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Monday, March 22, 2010: Review #2 "Suddenly Psychic: A Skeptic's Journey"

            My initial attraction for Maureen Caudill’s book, Suddenly Psychic: A Skeptic’s Journey, was the attraction to a scientist who was applying her skepticism to psychic experience. I quickly learned we had different definitions of what it means to be a skeptic.

          To Maureen, being a skeptic meant she spent the first part of her career locked into a scientific belief system that only accepted empirical evidence. If you couldn’t measure it in the physical world, it didn’t exist. Period. The mind was strictly biochemical and electrochemical. There was no life after death or any of the rest of that hocus-pocus. For some reason, she holds this up as proof of her being a credible witness when she does a 180 and becomes a true believer of psychic realities.

           Several things entered my mind. The first was a statement I’d heard back in my college days: it is easier to turn a devout Catholic into a devout Communist, or a devout Communist into a devout Catholic, than to take someone who is laid-back and middle-of-the-road and turn them into a devout anything.

          In other words, if you have the mindset that accepts a paradigm with total faith, dismissing any and all conflicting facts or opinions because you’re convinced the current belief system is solid and concrete and has proven its ability to provide the answers you need, then when core beliefs are significantly challenged, when some challenge to your everyday world reality shows up as a total mismatch in that paradigm, you are more likely to discard the old system and embrace something radically different, hoping you now have found a more perfect explanation for reality. This attitude shows up when Maureen first begins her adventure:

          “Every skeptical bone in my body was convinced I was surrounded by a bunch of crazies—sincere crazies, maybe, and very nice crazies, but folks who definitely belonged in the lunatic fringe. None of it was true. And no one could make me believe that resonant tuning or playing with imaginary energy bars would do me or anyone else any good at all.

          “And yet . . . by the end of that week---even as little as 48 hours into the program---everything looked very different. I could no longer count myself a skeptic of anything . . .”

           There’s the problem. I consider myself a skeptic because after I’ve looked at all the possible explanations I may find a workable answer but I’m still not convinced it is the answer. I may have found an improved understanding but I haven’t reached the end of the road. Only by continuing to investigate is there hope of finding that next, slightly better, more accurate explanation.

            I’ve let my old understanding fall to pieces and get painfully reconstructed, over and over. I’ve learned not to accept the perception and understanding of any reality, physical or other, as being pure and untainted by basic human nature, cultural expectations, limitations of actual brain function, etc.  To me, that is being a skeptic.

           My hopes of finding a kindred skeptic in Maureen therefore turned to disappointment.  With each new experimental level, Maureen enters the TMI program saying, “I sure don’t believe this is possible.” Apparently this is to point out what a skeptic she is. Within moments, she’s a firm believer in the latest TMI "proof."  She never questions any other experiences in that realm, no matter how far-fetched. 

            Maureen has an impressive experience early on, where she projects into the cockpit of Amelia Earhart’s airplane during the final, fatal ride over the Pacific. Maureen picks up the “name of the navigator and the name of the island she [Amelia] was headed for at the time her plane disappeared.” These details, which Maureen is convinced she could not have known, are later confirmed by a friend’s research.

           All right, I think.  I can accept that as a valid and significant remote viewing. This would not stop me from questioning future viewings, especially soul-to-soul communication with the crashed Beagle spacecraft, whose life force she helps "pass" on to higher realms (supposedly to reincarnate next time as a human instead of a machine). Maureen also accepts she has had 12,535 lives (each life on a different planet, never before on earth), because that is the answer given during one of her inquiries. Because the number is so unusual and remains the same whenever she inquires into any of her lives, by gosh, it just must be true.

         Where is her skepticism? Since when is being a skeptic something you turn on or off this easily? Doesn’t that make it like situational ethics---convenient behavior when it serves your public image, easily jettisoned when you have something personal to gain?

           Maureen has a background in experimental psychics, with some background in neural networks.  She follows each review of her progress with an explanation from theoretical physics, a field she previously distained as “too ‘out there’ to be trusted.”  So you get lots of generalized background into quantum physics and holograms, probability wave theory, membrane theory and whatever else she can dig up to offer explanations. Some will see this as scientific proof. The fact that these theories could be reapplied to psychic phenomena was interesting and perhaps useful for some, but most have been advanced before by theoretical physicists trying to bridge science and religion. I wouldn’t hold these theories up as proof of psychic reality to the regular scientific community.

            It bothers me that Maureen knew the Hemi-Sync program was altering or affecting the typical function of the brain. She never questions how the brain is handling or interpreting this manipulation. She never pulls apart how these new awareness states relate back to normal brain function or how exactly the various C and F awareness levels differ from each other. Once Maureen gets verification that she’s passed her initial set of experiments, she plods forward with total confidence. That makes me very nervous.

           While it’s interesting that you might be able to induce psychic experiences with a program, that exposure to different states of awareness might teach the brain to recognize different mindsets independent of the program, I retained an uneasy feeling.

          Was this or was this not one step up from what I consider worthless chemical induction? Was I simply resenting an experience that could be induced rather than discovered through inner discipline?

          I would never deny others the chance to discover higher realities.  Many of the deeply spiritual people I knew had started on a spiritual path because of an isolated experience in another reality. If people emerged from TMI and began an ernest inner search, it would be worth the cost.

          Yet, a problem did exist with this "you put down your money; we deliver the experience." I battled to tease out the reason for my discomfort.  More on that later….

Posted on Monday, March 22, 2010 at 06:37AM by Registered CommenterThe Skeptical Mystic | CommentsPost a Comment

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