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What Can We Really Know About The External World?

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This is the third in an occasional series on “deep science,” a rational way of reconciling scientific method with the human need to find meaning and purpose. See the entire series HERE.

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Science has been a very powerful tool for our collective co-creation of the external world. There is, however, obviously no complete consensus on the nature of the external world and our relationship to it as human beings, and we can rest assured that there never will be. That’s a good thing. Science isn’t about absolute truth, and nor is the “deep science” I’m fleshing out in this series of essays.

Rather, science (deep or conventional) is an asymptotic process of discovery that hopefully gets ever closer to truth over time. That process is surely not linear, however, and we’ve seen with the history of science many mis-steps and culdesacs.

We’ll never actually know how close we are to truth because we’ll never know the extent of what we don’t know, the extent to which we are on a local peak when there is in fact a much larger peak off in the distance that we can’t even see from our local peak. This gives me comfort because I like the promise of eternal mystery, of eternal discovery and eternal creation of new solutions for old conundrums.

In addition to the tools of modern science, spiritual techniques can be helpful tools in plumbing the depths of our single domain of experience. Spiritual pursuits, under this formulation, constitute those activities that examine the parts of our single domain of experience that we spatialize as being “in here” (that is, in our heads) as opposed to “out there” in the external world. (See Part II for more on the “single domain of experience” that is all each of us knows about the world directly). As we saw in Part II, however, there is no firm line between “in here” and “out there” because all of our experience is given to us in the same field of experience and we add spatial coordinates after the fact.

Space Is Inferred From Our Experience

Continuing our examination of what we know and how we know it, let’s look deeper into how we turn the raw data of our senses into an entire world. This is part of my attempt to build a firm foundation for individual and collective knowledge in the spirit of Descartes, Kant, Buddha and many other philosophers.

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When we think about it, we realize that there is no space inherent in our domain of experience. Space is inferred. What I mean by this is that our mapping of the contents of our experience is itself a process of inferring space, based on the simple fact that all contents of our experience are innately not close or far, they simply arise in our experience without any built-in spatial coordinates. Experience itself is inherently dimensionless: it’s just there all at once.

tambookMy experience of what I generally think of as, let’s say, pain from a headache, which seems very much “in here,” is no closer spatially in my field of experience, than my sensory experience of my computer screen in front of me, or of my experience of the moon or stars on a starry night. All of these experiences seem to be presented to me, the center of experience, as a unified set of experiences in each moment. This set of experiences changes in each moment, and this constitutes the stream of consciousness. But there is no innate spatial difference between my experience of my headache and my experience of a starry night. Space is inferred through our ongoing process of creating a model of the world in our own heads in each moment.

Just as the external world is inferred from our sensory experience, so is the reality of our bodies inferred. I don’t disagree with common sense that we very likely do have bodies. But this likelihood is entirely inferred. Again, the only thing we know with certainty is the existence of our own experience in each moment to moment to moment. We could be brains in a vat, connected to sophisticated virtual reality displays. Are we really brains in a vat? This is unlikely, but we can’t rule it out as a possibility. And deep science is all about being careful and methodical in what we think we know about ourselves and the world.

I do not agree, however, with the Idealist (Western or Eastern) suggestion that “reality is all in our heads.” All we know of reality is, by definition, in our heads (or at least localized in our heads), but reality itself is very likely not all in our heads. Science is all about using the evidence of our senses, and the enhanced evidence made possible by various scientific instruments, to probe the details of the inferred world outside of each of us as individuals.

My reason for stressing this point is that we need, in crafting a robust deep science, to be extremely careful in our approach to knowledge. We need to follow Descartes’ lead on this key point but be even more careful than he was. Only through such careful construction of the foundations of our knowledge can we have confidence in our inferred conclusions. Figure 1 attempts to illustrate some of my points here visually.

Figure 1. The single domain of experience and various sub-aspects of experience.

