frontiers

Frontiers of ‘Acceptance’ – New prospects for the Scientific and Medical Network

By Paul Kieniewicz

The SMN Galileo Project was in part launched because of the observation that many areas of research, particularly concerning paranormal effects are still off limits in academia. Mainstream science journals, both professional and popular avoid reporting such research as a matter of policy, unless the research demonstrates that such effects do not exist. This is also true of mainstream media and television. While the BBC is known to give airtime to climate-sceptic arguments that are not rooted in sound science, they do not air programmes suggesting that paranormal effects are real, no matter how water-tight the case may be. There are occasional exceptions. The paper by Daryl Behm on “Feeling the future” was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a mainstream journal. Dean Radin published his paper on the effect of consciousness on the double slit experiment in Physics Essays, a respected physics journal. Other areas where research is off limits include reincarnation or life after death.

Is there any change on the horizon? Will fields that today are “unacceptable” be acceptable in the future? There are cases where attitudes are changing. At the recent SMN retreat, Bernard Carr said that when he began his professional career, the Anthropic Principle was off limits. In its strong version, the Principle says that the universe is as it is because consciousness exists. Today, papers are being published on various aspects of the Anthropic Principle. It is no longer a topic off limits to academic scientists.  Near Death Experiences are also a topic of interest. It is recognized that they are common. However the only research being published is based on accepted neurological work. The idea that consciousness can leave the body and bring back information normally unavailable to the subject, still cannot be published. The Morphogenetic Field is being researched by Michael Levin at Tufts University and Min Zhao at UC Davis. Both teams publish in mainstream journals such as Stem Cell Reports and Biosystems. Here we have a concept developed by H.S. Burr at Harvard University in the 1950s, that once fell out of favour with the rise of genetics, and is again being taken seriously. The study of the human field was also a topic for Michael Persinger and his students at Laurentian University. His researches concerned how the body produces biophotons, interaction of the human field with the Earth’s field, coupling of brain wave patterns between people. He published results in Perceptual and Motor Skills, Neuroscience Letters and many other accepted journals. The study of consciousness, once taboo has also entered the mainstream, though cautiously. This is in part because of research into AI and the transhumanist agenda. Many physicists feel that consciousness is necessary in order to understand Quantum Theory. But not all. This is an area that still makes many physicists uncomfortable. Versions of the quantum theory that do not require the existence of consciousness are being developed.

So where does the SMN fit into this? At our recent retreat, we looked at the curious boundary between acceptable and unacceptable research. Some dubbed it at the frontier of respectability. Others the frontier of knowledge. Hardin suggests that the role of the SMN might be as a catalyst for change, so that new areas being researched could get a boost.  Change is already happening, though it might be slower than we would like. The SMN is not a research institute, certainly not in any of the above areas. It was never intended to be. However the Board does recognize that the SMN has a role to play in promoting acceptance of those fields that are close to the frontier of acceptance. Some areas, such as a study of reincarnation, or life after death may have to wait longer, despite the exhaustive researches by Ian Stevenson and others. Galileo could not persuade the cardinals to look into the telescope. I suggest that our Network look closely at its role as a catalyst, with a view of how to bring on board those scientists that are already working in fields once deemed unacceptable. Many of those scientists are still regarded by their peers as on the fringe, even though their work is being published.

Can the Network be such a catalyst? We have already taken an important step with the Galileo Report. The next phase will be its dissemination to the academic community. How the report is received there, whether it is welcomed will be important. Our mission — should we choose to accept it, is certainly not impossible.