Saturday, March 01, 2014

Was Buddha just a nice guy?

This is a talk I gave at the Science and Nonduality Conference in 2013. It's a shortened version of a presentation I've given a number of times about my latest book, Supernormal.


46 comments:

Simon Fraser said...

It's a good talk. To change the topic somewhat. I fear the Prahlad Jani case has some problems:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2010/may/18/prahlad-jani-india-sunshine

danhaas said...

Dean, so is it possible to model the mind-matter interaction in the double slit experiment as a sensor near the slits?

Can you estimate the frequency of measurement? What percentage of the photons would have to be measured to generate the effect?

Dean Radin said...

> Is it possible to model the mind-matter interaction in the double slit experiment as a sensor near the slits?

Probably, but so far I've modeled this as an asymmetry in the amount of light passing through the slits.

> Can you estimate the frequency of measurement? What percentage of the photons would have to be measured to generate the effect?

I haven't thought about this as a "frequency of measurement" issue, but what we see in terms of a change in fringe visibility is about 0.001%.

Chuck Davis said...

Is it possible to own one of the double slit devices?

/ChuckD....

Dean Radin said...

> Is it possible to own one of the double slit devices?

Own? Sure. To purchase one is another matter. These devices are usually constructed as needed in an optical physics lab. PASCO sells the requisite components in their "Introductory Optics System," but that kit alone wouldn't be enough to conduct experiments of the type we are doing.

Teach Spin makes a nice single-photon double-slit system. See www.teachspin.com/instruments/two_slit/. We are using one of these in our lab.

Shady Slim said...

Dr Radin, I want to report an spelling error on your book:

P301, “the physical world has at bottom” - should be "has a bottom". Right?

Dean Radin said...

"at bottom ..." is part of a quote from physicist John Wheeler. I believe he had it right.

anonymous said...

Dean,

I have questions pertaining to the slide in the video with awareness at the bottom of a pyramid and mind at the top.

Maybe I am misunderstanding what you mean by awareness and mind but, doesn't the evidence for survival after death suggest that mind can exist apart from matter? Wouldn't it be better to label the top of the pyramid something like "incarnated human consciousness", and have mind represented in a way that shows it can exist separately?

Also, the cosmological argument shows that the universe was designed because natural laws are fine tuned to support life. The rate of expansion of the universe is fine tuned to one part in 10^60, the gravitational force constant is fine tuned to on part 10^40. There are 25-30 parameters in our universe fine tuned to support life. The multiverse theories don't eliminate the need for fine tuning (design) they just push it back one step. Whatever is generating universes would need to be fine tuned. Do you think the "awareness" that you have at the bottom of the pyramid is capable of designing. Wouldn't an awareness capable of designing a universe or a multiverse also be a mind?

Thanks

Dean Radin said...

> Whatever is generating universes would need to be fine tuned. Do you think the "awareness" that you have at the bottom of the pyramid is capable of designing.

Good questions. My take on the fine tuning question is that the universe appears to be fine tuned for us because if it wasn't we wouldn't be here to ask the question. I.e., in an infinite amount of time eventually some universe would arise that would support some form of life. That universe in turn would eventually come to wonder (through creatures like us) about itself. This doesn't require a special design process. Rather, the question arises naturally in a universe that has the capacity to support the asking of such questions. We think this universe is unique. Maybe it isn't. Maybe a gazillion universes could spontaneously arise where the same question would eventually be asked.

A similar scenario could be raised about the fact that we can walk outside on a nice day in most temperate parts of the planet, and remain comfortably alive. The atmosphere protecting us from deep space is extremely thin and fragile (from a planetary perspective), and yet with just that soap-bubble-thin protection above us, we thrive. What a miracle. Or, we have evolved in this form precisely because this environment has shaped us through evolution to thrive in these conditions.

As to whether some sort of fundamental awareness implies that the personalized consciousness we enjoy as humans would persist in the same form after bodily death, I cannot say. While the evidence for survival is certainly intriguing, that type of survival is usually considered survival of personality. But until we find evidence that memory is not brain-centric, and that it too can persist without a body, then the question about precisely *what* survives remains unresolved.

anonymous said...

Maybe a gazillion universes could spontaneously arise where the same question would eventually be asked.

I don't know the physics well enough to debate the issue I can only repeat what I understand from the link I included on the cosmological argument. In my comment above I wrote: The multiverse theories don't eliminate the need for fine tuning (design) they just push it back one step. Whatever is generating universes would need to be fine tuned. If you can dispute this any better than I can defend it I would like to hear your reasoning. At least I provided a reference.

As to whether some sort of fundamental awareness implies that the personalized consciousness we enjoy as humans would persist in the same form after bodily death, I cannot say.

I am not saying a fundamental "awareness" implies survival after death, I am saying the empirical evidence I linked to does and that it is not right to base "mind" upon physics->chemistry->biology when there is evidence that mind does not depend upon matter. I suppose we will have to disagree on the interpretation of the evidence, I do think drop-in communicators are very strong evidence. None of the materialist explanations of near-death experiences really explain the phenomena of people having conscious realer-than-real experiences when there is no brain activity.

But until we find evidence that memory is not brain-centric, and that it too can persist without a body, then the question about precisely *what* survives remains unresolved.

