We’re very excited to be hosting Sharon Lynn Fisher on the blog again today! You might remember her from our previous Featured Author Friday post. Her science fiction novels are some of our favorites and we equally loved her newest book, Echo 8. Be sure to watch for our upcoming review in a Science Fiction Saturday feature. One of the best things about Sharon’s books is that she is able to blend her science fiction and romance elements seamlessly to create a perfect balance. This time, Sharon’s tackling parapsychology. Check out our guest post from Sharon below where she discusses just what parapsychology is and isn’t.
Please welcome Sharon back to Badass Book Reviews!
Parapsychology: What It Is and Isn’t
My new book Echo 8 features a heroine who is a parapsychologist, and Christal has invited me to talk about the field of parapsychology. It’s a field for which I developed tremendous respect in the course of my research. But it’s a huge topic, so I thought I’d follow the format of myth debunking to keep things manageable.
For a fascinating, concise look at the history of parapsychology, check out Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality by Dr. Dean Radin, parapsychologist and senior researcher at the Institute of Noetic Sciences. Dr. Radin was kind enough to look over the technical points in my book before publication.
- Parapsychologists are ghost hunters.
This is not false, but it’s only a small part of the picture. Parapsychologists do study paranormal phenomena, including ghosts, but the broader field (referred to by Dr. Radin as “psi”) looks at precognition (knowing your best friend’s pregnant before you get the call), telepathy (reading others’ thoughts), psychokinesis (“Use the force, Luke!”), remote viewing (using your mind to find your lost cat), and distant healing (curing someone who isn’t present [like your lost cat] with your thoughts).
In Echo 8, parapsychologist Tess Caufield talks about her mother’s “little prophecies,” which is a form of precognition. This is based on my own experience, and it refers to times when I dream something before it actually happens. In my case it’s usually small, inconsequential things. Though recently I dreamed I found my daughter lying on a beach, and I picked her up and carried her into the bathroom, unresponsive, to try and hydrate her. When I woke up, I had an email from her dad saying she was very ill and he was thinking of taking her to urgent care. (Just a nasty stomach bug!)
- Parapsychology is not real science.
Before researching Echo 8, I’m afraid I was one of the folks who suspected this might be true. As an author, I feel like I’m about one half cynical and jaded (hello, internal editor) and one half open to anything. But in this case I could not have been more wrong. Historically, parapsychologists have actually been pioneers in rigorous scientific methodology. It makes sense. Any kind of result they claim is supportive of psi is going to be ruthlessly picked apart and examined from every angle.
Another challenge of parapsychology is the fact that positive research results are often so small that it requires aggregating them over years (meta analysis) to uncover their statistical significance.
This is something you can read about in Entangled Minds. Radin carefully documents and satisfyingly addresses every single criticism of research methods employed by parapsychologists, until the fact that it’s still viewed as illegitimate starts to look more like scientific bias than anything else.
We sometimes make the assumption scientists are more open-minded than the rest of us, but it ain’t necessarily so. Radin cites the example of colleagues who ridiculed physician William Harvey when he claimed the heart was responsible for pumping blood around the body (1628). A leading physician at the time wrote:
“That a pulse should arise in the breast that can be heard, when the blood is transported from the veins to the [arteries], this we certainly can’t perceive and we do not believe that this will ever happen, except Harvey lends us his hearing aid.”
Where does one go to study parapsychology? The University of Edinburgh, for one (Koestler Parapsychology Unit). Dr. Radin has a master’s in electrical engineering and a PhD in psychology, and has conducted psi research at Princeton University, University of Edinburgh, University of Nevada, Interval Research Corporation, and SRI International.
Coincidentally, the same year I started working on Echo 8, the Parapsychological Association held their annual convention at the University of Washington, and I attended a full day of workshops. If I expected to be entertained with anecdotes of psychic feats (I confess I may have), I was disappointed. These people are serious researchers, and what I heard was a lot of discussion of methods, data, and analysis.
- People who believe in psi have weaker intellects than other people.
Radin refers to this as the ignorance hypothesis: the notion that belief in psi correlates with deficient education. His analysis of available data (based on various studies and polls conducted by different groups, including the National Science Foundation) indicates the opposite is true: more educated people are more likely to express belief in psi.
According to interviews conducted by the Institute of Noetic Sciences, “women are less skeptical than men and reported more unusual experiences.” And, interestingly, left-handed and ambidextrous people are more likely to believe in psi. So are artists and other creative types, and people who meditate. But nothing in the available research supports the idea that lack of education is associated with psi beliefs (which are considered distinct from superstitious beliefs).
So that’s a wrap on the three myths! But don’t take my word for it. I encourage you to explore this fascinating topic for yourself. One fun way to get started is to help with research! Click here to lose the next five hours of your day to science (psi games developed by the Institute of Noetic Sciences for research purposes).
Time for sharing! Have you had any experiences you’d classify as psychic?
All About The Author
A Romance Writers of America RITA Award finalist and a three-time Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award finalist, Sharon Lynn Fisher writes stories for the geeky at heart—meaty mash-ups of sci-fi, suspense, and romance, with no apology for the latter. She lives where it rains nine months of the year. And she has a strange obsession with gingers (down to her freaky orange cat).
Sharon’s works include Ghost Planet (2012), The Ophelia Prophecy (2014), and Echo 8 (2015). You can visit her online at SharonLynnFisher.com.
Bring On The Books!
Sharon Lynn Fisher’s newest science fiction romance featuring parapsychologist Tess, FBI agent Ross, and mysterious Jake, who appeared from another Earth.
One chance to save it all.
Tess is a parapsychologist, devoting her life to studying paranormal and psychic phenomenon. But when doppelgangers begin appearing from a parallel world, all her training couldn’t prepare her for what is to come.
Jake appeared from another Earth, shocked and angry, and is restrained by government investigators for study. But when he unwittingly steals energy from Tess, it causes a ripple effect across two worlds.
Ross is an FBI agent, ordered to protect Tess as she conducts her research into this dangerous phenomenon. His assignment was not random—he and Tess have a history. And when those feelings resurface, Ross will have to choose between his love for Tess and his duty to protect his world.
Sharon Lynn Fisher’s second science fiction romance featuring human archivist Asha and Manti prince Pax set in a future version of Earth.
* * *
Asha and Pax — strangers and enemies — find themselves stranded together on the border of the last human city, neither with a memory of how they got there.
Asha is an archivist working to preserve humanity’s most valuable resource — information — viewed as the only means of resurrecting their society.
Pax is Manti, his Scarab ship a menacing presence in the skies over Sanctuary, keeping the last dregs of humanity in check.
Neither of them is really what they seem, and what humanity believes about the Manti is a lie.
With their hearts and fates on a collision course, they must unlock each other’s secrets and forge a bond of trust before a rekindled conflict pushes their two races into repeating the mistakes of the past.
Sharon’s debut science fiction romance featuring ghostly psychologist Elizabeth Cole and Ghost Protocol founder Grayson Murphy.
Reincarnated as a ghost, Elizabeth is symbiotically linked to her supervisor, Murphy – creator of the Ghost Protocol, which forbids him to acknowledge or interact with her. Confused and alone – oppressed by her ghost status and tormented by forbidden love – Elizabeth works to unlock the secrets of her own existence.
But her quest for answers lands her in a tug-of-war between powerful interests, and she soon finds herself a pawn in the struggle for control of the planet…a struggle that could separate her forever from the man she loves.
© 2015, Badass Book Reviews. All rights reserved.