Friday, October 03, 2008

StarGate presentation

Here's a video presentation of a piece of the history of the psi research program funded by the US government, code named StarGate, as told by the first director of that effort. Of particular interest is how that program dealt with incessant skepticism within the classified community, even in the face of repeatable, demonstrable successes.

I have a certain compassion for staunch skeptics today who find it impossible to believe that psi is real. I suspect that if I hadn't witnessed a portion of StarGate's history first hand, and if I hadn't worked with or known many of the individuals involved in that program, I'd be skeptical too.

44 comments:

Lesley said...

I find myself skeptical about it at times and that is due to certain so-called remote viewers who are often on coast to coast. I will refrain from mentioning them by name because I don't want to give them any attention, most will know who I mean.

For some reason the people who are likely real out there don't get nearly as much attention as the frauds. That is not only true with this topic, but ufology and many other esoteric topics.

Dean Radin said...

I agree.

gregory said...

compassion is a nice word ... i find myself getting pissed off at the stubborness of skeptics ... and i should back off ... they simply aren't sensitive, and it is not their fault

Atheistic Mystic said...

I really liked this presentation. Hal displayed an incredible amount of patience. I couldn't have done it. The "scam-buster" probably would have gotten a black eye if I had been there.

I am also very interested in the 'associative remote viewing'. I would like to try that with investments and what-not. Are there any books or articles about that technique Dean?

David Bailey said...

Dean,

When I click on your link, I am told I can't view it from the UK! Is there any chance of fixing this problem, as it sounds interesting!

Dean Radin said...

I don't know why the link cannot be viewed from the UK. You can send a message to the Arlington Institute and ask them. Here's their contact page:

http://www.arlingtoninstitute.org/contact


Or, you can download this document

www.lfr.org/LFR/csl/library/Bremseth.pdf

which provides much of the same history (in shorter form), written by a Navy SEAL commander in 2001.

For info on Associative Remote Viewing, if you Google that phrase you'll find lots of sites. One that provides a good outline is this

http://www.firedocs.com/remoteviewing/faq024.cfm

Here's another:

http://p-i-a.edu/Protocols/EDU/ARV_Background.htm

Dean Radin said...

On learning remote viewing: There are many courses offered out there, of varying quality. For people without the time or money to devote to a classroom experience, I recommend the following DVD set:

http://tinyurl.com/3h62r2

or anything here:

http://www.nemoseen.com/

NelsonH said...

Not viewable from Canada.

Is there a youtube copy.

Dean Radin said...

Sorry, but I'm not aware of a YouTube version of this talk.

Greg M. said...

Hey! Nice blog! I thought you might be interested in Freedomain Radio, the most popular philosophy podcast on the internet. There is a lot of material in the show that particularly focuses on psychology.

http://www.freedomainradio.com/psychology.html

All the best!

Greg

Zetetic_chick said...

Professional skeptics are very skilled to fool the public (and the academy) into the idea that most parapsychologists are incompetent or stupid.

For example, if you read some of Martin Gardner's books and believe in Gardner's rhetoric, you'll end with a very negative view of researchers like Harold Puthoff and Russell Targ. Gardner gives a picture of them as low-rate credulous scientists. He scoffs and debunk them with high-loaded rhetoric.

Recently, I talked with a well-known philosopher (I won't mention him), and when I asked him about psi research and its importance to philosophy, he said: "I don't have time to waste reading about it. Parapsychology have been discredited by decades of experimental fraud"

Obviously, he is misinformed. That a well respected intellectual think like that isn't excusable.

When I asked him for his sources or references, he replied: "Read the Skeptic's Handbook on parapsychology, and Martin Gardner's books"

I don't feel compassion by profesional skeptics, because many of they act with a intentional agenda to fool the public and academy (maybe there are exceptions). However, I feel compassion for intelligent scientists and thinkers who are misinformed by the skeptical propaganda.

Dean Radin said...

I don't think that most professional skeptics are out to fool the public or other scientists. I think they have accepted their position as self-evident, in which case anyone claiming evidence to the contrary has to be incompetent or a fraud. There is no other option.

If every college student were taught the history, philosophy and sociology of science, then except for the occasional super-egotist, I doubt that we'd see many more people willing to proudly call themselves professional skeptics.

