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January 2022

On the lack of evidence for the evolution of psi as an argument against the reality of the paranormal

Journal/Book: J Amer Soc Psychical Res. 1996; 90: 5 West 73RD Street, New York, NY 10023. Amer Soc Psychical Res Inc. 221-230.

Abstract: There seem to be three major lines of argument against the reality of the paranormal (psi): the a priori improbability argument, the lack of evidence argument, and the evolutionary argument. The latter seems the most cogent. It states that if the various paranormal powers or faculties were real ways of acquiring information and affecting the outside world, such abilities would have been vastly improved by evolution and would be in widespread use by the biosphere today. The argument proceeds to note that given the very brittle, confusing, and sporadic nature of psychic phenomena that have been reported, as compared to the robust and immediately useful ways that biosystems manipulate other energetic modalities (such as sound, light, etc.), it is improbable that psi represents a real feature of the world. This is a serious argument, and it requires a response. In this paper I discuss several possible replies to such an objection. I take the most likely explanation to be that psi is a feature of the mind, not of the brain. Thus, it is only indirectly affected by biological phenotype. and thus is potentially uncoupled from improvement by biophysical evolution.

Note: Article M Levin, Harvard Univ, Sch Med, Dept Genet, 200 Longwood Ave, Boston, MA 02115 USA

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