Institute of Noetic Sciences

Coordinates: 38°10′31″N 122°36′20″W / 38.1753°N 122.6055°W / 38.1753; -122.6055
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Institute of Noetic Sciences
FormationJune 1973; 50 years ago (1973-06)
FounderEdgar Mitchell
PurposeStudy of purported paranormal phenomena
HeadquartersPetaluma, California, U.S.

The Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) is an American non-profit parapsychological[1] research institute. It was co-founded in 1973 by former astronaut Edgar Mitchell,[2][3][4] the sixth man to walk on the Moon, along with investor Paul N. Temple[5] and others interested in purported paranormal phenomena,[1] in order to encourage and conduct research on noetics and human potentials.[6][7]

The Institute conducts research on topics such as spontaneous remission,[8][9] meditation,[8] consciousness, alternative healing practices, consciousness-based healthcare, spirituality, human potential, psychic abilities, psychokinesis[9] and survival of consciousness after bodily death.[10][11] The Institute maintains a free database, available on the Internet,[2] with citations to more than 6,500 articles about whether physical and mental health benefits might be connected to meditation and yoga.[8]

Headquartered outside Petaluma, California, the IONS is situated on a 200-acre (81 ha) campus that includes offices, a research laboratory and a retreat center (originally the campus of World College West).[12] Researchers associated with it include Dean Radin and Rupert Sheldrake.


Edgar Mitchell, co-founder of the Institute of Noetic Sciences

Edgar Mitchell has reported that on his return to Earth, after the 1971 Apollo 14 Moon landing, he had an experience comparable to savikalpa samādhi.[2][13] He also says that he conducted ESP experiments with earthbound friends during spaceflight.[14] In 1973, along with investor Paul N. Temple and some others,[15] Mitchell co-founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS).[3] It was founded as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 1973.[16] Willis Harman served as president from 1975 until his death in 1997.[17][18][19]

The word noetic derives from the Greek nous, meaning "mind or ways of knowing."[20] Writing in The Huffington Post, the Institute's director of research pointed to philosopher William James' 1902 definition of the word as:

... states of insight into depths of truth unplumbed by the discursive intellect. They are illuminations, revelations, full of significance and importance, all inarticulate though they remain; and as a rule they carry with them a curious sense of authority. ...[11]

The Institute figures prominently in The Lost Symbol, a 2009 work of fiction by best-selling author Dan Brown.[2][21] Twitter postings on the day before the book's release led Institute director Marilyn Schlitz to purchase the book and read it in one sitting. She told NPR that she found ten experiments conducted by the real-world Institute referred to in Brown's fictional account. NPR reported that after its publication "traffic to [the institute's] website ... increased twelvefold", applications for membership increased and "journalists from places like Dateline NBC — not to mention NPR ..." were seeking interviews with Schlitz.[22]

The Institute confers the Temple Award for Creative Altruism,[23][24][25] biennially.[26] The $25,000 award fund is divided among recipients selected by an independent jury.[26]


Projects sponsored by the Institute include a bibliography on the physical and psychological effects of meditation and yoga,[8] and a spontaneous remission bibliography.[8][9] The Institute has also conducted a number of parapsychological studies into extra-sensory perception,[8] lucid dreaming, telekinesis,[9] and presentiment.[27]

According to The Roanoke Times, the Institute is "... devoted to exploring psychic phenomena and the role of consciousness in the cosmos."

The Roanoke Times also noted that co-founder Mitchell's assertions "... have often been criticized by skeptics."[3] Told "your research goes into a number of territories that are regarded with skepticism in some circles", Mitchell replied:

That's what's fun about it. We're breaking down barriers and finding things. That's what science is all about: new discovery. ... There's nothing that we have done or have demonstrated that doesn't have good science behind it. Skeptics be damned.[3]

The Institute is listed on Stephen Barrett's Quackwatch website, for its research on fringe topics.[28]

Documentaries and publications[edit]

In 1994, TBS broadcast a three-part, six-hour documentary based on work at the Institute, entitled The Heart of Healing and narrated by actress Jane Seymour.[29][30]

