Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Top-3 Psychic Anomalies according to Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan is arguably one of the most relevant science educators of all time.  He inspired a generation to engage in scientific inquiry and exploration and to imagine a better future in our space ship Earth, our "pale blue dot."  He was the embodiment of a balance of a sense of ethics, a sense of wonder, and open-mindedness.  His wonder was often aimed at the physical cosmos and not so much at the world of psychic phenomena. In fact, he was a founding member of the skeptical society CSICOP.

However, he was able to maintain neutrality in a way that is not common among self-described skeptics.  For instance, in the 1970's, he turned down signing a manifesto against astrology "because I felt (and still feel) that the tone of the statement was authoritarian." He refrained from dismissing possibilities just because they were not popular with colleagues, even when others engaged in ad hominem attacks (questioning character, qualifications).  Claims should be accepted, rejected, or even held in indefinite doubt depending on the available evidence. This is evidenced in the following quote:

At the time of writing, there are three claims in the ESP field which, in my opinion, deserve serious study: (1) that by thought alone humans can (barely) affect random number generators in computers; (2) that people under mild sensory deprivation can receive thoughts or images "projected" at them; and (3) that young children sometimes report the details of a previous life, which upon checking turn out to be accurate and which they could not have known about in any other way than reincarnation.

There is no evidence that he was personally motivated to do such research or to attempt to experience these or any other projectiological phenomena. Clearly, Sagan did not think psi and the survival of consciousness beyond death would ultimately be verified. However, he was intellectually honest enough to grant that serious scientists had gathered enough evidence on these three phenomena to warrant further investigation. 

The relationship between the first research program, conducted principally at Princeton University, and projectiology is covered extensively in my course Consciousness and Physical Reality and in Filters and Reflections: Perspectives on Reality. The subject of transmission of information through "non-normal means," relates to phenomena such as psychometry, which is being investigated by IAC researchers who created a workshop for students.  The third recognized research is discussed in this other blogpost and relates to the theory of existential seriality, which is presented in Wagner Alegretti's course and book Retrocognition: An investigation into memories of past lives and the period between lives.  The survival and cyclical existence of the immortal consciousness is also covered in Module 4 of the Consciousness Development Program, which includes an overview of psi phenomena in Module 2.

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Sagan, Carl. The Demon-Haunted World, Random House, 1995

Nelson Abreu
IAC Instructor
Los Angeles


  1. Great post. I don't know much about Carl Sagan, other than hearing his name here and there. Despite his skepticism of psychic phenomena, I can see why the movie: Contact was dedicated to him.

  2. Thank you for the feedback!

    In fact, Sagan wrote a novel called Contact, which inspired the wonderful film.

    A Pale Blue Dot and Cosmos are some of his other great works.

  3. The info about Carl Sagan is really impressive. I will try to get these all novels and hope that it will be interesting for me.