In the preceding pages, we established theoretically, and confirmed by observational information, that the control units which exercise full or partial direction of the actions of human beings are intelligent and that they are able to communicate directly with each other, utilizing channels independent of space and time. Since the control unit is a local manifestation of existence in Sector 3, the general metaphysical region, it follows that all existences in Sector 3, or at least all existences of this same type, are intelligent. We may further deduce that the observed ability of the intelligent Sector 3 units which exist within the space-time universe (the control units) to communicate with each other through their own channels indicates that Sector 3 existences can communicate with each other by similar means wherever they are located. Communication between the control units and the Sector 3 existences outside space and time is therefore theoretically possible. The present chapter will begin an exploration of the available information bearing on this point.
If information about entities or events within the physical universe or elsewhere is available to the external Sector 3 existences and is transmitted by them to the control units, the human individuals under the direction of these control units will acquire the information in a manner not capable of physical explanation. An observed phenomenon of this kind is the one known as clairvoyance, one of the group of ESP phenomena. Like telepathy, it has been extensively investigated in recent years, and the conclusions reached in the preceding chapter with respect to the validity of the results obtained in observations and experiments on telepathy are equally applicable to clairvoyance. The difference between the two phenomena is that in telepathy both the transmitter and the receiver are human individuals, whereas in clairvoyance only one human being, the receiver, is involved.
The concept of perceiving facts and events without the aid of physical mechanisms and independently of space and time is a rather difficult one for a person who exists in space and time and whose normal activities are limited to the utilization of physical means. Some discussion of the basic situation is therefore in order. According to the findings of the Reciprocal System of theory, the physical universe is composed entirely of units of motion, combinations of which constitute the various physical entities. In the material sector of this universe, where human life is located, there is a continuous, uniform progression of time. Current physical theory regards this time as one-dimensional, but the new theoretical development shows that it is actually scalar; that is, it has magnitude only, without direction. During this progression of time, change of position due to motion takes place in three dimensions of space. An intelligent human individual can become aware of events anywhere in the three dimensions of space, subject to (1) the physical limitations of the available communication means, and (2) the unidirectional nature of the time progression, which limits the transmitted information to past events.
As stated earlier, one of the most significant results of the development of this new and more accurate physical theory is the discovery that the material sector of the universe, which has heretofore been believed to constitute the whole of the physical universe, is actually only half of the total. There is another half, the cosmic sector, as we are calling it, which is identical with the material sector in every respect except that space and time are interchanged. In this cosmic sector, there is a continuous, uniform scalar progression of space. During this spatial progression, changes of position due to motion take place in three dimensions of time. Here an intelligent existence can become aware of events anywhere in the three dimensions of time, subject to the same limitations that apply in the material sector, except that instead of being limited to events in past time (that is, events that have been passed in the time progression), the transmitted information in the cosmic sector is limited to events at locations that have been passed in the space progression.
Inasmuch as we have found that the limitations applicable to the physical universe do not apply to the general metaphysical region, it follows that an intelligent Sector 3 existence can become aware of events anywhere in space or anywhere in time, with equal clarity everywhere. Furthermore, the limitation of the speed of transmission that applies to the physical universe is likewise inapplicable to Sector 3, where space and time do not exist, and speed, the ratio of space to time, therefore has no meaning. We can also deduce that the Sector 3 existences are aware of whatever exists within the general metaphysical region itself. All of the information at their command is then available for transmission to qualified human receivers. One of the transmission processes is clairvoyance.
The Sector 3 aspects of the human personality, the control units, are of the same nature as the Sector 3 existences in the general metaphysical region, and consequently, there is a possibility that the human control units may be able to perceive these facts directly without having to depend on transmission of the information from Sector 3. However, our analysis of the third level of human life indicates that the control units, as they exist at the present stage of the development of the human race, are relatively primitive, occupying a position in their field comparable to that of a single-celled organism in the biological field. It therefore appears more likely that clairvoyance is a manifestation of the inter-sector communication that we have found theoretically possible. This conclusion is supported by the fact that some of the related phenomena that will be discussed later clearly belong in the communication category.
