Saturday, September 13, 2014

Hollywood: Where Einstein Met (and Abandoned) the "Paranormal"

In 1932, a writer penned an article for The New Republic denouncing Einstein for lending credence to a "prophet" named Gene Dennis popular with Hollywood for her supposedly-accurate premonitions.  Einstein reportedly said: “She told me things no one possibly could know." A series of letters flew back and forth after the article, with Upton Sinclair defending Einstein.  Sinclair, a sort of Michael Moore of the 30's, responsible for controversial exposes, had developed a friendship with Einstein after sending him a copy of his book Mental Radio on psi phenomena.  

Eventually, this friendship led to Einstein attending an unimpressive seance with other prominent scientists, most the of them skeptics. Perhaps, there was truly nothing to see; maybe it was a case of the hypothesized psi blocker effect, whereby those who strongly believe psi phenomena are impossible manage to limit its manifestation when they are present.  Naturally, this hypothesis is ridiculed by staunch skeptics as a "convenient" effect for proponents.  Einstein, at least publicly, remained skeptical without dismissing or discouraging parapsychology research.  For instance, regarding J B Rhine's work at Duke University, he felt the data would eventually be explained by a "non-recognised source of systematic errors."  

Nelson Abreu
Los Angeles
IAC California

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