Sunday, September 14, 2008

Extended Mind video

Rupert Sheldrake giving a talk at Google.


Ronnie said...

I've recently watched this over at The Daily Grail. Really liked it.

David Bailey said...

I must admit, I am quite a fan of Rupert Sheldrake.

I think what Rupert has done, is to realise that conventional parapsychology experiments were all but eliminating the effect by creating boring, context free experiments. In a sense he has got rid of the problem of low statistical significance by introducing the messiness of the real world. Most of his experiments have huge probabilities against being due to chance.

Did you notice how someone asked him about precognitive versions of his telephone test. He replied that such experiments had been tried, but seemed to be coming out at near chance level. With his experiments, it is possible to try experiments like that with relative ease, because the basic statistics build up so fast. He had also been able to build up a rough idea of which types of (pet) animals were liable to anticipate their owner's return.

He seems to have gone way beyond the "is Ψ real" debate, and is developing a body of knowledge about the properties of the Ψ phenomenon.

Dogmatic said...

My eyes aren't what they used to be but... is that you in the front taking notes, Dean?

The more I see the arguments against psi, among the myriad of reasons this type of research never makes it to the mainstream seems to be that people see a psi explanation as akin to saying 'god did it' and ending the search. It's like beginning to build up part of the puzzle that doesn't yet have a connection to the already built larger part of the puzzle. It just so happens to also wildly change the picture.

Not very good at explaining that. I loved this and your google videos. Always good to see some people carrying on the torch despite the overwhelming cries to keep that area of our understanding in the dark.

Dean Radin said...

Good eyes! Yes, that's me in the front. After Rupert's talk, we had dinner at Google with a couple of friends and our Google host. We had a great time.

beginning to build up part of the puzzle that doesn't yet have a connection to the already built larger part of the puzzle. It just so happens to also wildly change the picture.

That is indeed one reason why the evidence for psi is resisted. The term "paradigm shift" has been overused, but in fact we are faced with a need for a new paradigm, and unfortunately history has shown how difficult is it for new ideas to take hold. New paradigms invariably seem crazy right up until the moment that they become obvious.

David Bailey said...


Can you tell us a bit about the reaction at GOOGLE. Were they interested in doing what Rupert vaguely suggested, and using their massive resources to try some online experiments. The people at the talk seemed fairly pro-Ψ - do you think there was a more general acceptance among people there?

Dean Radin said...

Yes, there was some interest, but whether that turns into real apps, we'll have to see. This crowd seemed to be a bit more open than some who attended my talk there in January.

An indirect indicator of interest is the number of comments the talk has received on GoogleTechTalks. Rupert's video is already within the top 20 out of 900+ talks. My talk seems to have stabilized at #2 on the comments list (#1 is "Sex on the Internet"). Of course, a higher number of comments doesn't imply approval, just interest.

Bharat said...

Dean: "This crowd seemed to be a bit more open than some who attended my talk there in January."

Don't sell yourself short, Dean. Your talk opened minds. Examples: The James Randi questioner mentioned specifically an attempt to open more minds based on your talk. Also, in Stu Hameroff's 'Why The Singularity Is Bogus' talk, your presentiment experiments were mentioned by an audience member specifically with regard to whether the Orch-OR Model could provide theoretical support to your results.

Seriously, your talk has really helped open this area up. I think Rupert might have had a slightly tougher time with the audience had your talk not preceded his.

Also, re: comments. This high comment thing is a good thing because the skeptics are now having a hard time as they are being (mostly) rationally out-argued here.

When I read 'Entangled Minds', the section where Dean detailed changes that were occuring in science ("a restlessness brewing"), this I was very sceptical of: So what? Changes happen all the time in science. But I swallow my scepticism, something seems genuinely in the air.

As Dean said: Courage!

Bharat said...

On paradigms: Things indeed do become magically obvious when accepted. Example: the whole practise of "evidence"-based medicine is based on placebos i.e the mind affecting the body. This was considered heresy even 10 years ago, now it's been incorporated into the scientific canon by the most hardcore skeptics.

Caecilius said...

I really like Rupert a lot.

Particularly interesting is the now familiar TV set analogy. I am very interested in the question one of the audience members asked: if damaging the brain is analogous to crashing some tubes in the TV and there's no more picture, what is the corollary of that? How can we have a working TV, but one with an 'antenna' that is disabled?

How can we have the body still function normally but have it block consciousness? I think Stuart Hameroff would argue that this is exactly what happens with anesthesia - the body functions just as it usually would. Nothing is damaged. However, it's not getting a consciousness signal. All the vitals are working normally, but the person is far beyond reach.

david said...

What does happen during unconsciousness? Consciousness can be apparently completely snuffed out by anesthetics, and people subjectively are just turned off, then turned on. There is no memory of anything during the period of unconsciousness, and of course the common sense interpretation of this is that the person literally didn't exist during the period when the brain was inhibited. This would imply that the person's self-aware center of consciousness was one with and no more than the operations of the neurons. But of course the huge body of evidence from NDEs and other psychical phenomena indicates otherwise.

It seems to me the answer to the paradox must be that the essence of the person is in a center of consciousness (call it soul, or whatever) that when expressing itself in the physical through the brain is only aware when the brain is operating, and that awareness is filtered and distorted by the brain.

A better analogy than the TV one is a computer running a software program, where the physical circuits and the program still exist even if the plug is pulled, but it just isn't working and interacting with peripherals. The "program" in this very limited analogy would run and express through another, nonphysical, "body" when out of the physical brain.

This would be along the lines of the "etheric body" of Theosophy.

Sandy said...

Rupert Sheldrake’s mention of social fields brought to mind some of my past experiences as a member of the Canadian military. You can see evidence of both the ‘call’ and ‘coordinating movement’ functions of social fields in the behavior of military units. I’ve personally experienced both. I can only guess that the whole break down of a soldier’s individuality and subsequent building up of a group mentality that is the basis of so much military training may somehow enhance such field effects.

Many jobs in the military almost seem to require an ability to make these connections with others. The really scary hard-core special service types all seem to have a ‘spooky’ quality about them, and many of these people are never able to successfully leave the group mentality behind after retirement. Retirement can be a very traumatic time for many soldiers, and I’ve been to far too many funerals for people who have unexpectedly passed away shortly after leaving the service. This suggests that it may be far easier to create such connections than it is to break them.