David Bailey said...

Nelsonh wrote:

Not viewable from Canada.

Is there a youtube copy.

I guess the moral from that, is that the video on remote viewing is not itself remote-viewable!

Bharat said...

Dean: Agreed re skeptics. Though Randi, Wiseman and Shermer's efforts to debunk Rupert's dog work were so manifestly bogus as to nullify any comment. Same for Dawkins.

Gardner also tried to make David Bohm out to be a credulous, slack-thinking and fervent "believer". I look forward to the day when no attention is paid to this kind of smearing.

Slightly off-topic: Anyone read Jeffrey Schwartz and Sharon Begley's 'The Mind And The Brain'? Focuses primarily on neuroplasticity but is an excellent critique of the materialistic and Cartesian approaches to consciousness that is the starting point for the oft-referenced paradigm shift that seems to be on the horizon.

Zetetic_chick said...

Bharat wrote:

Dean: Agreed re skeptics. Though Randi, Wiseman and Shermer's efforts to debunk Rupert's dog work were so manifestly bogus as to nullify any comment. Same for Dawkins.

Gardner also tried to make David Bohm out to be a credulous, slack-thinking and fervent "believer". I look forward to the day when no attention is paid to this kind of smearing


I'd include "skeptic" Stephen Barrett:

http://www.canlyme.com/quackwatch.html

I agree with Dean that professional skeptics see their position as self-evident; and as consequence, any person who present evidence to the contrary is incompetent or a fraud. (In skeptic's mind, you can't present evidence for a non-existent phenomenon)

But in my opinion, the above is one of the professional skeptic's motivation to spread misleading information about psi science. If they "know" that psi doesn't exist, then (in their mind) it seems justified to lie and debunk psi research and parapsychologists (e.g. Dawkins, Wolpert, Shermer, Wiseman, Randi's lies about Sheldrake's research; or Barrett about alternative medicine)

Also, I think it's correct to teach college students about philosophy, sociology and history of science. They'd learn about paradigms and how novel discoveries are received by mainstream science. Henry Bauer has good books about it.

Bharat, maybe you have interest in the following paper (about quantum mechanics and consciousness) written by Jeffrey Schwartz, Mario Beauregard and Henry Stapp:

http://www-physics.lbl.gov/~stapp/PTRS.pdf

The best book I've read about a non-materialistic neuroscience is Mario Beauregard's "The Spiritual Brain". It contains a good summary of psi evidence too.

Bharat said...

David Bailey: Oh dear. :)

Zetetic_Chick: Yes, I've read the Stapp, Schwartz, Beauregard paper before as I am a very big fan of Stapp and Schwartz. However, what you have alerted me to that I had absolutely no idea about was that Beauregard is interested in psi. I will be checking this out, thank you!

Rick said...

Thanks for the many good links. That Prof. Bauer is quite readable.

Jason said...

This is off-topic for this specific blog entry, but hopefully on-topic for this blog in general. I read The Conscious Universe several years back, and recently got to thinking again about the nature of the universe, non-local events, etc. So I just found this blog, and looks like I'll be ordering Entangled Minds.

I'm interested in exploring ways to develop sensitivity and/or proficiency (not sure of the right way to put it) to/with extrasensory experiences. For example, I think I recall reading (perhaps in The Conscious Universe) about how researchers in this area would sometimes provide people with some instruction or training to maximize the chances of positive effects...? Are there recommended books, CDs, websites, or other resources with instructions, meditation guides, exercises, a training regimen, or whatever else, designed specifically with the goal of enhancing one's extrasensory experiences?

I came across Learning to Use Extrasensory Perception by Charles T. Tart on Amazon, but I'd rather have some scientifically minded people here point me in the right direction on this topic.

Sandy said...

About a year ago a member of my thesis committee commented that it was too bad scientists were not encouraged to take credits in topics such as philosophy or the history of science. In fact, despite finishing two undergraduate degrees, a MSc, and having completed much of the work towards a PhD, I have yet to take so much as a single credit in these areas. I’m only now just starting to understand the importance of such things.

