Are Constellations Paranormal? With Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Rupert Sheldrake
Our technological culture straddles a great philosophical chasm between world views. One embraces spiritual visions of universal connection and the other subscribes to strict materialism. Is it possible to bridge the gap between proponents of collective consciousness and critics who insist the mind is only brain function? I recently exchanged e-mails about Constellations, representative perception, and non-local communication with the preeminent astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson. I asked whether the non-local information I perceive in Constellations has a plausible explanation. For example:
Standing as a client's mother, I felt the presence of an older brother who died in infancy. The client insisted his mother had only a younger brother, but a phone call with her afterward confirmed my perception.
Representing a client's sister, I said an obscure idiom. Shocked, the client said it was her sister's signature phrase.
I have hundreds of similar experiences, as do others who experience Constellations, whether facilitators, clients, or representatives. I understand them as normal, if poorly understood, properties of human perception. Occasionally, these are proven inaccurate, but most are on-target. What seems commonplace to me, is far fetched or even delusional to others, including many of those engaged in the sciences. How is it possible for me simply standing and feeling for "mother" to gain awareness of her long deceased older brother? Neil DeGrasse Tyson responded that my understanding of this phenomenon was probably faulty, i.e., these hits were gleaned from subtle cues, educated guesses, or were in normal proportion to the number of misses which I dismiss or ignore. According to Tyson, the hypothesis that someone's detailed personal data - not resident in my brain -can be perceived or discerned in silence amounts to a claim of supernatural powers. "The laws of physics compellingly argue that we know all the ways that information can move from one point in time and space to another." He added that in all eras, certain humans have claimed the ability to ascertain information that is not presented to the 5 senses. "The history of such claims over the past two thousand years is one of abject failure. People who claimed non-materialist accounts of the natural world have routinely failed in the face of properly conducted experiments." The lack of credible supportive experimental data along with a well establish set of theoretical laws, lead him to be extremely skeptical that my examples are normal qualities of human perception. How can I argue my subjective personal experience against conclusive experimental research? As he notes, "The methods and tools of science have wholly replaced our feeble five senses as tools of inquiry to the natural world. So what something looks like to your senses is no longer the measure of what is true in the physical world." Being a left-handed, colorblind, Jewish heretic makes me well accustomed to standing 3 standard deviations from the norm. However, that means eclectic, not endowed with super powers. While these occurrences are incidental to the Constellation process, Tyson's responses give me much to weigh and consider. I reported my exchange to another scientist whose work I respect, Rupert Sheldrake. Over the last 30 years, Sheldrake has built a large experimental database of tests of psi phenomenon that produce positive results. He responded, "I think it’s ridiculous to pin the argument down to the well-understood laws of physics. We have no explanation even of biological morphogenesis in terms of the known laws of physics, and less understanding of consciousness. To assume that all these things will eventually be understood in terms of laws of physics is an example of promissory materialism. It’s essentially a faith position and not one you can ever refute by argument." Sheldrake, Dean Radin, Gary Schwartz, and many other clinicians and scientists are engaged in experimentation and theory building to create the ground for these Constellation experiences to stand. An excellent source of news and debate on these questions is Skeptiko.com I fall back to an observation from Stephen Jay Gould, "Each of us has to have a personal metaphysics. There are questions that are formally unanswerable on which nonetheless every individual must take a position in order to integrate various pieces of his life." Science wrought to its uttermost becomes myth.