What would it take to produce that type of evidence, the super-psi folks will claim any brain anywhere in existence in the universe is responsible. More realistically in my opinion direct voice mediumship, for example, that of Leslie Flint where strict tests showed the voices of the spirits did not come from the mouth of the medium, is ample proof that memory and personality is not brain centric.

In my comments in the No one pays any attention post I expressed my lack of optimism about the imminence of a paradigm shift. No offence intended, but that pessimism is only enhanced every time I am reminded of mainstream parapsychologists (Radin, Targ, Puthoff, Tart, etc) attitude towards the existence of the human spirit. When you are declaring victory, I will still be wondering when the first signs of progress are going to appear.

Every scientific controversy shows that the best explanation for the empirical evidence is a matter of opinion. I suppose I have to live with that.

Dean Radin said...

> Every scientific controversy shows that the best explanation for the empirical evidence is a matter of opinion. I suppose I have to live with that.

Right. If one starts with the belief that say, spirits are real, or that psi is impossible, then the evidence that one examines related to these ideas is colored through that belief lens. That's where matters of opinion and interpretation reside, and that's why skeptics (even proper skeptics who simply maintain doubt) typically see what they want to see.

Given the biasing nature of prior beliefs, my opinion about such matters is to maintain as close to a neutral, agnostic position as possible. This way beliefs can shift based on reasoned evidence. I personally place greater weight on evidence from credibly conducted laboratory tests than on theoretical arguments, anecdotes, or case studies.

As a result, I remain truly agnostic about the reality of spirits and survival because I have yet to see evidence for disembodied mind that is not confounded by one form of psi or another. I'm well aware of the counterarguments. I just don't find them persuasive.

By the way, the paradigm shift I'm talking about (toward the existence of "extended mind") is undoubtedly a prerequisite to what I see as a far more radical shift about the reality of spirits. Mainstream science is light-years away from entertaining the latter paradigm, but perhaps just years away from the former.

Shady Slim said...

Dr Radin, I want to report an spelling error on your book of supernormal:

P309, “few academics have dared to tred.” - should be "few academics have dared to tried.". Right?

BYW,my mistake about the last spelling error, I think Wheeler means - "It from bit" symbolizes the idea that every item of the physical world has an immaterial source and explanation at bottom - a very deep bottom, in most instances;"

Shady Slim said...

Hello, Dr Radin, I am reading your book of "Supernormal”, and I have tried my best to find the following 2 papers in my local library , but they can't be find out , can you transfer these 2 papers to me ? Thank you in advance!

Paper 1:

【题名】Self-reference, the Dimensionality and Scale of Quantum Mechanical Effects, Critical Phenomena, and Qualia

【作者】: Marcer, P. J. ; Mitchell, E. D. ; Schempp, W

【杂志名全称】: Computing anticipatory systems

【年, 卷(期), 起止页码】: 13; 340-359

【全文链接】: https://getinfo.de/app/Self-reference-the-Dimensionality-and-Scale-of/id/BLCP%3ACN046613478


Paper 2:

【题名】: Model of the neuron working by quantum holography


【作者】: Marcer, Peter J.;Schempp, Walter

【杂志名全称】: Informatica (Ljubl.)

【年, 卷(期), 起止页码】:

【出版日期】1997

【卷 号】Vol.21

【期 号】No.3

【页 码】517-532

【全文链接】: http://pubzone.org/dblp/journals/informaticaSI/MarcerS97

Dean Radin said...

For the references I suggest writing to Walter Schempp and asking him directly:

schempp@mathematik.uni-siegen.de

Dean Radin said...

> P309, “few academics have dared to tred.” - should be "few academics have dared to tried.". Right?

No, the original is correct.

anonymous said...

As a result, I remain truly agnostic about the reality of spirits and survival because I have yet to see evidence for disembodied mind that is not confounded by one form of psi or another. I'm well aware of the counterarguments. I just don't find them persuasive.


Okay, but there are many qualified scholars who do think that belief in survival of consciousness after death is justified by the evidence. (The names of some of them might surprise you... see below...)

Here is a quote by Philosopher Chris Carter from an interview in Subversive Thinking that I summarized on my blog:

In my work I present the evidence that provides a prima facie case for survival; demonstrate that alternative explanations, to the extent that they are testable, have been proven false; and then argue that to the extent these alternative explanations are not testable (such as elaborate fraud scenarios, or super-ESP) they are pseudo-scientific excuses for refusing to accept an otherwise straightforward inference from the evidence.


In the interview linked to above, Carter justifies this position.

It would seem that Robert Almeder, Ph.D., professor of philosophy at Georgia State University agrees with Carters analysis because he writes the following in a Forward to one of Carters books:


Even so, the ultimate question may not be whether we are strongly justified in believing some form of life after death, although that is certainly an important question. Rather the question is more properly whether that belief is more rationally justifiable than its denial quite independent of whether one believes or disbelieves it. In the meantime, we can continue to argue that not only is it reasonable to believe in some form of life after death, but more interestingly, that it is irrational not to believe, based purely on the force of the available evidence.


Neurophysiologist Sir John Eccles who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on the synapse said:


I maintain that the human mystery is incredibly demeaned by scientific reductionism, with its claim in promissory materialism to account eventually for all of the spiritual world in terms of patterns of neuronal activity. This belief must be classed as a superstition ... we have to recognize that we are spiritual beings with souls existing in a spiritual world as well as material beings with bodies and brains existing in a material world.