Single domain of experience diagram

We may revise this diagram to show the more conventional view of reality as proceeding from our mental realm out beyond the confines of our body into the universe more broadly, with space inferred from our direct sensory experience.

Figure 2. Space is inferred as our experience is arranged into a three-dimensional world.

Space is inferred

Figure 1 attempts to show how different experiences arise in the single domain of experience: they just pop up here and there and we have no idea why or how. Figure 2 shows how our minds organize the various experiences that arise into a world divided, most fundamentally, into the world “out there” and the world “in here” (that is, in our heads). This division has a lot to commend it because it sure seems like there is an important boundary between our heads and various senses and the world that seems to exist inside those windows to the world. However, the careful first-person approach I’ve outlined here shows that there is no innate division between our individual experiences, in terms of outside and inside. It’s all “inside” in terms of the fundamental experience that makes up our consciousness. Our experiences, once they arise, are then automatically assigned the spatial coordinates of either “in here” or “out there” by the evolved ability of our mind to create a model of the world that has helped us to survive over the eons of our species’ evolution. This spatialization is largely a subconscious process.

“Substantially-overlapping Magisteria”

We’re now back full circle to the idea that a Deep Science can provide an integration of the traditional concerns of science and religion. So rather than ceding to science everything that was traditionally covered by religion and spirituality, and then denying the validity of those very topics essential to religion and spirituality – an approach that constitutes the materialist’s preferred “integration” of science and spirit – the Deep Scientist recognizes the validity of the traditional inquiries native to religion and the importance of spiritual inquiries into the nature of our own minds. The answers to the various spiritual and religious inquires will be different than traditional religions provide, to be sure, but the inquiries themselves remain valid under this new framing.

The Deep Scientist recognizes the need for, and the validity of, asking ultimate questions about meaning. The Deep Scientist also recognizes the need to be rigorous and she agrees with a preference for falsifiability, the traditional modern criterion of gold standard science. The Deep Scientist thus recognizes that religion, science and philosophy are “substantially overlapping magisteria” that can fairly be thought of as different framings of a single underlying line of questions: who are we, what is the nature of the external world, and how do we fit within it?  Gould’s NOMA (discussed in my last column) becomes SOMA: Substantially-Overlapping Magisteria.

What About Alexander’s Visions Of Heaven?

In closing, let’s look back at Eben Alexander’s relaxation of the truth with respect to his coma and his experiences of a heaven-like reality, raised in my last column. Deep Science and today’s science agree with the need to corroborate his claims with evidence such as, for example, the testimony of his doctor who kept him in a medically-induced coma. Where Deep Science differs is that it won’t automatically dismiss the kinds of claims that Alexander makes, as many scientific types would today. There could be a heaven and there could be souls – even if both claims seem to be highly unlikely given what we know about the physical world and our own minds. As with all claims, however, the Deep Scientist will take the appropriate evidence in hand in order to assess such claims, viewing the reported experiences as an unusual but interesting part of the single domain of experience for one person. Deep Science will consider this first-person evidence in the context of everything else that we know about the universe, including other first-person testimony and our current understanding of the laws of nature (better described as “habits of nature,” but that’s a topic for a future essay).

The Deep Scientist truly interested in the validity of near-death experiences will interview and catalog these experiences where they are claimed and will, using the hard-nose of empirical inquiry, attempt to come to conclusions about what is really going on. “What is really going on” could, conceivably, be actual near-death experiences. We can be open to these possibilities without being so open that our brains fall out of our heads.  The key is to remain open to new evidence and new interpretations while still being rigorous in our reasoning.

Summing up, we’ve made some headway in developing a first-person science by stressing the need for corroboration of extraordinary claims, but not automatically dismissing first-person evidence. By conceptualizing reality for each of us as a single domain of experience, the deep science approach I’ve fleshed out here allows us to plumb the nature of our own minds and the nature of the external world with the same set of tools. And by getting our toolbox in order we can get to some pretty interesting insights, which we’ll explore in future installments.

