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94 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Idea of Premonitions Drives Me Nuts, But..., May 4, 2009
This review is from: The Power of Premonitions: How Knowing the Future Can Shape Our Lives (Hardcover)
Although a substantial part of my career as a psychologist has been devoted to parapsychological matters for more than 50 years, one part of the field has always been especially troublesome to me, the idea that people sometimes get information about the future, premonitions, precognitions, when there is no reasonable possibility of them getting it, given what we know about the nature of the physical world.

I am thoroughly acculturated, like practically everyone, to believe that the past is gone, the future is not yet here, only the present moment is real, so time marches on. Sure, we can predict probable things - the sun will rise tomorrow - or things we know the causal mechanism of - the car will stop running soon if I don't put more gasoline in the tank. But then you can't help but hear stories on the order of "I dreamed this really improbable set of events that resulted in my being run down by a green car on such-and-such a street, although I don't usually go there, and sure enough this green car suddenly dashed around the corner and would have killed me if I hadn't been forewarned by the dream and so alert enough to jump back."

The devoted materialist has no trouble with such stories, banishing them with words like "coincidence." In Dossey's new book he mentions the medical version of this: a story that indicates something you don't believe in is an "anecdote," one that confirms your beliefs is a "careful case history."

In my recent book The End of Materialism, out just a month before this new Dossey book that I want to praise, I am forced to include precognition with what I call the Big Five psi phenomena, the ones that have been so thoroughly and rigorously tested that I see no reasonable doubt that they exist (telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, psychokinesis and psychic healing). Yet while I include precognition there because there is so much evidence for it in rigorous lab studies, in point of fact I find the idea of knowing the future so incomprehensible that I don't really think about it. When I discovered massive precognition effects had sneaked into my own laboratory data, e.g., I found I wasn't even psychologically "defended" against the idea, premonitions were just too far out to worry about.

Now Larry Dossey, well-known physician, author and alternative medicine expert, has devoted a whole book to all aspects of premonitions, and I'm going to have to think about it. Indeed I've told Dossey that his book captured me. I have very little time for reading, I'm sent dozens of books people want me to read and that, given my interests, I would like to read, but never get time for. The Power of Premonitions: How Knowing the Future Can Shape Our Lives is so readable and fascinating, though, that I read the first 190 pages continuously and have taken it on my camping vacation with me to finish. It's too good! Spontaneous cases from real life, lab experiments, connections with the latest understanding of brain functioning, and, especially important, why it would be useful to develop our premonitory abilities, are all covered. I can't recommend it highly enough!

Charles T. Tart, PhD
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 14, 2009 3:08:12 PM PDT
Hi Charles Tart!

You don't know me, but I was in your Altered States of Consciousness class at UC Davis years and years ago. I went up there to be a vet and your class changed me. I changed my major and got straight A's in psychology instead. I've been a teacher for over 20 years and thank goodness the kids growing up now are nothing like their parents. : ) They are kids that will realize many of the potentials taught in this book and they have natural abilities more so that generations past. This is good for people, the earth, and animals as a whole new way of thinking and engaging is needed for a more sustainable future. I read authors and your name continues to pop up as you are usually mentioned as knowing all the people that I read about. I feel like I never left your class and that I know all your friends by reading their books. : )

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 18, 2009 9:21:25 AM PDT
A reunion! Have fun catching up, you guys.

:-)

Posted on Jul 19, 2009 8:22:09 PM PDT
Mark says:
Thank you very much, Dr. Tart, for the caring review of a book, whose audiobook I enjoyed greatly. I think it might do a great service to humanity if enough people find their way through it!
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