The independence from space and time demonstrated in the ESP experiments and confirmed by the theoretical analysis is one of the principal targets of the minority of scientists who still regard such phenomena as impossible. Price, for example, lists this independence as the first, and apparently the most serious of his objections to the acceptance of the validity of the ESP results. C. W. Churchman calls ESP a “termite hypothesis.” If such hypotheses turned out to be true, they “would ruin or at least seriously tear the fine fabric of science’s theoretical structure,”159 he insists. If that “fine fabric” correctly represented the physical universe, he might have a valid point. However, the conventional theoretical structure that men such as Price and Churchman are so stoutly defending is not only full of contradictions and inconsistencies, but far too limited in its scope to serve as a basis for conclusions of a general nature. As the development of the Reciprocal System has revealed, conventional physical theory does not even account for all of the primary features of the physical universe. It tells us nothing at all about existence in general.
In the light of the new information that is now available, ESP is completely in harmony with physical existence and it is a normal feature of human life. It is contrary to the rules of the game in the biological world, to be sure, just as the development of complex biological organisms through evolutionary processes is contrary to the rules of the game in the inanimate world. But the inanimate and the biological do not constitute the whole of existence. We will find in the course of our investigation that many aspects of human behavior are just as foreign to the principles that govern physical activity—both living and non-living—as clairvoyance. They seem less foreign only because they are more familiar.
An interesting application of ESP takes place in gambling. It is not generally appreciated that gambling is an experiment in clairvoyance, specifically the anticipatory, or precognition, type of clairvoyance. The gambler is trying to anticipate what will happen on the next turn of the wheel, the next flip of a card, or the next roll of the dice, in just as real a sense as the subject in the parapsychology laboratory who is specifically being tested for ESP ability. The striking fact about these unintentional ESP experiments in the gambling establishments is that they arrive at essentially the same results, from the qualitative standpoint, as the experiments that are deliberately aimed at one aspect or another of the ESP phenomena.
The action at a roulette table, for instance, has a close resemblance to the conventional ESP experiments. The general run of the results in both cases is close to that which would be expected on the basis of pure chance. But occasionally a player has a run of phenomenal “luck” in which the normal principles of probability seem to be totally inoperative. Such an occurrence is rare, but still frequent enough to make it necessary for the management to impose some special limits or other rules to prevent undue losses. Like the successes in the analogous ESP experiments, the “run of luck” in gambling generally tapers off after a time, and at the end of a session, the results are usually less favorable than at the start. Furthermore, as in the ESP tests, the favorable run cannot be deliberately repeated, no matter how much of an effort is made to duplicate the original conditions.
The general conclusions that can be drawn from both kinds of experiment are:
- No evidence of a general ESP capability has been found.
- There is some evidence of uncertain validity suggesting that a substantial number of individuals may have a small ESP ability.
- A few persons are spectacularly successful in demonstrating ESP on some occasions.
- This high-level ESP capability is erratic and not subject to voluntary control by any methods now known.
The success ratio is substantially lower in the gambling establishments than in the planned ESP experiments. This does not affect the significance of the results so far as the existence of the ESP phenomena is concerned. As long as some persons are able to demonstrate ESP capability at some times, this confirms the existence of ESP just as definitely as if the success ratio had been higher. But the reasons for the difference in this ratio are worth giving some consideration because of the light that they may throw on the requirements that must be met in order to accomplish ESP reception or transmission. These issues will be discussed in Chapter 25.
The fact that the results achieved in gambling practically duplicate the results of the more conventional ESP experiments, qualitatively if not quantitatively, has a particular significance in that these results are not open to the charge of trickery that plays such an important part in the objections raised to the ESP experiments by Hansel and other critics. There is a long history of trickery and dishonesty in gambling houses, to be sure, but where anything of this kind exists, it favors the management, not the customer.
In order to lay the groundwork for consideration of the next phenomenon on our schedule, let us return to the question of the capabilities of a mechanism. In Chapter 7 we approached this issue from the positive direction, as we were primarily concerned with the question as to what a machine can do. Now we are interested in the negative side of the same issue: the question as to what a machine cannot do. The giant strides that have been taken in the design and manufacture of computers and allied types of machines in recent years have generated a great deal of loose talk regarding the potentialities of such equipment. In approaching such a subject as the one now under consideration, it is therefore necessary to recognize that those who use the term “intelligence” in connection with these machines are giving this term the minimum definition that we employed in Chapter 7.
