25 and actually BUY "The Conscious Universe." You see, in high school, I dated a girl whose stepfather was a well-respected physicist. He was smart but weird and he really had no time for his family at all. I can still recall clearly that I so wanted to pick his brain, but that there was obviously some sort of family tension: he worked upstairs all hours, but his family lived downstairs and had a regular life. I hung out with my girlfriend's mom, her little sister and would only occasionally speak to the physicist. One day, he caught me in his study, reading "Godel, Escher, Bach..." and asked me if I was interested or something. I had been reading it, page by page, day by day, after school whenever I got the chance. I remember that the book was written in such a way that even an idiot punk-rock high schooler like me could actually grasp the concepts and take aways something meaningful from each chapter. He let me borrow the book and it was pretty much the beginning of a lifelong fascination with "reality."
With all that said, take it however you will, I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand "the meaning of life" (or at least the nature of life) a little better. For those of you who wish oh-so-desperately to perform some sort of "magic" or believe in some kind of "religion," this may just be the book that allows you to let go of your inherited belief systems. Same goes for all you level-headed scientists out there. This book will either be what you have been looking for... or it will be something you were afraid of all along. I always love it when something "irrational" is staring a rationalist right in his face and he shakes his head and says, "Well, I don't know [what it is], but it can't be [what it appears to be]." It's kind of like when democrat mops the floor with a republican and the crowd is cheering, but the republican shakes his head and gives a wry smile, like he's talking to a bunch of idiots. Or like when everyone cheered when Condoleezza Rice was sort of asked to declassify that PDB and she went on as if the cheers were completely meaningless.