______________________

Tam Hunt is a philosopher and lawyer based in Santa Barbara, CA, and Hilo, HI, and a visiting scholar at UC Santa Barbara.

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5 Real-World Examples of Time Travel That Prove It’s Real

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Time travel has been demonstrated in our world in multiple ways, but it's always been thought of as the stuff of science fiction. This article provides multiple real-world examples.

  • Reflect On:

    Humanity has made some interesting discoveries, and some of them we can't explain. As a result, we shy away from them and label unexplainable things as false as "pseudoscience." What are the implications of accepting these things as completely real?

Time travel is one of those fun topics that triggers visions of a young Michael J. Fox racing through time, literally, in the DeLorean, or Bill and Ted reliving famous moments in history thanks to their time-travelling phone booth. However, time travel isn’t just a movie plot line. It’s a real scientific phenomenon. Einstein’s theory of special relativity, after all, tells us that time slows down or speeds up depending on how fast you are moving relative to something else. So, we are all travelling through time on a daily basis. But it gets much spookier than that. Here are five real-world examples of time travel.

Astronauts

Time travellers are walking around on planet Earth right now. And they work for NASA! Astronauts who spend time on the International Space Station or long rocket trips out in our solar system age slightly slower than the rest of us down here. Not enough to notice, but enough to measure (100 years of time in space equals one-second forward in time). That means astronauts are not just space travellers, but time travellers, too. For those who believe that aliens are visiting planet Earth in speedy spaceships, the evidence for time travel could even extend to UFO videos and photos of advanced, inter-dimensional craft, because if Earth’s astronauts are able to travel through time, more advanced extraterrestrial astronauts should be able to as well.

Jack Kasher, Ph.D, a professor emeritus of physics at the University of Nebraska, points out that there is another way, whether it’s wormholes or warping space, there’s got to be a way to generate energy so that you can pull it out of the vacuum, and the fact that they’re here shows us that they found a way.” (source)

The Science Lab

Time travel was once just a math equation jotted down on a notepad, a conversation topic over coffee, or the center of a sci-fi movie plot. But today time travel is a serious scientific study. In one recent experiment, Washington State University physicists were able to slow down the movement of particles so much that “negative mass” was created, causing the particles to accelerate forward when they were pushed away. The physicists concluded that the particles went backward in time! As well, physicists at the University of Queensland in Australia were able to make a single photon, or particle of light, go through a wormhole and interact with its older self on the other side.

There is also what’s called the delayed choice experiment. the delayed choice experiment illustrates how what happens in the present can change what happens(ed) in the past. It also shows how time can go backwards, how cause and effect can be reversed, and how the future caused the past. You can read more about that here.

Remote Viewers and Psychics

Scientists have yet to find a way for the human body to safely travel through time, but they may have figured out a way for the human mind to travel through time. According to Wikipedia, remote viewing is “the practice of seeking impressions about a distant or unseen target” using extrasensory perception, or ESP. In 1984, under the top-secret cover of the Stargate Project, the CIA conducted an experiment where they asked a human subject to remote view Mars in ancient times. Ingo Swann, a famed psychic who was part of the Stargate Project, claimed to have astral projected to Jupiter.

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Here’s one of the most recent, heavily sources articles CE published on Remote Viewing.

Psychics are more well-known than remote viewers. They seem to be everywhere, and come in all varieties, from the TV show host to the fortune teller to your aunt. Some police departments even hire psychics to help locate missing bodies. Then there are revered psychics like Edgar Cayce and religious figures like Jesus Christ who have made bold and incredible predictions about the future that all came true.

Dreams That Come True

It’s possible that every time we drift off to sleep, we have the potential to drift off to a different time and space. At least in our minds. Many people relate to the experience of having a premonition in a dream, and in fact, many have gone on record about their foreshadowing dream (or nightmare). For example, Jo Jo Billingsley, a vocalist for the 1970s band Lynard Skynard, dreamed about her band mates suffering in a plane crash the night before it happened. There was also the case of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, who reportedly dreamed about his death a few nights before he was assassinated.