Philosoher Kurt Gödel (yes THE Kurt Gödel) said:

The world in which we live is not the only one in which we shall live or have lived.
...
The brain is a computing machine connected with a spirit.


Karl "Falsifiability" Popper believed in interactionist dualism first espoused by Descartes in which "The mind (or soul), on the other hand, was described as a nonmaterial and does not follow the laws of nature."

anonymous said...

Given the biasing nature of prior beliefs, my opinion about such matters is to maintain as close to a neutral, agnostic position as possible. This way beliefs can shift based on reasoned evidence.


Each person thinks that he is neutral and everyone else is biased. Even pseudoskeptics believe this about themselves.

I personally place greater weight on evidence from credibly conducted laboratory tests than on theoretical arguments, anecdotes, or case studies.

It is admirable to try to remain neutral about the phenomena you study. However you do have a bias about what techniques are best for obtaining information about those phenonena. Different techniques are better or worse at obtaining certain information about various phenomena. So your bias towards lab work will influence what you learn and what you believe about phenomena. Therefore you do have a bias in your beliefs. You only believe what your preferred experimental techniques have revealed and are capable of revealing. This is a bias. It is not neutral.

What would you think about a behavioral primatologist who said that he despised field work and only accepted results from laboratory experiments? Studying the behavior of chimps in cages instead of the out in the wild might yield valid results however it would limit and bias the scientist's conclusions.

If a primatologist heard of a monkey with purple mohawk hair, the first thing he would do is go on an expedition to find it. If the purple-mohawked macaque didn't breed in captivity the primatologist wouldn't say he is agnostic about whether it breeds. He would study it in the wild where it thrives.

There are places where afterlife phenomeon can be observed in its native habitat. One of these places is a Spiritualist church. Another is a hospital. Another is a hospice. Another is the séance room. Another is the medium's office.

I don't blame you for favoring lab experiments over field work, everyone is entitled to have their own interests, and overall the field benefits from a diversity of approaches. I don't blame you for believing what you consider the best interpretation of the evidence.

What I do think is mistaken is to believe you are neutral and everyone else is biased, and that those who take other approaches are less competent than you are.

What you can learn is limited by the experimental techniques you use. Those limitations on what you can learn will bias your beliefs. That bias could be ameliorated if you were open to the results of other techniques of investigation.

Other rational, intelligent, investigators have used different techniques than you use and they have come to conclusions that add to our knowledge of the field. They deserve the same respect that your own work merits.

The chapter Seeing Psi in your book The Conscious Unverse is excellent, and the principles in it apply to all of us not just pseudoskeptics.

Dean Radin said...

I am aware that I have prejudices. Everyone does. As I said, I "maintain as close to a neutral, agnostic position as possible." I also discuss this issue in Supernormal.

The reason I trust lab work more than field work is that the former is known to be less susceptible to bias than the latter. The research on inattentional blindness is just one area that shows how easy it is to totally miss what is actually happening right in front of you.

While no method of study is completely bias-free, my experience with field observation tells me that it is fairly easy to be fooled when observing things on-the-fly, especially when observing "miracles." It is not so easy when you have strict control over the means of observation.

Does lab work also miss out on things that are quite real, but tend not to show up in the lab? Absolutely. My own astonishment in bending the bowl of a large soup spoon by pinching it between a thumb and a finger is just one experience that reminds me that there is indeed a big world outside the lab. And that's why I remain studiously agnostic about the far reaches of consciousness.

Simon Fraser said...

I would also agree that personality may not survive. Whilst I feel the evidence is pushing me to a filter model on occasions, I don't think "I" would survive the death of the body. The loss of ego and self during meditation, ingestion of psychedelics, and other "mystical" type experiences seems to indicate this to me.

anonymous said...

While no method of study is completely bias-free, my experience with field observation tells me that it is fairly easy to be fooled when observing things on-the-fly, especially when observing "miracles." It is not so easy when you have strict control over the means of observation.


Field work is not necessarily on the fly. If the animals become habituated to the scientists, they can do experiments with controls even in the wild. Sure the scientist might influence the animals but much less than in a laboratory. Primatologists use video equipment to record their data.

Mediumistic phenomena is repeatable. I used to go to a Spiritualist church every Sunday and they would demonstrate mediumship as part of the service. There is ample chance to make repeated observations.

They are studying NDEs in hospitals where they have data from EEG and EKG recorders. A report of a veridical NDE by a known patient recorded by a known doctor is not an anecdote, it is data. That this type of data is valid is demonstrated by originally skeptical doctors who came to believe in the afterlife because of what the patients they interviewed told them. It is not because these highly educated doctors are foolish, and want to risk their careers by studying woo, it is because the data is compelling, at least to those who will look at it.

There is a very common pattern in the history of afterlife research. A skeptic investigates the data, finds the phenomenon is real and says so. Immediately his skeptical colleagues, unable to overcome their bias, label him a dupe and ignore the evidence. It would be unfortunate if parapsychologists made this same mistake.

The link in my previous comment would lead through my blog to a discussion forum where nurses were discussing their "best ghost story" My point is not that an internet discussion forum is good scientific data but that just as anthropologists can learn something by interviewing people, parapsychologist can do that too.

