The Psi Data and the Meaning of It All | George Williams

George Williams is currently employed by the Federal Communications Commission as an economist. His work there focusses primarily on the regulation of broadcast media and cable. However, he also has strong interests in philosophy, particularly on matters concerning consciousness and science. Most of his recent research concerns how the psi data can tell us about theories of consciousness and quantum mechanics. He is also very interested in science fiction.


In this paper, I wish to consider an arguably important, yet underexplored question: What does the psi data (specifically the laboratory data) suggest about our lived experience? To put it another way, what does the psi data tell us about the meaning of it all?  Current scientific theories offer little support for meaning in some intrinsic sense. There is no evidence for an overarching purpose for our existence. The physicist Stephen Weinberg has said, “the more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.” Many influential physicists, such as Brian Greene and Sean Carroll, have argued similarly,ut such a view is difficult to square with those who argue that meaning helps us live a more satisfying life. We can note that throughout the history of humanity, art, music, and literature has been produced by individuals attempting to express some greater sense of meaning beyond drudgery or simple, mundane experience. Yet according to many scientists and philosophers, this deeper or intrinsic sort of meaning is not to be found in our conventional scientific theories.

However, the psi data doesn’t fit conventional theories either. If we accept the psi data as real, we perhaps might broaden our thinking to consider what that data is telling us. Perhaps such a broader or richer framework might support a notion meaning or purpose for our lived experience.

Thus, I submit that these three components necessary for meaning in work of literature of film are 1) connection with a greater whole, 2) a central purpose or direction that guides the various events and characters through time, and 3) freedom to choose. These three are necessary for a feeling of what a novel or movie means.  Of course, I do not suggest that our lived experience fits well with such novels and films. It is arguably rare to find lived experience exhibiting the unity and sense of completion we find in works of literature.  Nevertheless, I do argue that these aspects of meaning we find in many important examples in literature and film point to something important in our quest for greater meaning.

Further, I believe the psi data also points toward supporting these aspects of meaning.  The empirical data on telepathy and remote viewing do suggest our conscious experience is connected to other people as well as the world around us. This is consistent with each of us representing a part in a greater whole. The precognition literature is consistent with our sensing of how events might unfold through time. Apparently, events (and people) are connected to this greater whole or unity, which can be understood as a deeper process (that we may not yet understand). The psychokinesis data, in addition to suggesting an action or influence at a distance, also appears to require free will or agency. Overall, perhaps we can take the psi data as providing necessary support for the ingredients of finding meaning in our lives.

Program chaired by John G. Kruth. Download the Abstracts at


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Published on January 21, 2024