I didn’t change my mind because I suddenly became a seasoned and mature scientist, ready to join the scientific community and contribute to well-informed research. I changed my mind because of anomalous experiences that under my current circumstances I feel compelled to conceal from anyone I might chose to work with. I’m sure there must be others out there like me. Hopefully one day it will be possible not only for scientists to investigate the existence and mechanisms of psi without losing credibility, but it may even be socially acceptable for a scientist to admit to unusual experiences that could possibly be explained by such phenomenon.

Dean Radin said...

I hope you're right. I was never advised to take a course in the history, sociology or philosophy of science during my academic career either. In hindsight, I think such topics would rank among the most important things I've learned so far.

Bharat said...

Dean and Sandy: Agreed, it's very important. I personally find that many young scientists themselves have no real axe to grind so are more open but the very fact that they aren't encouraged to read philosophy and history of science does not bode well.

I think that if more senior figures came out with their experiences, this might help. Anyone remember AJ Ayer's NDE and the opprobrium he incurred? I think the situation might be somewhat different today.

Publications like 'Entangled Minds', Schwartz's 'The Mind And Brain', Stapp's 'The Mindful Universe', Beuregard's 'The Spiritual Brain' etc. are extremely important and bode well.

Sandy, have you heard of the Scientific and Medical Network? That's a place for scientists to freely discuss such ideas without fear: www.scimednet.org

Sandy said...

bharat:

Thank you for the link. I checked it out and was interested in some of the subsequent links to information about NDEs. They were very helpful. It is nice to think that what’s wrong with me may not be entirely my fault after all.

I found Dr Radin’s book, Entangled Minds, similarly comforting.

Zetetic_chick said...

Thanks for the many good links. That Prof. Bauer is quite readable.

Rick, maybe the next paper of Beauregard titled "Mind does really matter: Evidence from neuroimaging studies of emotional self-regulation, psychotherapy, and placebo effect" be of your interest:

http://www.mapageweb.umontreal.ca/beauregm/Beauregard2007_Progress.pdf

Publications like 'Entangled Minds', Schwartz's 'The Mind And Brain', Stapp's 'The Mindful Universe', Beuregard's 'The Spiritual Brain' etc. are extremely important and bode well

Apart of those excellent books (all of them a must read), I'd recommend (for a study of philosophy, history and sociology of science) the following:

-Henry Bauer's book Scientific Literacy and the Myth of the Scientific Method.

-Henry Bauer's Fatal Attractions: The Troubles with Science

-Jeremy Northcote's The Paranormal and the Politics of Truth: A Sociological Account (I think Dean commented about it in another post)

Sandy, have you heard of the Scientific and Medical Network? That's a place for scientists to freely discuss such ideas without fear

I think we also should give active support and credit to the Journal of Scientific Exploration:

http://www.scientificexploration.org/jse/abstracts.php

All the previous issues can be downloaded there.

Maybe, that is the only serious scientific journal dealing with controversial and unorthodox topics from a rigurous and scientific point of view.

If more professional scientists (and other academics) subscribe themselves to that Journal, it would be very positive to stimulate the scientific study and interest by Academia for those topics.

ZC

Bharat said...

Dean, a quick but important question: I'm reading the Beuregard/O'Leary book and am atthe bit where they've performed fMRIs whilst showing people neutral and strong emotional videos. By any chance, was some evidence fo presentiment found there? I only ask because I think that Bierman and Hameroff found presentiment in the Damasio gambling studies.

Dean Radin said...

I don't know. It's a very good question.

David Bailey said...

Dean,

Here is a link to what I assume is the same video, but visible without a country restriction:

http://www.brightcove.tv/title.jsp?title=1410385325&channel=1378401810

Bharat said...

I couldn't think of a betetr place to post this. The recent forum in front of the UN on an extended view of consciousness featuring such luminaries as Andrew Newberg, Mario Beuregard, Henry Stapp, Jeffrey Schwartz, Sam Parnia and more has a website featuring MP3s of the proceedings:

http://www.mindbodysymposium.com/

Here's an afternoon session that features Schwartz, Stapp and Beauregard that mentions psi research in a positive light (remember, this is a huge UN symposium) around the 1hr 27 min mark:

http://www.mindbodysymposium.com/audio/morning_panel.mp3

Any thoughts, Dean? (and all others, of course)

Dean Radin said...

Thanks for this post.

