|Software Review: PSI Explorer|
When it comes to a subject like psychic phenomena, it's easy to be led astray. When there are psychic hotlines competing for your dollars on cable infomercials, psychic palm readers and advisors in strip malls and storefronts, and "sensitives" on talk shows claiming to be able to see and talk to your dead relatives, it's easy to conclude that psychic phenomena is a load of hogwash (or worse, to be convinced that those people represent the real thing).
The fact is that what we call psychic phenomena -- extrasensory perception, clairvoyance, precognition, remote viewing, and psychokinesis -- are real phenomena. Accounts of them have been recorded throughout history, but it's only in recent decades that they have been taken seriously by some sectors of the scientific community (certainly not all). What research at such respected labs as the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) labs at Princeton University has shown is that psychic phenomena -- or psi, as it is referred to by scientists -- is a very subtle but measurable effect. Psi also gained a good deal of respectability when in 1995 the U.S. Army declassified some of the results from its Stargate project -- a project that developed and used remote viewing protocols with positive results. When one looks at the growing amount of data, there's no longer a question of whether psi does exist, but how it works. That's still the big mystery.
PSI Explorer is a new multimedia CD-ROM created by psi researcher Mario Varvoglis, and it's gratifying to see that he gives the subject the seriousness it deserves. Through an easy-to-navigate, beautifully illustrated interface with 3-D graphics, PSI Explorer takes users into the world of psychic phenomena where Varvoglis has provided a wealth of excellent information in clear language.
|In the Sphere, users can relax their minds to enter an altered state of consciousness.|
Inside PSI Explorer
From the serene, watery lobby, called the Crystal, where an introduction is provided and psi terms are defined, users are presented with entryways to five rooms -- the Library, the Gate, the Sphere, the Lab, and the Forum. The instructions recommend entering the Lab first. Through narration, photos, and film clips, the Lab provides a good deal of basic information about modern psi research, from Rhine's ESP cards in the 1930s to the type of computer-controlled tests conducted at PEAR. From the Lab there's a side door to the Test Room where users can test their own powers of telepathy, clairvoyance, and precognition. Results from the tests can be saved and cumulated so users can measure their progress over time.
Entering through the ornate doors of the Gate, users find a three-level game that the makers say was designed to help enhance psi performance in laboratory tests. Testing mainly powers of intuition, the game is relatively brief, but it does keep track of users' success so they can return to try to improve their scores.
The Forum is the most fascinating room because that's where PSI Explorer gets into the "how" of psi -- the various philosophies and scientific theories on how psi might really work. There are two doors here, Psyche and Physis. Psyche offers many of the psychological theories on psi, including the opinions of Freud, Jung, and several modern psychologists who attempt to explain psi in terms of the mind, the unconscious, and the collective unconscious. Physis explains the work of scientists who suspect that psi phenomena might still have a basis in the physical world, though perhaps at a subatomic or quantum level that we do not quite understand yet. This is really intriguing stuff.
The Sphere is a non-informational room where a soft voice, gentle music, and a mesmerizing animation combine in a kind of low-level self-hypnosis experience. Using visualization techniques, the Sphere attempts to calm users' minds and put them "in touch with intuition and psychic potentials." If nothing else, it's relaxing.
The Library is a great resource for psi information and research. It provides real-life case studies, surveys, and applications on the various forms of psi. A nice feature is that the program allows you to print out any of the text-based information provided, not only here but in some of the other rooms as well. If users are looking for additional information on a subject, dozens of resources are provided.
PSI Explorer is a very well-done, well-thought-out program that anyone seriously interested in psychic phenomena can enjoy and refer to again and again. I recommend it highly. What you won't find on the CD-ROM is a lot of the mumbo-jumbo that is often found in books on the subject.
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