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Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century Paperback – 16 Nov 2009
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pp. 153 of Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife, Simon & Schuster, 2012 For those still stuck in the trap of scientific skepticism, I recommend the book Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century, published in 2007. The evidence for out-of-body consciousness is well presented in this rigorous scientific analysis. Irreducible Mind is a landmark opus from a highly reputable group, the Division of Perceptual Studies, based at the University of Virginia. The authors provide an exhaustive review of the relevant data, and the conclusion is inescapable: these phenomena are real, and we must try to understand their nature if we want to comprehend the reality of our existence. -- Eben Alexander III, MD, Neurosurgeon and author of Proof of Heaven and The Map of Heaven The authors have not only plausibly argued that the empirical and conceptual horizon of science, particularly the science of the human mind, is both capable and in dire need of expansion, but-and I use this strong term deliberately-they have proven it. -- Andreas Sommer, junior research fellow in history and philosophy of science, Churchill College, University of Cambridge Journal Of Mind and Behavior [A] comprehensive review of empirical evidence that questions the assumption that 'properties of minds will ultimately be fully explained by those of brains.'... Kelly et al. deserve to be praised for their courage and scholarship in dealing with such a controversial topic. -- Alexander Moreira-Almeida Harold Koenig, Duke University Journal Of Nervous and Mental Disease Thoroughly scientific, systematically reasoned and courageous... as exciting and enjoyable as it is provocative and profound! -- David J. Hufford, Professor Emeritus of Humanities and Psychiatry, Penn State College of Medicine Irreducible Mind is an enormous and daring enterprise. Its scholarship is impressive... and made me think long and hard about many issues. -- Etzel Cardena, Professor of Psychology, Lund University PsycCRITIQUES [A] must-read for anyone working in consciousness studies, psychology and the history of science. -- Jonathan Edelman, Oxford University [A] monumental work... Only a very resistant observer will remain unpersuaded that a proportion, as least, of all this carefully evaluated data presents a significant challenge to conventional views. -- Paul Marshall, scholar of religion, and author of Mystical Encounters with the Natural World Journal of Consciousness Studies [A] sustained, sophisticated, and empirically based critique of contemporary cognitive psychology and mainstream neuroscience... the implications for the study of mind, consciousness, and religion border on the unspeakable. -- Jeffrey J. Kripal, Rice University Religious Studies Review [B]rilliant, heroic and astonishing ... a scientifically rigorous and philosophically informed critique of various contemporary orthodoxies in mainstream psychology, especially the idea that the human mind (including consciousness and our sense of free will and personal agency) is nothing more than a material entity and can be fully explained in terms of brain processes. -- Richard A. Shweder, Harold Higgins Swift Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Comparative Human Development, University of Chicago Irreducible Mind [is] yet another book on the mind-body problem. However, this book is different, very different, from all the rest... In the future history of the science of mind, Irreducible Mind may well prove a book of landmark significance, one that helped spark a revolution in the scientific investigation of the nature of consciousness... In the arena of neuroscience of mind, it is the most exciting reading to have crossed my path in years. -- David E. Presti, Professor of Neurobiology, University of California-Berkeley, Professor of Neurobiology, University of California-Berkeley Irreducible Mind is well written, detailed, and passionately argued, and should be central to parapyschology for some years to come. Its great value is that it helps to close the gap between the conventional view of mind on the one hand, and on the other, responsible research into phenomena which are utterly antithetical to that view. In that sense, it greatly advances the process that Myers began more than a century ago, but was so rudely interrupted by behaviourism and the virtual outlawing of consciousness as a scientific entity. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, July 2009 The author's sincerity and the extent of their labors are beyond question. American Journal of Psychology, Summer 2010
About the Author
Edward F. Kelly is currently research professor in the Department of Psychiatric Medicine at the University of Virginia. He is author of Computer Recognition of English Word Senses and Altered States of Consciousness and Psi: An Historical Survey and Research Prospectus. His central long term interests revolve around mind-brain relations and functional neuroimaging studies of unusual states of consciousness and associated cognitive phenomena. Emily Williams Kelly is currently research assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatric Medicine at the University of Virginia. Adam Crabtree is currently on the faculty of the Centre for Training in Psychotherapy, Toronto. Alan Gauld is a retired reader in psychology, School of Psychology, University of Nottingham, as well as past president of the Society for Psychical Research. Bruce Greyson is the Chester F. Carlson Professor of Psychiatry and director of the Division of Perceptual Studies at the University of Virginia. Michael Grosso, though nominally retired, is currently teaching at the University of Virginia's School of Continuing Education. He is currently a director of the American Philosophical Practitioner's Association and Review Editor of the Journal of Philosophical Practice.