A controlled lab experiments is not the only way of obtaining valid information.
Drop a scientist into a desert or a tropical jungle and he will be dead in a day or two, unless he happens to have native inhabitants of those environments to show him how to survive in the wilderness. Look at the ruins of past civilizations and you will see great architectural accomplishments that were accomplished before any one ever thought about the scientific method. Willow bark was used as an analgesic long before science discovered the aspirin in it. Moldy bread was used to treat infections long before penicillin was discovered.

Nurses know more about afterlife phenomena than any parapsychologist. Ignoring their cumulative experience is a waste of a valueable resource.

Sure controlled lab experiments can yield reliable data, but there are other methods of obtaining valid information. Everyone believes things that aren't proved by a controlled lab experiment, otherwise they couldn't function in daily life.

I am not suggesting you should do your work differently - everyone is entitled to their own interests. But there are other way of doing science and obtaining knowledge that are also reliable and ignoring them only impoverishes ones perspective and perpetuates ignorance.

By the way, what is your definition of "agnostic" I looked it up and I think "agnostic" would mean you think something is unknowable. Are you saying these other phenomena are unknowable from existing data?

Dean Radin said...

In my experience, skeptics who become convinced of survival through personal encounters with NDEs, OBEs, or deathbed visions, or reincarnation-like stories, or even mediumistic phenomena, are not well acquainted with the literature of psi phenomena, and especially not with the capacities of high-functioning psi.

NDEs et al can be interpreted as evidence for survival, but there are alternatives. When I say I'm agnostic it isn't because I'm ignoring evidence, or because I think such things are unknowable in principle. It's because I simply don't know (yet) how to best interpret that evidence as compared to how I interpret evidence from experiments that I set up in the lab.

I'm glad that there are those who are pushing the envelope on survival studies. But for now I prefer to focus on questions that I find more tractable.

anonymous said...

NDEs et al can be interpreted as evidence for survival, but there are alternatives.

What are the alternative interpretations of NDEs?

anonymous said...

Dean Radin said...
In my experience, skeptics who become convinced of survival through personal encounters with NDEs, OBEs, or deathbed visions, or reincarnation-like stories, or even mediumistic phenomena, are not well acquainted with the literature of psi phenomena, and especially not with the capacities of high-functioning psi.



Does the literature on the capacities of high-functioning psi consist of controlled laboratory experiments? Can you suggest some references?

I know of your web page Selected Peer-Reviewed Publications on Psi Research. Are any of those articles about the capacities of high-functioning psi?

I am aware of Targ and Puthoff's Nature paper on Uri Geller. Would you consider that high-functioning psi?


Thanks

Dean Radin said...

High-functioning psi shows up in lab experiments, but only rarely. I'm thinking mostly about the talented remote viewers who worked on the US government's StarGate program. There are plenty of books on that. Russell Targ's, Joe McMoneagle's, and Paul Smith's books describe some of it.

For me the accurate "hits" described in those books are more than mere stories because I know the people, the context, and the procedures. Uri Geller is perhaps better known than most of those folks, and more for his metal-bending than for psi perception. But there are others like him, most of whom are not public figures.

I am at heart a skeptic, and as such I am fairly sure that the only reason I have confidence that there are people with very high-functioning psi ability is because I know some of them and I've seen what is possible first-hand. If I had only read about these things my level of doubt would be much greater.

Dean Radin said...

On alternative interpretations of NDEs ...

I was invited to write an article on this topic for Missouri Medicine, a peer-reviewed medical journal published by the Missouri State Medical Association. You can read the journal online here: http://www.omagdigital.com/publication?i=177483. See the Sept/Oct issue for the beginning of a series of articles on NDEs.

My article was published in a 2014 issue, so it isn't available online yet. The bottom line of my argument was that the primary anomalies associated with NDEs are reports of veridical perceptions that could not have been known or inferred from the perspective of the patient.

For someone who is not familiar with clairvoyance, this type of report could be taken as evidence that the mind has literally separated from the body (i.e., gone OBE). The literal interpretation is consistent with survival of consciousness. But veridical reports of distant events is virtually the same as what we know as clairvoyance-in-the-living. So the OBE aspects of NDEs do not necessarily imply an actual separation from the body, and hence NDEs can be interpreted as a particularly vivid form of clairvoyance in brains that are not operating normally.

anonymous said...

Dean Radin said...

High-functioning psi shows up in lab experiments, but only rarely. I'm thinking mostly about the talented remote viewers who worked on the US government's StarGate program


Dean Radin said...

The bottom line of my argument was that the primary anomalies associated with NDEs are reports of veridical perceptions that could not have been known or inferred from the perspective of the patient.

...

NDEs can be interpreted as a particularly vivid form of clairvoyance in brains that are not operating normally.


Can you say specifically what types of changes in the brain you are referring to when you write "in brains that are not operating normally".

And is there independent empirical evidence that such changes in the brain are capable of producing high-functioning clairvoyance?

Part of the anomaly in NDEs is that these experiences occur when there is no brain activity. Do you think the clairvoyance occurred before or after the lapse in brain function? That explanation doesn't work because cardiac arrest results in amnesia for the time just before and after the event. Clairvoyance does not explain how the experiencers can remember the event.

Dean Radin said...

> Can you say specifically what types of changes in the brain you are referring to when you write "in brains that are not operating normally".

