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|Blinded by Science - Page 4|
How many people reading this haven't had strange, inexplicable experiences? Here's another Mayer story: Once, her 17-year-old sister, who was staying with her, had temporarily misplaced a valuable watch. She was known for her carelessness, but, in fact, Mayer's husband had taken the watch for safe keeping, without telling anyone, to teach his young sister-in-law a lesson. Trying to help her sister find the watch by retracing her steps, Mayer walked into a closet in a far corner of the room, one she'd only entered twice in the course of her marriage. Behind a row of shoes, her hand "went directly to a small leather case in the very back corner." Inside the case was the watch. As she told a friend later, it was as if she were "being walked" to the closet.
It's natural to be skeptical about this type of experience. Could Mayer have seen her husband putting it there, out of the corner of her eye, and forgotten about it? But even if something is going on underneath the surface of awareness, that in itself is illuminating because it enlarges our understanding of the powers of the mind. Just look at the success of Malcolm Gladwell's Blink, a book that explores how seriously scientists have begun to take subconscious neural processing. However, Mayer goes beyond Gladwell--many of the experiences she recounts seem like they're truly more anomalous than subconscious snapshots and deft first impressions. The dowser's ability to find the harp half a continent away isn't just blink! Something else is going on there; something unexplained by current theories of brain function.
Mayer knows she needs the help of science. But she also knows, from interviews with intuitives, that duplicating their psychic feats can be difficult. The iron rule in science is replication. Instead, what Mayer finds out is that the gifts of sensitive people can fail them: they aren't performing seals. They need the right atmosphere, the right intention, the right emotional bonding. Ah, subjectivism again! That makes scientific investigation hard--but not impossible.