Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Call for an open, informed study of all aspects of consciousness


This opinion article, in a mainstream journal, is signed by academics hailing from Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Duke, Cornell, University of California, University of Washington, University of Colorado, Rice University, Penn State College of Medicine, University of San Francisco, University of Sao Paulo, Università di Padova, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, University of Adelaide, University of Lisbon, University of Munich, Granada University, University of London, Edinburgh University, University of Tolouse, Lund University, etc..


" ... we would like to stress the following:

1) Research on parapsychological phenomena (psi) is being carried out in various accredited universities and research centers throughout the world by academics in different disciplines trained in the scientific method (e.g., circa 80 Ph.D.s have been awarded in psi-related topics in the UK in recent years). This research has continued for over a century despite the taboo against investigating the topic, almost complete lack of funding, and professional and personal attacks. The Parapsychological Association has been an affiliate of the AAAS since 1969, and more than 20 Nobel prizewinners and many other eminent scientists have supported the study of psi or even conducted research themselves..."

See the full post here.

11 comments:

Anthony Mugan said...

A cogent and balanced argument from an impressive range of signatories. Sadly one suspects that at the moment the mainstream view will not, overall, be influenced by this - although hopefully some individuals will be.
Given the repeated observation of effects at >5 sigma the continuing vociferous opposition to even the existence of psi effects appears at first sight a little odd.

One possible explanation is that we lack a convincing theoretical framework for how such effects could exist - the parallels with quantum effects are not much more than metaphor at the moment. This does not seem entirely sufficient to account for the level of resistance however (e.g. dark energy etc is accepted from observational effects but hardly understood).
Possibilities that occur to me include the association of psi research with spiritualism from its early days. Psi is therefore viewed with extreme suspicion as a result of this association as opening the door to supernatural forces. Again this seems a rather limited view point as possible avenues for research in physics clearly exist (e.g. quantum biology, holographic principle etc.).
I do sometime wonder if the historical fact that psi has been used operationally by intelligence services over a protracted period may indicate that this is not simply a scientific question but has wider national security implications that may require an element of perception management...there again that way lies paranoia...I will stay with the physics!

Thanks for all your continuing efforts.

juan francisco gomez said...

I have just read the paper of the double slit experiment, and it isn't clear to me hoe geomagnetic fields affects to the experiments?

Dean Radin said...

> an element of perception management...there again that way lies paranoia.

Perhaps it's paranoia, but this is probably not as unlikely as it may seem.

Dean Radin said...

> how geomagnetic fields affects to the experiments?

There is a fair amount of evidence that GMF flux affects the nervous system. E.g., GMF storms are correlated with more accidents, violence, etc. GMF quiet days have been shown to be correlated with improved psi ability, perhaps because the nervous system is able to relax more deeply, allowing people to focus more clearly.

juan francisco gomez said...

Sorry,but I refered, how had EMF influed in the double slit experiment? is the effect of the experiment attributed to EMF or temperature, for example? or the unic possiblity is that the result is caused by a mind?

Stephen Baumgart said...

"One possible explanation is that we lack a convincing theoretical framework for how such effects could exist - the parallels with quantum effects are not much more than metaphor at the moment."

I think that we are moving towards a working theoretical model. Prof. John Cramer at U. of Washington has been working on nonlocal communication (faster-than-light/backwards in time) using only standard quantum mechanics. Here's a NBC News article from last week about his efforts (though the article appears to confuse nonlocal influence without information transfer, which is very well established in physics, with nonlocal communication).

Also, the time-symmetry of presentiment signals reminds me of time symmetries which appear in physics. For example, Maxwell's electromagnetic wave equation has two mathematical solutions, one which goes forwards in time ("retarded") and one which goes backwards in time ("advanced"). The advanced solutions are generally discarded (arbitrarily?) as being "unphysical" (though there have been attempts to justify this such as the Wheeler–Feynman absorber theory ). It is in taking the mathematics of time-symmetry seriously that has led to the transactional interpretation of quantum mechanics whereby wavefunctions collapse due to interactions of waves traveling forwards and backwards in time.