Almost any state that is not the ordinary waking state is associated with more spontaneous psi, e.g. ganzfeld, dreaming, intoxication (especially psychedelics), meditation. The ordinary state of awareness in ESP experiments shows extremely small effects compared to these "altered" states.

> Is there independent empirical evidence that such changes in the brain are capable of producing high-functioning clairvoyance?

Ganzfeld is the clearest evidence, but a few experiments have involved psilocybin, and of course there are innumerable anecdotal reports about dreams, other drugs, and shamanic practices.

> Part of the anomaly in NDEs is that these experiences occur when there is no brain activity.

The Pam Reynolds case seems to fit that criterion. However, establishing "when" a perception takes place is not so clear because psi perception is not bound to present time.

Also, flat-line EEG is generally based on surface (cortical) measurements. It is now known that deep brain electrical activity continues for quite a while after cortical flat line. So previous ideas about what "no brain activity" means are beginning to change as better measurements (both electrode location and EEG frequencies) are developed. I cite some of these studies in the paper I wrote for the Missouri Medicine journal. E.g., see

D. Kroeger, B. Florea and F. Amzica, PloS One 8 (9), e75257 (2013).

and

J. Borjigin, U. Lee, T. Liu, D. Pal, S. Huff, D. Klarr, J. Sloboda, J. Hernandez, M. M. Wang and G. A. Mashour, PNAS 110, 14432-14437 (2013).

anonymous said...

Almost any state that is not the ordinary waking state is associated with more spontaneous psi, e.g. ganzfeld, dreaming, intoxication (especially psychedelics), meditation. The ordinary state of awareness in ESP experiments shows extremely small effects compared to these "altered" states.


If you are going to assert that a particular altered state causes veridical NDEs you have to show that NDErs are in that state.

An EEG of someone in the Ganzfeld state is not comparable to a flat lined EEG in a cardiac arrest patient. And ganzfeld experiences are not confused with real experiences. The Ganzfelder usually knows he is sitting in a chair observing his mental imagery. NDErs consistently say their experiences are real, they say they are floating above the scene, they don't say they are lying on a stretcher watching their mental imagery of the scene.

Also, flat-line EEG is generally based on surface (cortical) measurements. It is now known that deep brain electrical activity continues for quite a while after cortical flat line. So previous ideas about what "no brain activity" means are beginning to change as better measurements (both electrode location and EEG frequencies) are developed.

Deep brain electrical activity does not explain how people can have conscious experiences when there is no EEG activity because activity in the cortical region is associated with consciousness, not those other regions. NDEs are rich in detail and some are extensive in duration. Experiencers consistently describe them as realer than real. Research shows their memories are richer in detail than real memories. It is unrealistic to assert that a profoundly reduced amount of electrical activity in the cortex or electrical activity in a part of the brain that is not associated with consciousness could produce such experiences.

The Pam Reynolds case seems to fit that criterion. However, establishing "when" a perception takes place is not so clear because psi perception is not bound to present time.


Yes but cardiac arrest causes amnesia just before and after the event so this does not explain how the patient can remember the experience.

but a few experiments have involved psilocybin

How does the psilocybin get into the brain of the NDEr?

Naturally occurring hallucinogens cannot explain NDEs. Ketamine hallucinations are frightening and obviously not real to the experiencer. Opioids taken for pain do not cause NDEs.
There are consistent differences between NDEs and psychedelic trips including DMT trips.

and of course there are innumerable anecdotal reports about dreams, other drugs, and shamanic practices.

You wrote:
I am at heart a skeptic...

If you are going to bring up anecdotal reports of shamanic practices, I'll point out that many shamans will tell you their practices cause their spirit to leave their body.


My references for this comment are:

Materialist explanations of NDEs fail to explain the phenomenon.


Near-Death Experiences are Real


Memories of near death experiences: More real than reality?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cerebral_cortex

Dean Radin said...

I'm aware of all of these arguments. As I said, I'm not persuaded.

> If you are going to assert that a particular altered state causes veridical NDEs you have to show that NDErs are in that state.

No. My point is about plausibility, and that there are alternative explanations.

> NDErs consistently say their experiences are real...

So do psychotics. The feeling that something is real, or even "more real than real," does not mean it is.

> Yes but cardiac arrest causes amnesia just before and after the event so this does not explain how the patient can remember the experience.

Retro and precognition have no known limits. The passage of time is irrelevant.

> How does the psilocybin get into the brain of the NDEr?

That's not the point. I am saying that certain altered states, such as those produced by psychedelics, or NDEs, are associated with improved psi performance.

Note that I'm not proposing that NDEs are necessarily reducible to conventional reductionist materialist explanations. I am saying that we don't know enough to say with confidence which of a number of different interpretations is best. My guess is that consciousness is fundamental in some important way, but exactly how -- that we don't know yet.

anonymous said...

Before you justified ignoring afterlife phenomena by stating your preference for controlled lab experiments. But, now when you want to defend your own position, you are only concerned with plausibility.

NDErs are not psychotic.

I know psi is not limited by time. However the time when a person is in an altered state that might "plausibly" account for high-functioning psi is limited to just before or after their experience. At other times they are not in an altered state.

anonymous said...