I was recommended to be one of the speakers at this conference by Mario Beauregard. I later learned I was not invited due (I gather) to at least one of the organizers wanting to avoid bringing up the controversial hot topic of psi. Seems they couldn't avoid it entirely!

The social hyper-sensitivity to psi is an ongoing problem in US academia. It is far less of a problem in other countries.

Bharat said...

Yeah, this taboo business is a royal pain in the so-and-so. Schwartz was extremely impassioned and Beauregard just doesn't seem to let taboos hold him back, so this is good. Newberg's presentation and Greyson's statement were particular highlights.

Unfortunately, the science media has begun something of a furore over this issue:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20026793.000-creationists-declare-war-over-the-brain.html?DCMP=ILC-tabCom&nsref=mg20026793.000

So many non-sequiturs, strawmen and the usual assortment of biases and dismissive undertones that I'm not sure the article even merits comment.

Zetetic_chick said...

Thanks for the NewScientist's article link, Bharat.

That article, the author writes: "They are attempting to resurrect Cartesian dualism - the idea that brain and mind are two fundamentally different kinds of things, material and immaterial - in the hope that it will make room in science both for supernatural forces and for a soul"

Cartesian dualism haven't been dead; it's only not fashionable in mainstream academia. Materialism have been adopted as a default position.

Recently, materialist philosopher of mind William Lycan conceded that: I have been a materialist about the mind for forty years, since first I considered the mind-body issue. In all that time I have seen exactly one argument for mind-body dualism that I thought even prima facie convincing.<1>. And like many other materialists, I have often quickly cited standard objections to dualism that are widely taken to be fatal<2>—notoriously the dread Interaction Problem. My materialism has never wavered. Nor is it about to waver now; I cannot take dualism very seriously.

Being a philosopher, of course I would like to think that my stance is rational, held not just instinctively and scientistically and in the mainstream but because the arguments do indeed favor materialism over dualism. But I do not think that, though I used to. My position may be rational, broadly speaking, but not because the arguments favor it: Though the arguments for dualism do (indeed) fail, so do the arguments for materialism. And the standard objections to dualism are not very convincing; if one really manages to be a dualist in the first place, one should not be much impressed by them. My purpose in this paper is to hold my own feet to the fire and admit that I do not proportion my belief to the evidence


So, if arguments for materialism fails too, why do materialists accept their view as a proven fact? Are they being rational?

The evidence of neuroscience is consistent both with materialism and dualism:

http://www.parapsychologyandtheskeptics.com/Does-consciousness.pdf

The adventage of dualism is that it offers room to explain phenomena like psi and other scientific anomalies (e.g. the veridical cases of NDEs). Materialists can only repeat ad nausseam "there is no evidence", or cry fraud.

Also, the inconsistences of materialism makes it a position very hard to defend:

http://xoomer.alice.it/fedeescienza/brainandmind.html

ZC

Book Surgeon said...

Lycan's statement is an awe-inspiring example of honest meta-cognition: someone with the perspective and candor to say, "I hold this position because my bias compels me to, not because any evidence supports it; I recognize the irrationality of my position and respect the possibility that I may be mistaken due to my bias." That's astonishing in an age when most materialists just attack.

Hmm, a new TV show: When Materialists Attack!

I think what we're really looking at here is the final death rattle of reductionism. I've always seen it as a grossly oversimplistic way of regarding the cosmos. In the history of science, the simple, neat solution has almost always been superseded in time by something far more subtle and complex, as with Newtonian physics leading to relativity leading to QM. The impulse to wrap everything up in a neat package (such as with the futile, I believe, pursuit of a theory of everything) is one of science's uglier and more damaging tendencies, leaving a scorched path of unconventional ideas in its wake.

Bharat said...

Zetetic_chick: You're most welcome, please check out the UN symposium audio/videos if you haven't already done so, this is an excellent leap forward. Your criticisms and Carter's are correct, I feel.


Book-surgeon: Likewise. I should say that I don't actually mind the reductionist *method*, it's been astonishingly useful. What I do mind is adopting it as a worldview that brooks no dissent.