Here is a more detailed article we’ve written on precognitive dreaming. Here is another one on dream telepathy.

Remembering Past Lives

The belief in reincarnation is an ancient one. Along with reincarnation comes the belief in past lives. But for some, it’s much more than a belief. Some people remember their past lives, starting from a young age like Sam Taylor, who shared memories with his late grandfather, or more commonly, after a hypnotherapy session. If it’s possible for the human brain to view a past life and learn from past life experience, then maybe the human brain is the best time machine of all.

Because most of us can’t time travel, the subject matter continues to hang out in sci-fi books and movies and doesn’t factor into our day-to-day reality. However, if time travel is real, the implications for humanity are really great. Time travel could explain other mysterious phenomena, like ghosts, UFOs, and even the Mandela Effect. Time travel could also motivate mankind to open up its mind to a new universe of possibility, where the secrets of the future and past are revealed. It can be argued that it’s only a matter of time before humanity unlocks the secret powers of time travel.

The Takeaway

There is still a lot we don’t know, and a lot of our most interesting science is locked away within black budget programs.  We are capable of so much and still have so much to discover about our reality and ourselves. When the human race is ready and our intentions shift to looking at ourselves as a whole, perhaps then these ‘knowing’ will be ready to be utilized by the public.

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Scientists Receive Green Light To “Resurrect The Dead” Using Stem Cells

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Biotech company Bioquark has been given the green light to 'resurrect' the clinically dead using stem cells. They are attempting 'the reversal of death.'

  • Reflect On:

    How do you feel about this? Should we be trying to stay alive forever, in a sense? Do we, as a society, view death in a healthy manner? Should we know what happens at death? What are the implications of 'living forever?'

Death is a controversial subject in the medical field for many reasons. People rely on doctors to save them and their loved ones, but when fate has its way, the whole world can feel out of order. And while the death of a loved one may not feel final at first, we soon come to realize that, at least for the living who remain, it does mark an end.

That’s why it seems like a controversial yet incredible move for a US biotechnology company called Bioquark to have been given permission to recruit 20 clinically dead patients and attempt to bring their central nervous systems back to life. They hope to eliminate patients’ need to rely on machines by reanimating parts of the upper spinal cord, where the lower brain stem is located, to potentially energize vital body functions like breathing and heartbeats.

Trial participants will have been declared certified dead and kept alive solely through life support machines. “This represents the first trial of its kind and another step towards the eventual reversal of death in our lifetime,” said CEO of Bioquark Inc., Ira Pastor. The team, who was granted ethical permission from an Institutional Review Board at the National Institutes of Health in the US and India to begin trials on 20 subjects, is looking to recruit patients for its ReAnima Project as soon as possible.

The team will first complete a phase 1 trial, referred to as a non-randomized, proof-of-concept study. This will determine whether or not they are capable of reversing clinical brain death through drug administration, nerve stimulation, and laser therapy. They’ll also be looking at whether or not they can affect any changes in the meninges of the brain, layers of tissue located between the skull and the surface of the brain. Specifically, the team will be investigating improvements in the patients’ pulse, blood oxygen saturation, blood pressure, and respiration.

The team will first seek permission from the families of the clinically dead, and then will proceed to treat the 20 chosen individuals over a six-week period in Anupam Hospital in Rudrapur, India. These will then be monitored for several months, where the researchers will determine if any changes have been made. “We hope to see results within the first two to three months,” Pastor said.

To attempt to bring the patients back from the dead, Bioquark has administered four different types of treatments, which include:

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  • Injecting simple protein chains called peptides into the patients’ spinal cord on a daily basis.
  • Injecting stem cells into their brains twice weekly.
  • Using the non-invasive treatment called transcranial laser therapy to activate the body’s natural recovery processes.
  • Using another non-invasive technique called nerve stimulation, which involves delivering electrical impulses to the median nerve of the upper limb.

