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A fascinating spiritual journey into the science behind psychic phenomena

A book based on the award-winning feature documentary film of same title by Renée Scheltema

Dedication: To Laura, Lisa, and Michael Berkel and my dad Jan Scheltema

Many thanks to: Khareen Pech, Lisa Berkel, Tom Courly and all the experts who were so kind to speak to me during the making of the documentary Something Unknown Is Doing We Don’t Know What.

© 2012 Renée Scheltema Photographs: © Renée Scheltema Cover designed by Lisa Berkel

All rights reserved ISBN-13: 978-1478283041 ISBN-10: 1478283041

"There are only two ways to live your life: One is as though nothing is a miracle, The other is as if everything is. I believe in the latter" -Albert Einstein


Introduction or: Why make a film about scientists who study psychics? 9 1 My own "sixth sense" experiences


2 Before April 2000 20 3 My magic spoon 24 4 California, Land of psychical research 26 5 Prof. Charles Tart and the Big Five 28 6 Two wise men 33 7 Precognition 37 8 Psychics and frauds 42

9 Remote Viewing 49 10 Telepathy 82 11 Psychokinesis (P.K.) 108 12 Mind over Matter 140 13 Healing 147 14 Universal Energy, Qi or Ch’I 153 15 Healing Research. University of Arizona 157 16 Intention: A shaman in Santa Fe 192 17 Prayer and Remote Healing 197

18 Skeptics 213

19 Scientific explanations 216 20 Bridging the gap between science and spirituality 239 21 The end 247 Notes 253 About the author 255


"Something unknown is doing we don’t know what. " -The title of my documentary film. It is a quest to understand mysterious experiences that you may call the “sixth sense”, “psychic”, “paranormal” or “extrasensory perception” - often shortened to “ESP”, or even “PSI” - a shortened form of psychic. Call it what you will, the curious thing is that some scientists study it. Furthermore, these scientists have found evidence of it in their laboratory experiments. In 2007, I began shooting interviews with these scientists for a documentary film. A lot of people raise their eyebrows when they hear the word scientist and psychic in the same sentence. A lot of people have asked, “Why make a film about scientific investigations into psychic experiences?”

In some ways, it is not so much that I decided to do this, but rather that a yearning curiosity instilled infilled me with the need to understand my own experiences. I wanted to understand that part of our consciousness that does not seem to be limited in space and time, and see if it could be part of a spiritual path. I was interested in 'white magic', as opposed to 'black magic' or voodoo. There is no way to fully understand the 'non-local' spiritual aspect of our consciousness. It has to be experienced. Science and spirituality have intrigued me ever since I was at university in the 1970s, when I discovered new philosophies and a way of life different to my childhood, a semi-Christian upbringing full of its strict rules and dogma.

The works of the Dutch philosopher, Baruch Spinoza opened my eyes to the indivisibility of divinity and Nature. I read the writings of Krishnamurti, which introduced me to Eastern philosophy and the notion of a universal, perennial wisdom. Herman Hesse’s book about Buddha, Siddharta, further highlightedhighlighted for me the importanceimportance of the human mind’s ability to create happiness or suffering. Carl Jung taught me about aspects of the human psyche. Rudolf Steiner’s Philosophy of Freedom inspired me to seek my own freedom. Joseph Campbell highlighted for me the importance of mythology and finding my own bliss. Goethe, Nietzsche and even Carlos Castaneda were all guides to a broader way of looking at life. Since those university days, I have puzzled over metaphysics and esoteric books. I’ve dabbled in yoga and meditation. I've been soothed by “energy” healers, cured by acupuncturists and even had my fortune told. I’m not any more “psychic” than the next person, certainly not more psychic than my cat, who mysteriously knows to disappear just before an appointment with the vet.

Yet my own strong and clear experiences of a sixth sense, a premonition or precognition, made me curious. I’m a child of the scientific age, a time when explanations abound for most things, even bizarre things. It intrigued me that I could find a way to understand certain “psychic” experiences. Furthermore, I was fascinated by Western research into the nature of mind and consciousness. I resolved to search more deeply for explanations of psychic phenomena as well. My initial idea of making a feature-length documentary about scientific research into paranormal phenomena was borne long before films like “What the Bleep do we Know” and “The Secret” were released onto the international circuit in 2004 and 2006, respectively. In 2000, I began filming, researching, and writing a script for a documentary about science and spirituality. In 2007, I travelled to the United States of America to interview and film several scientists who study psychic abilities. They are called parapsychologists. Most of these parapsychologists have been researching psychic phenomena since the 1970s. Quite a few are famous for their work: Dr. Larry Dossey, Professor Charles Tart, Dr Dean Radin, Professor Gary Schwartz, and Dr Rupert Sheldrake, among many more.