The wonderful Noam Chomsky was on a Humanist radio show a little while ago and gave a little critique of evolutionary psychology (he's done so in greater detail elsewhere) and when asked about free will, he outlined the three levels of confidence one can have in a phenomena (as originally formulated by Russell), highest to lowest:

1/ One's own personal experience.
2/ The personal experience of another.
3/ What science makes of these phenomena.

I agree wholeheartedly.

Also, book_surgeon, regarding a theory of everything, Bernard Carr and Sir Roger Penrose have both expressed an uncomfortability with a ToE (if there is one) that doesn't include consciousness.

Plus, I recommend Paul Davies's last book, 'The Goldilocks Enigma' where he outlines a vague model of how the verification of Wheeler's 'delayed choice' experiments could permit a form of subtle teleology. Briefly, he is with David Deutsch on the possibility of the universe being omniscient and being saturated with mind in the future (I think this is to do with the quantum theory of computation which - as far as I can tell - is based on the Copenhagen interpretation of QM) which could thus affect the past permitting a subtle teleology. I like this because it seems to be in keeping with the philosophies of those who have studied consciousness (Hindus, Buddhists etc.) for centuries who say similar things but also because if such a view is expanded, then psi might be viewed as being not just ordinary, but actually rather mundane and predictable.

Courage! (As Dean said)

Zetetic_chick said...

In my last comment, I forget to provide the link of philosopher William Lycan's paper on dualism.

You can read it here:

http://www.unc.edu/~ujanel/Du.htm

ZC

David Bailey said...

Zetetic_chick,

Thanks for the interesting link to William Lycan's paper.

It is strange how he seems wedded to materialism while demolishing some/most of the arguments in its favour!

As far as I can see, the existence of a single Ψ phenomenon would more or less rule out a materialistic explanation of consciousness.

Tor said...

Thanks Bharat for the link. It was enjoyable. After watching this I really feel that the content and message of the book "Irreducible Mind" is beginning to penetrate into the mainstream. This makes me optimistic for the future.

I also think people like Greyson and Newberg should get more air time. Both these are clear, consistent, grounded, convey the essence of these phenomena and are charismatic speakers that hold the audiences attention.
And some of the calmness of Stapp should merge with some of the fighting spirit of Schwartz and vice versa :D

Bharat said...

Tor: You're welcome, I'm glad you all enjoyed it. Stapp and Schwartz emphasise that the Copenhagen interpretation is the only practical way to do QM. I'm no physicist but I'm not sure if using, say, the many-worlds interpretation gets one particularly far when doing QM so this seems to me a crucial point and one that should be emphasised despite the apparently obligatory 'Quantum mysticism' soundbite that rears its head materialist head in these discussions. I admire everyone on that panel and think similarly that Newberg and Greyson should get more exposure.

There was a paper in Nature in 2005 called 'the mental universe' that emphasises the role of 'mind' in all of QM. In it, John Hopkins University physicist states: "The Universe is entirely mental" and that "The Universe is immaterial — mental and spiritual. Live, and enjoy."

Citation:
'The Mental Universe' by Richard Conn Henry
Nature 436, no. 29 (July 7, 2005)

Best wishes to all.

Tor said...

Bharat said:

There was a paper in Nature in 2005 called 'the mental universe' that emphasises the role of 'mind' in all of QM. In it, John Hopkins University physicist states: "The Universe is entirely mental" and that "The Universe is immaterial — mental and spiritual. Live, and enjoy."

I can remember when Nature published that article.

I was a student doing my masters in physics at the time, and had just experienced the kind of emotional turmoil discussing mind and consciousness vs. QM generated amongst physicists. And then conservative Nature let Richard Conn Henry loose. I was flabbergasted and extremely inspired by that article.

About the symposium, there was a good point given as the afternoon panel debate ended.
Putting pictures below the roof so that patients having a NDE and an OBE could report these images when coming back won't necessarily work because of the radical different state of consciousness.

We don't seem to work the same way when we start to disconnect from our body. Even the different states of consciousness most of us are able to experience while we live our normal bodily lives should tell us that it is far from a straight forward assumption that anyone will notice those pictures.
That doesn't mean these kinds of studies shouldn't be done. But I wouldn't get my hopes high for a "final proof" of this being illusions or actual non-corporeal consciousness floating around, as Parnia seemed to think this can be. It won't prove or disprove anything about survival whatever the outcome. It will only add more data to the bucket. At best it can give additional evidence for clairvoyance or precognition, that as far as I am concerned, we already know exist.