Just as you have personal knowledge of unpublished cases that demonstrate to you that high-functioning psi is real so do I have personal knowledge of afterlife phenomena that indicates to me that spirits exist. These cases involve spirits demonstrating initiative and the solving problems. I've taken weekly classes in mediumship at a Spiritualist Church. One experience in particular that I had during class is much better explained by spirits than high-functioning psi. We were having a discussion in class and I sensed a spirit come to me and ask me to give a message to someone. At the time I was a still relatively new and it wasn't my turn to give a reading so I declined to give the message. A few seconds later a more advanced student announced, out of turn, that the same spirit was giving him the same message I had received but which I had not said anything about. I saw that the spirit exhibited initiative, she came to me for her own purpose, and she solved a problem, when I declined to give the message she went to another student. Now I understand that you will believe that a normal reading might be simply clairvoyance, but for this experience where the spirit has initiative and solves problems that is not simply high functioning psi. There are many published cases of drop-in communicators and cross-correspondences where spirits show initiative and highly personal knowledge that is later verified and this data is better explained by spirits than high-functioning psi.

Just as you can't convince a psuedoskeptic that psi is real and the pseudoskeptic can't convince you your statics are flawed, I realize I can't necessarily convince you that there are spirits but likewise I am not convinced that spirits are a delusion caused by high-functioning psi.

Spiritualists and other mediums who live with afterlife phenomena every day have vastly superior knowledge about the phenomenon. They know the fine and intimate details of the phenomenon much better than you do. Some mediums also experience high-functioning psi regularly and say they can tell the difference. I can understand why a pseudoskeptic who doesn't believe in psi might disbelieve them. But for someone who understands that psi exists and who believes awareness is that the bottom of your pyramid, there is no excuse for disregarding these experts and assuming they are deluded into mistaking psi for spirits.

anonymous said...

To me this is debate is not academic. I have been there at a Spiritualist church service where a greiving mother has been given relief from the unimaginable distress caused by the loss of her child, when a medium brought through a communication from her child that showed her the child was not really died but still exists in another realm.

I am also involved in internet forums where psychics discuss their experiences. I'm sure you know how frustrating it is when a pseudoskeptic who has very little knowledge of the phenonmea starts to "explain" psi in terms of the mind playing tricks etc. It is much worse and much more psychologically damaging for a person who is having these experiences, who may be ostracized at school, or who may have family memebers who thinks she is either crazy or satanic. So when a person tells me they are having contact with spirits and they are getting veridical information and they exhibit no dysfucntions associated with mental illness, I have a lot of sympathy for them and consider people who should know better but deny the reality of spirits to be part of the problem not part of the solution. Society is not kind to people who are differnt and I think it is unfortunate that parapsychologists who ought to know that many anomolous phenomena are real, would deny that these people are experiencing what they say they are simply because they prefer to enhance the value of their own area of expertise by trying to explain other phenomena with psi.

I posted this quote from Philosopher Chris Carter previously and I must say I agree with it even more strongly now.


In my work I present the evidence that provides a prima facie case for survival; demonstrate that alternative explanations, to the extent that they are testable, have been proven false; and then argue that to the extent these alternative explanations are not testable (such as elaborate fraud scenarios, or super-ESP) they are pseudo-scientific excuses for refusing to accept an otherwise straightforward inference from the evidence.

anonymous said...


Dean Radin said...
High-functioning psi shows up in lab experiments, but only rarely. I'm thinking mostly about the talented remote viewers who worked on the US government's StarGate program. There are plenty of books on that. Russell Targ's, Joe McMoneagle's, and Paul Smith's books describe some of it.


Here is a quote by Joe McMoneagle from his web site about the aftermath of his NDE.



JEFF: No kidding -- is this something that other people who have gone through NDE's have reported or that you've read about --

JOE: No, I think it probably happens with many of them and they just don't talk about that phase.

JEFF: Oh. How interesting.

JOE: One of the things that does occur somewhere in that six month period, you reach a bottom point in that depression where you suddenly realize that, well since you know that consciousness continues, and you don't really cease to exist as an individual, there's no real reason to be depressed about where you are. It sort of gives you a freedom to play. And by play I mean, be able to make decisions now based on how you actually feel things should be, versus based on fear. Which is a very relieving kind of --



Joe is highly knowledgeable about high-functioning psi. As someone who has often experienced high-functioning psi and has also experienced an NDE, he thinks NDEs demonstrate that consciousness continues and you don't cease to exist.

Considering this quote from Joe McMoneagle do you still think high-functioning psi can explain NDEs

Also, which of the two hypotheses do you think is a better explanation of the data: a) Mind requires matter for its existence or b) Mind does not require matter for its existence?


Thanks

Simon Fraser said...

The thing is, anonymous. Personality survival is actually rather inconsistent. Take this, before you were born, where were "you?" Where was "I" Note this does not mean there was "nothing" If consciousness is fundamental then there was always something present. However our personalities seem to be closely tied to our brains. So when we shuffle off, I doubt personality will continue. I stress again, if consciousness is fundamental, something may well continue, some sort of awareness, or returning to some sort of universal field. (again just conjecture) but not our personality. It seems to ego centric to think that, and as I have said before, meditation and ingestion of psychedelics seem to show how the self and ego is illusory.

To Dr Radin. You say ingestion of psychedelics improve psi ability. If this is so, it would be a fascinating hypothesis to test, however our respective governments have a pathetically arcane view on certain drugs, so I doubt much can be done about this at the moment.

