Our Research Paradigm
Our organization does not follow the traditional Newtonian-Cartesian research paradigm (worldview or theoretical construct) that is predominant in mainstream science, which considers reality to consist solely of a physical universe operating under physical laws. Instead, our research is conducted based on a new paradigm or view of reality that is inclusive of the genuine multidimensional, psychic, ‘spiritual,’ and ‘transcendent’ experiences had by millions of people around the world. When these experiences are investigated in an unbiased, rational, and objective manner, they point to the conclusion that we live within a greater, multidimensional reality that, to date, has been largely ignored by mainstream science.
The materialistic or mechanistic Newtonian-Cartesian paradigm contends that the physical world is made up of basic entities with specific properties. According to that paradigm, by reducing the physical world to its most basic entities or parts, we are able to ascertain a completely knowable, predictable, and therefore controllable physical universe (reductionism, physicalism). With the aim of maximizing objectivity, physicalistic investigators limit themselves to that which is physically observable or which produces effects that can be recorded on a physical device.
The multitude of multidimensional, psychic, or ‘spiritual’ experiences had by people around the world does involve objective events and occurrences that can be observed, however: it’s just that the physical senses and physical devices typically do not capture the observable data, or a fraction of it at best. The best device currently available for recording such observations is the human consciousness, ideally one that has been honed through years of training with energetic and psychic development.
This leads to a further point of departure from scientific materialism. Under the materialistic or physicalistic paradigm, investigators limit themselves to third-person observations, meaning that they attempt to remain objective so that what they end up observing is (supposedly) not influenced by their subjective perceiving processes. Such an approach has its relative merits, but it significantly limits the development of new knowledge when one excludes from study the investigator’s first-hand psychic experiences (there are also questions around the possibility of absolute objectivity – those questions are explored elsewhere on this website). Parapsychology is a perfect example: for 125 years it has been attempting to make progress in this area while relying primarily on the objective, third-party accounts of experiencers. . However, it is very hard for an investigator to understand deeply certain phenomena if he or she has never personally experienced them, or has experienced them only once or twice in his or her lifetime. Under the new research paradigm being used by IAC, investigators may legitimately use their own psychic experiences, and their psychic perceptions of the psychic or energetic experiences of others, as data for their research. This approach enriches the debate and establishes a higher baseline of knowledge, allowing discussion to move beyond elementary questions such as ‘is ESP possible,’ shifting it instead to questions such as ‘how can I enhance my ESP,’ and ‘what benefits could I derive or produce by improving my ESP.’
For over three hundred years, science has largely limited itself to physical objects that can be observed by multiple investigators with their physical senses and their technological extensions. This positivist or scientistic ideology led psychology away from the introspective work of William James to behaviorism which viewed humans as biological machines that respond to the environmental stimuli. Few researchers earned respect by researching the micro-universe, the internal actions of the mind, the feeling of what it is like to be someone, to have a thought, emotion, or experience – or what philosophers call qualia. There is still heavy censorship, self-censorship, and lack of funding for experiences that continue to challenge the materialistic worldview, such as near-death experiences. Today, consciousness research has attained greater interest, but the majority of investigators still contend that self-awareness arose from biology through the random process of gene mutation and natural selection. Ironically, even parapsychology tends to limit itself to physical instrumentation and theories (such as quantum entanglement) because the researchers are not trained to have their multiple psychical experiences that can open them up to multidimensional reality. The problem is that mainstream science is as far away as ever from an answer and prominent researchers like Steven Pinker concede that there seems to be no adequate explanation for why qualia should exist from an evolutionary biology view or how it arose. Despite receiving about one month’s worth of research funding in the past century, when compared to psychology, parapsychology has produced intriguing results, the search for “indisputable” evidence continues. Convincing scientists who have their mind made up to the point of having a fixed belief has historically proved futile. Are we trying to fit an elephant in a match box by demanding physical, replicable evidence of non-physical events that are highly complex and not strictly replicable?
Can we scientifically evaluate whether the out-of-body experience is the result of neurological activity or if it reveals dimensions beyond the physical reality? Is this a new frontier for science and human development? In short, can the OBE falsify the materialistic or physicalist paradigm, including a brain-based account of who and what we are? The OBE could allow us to study psychical processes from a multidimensional perspective that might reveal processes hidden from our usual awareness. The catch is that the scientist cannot be just an observer: investigators need to undertake hundreds of expeditions, each, to begin to understand the OBE and what it reveals about so-called anomalies and even about often-overlooked instances of our daily life. Clearly, a new science, a new paradigm, distinct expectations and rules must apply to phenomena that go beyond physical reality. Projectiology treats psi phenomena in a holistic model by recognizing that they are all linked to the OBE and subtle energy, which cannot be experienced, investigated, and understood with physical senses and technology. The IAC’s research and training is based on an alternative framework – the consciential paradigm – which suggests that most scientists are having such a hard time in this area because they are asking the wrong question, based on an inadequate perspective. Experiences like clairvoyance and the out-of-body experience can reveal to the researcher-observer that he or she (the object of the observation) is not limited to the physical body or dimension, can survive biological death, and hence is not of physical origin. Corroboration with the experience of other researchers and shared or joint experiences allow scientists to reach more objective, scientific conclusions akin to the multiple, subjective observations and analyses of conventional science. The consciential paradigm could be seen as a multidimensional logical positivism, because it is still based on the use of logical tautologies and first-person observations from experience, but without restricting the kind of experience to the physical perception.
Toward a Science of Consciousness 2004, invited talk, Steven Pinker. Tucson, Arizona.