Friday, May 09, 2014

Is the mind/body a machine?

From iai tv A discussion with Rupert Sheldrake, Colin Blakemore, and Joanna Kavenna.


Simon Fraser said...

Wow, I think Rupert struck a nerve with Daniel Dennet there

alexandersalamander said...

It is good to see Rupert Sheldrake debate with some of the top persons.

He handles it with grace.

Nishant Berry said...

If the body is a mere machine then shouldn't it be possible to fabricate a living being from scratch in the lab, revive a corpse, extract mind from the brain, engineer a consciousness transplant from say a worm into a rat or vice versa, store emotions in a recording device and make accurate predictions about the events in a person's life?

Obviously, none of this can be done nor will it ever be done despite tall claims from our so-called experts going by the title of "scientists".

Julio Siqueira said...

At least as back in the past as year 2000, I have considered scientific theories to be metaphors of reality. This debate was very interesting in that regard. And it seems that this topic is, surprisingly enough, so dangerous to the scientific status quo that the debaters (and audience) had to go to tents in the Afghanistan outback to be allowed to discuss it... :-)

DrCavemanPhd said...

"Is the Mind a Machine?"

The cleverest answer I've seen to that question was from Sir Roger Penrose, in his simple argument that 'consciousness' does not rise from a computable algorithm that could run inside a Turing machine. Therefore the Mind is not a machine.
See 'The Shadow of the Mind' for example.

But I wonder Mr. Dean, given the proximity of Penrose's possible interpretation of a Mind rooted in a small quantum scale of the Universe, he certainly has read your paper on the double slit experiment. What were his feedback?

Nishant Berry said...

How does a TURING TEST determine whether an entity is conscious or not through its rather simplistic evaluation of the interaction of a dual system of say a human being and a zombie when despite the presence or absence of a response from one or from both it cannot account for qualia of either? Both entities are conscious in their own unique way. Well, besides, a sewer rat, despite being conscious, will certainly not pass such an ill-devised test since it cannot talk or communicate its feelings to me nor does it relate to the human grade of actions, reactions and feelings. Turing Test cannot account for sentience. Mirror Test is also riddled with loopholes. How about a blind man taking the Mirror test and failing it? Life forms are far more complex than input symbols (0,1).

Nishant Berry said...


The Orch OR model of the noncomputable/non-algorithmic nature of consciousness is simply a finding that establishes a relationship between microtubules and EEG and it has in no way provided evidence of the origin of consciousness in the brain.

Quantum effects at the microtubule level could be the symmetry breaking point at which consciousness manifests from the energy field pervading the sub-neuronal network.

On the other hand, Roderick G. Eckenhoff, MD, at U Penn suggests that anesthesia, which selectively "erases" consciousness while sparing non-conscious brain activities, acts via microtubules in brain neurons.

This neurological explanation makes consciousness just a material property of matter that can be switched on or off by drugs when however the evidence suggests otherwise.

What is missed in the analysis of looking at the subjective states from outside of the system is that during anesthesia consciousness is not erased as naively suggested and that after the patient revives he or she if put under skillful hypnosis by a trained expert can recall every detail of qualia experienced during the "blanked out" state and details even of the surgical operation itself can be consciously recalled much like a person who remembers minute details of the events taking around him while he enters a NDE state which he narrates with great accuracy after the cessation of the NDE.

Consciousness is not as easy to explain using QM or neuronal models as the scientists think it is otherwise it would have been a done task by now of synthesizing life from scratch or of reviving a corpse or of storing consciousness in a recording device or transferring consciousness from one organism to another.

What is being theorized or indirectly observed is the effect of consciousness at work in matter, while consciousness itself remains beyond the reach of all theories and inferences and is native to energy just as say the capacity to do work is thereby making energy conscious.

DrCavemanPhd said...

Nishant, It's not so much the microtubule story that is interesting in Penrose's books, it's more the link that he makes between non-computability and awareness/understanding/ consciousness.

Asking: 'is the Mind a machine?' is equivalent to ask: 'can machines have a mind?', or said otherwise 'can we program a Turing machine to produce consciousness?'
If yes, then The Mind is indeed a machine. But Penrose said NO, using Gödel's incompleteness theorem.
Also, if the Mind was a machine, we couldn't even ask the question.
Let's say we have a hidden subject: man or machine, 'we' (the human with a mind) don't know. We ask questions until we figure out if the subject is indeed a machine or a man.
If we can't figure out even after an infinite time of questioning, if the subject is indeed a Man or a Machine, then there is no way for ourselves to be sure that we are NOT a machine.

