Institute of Noetic Sciences: Well, I want to welcome everyone to the program today. We have with us IONS Senior Scientist and the author of Entangled Minds, Dr. Dean Radin. So, welcome! Thanks for joining us, Dean.
Dean Radin: Thank you.
IONS: What we're focusing here in these interviews is getting your angle on the biggest shifts of our time. So, starting from the big picture, how do you see our current global situation?
DR: The current global situation, if you see it from the point of view of the way the media portrays it, is one of great fear and hysteria. I suspect that a large proportion of the fear and hysteria is driven by the way that the media works. It works in such a way to make people feel pumped up, to be driven by adrenaline, and in that state there's a lot of mindless reaction and not a whole bunch of mindful thinking about what's actually going on. So that's, I think, the current global situation. I was thinking the other day of the number of extinction events that are on the horizon that have been discussed in the recent months or year, and it's more than I ever remember before. But then I also think about, in a historical perspective, I'm sure that during the Second World War there was an enormous amount of fear and hysteria. During the Cold War we were constantly diving under our desks in school to avoid the atomic bomb. There's always been a certain level of fear and hysteria about what's going to happen. It's like keeping terror at bay. But I think just the number of different kinds of terrors that we face today appears to be more than I remember ever.
IONS: Do you buy into the fear and hysteria? Or do you feel more hopeful about that?
DR: Well, it's difficult not to buy into some of it because some of it has greater credibility than others. Some you can do nothing about. So what can I personally do for global warming? I bought a hybrid car. That's my approach. What can I do about bird flu? Nothing. So you have to pick and choose how much adrenaline you want to partition for one terror versus another. I try to remain calm, but it's difficult if you just turn on any news station anywhere. We're assaulted by it all the time.
IONS: How does this relate to the dominant scientific climate and paradigm, which is more your area of expertise?
DR: Scientists are generally not too hysterical—so, within mainstream science, the way that these topics are being discussed is much more as a rational discussion. Let's talk about whether there is or is not global warming, and how many people will die when the bird flu occurs, and can we identify an anti-virus fast enough to save x-number of people. So the discussions are there in science, but it's not with the overlay of, "You must build an underground bunker and get your ammunition." At least, it's not at the top of discussion. It might be below the discussion somewhat.
IONS: I was also thinking: Are there ways in which the current scientific modalities and belief systems really reinforce some of the fear because there isn't a sense of larger purpose or a deeper sense of interconnection, some of the things that your work may point towards?
DR: Well, whenever we're faced with terror, what we look for is certainty. We want some way of getting out of the terror and being certain about it. Science usually doesn't deal with certainty at all. So in some respects, from a scientific perspective, it only makes the situation worse. I mean, if we see in the media, or if we read in scientific journals, scientists are really concerned about global warming. And the projections about what's likely to happen are accelerating. They're no longer a hundred years in the future, but maybe, twenty years in the future where suddenly, there's no more ice on the world. For people who are looking to get out of a state of terror, it actually makes it worse. So I'm not sure if that answered your question, but it's one way of responding to it, I suppose.
IONS: It kind of connects in with the second question we've been asking folks. What do you see as the most essential shifts required for us to evolve to the next level? And I would connect this with you specifically, with moving from one scientific paradigm to more of an emergent worldview that your work is starting to point towards.
DR: Some of the fear and hysteria are associated with the worldview model which might be called a classical model, a materialistic, mechanistic model of science in which we can use all the natural resources we wish and we can push people around any way we wish because it doesn't make any difference. We live as isolated creatures and you can shove all your garbage over on one side and it's isolated from you so you're safe from it. That view is changing. It's changing into a more interdependent and ecological and holistic model, in which case there is no place to put garbage and things are not anywhere near as separate or as isolated as we previously thought—in which case we simply have to clean up our act a lot more than we ever had to before. This is also related to the shrinking world, simply how fast it is for people to get around from one side of the world to the other, and also the speed with which information transfers. So we're living in a much smaller house. You can't sweep too much dirt under the carpet for too long in that kind of an environment. Evolving to the next level—I had to think about that for a bit—and I presume that if the current level is fear and hysteria, than the next level would be a little bit less fear and a little bit less hysteria, I guess.
IONS: A much more humble way to look at this new paradigm.
DR: Yeah. So the nature of my work I think is relevant to that is that we'd develop a greater reliance on self-management and paying attention to our own intentions more than we have in the past rather than being in this mindless reactive state which basically just pushes adrenaline and causes people to buy rubber gloves and air masks.
