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10 May 2010, JellyBean @ 3:48 pm

One night some years ago, I had a dream with big production values. There were dancing girls and a host in a tux, pitching a new beverage–a mixture of milk and apple juice. When I awoke in the morning, my girlfriend at the time walked into the room holding a cup. “Try this, it’s really good,” she said, handing me her spur-of-the moment invention, a mixture of milk and apple juice. I had said nothing to her about my middle-of-the-night dream-commercial.

I’ve had enough highly unlikely occurrences in my life that “coincidence” fails to convince me as an overall explanation. And I’m hardly alone. There is no greater cultural gap than the widespread experiential acceptance of psychic phenomenon (psi), and its widespread, public rejection by academia. Scientists who do express an interest in the topic may even be subject to academic ostracism.

Consider the tweedy uproar that attended preparations for an August conference on quantum physics in the Towler Institute, which is housed in a 16th-century monastery in the Tuscan Alps. Conference organizer Antony Valentini informed three participants that their invitations had been withdrawn. Among the rejected invitees were Brian Josephson, winner of the 1973 Nobel Prize for Physics for his discoveries in superconductivity, and now Head of the Mind-matter Unification Project at Cambridge. Josephson was told he was rejected because “one of his principal research interests is the paranormal.” Science writer David Peat was rejected because of his books on “Jungian synchronicity” and “connections between Native American thought and modern physics.”

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