After a recent investigation into the public presentation of anomalistic science (as detailed at The Teeming Brain,) it’s fairly clear to me (if it wasn’t painfully so already) that much of the information being fed into the popular consciousness is nothing more than hyped up fantasy fixed and formatted for mass mediated consumption. With Dean Radin’s new book, Supernormal, reaching the top if it’s sales categories on Amazon, and ranking high in the Nielsen ratings, there is an obvious desire for more detailed investigations of these areas that go beyond the paranormalist freak show and the skeptical sub-culture’s deflated debunking.
The binary argument of real vs. fake, of truth vs. fraud, or any such division, is merely a set up to market to one side or the other, and both proponents and defamers alike rely on each other to stoke the fires of contention so that an audience lulled by the rhythms of the work place will feel called to seek some solace in the untenable possibilities of the unknown, or the thin empowerment of a pseudo-scientific righteousness found in the knowledge that all their dreams and fears from childhood have been firmly put to bed by the cold light of rational, technological progress.
Bill Sweet, author of Journey into Prayer – Pioneers of Prayer in the Laboratory, and former President of Spindrift Research, a group of Christian Scientists founded by the late John and Bruce Klingbeil, has been studying the efficacy of prayer since the late 60’s. Spindrift’s experiments were some of the first formal experiments into the nature of prayer, and represent a foundation for much of the research that has been conducted since then, including recent experiments in prayer as an aid to medical treatment.
Many of the tests conducted by Spindrift focused on plant growth, and the effects that prayer had on the development of vegetation. They were, however, also pioneers in testing the effect of using prayer as a focus for intention on changing the outcome of random number generators, a test that has been used in other laboratory settings to test psi capabilities and retro-causal action at a distance phenomenon. In the following essay, Bill answers a question posed to him on a Christian Science message board, and in doing so provides an interesting look at the experiments that Spindrift Research has conducted over the years.
Like the progression of many Arts the Art of Legerdemain suffers a slow drift from its origins as a spiritual technique into an abused form of popular entertainment. Theatre, poetry, sculpture, painting, all have their basis in ritual. As Rachael Blyth, of the ritual theatre ensemble Foolish People, points out in her exploration of ritual media Inside the Temple of Cinema, even modified by contemporary technology, the sacred root of Art remains approachable to those who know where to find it.
Philosophy, when fully expressed, encompasses all aspects of life. A relationship with Wisdom provides the basis for everything that follows, and properly aligned all experience and action come under it’s guidance. Something such as sleight of hand, the ability to manipulate perception, is a powerful spiritual technique when given the right spin.
Posted in Mytho-Poesis
Tagged Art, Eugene Berger, Gustavo Rol, Harlan Tarbell, Illusion, Jeff McBride, Legerdemain, Mystery, Ritual, Skepticism, Sleight of Hand, Stage Magic