For instance, Marvin L. Minsky introduces an article on Artificial Intelligence with the statement: “In this article I shall describe some programs that enable a computer to behave in ways that probably everyone would agree seem to show intelligence,” but before he comes to the end of the article, he is forced to concede that “No [computer] program today, however, can work any genuinely important change in its own basic structure.”160 In other words, it can do only those things which it was specifically designed to do. Similarly, D. A. Bell has published a book with the intriguing title Intelligent Machines, but when we look at page one of this book we find this qualification:
This corresponds roughly with that aspect of intelligence which is concerned with deduction of incontrovertible conclusions from specified data, leaving aside the more creative aspect of intelligence which is seen in the processes of induction and association.161
The significant point here is that the machine can only work with “specified data”—that is the kind of data that it is specifically designed to handle—and it must come to “incontrovertible conclusions,” which means that it can operate only in accordance with rigid rules. These are characteristics, not of any particular class of machines, but of machines in general. Norbert Wiener makes the same point in a discussion of machines devised to play games. “In general,” he says, “a game playing machine may be used to secure the automatic performance of any function if the performance of this function is subject to a clear-cut objective criterion of merit.”162 In the words of the conclusion that we reached in Chapter 7, a mechanism can adapt its behavior to new situations as long as the game is played according to the rules, but it cannot cope with any deviation from the rules, nor can it initiate any change in the rules. “The computer can systematize knowledge at lightning speeds, but it is still the dumb servant that disgorges only that which man puts into it,”163 observes Arthur Bronwell. The same point is made, somewhat inelegantly, but forcibly, in one of the favorite aphorisms of the computer industry itself: “Garbage in, garbage out.”
As Bell indicates, a mechanism must operate deductively, following the principles that are embodied in its construction, the rules of the game, as we have called them. Only the most rudimentary inductive processes, such as simple enumeration, can be handled mechanically, and then only to the extent that the objectives of these processes can be approached by predetermined procedures. The more complex processes by which we arrive at genuinely new ideas are inherently beyond the capacity of a mechanism, no matter how complex and sophisticated it may be, and regardless of whether that mechanism is physical or biological. The problems that require new concepts and new understandings will never by solved by animals or by computers. A machine would not be able, for instance, to observe a falling rock, a lightning flash, a lump of coal, and a pool of water in the high mountains; to abstract from these the feature that they share in common; and to formulate the concept of energy. Nor would a machine be able to see that a falling apple points the way to an explanation of the motions of the planets in their orbits. Outstanding achievements such as these are rare, to be sure, but less spectacular results of the same general nature are being produced regularly, and they are all totally beyond the capacity of human beings as biological mechanisms. They necessarily have to be produced in some other way.
What, then, is this other way? The most striking feature of the process by which new ideas are derived is that no one can explain how it operates. “Nobody has ever been able to discover a procedure guaranteed to produce insight,” reports Max Black, and he goes on to say, “even the greatest scientists have been able to do little more than marvel at the apparently miraculous source of their most fruitful notions.”31 Similar comments have been made by a great many observers. The particular words in which these comments have been expressed have a significance that is very pertinent to the present inquiry, and the exact wording of the statement by Black and the following additional quotations selected from current scientific and philosophical literature should therefore be considered carefully.
We know neither what takes place in this movement of discovery, nor how to control it and foster it. We recognize our failure by calling it a “mystery.”164 (A. Cornelius Benjamin)
An entirely different order of image-forming is involved in creative imagination, the most profound of human activities. It provides the illumination that gives a new insight or understanding… . The illumination often has the suddenness of a flash, as with Kekule and the benzene ring, Darwin and the theory of evolution, Hamilton and his equations.165 (John C. Eccles)
My view may be expressed by saying that every discovery contains “an irrational element,” or a “creative intuition” in Bergson’s sense.166 (Karl Popper)
The person having cultivated this remarkable faculty, however, is capable of performing what has been called the “inductive leap,” a passage which seems to soar over the intervening gap between abstractions and facts with an ease not given to the ordinary mortal… . There is something striking, incomprehensible, psychologically miraculous about this leap, something akin to revelation in religion.167 (Henry Margenau)
Man’s intellectual history has been marked by many moments of sudden revelation, both in science and in philosophy.168 (Harlow Shapley)
Poets and prophets are not alone in their visions; a young scientist—it happens mostly to the young—may in a flash glimpse a distant peak that no one else has seen.169 (James R. Newman)
Instead of going from step to step with conscious certainty, as some do, these men [such as Einstein] make large intellectual jumps as though borne by a guiding necessity. Sometimes they reveal that such solutions occur to them “in a sudden flash of insight” after long, even feverish, study.170 (Holton and Roller)
The new paradigm, or a sufficient hint to permit later articulation, emerges all at once, sometimes in the middle of the night, in the mind of a man deeply immersed in crisis. What the nature of that final stage is—how an individual invents (or finds he has invented) a new way of giving order to data now all assembled—must here remain inscrutable and may be permanently so.171 (Thomas S. Kuhn)
The first point to which these authors testify is that the knowledge comes suddenly. Three of them use the word “sudden,” a like number speak of a “flash,” Margenau calls it a “leap,” to Holton and Roller it is a “jump.” The second point that they stress is that the manner in which it comes is spontaneous and wholly unexplainable—miraculous, say two of the writers (a term that is all the more significant because it comes from men who do not believe in miracles). The origin is incomprehensible, inscrutable, irrational, others assert.