Dean Radin said...

> Considering this quote from Joe McMoneagle do you still think high-functioning psi can explain NDEs?

Yes. I don't doubt Joe's experience, but the crux of the matter is how to interpret it. Subjective experience, especially when reduced into expressible language, is a mental construction. We never perceive the world directly, except perhaps in a mystical state. But then that is not expressible.

> Also, which of the two hypotheses do you think is a better explanation of the data: a) Mind requires matter for its existence or b) Mind does not require matter for its existence?

I don't think a simple binary choice gives an accurate answer. I think it is more likely that mind and matter are two sides of the same coin. I.e., both emerge out of "something else," perhaps pure awareness, or consciousness. From this perspective mind cannot be independent of matter, and vice versa.


Dean Radin said...

> I have been there at a Spiritualist church service where a greiving mother has been given relief ...

There's no question that the belief that a loved one has survived death is of enormous value in comforting the grieving. I have no problem with that.

Nor do I have a problem if a religious person claims that in some exalted state she saw and spoke to Jesus. The same goes for someone who claims that he was abducted by aliens. The question of interest to me is not only what psychological value such experiences may have, but how to interpret them. Maybe the experiences were literally true and accurately reflected what happened in a way that was independently verifiable by others. Maybe not.

> I think it is unfortunate that parapsychologists who ought to know that many anomolous phenomena are real, would deny that these people are experiencing what they say they are simply because they prefer to enhance the value of their own area of expertise by trying to explain other phenomena with psi.

"Prefer to enhance ..."? All I've said is that I'm not persuaded by the existing evidence that literal survival of human personality is the only possible explanation for such experiences. Subjective experience is the only way anyone can ever know anything. From a first person perspective it is always "real." But experiences are not always what they seem to be.

I think we will have to agree to disagree on
this topic. I look forward to someone coming up with a testable way to clearly and unambiguously distinguish between psi in the living vs. survival in the dead.

Sandstone said...

Anonymous, I have to support Dean on this one. I'm an NDEr, and I have experiences which have left me convinced that survival of consciousness is possible. But I would never state that such a belief can be convincingly supported by our current scientific understanding of such things. A much better case can be made for Psi, and as Dean as mentioned, it's difficult to distinguish Survival from Psi.

I don't think Dean is being arrogant, condescending, or wrong-headed about his approach here. He isn't stating that NDErs are delusional, dishonest or stupid. He is just stating that more evidence is needed and that better tests need to be devised. I agree with him on that. He's just being scientific.

anonymous said...

Sandy,

The issue as I see it is not scientific proof but what is the best explanation for the evidence.

Sandy wrote: I'm an NDEr, and I have experiences which have left me convinced that survival of consciousness is possible

Why shouldn't a parapsychologist take your opinion into account when he considers what is the best hypothesis to explain the phenomenon?

I initially asked Dean why he thinks mind is dependent on matter. He brought up several types of afterlife phenomena including NDEs and implied they can be explained by psi. I picked NDEs upon which to focus the discussion. Below I discuss the NDEs as well as the other afterlife phenomena.

My opinion is that survival of consciousness is a better explanation of afterlife phenomena than psi.

Dean wrote: The bottom line of my argument was that the primary anomalies associated with NDEs are reports of veridical perceptions that could not have been known or inferred from the perspective of the patient.

It is my opinion that if anyone thinks veridical perceptions are the primary anomaly of a phenomenon where dead people are conscious, then he does not fully understands the phenomenon. I'm pretty sure the main NDE researchers van Lommel, Parnia, et. al. will agree with me,

I think parapsychologists are aware that mediums produce veridical information too. Mediums live with the phenomena every day. They know all the little details that don't get published in journals. They are the experts on afterlife phenomenon and many forms of psi. Parapsychologists ought to consider the opinion of experts when they decide the hypothesis they think is the best explanation for the evidence.

The vast majority of NDErs say their experiences are real too. They were there. Who could know better whether it was a real experience or not? Why should this expert information be ignored?

Dean accepts that "awareness" is at the root of the physical universe. The founders of quantum mechanics, Max Planck, Erwin Schrödinger did not call it awareness, they called it consciousness, mind, spirit.

The physical laws of the universe are so fine tuned to support life that it cannot be due to chance. Mainstream scientists agree with this, which is why they had to invent multiverse theories. However those multiverse theories require fine tuning of their own. The "awareness" at the root of the physical universe is capable of design. It is more than awareness, it is a mind.

There are multiple independent forms of evidence for the afterlife, children who remember past lives (not children who say they have clairvoyant visions of past lives), shared death-bed visions, shared NDE's, multiple witness apparitions, proxy sittings, drop-in communicators, cross correspondencdes, etc.

(continued ...)

anonymous said...

(.... Sandy continued)

If you already believe that awareness is at the root of the physical universe upon what grounds do you base the need to explain all this prima facie evidence for survival as actually due to psi?

