Scientists with Personal Experience of What They Study

I don’t seem to be able to make this come up as a response to the comment about whether a person with unusual experiences can also study them as a scientist, so I’ll add it as a new post here…

“Are you suggesting that even someone with anomalous perceptions can contribute to a scientific study of such experiences as a scientist and not simply as a “lab rat” to be studied?”

I think you’re worried about the problem of bias here, and it’s reasonable to think about it.  One of the great strengths of science is the commitment to be as objective as possible and to report the facts, the data, and keep your interpretations of the data logically close to the facts, rather than distorted by personal preferences and beliefs.

But how far do we want to take this?  Should we say that only blind people can study vision because sighted people may be biased?  That only deaf people can study hearing since hearing people may be biased?

You could argue that sighted and deaf people will have insights into the stuff being studied that are great advantages.

They still have to watch out for their personal biases.  For example, I have a dear friend of many years who has made her living as a psychic, but I have never formally studied her, interesting as that might be, because I know I might well be too biased and unable to compensate for that bias.

Questioning your own experiences?  Sounds like exactly what I would expect of a scientist.  A “believer” would say “My experiences are sacred and prove Doctrine X, it would be heresy to question them!”  A scientist would think, “Here’s my data, what I saw/experienced, it’s interesting to interpret it by theory A, also interesting to see if from the point of view of theory B, maybe there’s another theory that will work even better, I’ll tentatively say theory D works best for now, let’s go on and see what happens….”

7 comments

  1. Thanks, Dr Tart. That helps. I guess that might be why the para psychologist who I talked to asked me questions about my belief systems regarding the weird stuff. I told him that I really didn’t know exactly what caused my experiences. We did discuss some of the models for such experiences put forward in the literature and the differences between belief and what is scientifically defensible.

    If this study does go forward, I guess all I can really do is try to be clear and concise in my descriptions. That’s what I do when I’m describing outcrops and cores as a geoscientist. I guess it didn’t occur to me that I could do that for weird stuff too. I might even be good at it because I’m used to keeping logs and making notes of useful information.

    As far as interpretation goes, I may still stand back and see what the old guys have to say. I have so many questions about my experiences. I would like to know why I’m the way that I am. It would be nice to have a few answers for a change.

  2. I think we must begin to legitimize “subjective science” ie the observation of ones own mind and emotions to understand it and refine its function. “Objective science” is the only science we currently have is fine if what you want to do is build a safe bridge but in the realm of psychology, mental health, behavioral science it is a dismal failure. Those areas are arguably the most critical ones humans face considering the decisions we make collectively regarding consumption, greed, how we treat one another, the environment and how those things endanger our future, how that danger drives further distorted behaviors.

    The largest mental hospital in the world is the LA County mens jail. They spend $150K a week on drugs to “treat” inmates and have nothing but escalating problems. Psychiatrists are trained solely to give drugs or to talk sense to people whose emotions have hijacked their behavior, even for issues that are psycho social in nature and are not organic. The emotions come from a more primitive part of our brain and trump intellect. The pharm industry loves it and has vastly too much influence on the way physicians are trained and the paradigm of medicine generally at the expense of other types of solutions. We need to legitimize introspection, self observation to master our emotions as no white coat “expert” can ever truly observe and influence another persons mind directly. The Tibetans have a lot to teach us, they have been at it for a long time.

    The human mind heals itself spontaneously just as the body does and the process of skilled observation of our minds initiates and drives that process. One of my favorite scientists of all time, Willis Harman, said (I’m paraphrasing) one of the big obstacles is the willingness of scientists themselves personally to be transformed by their experiences instead of stuffing their heads full of facts out of books then declare that makes them the authority.

  3. Rocket, I have to admit it. I don’t want to be transformed by my experiences. I want to figure out why they are happening so that I can “fix” them. Maybe I’m just having a bad day, but I want to pathologize these experiences, study them in a lab and cure myself of them.

    Maybe I need to start meditating again…

  4. Dear Dr Tart,

    I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you for all the information and research you have supplied on YouTube and in your books.

    I was wondering if it is not too personal a question to ask whether you have personally experienced remote viewing?

    Best wishes.

    Owain

    1. Yes, my first introduction to remote viewing impressed me. Hal Puthoff had gone off somewhere within a 30 minute drive, Russ Targ asked us to close our eyes and try to see where he was at. I wasn’t impressed with my imagery, something about bright lights and large, turning, wheel-like things. I thought factory, but it seemed unlikely that Hal had been able to get into some factory in the evening. Then we were taken there, it didn’t look like my imagery until I moved over 10 feet so I could look in the laundromat window and there were those big washers and driers with circular doors rotating in the bright fluorescent light…Impressed me!

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