“To undertake such a complex initiative, we are combining biologic regenerative medicine tools with other existing medical devices typically used for stimulation of the central nervous system, in patients with other severe disorders of consciousness,” Pastor noted.

The researchers are hoping that, if they can get patients’ brains to work again, and since many clinically dead can retain certain functions, like processing waste, digesting nutrients, healing wounds, and growing and maturing, people will have the chance to regain some semblance of life. But for now, the team is just trying to take it one step at a time.

“It is a long-term vision of ours that a full recovery in such patients is a possibility, although that is not the focus of this first study – but it is a bridge to that eventuality,” Pastor said

And Sergei Pavlian, founder and president of Bioquark Inc., added:

Through our study, we will gain unique insights into the state of human brain death, which will have important connections to future therapeutic development for other severe disorders of consciousness, such as coma, and the vegetative and minimally conscious states, as well as a range of degenerative CNS conditions, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease,” said Sergei Paylian, the founder and chief science officer of Bioquark.

Check out the trial outline here.

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Scientists Publish A New Study Examining Humans’ Ability To Accurately Predict Future Events

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A new study outlines the scientific experiments under controlled conditions that have been conducted to see if precognition is actually real.

  • Reflect On:

    The implications of non-material science are huge, what would happen if mainstream academia accepted these results without any bias?

Precognition, is it real? If you examine the research that’s been published in this field, from peer-reviewed publications and controlled experiments, combined with the declassified literature from parapsychology programs from multiple governments around the world, the evidence for the ability of humans to accurately predict future events is overwhelming to the point where I am not sure why it would or could be considered ‘pseudoscience’. But given the current parameters of science, it’s understandable, and from this perspective, the evidence may not be ‘overwhelming,’ but you can decide that for yourself.

So what exactly is precognition? It’s essentially the ability to have a premonition of a future event that could not otherwise be anticipated through any known process.

The current parameters of science definitely need to be changed and adjusted, they allow for an observed phenomenon, although sometimes unexplainable, to be completely disregarded, no matter how many times it’s replicated or performed under controlled experiments. This is a result of scientific dogma, rules and laws of science that have been set in place and seem to stay there due to the fact that new concepts of reality simply disrupt belief systems. Take the concept of metaphysical realms for example, the implications and realizations of these realms, if confirmed, would result in a complete worldview paradigm shift and perhaps the disruption of multiple religious teachings. That being said, a lot of religion and ancient eastern philosophy does not argue against these realms but speak of them too.

“There seems to be a deep concern that the whole field will be tarnished by studying a phenomenon that is tainted by its association with superstition, spiritualism and magic. Protecting against this possibility sometimes seems more important than encouraging scientific exploration or protecting academic freedom. But this may be changing.”
 Cassandra Vieten, PhD and President/CEO at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (source)

When it comes to precognition, the new study recently published by scientists at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) examines multiple, scientifically controlled experiments that have yielded significant results. They examined multiple areas of research, multiple studies and meta-analysis showing how the scientific evidence for pre-cognition is measurable and continues to grow.

The authors are careful in their writing, pointing out the observed effects:

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If positive empirical evidence continues to accumulate, especially if the methodological recommendations suggested by ourselves and others are followed, then a time may come when we are forced to think the unthinkable. Indeed, the implications of retrocausation are so remote from engrained ways of thinking that the first reaction to this line of research is that it must be flawed. The second reaction may be horror that it represents a previously unaccepted fact about reality. (source)

The authors provide further studies within this one for the reader’s consideration, so be sure to check them out. But the above point is great, perhaps it is our fear of such confirmations that holds us back?

Another interesting concept discussed in the study is time, as you cannot really have a discussion about pre-cognition without the concept of time. When you think about pre-cognition, as with most parapsychological areas of study, you also have to consider quantum physics, because these two disciplines are deeply related to each other. Studies conducted over the years in quantum physics alone has shown how human intention, and other factors associated with consciousness, can and do interact with our physical material reality.

