Sheldrake on Presentiment & Psychokinesis

By John "Birdman" Bryant



[There is] impressive evidence for presentiment. Several fascinating studies have recently been carried out at the University of Nevada by Dean Radin. In these experiments, people were shown a series of pictures on a com- puter screen. Most of the images were emotionally calming pho- tographs of landscapes, nature scenes, and cheerful people, but some were emotionally arousing pornographic pictures and pictures of corpses. In each trial, the computer screen was blank to start with. Then one of these images, calm or emotional, appeared on the screen for three seconds. The screen then went blank again. The sequence in which the pictures were shown was randomly determined by the computer. While these tests were going on, the participants' blood pressure, skin resistance and blood volume in the fingertips were monitored. When people were emotionally aroused, all these changed and provided an objective measurement of their reactions.

Not surprisingly, there were dramatic changes in all these measures of arousal after the emotional images were shown, and these changes did not occur with the calm images. The remarkable feature of the results is that the arousal began before the emotional images appeared on the screen, even though nobody could have known by any normal means which picture was coming next. This anticipation began about four seconds before the emotional pictures appeared. These results are highly significant statistically and have been replicated independently at a laboratory in Holland.

These remarkable experiments seem to show that even under labo- ratory conditions there can be presentiments that something emotion- ally arousing is about to happen, even though this could not have been known by any normal means.

I believe that we stand on the threshold of a new phase of science, of which this kind of research is just one example. Open-minded inquiry into spontaneous human experience, complemented by laboratory research, can help deepen our understanding of human nature. Further research on the unexplained powers of nonhuman animals can help us to place this understanding in a wider biological and evolutionary con- text. And precognitions may be able to tell us something very important not only about the nature of life and mind but also about the nature of time.


From pp 271-3

Human intentions can bring about effects at a distance in a variety of ways: a dog can pick up its owner's intention to come home from many miles away; a cat can respond to its owner's silent call; and a person can feel the intention of someone to call by telephone. Likewise, animals' intentions can affect people to whom they are bonded, as when cats in distress call their owners to the rescue. And animals' intentions can also affect other animals. All these kinds of intentions can work telepathi- cally through morphic fields. But what if an animal's intentions are directed toward an inanimate object rather than a member of its social group? If its intentions could influence such an object at a distance, without any known forms of physical contact, then this would be an example of psychokinesis, the name given by parapsychologists to the action of mind on matter. In some astonishing experiments with young chicks, the French researcher Rene Peoc'h has demonstrated just such an effect. His exper- iments involved young chicks bonding to a machine instead of their mother.

Newly hatched chicks, ducklings, and goslings "imprint" on, or form an attachment to, the first moving object they encounter, and they then follow it around. Under normal circumstances, this imprinting instinct causes them to bond with their mother, but if the eggs are hatched in an incubator and young birds first meet a person, they will follow that person around instead. In laboratory experiments they can even be induced to imprint on moving balloons or other inanimate objects. In his experiments, Peoc'h used a small robot that moved around on wheels in a series of random directions. At the end of each movement, it stopped, rotated through a randomly selected angle, and moved in a straight line for a randomly determined period before stopping and rotat- ing again, and so on. These movements were determined by a random- number generator inside the robot. The path it traced out was recorded. In control experiments, its movements were indeed haphazard. Peoc'h exposed newly hatched chicks to this robot, and they imprinted on this machine as if it were their mother. Consequently they wanted to follow it around, but Peoc'h stopped them from doing so by putting them in a cage. From the cage the chicks could see the robot, but they could not move toward it. Instead, they made the robot move toward them (Figure 16.1). Their desire to be near the robot somehow influenced the random-number generator so that the robot stayed close to the cage.' Chicks that were not imprinted on the robot had no such effect on its movement.

In other experiments, Peoc'h kept non-imprinted chicks in the dark. He put a lighted candle on the top of the robot and put the chicks in the cage where they could see it. Chicks prefer being in the light dur- ing the daytime, and they "pulled" the robot toward them, so that they received more light. Peoc'h also carried out experiments in which rabbits were put in a cage where they could see the robot. At first they were frightened of it, and the robot moved away from them; they repelled it. But rabbits exposed to the robot daily for several weeks were no longer afraid of it and tended to pull it toward them.' Thus the desire or fear of these animals influenced random events at a distance so as to attract or repel the robot. This would obviously not be possible if animals' desires and fears were confined inside their brains. Instead, their intentions reached out to affect the behavior of this machine. I interpret this influence in terms of a morphic field that projects out to the focus of their attention, connecting them to it. Just as a field of intention can affect people or animals at a distance, so it can affect a physical system. In one case, intention has effects at a distance on the brain. In the other case, intention has effects on random events in a machine. As far as I know, no one has yet repeated Peoc'h's experiments. It is possible that they involve some technical flaw that no one has yet spot ted. But if they are reliable and repeatable, they are very important.



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