What Are They Afraid Of? (Gladwell, Lehrer, and a Case of the Scientific Heebie-Jeebies)

I’m a big fan of Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink: the Power of Thinking Without Thinking and the new book by Jonah Lehrer, Imagine: How Creativity Works. Both of the authors bring a lot of new research out about the the innate and mysterious power of our intuition and natural creativity. They reveal the inner workings of our subconscious minds and how some of our best talents are hidden behind the trappings of the conscious mind.

And yet both these works still leave me wondering why they never, ever mention some of the latest research into the less well understood aspects of our minds including the 25-year project by Robert Jahn at PEAR Labs, Princeton University, which shows that human thought can subtly influence machines. Then there is the remote viewing research of Hal Putoff and Russell Targ funded by the federal government at Stanford Research Institute for twenty years beginning in the 1970’s. Or the more recent research by Jonathan Schooler and Michael Franklin at the University of California, Santa Barbara on the possibilities of human “presentience” (having a sense of events in one’s immediate future.) And these three examples only scratch the surface.

This research, and much more like it, from the past century suggest that humans have the ability to perceive so-called “nonlocal” information and possibly interact with it as well. These studies are not entirely conclusive but they support the idea that something is going on in the human mind that is way, way beyond the conventional idea of how it is supposed to work: that our mind is located somewhere in our physical brain which is really just a “three pound piece of meat running on 12 watts of electricity” as Lehrer recently stated in an interview on the Colbert show (April 17th, 2012).

It’s almost like these two authors are living in hermetically sealed test tubes and either are not allowed or refuse to look at the recent evidence that our minds have a nonlocal aspect to them. We’re not talking about mysticism here. This is simply newer scientific evidence that imply that the mechanistic explanations of human intelligence are inadequate at best, or even completely wrong.

So what I’m really wondering is why neither Gladwell or Lehrer ever seriously mention this type of research in their books or interviews? It seems like they are both afraid to talk about it. And the big question is why? Why be afraid to look at scientific evidence? Perhaps in the future they will. Or perhaps not.


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