Now where have we encountered this kind of a phenomenon before? These are exactly the characteristics of clairvoyance: the knowledge comes suddenly, in a physically unexplainable manner, and every one of the descriptive words listed in the preceding paragraph would be equally as applicable to the clairvoyance phenomenon as to inductive insight. These two phenomena are simply two manifestations of the same thing: communication of information from Sector 3 existences to the control units that exercise direction over the human organisms.
We have deduced theoretically that such communication should exist; now we find two phenomena in which it does exist. This existence is evident, not only because the manner in which the information is received is exactly what it should be on the basis of this explanation, but also because in the case of inductive insight (and sometimes also in clairvoyance) there is no physical way in which the information could have been received. It could not have come through any mechanistic channels—any method of reception available to man as a biological mechanism—because a mechanism can only work with what Bell called “specified data”; it cannot reach any new conclusions. As Coulson remarks, “It seems as if the inner truths of our concepts and our brilliant imagination are not really our own at all.”172
Of course, this means that a great many of the ideas that occur to human individuals come through these Sector 3 channels. The spectacular achievements of great scientists to which the adjective “miraculous” is so freely applied are basically no different from the innumerable “flashes of insight” that are occurring every day to individuals in all walks of life. Margenau points out specifically that the “miraculous” inductive leap “akin to revelation in religion” which he mentions in the quotation above is equally present in many occurrences of ordinary life. “Less spectacular instances of intuition in this sense,” he says, “also occur in ordinary cognition, where they are called instinctive guesses or successful conjectures.”167 A. C. Benjamin makes a similar comment:
In fact such sudden appearances of novel ideas occur to all of us in much less pretentious situations. We say that the ideas “pop” into our heads, that we have “flashes of insight,” often in the middle of the night.173
The difference between these minor flashes of insight and the outstanding scientific achievements is merely one of degree. The human mechanism (Level 2) is no more capable of formulating an inconsequential new idea than it is of formulating a revolutionary new scientific concept. It is the novelty that is beyond the capacity of a mechanism; the nature of the novelty and its degree of importance or unimportance are entirely irrelevant. Furthermore, the need for a metaphysical source is not eliminated if the idea is familiar to someone else. Unless the individual himself has physical access to the idea, or to the basic information from which he can derive it by physical processes, he can get it only from non-physical sources by non-physical means.
The term “intuition” is commonly used in a broad sense to include the entire range from the major flashes of insight down to trivial items of everyday experience. One dictionary defines intuition as “the power of knowing without recourse to inference or reasoning.” Another says it is “the direct or immediate perception of truths, facts, etc., without reasoning.” All such definitions, specifying, as they do, what intuition is not rather than what it is, merely emphasize the fact that the nature of this process is physically inexplicable. As Max Black says in the statement previously quoted, the intuitive ideas come from an “apparently miraculous source,” which means a non-physical source. Our finding is that intuition is, indeed, a non-physical process, but it is nevertheless a strictly natural process, not a miraculous one. It is direct communication between Sector 3 and the control units through Sector 3 channels.
