A Future for Dualism as an Empirical Science?
Charles T. Tart
Institute of Transpersonal Psychology

University of California at Davis

                   Original list, original pdf, now archived at www.newdualism.org

This is a preprint of a poster
presentation scheduled for April 5,
2006 at the 7th biennial Toward A
Science of Consciousness
conference of the University of
Arizona in Tucson.
Copyright © Charles T. Tart 2006

Section 1:
Philosophy and Methodology

Official Abstract: Materialistic monism, so
successful in the physical sciences, has become so
pervasive that it has become a rather absolute habit
of thinking, an unquestioned style of looking at
reality, rather than being treated as a testable, but
not necessarily complete, hypothesis for guiding
research and theory. This critical presentation
surveys empirically observable phenomena, both in
nature and laboratory, which do not fit well with
materialistic monism and suggest that a form of
interactive dualism is necessary at this stage of our
knowledge to work toward a complete scientific and
philosophical understanding of mind. The basic
laboratory paradigm is to take our knowledge of the
material world as essentially complete and then set
up a situation in which no observable effects,
according to a monistic material paradigm, can
happen. If something nevertheless happens, the
comprehensiveness of materialistic monism is

undermined and new questions arise about the
nature of the phenomena observed Such phenomena occurring in nature include out-of-body
and near-death experiences and, under better observational conditions, extensive laboratory
studies of psi phenomena (telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, psychokinesis and
paranormal healing), as well as semi-controlled studies of what would be the ultimate form of
interactive dualism, communications from ostensibly deceased individuals suggestive of

postmortem survival without a physical body.

Warning! This presentation is intended to provoke thought
and investigation rather than to provide answers.

Dualism (overly) Simplified:
#1: Logical (?) Dualism: Logically define mind and matter as totally distinct. Then drive yourself crazy trying to make them interact, when you've already eliminated interaction by definition.
- we won't go there..... ;-)
empirical Function: adjective
Date: 1569 : originating in or based on
observation or experience *empirical
data* 2 : relying on experience or
observation alone often without due
regard for system and theory 3 :
capable of being verified or disproved
by observation or experiment
*empirical laws*

Theistic version of dualism,
Michelangelo's The Creation.
Interesting, but not scientifically
useful...Essence of dualism is
two distinct kinds of reality, each
with its own laws and nature.

#2: Empirical or Pragmatic Dualism. Empirically
investigate mind and matter each on their own terms, as well as looking
for correlations and causal interactions.

Orthodox monistic materialism,
which can function as a scientific,
empirically testable theory or as a
scientistic ossification of cognition.
What we call awareness arises as an
epiphenomenon, a secondary effect
from material brain functioning.

Note that the theistic overtones are
not necessary in empirical dualism:
any sort of different reality will do, but
who can resist getting to illustrate a
theory with Michelangelo? ;-)

Principles of Essential Science
data always primary

-Theories must account for all
observations and be "logical" in some
logic system

-Theories must lead to predictions
testable by empirical

-All steps of the process are shared
openly with peers so they may verify
and extend observation

-All steps subject to refinement and

-Repeated cycling thru the process leads to more congruence between data and theory - progress

Getting Stuck: Science Becomes
Very successful theories turn into Kuhnian
paradigms, automatic and semi-implicit styles
of observation and thinking

Data that doesn't fit is automatically dismissed

as "anomalous," "trivial," "unimportant"
"Faith" in the paradigm leads to arrogance
In scientism, theory/belief becomes more
important than observation/data.

Promissory Materialism as an
example. "They will find the physical basis
of it someday." "It" being all phenomena of
mind. This belief cannot be falsified so is
not a scientific theory.

Section 2:
Empirical Data Supporting Dualism

Empirical Dualism must be formulated so that it has empirically
testable, observable consequences in the material, as well as the mental,
world. This leads to the basic Paraconceptual Experiment. Given our known
data and concepts about the material world, and reasonable
extrapolations of them, can you empirically observe data that imply
actions or factors that are para, outside of or beyond our material

conceptual system?
A paraconceptual experiment sets up a situation in which, assuming
completeness of our materialistic conceptual system, nothing can happen. If
something does happen, we have a paraconceptual effect.