Regarding the source of non-computability, the quantum states reduction in microtubules, hmmm. Here it is really speculation in my opinion. I read sci-fi stories that tell the existence of a few atom of xenon, trapped somewhere in our brains, whose quantum states could do pretty much the microtubule jobs.
Actually, there are most likely thousands of atoms of Xenon in our brain cells, along with a few atoms of Gold, Uranium etc., which may or may not have anything to do with consciousness beside laying just there. But how Penrose knows that it is not these atoms that provide the 'Objective Reduction' rather than the microtubules? I am not sure why.

DrCavemanPhd said...

Nishant, I am not very qualified to cooment on all the points you made, but I will however add something:

We have to notice that IF the Mind is a Machine (using finite numbers of regression and self reference algorithms, etc. ), the program who produces it is a 'learning program' encoded in a ridiculously small number of instructions: i.e., 3 billions nucleotides are all what it takes to produce a brain of 100 billions interconnected neurons that can learn and be selfaware.
Assuming 1 nucleotides = 1 instruction, this gives a threshold of algorithmic complexity required to produce consciousness: at most 3 billions 'biological bits of information'. I say at most because only part of these 3 billions bits are dedicated to make a brain with self learning capabilities, not even mentioning the junk DNA.
Nonetheless the bottom line is there: 3 billions bits max and you have consciousness. This is inescapable.
And since there are now computer programs running millions of lines of code, we are just a few step away from coding an 'Artificial consciousness', so we should know very soon IF the Mind is a machine...

Well, I should have mentioned 'Algorithmic Depth': the minimum time necessary to run a program that produces the output: a program that produces consciousness. Here again we are provided with a threshold. Life/Biological Evolution made it in 3.8 billion years. So as an experiment, we could just let an initial program evolve 'in silico'. The previous algorithmic depth of 3.8billion years is already embedded into the making of a modern computer so it's not gonna take another 3.8 billion years, hopefully, to produce artificial consciousness.

Simon Fraser said...

Hi Dr Radin. I've been looking at the global consciousness project, and one argument I often see levelled at it is that it apparently wasn't independently replicable or the effects were due to cherry picking. I'm guessing this is nonsense.

Dean Radin said...

> I'm guessing this is nonsense.

Your guess is correct.

The GCP new website ( has an enormous amount of information about the project. The following page in particular describes the scientific background and design:

Cherry picking and/or data snooping does not take place in the formal hypothesis testing. There are a number of exploratory analyses, but those are clearly labeled as such.

The jury is out regarding independent replication of the GCP, but for a very simple reason: There aren't any other projects like this. However, conceptual replication for smaller scale events has been achieved and documented in many publications.

Simon Fraser said...

"However, conceptual replication for smaller scale events has been achieved and documented in many publications."

Well then the implications from this are surely profound regarding the nature of consciousness. There is no way to get around it. I would argue therefore, that it suggests that consciousness is perhaps way more fundamental than we think, which kind of makes one's head hurt.

Dean Radin said...

> it suggests that consciousness is perhaps way more fundamental than we think, which kind of makes one's head hurt.

Indeed, which is why it tends to be uncritically dismissed or ignored. While there are several interpretations of what might be going on, ranging from consciousness as a field to experimenter-mediated psi, with a 7+ sigma outcome so far it is crystal clear that this outcome is not due to dumb luck or to improper design. Something interesting is going on.

By the way, an independent analysis of the GCP data, by physicist Peter Bancel, confirmed that overall the design and statistical conclusions of this experiment are sound.

Blissentia said...

Regarding small scale replication and independent analysis, google didn't help me much, could you post the sources. If you have the source regarding 7 sigma, that would also be appreciated.

Also, I obtained all rebuttals of criticisms of Schmidt, and rebuttal to Hansen's critique of PEAR, and some counters to the conclusions of the 2006 Bosch meta-analysis. Are there any other documents specifically rebutting attacks on PEAR design and conclusions?

Simon Fraser said...

"Indeed, which is why it tends to be uncritically dismissed or ignored."

I suspect it is dismissed because it feels deeply counterintuitive to us living the 'global north' I know it does to me. But I believe, as you have argued, that in most countries outside the western style liberal democracies, fundamental consciousness is taken for granted.

Dean Radin said...

> could you post the sources. If you have the source regarding 7 sigma, that would also be appreciated.