My documentary, "Something Unknown is Doing We don’t Know What", was released in April 2009 to a packed theatre at the Arizona Film Festival. Since then it has won several awards and has been selected for many film festivals around the world. This book is based on my journey making this film, and finding answers to several, key questions: * Have scientists found clear evidence of psychic abilities in humans? .*Can we read one another’s minds? (Telepathy.) .*Can we see the future? (Precognition.) .*What happens when people are suddenly cured of incurable diseases without medical intervention? (Spiritual Healing.) .*Is it possible for a human mind to bend and shape a solid object without physical force? If this is vaguely possible, how do we explain it? (Telekinesis or Psycho-kinesis.) * In the USA, parapsychologists claim that certain people are able to view or view or "see" objects or places that are not local (Clairvoyance or Remote Viewing). Do they truly "see" such remote objects or places? * Is there a boundary between true mental powers and fraud or trickery? * Can “miracles” of the mind be explained?

These questions inspired me to undertake my film project. But when I set out from my home in South Africa to begin this project in America in 2007, I had no idea what I would find. As it turns out, I discovered more than I could ever have imagined. I discovered more than I could ever imagine

SCIENTISTS AND PARAPSYCHOLOGISTS During my voyage of discovery to meet these scientists, which mostly took place in the USA, I discovered that many of them had fascinating accounts of their own experimental results regarding psychic abilities. Several were ‘heavy-weight’ academics, with strings of capital letters behind their names as a result of all their scientific university degrees and they had published copious articles in science journals. To me, it would not be so curious if a guru from the Himalaya came down from the peaks and said, “You know, we have to explore ‘spiritual healing’.”

However when prominent scientific researchers - a highly respected doctor of internal medicine (Dr. Larry Dossey); a pioneering biologist (Dr. Rupert Sheldrake); a surgical oncologist (Dr Gary Schwartz) and a Nobel Laureate physicist (Professor Brian Josephson) – say that they have found evidence in the laboratory for psychic abilities, it's a different situation. I wanted to discover what evidence exactly they had found? Had they discovered the causes of these psychic abilities? I also wondered what did most people think about psychic abilities? I found a statistical survey produced by the US National Science Foundation in 2002 showing that 60 percent of adult Americans believed that some individuals could possess psychic powers. One-third of these people actually believed in psychic phenomena such as telepathy, clairvoyance, and premonitions as well as ghosts and life after death. However, many physical scientists do not agree that science can usefully investigate spiritual phenomena; these scientists say that there is no evidence for psychic ability at all. According to one skeptical writer, Michael Shermer, only 7 percent of renowned scientists believe in God, whereas 96 percent of Americans believe in God, and, and 73 percent believe angels are present on Earth.i

This discrepancy in attitudes and beliefs is interesting. It means that while most people have spiritual beliefs, most scientists don’t. Does the layman know more than these brilliant scientists? Or do the scientists know something the rest of the world must yet comprehend? From a materialist point of view, our minds emanate from the brain, like a computer, a physical organ, a mass of meatmeat. Consciousness is therefore a product of brain chemicals. However many psychologists and parapsychologists are not satisfied with this explanation. They look at consciousness from a point of view that includes an experiential and spiritual approach. Is that a contradiction in terms? How do they unite Eastern philosophical and Western scientific approaches? I found that many of the parapsychologists retain their own skepticism. They are rigorous in their laboratory experiments and are accustomed to being challenged by the scientific community and skepticalskeptical reporters. After all, they have been cross-examined at conferences and in the scientific literature for several decades now. Yet still they continue their research.

So, if you ask, what was my approach to this investigation? Let me first say that I was neither a believer nor a refuter. I was keen to look at the data and find objective evidence, if it existed. My own ideas about consciousness and mind have been influenced by an interest in Eastern philosophy. My view is that our minds are not limited to time and space. This was the direction I wanted to take in my film. But I was also sceptical about what scientists could show. I certainly did not set out to find proof and then make that proof the focus of the documentary. My goal was to access the evidence presented by scientists, without the burden of proof. Mostly, I had questions, lots of them. It was therefore surprising to me, when speaking on Skype with American parapsychologist, professor Charles Tart in 2006, to learn that there was strong, scientific evidence for a few, specific kinds of psychic phenomena, which he called “The Big Five�. I had read many books on the subject of science, mind and spirit, but I had notnot found so succinct a statement anywhere. I realised that I had found the focus for my film.

THE BIG FIVE Professor Tart told me that several American researchers had worked on the subject of parapsychology for over three decades. evidence for They had found scientific proof of the existence of five, main psychic abilities. He listed these: Telepathy (mind-to-mind connections); precognition (mind awareness of events before they happen); clairvoyance (mind awareness of an object, place or person that is remote); healing without medical means and psycho-kinesis (mind affecting solid objects without the use of physical force). My view? Yes, there is scientific evidence for these five psychic abilities. But I found many lingering mysteries too. "Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts". - Albert Einstein

Book Something Unknown Is Doing We Don't Know What  

A fascinating spiritual journey into the science behind psychic phenomenaA book based on the award-winning feature documentary film of the s...