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Friday, October 19, 2012

The SCIENCE Behind Remote Viewing. Artificial Intelligence. Reincarnation. Impossible Realities by Maureen Caudill.

Today it's my pleasure to interview, Maureen Caudill, author of Impossible Realities: The Science Behind Energy Healing, Telepathy, Reincarnation, Precognition, and Other Black Swan Phenomena. This book is a non-fiction/new age/paranormal published by Hampton Roads Publishing, an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.

ISBN: 978-1-57174-663-4
Number of pages: 256
Word Count: 66,377
Cover Artist: Jim Warner

Book Description

Impossible Realities is the first book to examine the science behind psychic and paranormal activity. A former Defense Department expert on artificial intelligence, Maureen Caudhill provides evidence for a wide range of paranormal phenomena.

Impossible Realities presents a wealth of anecdotal and empirical evidence to prove the existence (and power) of:

• psychokinesis (most famously spoon bending)
• remote viewing
• energy healing
• telepathy, animal telepathy
• precognition
• survival after death
• reincarnation

Caudill presents the strongest case yet for bringing paranormal phenomena from the margins into the realm of the normal and credible. This is a book both for true believers and skeptics alike.


SKY:   Welcome, Maureen. Impossible Realities sounds absolutely fascinating. What inspired you to write this book?

MAUREEN:   I had previously written a book, SUDDENLY PSYCHIC: A Skeptic’s Journey (Hampton Roads Publishing, 2006) in which I had talked about my own conversion from skeptic to psychic. I majored in physics in college and graduate school, and spent more than 20 years in the computer industry. I was a scientist for a major government contractor, specializing in neural networks—basically building artificial brains coming from a very hard-science perspective.
So with that background, when I suddenly began to have psychic experiences for the first time in my life, I wanted to try to explain them. SUDDENLY PSYCHIC talks about my journey to try to reconcile how such skills as remote viewing or channeling the dead might actually work in the context of real-world physics.

But after SUDDENLY PSYCHIC came out, I realized I still had questions. Was there any credible, scientific, peer-reviewed evidence to support the existence of psychic phenomena? Skeptics always say there is none, but when I started looking for it, I was floored. There is a TON of respectable scientific research into these phenomena. For example, the bibliography of just peer-reviewed papers in IMPOSSIBLE REALITIES is well over 20 pages long—and I mainly limited it to papers published just in the past 10 years or so! 

So IMPOSSIBLE REALITIES is an attempt to explain the level of scientific support for the existence of 8 different psychic skills—and all of them have very strong scientific evidence of their existence. ALL of them! Don’t you think the public should know that?

SKY:   Tell us a little bit about the book.

MAUREEN:   After an introductory chapter, there are eight chapters, each one investigating the evidence for a particular psychic skill, followed by a concluding chapter at the end. I cover psychokinesis (spoon-bending), remote viewing, energy healing, telepathy, animal telepathy, precognition, survival after death, and reincarnation. Many of those are topics I would have laughed myself silly about 10 years ago—now I take all of them very seriously indeed!

SKY:   Why did you choose these specific psychic phenomena to include in the book?

MAUREEN:   As readers of my previous book, SUDDENLY PSYCHIC: A Skeptic’s Journey may know, I underwent a major “psychic awakening” a number of years ago, going from a skeptic with absolutely no psychic experiences in my life, to someone whose life is now filled with such experiences. Almost all the psychic phenomena in IMPOSSIBLE REALITIES reflect specific personal experiences I have had in my life.  They were thus very interesting to me.

I talk about a number of these personal experiences in the book as a way to personalize these phenomena and bring them out of the laboratory and down to earth a little bit.

SKY:  Which of these psychic phenomena has the strongest evidence?

MAUREEN:   Several have absolutely incontrovertible proof. For example, take spoon-bending. The CIA conducted tests in the 1970s on the crystalline structure of psychically bent spoons or forks compared to those that were either mechanically deformed (with pliers, for example) or heated with a welding torch to change their shape. They discovered that there are distinct crystalline structure differences between a psychically bent spoon or fork and one that is deformed in other ways.  In other words, you can tell through objective (if expensive!) scientific testing whether the cutlery is faked or not.  This has been known for forty years!!! Yet to this day, people claim that spoon-bending is a hoax.

SKY:   What is your favorite study you talk about in the book?

