Dr. Dean Radin Brings Real Magic to the Psi Lab |377|

#21
Alex's question at the end of the interview:

What happens when you bring magic into the lab -- if you can? Or is that all folly once you accept that there's this other realm of extended consciousness that is in play all the time in ways that we don't understand?
Magicians have been bringing magic 'into the lab' for centuries. The more accurate question is whether we can bring magic into a lab that is run under the logic of materialistic science. I think not. Dean pointed to the problem when he spoke about NDEs - as noted above - the 'when question' is not the right one. Ask that and you get stuck until you quit asking it.

I though Dean's most useful observation was that future 'post materialist' conception of magic cannot go back to using premodern ideas. But we need a post materialist take on science to tackle a new notion of magic. In the past magic has always been understood in the context of the time of inquirer. It has been materialism that has forced us to interpret in anachronistic ways - we just don't have an idealist/animist way of thinking as a contemporary discipline as a culture.

I don't like the presumption that 'science' is what materialists say it is - a body of knowledge gained employing the precepts of materialism. Actual contemporary magicians can take a 'scientific' (a systematic and disciplined) approach to gaining knowledge. But the degree to which they fuse 'old' and 'new' knowledge will be interesting - if that becomes something that becomes public knowledge.

So I take Dean's thought to be a musing on whether and how the proven and established principles of magic might become public knowledge and secular knowledge that uses entirely contemporary language to describe processes and method. That is not something that fills me with other than a sense of dread. As it is we employ the essential principles in a (mercifully) poor way. The idea that we might get better at it with present spiritual and psychological immaturity fills me with dread. But I don't think that will happen.

Will-based magic relies on something far more sophisticated and complex than simple bloody-minded determination. And spirit based magic is difficult and dangerous. Magic is hard for all but the gifted, and maybe even for them.

If Dean's idea is that a post-materialist magic uses rational scientific terms rather than premodern descriptions and concepts that 'advance' will be of little avail unless the character and psychological maturity of the 'scientists' is considerable in advance of what seems evident today. That would suppose a sophisticated philosophical and spiritual outlook is also required, because a lot of premodern and 'prescientific' conception and language encodes complex ideas that cannot be translated into a 'scientific' mindset that esteems intellectual development as the highest form of comprehension. Post materialism would also be far more than a mere intellectual reframing.

Nevertheless there is no doubt that fundamental truths about self-creation and co-creation, which are already evolving in psychology, will continue to evolve as the fundamental post-materialist ideas about underpinning consciousness and psi become accepted. But as that happens the existing beliefs, knowledge and practices will also be validated.

A potential worst case scenario is that the johnny-come-lately rationalists will try to colonise the formal and informal traditional cultures, rather than there being a collaboration. This should be an opportunity to re-integrate 'science' into
natural philosophy - not as a regression but as an progression beyond the seperatist triumphalism of intellectualism. This reintegration is only beginning, and it would be a shame if it were derailed by egos and lusts for greed and power.
 
#22
Alan Moore has an interesting take on magic. After decades of studying magic, he has concluded creativity and magic are the same thing. To make something original is to perform magic. That may be unsatisfying for those who want to cloak magic in the mystical and esoteric, but I think the comparison hold up. Moore often points out that Grimoire (a textbook of magic) has the same root as grammar, combining symbols into well formed sentences. This approach is consistent with idealism, accessing a conscious universe through conscious acts.

Here's a brief film about him discussing magic and art, he goes into much more depth in other videos:

 
#23
Now we need a skeptiko podcast with Dr. Stephen Skinner.

As far as I know, he claims that magick is a technology, meaning that if you do every step the right way you will always get the desired result. It doesn't matter if you believe it or not.

If that is true then I don't see how it couldn't be brought to a mainstream scientific lab for testing.
 
#24
Agreed. Dean Radin's aim is to offer psi respectability by number crunching. It's useful as far as it goes, but it means adopting some dumb ideas that are common currency within science, like everyone from the past was ignorant and everyone in future will reach more useful conclusions based on their knowledge. If mind based reality is all there is, everyone has access to all they need at any point in time. Existence may be progressing in some abstract way we can't begin to guess at, but not in a linear way of accumulated data. There's no enlightenment awaiting at the end of the paper trail, and Radin's deferral to intelligent supercomputers to crunch the maths is a promise note.

