“Supernormal” begins with the premise that so-called psychic and supernatural abilities are actually quite normal. They are perhaps not normal in the sense that everybody has them on tap, but in that over half of the population claim to have experienced them or at least believe they exist. Radin then sets out to explore the topic and discuss the relevant scientific evidence.
The author frames his arguments with reference to yoga, and in particular the yoga siddhis, seemingly paranormal abilities that ancient yoga texts claim human beings can attain with mastery of the mind and body. As Radin points out, the practice of yoga has exploded in the West in recent decades, so it is a perfectly good way to frame the discussion. One of the problems with talking about psi phenomena is that there is an effective taboo against it in Western science and academic discourse. Using yoga as a launching pad is therefore a suitable means to initiate the discussion and get it into the open. perhaps the only real problem with this is that many Western religions view yoga and Eastern philosophy as “evil”, and this may prevent the discussion breaching these ancient walls. Hard-core sceptics won’t appreciate the approach either – but then again, nothing short of waking the dead is going to shift their attitude to this issue.
You will find that Supernormal is written in reader-friendly style. Those who are not particularly interested in the science/physics of consciousness will find the book a little less technical than Radin’s other books. While he does deal with some technical aspects of psi phenomena – such as statistical analysis and the scientific evidence for things like telekinesis, telepathy and clairvoyance – Radin manages to discuss the subject matter in laymen-friendly terms, and with a very accessible narrative voice.
While Radin does represent the most common arguments of sceptics and critics, the book very clearly sides with the pro-psi camp, arguing strongly that ESP and psi phenomena are genuine, and that our maps of reality need to be upgraded to accommodate them. Radin is thus not attempting to deliver an exhaustive scholarly examination of all aspects of the discourse. He is essentially making the strongest case possible for the existence of the “paranormal”.
So this is not a purely objective treatise, and I suspect Radin would make no claim to a purely detached perspective, given that his entire career is built upon the very arguments found in this book (nor would I ever claim such detachment, given my personal exploration of these subject matters in my own career as a writer and speaker, and my own personal life which has long been permeated with many “supernormal” experiences).
As a futurist with a focus upon the futures of consciousness and intelligence, I enjoyed Radin’s final chapter on “The Future Human”. One of his essential conclusions is that our science and our society will eventually have to shift their understandings about the nature of time, space and consciousness. It’s been more than 100 years since relativity theory showed that time and space are not absolutes, while quantum physics has futher muddied the waters. This has severely undermined materialism, causality and many of the founding presuppositions of contemporary education and science. Yet many of our institutions and media outlets remain deeply attached to a mechanistic model of reality. Often they are hostile to the harbingers of change, regardless of what evidence they bring to the table.
It’s time to move on. Why resist when the unexplored territory is so exciting? All adventure entails an element of uncertainty and perhaps danger. Perhaps even confusion and a sense of loss. But the price for choosing to remain in the past is great. This is the fork in the road at which we now stand.
I give “Supernormal” five-stars. It succeeds perfectly in what it sets out to do: to present the case for the existence of an expanded array of human cognitive abilities in accessible and entertaining fashion.
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