Yes you guessed right. I've just been reading Dan Brown's latest novel 'The Lost Symbol', the same Dan Brown who wrote 'The Da Vinci Code' and 'Angels and Demons' and the other two novels. I've read all of his novels to date and I will continue to read anything he writes, because I'm enthralled by the sense of wonder that is conjured in my mind when I discover how progressively fantastical the story is becoming, as I turn from one wholly phantasmic page to the utterly stupendous next page..
So I came across 'noetic science' for the first time in the new Dan Brown novel and thought to expand my knowledge of this obscure branch of science by googling it. Of course there were the formal treatises and official sounding descriptions to trawl through. Then I happened upon a more light-hearted take on it, a blog post titled "What the heck is Noetic Science?", which taken together with the 31 comments left by readers, gave me something to ponder all afternoon. Please read the comments too if you can find the time. :)
Apparently, noetic science is a branch of science in which "scientists are trying to measure things we’ve long regarded as immeasurable, like prayer, intuition, or maybe even life after death, with the help of evidence-based research and peer review". Now tell me, how do you measure prayer and/or its efficacy thereof? Really!!
Anyway, all of this is taken very seriously apparently and this science has an entire Institute of its own, devoted to the study of such. Noetic Theory has even earned for itself a place in the pages of Wikipedia, where it is briefly described as "a branch of metaphysical philosophy".
This field of science got a boost when Edgar Mitchell a former US astronaut and member of the Apollo 14 crew that went to the moon, is said to have had a profound spiritual experience of some kind, or received some sort of 'revelation' while looking down on the Earth from space on his way back to the planet. (Read about it here). It was this same person who founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences in 1973 after his return to Earth and he also wrote a book titled 'The Way of the Explorer: An Apollo Astronaut's Journey through the Material and Mystical Worlds. Science editor of Howstuffworks.com, Allison Loudermilk, wonders what Mitchell's fellow astronauts thought of his career after he left NASA.. "Did they scoff? Did they have similar experiences? Did they also found institutes that will wind up in a Dan Brown novel?", she asks..