MAUREEN:   There is one astonishing study done in China in which a young man apparently managed to teleport a folded-up written message out of a closed plastic canister, sending it some 20 feet away. All this was done in full view of seven observers. The young man never saw the message before it was sealed in the canister, never touched the canister or even the table the canister was on, and never moved from his chair. He never spoke during the experiment. Seven other people were sitting around that table (none within reach of the canister or message), and none of them spoke or moved from their chairs. All he did was sit there, and after about half an hour he was able to say the message was out, he read out the content of the message and even the color ink it was written in. And he was correct in all regards. What is interesting is that this young man had no psychic skills until he underwent a training program the Chinese have developed to train people to “be psychic.”

SKY:   So who are psychics?  Are they rare?

MAUREEN:   Actually, I believe very strongly that everyone is psychic.  We don’t all allow those skills to be developed, particularly in our culture where anything psychic is actively suppressed or ridiculed. And not everyone is equally talented. I liken it to playing a piano. Pretty much everyone can learn to peck out “Chopsticks” on a piano—even I can do that much!  And most people can take lessons and be good enough to play a few tunes at home or at a party.   But to be good enough to play a concert at Carnegie Hall requires that you (a) have a natural aptitude for playing the piano; (b) take lessons to learn music theory and how to play; and (c) practice, practice, practice. 

Psychic skills appear to fall under the same umbrella as other human talents. About 1 percent of us have powerful natural talents to, say, be a psychic medium, or to be a remote viewer.  If those people learn their skills and practice, they can do those skills at a “professional” level—consistently, with high accuracy, and so on. 

The rest of us fall into the main 99 percent in that we can all do all psychic skills sometimes under some circumstances, and with some degree of accuracy and skill. But without the talent, training, and practice, we’ll never hit that professional competency level of the concert pianist. Still, with practice, even if we’re not stand-out stars, we can learn to be pretty consistent in at least one skill. We can learn to be good, even very good, but we won’t be among the great. 

Also, it appears that the skills are fairly independent. Being a great remote viewer doesn’t mean you’ll be able to bend spoons. In fact, there is some anecdotal evidence that developing one skill to superior levels may interfere with developing others.  So don’t ask a medium to  be a super-accurate remote viewer, and don’t ask a remote viewer to be a superb energy healer. They’re as different as being a concert pianist and being a great basketball player.  While the pianist may shoot hoops sometimes, she will never rival Michael Jordan. And while the basketball player may be able to play  pretty well, he’ll never give a concert at Carnegie Hall.

SKY:   What convinces you that everyone is psychic?

MAUREEN:   I’ve led workshops for years with up to several hundred people at a time, and there’s one thing I regularly include in them that everyone asks for.  That’s spoon-bending.  I teach it all the time—I’ve even taught it over the radio (George Noory’s Coast to Coast AM program). My experience is that everyone can do it, with very few exceptions.  I find in very large groups of several hundred, where I can’t give people individual attention, I get between 85-95% success rate. In small groups, where I can assist anyone who needs a little extra help, I get virtually 100% success rates.

Only a very few groups of people appear unable to do it.  Those are people who are extremely elderly, people who are actively ill (fighting off a cold or an infection, for example), and people who are so convinced they can’t do it, that they don’t allow themselves to really try. Everyone else—even skeptics and professional magicians who claim (before the training) that it’s all a hoax—can get their spoons and forks to bend.  As long as people are willing to set their skepticism aside and make an honest try, they can do it. 

That’s really pretty amazing when you think about it. It also confirms my thought that psychic phenomena are perfectly natural, normal human skills. We simply have to learn to develop those skills instead of suppressing them.

SKY:   How do psychic phenomena work?  Does anyone know?

MAUREEN:   I don’t think anyone has a comprehensive theory of how these phenomena operate. They clearly don’t obey classical physics. At a minimum they’re quantum phenomena, but they may not be strictly quantum mechanical either. They have some very odd characteristics that make them difficult to understand.  I think if physicists could create a theory that truly embraced psychic phenomena it would lead to a huge step forward in our understanding of the universe.

SKY:   What characteristics do you mean?

MAUREEN:   For one, psychic phenomena operate outside of spatial limitations. If you’re remote viewing, it’s just as easy to view a location halfway around the world as it is a location next door. And many remote viewers have viewed other planets. We don’t yet know whether those views are accurate or not, of course.

Another thing is that psychic phenomena can’t be blocked. A really good remote viewer can view the inside of a safe deposit box in a locked bank vault.  Standard shielding techniques such as lead or going underground or blocking electromagnetic signals simply don’t work.  There is some indication that magnetic fields can affect psychic skills in some cases, but the evidence isn’t conclusive.
Another point—and the most difficult for me to wrap my own head around—is that psychic phenomena operate outside of time. It’s even possible that they are our first real evidence that time as we currently understand it simply doesn’t exist.  You can psychically sense the past—or the future.  I’m constantly getting what I call “future memories” because in my head they happened in the past, but in fact, they haven’t actually happened yet.  When they do happen, it’s very confusing for me because I can’t distinguish between the future memory I have and the event that’s happening at this moment. It’s very disorienting.

