Lost Symbol Science


The Buzz About Noetics

A previously little-used word is entering the mainstream—noetics. No, it doesn’t have anything to do with seamanship, etiquette, or linguistics. It has everything to do with science—although this is not your father’s science.

Popular novelist Dan Brown, of The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons fame, has done it again with his new novel, The Lost Symbol. He has taken a topic rarely talked about around water coolers or over double lattes and made it the topic of coffee break, subway ride, and just about every other kind of idle conversation. This time, instead of the topic being religion, the virgin birth, or a heavenly hierarchy, we’re talking “noetic science,” a phrase few people had ever heard, never mind knew the meaning of, only a few months ago. Now everyone is abuzz about noetics.

So what is it? It’s a word that in its Greek root means using your intellect, logic or reason to learn about or know something. Noetic science, however, refers to a new kind of knowing. Consciousness researcher John White came up with the term homo noeticus to describe the evolution of humans from our current state as homo sapiens—at the pinnacle of the food chain in terms of intellectual and technological development—to a new more spiritual/enlightened species utilizing heightened states of consciousness. The noetic sciences are the range of sciences—from biology to physics to medicine—that investigate the natural world and our place in it using a wider lens than allowed by conventional science. Their research reveals the holistic, interconnected nature of the universe. Noetic scientists purport to show that we humans have untapped powers to heal, to influence matter with our minds, even to co-create reality in what they call a “participatory universe.” Sound rather off in left field? Or maybe completely out of the ballpark? Don’t cry foul yet. Noetic science is indeed science, and noetic scientists are as serious about their research as their ivory-tower academic colleagues.

There won’t be any science lessons in this article. You can hear many of the world’s top noetic scientists discuss their theories in their own words in the 2009 documentary film The Living Matrix: The Science of Healing, which focuses on alternative healing and the new biology. And you can read more about the noetic sciences and the rigorous, double-blind, controlled studies that shore up its theories with experimental results at the website www.lostsymbolscience.com. We will use a metaphor found at that website to describe what noetic scientists do. They hunt white crows. William James, the father of American psychology, used the metaphor of crows to talk about scientific belief systems: “To upset the conclusion that all crows are black, there is no need to seek demonstration that no crows are black. It is sufficient to produce one white crow; a single one is sufficient.”

In the noetic sciences, the white crows are those experiments that show small but statistically significant results that we can affect the outcome of a random number generator using only our intention, that our beliefs alone can change the expression of our genes, that spontaneous regression of cancer really happens, that we can send healing energies or thoughts to others and those energies or thoughts may actually affect the other person’s physiology, that we have an as yet largely untapped capacity for knowing (some call it intuition), and even that our heart is an emotional center that can sense a future event and prepare us for it by sending signals to the brain.

Every capacity just listed is real—there is hard science to suggest that we all are capable of these neotic wonders. So, it’s no wonder Dan Brown’s latest novel—which has a neotic scientist as a main character—has started tongues wagging, even the critics and skeptics, who dismiss the noetic scientists outright. (Hey, everybody knows all crows are black, right? Only crackpots would look for white crows.) Often, their opinions are just disbelief couched in the mantle of skepticism. But ask the scientists who are today working on tectonic plate theory, studying quarks or black holes, or transplanting hearts and lungs and other organs and they will tell you that once upon a time everything they do was considered impossible. So here’s to the white crows and the noetic scientists who produce them. They just may be our generation’s prophets and seers.

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