ESSAYS AND BOOK SUMMARIES ON EMPIRICAL REALITY



Far Out in the New Age by R. A. McConnell

Far Out in the New Age:
The Subversion of Science by Cultural Communism

1995, 204 pages, 8.5" x 11", ISBN: 0-9610232-6-0, $24.00

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In the larger view, this book is a study of intuitional versus scientific knowing using the critical incident method. It is divided into three otherwise unrelated parts.

Part I is a mournful account of the difficulties encountered in what Thomas Kuhn calls preparadigmatic science. This part describes in depressing detail for future historians the scientific decline of the American Society for Psychical Research, a well-endowed ninety-year-old psychical research society, as it was legally captured by a group of intuitional enthusiasts. Although the white hats strove mightily, the battle was lost because the membership was largely lay and when the scientific leaders died of old age, replacements qualified by location and stature could not be found.

Part II, titled "Healing by Wishing," is divided into five chapters:

The past and future of experimental parapsychology.
The possibility of gross psi effects.
Healing by prayer.
Therapeutic touch.
Experimental Healing by Wishing.

In 3500 words, this section provides what may be the best available political and scientific analysis of psychic healing. No one with an interest in this topic should be without this book.

After a brief history of parapsychology in relation to healing, the author describes "spiritual" and "faith" healing. The distinction between them is explained in the language of lay healer Lawrence LeShan, who himself uses both types.

The fate of dissidents who try to leave Christian Science and move to an experimental approach can be pathetic, as told at some length in this final chapter on healing.

The political history of Mary Baker Eddy's Christian Science Church shows in detail that much more than holiness is required to build a viable religious sect. Although her church persists today, the religious bondage upon which it depends is fatally flawed by its denial of the efficacy of modern medicine.

At the other end of the healing spectrum in some respects, we find Therapeutic Touch (TT). This is a non-religious method of "holistic" healing carried out, typically, by a female nurse passing her hands over various areas of the patient's body at a distance of two to three inches. The method is a multi-step process supported by a nonscientific rationale.

Despite its name, TT is a strictly non-touch procedure. In this, if nothing else, it agrees with Christian Science. For both, the problem is to avoid sexual arousal, a problem that gave Ms. Eddy considerable trouble with some of her overly intimate male practitioners.

In TT, the nurse practitioners, by some double talk, manage to avoid competing with the medical profession. The psychological burdens of nurses in their subordinate medical positions plays a major role in strengthening TT. Now that the medical profession is recognizing the efficacy of prayer, TT would appear to have a promising future.

Part III of this book, titled "Cultural Alienation and the Natural Sciences," covers a wide range of chapter topics. The first five are:

Apostasy in Parapsychology
Feminism in Higher Education
The Darker Side of Feminism
The New Age Movement
Chaos Theory in the New Age

These are followed by four chapters drawing aside the curtain of linguistic license behind which four of the more prominent New Age societies in the United States operate.

The four final chapters of the book are titled:

Cultural Separatism
Political Correctness and the New Age

Avoiding Cultural Chaos
Purpose and Progress

In the last chapter, after listing the social and environmental threats to our future and our behavioral mistakes in creating those threats, the author reviews the evidential status of parapsychology and offers hope for further progress through empirical science. "The essence of Western science is simply careful observation coupled with critical thought; in other words, the disciplined use of our senses and brains in tandem. Science is not an ideology but the distillation of human intellectual experience in our slow climb up the evolutionary ladder." (p. 159)

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