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Book Reviews Perceptions Magazine, June 2018

Real Magic:
Ancient Wisdom, Modern Science,
and a Guide to the Secret Power of the Universe
by Dean Radin, Ph.D

Harmony Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Random House LLC,
New York
2018, 258 pages, Paperback, US $16.00
ISBN: 978-1-5247-5882-0

Reviewed by Brent Raynes

Author Dean Radin is chief scientist for the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) and associated distinguished professor of integral and transpersonal psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Before joining IONS in 2001, Radin had worked at Bell Laboratories, Princeton University, University of Edinburgh, University of Nevada, and SRI International. His previous works have been The Conscious Universe, Entangled Minds, and Supernormal.

In Real Magic, Radin begins his book by describing the traditional distinctions between the slight-of-hand magic and the occult arts of magick, stating that due to an emerging body of scientific and experimental evidence (of which he has been a prominent pioneer and spokesperson) this “real magic” will inevitably become elevated into the domain of an actual scientific discipline, just as the medieval practices of astrology and alchemy eventually evolved into our modern sciences of astronomy and chemistry.

Radin points out how experiencing what he referred to as a “belief-shattering event,” something that takes you outside of your comfort zone with mainstream classical physics, often causes the skeptical mindset of many to unconsciously repress such experiences. It is very challenging for many to break free of the mainstream's rigid science-based perspective of physics that has for so long distanced itself from things perceived as entirely subjective like magic. Magic has taken a backseat to presumed logic, reason, and objectivity, the main ingredients of good science. But after some forty years of conducting carefully controlled parapsychological experiments where he reached the conclusion again and again that extra sensory perception and telepathy are real abilities of human consciousness, it dawned on him that he had in fact been experimentally studying the very stuff of ancient magic.

The challenge ahead is a huge one. Radin points out that some scientists use the word magic to mean nonsense, as magical thinking in the delusional sense of the word. However, he further points out how a belief in magic has nonetheless long been with us, and hasn't totally been exorcised away. For example, he explains how prayer is a form of intentional magic, as is the wearing of a sacred symbol, which is a form of sympathetic magic, and religious rituals have ancient ties to ceremonioal magic.

Radin offers the use of scientific methods as a lens to redirect our focus inward, simple and effective techniques that we can utilize to do this, that can lead to more interesting and fulfilling lives. He provides detailed descriptions of scientific experiments that he and other scientists have conducted and of the compelling confirmatory results that were achieved. In chapter 7, entitled Merlin-Class Magicians, Radin writes of three individuals who seemed to possess truly extraordinary abilities where there were numerous credible witnesses to attest to paranormal phenomena that they could produce. One was the seventeenth century Italian St. Joseph of Copertino, who reportedly had various mind-boggling abilities, including levitation (Radin recommended Michael Gross's book The Man Who Could Fly, which was about St. Joseph). The second one described was medium Daniel Dunglas Home of the 1800s who confronted many skeptics and scientists, and left them utterly baffled. He too could also levitate! The third subject presented was what Radin called a modern Merlin named Ted Owens, an American born in Indiana, who passed away in 1987, but who demonstrated impressive apparent precognitive skills – with a speciality of affecting weather and “calling in” UFOs – who he claimed he was in telepathic communication with. Jeffrey Mishlove, Ph.D., a respected parapsychologist, spent years investigating and documenting Owens' claims and wrote about his findings in a book entitled The PK Man: A True Story of Mind over Matter.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023