Of course, what the NDE suggest as a phenomena in itself, is another issue that I think we should take very seriously.

I dislike that well documented and controlled anecdotal evidence has such little value in science today. Good cases, and especially in high numbers should count as real data. It's too easy to say it's just anecdotal so I don't need to consider it.

Bharat said...

Tor: Yes, that was a very valid point and did worry me. However, even if this is another drop in the bucket, the bucket gets heavier all the time, which is surely no bad thing.

Another thing, Tor: Is there actually any difference in practical terms between Copenhagen and 'consciousness creates reality'? I know Copenhagen doesn't mention consciousness as such but in practical terms, surely there can't be that much of a difference?

Newberg mentioned some work with Brasilian mediums, either that took a lot of guts on his part or the UN crowd were seriously open-minded. Or both.

This is good.

Sandy said...

Tor said:

"We don't seem to work the same way when we start to disconnect from our body."

Such a simple statement, but it sure hits home. No one ever warns you when wake up in the hospital after an NDE that this is an experience that goes way beyond that relatively short period of ‘disconnection’. Before my experience, I happily made a living as an artist and musician. After the NDE, I reinvented myself as a scientist. My then-husband accused me of being some sort of changeling; he remained convinced that his ‘real’ wife had died.

Such experiences are not uncommon, yet very few people seem to know this. I didn’t know about this myself until just over a week ago. Maybe we can’t demonstrate what exactly is going on during the NDE itself, but there must be some way to measure the before and after effects on the lives of the people who have them. There has to be some clue there as to what is actually going on when we disconnect.

Perhaps this is just hitting too close to home for me to be objective. Fifteen years later, I’m still wondering if I’m ever going to completely ‘reconnect’.

Tor said...

bharat said:

Is there actually any difference in practical terms between Copenhagen and 'consciousness creates reality'? I know Copenhagen doesn't mention consciousness as such but in practical terms, surely there can't be that much of a difference?

The way I see it, the Copenhagen interpretation doesn't rule out such a view. So in practical terms I agree with you bharat. The funny thing about all these interpretations is that they themselves are all being interpreted.

The Copenhagen interpretation needs something to do the famous "collapse of the wavefunction". Many physicists today get uncomfortable when consciousness is introduced to do the collapse, so they avoid this at all costs.

From my understanding of the issue though, I can't see how our mind/consciousness can be left out of QM.

Henry Stapp has shown that something that is not described in the equations is needed to make QM work . And he argues quite convincingly that this something seems to have to do with our mind/consciousness.

The leap between the need for a something to make things work, and to say that this final something is consciousness, is in the end a pure leap of faith if you only think about the theory. But I do not think it is a big and unreasonable leap.

Luckily for us, we have people like Dean Radin that has done some experimental work also to test the QM vs. consciousness/mind connection. Having read through this I'd say consciousness is something quite fundamental.

Tor said...

Sandy, I'd really love to hear more about your experience. I find NDEs extremely fascinating!

I've never had an NDE myself, but a few years ago I had an experience that I think is the same as "meeting the light" that so many NDErs talk about.

It sounds a bit cliche, but I experienced unconditional love, and it totally blew away my earlier notion of this. I know I can't describe to people what really happened then since words don't do it. This is something that needs to be experienced.
I had a positive high the next two days, and then the feeling gradually normalized itself. But the memory of this experience still remains strong. I has been the most most powerful experience of my life so far.

Bharat said...

By the way, to get back to the topic of the blog, here's some links to the video which certain viewers can't see:

Part 1:
http://www.brightcove.tv/title.jsp?title=1410385325&channel=1378401810

Part 2:
http://www.brightcove.tv/title.jsp?title=1416618503&channel=1378401810

Hope this works.

Jime said...

Thanks a lot for the links, Bharat. I included one of them in my last post about Beauregard's book.

There is a book by Euan Squires titled The Mystery of the Quantum World.

It's a very interesting book about quantum mechanics, and its interpretations.

Bharat said...

Neuroscience update: Denyse O'Leary rips New Scientist a new one:

http://mindfulhack.blogspot.com/

Get the popcorn out.