I like Radin, he's a smart, funny guy who speaks to reductionists in a language they understand, even if they ignore him 95% of the time. However his new work on magic (a misnomer for the evidence he's gathering) is one of his less satisfactory works. You can't run with the dogs and the fox.
The thing about number crunching/the scientific method, is that it has built into it the idea of causality. Everything has to have a cause, and that is the result, essentially, of the materialistic viewpoint. If you believe that everything is material, i.e. you are a materialistic monist, then the universe as we perceive it really exists out there, and existed prior to you. So you try to explain everything in terms of one thing causing another. To some extent that works, but it hits the buffers when one tries to explain how consciousness arises from insentient matter. The easy way out is to posit panpsychism, that somehow even the most elementary forms of matter possess the property (akin to spin or charge) of consciousness. It relegates consciousness from being fundamental to being still within the ambit of materialism.

With Idealism, where consciousness is fundamental, causality is appreciated differently: it's not a fact of a material world, but a way of thinking about reality that can be reasonably successful -- up to a point. We can treat processes/events as if they have causal chains; not because causality exists as such, but because universal consciousness is regular and ordered. Science is about describing those regularities and working within the concepts we develop about them.

Part of the way we perceive those regularities, as it happens, is as matter and its properties. But what is matter? According to Bernardo, it's a second-person interpretation of the inner being of universal consciousness. It's not so much that matter, time and space don't exist -- are illusions -- but that they arise out of the way we perceive what is (apparently) external to us, which really does exist, though not literally as matter, time and space. We perceive what MAL (Mind-At-Large) looks like from a second-person perspective, and project onto it our own ideas about causality; and that works, but only, as previously mentioned, up to a point.

You're probably aware that Bernardo thinks we (and other life-forms) are akin (it's just a metaphor) to dissociated alters of MAL. We perceive others and to some extent ourselves (e.g. in a mirror) as second-person material constructs, but also, from a first-person perspective, each of us has the experience of ourselves that we call consciousness.

When one starts to think like this, one begins to appreciate in a different and unaccustomed way. There aren't really galaxies out there of unimaginable size in unimaginably larger expanses of space, but instead time and distance become expressions of unfamiliarity. We'll quite probably never be able to see them "up close" and "in the present" not because they're literally so far away, as because they're so foreign to us. As it is, we perceive a restricted view of them and are able to posit that they're composed of stars, and confirm that by spectrographic and other analyses, but that's just a second-person view.

When we observe things more familiar to us, such as our own bodies. we often think in terms of their being caused by physical entities (from atoms to organs) organised at different levels of complexity, but what we're actually observing are processes, from our second-person perspective, occurring in the consciousness of MAL and experienced from our first-person perspective as dissociated alters of MAL. This is the way that MAL gets to experience itself -- through our agency. The price is the fact that our consciousness is limited in what it can conceive.

The impression of duality is overwhelming, and to a great extent it's understandable, given the underlying regularity and order of MAL (the "laws of nature"). If there's duality, it's as a result of the way we perceive reality, not reality as it actually is. It's quite natural to be a (perceptive) dualist until we come up against the hard problem of consciousness, when the only thing we can come up with to explain it is that consciousness somehow is generated by matter.

We get it the wrong way round: the impression of matter is generated by consciousness. When our bodies are sick, it isn't down to matter going awry, but down to our bodies appearing that way because there's a process happening in consciousness that we perceive as sickness. Sometimes, we can intervene in sickness through pharmacological or surgical means, so doesn't that mean that there really is matter organised into our bodies that we can manipulate? Not really. Our interventions can be viewed as processes that appear to be the result of manipulating matter. They can be viewed as instances of certain conscious processes being able to interact with other conscious processes, all within certain limits imposed by alter dissociation.

So what about magic? If it exists, what is it? One can only conjecture. Maybe it comprises examples of the interaction of conscious processes which don't rely on the acceptance at face value of matter. Same sort of thing with psi, one supposes. BTW, as I understand it, Bernardo doesn't see MAL as being self-reflectively conscious: it achieves self-reflectivity only through its alters, and only to the extent that they are capable of such self-reflectivity. However, it is conscious, or perhaps a better word is aware. It hasn't consciously and deliberately created us, so much as has, by dint of being what it is, quite effortlessly and naturally generated us.

