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Problems with science
If Professor Aston ever bothered to read the long letter Jinarajadasa wrote to him in 1943, he could not have failed to spot at least three obvious discrepancies between scientific facts and the micro-psi observations of Besant & Leadbeater:
Even after taking into account the possibility that a few MPAs could have been wrongly attributed to new elements instead of being assigned to isotopes of known elements, one cannot avoid the fact that the modern periodic table has no room for the three mysterious transition elements found by Besant & Leadbeater, who asserted that they were naturally occurring elements lighter than uranium. Put simply, atomic theory does not permit such elements to exist! Just as damaging in the minds of sceptics was the fact that MPAs were often reported in chemical compounds to be broken up, their constituents mixed with particles belonging to other MPAs in the compound. Every student of chemistry knows that atoms either transfer or share so-called valence electrons when they bond together to form molecules and that the energy absorbed or released in the formation of the latter is millions of times too small to cause atomic nuclei to undergo fission. When Leadbeater studied chemical compounds with his micro-psi powers in the mid 1920s, he fully realized that some of his observations seriously conflicted with basic tenets of atomic theory. Nevertheless, this did not stop him from believing that MPAs were atoms, even though they bore no resemblance to the scientific picture of atoms then emerging from the work of physicists like Ernest Rutherford, Niels Bohr and Erwin Schrödinger. This persistent flying in the face of contemporary science is a convincing argument against the sceptic's customary explanation of fraud, for what sensible person intent on using scientific facts and ideas to support his bogus claim to powers of ESP would publish results which he knew contradicted them? If, however (as this persistency suggests), Besant & Leadbeater honestly described for thirty-eight years images that they actually experienced, what can MPAs be if they are not atoms, as the two Theosophists supposed?
Other problems emerged. For example, Leadbeater described the molecule of benzene as being octahedral in shape, whereas chemists already knew then that it is a flat, hexagonal ring. He reported that the methane molecule was octahedral as well, even though chemists knew at the time that its form is tetrahedral. Worse still, instead of observing three whole MPAs of oxygen in the ozone molecule, which is composed of three oxygen atoms, Leadbeater reported that the unit of ozone consisted of three half-MPAs of oxygen — that is, 1½ MPAs in total! In view of this chemical absurdity, one might well ask how he could have continued to maintain the view that MPAs are atoms. Surely, only someone who was genuinely observing something and truthfully reporting what he was seeing would have kept publishing descriptions of molecules which he knew were inconsistent with facts of physics and chemistry and which, occasionally, were even scientifically absurd? Not having any other interpretation for the 111 MPAs recorded in Occult Chemistry, Besant & Leadbeater were unavoidably locked into an understanding of them that was fundamentally at odds with scientific facts. No amount of special pleading, ad hoc hypotheses or models of micro-psi devised in order to preserve their assumption that they saw real atoms can avoid the conflict between these facts and their working assumption (for it was no more than this) that their micro-psi faculty enabled them to describe atoms in an undisturbed state. It was more a declaration of faith than a fact which he could be certain about when Jinarajadasa said in his introduction to the third edition of Occult Chemistry: "The object examined, whether an atom or a compound, is seen exactly as it exists normally, that is to say, it is not under any stress caused by an electric or magnetic field." He did not consider the possibility that Besant's & Leadbeater's intervention in psychokinetically slowing down the incredibly rapid vibrations and motions of atoms and their constituents might have affected them in some way — perhaps drastically. As science knew very little about the structure of atoms in 1895 when his colleagues began their paranormal study of them, Jinarajadasa's assumption that MPAs were atoms was a natural one to make. However, it was wrong. The question remains: if MPAs are not atoms, what alternative interpretation can science provide?
