The success of Paranormal Activity has eclipsed Dr. Charles T. Tart, the psychologist who turned the concept of the paranormal into a new branch of science
BY PAUL KAIHLA — Paranormal Activity is now the most profitable movie in history ($15,000 to make, it’s earned more than $100 million in box office) but the inventor of the field to which the film owes its name continues to research real cases of the paranormal in relative obscurity and modesty.
And around the time that Paramount was preparing its guerrilla marketing campaign for Paranormal, the movie, Tart was releasing The End of Materialism: How Evidence of the Paranormal is Bringing Spirit and Science Together.
“Three-plus years to write, 50-plus years to prepare to write, this may be my most important book,” blogged Tart, who is now 72. “If two living people, for example, can occasionally demonstrate telepathic communication under tightly controlled laboratory conditions, is the ideaof prayer, a telepathic kind of communication with someone/something beyond us, inherently nonsensical? I don’t think so.”
The former University of California at Davis prof also operates The Archives of Scientists’ Transcendent Experiences (TASTE), a forum for scientists and engineers to safely — and often, anonymously — “out” their personal peak or paranormal experiences without being laughed out of their professions.
Because of the too frequent social stigma unfortunately (and quite erroneously) attached to transcendent experiences, I have taken the following steps to provide as much confidentiality as possible to scientists submitting experiences or commentaries to TASTE that they designate on the submission form should be confidential.
Tart says he built the archive to “debunk the stereotype that ‘real’ secientists don’t have ‘spiritual’ or ‘mystical’ or ‘psychic’ experiences.” The site includes submissions from a director of a U.S. aerospace engineering facility about a prescient dream where he is visited by his best friend at the moment the man dies in real life, and a doctor of neurobiology in Russia with 30 journal articles and several patents who could alter experiment results by channeling a higher state of consciousness.
We like this entry because a peak experience in nature is something we can all relate to, even though this scientist is cleaning up an oil spill in Antarctica:
Red Hong (pseudonym) is trained in neurophysiology, in which (she) earned a Ph.D. She has worked as a Senior Research Fellow in various research institutions.
This experience occurred in Antarctica when she was 34. Dr. Hong reports no unusual experiences before this one.
Expansion of Self in the Antarctic
I was about 34 I think and working as a scientist in Antarctica for the summer. We had been flown in to Lake Vanda in the dry valleys to clean up an oil spill that happened when a drum being dropped from a Hercules on a routine delivery run split on hitting the surface of the frozen lake. It took 2 days to chip the polluted surface ice off the lake with ice-picks. Then there was a blizzard back at base so the chopper pilots couldn’t come and pick us up and we had a (much needed) 2 day holiday. As you do on holiday, we went for a walk.
We walked (or rather rock-hopped) up to the end of the valley and then climbed up Bull Pass. We all went up the hill at our own pace, so I was separated from my companions by the time I reached the top and sat down to recover. My mind was totally blank. After a while I realized that I had expanded. I was no longer a small discrete consciousness located in my head – I encompassed the whole valley. I was HUGE. I was part of everything – or rather everything was part of me. I was ancient and unbelievably powerful. It was wonderful.
After some time, I don’t have much idea how long but it might have been about 10 minutes, my friends appeared and my state snapped back to normal. I was very sorry about this, but also fairly relieved! We ate some Spam, regretted that no one had brought anything to drink, and slid off down the hill again. And that was that.
Contributor’s Comments on the Experience
At this time I had never felt any inclination towards spiritual seeking. I was a regulation, standard-issue scientific atheist and didn’t even know what meditation was, let alone what it was supposed to accomplish.
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