See this page:

For some relevant citations:

Assimakis, P. D., & Dillbeck, M. C. (1995). Time series analysis of improved quality of life in Canada: Social change, collective consciousness, and the TM-Sidhi program. Psychological Reports, 76(3c), 1171-1193.
Bancel, P. (2011). Reply to May and Spottiswoode’s “The Global Consciousness Project: Identifying the Source of Psi”. A Publication of the Society for Scientific Exploration, 25(4), 690-694.
Bancel, P., & Nelson, R. (2008). The GCP event experiment: Design, analytical methods, results. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 22(3), 309-333.
Bierman, D. J. (1996). Exploring correlations between local emotional and global emotional events and the behavior of a random number generator. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 10(3), 363.
Blasband, R. A. (2000). The ordering of random events by emotional expression. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 14(2), 195-216.
Crawford, C. C., Jonas, W. B., Nelson, R., Wirkus, M., & Wirkus, M. (2003). Alterations in random event measures associated with a healing practice. The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 9(3), 345-353.
Dillbeck, M. C. (1990). Test of a field theory of consciousness and social change: Time series analysis of participation in the TM-Sidhi program and reduction of violent death in the US. Social Indicators Research, 22(4), 399-418.
Dillbeck, M. C., Banus, C. B., Polanzi, C., & Landrith, G. S. (1988). Test of a field model of consciousness and social change: The Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program and decreased urban crime. Journal of Mind and Behavior.
Dillbeck, M. C., Cavanaugh, K. L., Glenn, T., & Orme-Johnson, D. W. (1987). Consciousness as a field: The Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program and changes in social indicators. Journal of Mind and Behavior.
Dobyns, Y. H. (1993). Selection versus influence in remote REG anomalies. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 7(3), 259-269.
Dobyns, Y. H. (1996). Selection versus influence revisited: New method and conclusions. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 10(2), 253-267.
Dunne, B. J., & Jahn, R. G. (1992). Experiments in remote human/machine interaction. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 6(4), 311.

Dean Radin said...

More relevant citations ...

Hagel, J., & Tschapke, M. (2004). The Local Event Detector (LED): An experimental setup for an exploratory study of correlations between collective emotional events and random number sequences. Paper presented at the Proceedings of:'The Parapsychological Association 47th Annual Convention.
Hagelin, J. S. (1987). Is Consciousness the Unified Field?:(a Field Theorist's Perspective): Maharishi International University.
Hagelin, J. S., Rainforth, M. V., Cavanaugh, K. L., Alexander, C. N., Shatkin, S. F., Davies, J. L., . . . Orme-Johnson, D. W. (1999). Effects of group practice of the transcendental meditation program on preventing violent crime in Washington, DC: Results of the National Demonstration Project, June--July 1993. Social Indicators Research, 47(2), 153-201.
Hirukawa, T., & Ishikawa, M. (2004). Anomalous fluctuation of RNG data in Nebuta: Summer festival in Northeast Japan. Paper presented at the Proceedings of Presented Papers: The Parapsychological Association 47th Annual Convention.
Ivtzan, I. (2008). Meditation on consciousness. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 22(2), 147-160.
John, E. R. (2001). A field theory of consciousness. Consciousness and Cognition, 10(2), 184-213.
Mason, L. I., Patterson, R. P., & Radin, D. I. (2007). Exploratory Study: The random number generator and group meditation. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 21(2), 295-317.
May, E. C., & James P Spottiswoode, S. (2011). The Global Consciousness Project: Identifying the Source of Psi. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 25(4), 663.
May, E. C., & James P Spottiswoode, S. (2011). The Global Consciousness Project: Identifying the Source of Psi: A Response to Nelson and Bancel. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 25(4), 695.
May, E. C., & Spottiswoode, S. J. P. (2001). Global Consciousness Project: An independent analysis of the 11 September 2001 events: Laboratories for Fundamental Research.
Nelson, L. A., & Schwartz, G. E. (2006). Consciousness and the anomalous organization of random events: The role of absorption. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 20(4), 523-544.
Nelson, R. (2001). Correlation of global events with REG data: An Internet-based, nonlocal anomalies experiment. Journal of Parapsychology, 65(3), 247-272.
Nelson, R. (2011). Reply to May and Spottiswoode on Experimenter Effect as the Explanation for GCP Results. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 25(4), 683.
Nelson, R., & Bancel, P. (2011). Effects of mass consciousness: Changes in random data during global events. EXPLORE: The Journal of Science and Healing, 7(6), 373-383.

Dean Radin said...

More ...

