Is some of the evidence for ostensible precognition indicative of\ud Darwinian adaptation to retrocausal influences?
- Publisher: Goldsmiths, University of London
Parapsychologists continue to report experimental results that imply information from the future can be utilised in the present in a way that defies conventional understanding. Although treating such results as though they are the outcome of a sensory process is common, much less so is consideration as to what psi might be for. This thesis attempts to examine some of the evidence for precognition from the perspective that it might be indicative of Darwinian adaptation to retrocausal influences. The aims of the research were two-fold. The main objective was to replicate and extend previously published, statistically significant parapsychological research, concentrating on precognition for a variety of reasons. The secondary objective was to develop and test a synthesis of evolutionary theory with a needs-based theoretical conception of precognition (namely that precognition is a form of death-avoidance). Primarily this was achieved by testing the effectiveness of using fear-based stimuli (and comparing the appropriate fear groups), though in the final experiment this involved direct testing of an insect species (where the consequence of failure was death) along with a selective breeding element. \ud \ud Ten empirical investigations are presented which together provide scant evidence for any kind of precognitive functioning. Moreover such results as were obtained highlight both the difficulty in conducting parapsychological research (ensuring results are not normal influences misconstrued as paranormal), and the responsibility of researchers to not make strong claims on the basis of weak or uncertain evidential findings. Given the lack of paranormal findings it was difficult to evaluate the evolutionary perspective (and it is left for future researchers to determine whether such a pathway is a complete dead end). Much remains mysterious and yet the continued rejection of the reality of precognition by the conventional scientific community seems reasonable given the evidence.