At some elemental level, then, it has an irresistible need to view itself in a self-reflective manner, and we're its means of doing that. It appears to have done it through some kind of evolutionary process, because, given our apparent natures, only evolutionary processes could have interacted to generate the kind of environment we need to come into, and maintain, our existence. To us, it appears that the process took billions of years and went through many different stages, but time, like space and matter, is just a construct of our minds.

I might draw the analogy of Stephen Wiltshire, an autistic person who is able to draw with great accuracy views of whole cities, such as New York, after only a brief helicopter viewing. Obviously, though it takes him some time to do the drawing, it must exist whole and entire in his mind before he commences to draw. In an analogous way, the whole of evolution might exist in the awareness of MAL. The difference is that what MAL desires comes to be, instantly; but from the limited perspective of alters like us, it is interpreted as having taken time to happen.

What, imo, Radin wants to do is to explain from the second-person viewpoint in a way that will satisfy materialists, i.e. by presenting the results of experiments that will convince them. He's trying to hoist them on their own petard, and to some extent I suppose that can work, but it does rather pander to their worldview, and thereby is playing the game according to their rules.

I doubt he'll succeed except insofar as he'll prompt them to try to come up with explanations from within their accustomed cause-and-effect schema. To truly change that, they'd have to start looking at the world from a first-person perspective, i.e. to start from consciousness (the only thing from which all second-person percepts and concepts arise). They'd have to become philosophers as well as scientists wedded to naive realism. Some scientists are already thinking in this way, e.g. Donald Hoffman, Federico Faggin, Bernardo Kastrup, even, possibly, Rupert sheldrake (see here for a discussion about that by Bernardo). However, philosophy is difficult, and many of them prefer to take the dismissive route of disparaging it rather than tackling it in earnest.
 
#25
Alex's question at the end of the interview:

What happens when you bring magic into the lab -- if you can? Or is that all folly once you accept that there's this other realm of extended consciousness that is in play all the time in ways that we don't understand?
One potential problem is that the "Brain Can't Empathize And Analyze At Same Time"
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/252241.php

While they are trying to understand psi, they have to be careful not to shut down the part of the brain that is best suited to understanding it.
 
#26
People have done their best to explain it in words, you do not lose your individuality, you don't lose anything, you "remember" or "discover" what you are. ...

http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2015/03/realizing-ultimate.html

Lester Levenson ... He saw this Beingness as something like a comb. He was at the spine of the comb and all the teeth fanned out from it, each one thinking it was separate and different from all the other teeth. And that was true, but only if you looked at it from the tooth end of the comb. Once you got back to the spine or source, you could see that it wasn't true. It was all one comb. There was no real separation, except when you sat at the tooth end. It was all in one's point of view.
...
Bernadette Roberts ... So here begins our journey to the true center, the bottom-most, innermost "point" in ourselves where our life and being runs into divine life and being - the point at which all existence comes together. This center can be compared to a coin: on the near side is our self, on the far side is the divine. One side is not the other side, yet we cannot separate the two sides. If we tried to do so, we would either end up with another side, or the whole coin would collapse, leaving no center at all - no self and no divine. We call this a state of oneness or union because the single center has two sides, without which there would be nothing to be one, united, or non-dual. Such, at least, is the experiential reality of the state of transforming union, the state of oneness.
...
The spirit of Charles Marshall communicating through direct voice medium Leslie Flint said:
It is the development and it is the tremendous realisation that one must have eventually of how we are all linked and bound together and how actually the very fundamental thing that flows through us all, is the very essence which is of God. And so we gradually evolve more and more to God or become like him.

I do not refer to shape or form, I refer now to the infinite spirit which is the very life blood you might say of all humanity; where we lose in each other ourselves and discover that we are all in a oneness and in accord. And when we have this oneness and accord we reach a stage of spiritual development where we can be considered to be living in a form if you like of paradise because we are conscious of everything around and about us as being not only "us" but "all".
Those quotes are not evidence. They are merely opinions.
 
#27
The fascinating thing is that we have just had interviews with Dean Radin and Rupert Sheldrake - both scientists who work at the very heart of the nature of consciousness. In a way, they are opposites. Rupert likes to include Christianity in his world view (discussed ad nauseam) and Dean wants to push spirits out of the picture completely!