Since 2009, the Institute has published a semi-annual bulletin, The Noetic Post.[31] From 2003 to 2009, it published a quarterly magazine, Shift: At the Frontiers of Consciousness.[32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Xiong, Jesse Hong (2009-11-09). The Outline of Parapsychology. University Press of America. pp. 56–. ISBN 9780761849469. Retrieved 25 April 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d Pfeffer, Elizabeth, Stars aligned: Astronaut's mission seeks to answer life's big questions Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine, Contra Costa Times, 21 February 2010. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d Allen, Mike,Space explorer touches down this weekend in Southwest Virginia, The Roanoke Times, 18 September 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013. Archived October 12, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Kluger, Jeffrey (July 16, 2009). "40th Anniversary of the Moon Landing; Edgar Mitchell". Time magazine. p. 17. Retrieved October 7, 2013.
  5. ^ Paul N. Temple at the Institute of Noetic Sciences [dead link]
  6. ^ Paul N. Temple biography at BioGenesis Archived 2009-06-05 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Institute of Noetic Sciences. About: History of the Institute of Noetic Sciences Archived 2006-12-03 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ a b c d e f Radin, Dean, Supernormal: Science, Yoga, and the Evidence for Extraordinary Psychic Abilities, Random House, New York (2013). ISBN 978-0-307-98690-0
  9. ^ a b c d McTaggart, Lynne, The Intention Experiment: Using Your Thoughts to Change Your Life and the World, Simon & Schuster, New York (2007). ISBN 978-0743276962
  10. ^ Institute of Noetic Sciences. Research: Programs from the Institute of Noetic Sciences Archived 2007-05-13 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ a b Vieten, Cassandra, What Is Noetic Science?, Huffington Post, 21 September 2009. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
  12. ^ Institute of Noetic Sciences. About the Institute of Noetic Science Archived 2006-11-30 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Truman, Sarah E., Samadhi in Space – an Interview with Apollo 14 Astronaut Dr. Edgar Mitchell Archived 2015-05-19 at the Wayback Machine, ascent, Fall 2007. Retrieved 7 May 2015. "The experience in space was so powerful that when I got back to Earth I started digging into various literatures to try to understand what had happened. I found nothing in science literature but eventually discovered it in the Sanskrit of ancient India. The descriptions of samadhi, Savikalpa samadhi, were exactly what I felt: it is described as seeing things in their separateness, but experiencing them viscerally as a unity, as oneness, accompanied by ecstasy"
  14. ^ "Private Lunar ESP: An Interview with Edgar Mitchell".
  15. ^ Mitchell, Edgar, The Way of the Explorer, GP Putnam's Sons, 1996. "I wish to thank those who had faith in an idea that led to the founding of the Institute of Noetic Sciences: Henry Rolfs (deceased) and Zoe Rolfs, Richard Davis, Judith Skutch Whitson, Paul Temple, Phillip Lukin (deceased), and John White. And to those who came a bit later to carry the idea further: Osmond Crosby, Brendan O'Regan (deceased), Diane Brown Temple, and Willis Harman."
  16. ^ "Institute Of Noetic Sciences - Nonprofit Explorer". ProPublica. 2013-05-09. Retrieved 2022-11-29.
  17. ^ The new business of business: sharing responsibility for a positive global
  18. ^ Willis Harman, 1918-1997
  19. ^ "Weaving possibilities for a New Era". Archived from the original on 2011-06-08. Retrieved 2009-10-19.
  20. ^ Murphy, Michael and Stephen Donovan, The Physical and Psychological Effects of Meditation: A Review of Contemporary Research With a Comprehensive Bibliography, 1931-1996 Institute of Noetic Sciences, Petaluma, CA (1997), p. 282. ISBN 9780943951362.
  21. ^ Brown, Dan, The Lost Symbol, Random House, New York (2009). ISBN 978-0307950680
  22. ^ Hagerty, Barbara Bradley, Woman Reads Dan Brown Novel, Discovers Herself, NPR, 12 October 2009. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
  23. ^ Political author, social activist to speak at SJU College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University "Campus News" web page. 25 September 2013. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
  24. ^ Youngs, Betty B., The House That Love Built: The Story of Linda & Millard Fuller, Founders of Habitat for Humanity and the Fuller Center for Housing Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Charlottesville, VA (2007). ISBN 978-1-57174-546-0
  25. ^ Distinguished Visiting Professor: Bill Milliken, Communities in Schools Founder[permanent dead link], Marymount University Campus News and Events webpage. Retrieved 6 October 2013,
  26. ^ a b IONS Grants and Awards web page Archived 2013-08-07 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
  27. ^ "Entangled Atoms: Dean Radin's research suggests that all separation is illusory". Retrieved August 31, 2010.
  28. ^ Barrett, Stephen. "Questionable Organizations: An Overview". Quackwatch. Retrieved 14 October 2013.
  29. ^ McVicar, Nancy, More Than Medicine, Sun-Sentinel, 26 October 1993. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
  30. ^ Heart Healing Turner Publishing (1993)
  31. ^ "Newsletters - IONS Library - Institute of Noetic Studies". Archived from the original on November 27, 2010. Retrieved September 21, 2010.
  32. ^ "Magazines - IONS Library - Institute of Noetic Studies". Archived from the original on November 27, 2010. Retrieved September 21, 2010.

External links[edit]

38°10′31″N 122°36′20″W / 38.1753°N 122.6055°W / 38.1753; -122.6055