Larry Dossey,
The Power of Premonitions:
How Knowing the Future Can Shape Our Lives

(Dutton, 2009)

Larry Dossey, one of the best and best-selling authors of books on healing and alternative medicine, goes the extra step in this book; he takes on the the existence of premonitions, or glimpses into the future, an ability that we label paranormal and that he insists should not be labeled paranormal at all. He writes:

If these events occur, as I believe they do, they are a part of nature and are not para or apart. This means they should be considered an integral part of nature, not as some ill-bred stepchild that embarrasses the rest of the family.

Dossey is truly bothered by the fact that much of mainstream science still refuses to recognize the existence of psi events, no matter how compelling the evidence and, in this book, wants to do something about that. To achieve his goal, he organizes the book in five stages: first, he describes the cases, then he turns to the scientific evidence, claiming that the sheer mass of successful experiments demonstrate that "premonitions are not fantasy or wishful thinking, but are a natural inborn ability that usually operates outside our conscious awareness." His third stage explores the why of premonitions, after which he turns his attention to what happens when we do not take the existence of premonitions seriously. Finally, he examines the role of premonitions in establishing and maintaining our world view.

You can't say the man isn't thorough.

You also can't dismiss him as a crackpot or a crank. Dossey, a solid scientist himself, uses solid and reputable science to back up his claims and generates a lot of it. Even people who keep up with the field will find new stuff in these pages, new, up to the minute, cutting edge experiments in psi.

The Power of Premonitions, however, does not assume foreknowledge, and that's both a source of strength to the book and a possible weakness. He spends a lot of time proving what should not, in the 21st century, need to be proven. We know this stuff exists. What we need to know is more about how, why and for what purpose it exists. To his credit, Dossey does go into those ideas but not, for my needs, deeply enough. Maybe that will be his next book.

In the meantime, I still love, respect and recommend this one.

review by
Michael Scott Cain

11 July 2009

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