Those who like to reduce any sign of the paranormal to psychology will want to suggest that, although Besant & Leadbeater may not have been hoaxers and did honestly experience visions, these amount to hallucinations that has nothing to do with the "objective world." Quite apart from the fact that none of the known pathological causes for such visions can be discerned in these otherwise sane individuals, in which case the suggestion is entirely ad hoc, it begs the question how two people could share the same visions for all the years they collaborated in recording them — so much so that they could provide a myriad of details about MPAs from two entirely different perspectives — one global (Leadbeater), the other local (Besant) — which still managed to be consistent with each other! Just how could purely subjective experiences unrelated to the real subatomic world achieve that degree of consistency?! How would mere hallucinations have enabled two intelligent and sane people to observe not only the same things but details whose consistency emerges only half a century later with the birth of quark theory? Even supposing that their knowledge of chemistry and physics had somehow shaped the form of these hallucinations, how could the latter, if they had no causal connection to the element under examination, exhibit the remarkable regularity, established with a sample of 111 MPAs, that the UPA population of the MPA of that element is approximately proportional to its atomic weight? Amazingly, this is true even for elements like francium and astatine, whose atomic weights would have been unknown to Besant & Leadbeater because science discovered them in, respectively, 1939 and 1940, about seven years after their deaths. A sceptic who admits that the two Theosophists did not consciously use contemporary knowledge about atomic weights of the elements to fabricate these numbers might argue that they might, still, have known their values beforehand and that this in some remarkable, unexplained way fashioned the contents of their hallucinations so as be consistent with this regularity. This, however, contradicts what their assistant Jinarajadasa said happened when they examined various chemical specimens with micro-psi. Firstly, they rarely studied pure samples of elements, so they could not have been sure which element an MPA under their observations referred to, which makes having hypothetical foreknowledge of atomic weights irrelevant. Secondly, the identity of an MPA was often deduced only after Jinarajadasa had calculated its so-called "number weight":
number weight of an MPA = UPA population/18
and compared it with tables of atomic weights, the inferred element whose atomic weight best matched it being then checked by examining substances scientifically known to contain this element in order to determine whether they saw the same type of MPA. As they often did not know what element it was whose MPA they had described in detail to Jinarajadasa until after completing its investigation, their brains could not — consciously or unconsciously — have used in such cases any information they might have known about its atomic weight to manufacture appropriate hallucinations containing the right numbers of UPAs! As they often studied impure samples of chemical substances, neither they nor Jinarajadasa could be certain beforehand to what element a reported MPA referred. Even if they had known in some cases the atomic weight of an element before they began a study of its MPA, how can a sceptic allow himself to entertain the extreme improbability that their brains manufactured in a mutually consistent manner hundreds of hallucinatory images of precisely the right numbers of different (imaginary, of course!) particles, each containing just the right numbers of UPAs to generate a UPA population that (give or take a few UPAs) was always eighteen times the atomic weight of an element! The hypothesis of jointly-experienced hallucinations falls apart under the weight of its self-evident absurdity.
Made aware of such far-fetched implications of his suggestion that MPAs are nothing other than hallucinations, the die-hard sceptic can only fall back on the hypothesis of fraud, namely, that Besant & Leadbeater fabricated the encyclopaedic volume of details published in their book Occult Chemistry. This implies that Jinarajadasa would have been an accomplice in the deception who lied about his recording what they saw. The problem with this suggestion is that:
This means that the sceptic has to replace one far-fetched scenario required by his ad hoc hypothesis of shared hallucinations by another equally improbable, ad hoc explanation of hoaxing unsupported by any evidence — one, moreover, that needs a huge set of miraculous coincidences to have occurred, creating all these correlations by chance! Given that, is it really more reasonable and 'scientific' to ignore all the historical circumstances, dismissing everyone involved as fraudsters, as well as the great weight of evidence supporting micro-psi as the correct explanation, merely because current, scientific understanding of the human brain and what it is capable of learning about the world without the use of the five senses declares micro-psi to be impossible in principle? A rational, fair-minded person must say: no. It is perfectly, sane, not irrational, to conclude that the paranormal explanation must be correct when not only all other conventional alternatives fail miserably but also the existence of this form of remote-viewing is supported by the analysis of a vast set of observational data. As Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detective Sherlock Holmes said in The Sign of the Four: "...when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." The problem is that our culture and educational system have conditioned the mind-sets of people so much that they are incapable of impartial assessment of paranormal evidence, uninfluenced by what contemporary science deems possible or tells them to disbelieve. Scientists are not immune to this pervasive disease, either. Indeed, they are frequently its most conspicuous victims. Being too sceptical is just as much a mental pathology as being too credulous. Deep-rooted, cultural attitudes towards the occult and the paranormal make most scientists reluctant to risk their careers by endorsing research that confirms the existence of ESP. There are few Galileos amongst them who are willing to defend the truth of their own (or other people's) discoveries if they contradict the contemporary paradigm in their academic field that had been established by generations of their predecessors, some of whom may even be colleagues working in the same research department. One such Galileo was Dr. E. Lester Smith, FRS, the first scientist in Britain to isolate vitamin B12. This website is dedicated to his memory and to the support that he gave to my work.
* Occult Chemistry, 3rd ed., p.