But you know what? Just at the beginning of October a report was published in one of the most respected scientific journals in the world, Nature, that proved that in the quantum world, causes and effects sometimes are reversed with effects happening before (or at the same time) as the events that caused them!  That’s exactly a description of how time works in psychic phenomena.

SKY:   Are you currently working on another book? If so, we’d love some details.

MAUREEN:   I just started collecting anecdotes for a new project, actually, and maybe some of your readers would like to participate in it. The idea is to test a theory I have that when we improve ourselves—become better people—what we actually are doing is improving our whole community so that the people around us also behave better, even when we’re not directly involved in their actions.
So the challenge for your readers is to choose one thing about themselves that they want to change. Say you want to do a better job controlling your temper. Make a conscious commitment for at least one week to do better in that particular thing. Perhaps every time you think you’re starting to get mad, you instead remind yourself to think of a calm, beautiful scene where everything is wonderful.

Or maybe you simply take 3 or 4 deep, calming breaths so you calm down and don’t lose your temper.  Of course, each person may choose anything at all they want to improve on: being more polite at work, consciously driving politely, being courteous to everyone at home, whatever one thing you want to improve in your life about yourself.

What I’d like to hear from any of your readers who want to participate in this is:

1. Were they able to do better in this one area of life for the week (or longer)? 

2. If they were successful, did they notice any improvement in the same thing in the people around them? For example, again using losing your temper as the example, did fewer disagreements turn into arguments, even though the disagreements didn’t involve you?

3. If you do the experiment of doing better for one week, notice a change around you, and then revert to your previous behavior, when you revert, do the people around you start behaving worse too?

If any of your readers would like to try this experiment and report the results to me, that would be great!  Just email me at Maureen@scienceofpsychicphenomena.com and be sure to give me permission in the email about whether you want your story to be anonymous or with your first name only attached.  Also, if any of them have questions about this experiment, feel free to have them email me for more complete information.

SKY:   How can our readers get in touch with you? Do you have a website?

MAUREEN:   They can email me at Maureen@scienceofpsychicphenomena.com or they can check out the website for IMPOSSIBLE REALITIES at http://www.scienceofpsychicphenomena.com

SKY: Thanks so much for joining me today, Maureen. Wishing you much success!

Book Introduction

Black Swans and Other Challenges to Comfortable Reality

Once upon a time . . .

There was a great kingdom that prided itself on being the smartest, the most logical, and the greatest at absolutely everything.

And indeed, the kingdom was rich and powerful and received lots of grant money donated from everyone important. The philosopher-king who ruled this magical land noticed one day that every time he saw a swan, it had white feathers. After consulting with his Truth Committee, he found that every single member agreed: No one had ever seen a swan with anything except white feathers. Thus, a theory was born:

All swans are white.

This theory was duly recorded in the Annals of All Truth for the kingdom. Once thus inscribed, it was added to every textbook in the land, so that all children were thoroughly trained in the principle—one hesitates to say “dogma”—that all swans are white.

One day, a naughty little girl listened to her teacher state that all swans are white. The little girl thought about that, then she stuck her grubby little hand into the air.


“What is it, Brunhilda?”

“What if they’re not? I mean, what if all swans aren’t white?”

Horrified by such heresy, the teacher set little Brunhilda to writing “All swans are white for sure” a thousand times. Brunhilda did as required, muttering all the while, “I still don’t believe it.”
Fast-forward decades later. Brunhilda is now out in the wilderness where she hears a swan honking from a pond nearby. Sneaking up on the pond, she peeks through the bushes . . . and sees a black swan!

At that point, she knows that she has toppled orthodoxy.

The point of this story is that if you have a theory that all swans are white, it takes only one confirmed sighting of a black swan to realize that the theory is incorrect.

This is the state of science today. Current scientific orthodoxy holds the theory that psychic phenomena are “impossible.” With this theory held as “truth,” any claims to the contrary are ascribed to hoaxes, frauds, mistakes, delusions, or hallucinations.1

As with the theory that all swans must be white, if any single psychic skill is demonstrated proven, it topples scientific orthodoxy that all psychic phenomena are impossible.

This book is an attempt to topple that scientific orthodoxy.

