Gordon White, Will Magic Kill Parapsychology? |366|

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Nov 14, 2017.

  1. Alex

    Alex New

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    Gordon White, Will Magic Kill Parapsychology? |366|
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    Chaos magician and author Gordon White on the blurring of parapsychology and magic. [​IMG]
    photo by: Skeptiko
    Nobody does magic quite like Disney. The sciency wizard, the wand, the spells, it’s all burned into our collective consciousness, along with the idea that it’s all silly nonsense, but hey, what about this…

    (Dr. Dean Radin on RuneSoup) Sorry, I should back up a second here and say I’m talking in a way that a year ago I would never have talked, I would never have used the word ‘magic’ and I wouldn’t have talked about spirits or anything of that sort.

    That’s Dr. Dean Radin, the Dr. Dean Radin, pre-eminent parapsychology researcher, pioneering researcher and he’s talking with today’s guest, author and chaos magician, Gordon White.

    So, this is all relatively new for me. I know a little bit more than I did a year ago, because I’ve just written a book on this, but the thing that sparked my interest in looking into the esoteric traditions is, that I’ve been working in psi research for something like three decades, almost four decades now, and I had to think really hard for anybody whoever talked about… a couple of anthropologists will talk about the psychic and Sharman connections as real, as opposed to as theater.

    In the most recent large book, which is a state of the art book on psi research called A Handbook of Parapsychology for the 21st Century, the word ‘magic’ doesn’t even show up in the index. I found this kind of puzzling because, of course, everybody’s well aware of what the Sharman’s claim to be able to do and we’re well aware of notions of what magic is, at least what is portrayed in entertainment, and I became curious as to why it doesn’t show up. I mean, I’m involved in the profession of studying magic, if we think of magic in the proper terms.

    So I went through this whole business of seeing if I could synthesize, what are the basic magical practices and seeing if I could map it onto psi research and of course, it completely maps.

    (Gordon White) It 100% maps, absolutely.

    It a 100% match. So then I was shocked at, “Well, how come I didn’t know this?” It’s virtually because no one ever talks about it, and then, well why is that? Well, we’re being scientists, that’s why.

    So, fully take that in for a minute. The leading light of psi research, Dean Radin, is telling us that psi, the stuff that’s blown the lid off of grandpa’s dopey old materialistic science, well he seems to be saying that, that isn’t really science at all, it’s maybe better termed ‘magic’.

    (Gordon White on Redesigning Society) Yeah, I have this definition down to a sentence now I subsequently explain, which is, ‘magic is a culture specific way of using or interacting with the natural consciousness capacities of a particular human.’

    Here’s Gordon again, this time he’s chatting it up with Phillip Watt, on his magic themed podcast, Redesigning Society, but tell me, as you’re listening, does this sound like a podcast about magic or a science podcast, because I’m not sure which is which anymore?

    So, that might sound a bit circular, but actually if you look across the world at systems or cultures that have never repudiated magic in the same way that the northwest European Enlightenment did, and I’m being very specific about that in Europe because you’re actually finding in southern Europe that it’s carried on merrily in the kind of folk traditions of Italian grandmothers and so on, but it’s a very specific Cartesian post-Enlightenment world out of all of human history that repudiated it.

    But if you look around the world there are, sort of, what you might call ‘magical powers’, for want of a lesser dramatic term, a number of techniques that are reasonably conserved. So you have some method of seeing the future, or clairvoyance, you have some method of communicating across distance, so you have telepathy or whatever you want to call it, these are just modern words for capacities right? Then you have interacting or communicating with the spirit world and then you have some method, as a result of that typically, of what I would call probability enhancement or probability manipulation, which is, to make the things that you want happen more often than the things that you don’t want to happen.

    What’s interesting to me about that is, if you look at the history of say, the development of psi and the Society of Psychical Research and all these kinds of groups that emerged about 150 years ago, we now have 150 years of evidence, mostly laboratory evidence that basically falls neatly into these four categories.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m pining for a simple-minded world of biological robots in a meaningless universe, a paradigm that we’ve thoroughly trashed on this show over the years, but at the same time I’m not entirely sure Dean Radin knows what he’s signing up for.