BTW, I wasn't sure at the end of this video whether Dean had actually brought magic into the lab! It is easy to get distracted and miss something, so did anyone else catch a reference to this?

David
 
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#28
However, philosophy is difficult, and many of them prefer to take the dismissive route of disparaging it rather than tackling it in earnest.
The problem for idealism is the persistent first person view, and apparent solidity of the objective world overwhelm other insights most of the time. To be an idealist and accept reality is what consciousness "does", requires constant intellectual effort. Philosophically, idealism answers some of the more difficult questions about the nature of the real, but it is an abstraction.

The yardstick of any philosophy is how it holds up in practice. Solipsism is undoubtedly parsimonious, but as there are no functioning solipsists we are forced to extrapolate regarding the shared nature of reality. A practicing idealist might resemble a saint or sage, someone grounded in the first person but not limited to it. Philosophical idealists are materialists+, people for whom idealism is a placeholder for the hard problem, but who continue to live as though materialism answered the important stuff. I find that unsatisfactory, partly because causality is such a potent idea. Consciousness as ontological primitive seems like pushing back cause and effect, not eliminating it. All the stuff about consciousness explaining itself to itself, and living through alters and ciphers seems inflationary. That doesn't mean it isn't true, but there are no working comparisons and it hints at dualism - big consciousness and little consciousness. As almost nobody living gets to attain big consciousness, we have to ask whether small consciousness has a reason to be?

It could be that immanent reality is purposeful, perhaps not as "real" as MAL but still important. I'm reminded of an NDEr who claimed the world their consciousness left resembled a papier mache theatre set. It served its purpose but held no lasting claim on the individual's attention. Perhaps I'm not prepared to leave dualism just yet, perhaps duality is itself an illusion, maybe mind-only is too big a leap for my leaden sensibilities?
 

Alex

Administrator
#29
I do not understand why pan-psychism and idealism can't both be true at the same time.
I get some of yr points, but from a philosophical perspective it's an extra step... I mean, it's all consciousness. so, we're just trying to bring the materialists along by adding an extra pan step.
 

Alex

Administrator
#30
Magicians have been bringing magic 'into the lab' for centuries.
great point! but there in lie problems :)
1. they seem to be pretty bad scientists. I like what Richard Feynman wrote about the tedium/importance of the rat in the maze experiment... control/methods are hard work.
2. magic can lead to backdoor materialism... as if making stuff happen is the answer.
3. flying blind. what is the ultimate order of the spirit world they are dabbling with?
 

Alex

Administrator
#31
Now we need a skeptiko podcast with Dr. Stephen Skinner.

As far as I know, he claims that magick is a technology, meaning that if you do every step the right way you will always get the desired result. It doesn't matter if you believe it or not.

If that is true then I don't see how it couldn't be brought to a mainstream scientific lab for testing.
that's Dean position as well.
 
#32
Alan Moore has an interesting take on magic. After decades of studying magic, he has concluded creativity and magic are the same thing. To make something original is to perform magic. That may be unsatisfying for those who want to cloak magic in the mystical and esoteric, but I think the comparison hold up. Moore often points out that Grimoire (a textbook of magic) has the same root as grammar, combining symbols into well formed sentences. This approach is consistent with idealism, accessing a conscious universe through conscious acts.

Here's a brief film about him discussing magic and art, he goes into much more depth in other videos:


But is any idea really original? I have come to understand that creativity is a personal filter we use when trying to create something. I am a poet and musician. I get all my good ideas by either writing or listening to another persons work. All the greatest works in history were copied in one way or another. Striving for pure originality will not get you very far in the arts. It’s like the age old saying, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”
 
#33
"Material is dead." - Niche

Re: the ~10:00 mark where pre/post-materialism is discussed...

I think we need to consider how the notion of "material" is rooted to our evolutionary biology.

For millions of years we encountered ROCKS. They are hard, dead, heavy, opaque, and without some heavy duty tools - immutable. Many of them are so heavy they are immovable. For millions of years we didn't change rocks. We changed for rocks. We went around them or over them, but we certainly didn't will them out of the way.

There are other substances in our environment that are softer, lighter, more translucent, and seemingly less dead: cats, water, air, etc.

