Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Tour of the Institute of Noetic Sciences

IONS EntranceI hope that Public Parapsychology readers will forgive me for neglecting this blog for almost two weeks. I spent much of that time in the San Francisco Bay Area, where in addition much relaxing and sight-seeing, I was treated to a personal tour of the Institute of Noetic Sciences(IONS), hosted by the organization's senior scientist, Dr. Dean Radin. I invited medium Marcel Cairo of AfterLifeFM and consciousness studies student Kevin Kovelant of Streams of Consciousness to tag along. The three of us met in Berkeley, then traveled over the Richmond bridge and north a short stretch of the Pacific Highway 101 to the entrance of the institute's 200 acre campus and retreat center.

IONS main campusIONS is a non-profit membership organization that conducts and sponsers leading-edge research into the potentials and powers of consciousness. The center hosts workshops, retreats, and educational activities and contains several offices, meeting spaces, and dormitories as well as the Consciousness Research Laboratory. Dean ("there is no Dr. Radin, just 'Dean'"), the author of The Conscious Universe: The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena, Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality, and numerous scientific and scholarly articles, met us just outside of the main office for a short tour. After visiting their newest building, where Dean will shortly be relocating to his new office, we got to check out the laboratory (my favorite part of the tour) where much of this leading-edge research takes place.

CRL Command CentralThe Consciousness Research Labortary has three major sections. Stepping inside, the first thing one sees is a central station where experimenters coordinate psi experiments. Behind the station is a storage area and small library containing volumes of major parapsychology journals among other things. Off to the side of this central area is an electromagnetically-shielded testing chamber used for participants in studies exploring presentiment in the brain, remote staring detection, and other psi phenomena. Outside of the laboratory and around the corner is another room, which is used for senders in experiments requiring both a 'sender' and 'receiver' of information by extra-sensory means.

CRL Receiver's Room The Sending RoomThere is a stark contrast between the sender and receiver areas of the lab. The receiver is seated in a comfortable chair. Curtains are hung around the walls of the electromagnetically-shielded chamber to soften the feel of the laboratory area. A small tree in the corner of testing chamber and some soft lighting help to make the receiver feel relaxed and comfortable. By contrast, the sender's area has more of a stiff, outhouse feel. Minimally furnished, and lacking any decor, the harsher environment helps to keep those participants alert and awake.

Dean and Susie RadinAfter touring most of the areas of the IONS campus, we retreated to the cafeteria where Dean, myself, and my companions chatted about our various projects as well as some current events and related issues in our respective fields. Dean's wife Susie brought us all sandwiches and snacks for lunch and joined us in the conversation. It was nice seeing her again after meeting her at the 50th Annual PA Convention in Halifax, Nova Scotia. After saying goodbye to our wonderful hosts, Marcel drove Kevin and I back to Berkeley where we attempted to discover the punchline to a joke that begins "a medium, a parapsychologist, and a consciousness studies student walk into a bar...."

The Institute of Noetic Sciences has a variety of membership opportunities for individuals who would like to support the institute and its activities. Members receive the publication Shift magazine, discounts on selected events, and the opportunity to participate in local community groups. I received a complimentary copy of their latest issue of Shift, which was an enjoyable and informative read. This issue contained articles on meditation and ecological issues, as well as an interview with cosmologist Brian Swimme and an article by Dean on the mysterious role of intention. The issue also contains news from the IONS research department, briefly discussing all of their research projects in progress, and closes with a few well-written book and multi-media reviews. It is a great resource for researchers and the general public alike, and I plan to subscribe soon.

A slideshow of all of the photos from my tour of IONS, and larger-sized versions of the pictures above are available here. I recommend clicking on the center of the first picture for captions.

Stay tuned for a line-up of posts coauthored with Bryan Williams on parapsychological techniques in haunting research, the second half of my reviews of sessions from the 50th Annual Convention of the Parapsychological Association, and review of Stephen Braude's The Gold Leaf Lady and Other Parapsychological Investigations. I'm back at home and back in action.