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.
Stay tuned to our live and online events through our event calendars on our home page or through our Facebook page!
Sagan, Carl. The Demon-Haunted World, Random House, 1995