So we have a spectrum of sensory experiences and all of our abstractions and metaphysical musings are metaphors extrapolating direct sensory experience to things we cannot directly sense.

When rationalism and the scientific method appeared, we humbly decided to stop attempting to impose our will directly upon the universe and instead we decided to consider everything to be a rock. We don't change rocks. We change for rocks. We took our sensory experiences of rocks and abstracted them into something called the "object".

We dissected objects and found more objects and we called the whole assembly a "material".

So our notion of "material" is rooted in our sensory experience of dead rocks. By extension, materialism is the belief that everything is essentially a bunch of dead rocks.

The decision to believe everything is an assembly of dead rocks is arbitrary. It initially began as a noble humble decision to detach ourselves from nature so as to let nature teach us her ways, and it resulted in the brightest minds among us deciding they are themselves a bunch of dead rocks.

I put this in a blog and added pretty pictures.
https://simcah.wordpress.com/2018/04/04/death-of-materialism/
 
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#34
But is any idea really original? I have come to understand that creativity is a personal filter we use when trying to create something. I am a poet and musician. I get all my good ideas by either writing or listening to another persons work. All the greatest works in history were copied in one way or another. Striving for pure originality will not get you very far in the arts. It’s like the age old saying, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”
I don't think people set out to be original, I think originality happens when we expose ourselves to what Alan Moore would call the forces of the universe. From personal experience I know my best work comes when I stop trying, and by contrast highly considered and planned work is always derivative. Originality can use conventions but still be authentic.

I've recently uploaded a lot of art from the early 2000s, and recall it felt something like mediumship at the time. This was also true of my writing of the period. This Ted talk rings true about the creative process:

 
#35
I don't think people set out to be original, I think originality happens when we expose ourselves to what Alan Moore would call the forces of the universe. From personal experience I know my best work comes when I stop trying, and by contrast highly considered and planned work is always derivative. Originality can use conventions but still be authentic.

I've recently uploaded a lot of art from the early 2000s, and recall it felt something like mediumship at the time. This was also true of my writing of the period. This Ted talk rings true about the creative process:

I agree, though I have met plenty of people who strive for total originality, my younger self included. I also agree with art being a sort of mediumship. My favorite form of poetry to write is surrealism. I use three techniques to do this: one being the cut-it-up technique which is where you cut up bits and pieces of writing and try to fit it together into sentences. The second is automatic writing. I get into a trance like state and let the words flow from my pencil without thinking about them. The third is called the paranoiac-critical method and this is where you get yourself into a complete state of paranoia. I can’t make anything good if I put logical thinking behind it or try to make sense of the words I’m writing. Creativity is really weird when you think about it.
 
#37
The problem for idealism is the persistent first person view, and apparent solidity of the objective world overwhelm other insights most of the time. To be an idealist and accept reality is what consciousness "does", requires constant intellectual effort. Philosophically, idealism answers some of the more difficult questions about the nature of the real, but it is an abstraction.
Well, it also requires effort to remember that everything is composed of molecules in endless motion. The problem with a world in which not everything is consciousness, is of course, how the mental and the physical interact.
David
 
#38
Well, it also requires effort to remember that everything is composed of molecules in endless motion. The problem with a world in which not everything is consciousness, is of course, how the mental and the physical interact.
David
Nobody lives as though their dining table were made of molecules, they respond to it as wood. People can believe reality is what consciousness does, or believe matter exhausts all there is to the universe, and it make no practical difference to their experience of the world. For a philosophical position to be tenable it has to be liveable, and while idealism and panpsychism make splendid Trojan horses, they do not commend themselves without lengthy preambles and a degree of hard sell. Instinctive they are not, though they seem to say what wisdom traditions claimed more succinctly.

I suspect idealism is very close to how things are, but when Bernardo claims consciousness is fundamental I don't know what he means, and I'm not sure he does. The primacy of consciousness suggests a foundation or building block, something simple on which to construct individual realities. The reverse could be true and consciousness is so blinding and pervasive that we have filtered almost all of it out to survive. Those two positions offer widely differing interpretations of the nature of consciousness while claiming to be primary. What is the relationship between matter and consciousness, and why did it choose to manifest as wood and not molecules or just space? Why are it's habits and regularities as they are? There doesn't have to be a reason, but reason suggests there is.
 