Consider the following 1) the fine tuning of the universe or multiverse, 2) the veridical information from afterlife phenomena, particularly drop-in communicators and cross-correspondences 3) NDEs where a person is conscious when they are dead, and 4) the opinions of people with the highest expertise in the phenomena, NDE researchers, mediums, children who remember past lives, experiencrs like Joe McMoneagle an expert psychic who had and NDE, Eben Alexander a neurosurgeon who had and NDE, and researchers who have specialized in analyzing the evidence for afterlife phenomena such as Chris Carter who (calls super-psi pseudo-science) and the founders of quantum mechanics. (Science is not a licensed profession. It is arrogant to assume that only scientists are able to discern the truth. It is arrogant to tell NDErs and mediums that you know better than they do whether their experiences are real or not.)

The best hypothesis to explain all this data is that consciousness can exist independently of matter.

To come to any other conclusion requires ignoring part of the evidence and the opinions of the best qualified experts. That could occur in someone suffering from a perceptual bias.

anonymous said...

Sandy,

Here is more evidence that is better explained by survival than psi:

Spirits have to learn to communicate through certain forms of mediumship and some spirits are better learners than others.

Other characteristics of spirit communication vary with the spirit not the medium or the sitters. Some spirits are good communicators others are not. Spirits are often confused a few days just after death. Some spirits are better at communicating names. Stray thoughts from the spirit (not the medium or the sitter) sometimes leak through into the communication.

Guy Lyon Playfair, William Roll, and Ian Stevenson all thought some poltergeist phenomenon were caused by spirits. They knew about unconscious PK but they found it was not the best explanation in cases where the phenomenon did not depend on the presence of any one individual.

All of this can be explained with some contrived hypothesis that involves psi, but if you already accept awareness is at the root of the universe, what grounds do you have to favor psi over survival for this evidence that at face value suggests psi?

If readers click through my second link they should be able to get to the original report in the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research. But if you would prefer to ignore the scientific evidence for survival of consciousness after death ... you can do that too.

Dean Radin said...

> where dead people are conscious ...

No. 100% of the evidence comes from people who were near death or from the living (through e.g. mediums).

> Why should this expert information be ignored?

I don't know how many times I need to say this, so I'll say it just once more: Nothing is ignored.

However, what you seem to be ignoring is that in my considered opinion the jury is out and survival is just one of several possible interpretations.

If you prefer another interpretation, that's fine.

anonymous said...

Sandy,

You know NDEs are real experiences of the afterlife.

You also know that if an NDEr is told her experience isn't real it can be harmful to her.

You also know that Dean published an article in a medical journal that is saying NDEs are not real.

Aren't your concerned about the harm this might do?

Why aren't you trying to figure out some way to communicate what you know in a way the Dean can understand. That is all I am trying to do.

You know what harm it does when people tell mediums that their experiences are not real.

The video at the top of this post shows a diagram with mind being dependent on matter. I assume it's from Dean's book. Dean is selling a book with information that you know is false and you know the information can be harmful to people who know from their own experience that it is not true.

So why aren't you trying to figure out some way to communicate to Dean what you know in a way he can understand? That is all I am trying to do.

Remember in the old days when we used to say "Ignorance is not an excuse for bigotry, it is a cause of bigotry". That sentiment is still true, and we should still work together to stamp out bigotry where ever we find it.

Dean Radin said...

> You also know that Dean published an article in a medical journal that is saying NDEs are not real.

I said no such thing. I'm simply questioning how to best interpret these experiences. You appear to have an emotional need that others have to accept your opinion as the one and only truth. That's your prerogative, but I don't have to buy it.

And now that you've resorted to veiled name-calling, you've crossed the line of civil discourse and I will no longer post your comments.

Sandstone said...

Anonymous, I think you are mischaracterizing Dean's position here. I'm personally very grateful that there are open minded scientists like Dr Radin who are involved in studying issues of consciousness and survival.

When I was first trying to come to terms with my experiences, Entangled Minds was the first really helpful book I came across. I cried when I read it, and then I re-read it several more times before I had to return it to the library. It made a big difference in my life. I needed to know there were real scientists studying these topics, and that book gave me a great deal of comfort. I wasn't looking for a new-age book on sweetness and light. I needed science. Dr Radin provided that.

Anyway, I think you've been unfair to Dr Radin, anonymous.

Wendy Zammit said...

from Victor Zammit www.victorzammit.com I may be a little late responding to Dr Dean Radin's highly provocative NDE/clairvoyance claim. I give 14 different reasons why in essence NDE's are not the same or could not be the same as clairvoyance. My COMMENTARY this week is inter alia, that reductionist scientists may not have the knowledge to fully understand what technically constitutes admissibility of evidence when presenting the arguemtnt for NDE's see www.victorzammit.com

Nishant Berry said...

Dean Radin: " mind and matter are two sides of the same coin. I.e., both emerge out of "something else," perhaps pure awareness, or consciousness. From this perspective mind cannot be independent of matter, and vice versa."



- The paradox of mind-matter disappears if we understand that energy itself appears to be conscious. Once this point is understood, it easily explains every facet of existence without bringing in forced or artificial concepts of having nonliving energy/matter producing sentience.


Mind could be termed as finer conscious energy or an aspect of energy that vibrates at a frequency that exceeds that of grosser energy levels.



In 1900, Dr J C Bose, using a kind of cardiographic detector called crescograph demonstrated that matter is conscious - he hooked his experimental setup to metals, plants, animals and human beings and subjected each of these to the same set of external stimuli and on studying the responses on his recording device he saw the same pattern of responses in each of the entities with amplification of the magnitude in progressing up the natural gradation from metal to plant-life to animals and to human beings.