…Furthermore, most of us, even if not bored to death by statistics, are apt to look at parapsychology with the prejudices of nineteenth-century mechanistic science. Experimentation in thought transference or precognition is, we assume, a pastime for Victorian parlors, a futile exercise redolent in fraud. But this disjunction is truly ironic, since the idea of the universe as sublimely predictable clockwork is now in tatters. If we dismiss ESP and PK as “contradictory to the laws of physics,” we do so at a time of much uncertainty as to what these laws are, or what law is, and at a time when physics and psychic research seem at some points to be converging.
Consider for example, the following brief passage from an essay by J. Robert Oppenheimer:
These two ways of thinking, the way of time and history and the way of eternity and of timelessness, are both part
of man’s effort to comprehend the world in which he lives. Neither is comprehended in the other nor reducible to it.
They are, as we have learned to say in physics, complementary views, each supplementing the other, neither telling the whole story. Let us return to this.
Had this been submitted to the general public twenty-five years ago, the odds are that very few people would have identified it as a scientist’s remark. What quaking bogs of Eastern flim-flam, what abandonment of destiny, lay beneath that phrase “the way of eternity and timelessness”? There was only one way, and we had it. It was logical, deterministic, linear, and technological: scientific, in a word.