While my fascination and respect deepened, I couldn’t shake a certain confusion. There is an affront to common sense in parapsychology. So people sometimes know things at a distance or succeed in predicting something they have no way of knowing about or produce significant deviations from chance in the rolls of dice just by thinking 6 or 5 or 2. Suppose some of that is correlated with test scores on something or other.
What does that mean? Could I see around corners? I could not. Could I make things happen just by wishing? Not generally. Step out of the lab and open your eyes! Magic is for magic shows and children who haven’t learned better. Isn’t it?
What kind of ability is it that is only furtively present but generally absent? If something can only be seen when it is fished out of a tub of numbers with a statistical net, how real is it? I was just not as certain as the rest of my band of friends, such as Honorton and Stanford, who were heading straight for the further training and experience that would begin their careers in parapsychology. Instead, after Duke I went to Ohio State for graduate study in clinical psychology. My first year there I conducted a couple of successful ESP studies with conscripted OSU students and debated my history of psychology professor in a public forum on parapsychology (all my friends thought I certainly won—I knew lots more facts); but the background uncertainty wouldn’t disappear. On one late-night trip on the West Virginia Turnpike to visit the woman who would become my wife, I set a long-term resolve. I would try very hard to learn whether or not the stuff of parapsychology (psi) is real, and if it is, how it works. This book is the outcome of that resolve.
Carpenter’s basic premise is that even if psi is currently anomalous in terms of known physical and neurobiological mechanisms, it is not psychologically anomalous. Like memories of past experiences, subliminal stimuli, and unconscious motives, psi is a nonconscious, continuously present resource in the development of all conscious experience.
In arriving at a conscious thought, perception, or intended action, we nonconsciously combine pertinent information from all these resources.. . . . Carpenter’s First Sight theory integrates many previously scattered and little understood findings in psi research and is richly generative in suggesting new lines of research. Overall, the theory constitutes a transformational contribution to both psi research and the psychology of consciousness.
Daryl J. Bem (Professor Emeritus, Cornell University), ESP is not a Psychological Anomaly, a review of First Sight: ESP and Parapsychology in Everyday Life. PsycCRITIQUES, Vol 57(50), 2012.
- In this engaging and beautifully crafted book Jim Carpenter shows in remarkable depth and detail how situating the paranormal in the context of other preconscious receptive and expressive processes allows us to understand a host of existing findings in a way that makes excellent psychological sense – a significant theoretical achievement that should command the attention of parapsychologists and mainstream psychologists alike. —Edward F. Kelly, Ph.D. Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, University of Virginia