The ESP Enigma: The Scientific Case for Psychic Phenomena

Diane Hennacy Powell, M.D., Author Walker $25 (279p) ISBN 978-0-8027-1606-4

In science it is axiomatic that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Powell, a neuropsychiatrist who has taught at Harvard Medical School, certainly makes extraordinary claims about “the four basic psychic abilities”: telepathy, psychokinesis, clairvoyance and precognition. But her evidence is consistently below par. She relies on self-reported claims by psychics, hundred-year-old newspaper accounts and the results of studies published by organizations like the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research rather than in reputable, peer-reviewed scientific journals (and sometimes she cites no source at all). Powell is woefully short on mechanisms to explain the phenomena she claims are so common, although she does turn to quantum physics to assert that molecular resonance and the space-time continuum are likely responsible, and she finds evolutionary explanations for the existence of psychic phenomena. She claims, for instance, that psychic events are related to dreaming, which may have evolved so babies, who mostly sleep, can detect threats and communicate them psychically to their parents. Undaunted by the weak evidence, Powell asserts that she is on the forefront of a “Copernican revolution” of the mind. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 10/06/2008
Release date: 12/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 279 pages - 978-0-8027-1028-4
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