Skeptical Scientists and the Paranormal — Part 1, Brian O’Leary
This is the first in a brief series of articles about individuals with a background in conventional science, but who are converted to an alternative worldview following a paranormal experience.
This is the story of Brian O’Leary, who was a member of the astronaut programme during the 1960s, being trained for an eventual mission to Mars. He describes himself as a traditional scientist, having published over one hundred peer-reviewed technical papers in planetary science and astronautics. He says that then, having blocked any awareness of a far greater reality during the first two decades of his scientific career, he stumbled into a new perspective: “One by one, the sacred cows of reductionism and materialism fell before my believing eyes”.
Here is his account of the experience which transformed him. As part of a human potential workshop, he became engaged in an experiment in clairvoyance. “I was now… looking into the eyes of a randomly selected partner, an unremarkable looking woman from Allentown, Pennyslvania, in her late thirties, about my age… (She) gave me the name of a man, his age, and where he lived (Allentown). I was asked to describe him using psychic powers that I had no conviction were within me. I knew nobody from Allentown… My mind doubted that there was any meaning to this exercise. I had not been educated to believe that there could be anything real about telepathy… Nevertheless, I stayed with the exercise, once again going into a deep trance. An image came up. I saw myself seeing the man…” He provides some precise details. “I knew I wasn’t guessing. I was either ‘channeling’ some truth or imagining something vivid. My female partner then broke into my reverie… She said my description fit him to a T”. (As a brief aside, I’ll just mention that I once participated in an identical experiment and was very impressed by the results.)
This seems to have been a turning point in his life, since he says: “I began having psychic experiences. I started communicating telepathically. I had the experience of moving out of my body and floating over cities. I healed myself with my mind. I had a near-death experience. I recalled possible former lives. I felt the presence of other-dimensional intelligence”.
O’Leary tells this story in Exploring Inner and Outer Space, which is subtitled A Scientist’s Perspective on Personal and Planetary Transformation¹. It’s worth noting that he dedicates this book, “to the Higher Power who guides us all from our inner and outer space and to all of us who are growing in awareness of our immortality and our multidimensional being”. That just goes to show how such a conversion can affect a conventional scientist.
I hope you have enjoyed this article. I have written in the past about other topics, including spirituality, metaphysics, psychology, science, Christianity, politics and astrology. All these articles are on Medium, but the simplest way to see a guide to them is to visit my website (click here and here).
1. North Atlantic Books, 1989