Radin, professor of psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies, argues that scientists should take the research on magic seriously in his lively review of the surprisingly large body of scholarship on the topic. He uses the terms magic and psi phenomena interchangeably to refer to the intentional influencing of events, knowing beyond the physical senses, and communicating with spirits. This breezy history of magic spans from the mystery cults of ancient Greece and gnostic Christians, through the Inquisitions’ suppression of magical abilities, to the 19th-century spiritualists (his inclusion of “positive thinking” shows how broadly he defines the term magic). The meat of his work is his discussion of scientific studies that, he claims, throw significant doubts on the idea that supernatural abilities are not real. He uses studies of divination, remote viewing, and voodoo massage of effigies, arguing that their success rates statistically cannot be chance. Though he worries about the potential harm in helping humans harness their innate abilities to influence the world, he ends with a call for scientists to move beyond their staunch “materialism” (which Radin uses to mean belief in only the natural sciences). Radin’s mostly convincing explanations will speak directly to those who already believe in magic and sow discussions among those on the fence. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/26/2018 Release date: 04/10/2018 Genre: Religion
Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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