    Here’s occult philosophy expert and more importantly, practicing ceremonial magician, Dr. Stephen Skinner, on Greg Carlwood’s, The Higherside Chats show.

    (Dr. Stephen Skinner, on The Higherside Chats) One of the basic grimoire things is that the parchment that you do the key seals on things, must be made from an animal because parchment is animal skin and that you should make it yourself and I have done that and it’s quite an interesting procedure and it’s hard work and I can tell you that parchment, rather than paper or plastic or something, is much more effective. So, perhaps in some reason, the spirit can, I won’t say see it but understand the sigils on it because it’s written on something that was once living, whereas if you just sketch it out with a compass on a piece of paper it’s much, much, much less effective.

    Wow.

    People will not push themselves to do those things. Now, one day somebody may discover how you can do sigils on plastic and still get the same effect but it sure as hell is not going to be me.

    Yeah, I mean, once we can do it on Facebook we’re all going to be set.

    Yeah, it will not happen. There are only certain images and things that the spirits recognize and these are not what comes up on Facebook.

    (Greg Carlwood) Damn. Well, as for people’s fears on this kind of stuff, I’ve heard you discuss the classic notion of the Faustian pact, this idea of making a deal with a trickster and losing your soul and then it was more of a Christian invention to scare people off and I think that’s really interesting. How can we separate real concerns and dangers in dealing with this kind of thing, from that lingering propaganda residue?

    Okay, you’re absolutely right. It was largely a Christian gloss on the Faust books that he lost his soul. The pact is real but the pact is what the spirit makes with you and it’s his obligations to you that are written into the pact. The whole idea that you lose your soul or whatever at the end, I think, is a priest’s view rather than a magician’s view.

    There are dangers in magic, one of them is obsession. There are a number of people who get obsessed or possessed anyway, but if you’re actually actively calling a particular spirit, and you have no defense and you don’t know what you’re doing, then it occasionally happens that the spirit will take up residence and then you’ve got a serious problem and you need an exorcist who knows what they’re doing.

    So, there are dangers in doing magic. It’s like electricity, with the right insulation, at the right circle, the right conditions, you don’t get zapped, but if you do these things and handle a wire without the right precautions, then you may get zapped.

    So magic, like physics or doing household electrics, is not without danger.

    Brave be the scientist who wants to bring that into the lab, but that may in fact be the future of parapsychology… and it’s one of the reasons I wanted to talk to Gordon today on Skeptiko.

    Alex Tsakiris: How do you really bring magic into the lab? If you come to that worldview shift and you say, “Okay, I really don’t understand what I’m measuring,” he wants his scientific cake and he wants to eat it too, I mean, isn’t there an inherent problem with that?

    Gordon White: Yeah, absolutely but I think you sort of nailed it when you said, you mentioned 20 years in terms of people looking at Dr. Radin’s research and, sort of, figuring out what he was doing or is doing. I think, in a lot of fields, we’re at that point now where, to sort of quote Pete Carroll magic works in practice but not in theory, so I’m sort of sanguine about it.

    Dean’s going to be wrong, as we all are, and I think between now and how we get to, even the word science is maybe not correct for it, but how we get to a method of inquiry that is a least worst match for these phenomena, is going to require a lot of things. It’s going to require interdisciplinary research, so it’s going to require anthropology, it’s going to require history, biology, it’s going to need all these things that we don’t have the words for, because our conception of the world has sort of outrun the way we structure learning about things, even adding ‘ology’ to a word, and putting it in little, sorts of, pillars and categories.

    All that and much, much more on this episode of Skeptiko.
     
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  2. KindaGamey

    KindaGamey Member

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    One question to tee up from this episode:
    "Is parapsychology going through this foundational change that we alluded to in this show?"
    "Is that a major sea change or are we making too much out of a guy who just wrote another book* and this time focused on magic?"
    (* Dean Radin talking about magic, spirit, and broadening his psi investigation)
     
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  3. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    I may listen to this podcast again, because some of it was definitely "inside baseball". However, I have a couple of points right now:

    1) At one point you commented on Dr. Stephen Skinner, and his requirement that symbols that communicated with demons/ non-physical entities should be
    precise. It occurred to me that if indeed certain symbols signal out to non-physical entities, they may would be essentially arbitrary - like all symbols - but precision might be necessary just to stop them being triggered accidentally. For example, you would not want the cyclopentadienyl ion (which forms a perfect pentagonal shape, but at molecular dimensions) to be intrinsically signalling whatever a pentagon drawn on the floor is supposed to transmit!