Quite obviously, much of the information obtained through flashes of insight or other forms of intuition is erroneous, either in whole or in part. In the opinion of most philosophers, this unreliability of the information invalidates the entire concept of intuitive knowledge. “How can the intuitionist defend himself in the face of the notoriously conflicting beliefs which different persons, societies, and civilizations hold about what is good, what is right, what is our duty?”174 asks John Hospers. But this criticism only applies to intuition as a source of information, as Hospers, in effect, concedes in saying, “One can make a strong case, then, for holding that the whole idea of knowing by intuition is a mistake.”175 The finding of this present work is that intuition is not a source of information; it is a means of transmitting information. It is, we have reason to believe, a reliable transmitter. The unreliability of the messages, as they are received, is due to the inadequacy of the receiving equipment. Paraphrasing Pasteur’s comment with respect to the results of chance, we may say that true insight comes only to the prepared mind.
Unless the receiver is adequately prepared to handle the information which he receives, it will not be intelligible either to him or to anyone else to whom he attempts to communicate it, no matter how accurate the information may have been at the source, or how faithfully it was transmitted. For example, Aristotle, who lived about 350 B.C., could not have received the insight that would have enabled him to formulate a theory of electromagnetic induction. A long series of mental leaps by many different individuals over more than two thousand years was necessary before the proper conceptual background could even be established to permit discovery of the phenomenon. Michael Faraday finally made this leap in 1831, but a satisfactory theory that would explain his discovery was still a long way off. As this experience indicates, the quality of the reception depends on the general level of knowledge as well as on the receptive capability of the particular individual concerned, not because this general level has any particular significance in itself, but because it determines the level of knowledge which the individual can attain by study of the existing body of information. Some individuals will be able to leap farther than others, but the height of the platform from which the leap is taken is a very important factor in determining the extent of the ultimate accomplishment.
It is this need for a body of knowledge from which to operate that has misled some investigators into believing that it is the study of the problem that brings forth the answer. For example, Mario Bunge asserts that “Creative scientists do have ’natural revelations’ or ’illuminations,’ but never before finding, stating, and studying a problem,”176 and he cites this as evidence against intuitionism. But the study is done by the human machine, and machines are inherently incapable of arriving at anything that is genuinely new. Intensive study of the subject is essential, but it is only preparatory. The “natural revelation” has to come later by means of an intuitive process.
When the platform provided by the established body of knowledge has reached a level within striking distance of the actual truth, some individual who is well prepared with a thorough understanding of this established knowledge, and also has a greater than normal degree of insight—that is, ability to receive information from Sector 3—will grasp that truth fully and accurately. In the meantime, individuals who are less gifted in this respect, or who are handicapped by having a less adequate store of knowledge to which the intuitive information can be related, or both, will also be receiving the message, but not being well enough equipped to receive it clearly, will get it in an incomplete or erroneous version. This spurious “insight” will arrive in the same way as the genuine information, and to the recipient, it will be indistinguishable from the genuine.
Since only a relatively small number of individuals are qualified to receive full and complete insight in any relatively advanced field of knowledge, and then only in a limited segment of that field, the incomplete and erroneous intuitions greatly outnumber the genuine. In the scientific areas, where testing of new ideas by comparison with the facts of observation and experiment is standard practice, most of the erroneous matter is identified as such sooner or later, and then discarded; but in other branches of human activity where objective standards of this kind are lacking, the spurious items usually coexist with the genuine, and are championed just as strongly by those who believe that they have been given a glimpse of the truth. Even in science there is a large amount of misinformation masquerading as genuine knowledge. Basically this is chargeable to a characteristically human, but definitely unscientific, reluctance to admit ignorance: a strong tendency to say, “We know… ,” when the correct statement would be, “We think… .”
The lack of certainty in the products of intuition, ESP, or insight (the same process under different names) also has an effect in the opposite direction, in that genuine items of information received through such channels often remain unrecognized as such because they are not distinguished from the mass of misinformation with which they are associated. The statement by W. F. G. Swann from which the quotation at the end of Chapter 8 was taken is a good example. This is actually a most remarkable anticipation of the results of the present work. Every word that is quoted is strictly in accord with the findings of our investigation. In existence as a whole, which we are exploring in these pages, there is “a new set of laws,” the laws of Sector 3. There is a “new kind of entity,” the Sector 3 control unit. This entity “cannot be described in terms of space and time,” as it is independent of space and time. It “plays a role,” a very significant role, in ESP and the other “borderline phenomena” that Swann mentions. In fact, this statement is so accurate that it is, in itself, a phenomenon that requires an explanation. Quite clearly, it is a genuine insight, or intuitive understanding, that did not receive its just due at the time of publication because the scientific community was not able to distinguish it from the many inaccurate pronouncements on the same subject.