When we talk about future events, and time, if we look at matter on a quantum scale, future events are represented as a wave of possibilities, and don’t really manifest as physical matter until we, the observer, click it into existence with our own consciousness. In 2007 (Science 315, 966, 2007), scientists in France shot photons into an apparatus and showed that their actions could retroactively change something which had already happened.

“If we attempt to attribute an objective meaning to the quantum state of a single system, curious paradoxes appear: quantum effects mimic not only instantaneous action-at-a-distance, but also, as seen here, influence of future actions on past events, even after these events have been irrevocably recorded.” – Asher Peres, a pioneer in quantum information theory (source)(source)(source)

So, the concept of time, which is intertwined with the precognition phenomena, is very important to acknowledge, even if we can’t really understand it because it’s so puzzling. What happened in the past can change the future, and what happens in the future can change the past.

Apart from the scientific literature, I also mentioned the Department of Defence programs. Dr. Paul Smith, one of the army personnel involved in the STARGATE program writes in his book, The Essential Guide to Remote Viewing: The Secret Military Remote Perception Skill Anyone Can Learnabout an event where he was involved in successfully predicting future events for the Department of Defence. This was all part of the remote viewing program, which allows one person to perceive and describe the physical characteristics of a location when they are only given the location coordinates. It’s been used a number of times for intelligence collection, as shown by the declassified literature. In 2014, Smith also published a study in the journal of scientific exploration about stock market prediction using remote viewing. (Smith C. C., Laham D., Moddel J. (2014). Stock market prediction using associative remote viewing by inexperienced remote viewersJ. Sci. Explor28, 7–16). 

So, along with all of the scientifically controlled experiments, it’s also important to consider time, and all of the functions parapsychology has served, and mostly still do serve in the black budget world, especially when we are talking about pre-cognition. This area of government study is something that the peer-reviewed studies don’t really refer to much as a tool of evidence.

I also published an article a few years ago about a study (meta analysis) in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience titled “Predicting the unpredictable: critical analysis and practical implications of predictive anticipatory activity” which examined a number of experiments regarding this phenomenon that were conducted by several different laboratories.

These experiments indicate that the human body can actually detect randomly delivered stimuli that occur 1-10 seconds in advance. In other words, the human body seems to know of an event, and reacts to an event that has yet to occur. What occurs in the human body before these events are physiological changes that are measured regarding the cardiopulmonary, the skin, and the nervous system.

More than 40 experiments investigating this phenomenon in humans have been published over the past 36 years (including: Hartwell, 1978Radin et al., 19952011Bierman and Radin, 1997Radin, 19972004;Don et al., 1998Bierman, 2000Bierman and Scholte, 2002McDonough et al., 2002;Spottiswoode and May, 2003McCraty et al., 2004a,bSartori et al., 2004May et al., 2005;Tressoldi et al., 200520092011Radin and Borges, 2009Bradley et al., 2011). This is what promoted the meta-analysis.

The analysis concluded that:

“The predictive physiological anticipation of a truly randomly selected and thus unpredictable future event, has been under investigation for more than three decades, and a recent conservative meta-analysis suggests that the phenomenon is real.” 

Takeaway

Humans with ‘special abilities’ have been reported throughout history, here’s an example straight from the CIA’s electronic reading room. The point is, we can use these concepts to develop techniques to improve our lives, and the lives of all life on planet Earth. Perhaps we will one day be able to perceive future events that are not in humanities best interest and then take steps to change that potential future. I believe those who possess gifts for perceiving the future might be picking up on potential timelines, sort of like the wave of potentials in the quantum double slit experiment.

The main takeaway is that we have many more abilities that we’ve been made to believe, and still some we have yet to discover. At the end of the day, it’s the consciousness behind these discoveries that determine whether or not they will be used by humanity. It’s just like technology, do we weaponize it or use it for the overall good of humanity?

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