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Old 04-26-2016, 12:24 PM
Pantastic Pantastic is offline
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 3,262
Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
Was there more, shall we say, open mindedness about ESP in the 60s among actual scientists or was it just the hippy-dippy atmosphere of the time? Age of Aquarius, etc. I was a kid in the 60s, but it did seem like at least there were more experiments going on, and perhaps that was the era of debunking...?
Mental powers (I'm going to use ESP for shorthand) have been a major part of science fiction since at least the 1930s. For example the Lensman series has heroes who alternate between creating high-tech rockets, blasters, and explosives and developing their mind for telepathy, telekinesis, and other mental abilities, and it's not abnormal in that respect. There was a feeling like 'the science of the mind' was something we were about to tap into in a big way, just like nuclear power or warp travel, and there wasn't the accumulated evidence against ESP.

As time went on and ESP moved further away from being real science, ESP was just sort of grandfathered in as having always been part of science fiction, sort of like FTL drives (but not as needed). It kept on through the 60s and 70s with Star Trek, but it's not like it stopped; TNG and other ST spinoffs, Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, Farscape, and other relatively hard SF shows from the 90s to today kept it. I don't think it can really be called a 60s "Age of Aquarius" thing because it started back in the pulp magazine days and continued up until today.