PSI TREK by Laile E. Bartlett

PSI TREK

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Bartlett, a Berkeley sociologist, explains her ""trek"" thus on page one: it was time ""for someone with academic sympathies and training, but outside the field--no grants to seek, no ax to grind--to take a fresh look."" On page two she reports her conclusions: ""There is something to Psi. . . the implications of Psi are breathtaking and profound, for the human condition and for our place in the cosmos."" What follows is a wildly enthusiastic text, written with exuberance (and lots of fun to read), that essentially takes Bartlett hither and thither, interviewing this dowser and that healer, this psychic-archaeologist/business adviser/detective. That takes up half the book, Glowing testimonials. True accounts. Amazing feats. (And such scientific statements as ""every mouse and rat in the laboratory that exhibits measurable benefits from the laying on of hands is clear evidence of its efficacy."") The second half deals with controversies, personalities, fringe phenomena, life after death, what to do next. Scientists are reproached for having closed minds (but dumb believers get theirs, too). Contemporary psychics are interviewed, amusingly, to look for common traits: slightly simple? uneducated? religious? No such thing as a psychic type exists, Bartlett concludes; they are all individualists--and once having achieved fame become super-confident, or work at it. She reports, too, on fringe phenomena--pyramid power, UFOs, spells, etc.--with a no-verdict point of view but clear Believe-it-or-not tones. But, while she acknowledges the frauds and scandals that have plagued psi studies, popular and scientific, she does not address any contemporary criticism or counterevidence (viz. Martin Gardner, Randi). Then, toward the end, she raises all sorts of dark questions about the military uses of Psi or psychokinesis (by the US and the Russians), and makes two suggestions: that there be a central clearinghouse for psi information (not a bad idea) and a psychic ""hot line"" for immediate help (Dial-a-Psychic?). Abandon reason and the scientific method, then, and enjoy the aura.

Pub Date: May 17th, 1981
Publisher: McGraw-Hill