In view of the questionable nature of so much of the information obtained by intuition or insight, it may legitimately be asked what justification there is for giving any weight to the products of these processes. The answer can be found in what has been said about the capabilities of mechanisms. Some of the kinds of information that we need cannot be obtained in any other way. For instance, in order that the advance of human knowledge may continue, we are constantly in need of new ideas, and, as has been brought out in the previous discussion, the physical mechanism of which the human mind is a part is subject to the same limitations as any other mechanism. It cannot produce anything that is genuinely new. The innovations that are required must come from a non-physical source through some form of intuition.
Furthermore, there are aspects of human existence about which nothing can be learned from experience. Philosophers have never been able, for example, to find any empirical basis from which ethical standards can be derived. The strict empiricist therefore denies the validity of ethical judgments. “In every case in which one would commonly be said to be making an ethical judgement,” says Ayer, “the function of the relevant ethical word is purely ’emotive.’ It is used to express feeling about certain objects, but not to make any assertion about them.”177 But all this rests on the empiricists’ assumption that there are no non-physical sources of information. “There is no criterion by which one can test the validity of the judgements in which they [the fundamental ethical concepts] occur,” contends Ayer. Our findings now show that this assumption is incorrect, and that the lack of an empirical basis for ethics does not mean that there is no basis anywhere; it merely means that ethics is inherently non-physical, and the ethical standards therefore have to be obtained from a non-physical source by some intuitive process: the non-physical means of communication.
The inability of the philosophers to find any empirical—that is, physical—basis for ethics is actually a significant addition to the many items of evidence confirming the validity of the inductive conclusion reached in Chapter 4: the conclusion as to the reality of non-physical existence, independent of space and time. The empiricists take their stand on the premise that the physical universe is the whole of existence. Since ethical principles cannot be derived from physical experience, they then deduce that there is no meaning in ethics. As expressed by Ayer, “sentences which simply express moral judgements do not say anything.”177 This reasoning is valid, but it arrives at a conclusion that is manifestly false. Moral judgments do say something to us. The empiricists have thus given us a reductio ad absurdum: a proof of the falsity of the premise that the physical universe is the whole of existence. When we recognize that moral judgments do have meaning, and take this fact as our premise, we turn the empiricists’ logic upside down. Since there are moral (ethical) principles, and, as the empiricists insist, there is no physical basis from which such principles can be derived, it necessarily follows that they originate from a non-physical source. The reality of non-physical existence is thus confirmed.
Neither scientific insight nor intuition gives us positive and certain answers to all of our questions. In some cases, there is virtual certainty. In others, we obtain answers that have only some degree of probability of being correct; but in these instances, whatever uncertainty may exist can be eliminated by a process of verification. In this respect, intuition is similar to inductive reasoning. Indeed, it is often combined with the inductive process. Induction is usually carried out by means of some expedient such as extrapolation which enables working from an established base; but in many cases this is not feasible, and the investigator must rely on what he generally characterizes as his “imagination.” If the problem is one which requires some new insight, imagination is not likely to take him very far unless it is accompanied by an intuitive grasp of the general features of the correct answer. In any event, the basis for the use of both intuition and inductive reasoning is that, by combining a process whose results are subject to a degree of uncertainty with a verification process, we arrive at results that are just as reliable as those that would be obtained from an inherently accurate single process in many important areas where no such single process can be applied.
The question now naturally arises: Since all of the intuitive applications that have been discussed thus far are essentially nothing but variations of the same basic process, why are there such extreme differences in their ability to produce results? The answer lies in the kind of information that is sought. It appears that correct intuitive answers to simple questions of right and wrong are readily accessible to almost everyone, and nearly everyone arrives at the same judgment on these simple issues. Agreement among the recipients of intuitive information, as we will see later, is one of the criteria of the validity of that information. Scientific insight, on the contrary, is eagerly sought, but rarely attained. It is not only difficult to get an intuitive answer to a scientific problem; it is even more difficult to get the right answer in a clear enough form to make it usable. The experiments on clairvoyance involve a still more difficult situation. In this case, clear-cut results are so seldom obtained that the very existence of the phenomenon is questioned by some observers.
