Real Magic: Ancient Wisdom, Modern Science, and a Guide to the Secret Power of the Universe by Dean Radin

Bryan J Williams

Abstract


Given the wide range of mythical/occult lore, stage legerdemain, and popular fantasy-based fictional stereotypes that have long been associated with the term magic in human culture, it is quite possible that some academically-minded readers may initially be put off by the title of this book. But these are not the kinds of magic that Dean Radin is talking about. Rather, he is subtly alluding to a certain class of seemingly extraordinary human experiences and abilities for which the exact underlying physical and biological mechanisms are not too well understood as of yet – namely, the experiences and abilities that may be classed as psychic (or psi). He focuses on examining three general sub-classes which, in keeping with the theme of this book, are labeled in the parlance of magic: force of will (referring to psychokinesis, aka. mind-matter interaction), divination (referring to extrasensory perception), and theurgy (referring to experiences related to survival after death).

            Yet even with such clarification being made from the outset, there might still be readers who would wonder whether it is even a good idea to discuss psi phenomena in conjunction with magic, as some parapsychologists may be reminded of the effort once made by psychologist (and noted skeptic) James Alcock (1981) to portray an association between the two as being something fanciful and not fitting with the pursuit of science in his book Parapsychology: Science or Magic? Arguing on the basis of its seeming incompatibility with mainstream science, Alcock implied that psi is something that could be seen as being akin to occult conjuring, where one is able to spontaneously gain certain knowledge or mentally bring about certain event outcomes at will, without any apparent logic or reason. And as psychologist and psi researcher John Palmer (1983) had pointed out in his critical review of the book, Alcock even went on to imply that parapsychologists tend to act more like occult magicians than scientists, claiming that they are motivated by a predisposed belief in psi rather than an objective search for facts and data-driven theory. In light of such blatant accusations being made in the past, one might figure that parapsychologists would be wary of their subject matter being discussed or referred to in relation to magic again, in any shape or form.


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