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Record Type: Review   ID: 1156

Physics and Psychics: The Search for a World Beyond the Senses

Stenger, Victor J.

 Stenger is a physicist and his aim in this work is to argue against what he calls parapsychology's "built-in anthropocentric prejudice: that the particular kind of carbon-based life existing on our tiny speck of a plant has a special quality distinguishing it from matter. The assumption is made that human consciousness . . . somehow interacts with the transcendent world of the spirit" (p. 8). He makes a critical examination of theories concerning a transcendent reality in light of current physical views of matter. He sets forth the current physical view of the structure of the physical universe. He also devotes a chapter to the canon of evidence of the scientific method. A chapter is devoted to criticisms of various parapsychological phenomena. He reviews new views of consciousness, citing Roger Sperry, and labels it "supernatural" (p. 140). A chapter on psychical research calls the SPR and ASPR "religious rather than scientific institutes" (p. 162). Current psi research is criticized as a pseudoscience in a chapter entitled "Pscience." A chapter criticizes New Age theories. Next he criticizes quantum physical theories of interaction-at-a-distance and Walker's quantum mechanical theory of consciousness and psi. A chapter entitled "The Broken Whole" criticizes various mystical views of physics such as those of Bohm and Capra. A more positive view, based on the Standard Modes of physics, is presented in the last 2 chapters, where he observes that "the [physical] march to higher complexity and unconscious continues" (p. 291). He concludes: "When we ask for individual immortality, like Faust, we sell our soul to the devil. The soul we sell is not some disembodied spirit, but our freedom to live and act according to the fullest knowledge about the world and our own best instincts. The supernatural has been a yoke on the neck of humanity since we first began to think and dream. Now those same thoughts and dreams are pointing the way to remove that yoke" (p. 311).
Publisher Information:Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1990. 323p. Chap. bibl; 13 figs; 2 illus; Index: 313-323
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