Paraconceptual studies must be
objectively evaluated so bias,
pro or con, is eliminated. Multiple
choice card guessing tests were
common in the classical era of
parapsychology, but almost
entirely replaced by computer-
controlled studies today. Basic
statistics give probability
estimates whether target info
results are different from chance

% Use of

Physical Sciences
Biological Sciences
Psychology & Animal

Medical Sciences
85% *-
Classic ESP Test Cards
Double-blind test protocols
are far more widely used in
parapsychology than other

5 well-established

(pronounced sigh)

Hundreds of accumulated
experimental studies in refereed
journals over decades. Three
forms of information transfer
(ESP), two forms of effects on
physical world

Basic Telepathy Experiment
General collective term for:


Forms of ESP,
Extrasensory Perception

Psychokinesis (PK)
Psychic Healing

Telepathy: noun Date: 1882 :
communication from one mind to another
by extrasensory means -telepathic \*te-l*-
*pa-thik\ adjective -telepathically \-thi-
k(*-)l*\ adverb




81 750
722 /

Example: Telepathy Training Study
In the 1970s I and my students conducted
several studies designed to see if telepathic
ability could be improved by immediate
feedback training, with partial success.
Experimenters tried to send a number/card
from 1 to 10 to screened percipients
isolated in another room. Considerable
ESP apparently resulted, the usual decline
in scores with repeated guessing was not
seen, and some showed signs of

Technical details: Tart, C. T. (1976). Learning to Use Extrasensory Perception. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Clairvoyance: noun Date:1840: the power or
faculty of discerning objects not present to the
senses 2 : ability to perceive matters beyond the
range of ordinary perception

Remote viewing experiments, clairvoyance studies, at Stanford Research Institute asked percipients to describe some distant place with words and drawings.
Example: Percipient/viewer Pat Price's
first words were: "What I'm looking at is
a little boat dock along the bay. It's in a
direction about like that (points in the
correct direction). Yeah, I see the little
boats, some motor launches, some little
sailing ships, sails all furled, some with
the masts stepped and other are up.
Little jetty of little dock there."
The target location was the Redwood
City Marina.

From R. Targ & H. Puthoff (1977) Mind
New York: Delacorte.

Confession: Precognition boggles my mind, it makes no sense, I resist the idea. The

damned data is just too good to deny it though.....
Time, there's something quite funny about it. It's
ridiculous to ask someone to predict a future that is
determined by chance - and then see that too
many results are significantly beyond chance,
something is happening....

Precognitive Remote Viewing:
10:00am, E leaves lab, begins 20 minute drive, viewer asked
to describe where E will be at 10:35am

10:20am: E uses random number generator to select where
to go, arrives 10:35am, does appropriate things

From Bisaha & Dunne chapter
in C. Tart, H. Puthoff & R.
Targ(1979) Mind at Large:
IEEE Symposia on the Nature
of ESP.
New York: Praeger.

Two trains passed, one stopped while E was at
the station.

Percipient 6: "I have an image of looking at the
traffic and seeing it go by really fast, speeding
cars... I see a train station... I see a train coming...
older building... trees... Wooden planks on the
floor... There are posters or something ...benches

Psychokinesis: noun 1914 : move-
ment of physical objects by the mind
without use of physical means,

Classic parapsychological studies used dice,
tumbled by machines like the one on the right,
while a subject/agent at a distance was asked to
will particular target faces to come up on
specified trials. Target face aims were
systematically rotated to cancel effects of any
mechanical imperfections in the dice.

Today dice have been replaced by computer-
controlled random number generators, activated
by quantum processes or noise.

Psychic or Paranormal Healing: Therapeutic effects on people, animals or
biological preparations by intention, without use of material means.

Classic study by Bernard Grad, biologist at McGill University of psychic healer Estabani. Mice
experimentally wounded by clipping out patches of skin (areas traced below), healer treats
experimental mice by holding sealed paper bag containing a mouse between hands while
"healing." Control mice handled same way by non-healer. Unhealed area of wounds
measured before and after, statistically significant difference. Later studies on wounded
barley seeds, double blind method, healing treatment to hermetically sealed sterile saline
solution used to water seeds. In experimental group significantly more seeds sprouted, grew
taller, weighed more.

Ref: B. Grad (1965), The "laying on of hands".... Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 61, 286-305.

Section 3:
Ultimate Dualism?

Ultimate Dualism: Out-of-Body Experiences?
Far more common than suspected and carrying great conviction that mind can exist independently of body. Definition: OBE = experience of mind being elsewhere than body while assessing one's state at the time as being as clear as ordinary consciousness, not a dream or delusion.
Miss Z was a young woman who had had OBEs
since childhood. They seemed real to her, but
was it just her imagination or a misinterpreted
lucid dream? To demonstrate the feasibility of
researching OBEs under lab conditions, I was
able to have her spend 4 nights in my sleep lab.
She woke a number of times and reported brief
OBEs, while showing an EEG pattern like stage
1 but with strong alphoid dominance, no REMs

as would be seen in stage 1-REM dreaming, and
no autonomic disturbances.
A different 5-digit random number was placed on the overhead shelf each night

and Miss Z was asked to view and memorize it if she
floated to the right position. She only claimed to have
done this on one OBE and was correct, P = 10-5.