Please note, Brunhilda did not have to demonstrate that all swans are black, or even that black swans are particularly common. To disprove the theory that all swans are white, she only needed to find a single black swan.

Like many people, and certainly like most people trained in the hard sciences, I, too, grew up believing that all swans are white, that psychics were all jokes, hoaxes, and charlatans— fun entertainment, but with nothing real about them. I studied physics—as hard a science as there is—and spent a career in computer science, focusing primarily on artificial intelligence and neural networks.

Things don’t get much more logical and down-to-earth than that.

The problem is, when I started experiencing odd, inexplicable effects, I had to choose from three alternatives. I could dismiss my experiences as self-delusion, trickery, or imagination; I could decide I had lost my mind and tipped over the edge into psychosis; or . . . just maybe . . . I could have found a Black Swan.

Since by most reports people seem to believe I’m a moderately normal, functioning adult, I do not believe I’m psychotic.2 On top of that, my Black Swan hasn’t been a single event, but a bevy of Black Swans. They’ve come one right after another. They’ve come in whole bevies, flocks, herds of Black Swans. Some have come with hard physical proof.

It’s pretty difficult to throw away the amount of data that I’ve accumulated from personal experience. In fact, the experiences are so compelling that I’ve had to completely change my perspective about almost everything I thought I understood as orthodoxy.

With that said, I also recognize that my personal experiences are compelling and convincing to only one person—me. No one else can possibly trust these experiences as meaningful evidence, because they were not generated in formal scientific protocols or under rigorous scrutiny. In fact, the only person who knows exactly what happened and what didn’t happen is me.

I’m like little Brunhilda. I’ve seen my Black Swans and I know that current orthodoxy is wrong. Unfortunately, I also know that just as Brunhilda’s word about what she has seen in that pond isn’t sufficient to convince the philosopher-king to change the Annals of All Truth, my personal experiences, no matter how ardently I protest their veracity, will convince no one else that my Black Swans exist. To accomplish that, I need harder proof. And that hard proof is what this book is about.

In the chapters that follow, I’ll guide you through a handful of the Black Swans I’ve seen. I’ll tell you why I personally believe in these Black Swans, mostly because I’ve personally experienced them. But, recognizing that you’ll need more proof than my personal stories, I’ll also show you that each one of these Black Swans is supported by an extensive array of scientific evidence. In other words, you don’t have to believe my stories. While I hope you enjoy them, and that they enliven your journey, you don’t have to believe a single word I tell you about what happened to me. Instead, I ask you to believe the many scientists who have spent years of their lives and risked their professional careers and reputations to investigate the possibility that not all swans are white.

Over the following chapters, I’m going to invite you to observe eight separate Black Swans. There are other Black Swans out there that I won’t discuss, of course, and to some degree, the ones I’ve chosen to discuss are those that have most intruded on my life. I could have included several more topics, but only at the risk of making this book excessively long and unwieldy. But here’s a sneak peek at the beautiful Black Swans you’ll meet in these pages.

The First Black Swan is psychokinesis, more specifically spoon-bending. I start there because whenever I do a workshop, I nearly always make time for a spoon-bending exercise. People love doing it. (And, yes, in my workshops they don’t watch me bend spoons. I pass out spoons and forks and have the participants do it themselves. It’s way fun.) Furthermore, it’s something people remember; it sets them up for a good time. And . . . well, you’ll read all about it in the next chapter.

The Second Black Swan is remote viewing. This is the skill that the CIA and the military spent more than twenty years developing by supporting a group of “psychic spies.” You may think you know all about that program, and you may think you know that it was “discredited.” If you believe that, I think you may find yourself quite surprised by what the evidence really shows about the effectiveness of remote viewing.

The Third Black Swan is energy healing. This is a Black Swan that surprised the heck out of me when it impinged on my life. As you’ll learn in the stories I share about this particular skill, though I had learned to respect several other psychic skills, when healing showed up in my life I was completely blown away. Happily, there’s a substantial body of evidence that supports psychic healing and, interestingly, the ability of prayer to affect the outcome of health crises.

The Fourth Black Swan is telepathy, and, as a related skill, something I call “telempathy.” The dividing line between these is subtle. I consider telepathy the ability to read another person’s thoughts. Telempathy, a word I coined, is the ability to read another person’s emotions. To me, telempathy is easier to believe in, but as it turns out, the scientific evidence is pretty clear that telepathy works, too.

