Paul H. Smith received a Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin on December 5, 2009. Paul drew on his expertise in parapsychology and remote viewing for his dissertation, which argued for the truth of the oft-asserted proposition that ESP is evidence that mind is more than simply matter. The dissertation is now available to read on line from the University of Texas Digital Libraries. It’s title is:

Is physicalism “really” true?: an empirical argument against the universal construal of physicalism

Below is his brief explanation of how the dissertation is put together. (You may find the following introduction helpful, but if you want to skip this summary you can go to the full dissertation by clicking here.)


Physicalism is the belief that everything in the universe is either physical or the result of things that are physical. Both philosophy and science, including psychology, largely assume physicalism is true.

My dissertation’s first four chapters make the case that physicalism cannot be disproved by any of the philosophical arguments that have been used against it. I also lay out what it would take to prove physicalism false (or, “falsify” it, as scientists and philosophers would say).

It is important to know whether or not physicalism is true because, if it is true, then there is almost certainly no such thing as free will or God or the soul, as well as other things many humans think are important. Of course, if physicalism does turn out to be true, we would just have to accept those consequences. But if it turns out that physicalism is false, or at least that there is a high likelihood that it is false, then we could be wrong to simply accept those consequences without question. Justifiable doubts that physicalism is true could mean that there really are things in the universe that are not physical after all, possibly to include God and the human will.

From chapter 5 on I argue that there actually is good reason to believe that physicalism might be false. Chapters 5 through 8 present evidence that shows that an important ingredient for physicalism (a principle called “causal closure of the physical domain”) is very likely itself false. This evidence comes from at least four kinds of well-attested parapsychology (“ESP”) research:

  • Presentiment experiments,
  • DMILS (“direct mental interaction with living systems”) experiments,
  • Remote viewing experiments, and
  • Associative remote viewing experiments.

Chapter 9 and 10 are devoted to evaluating the evidence I presented in the preceding chapters. Chapter nine also includes an extensive discussion of whether we can materially affect the past, the future, or neither. This is important for precognition, a component in some of the research I describe.

Chapter 11 evaluates counter-arguments against the evidence I have presented.

Chapter 12 sums up my argument and draws important conclusions about physicalism and its truth claims, concluding that it makes more sense to doubt physicalism than to accept it.

This is followed by a long bibliography, arranged both alphabetically and by subject.

With that as a preliminary, you can access the entire work here.

(Paul H. Smith, Ph.D.)

(Click here to review Paul’s credentials.)