    2) I tend to agree with the broad drift of the discussion - I mean that fact that small-scale ψ is pretty repeatable, and the fact that past ages and cultures relied heavily on macro scale magic, strongly suggests that macro magic does exist.

    Alex, You mentioned some formal experiments to test some of Gordon White's magic - do you have a link to them?

    David
     
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  4. Alex

    Alex New

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    hey David... you might want to shoot Gordon an email and ask where to find on runesoup.com
     
  5. Baccarat

    Baccarat New

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    Digging in to the occult/magick stuff finally love it thanks.

    Magick doesn't need parapsychology. Already seen TK first hand no lab setting
     
  6. KindaGamey

    KindaGamey Member

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    If you think having a sharper sword makes the ritual work better and therefore for you it does in fact work better (because you're more energized/excited about the possibility of success) then that makes total sense to me.



    Part of me is glad the word magic is coming back because it symbolizes that there are no limitations except the ones we create and that every point is connected to every other if you can find the right strand to tug. Then again part of me feels like magic is just another word hurdle that we need to come to terms with and then vault over towards more of a systems-theory approach where we find and map the venn diagram of all of these things and find the larger themes that transverse all of these outlier phenomenon, and also the 'rules' of normal reality. (I feel like the term 'energy' is bandied about everywhere to an eye-rolling degree, but then again what else can you say really to cover all the bases? It's an apt term in all sorts of areas.)

    I was just thinking about Trickster Theory... if we could reduce that term like we reduce a fraction could we incorporate it into the universal precept: "every action has an equal and opposite reaction?" It also the universe is constantly saying "Oh, you liked* that?!? Well here, have some more!" (e.g. hauntings, UFO experiences, when it rains it pours/self-pity, synchronicities, whatever!) Perhaps both are true, it responds to your excitement, but that creates a counter-force.

    (* like = are energized by, invest more emotional content into)
     
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  7. Charlie Primero

    Charlie Primero Member

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    What a great interview. Thank you Alex!

    You won Gordon White a new customer.

    Every time in the past I looked into Chaos Magick I came away concluding "What a load of horse-shyte".

    That field is dominated by fraudsters, crackpots, beta-male losers, and Deep State disinformation agents. I read all the usual books by the likes of Lon Milo DuQuette, Robert Anton Wilson, Tsarion, Leary, et al. Sifting through that thousand square-mile fetid swamp for any flecks of gold is virtually impossible.

    I will give it a new look in 2018 with the rule that any "Magician" who obfuscates or refuses to acknowledge the Conspiracy Angle gets ejected immediately.
     
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  8. Alex

    Alex New

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    that's the kinda stuff Dean would wash out in the lab.
     
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  9. Alex

    Alex New

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    LOL... I may adopt and expand the rule :)
     
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  10. K9!

    K9! New

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    I don't think that's true. He would just call it the Experimenter Effect.
     
  11. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Yes, but can we reduce the entire field to belief and intention? If I picked up the mouse on my desk and really focussed my intention to do something (e.g. rid the world of nuclear weapons), would that work?

    David
     
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  12. KindaGamey

    KindaGamey Member

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    If you used that mouse to control photoshop to create a meme that emotionally aligned people to your cause like iron filings in a magnetic field, then yes it could work. Your intention is directing the constituents of the arm, the arm's armies of cells direct the computer program, the intention creates the mental technology by which it can propagate itself, but because your arm was involved that doesn't make the statement "you willed it to be true" silly -- because you did. All of what you did is not unattached to your personal commitment/emotional investment in the message -- if you didn't care as much your meme wouldn't be as powerful and wouldn't gather the momentum. Well pardon me sir, but can't you fake an emotional engagement and still have it propagate well? Actually yes, but you'd be drawing the energy from previous emotional engagements that people have bound to and not entirely from your own commitment // though to do it well you'd really need to believe and invest in your deception project though you aren't personally resonating with the message you're broadcasting. That's still magic?

