" I was a student at Harvard when Richard Alpert (now Ram Das) and Timothy Leary were doing their research on LSD there. "
That's pretty cool! Did you ever get a chance to talk to them?
When I was a young engineering student in South America, I would have sold my soul to the devil to study at Harvard. To me that it was like a holy place. Maybe next life...
" Despite the amount of human distortion present in such research, the consensus was that another world not normally detectable by humans does exist "
I think there's overwhelming evidence in favour of that. The most interesting thing I ever read about the subject was a very serious study in double hypnosis, conducted by Charles Tart if memory serves me well. Two people, a man and a woman, were first hypnotized, and then during the hypnotic state asked to hypnotize each other. Double hypnosis is extremely powerful, even dangerous sometimes. Anyway, at some point the couple lost verbal touch with each other and went into a profound trance. Upon awakening, both related exacty the same story! They said they went together inside a cave, and the woman wanted to go further but the guy told her they were not allowed, or something like that. There were other people inside the cave, and their descriptions of how it all looked like were amazingly similar.
Of course there's lots of stories like that; what makes this one particularly interesting to me is that it was serious research conducted by a non-biased scientist. It's one thing to hear something extraordinary from someone who believes it, but to hear it from someone who's somewhat skeptical is far more convincing.