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Physics and Psychics; The Search for a World beyond the Senses

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The astonishing discoveries made by modern physics - imploding black holes, ghost-like quarks, and the odd rules governing quantum mechanics - have transformed our image of the physical world. A growing number of writers assert that such discoveries also demonstrate the existence of a nonphysical, spiritual world, a world that permits a wide variety of paranormal and psychic phenomena.

What exactly has physics shown us? Is there a world that transcends the sphere of the senses? ...

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Overview

The astonishing discoveries made by modern physics - imploding black holes, ghost-like quarks, and the odd rules governing quantum mechanics - have transformed our image of the physical world. A growing number of writers assert that such discoveries also demonstrate the existence of a nonphysical, spiritual world, a world that permits a wide variety of paranormal and psychic phenomena.

What exactly has physics shown us? Is there a world that transcends the sphere of the senses? Millions throughout history have thought so, but the existence of such a world is still accepted on faith alone. The tools of science have revealed no proof of spirits, ghosts, or supernatural phenomena.

Physics and Psychics critically examines theories of a transcendent reality in terms of all that is currently known about matter at its most fundamental level. Victor J. Stenger gives a provocative, often amusing history of psychic research and occult beliefs, offering a convincing rebuttal to those who attempt to link physics to mystical truths. Stenger examines a number of well-known paranormal claims and shows how they can be explained without resorting to supernatural or psychic hypotheses. Discussing quantum theory and relativity, he demonstrates that these concepts actually invalidate paranormal claims and that there is no scientific basis for a universe other than one composed of observable matter.

The human species has always lived under the assumption that supernatural forces determine destiny. Can our lives retain meaning when this assumption seems unfounded? Writes Stenger: "The supernatural has been a yoke on the neck of humanity since we first began to think and dream. The tools of science provide the wherewithal to be guided not by 'a world beyond the senses' but by the power of the intellect; hence, they have given us 'freedom to live and act according to the fullest knowledge about the world'." Stenger's vivid depiction of physics research provides a fitting culmination to this powerful book.

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Editorial Reviews

SciTech Book News
A convincing rebuttal to those who attempt to link physics to mystical truths.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A particle physicist at the University of Hawaii, Stenger sets forth a purely materialist, reductionist view of the universe. The transcendent--gods, spirits, religious or mystical experiences--is delusory, in his reckoning. He further maintains that paranormal phenomena such as precognition or mind-over-matter are due to fraud, hallucination, error or a will to believe. Whether he is discussing ESP, poltergeists, UFOs, or out-of-body or near-death experiences, he ignores, misrepresents or skims over evidence that would contradict his thesis, while maintaining an aura of detached objectivity. Claiming that religious or supernatural beliefs may be programmed into our DNA because they once had survival value, Stenger rejects the holism of New Age Thinkers and physicists, disputing their claim that instantaneous connections link events across space and time. (June)
Library Journal
Stenger is an elementary particle physicist, an atheist, a skeptic, and an ardent defender of the scientific method. He uses the principle of Occam's razor (the simplest explanation is the best) and the test of the predictive value of a model to show how little evidence there is for paranormal claims, including religious beliefs, as well as ESP, astrology, and spirit channeling. Some of Stenger's ideas are controversial even among scientists, and he tends to explain all human qualities by just saying they are an evolutionary advantage. However, this book provides an interesting overview of both skeptical and credulous physics and much material for discussion. A good purchase for undergraduate science collections.-- Amy Brunvand, Fort Lewis Coll., Durango, Col.
Booknews
Stenger physics, U. of Hawaii critically examines theories of a transcendent reality in terms of what is currently known about matter at its most fundamental level. He offers a convincing rebuttal to those who attempt to link physics to mystical truths. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR booknews.com
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780879755751
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 5/1/1990
  • Pages: 323
  • Lexile: 1430L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.45 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Victor J. Stenger (1935 - 2014) was an adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado and emeritus professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Hawaii. He was the author of the New York Times bestseller God: The Failed Hypothesis, God and the Atom, God and the Folly of Faith, The Comprehensible Cosmos, and many other books.
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