Frequent Questions About IONS

See also Membership FAQ | Research FAQ | Website FAQ

What Is the Institute of Noetic Sciences - or IONS?

The Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) is a nonprofit research and educational organization that conducts, sponsors, and collaborates on leading-edge research into what can be proven scientifically about the nature of reality, often revealing the entangled qualities of mind and body, consciousness and matter. It focuses its work on personal transformation, distant healing, parapsychology, mind-matter interactions, and what it calls “worldview literacy.” Through philanthropic and membership funding, IONS conducts its basic science in an onsite laboratory and applications research at many off-site locations, such as hospitals, social service centers, and classrooms. This funding also fuels its new online transformative learning network, learning programs, conferences, and publications. Located in Northern California on 200 acres of pastoral hills just 25 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge, IONS also operates EarthRise, an eco-friendly retreat center that offers meeting facilities, cuisine, and lodging for up to 120 people.


What Is "Noetic"?

The word "noetic" comes from the ancient Greek nous, for which there is no exact equivalent in English. It most closely refers to "inner knowing" or a kind of intuitive consciousness—direct and immediate access to knowledge beyond what is available to our normal senses and the power of reason.


What Are "Noetic Sciences"?

Maintaining a commitment to scientific rigor and standards methods of research, Noetic Science explores phenomena that do not necessarily fit conventional scientific models. It explores the "inner cosmos" of the mind (consciousness, soul, spirit) and how it relates to the "outer cosmos" of the physical world, such as world views, health and healing, social behaviors, relationships, and personal growth, to name a few. In other words, it explores how people come to know things or affect things that have no apparent rational explanation by studying such experiences and inner capacities as intuitions, psi, “after-death” communication, and personal transformations. It then explores what its findings suggest about the nature of human consciousness. For more on this topic, go to the What are the Noetic Sciences? page.


Who Founded IONS?

Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon, founded the Institute in 1973 after experiencing what he described as a "samadhi" moment—a profound sense of universal connectedness—on his return trip from the moon. His mission for the Institute was to “broaden our knowledge of the nature and potentials of mind and consciousness and to apply that knowledge to the enhancement of human well-being and the quality of life on the planet."


How Many Members Does IONS Have?

IONS is an international membership organization with approximately 12,000 members located in nearly all 50 states and in more than 60 countries.


What Does IONS Study?

Since its founding in 1973, IONS has focused on the intersection of science and spiritual experience, extended human potential, consciousness and healing, mind-body interaction, social transformation, and creativity. It conducts empirical research, organizes scientific or scholarly conferences, hosts an online consciousness transformation network, sponsors scientific and scholarly publications, supports the professional development of colleagues, professional networking, and hosts educational workshops at its retreat center. Current research program topic areas include: Consciousness and Healing, Extended Human Capacities, and Worldview Transformation.


Does IONS provide any information and training about meditation?

IONS maintains an up-to-date and comprehensive Meditation Bibliography database with nearly 6000 citations and abstracts. Click here to find out more about the Meditation Bibliography. We also offer workshops, courses and publications related to meditation. Click here to see more about our meditation resources.


How Is IONS Supported Financially?

The Institute of Noetic Sciences is a 501c(3) nonprofit organization. Our principal sources of income include donor level members, who contribute through annual dues and monthly giving programs; larger individual financial gifts; research grants; and revenue from the retreat center. Members of the board of directors also contribute significantly to IONS. Guidestar publishes financial information about IONS.


Who Are the Members of IONS' Board of Directors and How Are They Selected?

Members of IONS board are committed individuals from among the membership who want to further IONS' work through significant financial support as well as through contributions of time and professional expertise. New board candidates are evaluated and then selected by existing board members and are elected to three-year terms of service.


What is IONS' transformative learning network?

IONS’ online transformative learning network is part of the Institute’s expanding global learning community. It provides enrichment resources and social engagement tools to support the proliferating number of people migrating online to pursue growth opportunities in life-skills, career, and community. IONS online transformative learning network incorporates

  • A vast repository of new and archived consciousness science research
  • Guest blog posts by experts in transformation and consciousness science, healthcare, education, global issues, media, and business
  • A social community with profile-sharing features and discussion forums
  • Enriched access to IONS’ worldwide grid of 200 community groups
  • Online classroom solutions and e-learning programs offering continuing education credits (CECs)
  • Easier access to multimedia content with enhanced social share features
  • Interactive engagement activities such as games and assessment tools
  • E-store featuring new products such as eBooks and audio sets


What Kinds of Educational Activities Does IONS Support?