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Up till December 21st, 2014, I had many things happen to me that I could not explain. They seemed to converge on psi abilities, or any of the related phenomena. I talked to a lot of people, read a lot of books. I was leaning towards belief, but as a raging introvert I needed irrefutable proof to believe any of it. For me, that proof was an out of body experience, so I spent a good bit of time meditating and trying to induce an OBE. No go.
And then December 21st, 2014. Alone at night, driving home from a friend's house, on a two lane road in the country, I come upon a curve at 55 MPH. Suddenly, to my upper left, as if superimposed on a screen overlaying my windshield and roof, I see a deer. It is lit flatly, sort of a dull beige. It is facing left, with its head down. Deer, my brain says. I slow from 55 to 10, for no good reason other than "deer". Five seconds later, as I round the blind corner (it is in the woods, and the sides of the road are banked) I see the EXACT DEER in front of me: lit precisely like my vision, facing the same direction as my vision. The exact same in every single detail as my vision. The deer lifts its head, looks at me, and saunters off the road to my right. I immediately called my wife. You'll never guess what happened to me. She does of course, because she thinks this happens to me all of the time. I am more of a skeptic though. But this time, I can't dodge it. It happened, and I can't explain it away. It happened, and it was precognition.
My mystical event happened on March 25th, 2015. It was in a dream, but it wasn't a dream, I don't think. I could copy and paste the entry from my dream journal, but it would utterly fail to convey the experience. It remains the singular most astounding thing I've ever encountered in my 43 years of (this) existence.
I picked up Irreducible Mind about four years ago in an attempt to explain some things that were happening to me. It was a form of solace, knowing that perhaps you aren't crazy, and that reputable scientists and researchers also believe similar things, and that others have experienced the very same things you have. I was still doubtful four years ago (I could explain most things as coincidence, or find a rational explanation) but the book gave me a bit of courage to keep exploring and researching.
Now, on the "other side", Irreducible Mind has given me validation. I believe. I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that F.W.H Myers was completely on the ball. Psi phenomena are real. Trust me, I've been there. Hell, I am there. I'm a fairly smart guy. I refuse to be duped. It took my own personal experiences to convince me. BUT. I just read the chapter on mystical experiences last night, and I cried when I found my experience mapped neatly to Stace's features of introspective mystical experience. (Four years ago, I thought this chapter was a bit far-fetched.) Validation is a beautiful thing. Not being alone is a beautiful thing.
Anyway. Well. I'm not here to convince you one way or another about the reality of psi phenomena. I will say, if you are curious, on the fence, or going through something you can't explain, pick this book up. It can help.
I’m neither an academic nor a psychologist. Nonetheless, I’ve managed to skip very little of it (the chapter on memory theory was too much for me), and don’t at all mind that it’s not a quick read because I’m finding it so interesting. The two main virtues I find in it are, 1: That there are MANY examples of paranormal events and persons described because they represent the most convincing examples from a serious academic POV, and many of these are in areas that I hadn’t even known about, or considered paranormal, from weird psychological maladies and aberrant but well documented experiences and mental capacities, all the way to the facts of genius and mysticism, both which are apparently almost never even discussed in contemporary psychology, or are even considered pathological! and 2: by arguing against them and in the process restating them, it gives me an astounding awareness of just how peculiar and often downright bizarre the conventional and prevailing psychological theories are and have been for the last 100 years or so. I really don’t think the average 1st-world person-on-the-street is aware of just how restrictive and mechanistic, how completely “soul-less” the vision of most psychological and neurological experts and professionals is. And this is Officialdom. These are the people writing not just the textbooks, but also the regulations and the guidelines by which humans in power regard and manage the rest of us, the superstitious, self-deluded public that doesn’t automatically deny the reality of all the strange things that happen to them and to people they know. Bravo. Off to get the "sequel", Beyond Physicalism...