Postmortem Survival of Mind? Modern Spiritualism, with its mediums who believe they act as intermediaries for telepathic contact with surviving deceased minds, began in 1848 with mysterious rappings in the home of the Fox sisters. It rapidly developed into a world-wide (and highly controversial!) movement.
Spiritualism's initial attitude was compatible with science, agreeing that much of
what people believed about religion was full of errors and nothing should be taken
on faith.
People should test spiritualism's claims by going to a medium, asking to
contact a particular deceased relative or friend and then quizzing (via the medium)
that alleged spirit until they were satisfied that the spirit had identified itself suffic-
iently to prove its identity, i.e. test the theory of survival against empirical evidence.

Of course grief-stricken relatives do not
make very objective and unbiased
investigators, but enough scientists looked
at mediumship sufficiently to establish that:

-most communications are too general or inaccurate to establish much of anything, but
-some are detailed and accurate enough to
strongly suggest at least ESP is operative

Quality Mediumistic Evidence: An Example
Survival of (some aspects of) a person's mind would be strong evidence for an
empirical dualism, suggesting mind can exist in some "non-physical" (by current
understandings of physics) mode but interact, via ESP, with the mind of mediums.
One thought-provoking case study is given here, but many more exist buried in

older scholarly and scientific literature.
Eileen J. Garrett, 1893-1970, one of the world's most famous
mediums, she was scientifically oriented as well and established
the Parapsychology Foundation to promote research. Mediums
usually believe they have controls, ostensible spirits who help them
contact the desired deceased during seances. Garrett's most
frequent control called himself Uvani.

Asked what she believed about her mediumship near
the end of her life, she remarked that on Monday,
Wednesday and Friday she thought it was just what it
seemed, she contacted deceased spirits. On Tuesday,
Thursday and Saturday she thought the psychologists
were right, it was her subconscious mind making up the
spirits, with some ESP thrown in for verisimilitude.

On Sundays she tried not to think about it....

The R-101 was the glamorous space program of
its day, built under British military auspices and
designed to fly from England to India. It pushed the
technology , much of it classified by the military, of
dirigibles to the limits - and beyond.

Under great pressure to reach India by politically important
dates, and contrary to the protests of the engineers who
wanted to do much more testing, the R-101 left Cardington
Aerodrome at 7:36 pm on Oct 4, 1930, for India. At 2:05
am that night it crashed into a hill in France and exploded.
Forty-eight lives were lost.

Three days later, October 7, 1930, an already scheduled seance was held, at
visiting Australian journalist's request, to try to contact the ostensible spirit of Sir
Arthur Conan Doyle, who had died 3 months before. A stenographer took down
everything spoken. Part way into the seance,

"...Then suddenly Eileen became agitated. Tears rolled
down her cheeks. Her hands clenched. Uvani's voice
became hurrying. 'I see I-R-V-I-N-G or I-R-V-I-N. [Flight

Lieutenant H. C. Irwin was captain of the R-101 - CTT]
He says he must do something about it. Apologizes for
interfering, For heaven's sake, give this to them. The
whole bulk of the dirigible was too much for her engine

Sir Arthur Conan
Doyle, creator of

Actor portraying

capacity. Engines too heavy......Gross lift computed badly. And this idea of new
elevators totally mad. Elevator jammed. Oil pipe plugged.....[more technical
details]......Almost scraped the roofs at Achy.1" [Achy was a railroad junction in
France, not shown on regular maps, near the final crash site - CTT\
From another seance: Ostensible Communicator Irwin: "One of the struts in the
nose collapsed and caused a tear in the cover. It is the same strut that caused
trouble before and they know... (sitter believes reference was to officials in Air
Ministry). The wind was blowing hard, and it was raining. The rush of wind
caused the first dive. And then we straightened out again. And another gust

surging through the hole finished us.....The diesel engine had been backfiring
because the oil feed was not right. You see the pressure in some of the gas
bags was accentuated by the undergirders crumpling up. The extra pressure
pushed the gas out. And at that moment the engine backfired and ignited the
escaping gas."....Lots more technical details given...

- quotes from J. G. Fuller, The Airmen Who Would Not Die. New York: Putnams, 1979.
- Royal Air Force Intelligence accused Garrett of
having an affair with one of the R-101's officers,
she knew too many secret technical details!

- Eileen Garrett's granddaughter Lisette Coly tells
me that Mrs. Garret was very non-technical.


Prospects for Progress?
Barring unexpected breakthroughs,

Taboo topic, organized opposition
to stop and ridicule research

One year of parapsychology has
about as much support as one hour
of research in mainstream areas,
so progress is very slow

Parapsychological Association is
scientific professional group

Several refereed journals
Unreliability and low-level of psi
action is main real obstacle to rapid

Nevertheless implications of current data for dualism are profound, even if applications minimal

In sum: Odd but solid data supporting an empirical
dualism. To ignore it is scientism. How do we

proceed on?