Nelson, R., Boesch, H., Boller, E., Dobyns, Y., Houtkooper, J., Lettieri, A., Wesch, J. (1998). Global resonance of consciousness: Princess Diana and Mother Teresa. Electronic Journal Anomalous Phenomena.
Nelson, R., Dunne, B., Dobyns, Y., & Jahn, R. (1996). Precognitive remote perception: Replication of remote viewing. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 10(1), 109-110.
Nelson, R. D. (2002). Coherent consciousness and reduced randomness: Correlations on September 11, 2001. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 16(4), 549-570.
Nelson, R. D. (2008). The emotional nature of global consciousness. Paper presented at the Behind and Beyond the Brain. 7th Symposium of the Bial Foundation 2008. Emotions, Proceedings.
Nelson, R. D., Bradish, G. J., Dobyns, Y. H., Dunne, B. J., & Jahn, R. G. (1996). FieldREG anomalies in group situations. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 10(1), 111-141.
Nelson, R. D., Jahn, R. G., Dunne, B. J., Dobyns, Y. H., & Bradish, G. J. (1998). FieldREG II: Consciousness field effects: Replications and explorations. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 12(3), 425-454.
Nelson, R. D., Radin, D., Shoup, R., & Bancel, P. (2002). Correlations of continuous random data with major world events. Foundations of Physics Letters, 15(6), 537-550.
Orme-Johnson, D. W., Dillbeck, M. C., & Alexander, C. N. (2003). Preventing terrorism and international conflict: effects of large assemblies of participants in the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi programs. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 36(1-4), 283-302.
Orme-Johnson, D. W., & Oates, R. M. (2009). A field-theoretic view of consciousness: reply to critics. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 23(2), 139.

Dean Radin said...

More still ...

Radin, D. (2002). Exploring relationships between random physical events and mass human attention: Asking for whom the bell tolls. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 16(4), 533-547.
Radin, D., & Atwater, F. H. (2009). Exploratory evidence for correlations between entrained mental coherence and random physical systems. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 23(3), 263-272.
Radin, D. I., Rebman, J. M., & Cross, M. P. (1996). Anomalous organization of random events by group consciousness: Two exploratory experiments. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 10(1), 143.
Rowe, W. D. (1998). Physical measurements of episodes of focused group energy. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 12(4), 569-581.
Scargle, J. D. (2002). Was there evidence of global consciousness on September 11, 2001? Journal of Scientific Exploration, 16(4), 571-577.
Schwartz, G., Russek, L., She, Z.-S., Song, L., & Xin, Y. (1997). Anomalous organization of random events during an international qigong meeting.: Evidence for Group Consciousness or Accumulated Qi Fields? Subtle Energies & Energy Medicine Journal Archives, 8(1).
Shimizu, T., & Ishikawa, M. (2010). Field RNG data analysis, based on viewing the Japanese movie Departures (Okuribito). Journal of Scientific Exploration, 24(4), 637.
Shimizu, T., & Ishikawa, M. (2012). Audience Size Effects in Field RNG Experiments: The Case of Japanese Professional Baseball Games. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 26(3), 551.
Yoichi, H., Kokubo, H., Haraguchi, S., & Yamamoto, M. (2002). Anomaly of Random Number Generator Outputs-Cumulative Deviation at a Meeting and New Year's Holiday. JOURNAL-INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF LIFE INFORMATION SCIENCE, 20(1), 195-201.

Simon Fraser said...

An article I thought I would bring your attention. It's absolutely incredible, is the guy even a scientist? Because it seems he's just a journalist. This is becoming a real pet peeve of mine, how skeptics who dismiss this have no scientific qualifications yet are given an influential platform to 'debunk' stuff.

Dean Radin said...

What would you expect for an article appearing in a magazine devoted to so-called skepticism?

Simon Fraser said...

"Indeed, which is why it tends to be uncritically dismissed or ignored. While there are several interpretations of what might be going on, ranging from consciousness as a field to experimenter-mediated psi, with a 7+ sigma outcome so far it is crystal clear that this outcome is not due to dumb luck or to improper design. Something interesting is going on."

If I recall, many mind matter experiments on RNGs and the Double Slit machine (apologies for butchering the term) were conducted in shielded chambers. So how could it be a field. Might it not instead imply that mind is somehow inherent in all matter, a kind of panpsychism?

Julio Siqueira said...

I came across this interesting piece of information described in the url below:

It might have some relevance to attempts at theorizing about psi...

IreneSoldatos said...

From this article, posted by Julio :

'“I thought it was way too weird to have any basis in reality,” said Chris Greene, a physicist at Purdue University who studies “few-body” quantum systems, which consist of only a few particles.'