IONS: Another piece of this that's interesting is the work on "entangled minds" is showing that our intentions are much more interwoven in our consciousness in some fundamental way with other people on the planet. So what kind of repercussions might that have as that begins to infiltrate the dominant scientific paradigm?
DR: Again, it relates to this notion of a holistic environment. It's the nature of the medium in which we live; the fabric of reality. And it probably will change our understanding of who and what we think we are, to say nothing of what sort of capabilities we may have. Just in a very pragmatic way, if my thoughts, if my fear of terror is persistent, it will tend to radiate out from me—and make people around me, who may not be particularly fearful of anything, slightly more fearful because they're entangled in this same medium. So, in other words, it's almost as though we're living in a liquid, and you start pushing a little bit of ink in one area, it begins to spread out and it affects the entire medium itself. So if a magical circumstance occurred where everyone decided for one day to only think about peaceful things, even people who weren't participating in that exercise would probably feel more peaceful. It raises the possibility that you can change the whole environment by just infecting it—it's just one word—but affecting it with positive thoughts just in the same way we tend to infect it with negative thoughts. So in this magical other world, this next level, if the media simply got together and decided that for one day the media was only going to be really happy events—which is, by the way, the majority of what happens all the time anyway; that's the way it actually is—If the media reflected the way the world actually is most of the time, then I think it is reasonable to assume that what would happen is that would become the average state. That would become the real state and would continue to push it in that direction. So that's one consequence of thinking about living in a fully entangled world.
IONS: And there's some interesting evidence from the Global Consciousness Project that supports that these collective mind states actually have an impact on the environment in some subtle way. Maybe you could say a little more about what that research is.
DR: This refers to this worldwide experiment where we're looking at mind-matter interaction, but mind meaning the whole world's mind—or a large percentage of it—and it's impact on randomness. And the idea is that if mind and matter are really interrelated in some way than if you change one side of the equation, the other side has to change. So we look for instances when the mind side of the equation changes in the direction that we can call coherence. Now, unfortunately, there's two directions in which you can push coherence. You can push coherence in a positive or a negative direction. Positive coherence might be a celebration for New Year's and a negative coherence might be a reaction to some terrorism event. In both cases, it is as though you took a light bulb and you turned it into a laser. It could have the same amount of total power in one and the other, but the light bulb is very diffuse and looks like a soft glow the laser is an extremely intense beam that has an enormous amount of power underneath it. So these moments of mental coherence create, in a sense, a kind of power that we detect by changes in randomness. The randomness also becomes less diffuse, metaphorically speaking, and becomes more coherent and you can see that statistically. So, so far, it's not clear that positive coherence makes a larger effect than negative coherence. They both show effects in what we see. But the bottom line is: what is happening to the world-mind as it gets pushed around by things that it pays attention to seems to affect the environment directly in the physical sense. So you can imagine that if minds can do that to clumps of matter—just circuit boards in a computer—then what is it doing to something that is much more sensitive, namely other minds? The likelihood is it's making gigantic effects.
IONS: That leads us into other aspects of your work right now. How did the current research get into this larger shift of scientific paradigm which is a part of this movement to a slightly less fearful and hysterical world?
DR: Well, I think about research on precognition as one example and then it's a little bit more difficult to know how to respond to it. This is more like a basic science issue on, What is the nature of causation?, How do things happen? So in the larger sense we're dealing the question of, Do we actually live in a mechanistic universe? Meaning a clockwork-type of universe, where time only moves in one direction and the only way you can actually influence something is by direct contact with it, pushing it with forces. The research on precognition is partially related to this because it questions the nature of causation. It suggests that maybe sometimes things occur because they're being pulled by the future. An example of an experiment of this type is you press a button and it produces a random number, but if you have intention underneath it—if you're intention is ‘I really want to get a certain kind of random number.' If you hold that intention and you actually place it in the future, that's the thing you wish to get by your intention. Now when you press a button, that future is actually more likely to occur. So what the implication is is that, on a larger scale, intentions that we hold about where we're going are relevant to where we end up. Now this is called teleology in science, and it's anathema in science because it sounds like it's some religious thing that's pulling us into some fated future. And I don't see it that way. I think that because we don't really know where and when mind is located, if mind can be located in the future and mind and matter interact in some way, then we can pull ourselves into a desired future. And this, of course, is popularized in books talking about the power of intention, for example. But there is some experimental evidence suggesting that that is, in fact, what can happen. There is an enormous amount of inertia which pulls us into one particular direction, but nevertheless, with enough intention, it is possible to deflect us from the future that the inertia is pulling us towards.