Two general principles derived from experience are sufficient to explain the observed situation. First, broad generalizations are more easily obtained intuitively than specific details, particularly inconsequential details. It is easier, for example, to obtain an intuitive answer to the question, Is it wrong to steal?, than it is to get an intuitive judgment on some of the specific activities of Robin Hood. Second, information indigenous to the habitat of the inquirer is more easily obtained than that which must come from sources that are in any way “foreign.” In the case of simple questions of right and wrong, both factors are favorable. The inquirer, the Sector 3 unit that is part of the human personality, is asking for information of a very general nature from a source of his (or its) own nature. It is therefore easily obtained and has a high probability of being correct. In seeking scientific insight, he is asking for information of a much more specific nature that must be obtained from a source, the physical universe, that to him is foreign. (It is not foreign to the Sector 2 aspect of the human being, but the Sector 2 life unit is not in communication with the metaphysical region from which the intuitive information must come.) The conditions in this case are therefore much less favorable. It is more difficult to establish the intuitive contact, and the probability of error in the reception of the information is much greater. In the usual experiment on clairvoyance, both factors are highly unfavorable. The information that is being sought is not only foreign (that is, physical); it is also highly specific and usually trivial.
A significant point here is that the accuracy of the intuitive results obtained by these different processes is also definitely correlated with the kind of information that is being sought and the ease of obtaining it. As already noted, there are adequate grounds for concluding that simple ethical judgments are generally valid. The same considerations also indicate that there is a high probability that any other simple intuitive conclusion of a general nature about ethical or other non-physical matters is also valid. Of course, this does not eliminate the necessity of verification in order to reach certainty, but it does mean that the verification requirements can be somewhat less rigorous. Furthermore, in those cases where verification is not immediately feasible, it is sound practice to accord tentative acceptance to an intuitive conclusion with a high probability of being correct, pending the time that a definitive test becomes possible. This makes the relation between the kind of information sought and the accuracy of the results very important in some applications.
The two general principles that were used in the preceding discussion to explain the differences in the reliability of the results obtained by means of the various intuitive processes can equally well be used in the inverse manner; that is, by noting what kind of information a particular intuitive process is seeking, we can arrive at an indication of the extent and probable accuracy of the information that can be obtained by this means. This availability of a method of assessing the scope and reliability of an intuitive process will be especially significant in connection with the subject matter of the next chapter, where we will consider one of the most important of these processes. It will also be of assistance in evaluating the possibility of mind reading, an application of ESP that intrigues many persons in this modern era where the line of demarcation between science fact and science fiction is indistinct and hard to locate.
Hansel sees no difference between mind reading and telepathy. “Telepathy,” he says, “is a new name for mind reading.”178 But telepathy involves both transmission and reception, and it is impossible without the active participation of the individual on the transmitting end of the process. This is not what is meant by mind reading. The mind readers in the science fiction books read one’s thoughts as they would a book. Those with the most highly developed capabilities do so even if the subject tries to resist the penetration of his mind. Such a phenomenon belongs in the clairvoyance class. Clairvoyance is normally regarded as a means of obtaining information about objects or events, but it should be equally capable of producing information about processes such as mental activity, since the physical status of processes is no different from that of objects or events. We may therefore conclude that mind reading is possible in principle. On the basis of the considerations outlined in the preceding pages, we may further conclude that the reliability of the process under the conditions now prevailing will be comparable to that of clairvoyance in general.
But mind reading which has no more reliability than this is useless. The situation here is much different from that with respect to scientific insight. If the products of such insight are valid in only one case out of a hundred, the process is still extremely valuable, as the verification procedures that are available eliminate the erroneous results and identify the one that is valid. Here the intuitive process enables us to get needed information that cannot be obtained in any other way. On the other hand, mind reading that is able to determine only one thought out of a hundred, or even one in ten, correctly, and cannot even be sure which of the “readings” is the correct one, is of no practical value. As matters stand in the world today, we can therefore say that while some direct perception of another person’s thought no doubt occurs spontaneously in isolated instances, in much the same way that spontaneous telepathic transmission apparently occurs, intentional reading of minds is not feasible.