I think that combining these kinds of physics ideas with quantum biology to explain some psi effects will become a major emerging field in the coming years.

Sylvain Frédéric Nahas said...

> it isn't clear to me hoe geomagnetic fields affects to the experiments?

I do not think the actual mechanism is currently known by anybody.

Nonetheless, Serena Roney-Dougal has synthesised the known facts and comes out with a convincing proposal.

See:
* Her article "Some Speculations on the effect of Geomagnetism on the Pineal Gland"
http://www.psi-researchcentre.co.uk/documents/pineal_GMF-1.pdf

* Her article "Where Science and Magic Meet"
http://www.psi-researchcentre.co.uk/documents/SciMagi%20synopsis.pdf

I found her book, "Where Science and Magic Meet" full of intriguing data, and a worthy read.
http://www.amazon.com/Where-Science-Magic-Serena-Roney-Dougal/dp/0956188613

Marcus T. Anthony said...

It is great to see this being published in that journal. Although the journal deals with "frontier" science, it is not specifically devoted to psi-related cognitive functions (in fact I couldn't see any others at a brief glance).

Anthony Mugan, I think this all adds up. My sense is that there is a significant shift occuring, including with the recent TED censorship issue. It's a small step, but things are heading in the right direction. Some will continue to get pissed off by any reference to psi. But who says that pissing people off is always a bad thing? People working in this field are not here to make people feel comfortable with the status quo! Like Thoreau said, responsible dissent is the obligation of all honest and courageous folk. The key is to be able to stand your ground and take the odd blow to the forehead without taking it all too personally. And laugh a lot.

Nishant Berry said...

Rupert Sheldrake, psi researcher and Oxford biologist, says that consciousness is not generated by the electromagnetic field of complex neuronal activity. Dr Sheldrake states that brain waves correspond to various states of consciousness but that consciousness is not produced by brain activity.


Rupert Sheldrake, David Bohm and Fritjof Capra were close to the influential Indian philosopher, the late J Krishnamurti.


Mystics of all ages said/say the same thing that consciousness is independent of the body (matter).


Conversely, science is capable of altering our cognitive faculties via brain surgery, psychoactive drugs and em radiations and death of the neurons results in disappearance of consciousness. Some would argue that this consciousness, which is supposedly independent of the brain, somehow lifts out of the brain and continues its existence out of the corpse in some spiritual dimension.



Ironically, till today, no one has been capable of pinpointing the substance of which consciousness is composed of and no one has been able to tell us, backed with evidence, if consciousness, in whatever abstruse form it is supposed to exist, survives the death of the body. In the same way, spirit is another mumbo jumbo word.


Science has all the hard facts, while religion/mysticism has only belief/speculation to fall back upon.

Dean Radin said...

> Conversely, science is capable of altering our cognitive faculties via brain surgery, psychoactive drugs and em radiations and death of the neurons results in disappearance of consciousness...

These things have nothing to do with science per se. It simply reflects the observable fact that mind and brain are closely correlated. The causal direction of that correlation remains an inference.

> Ironically, till today, no one has been capable of pinpointing the substance of which consciousness is composed of ...

I'm not sure why this is ironic. But the reason why science (or any other method) has yet to provide "hard" evidence that adequately explains consciousness is that this process necessarily involves consciousness attempting to describe itself. This sort of recursion presents a major problem, as Godel demonstrated in mathematics.

> Science has all the hard facts, while religion/mysticism has only belief/speculation to fall back upon.

I agree with your assessment of traditional religions as an explanatory source, but not with mysticism. Mysticism, after all, is a human experience. It is not based on belief or faith. As an experience it has led to repeated observations that have been shared and discussed among people throughout history. Consensus agreement about observations is the essence of science as well, except that (in a simplistic way) the tools of science mostly involves attention focused outwards whereas the "tools" of mysticism mostly involves attention focused inwards.

Simon Fraser said...

Dr Radin, I suspect you've been asked this innumerable times, but do you see a paradigm shift on the near horizon?