William A. Tiller spent 34 years teaching science at Stanford University and published more than 250 scientific papers. Yet he found himself ostracized and dismissed when his research led him to the startling conclusion that the mind can affect the physical world in ways that flustered and sometimes outraged his conventional-minded colleagues.
No matter: He had tenure and was determined to understand a baffling series of experiments that seemed to show that intense, sustained thought could consistently change something as measurable as the pH levels in a beaker of water.
Tiller finally retired from Stanford and moved to Payson — no doubt to the relief of fellow Stanford scientists.
But he still hasn’t retired from his crusade to provide scientific evidence that human thought and spirituality can have a measurable impact on the physical world.
Tiller will explain his controversial ideas on Wednesday from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Payson Public Library in a free presentation sponsored by SuperWisdom Foundation.
Tiller also played a starring role in the 2004 documentary “What the Bleep Do We Know?” — a film that explores discoveries and speculations about physics and spirituality.
Tiller notes, “I reasoned that if I continued my conventional scientific research and excelled in all my responsibilities, my colleagues would have a spark of interest in my avocation. But this was not the case.”
Tiller recalls one instance at a faculty meeting called to determine “What’s wrong with Tiller?” “They tried to do an intercession. They thought I was deranged and needed ‘help.’ In fact, they were embarrassed. But try as they might, I had tenure, and they could not get rid of me so long as I performed excellently in my day job.”
Since his retirement in 1998, he has pursued his unconventional theories and the nonprofit William A. Tiller Foundation now reaches a worldwide audience. He has published four books and several DVDs, including “Psychoenergetic Science: A Second Copernican-Scale Revolution.”
Miceal Ledwith, professor of systematic theology at the Irish Universities writes, “Professor Tiller has shown that the lens through which science claims to view all of reality is far too narrow in focus. That has earned him that ostracism which all groundbreaking thinkers have endured.”
Tiller’s work challenges the claim of conventional scientists who insist that human thought cannot influence a physical experiment.
One well-known example that has long confounded medical researchers is the placebo effect, which stems from the finding that 5 percent to 10 percent of patients will get better if they think they’ve taken a powerful medication, even if it’s really just a sugar pill. In fact, that’s one reason medical trials now include a control group getting a fake pill and another group getting the real pill.
In one of Tiller’s experiments, he and his associates used an electrical device to control the pH balance of water — and proved able to operate the device through thought to either increase or decrease pH levels — even when the device was moved 1,500 miles away.
“Though this experiment is simple and straightforward, the ramifications should rock the scientific world,” Tiller said. “However, most physicists today suffer terribly from the boggle effect. Their eyes roll and glaze over just before the conscious brain shuts down ... They want to use an old ladder of understanding. They want nothing to do with an entirely new ladder of understanding.”