Every two years IONS hosts an international conference at various locations throughout the U.S. It also organizes smaller regional events in the San Francisco Bay Area, including lectures by visiting scientists, scholars, and social entrepreneurs. In 2009 IONS began sponsoring a series of Conscious Living Workshops at EarthRise at IONS retreat center. IONS now also offers e-learning and continuing education credit courses on its online consciousness transformation network, along with CDs and DVDs and publications in its e-store on topics in the noetic sciences. It publishes a semi-annual bulletin (The Noetic Post) for donor-members and features online articles and blogs from influential thinkers in the conscious sciences including IONS’ scientists and staff. The EarthRise retreat center is the location for a variety of single and multi-day programs that highlight the importance of human development. IONS’ global network of nearly 200 local community groups provides members and others with opportunities for intellectual inquiry, experiential exploration, and networking.


Does IONS Sponsor Any Awards?

IONS currently sponsors the Temple Awards for Creative Altruism, which is presented biannually at our international conference to two or three individuals whose lives and work embody the inspirational light of unselfish service motivated by love.


What Are IONS' Primary Publications?

Until the summer of 2009, IONS published the highly respected quarterly magazine, Shift: At the Frontiers of Consciousness (formerly Noetic Sciences Review), which reported on developments in the broad field of noetic sciences and consciousness studies. Shift has been replaced by a twice-yearly bulletin, The Noetic Post, available to donor-members only; back issues of The Noetic Post and articles from Shift are available online in the IONS Library.

We now offer original content (articles, reviews, blogs), free of charge, in the Noetic Now section of the new IONS website. You can also sign up for any of our monthly email updates about special events, our EarthRise retreat center, and what’s new on the website by indicating your preferences when signing up. Members can update preferences at any time on your personal profile page.

IONS also published two unique reports on the intersection of noetic science and cultural change: The 2007 Shift Report: Evidence of a World Transforming and The 2008 Shift Report: Changing the Story of Our Future. Back issues of both Shift magazine and the Shift Reports can be ordered by contacting Tiffany Mitchell at tmitchell@noetic.org or 707-779-8230.


What Books Has IONS Sponsored or Published?

IONS has published or co-published a number of books during the past three decades, including The Way of the Explorer by Edgar Mitchell, Global Mind Change and New Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science by Willis Harman, Biology Revisioned by Willis Harman and Elisabet Sahtouris, and The Heart of Healing by Bill Poole. In 2007 the Institute launched its own book imprint, Noetic Books, in collaboration with New Harbinger Publications. We are not currently accepting any unsolicited manuscripts for publication.


How Can I Get Involved in a Local Community Group?

Nearly 200 local IONS Community Groups now exist around the world. These groups are self-organizing and self-directing, and most are open both to members and nonmembers. A list of current group coordinators can be found at our Global Directory of Community Groups. Anyone interested in forming a local community group is encouraged to contact Cathy Coleman at IONS or go to Starting a Group.


How Do I Find out My Membership Status?

If you have specific questions about your membership, please email membership@noetic.org or call 877-769-4667, Monday through Friday, 9am–4:30pm PST. For more answers to your membership questions, please see our Member Services page.


What Employment Opportunities Does IONS Have?

We occasionally post job openings on our website. We currently employ a staff of 35 full- and part-time employees, and we also have numerous volunteers who generously donate their time and skills.


How Can I Volunteer at IONS?

IONS often uses volunteers for a variety of tasks and projects, and you don’t have to live in the area to be helpful. Many kinds of skills are appreciated. If you are interested in volunteering, please email volunteer@noetic.org or call 707-775-3500.


Is It Possible to Visit the IONS Campus?

We are not currently offering guided tours. If you would like to visit the EarthRise campus to view the current art exhibit or visit the bookstore, before you come please check those links for hours, or call 707.781.7401 (general info). Please check in with reception whenever you arrive on campus.


Can I Show My Art on the IONS Campus?

Our Community Center features a gallery of changing exhibitions curated by Carol Duchamp, MA. We invite you to join us for the art receptions that accompany each opening. If you are interested in exhibiting your art, you can find guidelines for submitting an application on the right sidebar of the Art at IONS page.


Does IONS Provide Grants for Creative Projects Such As Books or Documentary Films That Feature Noetic Subjects?

At this time IONS does not have the financial resources to support the many worthwhile ideas and projects that are presented. We do contribute scientists’ time and expertise along with access to research to many writers and filmmakers. For information, contact research@noetic.org.


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