IONS: So maybe not create completely whatever future we want, but to deflect us a bit—a nudge in a direction.
DR: It's almost like we're in a boat and we're in a very fast moving stream. We're going over the falls. And the only way we're going to get out of this is not by magically levitating and disappearing somehow from where you are, but by pushing the boat just slightly with a little push so that you end up on the shore before you go over the waterfall. That's sort of the metaphorical way of thinking about how you can put small tweaks into the direction that we're flowing so that we end up in one future, perhaps a better future, than the future that seems to be arriving. Actually, the stream metaphor is interesting because, if you go tubing on a stream, sometimes in the middle of what appears to be a slow moving stream, your boat, even in the center of the stream, will stop and sometimes even start moving backwards. Well, why does that occur? It occurs because there's back pressure due to something like a boulder under the water which the current is hitting and actually producing a back-current. So your boat can be sort of floating along, going along with the stream, and suddenly, for no apparent reason, stop and start going backwards and then be deflected and start going somewhere else. That's because of something in the medium itself, namely a boulder in this case. But something can deflect the natural trajectory of the object. So, now we put ourselves in the stream—we're in the time stream and we can see the waterfall in the distance—if we can manage to put the equivalent of a boulder to produce back-pressure, then we can actually deflect ourselves and not end up in that future.
IONS: The final question we ask is, What is the most important things we can do on a personal level to create positive change? This may not be your domain of expertise, but I think it would be interesting to get your answers, nonetheless.
DR: What I try to do is to, on one hand, evaluate what's really important for me. Part of that includes buying the rubber gloves and the masks to prevent the bird flu spread. I mean, that's something you can do. It's like buying insurance. You've prepared for something, and once you've prepared you can't do anything else, so we can't worry about it. The other thing is simply to slow down when you can. When I'm driving now, I make a very concerted effort to drive a little bit slower, actually a lot slower than most of the rest of the traffic. You can see a kind of anxiety on the highway where cars are going 80mph three feet apart, which is insanity. It's so insane I just marvel at it every time I see it happening, which is every day on the highway. And I'm thinking, well what are they thinking? And the answer is they're not thinking about it at all. They can't be thinking about it, because if they did they'd realize it's extremely dangerous to do that. Whereas if they simply left a couple of car lengths between each other—and they'd get to the same location at exactly the same time, virtually—it would be a lot safer. So I try to make those kinds of what amount to defensive decisions all the time, and it doesn't require much of a change in behavior at all. I always get to the same destination at the same time. I get to do anything I want to do, but it's in a more mindful condition. I try to remain mindful, and that's one way of keeping the fear and hysteria at bay.
IONS: Which is especially important if we're each working as a source of ripples moving outward—that we each take responsibility for reducing that.
DR: If everyone was even a smidgen more mindful about the choices they make and what they do, that spreads out and that affects everybody and then hopefully everyone makes a slightly better decision. And part of the way I think it plays out is: The world of the internet, and cell phones and the rest of it, push us very hard, push us in terms of our sense of time and anxiety, and everybody feels overwhelmed all the time. So once we recognize that that is partially the result of too much email and too much internet and too much telephones and all the rest, you can make a decision as to what you wish to do about it. And so, you pick up only every other call and let the phones go to voice mail. And what I do typically on email now is I flag things I know have to respond to and I throw away the rest. And I have about a two-week list—I don't let it get beyond around more than two weeks—two weeks of flagged email messages that I eventually will respond to within about two weeks. And if it turns out something will require more time than I wish to respond to it, I respond back with a one-liner that forces the other person to respond to me. I give myself two more weeks.
IONS: Sort of a tag-you're-it strategy.
DR: Yeah, and it works really good that way. It's one strategy I've adopted so that I can just slow down and breathe as opposed to feeling this constant push all the time
IONS: Some very sage words there. I think that about wraps it up for this interview. For folks, you also have psi games online that you might want to let people know about, right? Where can people find that?
DR: www.psiarcade.com. There are a Garden of Dreams, Psi Games, and also Balls of Healing. They're both quite large now in terms of the amount of data in both of them—tens of millions of trials. As a result, the databases are getting a little bit slower and I need to do a little bit of pruning in the garden in order to speed things up, so that's on the agenda
IONS: When people participate in that, they're helping to advance the scientific work that is featured in books like Entangled Minds and elsewhere.
DR: Right, they're enjoying themselves and contributing to science at the same time.
IONS: It's a good package deal. Thank you so much for your time and your great work and I look forward to our next conversation.