Conscious Universe, The

by Dean Radin


Who would have thought a book about pyschic phenomena — an otherwise fascinating topic — could be so boring and tedious? As a compelling argument for the indisputable evidence proving the existence of psi, this book succeeds. As an engaging, evenly-paced book, it fails pretty solidly. Overall, Radin probably could have achieved his stated goal using 50-100 less pages.

The middle chapters, where Radin describes all of the different experiments and their results, bog down starting around the Mind-Affecting-Living-Organisms chapter. It’s strange, but he manages to sap just about all of the drama out of the proceedings by his mechanical account of the same statistics in each experiment, the same criticisms raised by skeptics, and yet another reminder of how these experiments too controvert the crticisms. After the first several instances these experiments could have been summarized in a much more efficient way, allowing for a more interesting discussion of the implications of each solitary phenomenon. The chapters on Random Number Generators seemed interminable.

The last few chapters are uninteresting for another reason: they appear out of place in the context of the rest of the book. Radin suddenly attempts an in-depth theoretical discussion of quantum physics and the possible implications of psi on different areas of study. Most of these implications appeared half-baked and not very well considered, which left me wondering why he even needed to include it, or at least so much of it. . .

The other major issue I had with Radin’s book is that his use of statistics is convoluted and poorly explained. To be sure, the meta-analyses he cites sure sound impressive, but I still don’t really understand what they mean. We are essentially expected to take his word that this is the best way to determine clinical significance (However, in reading some criticisms of his book I have found that this is apparently not the case. See, for example, the very thorough Carroll review).

There are other choices he made in analysis, especially with respect to the RNGs, that were just mystifying, and it struck me as strange that he would spend so much time on the minutiae of each experiment but neglect to explain basic reasoning behind his analysis. For example, the confidence intervals he used ranged from 99% to 65% in some of the later RNG studies, without adequate explanation as to why he was changing the level of confidence (I presume it was to make his data look better, which makes his argument appear weak). I suppose that the evidence he presented was mostly convincing, but it left me somewhat suspicious.

Overall, the positives of the book (providing solid evidence for psychic phenomena, explaining why more people aren’t aware of this evidence) overcome the negatives, but not by much. These basic ideas are what the book should have focused on, because those are the main concerns of lay people, for whom the book — with its rudimentary and overindulgent explanations — was obviously intended.

Original Review

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