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No. 81: May-Jun 1992

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The tyranny of the [normal] senses

R.O. Becker, author of Cross Currents, has contributed a thought-provoking article on the mechanisms by which humans perceive the cosmos. From the many stimulating ideas he presented, we select his rationale for believing that an electromagnetic basis may exist for the reception and processing of psi signals.

A key concept in Becker's scheme is his belief in the presence, in humans and other organisms, of a dual system for receiving and processing information arriving from the environment. The system we are all aware of and which scientists study in depth is the nerve impulse system, which transmits digital signals; i.e., 0s and 1s. This system connects to all our everyday senses and controls our motor functions. The second system Becker designates as "primitive." It transmits information in analog (continuously varying) form via electrical currents and magnetic fields, rather than as impulses along neurons. This second system is not recognized by mainstream science.

Becker advances the notions that: (1) Psi-type phenomena are actually handled by the "primitive" analog system; (2) The flood of information normally arriving from our sensory organs via the "modern" digital system masks the psi-type signals; and (3) These assertions are consistent with the elusive nature of psi phenomena in both everyday experience and the parapsychological laboratories. Becker's ideas also jibe with experimental evidence that the psi faculty is suppressed by electromagnetic storms, which (presumably) act only upon the "primitive" analog system.

Becker readily admits that the physical basis for the generation, transmission, and reception of psi signals is unknown. (Becker. Robert O.; "Electromagnetism and Psi Phenomena," American Society for Psychical Research, Journal, 86:1, 1992.)

Comment: We use above the adjective "psi-type" in describing signals traveling along the primitive analog system be cause we may also be receiving other kinds of signals not yet recognized even by the parapsychologists, and which are also masked by everyday sensory data rushing brainward. After all, we must not let the parapsychologists restrict our vision of the universe!

From Science Frontiers #81, MAY-JUN 1992. 1992-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987