    What if you never showed your meme to anyone, just focused on it by yourself every day? I imagine the effects would be statistically negligible, but you still might have an effect perhaps on localized or media players that you have a personal attachment to. It's all both/and. But it's systems... there's an inherent logic to it. I really would like a tool to map this out.
     
  13. Baccarat

    Baccarat New

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    I think Robert Anton Wilson worked for the CIA if I am not mistaken. But yes I thought it was horse shyt to, but with proper guidance and training I am a lot better at sifting out disinfo.

    I've had doubts about TK (Check my earlier posts) but I seen it first hand, randomly....its real...
    to what extent I don't know.

    I am studying magick almost daily I feel like I am at home now
     
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  14. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    I am far less aware of this Chaos Magic thing - can anyone describe what is claimed for it? I think it is used for healing, but what else?

    David
     
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  15. Charlie Primero

    Charlie Primero Member

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    Chaos Magick can be used for anything you want; money, sex, power, ...the usual.

    Funny thing is, the people who LARP about it the most tend to have none of those things. :)

    The Wikepedia entry for it as actually pretty good:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaos_magic
     
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  16. Inner Space

    Inner Space New

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    Magick (good and bad) is all around us and its manifestations are usually trivial to the untrained eye. The usual human response to everyday Magick is laughter. A good Magician always finds the world both amazingly weird, nonsensical and funny. A good Magician just goes with the flow. The strongest manifestations of Magic are those that have a strong emotional component e.g. coincidentally running into your future wife 3 times in one day; dreaming of a best friend hours before they die; sensing that a loved may be in trouble and discovering later that they were. By it's nature, these events of Magick are statistically unlikely and without obvious physical causal connections. This flies in the face of scientific lab research which tries to discover (Magical) causes by juxtaposing it against randomness and assuming that Magick, as a causal process, should manifest as a reliably repeatable experimental find. No scientist can do a "controlled" experiment of, for example, whether people dream of their best friend dying before their best friend actually dies, without the experimenter him or her self becoming a part of the Magical principle in the experimental set-up, in other words, the experimenter would become a Magician, setting up the Magical event in the process of setting up their experiment. Alex is right, if this is the path Dean Radin is going down, maybe he will have to trade his lab coat for a pentagram and a wizards hat. Unless, of course, a scientist's lab coat already is a form of ceremonial Magical ritual garb. Lol - maybe scientists have really been doing Magick all this time! Many of us forget that Sir Isaac Newton was both a scientist and an occultist.
     
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  17. Charlie Primero

    Charlie Primero Member

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  18. KindaGamey

    KindaGamey Member

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    It sounds like he already has? I don't know where Alex was paraphrasing from, but if Dean is really talking about harnessing entities to do his bidding? Oh lord. I'm not sure that's healthy?
     
  19. Hurmanetar

    Hurmanetar New

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    I love Gordon's whimsical metaphors for serious complicated topics. He really knows how to summarize a concept well and paint a vivid picture that symbolizes it.

    Paraphrasing: "Post-structuralism is like snipping up a newspaper into tiny bits and tossing it in a wind tunnel... it's fine if you want to do that, but not very useful."

    Despite him saying that, he would probably agree that destruction is the dual partner of creation, so deconstruction is useful if applied in a skilled way and not rested upon as the be-all end-all philosophy.

    I have to thank Hansen for his book which was my introduction to so many ideas such as this. It is a classic and a must read for anyone involved in Psi or for the curious armchair philosopher and autodidact.
     
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  20. Mishelle

    Mishelle Member

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    This is my hurdle at the moment. What if we don't want/need money, sex, power? Does it speak only to these lower-consciousness drives? I suppose the healing aspects might be helpful in the world today, but did he speak about those applications, I might have missed that and need to re-listen? Are there others speaking about how this is/might be a positive direction for the individual or the culture? I understand the personal exploration/consciousness aspect in it, but it seems to me like other New Agey 'beliefs' that have segments of the population obsessed in what looks like eternal naval-gazing that is unconcerned with ethical questions, the real purpose of philosophy, or the level of narcissism it seems to promote.
     
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