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#39
Nobody lives as though their dining table were made of molecules, they respond to it as wood. People can believe reality is what consciousness does, or believe matter exhausts all there is to the universe, and it make no practical difference to their experience of the world. For a philosophical position to be tenable it has to be liveable, and while idealism and panpsychism make splendid Trojan horses, they do not commend themselves without lengthy preambles and a degree of hard sell. Instinctive they are not, though they seem to say what wisdom traditions claimed more succinctly.

I suspect idealism is very close to how things are, but when Bernardo claims consciousness is fundamental I don't know what he means, and I'm not sure he does. The primacy of consciousness suggests a foundation or building block, something simple on which to construct individual realities. The reverse could be true and consciousness is so blinding and pervasive that we have filtered almost all of it out to survive. Those two positions offer widely differing interpretations of the nature of consciousness while claiming to be primary. What is the relationship between matter and consciousness, and why did it choose to manifest as wood and not molecules or just space? Why are it's habits and regularities as they are? There doesn't have to be a reason, but reason suggests there is.
I think idealism is interesting because it actually does explain (in outline) what reality is! Gone are the struggles of materialists to explain how stuff that is not conscious can come together to make something that is conscious! Nor do we have the puzzle as to how consciousness can influence matter without being physical - fundamentally it does it in the same way as you might persuade your child, or your dog, or any other conscious entity to do something!

Idealism may be hard to accept (and I am not definitely saying it is true), but it is complete - you can see the whole scheme in outline.

As I have argued before, I actually think from a practical standpoint science could make a lot of progress by adopting Dualism as a temporary standpoint, but I feel fairly sure that will ultimately resolve into Idealism. The problem with adopting Idealism directly, is that it seems to permit absolutely anything to happen - which doesn't make it easy to make predictions! I think Bernardo struggles with the fact that Idealism ends up just too vague in its present form.

In a sense, this is also true of good old QM - leave an object for a finite amount of time, and there is a small probability that it will have moved to sit on the moon! QM is saved from predicting absolutely anything can happen by those probabilities - perhaps something similar will turn out to be true with Idealism.

David
 
#40
I think idealism is interesting because it actually does explain (in outline) what reality is! Gone are the struggles of materialists to explain how stuff that is not conscious can come together to make something that is conscious! Nor do we have the puzzle as to how consciousness can influence matter without being physical - fundamentally it does it in the same way as you might persuade your child, or your dog, or any other conscious entity to do something!

Idealism may be hard to accept (and I am not definitely saying it is true), but it is complete - you can see the whole scheme in outline.

As I have argued before, I actually think from a practical standpoint science could make a lot of progress by adopting Dualism as a temporary standpoint, but I feel fairly sure that will ultimately resolve into Idealism. The problem with adopting Idealism directly, is that it seems to permit absolutely anything to happen - which doesn't make it easy to make predictions! I think Bernardo struggles with the fact that Idealism ends up just too vague in its present form.

In a sense, this is also true of good old QM - leave an object for a finite amount of time, and there is a small probability that it will have moved to sit on the moon! QM is saved from predicting absolutely anything can happen by those probabilities - perhaps something similar will turn out to be true with Idealism.

David
As with so many things, the general public are often ahead of the specialists. I agree Idealism answers some of the prejudice against mind, but mainly to people steeped in materialist metaphysics. Dean Radin is on the same path, crunching the percentages to show real but marginal effects on reality for the appraisal and concern of physical fundamentalists. For anyone not in the game, it seems like a lot of hard work to get to the self-evident conclusion that we are conscious not epiphenomenally, but actually.

Personally I'm more sympathetic to Sheldrake's approach. Identifying that consciousness is likely to be an agent in morphogenesis, he put morphic resonance out there as an idea, for others to test. Most of the challenge is from metaphysical prejudice, not glitches in the hypothesis, but that's true for Kastrup and Radin also. People can waste a lot of valuable life debating influences that are self-evident with people for whom they are extraordinary. The problematisation of the mundane is not something that interests me beyond staying on top of the ideas. Sheldrake manages to do the science without being defined by it. I regret the use of words like magic in Radin's scientific vocabulary, but it may be the lexicon of the publisher not the lab.
 
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