Yeees. 'Cause quantum mechanics itself is not weird at all! If we just leave aside Efimov trimers it makes perfect sense! The 'peculiar quantum property of [particles] being able to collide when they are far apart, beyond the range of the force between them–a situation analogous to Earth ricocheting off a distant star whose gravity it does not feel', for example. The epitome of common sense, that is! As is everything else to do with quantum mechanics.

Simon Fraser said...

A fascinating article in New Scientist about an apparent consciousness on/off switch in the human brain. However, I feel they rather exaggerate the findings, as one of the scientists who looked into the experiment stated that the person was "awake" during the process, and high levels of synchronised brain activity was discovered.

Nishant Berry said...



1) QM is unreliable when it comes to predicting the outcomes of events of multiple particle systems and so it cannot be taken very seriously. Even when dealing with a single or a double electron system the explanations put forward appear more an attempt of the observer attempting to foist his own pet explanations on why the system behaves the way it does and the system amazingly conforms to such surmises of the scientists involved, while OTOH a mystic can see the same system in a totally different way as comprising a fluid concentrate of various pulses of energy that appear to configure the system in a particular way which stays constant or unchanging in the absence of the emergence in the system of the deeper causal mechanisms that could be more fundamental than the quantum laws or in the absence of an infusion of a dose of directed energy into the concerned system that comes about via the conscious will of a person from his own fund of sentient energies that can possibly alter the expected outcome.

2) Besides, in view of the above and on account of other explanations that subsequently follow in this missive, it does appear that there exist(s) a layer, or several of them, that is/are more fundamental to existence than even the quantum level. These infra-QM layers could be the planes or the realms where intelligent principles inherent in energy fields gradually emerge as a set of differing frequencies in manifest form from a state of involution by a series of interactions among the energy waves of the system acting at these subtle levels.

3) At higher levels of material organization like say in the animal neural networks the inherent intelligent principles in the pulsating energy fields get even more self-expressed and become self-aware in higher entities like humans whose brains are complex enough to exhibit the higher degrees of the emergent consciousness imbued with intelligent properties.

4) Supported by a growing body of logical/empirical evidence, it would not be out of context to say that a powerful mind can manipulate bodily processes like say in the case of self-healing of morbid psychological, emotional or bodily conditions or in the case of distance healing or being able to influence events at a distance if the power of concentration is potent enough or the case of remote viewing that intel agencies have sufficient evidence of or the medically confirmed experiences that accrue during OBEs and NDEs which provide those human subjects with nonlocal or premonitory or omnijective experiences of the subject merging with the object kind with these OBE/NDE experiences constituting phenomena of altered states of existence with the indwelling sentient energy field in the brain outgrowing its limitations while at the same time the gross body machinery enters a state of catalepsy or corroborated cases of reincarnation or the case of premonitory dreams that fulfill themselves in amazing detail at a later date among other uncanny happenings that standard physico-chemical models fail to explain.
All of this points towards the nonlocality of intelligent energy radiating from the brain and conversely being acted upon by sentient fields radiating from other human bodies indicates that the brain aside from the being the bodily instrument that houses the indwelling human consciousness that emerges in it as explained above also serves as a receiving station for incoming sentient energies.


Nishant Berry said...


5) Science is at a loss to explain/execute these - origin of life, failure to synthesis life from scratch, inability to revive a dead organism, inability to explain intent and qualia as seen in the case of Anna baking a pie which the scientist can chemically analyse but cannot say why she baked it or how the pie tasted to the persons she served it. Other failures of science pertain to dubious theories put forward to explain the fine tuning of the universe at the macro/micro levels - this question of fine tuning is another great puzzle that cannot be solved using illogical and unobserved and unverified multiverse models and even if true that our universe is one out of the several hundreds of billions of universes of different spatio-temporal dimensions that manifest from the so-called vacuum state with somehow the fine tuning falling in place in just our universe due to all the essential physical constants being bunched neatly together that as a result displays remarkable order and capacity to develop life indicates the law of probability at work but nevertheless such vague models cannot tell us why the fundamental physical constants exist or how they came into existence or how did they get digitilized in such precise ways.

6) Order and precision and intent/purpose at any level of existence or of organization indicate an innate intelligent principle at work in an energy system. This is the only sane conclusion that a thinking individual can draw in the absence of credible scientific explanations that fail to account for the origin of the universe(s), fine tuning, phenomenon of life, origin of life and sentient phenomena like premonitory drams coming true, verified cases of reincarnation, remote viewing, heightened insights gained into the workings of the mind-matter matrix during OBE/NDE, telepathy and others that defy the laws of gross matter. Till today, we only know what energy can do not what it is as basic substance. As for how intelligence emerges in energy fields, none can say why this is so.