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

Psychologist David Vernon has just published an overview of parapsychology entitled Dark Cognition: Evidence for Psi and Its Implications for Consciousness (Routledge, 2020). David used to be the editor of the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, and is the author of Human Potential: Exploring Techniques Used to Enhance Human Performance (Routledge, 2009). He is currently Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Canterbury Christ Church University.

David Vernon

According to the publisher’s website: “David Vernon provides essential coverage of information and evidence for a variety of anomalous psi phenomena, calling for a paradigm shift in how we view consciousness: from seeing it as something solely reliant on the brain to something that is enigmatic, fundamental and all pervasive. The book examines the nature of psi research showing that, despite claims to the contrary, it is clearly a scientific endeavour . . . [that has] significant implications for our understanding of consciousness.”

Here is the table of contents.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Psi as science

3. Telepathy and scopaesthesia

4. Clairvoyance and remote viewing

5. Precognition

6. Psychokinesis

7. Fields of consciousness

8. Energy healing

9. Out of body experiences

10. Near death experiences

11. Post death phenomena

12. Implications for consciousness

Interview

Can you give a brief summary of the book? 

In this book I examine the nature of psi research showing that, despite claims to the contrary, it is clearly a scientific endeavour. Following this the book explores evidence from a range of topics, including, telepathy and scopaesthesia, clairvoyance and remote viewing, precognition, psychokinesis, fields of consciousness, energy healing, out of body experiences, near death experiences and post death phenomena. Each of these areas provide some interesting and useful results, clearly showing that something unusual is occurring. Though precisely what this is, or how and why such effects occur, remains at present an intriguing mystery. Importantly, the prevailing view of consciousness, as an emergent phenomenon of brain activity, completely fails to account for such findings. Hence, based on evidence outlined in the book, I argue that to understand consciousness a paradigm shift is needed. One that moves consciousness away from being solely reliant on the brain to a view of consciousness that is something more fundamental and all pervasive.  

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

I’m currently working as a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Canterbury Christ Church University in the UK. I have a background in cognitive neuroscience and have conducted research across a range of areas including memory, peak performance, electroencephalographic biofeedback and creativity. However, I’ve always had an interest in consciousness and psi and a few years ago decided to come out of the closet (scientifically speaking) and focus on these issues more fully and explicitly. I began by exploring the retroactive facilitation effects reported by Daryl Bem and since then have been exploring scopaesthesia, telepathy using virtual reality and morphic resonance effects. Given my interest I was also keen to get involved in the field and learn more which led me to become a Board Member of the Parapsychological Association and a Council Member of the Society for Psychical Research, which also involved me spending two years working as Editor of the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research.  

What motivated you to write this book? 

Following the principle of Docendo discimus, which generally means ‘by teaching we learn’, I decided to put together a final year option module on the undergraduate programme at my University that explored anomalous cognition. I wasn’t sure how popular this would be but I’m quite chuffed that it is now in its third year and I have about sixty final year undergraduates signed up. The contents of the book came from these lectures and it will now be the core text for the students on this module.   

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

I think the book will be an indispensable source of information and evidence for anyone wishing to obtain a good understanding of anomalous psi phenomena. However, more than this, the three pre-conceived ideas or beliefs that I’m always faced with when lecturing the undergraduates about this are: 

  1. Psi is pseudoscience and not scientific 
  2. There is no evidence for psi  
  3. So what. . . what does it matter?  

Hence, I wanted the book to clearly address these issues by showing that not only is psi research scientific but that it is often more robust and rigorous than other areas of psychology. That, when one takes the time to look, there is in fact a plethora of empirical support for a whole range of anomalous phenomena. And the implications of this are so important that it is likely to lead to a paradigm shift with regards to the way we think about consciousness.   

My hope is that it will stimulate the interest of anyone who reads it and open their minds to new possibilities.