Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

In a previous blog I interviewed Dr. Dean Radin, Chief Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, about his career and general ideas regarding parapsychology. I interview him here about his new book, Real Magic: Ancient Wisdom, Modern Science, and a Guide to the Secret Power of the Universe (New York: Harmony Books, 2018).

Dean Radin 4

Dean Radin

Radin Real Magic

Here is the table of contents:

  1. Beginnings
  2. Science and Magic?
  3. Magical Potpourri
  4. Origins of Magic
  5. Practice of Magic
  6. Scientific Evidence
  7. Merlin-Class Magicians
  8. Toward a Science of Magic
  9. Concluding Thoughts


Can you give us a brief summary of the book?

Real Magic reviews the history and concepts of the Western esoteric tradition to see if that domain might provide clues about how psi works. I found that it does. The book also compares lore about magical practices with what parapsychology has learned about psi. ​After the superstitions and theatrical excesses associated with ceremonial magic ​are stripped away, magic and psi are found to involve the same underlying phenomena, with the same modulating factors. In sum, what did ancient magicians know about psi that we are struggling to understand today?


What is your background in parapsychology, and with the topic of the book specifically?

​I’ve been involved part or full-time in empirical psi research for 42 years. I’ve been interested in the history and practices of Eastern and Western esoteric traditions for at least that long.​


What motivated you to write this book?

Like many who are convinced by experience or experiment that psi is real, I want to know how it works and what it implies about the nature of reality. Theoretical models in our field have not advanced nearly as fast as the empirical work, which suggests that there might be a problem with our starting assumptions. So I decided to seriously consider if the esoteric traditions, which are saturated with magic and psi, might shed some light on this problem. After reviewing the relevant history (which is vast), I’ve come to believe that the metaphysical basis of the esoteric cosmologies (in the philosophical sense of metaphysics) provides a better explanation than the metaphysics underlying today’s scientific worldview. In the book I provide a suggestion that views today’s scientific worldview as a special case of a more comprehensive worldview. The expanded worldview maintains everything known by science today, but it recasts psi, magic, and mystical experience from bizarre, inexplicable anomalies into phenomena that are natural and obvious.


Why do you think your book is important and what do you hope to accomplish with it?

I ​ hope to show that a calm consideration of​ magic and psi does not represent a regression to a superstitious, pre-scientific past, but rather it is a forecast of the future of science. All of my popular books have been part of a long-term effort to crack the taboo that has prevented serious discussions of psi experiences, what they are, how they work, and what they imply about the nature of consciousness. Real Magic is the latest step along this path, one designed to appeal to a (large) audience interested in both science and esoterica. As evidence that this topic is (or should be) of high interest to science, Real Magic gained endorsements from two Nobel Laureates, a former program director from the National Science Foundation, an astrophysics medal winner from the National Academy of Sciences, and many prominent academics from mainstream disciplines at mainstream universities.