Book Reviews

Time Loops * Eric Wargo * Precognition, Retrocausation, and the Unconscious

“I will not be shy. I consider Time Loops to be the most significant intellectual work on a paranormal topic in the last fifty years, since Jacques Vallee’s Passport to Magonia (1969), to be precise. Not only does Eric Wargo show us how strong the evidence for precognition really is—already a major accomplishment. He gives us scientific, psychological, and interpretive tools for thinking about these phenomena in strikingly original ways. In the process—the real stunner for me—he points us toward (or looks back from) the future of knowledge, a future in which the humanities are as crucial as the sciences. Buckle up tight and get ready for the roller coaster ride of your life. And why not? As Wargo shows us with astonishing rigor and humor, these ‘time loops’ may well be our lives.” — J EFFREY J. K RIPAL , AUTHOR OF MUTANTS AND MYSTICS AND SECRET BODY AND CO-AUTHOR OF CHANGED IN A FLASH

Time Is Not What You Think It Is. Neither Are You.
Welcome to a world where participants in psychology experiments respond to pictures they haven’t seen yet … where physicists influence the past behavior of a light beam by measuring its photons now … and where dreamers and writers literally remember their future. This landmark study explores the principles that allow the future to affect the present, and the present to affect the past, without causing paradox. It also deconstructs the powerful taboos that, for centuries, have kept mainstream science from taking phenomena like retrocausation and precognition seriously. We are four-dimensional creatures, and sometimes we are even caught in time loops—self-fulfilling prophecies where effects become their own causes.

Eric Wargo has a PhD in anthropology from Emory University and works as a science writer and editor in Washington, DC. In his spare time, he writes about science fiction, consciousness, and the paranormal at his popular blog, The Nightshirt. Time Loops is his first book.

I loved The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton so I was pretty interested to see what this book had to offer. At £18+, I was expecting a lot of science and not so much esoteric mumbling. It seems I got a bit of both.

Ordinary people in all walks of life, in every culture on Earth (including our own) and throughout recorded history, have reported getting forewarnings of traumatic or threatening events, commonly called premonitions ; and many religious traditions make a place for the ability of certain individuals to speak or even write about future events, commonly called prophecy

Like the filthy brown cloud around the Peanuts character Pigpen, a cloud of epithets like “baloney” and “hogwash” and “pseudoscience” attaches itself to ESP, precognition, and related subjects wherever they appear in polite society, along with the implication that people who believe in or experience these things are sadly self-deceived.

I must say the book has a fair share of assumption, combined with real-life examples of when premonition turned truth which could probably sway any non-believer. The problem is, if you know your stuff well, the book doesn’t read like more than trying to make an outlandish suggestion as a possibility, then spend the rest of the book writing on the assumption that it’s true.

The second law of thermodynamics requires the arrow of time to point in one direction; Wargo doesn’t really come up with a resonable explanation of why the time asymmetry that we observe in everyday life should not always hold true, even if theories like two-state vector formalism (which he mentions) have yet to be discarded. But supporting your argument with cod references to popular culture and getting them wrong doesn’t help matters.

Precog was a term coined by the science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick, who wrote a lot about precognition because it seemed to be a constant and baffling feature in his own life.

In the Philip K. Dick-predicted future of Minority Report, “precogs” (short for “precognitive”) predict crimes which haven’t yet happened, allowing for murder to be all but eradicated. In the original Dick short story (the basis for the 2002 Spielberg film) the precogs can see through time for about up to two weeks.

Dreams seemingly corresponding to some future event or upheaval in the dreamer’s life are probably the most common paranormal experiences (reported by 17-38 percent of people in surveys) Dream memories are vague and fleeting in the best of circumstances, so alleged prophetic dreams are particularly suspect. Psychologist Elizabeth Loftus, a pioneer of false-memory research, writes: “One person may swear that the details of a tragic accident were forecast in his dream. Later, after an accident does occur, he checks his dream diary, he may discover that the emotion of the dream was unpleasant but the details only had a vague resemblance to the accident.”

The author apparently has no filter in his head for “too much information” ( in the sense of volume, not ick_factor). He takes interesting stories and theories about precognition, then beats them to death with astounding verbosity.

2/5