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Outside the Gates of Science: Why It's Time for the Paranormal to Come in from the Cold

4.0 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1560259862
ISBN-10: 1560259868
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Broderick, best known as a science-fiction writer, returns to nonfiction (after 2001's The Spike) to evaluate various research programs investigating "psi phenomena." Divided into two branches, psi phenomena cover anomalous cognition, which includes telepathy, remote viewing and other forms of "non-material" communication; and anomalous perturbation, psi-mediated action or psycho-kinetics. Broderick remains analytical and objective throughout, reviewing the work of such laboratory programs as the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research group, the Science Applications Incorporated Corporation and the CIA-backed Stargate; recounting their experiments' designs, methods and procedures, Broderick then goes on to examine rigorously the resulting data. He concludes that while the evidence for various kinds of psi phenomena is strong, there are unknown (and possibly unknowable) factors that make classical, reductionist methods of testing it unpredictable and irreproducible (the reason, he suspects, that the CIA gave up on such research in 1995). Gratifyingly, Broderick connects the search for psi phenomena to larger philosophical questions while remaining skeptical and delightfully rational throughout.
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"Replete with eccentric characters, shadowy government programs, and one shocking discovery after another." — Dean Radin, PhD, author of Entangled Minds

"Understandable, engaging, and most importantly, accurate." — Edwin May, PhD, former scientific director of the Star Gate program.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Thunder's Mouth Press (May 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560259868
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560259862
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 7.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,858,639 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Benjamin Goertzel on January 26, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an exceptionally well-conceived, thoughtful and important book. It's one of those rare books that I would recommend to basically everyone I know -- if I were a rich man, I'd buy them a copy.

Let me explain why I'm so excited by Broderick's work. Having grown up on SF, and being a generally open-minded person but also a mathematician/scientist with a strong rationalist and empiricist bent , I've never quite known what to make of psi. (Following Broderick, I'm using "psi" as an umbrella term for ESP, precognition, psychokinesis, and the familiar array of suspects...). Broderick's book is the first I've read that rationally, scientifically, even-handedly and maturely, reviews what it makes sense to think about psi given the available evidence.

(A quick word on my science background: I have a math PhD and although my main research areas are AI and cognitive science, I've also spent a lot of time working on empirical biological science as a data analyst. I was a professor for a 8 years but have been doing research in the software industry for the last decade.)

My basic attitude on psi has always been curious but ambivalent. One way to summarize it would be via the following three points....

First: Psi is NOT wildly scientifically implausible after the fashion of, say, perpetual motion machines built out of wheels and pulleys and spinning chambers filled with ball bearings. Science, at this point, understands the world only very approximately, and there is plenty of room in our current understanding of the physical universe for psi. Quantum theory's notions of nonlocality and resonance are (as many have observed) conceptually somewhat harmonious with some aspects of psi, but that's not the main point.
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I enjoyed this book because very few skeptics have been willing to suspend their disbelief long enough to do their homework and tackle a controversy as intense, persistent, and at times as confusing as psi. With a healthy skepticism firmly anchoring his opinions, and with much intellectual struggle, Broderick concludes that something interesting is going on. What that something may be is not likely to be understood any time soon if it is forced to stand outside the gates. Hence the book's subtitle.

If you want to read a good "outsider's" review of the history and findings of psi research, one that is about as accurate as any necessarily selective history can be, then this is the book to read. I found Broderick's musings on the implications of psi the most interesting part, perhaps because he is also an accomplished science fiction writer and used to projecting into imagined futures.

- Dean Radin, author Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality
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Damien Broderick: Outside the Gates of Science

This is THE book for those seriously interested in the current status and future of the scientific study of what has variously been known as "psi", "parapsychology", "esp", "psychokinesis" etc. and more recently by the blander, more "neutral" terms "anomalous cognition (AC)" or "anomalous perturbation" (AP).
Broderick's basic proposition is that psi (to stick with the more familiar term) has as much or more experimental support as many other areas within the mainstream of science, and that phenomena of such challenging potential should be subjected to the full rigours of scientific examination, not relegated "outside the gates of science" because of past prejudices, poor theory, and association with shonky practices.
This is not, as Broderick points out, a textbook of psi. It is written by an author who has spent decades exploring the subject and getting to know the people and projects on the inside. Broderick takes a basically skeptical stance, but that of an intelligent and informed skeptic. His position is essentially a materialistic one, in the sense of dismissing simple-minded dualistic or "spiritual" views, but even these are presented fairly and the arguments against them clearly spelled out.
He passes lightly and quickly over the early history of the study of parapsychology (there are several good sources of this material), and spends a good part of the book in a detailed look at more recent and scientifically rigorous research, such as the "Star Gate" remote viewing program run by the CIA (if you think that that alone removes this research from contention, be prepared to be surprised or amazed!), the PEAR program carried out by Princeton University, May's Decision Augmentation Theory, and others.
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Damien Broderick is one of those rare individuals in science who, when faced with something about which he is very skeptical, instead of spewing attitude and opinion actually does the heavy lifting of finding out what the data says. I speak from authority here because I am one of the people mentioned in his book, and I know that everything he has written about me -- you have no idea how rare this is -- is actually factually correct. Damien is an excellent writer, and he has a probing mind that does not settle for the superficial. He has produced what I believe is the best skeptical book ever written by an "outsider" concerning the controversial field of consciousness research. This book deserves to be in your library.
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