One of the issues that confounds me more than others is the whole time thing. When dealing with psychic phenomena, you have to be flexible in how you think about time. Psychic events just don’t seem to have much respect for the concept of time. Seriously.
Psychics and Time
You may have heard that remote viewers can view the past and the future, and that’s definitely true. It’s also true that there is hard scientific evidence that our bodies somehow know what’s going to happen before it does…not by a lot…maybe only by a couple seconds. But when that bear is chasing you, a two-second head start can determine whether you end up eating or being eaten.
I believe that one of the big reasons many scientists have a lot of trouble facing down the issue of psychic phenomena is the fact that it does operate with little respect for the sacred issue of time. In physics (and biology and chemistry and virtually all sciences) we’re taught that time flows in only one direction, from past to present to future. It never–supposedly–reverses that flow. But how then to explain precognition? Obviously…it can’t happen.
Unfortunately, it does happen.
The answer, according to skeptics, is to throw out the evidence of psychic precognition and pretend it doesn’t happen because, well…because Science Says It Can’t Happen. (So there!)
What If Time Flows Both Ways?
Well, some researchers at the University of Vienna (in Austria) published a ground-breaking paper in one of the most prestigious scientific journals in the world, Nature.* Ognyan Orshkov, Fabio Costa and Caslav Brukner performed some quantum mechanical experiments in which they investigated the source of causality–that assumption that if A causes B it necessarily happens at an earlier time than B.
They designed and carried out some elegant experiments in which they tested the reality of causality at the quantum mechanical level. They asked a fundamental question: Are space, time, and causal order truly fundamental ingredients of nature? Or is causality fundamentally uncertain?
The structure of the case that Orshkov, Costa and Brukner considered is a complex one with three isolated quantum systems communicating with each other. What makes their analysis unique is that at the local level of each of those quantum systems, they make no prior assumptions about causality being required. When they do that, they discover that one system can respond to a query posed by another before the query is even sent. In other words, the effect (answering the query) happens before the cause (sending a query).
What Does It Mean for Time?
This is mind-shattering. It means that at a fundamental level, time has no fixed past-to-present-to-future requirement. Causality is not fixed for quantum systems.
Interestingly, the researchers found that when they moved from quantum to macro-sized systems, causality appeared. In other words, that arrow of time appears to be a construct of moving out of the quantum world and into a more classical, Newtonian space. Just as relativistic effects disappear when dealing with ordinary speeds, causality appears when we start dealing with the macro world.
But…maybe not. The more we learn about quantum systems, the more we have begun to realize that quantum effects do show up in macro systems. So this research provides a clear signpost that precognition and other time-bending aspects of psychic phenomena may end up well within the realm of science.
The paranormal is becoming more normal every day.
* Oreshkov, Q., Costa, F.,& Brukner, C> (2 Oct 2012). Quantum correlations with no causal order. Nature Communications, 3: 1038 doi:10.1038/ncomms2076
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