04/08/2009 01:51 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Why What Frightens 'Skeptics' Frightened Einstein

I'm fascinated by the fanatical zeal with which self-styled skeptics pounce on non-ordinary events and try to discount them--largely by the liberal use of words like 'preposterous'. Posing as 'scientific', these ideologues are clinging to a materialism long since discredited by quantum physics.

The fear that motivates the armchair skeptics is exemplified by their frequent use of the word 'just', as in: "what these people thought they experienced was just . . . " (imagination, hysteria, group psychosis, etc.). But why the 'just'? 'Just' is what we say when soothing fears--'it's just thunder, dear,' 'it's just a shadow', 'it's just the nice doctor'.

Similarly, newspaper reports of experiments in telepathy and other non-ordinary phenomena always refer to them as 'eerie'. But what makes it 'eerie'? Is it because these phenomena are not accessible to our five senses? Yet we cannot hear sounds above or below certain registers, or see colors of certain wavelengths, yet they exist, and we don't call them 'eerie'. And there is great variation among humans in their sensory ranges. Some are colorblind. Some have no sense of smell. Others have hyper-acuity in one sense or another. Dogs can experience olfactory and auditory frequencies we cannot--does that make them 'eerie? Frogs see a tiny portion of what we do--only what they need to survive. Humans, also, have evolved with a limited perceptual range: only what we need. It would be both arrogant and stupid to assume there isn't a great deal going on around us of which we are mostly unaware.

Einstein was scared, too. He was deeply antipathetic to quantum theory, and refused for years to accept what he called "spooky actions at a distance". Since he was a genuine scientist he was eventually forced to--no prediction based on quantum theory has ever failed. Yet the words "eerie", "weird", "strange", and "spooky" are still used a great deal in relation to quantum physics. Even the technical term used to account for non-locality--'entangled'--has a negative, uncomfortable connotation.

Telepathy and other 'Psi' phenomena have been demonstrated conclusively so many times that if they were a dieting pill it would have been on the market fifty years ago. But young scientists are still discouraged from exploring it, or for exploring any of the broader implications of quantum theory--"if you want to get tenure".

So what is it that so many scientists and professional skeptics are so freaked by?

Scientist Dean Radin says it very succinctly: "The fact that quantum objects can become entangled means that the common sense assumption that ordinary objects are entirely and absolutely separate is incorrect."
Quantum theory implies that the universe is a single integrated system containing innumerable subsystems. Everything in it is 'entangled' with everything else. But what's so 'spooky' about that? It is, after all, what the word 'universe' means. It's only 'spooky' if the idea of being a part of a larger entity is disturbing to you.

We are trained from birth to see things as disconnected. Our language does it. Learning is as much learning NOT to see as it is learning to see. What a child sees initially is an undifferentiated whole. By careful training it learns to carve pieces out of that reality and look at them as separate material objects. But why should that be considered more 'real'? It's just one way of seeing. People with greater ability to communicate telepathically aren't 'gifted'--they simply haven't been as thoroughly indoctrinated. Instead of asking why some people (perhaps everyone at birth) can communicate telepathically, we should be studying the mechanism that enables us to shut out that information most of the time.

We're attached to the idea that everything is separate because it gives us a sense of control. It would feel too chaotic to see the world as it really is, so we learn to screen more and more of it out to make it feel manageable. Language is a big help in this: we don't experience what we don't have words for.

This is particularly important for men. Men are trained to separate themselves from their feelings and to view the world in terms of mastery and conquest. Women are less prone to this, because their bodies constantly remind them of their intimate relation to the rest of life. Which is perhaps why women tend to display more 'psychic ability' than men. It's easier for men to deny their connectedness to the rest of life--pompous clerics and academics have been insisting on this separation for centuries.

(In his inauguration speech, President Obama talked of a new way of doing things. To understand the cultural paradigm shift that engendered this change--the change that both the neo-cons and the Taliban have resisted so fiercely, see my latest book, THE CHRYSALIS EFFECT: THE METAMORPHOSIS OF GLOBAL CULTURE).