The Fifth Black Swan is animal telepathy. This Black Swan is near and dear to my heart. Like many of you, I’m a pet owner. Or rather, I should say I am proud to be allowed to share my home with my cat. I grew up with dogs and love them dearly, too, but in recent years I have switched to cats as my companion animals.3 I find animal communication with my cat is both very real and amazing when it happens. In this chapter, you’ll learn that there are some surprising experiments that provide good evidence for the ability of animals to read our minds, at least some of the time. Don’t believe me? Read the chapter.

The Sixth Black Swan is precognition. If you thought it was hard to believe in animals reading your mind, when it comes to looking into the future, you may decide that is even wilder.

But as it happens, there is solid scientific data that demonstrates that we absolutely do have proof that we can look into the future. (I don’t use the word “proof” lightly, by the way.) You might be surprised by this chapter, but I hope you’ll be open-minded enough to read it.

The Seventh Black Swan is survival after death. Yes, that’s right. I’m going to address the question of whether any part of us survives after death. To put this in perspective, I used to be absolutely convinced that there was no chance that anything survived the death experience. As a good little scientific materialist, I was completely convinced that death meant the cessation of everything. No heaven, no hell, no ghosts, no nothing. Death merely meant you just . . . stopped. I tell you some part of what has changed my mind about this, and then I review the solid scientific evidence that demonstrates that some part of us—a spirit, a soul, something—survives death.

The Eighth Black Swan is reincarnation. Yes, that’s what I said. Reincarnation. By that I mean exactly what you think I mean: the whole prospect of having more than one life. In this chapter we take a look at cases where children remember lives they’ve lived before, and we consider how credible these cases may be. This again is a topic that once would have surprised me. Fifteen years ago I would never have imagined myself writing anything in support of reincarnation—that was simply far too strange for me. As it turns out, however, when I measure the outrageousness of the concept today, it’s . . . not so much.

After considering each of these eight Black Swans, I recap what we’ve learned in chapter 9. I summarize the evidence presented and offer my own generalizations for what they imply about how psychic phenomena operate. No, I don’t present a theory that attempts to explain how they work—I leave that to the professional physicists and theoreticians like Ervin Laszlo and Amit Goswami, who are working on such theories. These and other very smart men and women will no doubt eventually succeed and lead us into a better understanding of how the universe really works.

In the chapters ahead I have had to winnow through the available evidence. There are dozens and dozens of papers in each of these subjects that, for lack of room, I have had to leave out. I tried to find interesting, solid research projects, and wherever possible, I looked for experiments that maybe haven’t been publicized as much as others. A glance at the reading list will show you that there is far more research out there than I have discussed, or could discuss in less than a one-thousand-page tome. With occasional exceptions, I limited my list of papers to only those published in the past ten years or so.

Because most people don’t have access to the libraries where most of these academic papers can be found, however, I have also included a Recommended Books list. These are books that are favorites on my personal bookshelf, and all of them should be available in regular bookstores or libraries. All are well written and good reading.

Finally, experience has proved to me that many people who read a book like this will want to explore their psychic abilities for themselves. (And, yes, you do have psychic skills, even if you’ve never experienced them so far. If I can do these things, so can you.) Thus, I’ve provided some interesting resources that you can follow up on if you like.

Most of all, though, I hope you find this book fun and entertaining as well as informative. Although I take the subject seriously, the last thing in the world I want to do is bore you into submission. Instead, I hope you’ll be entertained, enlightened, and set free to go discover your very own Black Swans. Reading about other people’s experiences won’t convince you of anything.

About the Author

Maureen Caudill spent more than twenty years as a computer scientist, fifteen of those as a researcher in artificial intelligence and neural networks. She was a program manager and Artificial Intelligence researcher working on such advanced projects as DARPA (“High Performance Knowledge Base” program) and ARDA (“Advanced Question Answering for Intelligence” program).

Visit Maureen's Website ~ Blog ~ Facebook ~ GoodReads 


Cathy McElhaney said...

Wow! This is fascinating and something I am really interested in! I am pretty sure I will buy this book AND the other one! I might be interested in participating in the next book also..I just need to see which thing I will test, LOL! There are loads of things I am trying to work on! I believe strongly in reincarnation because I have had memories of past lives...
Thank you Sky, for bringing Maureen to my attention...although her name is familiar to me, I am sure I have not read either book!

Pam Richter said...

Hi Maureen,

What an interesting interview. I'll have to get the book after reading the interview and excerpt. To come from hard science to a belief in psychic phenomena is a giant leap for a scientist. Thanks, Pam

Sky Purington said...

Thanks for commenting, Cathy and Pam. I intend to be reading this book on my vacation next week. Can't wait! :-)