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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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Consciousness

New Study of Mind-Matter Interaction Via Double Slit Experiment Yields “Remarkable” Results

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A new analysis of the double slit experiment shows, according to the author, "remarkable" results when it comes to analyzing the mind-matter interaction problem.

  • Reflect On:

    Why has most of this science been studied by the Department of Defense? Why are real life, documented and recorded examples never used in these studies? Why is the statistical significance of parapsychology never mentioned?

Does mind influence matter? The answer is an unquestionable yes, this fact is firmly established in scientific literature, and the only thing up for debate is just how much of an effect our minds can have on matter.

In what’s known as the double slit experiment, tiny bits of matter (photons, electrons, or any atomic-sized object) are shot toward a screen that has two slits in it. On the other side of the screen, a video camera records where each photon lands. When scientists close one slit, the camera will show us an expected pattern. But when both slits are opened, an interference pattern emerges — they begin to act like waves. This means that each photon individually goes through both slits at the same time and interferes with itself, but it also goes through one slit, and it goes through the other. Furthermore, it goes through neither of them. The single piece of matter becomes a “wave” of potentials, expressing itself in the form of multiple possibilities, and this is why we get the interference pattern.

How can a single piece of matter exist and express itself in multiple states, without any physical properties, until it is “measured” or “observed”? Furthermore, how does it choose which path, out of multiple possibilities, to take?

Then, when an “observer” decides to measure and look at which slit the piece of matter goes through, the “wave” collapses, and then things really get interesting.

The connection between human consciousness, or factors associated with human consciousness such as intention, thoughts, feelings and emotions, and the physical realm is fascinating. This is precisely why nearly all of the founding fathers of quantum physics were so preoccupied with learning more about consciousness and “non-material” science in general. For instance, the theoretical physicist who originated quantum theory, Max Planck, regarded “consciousness as fundamental” and matter as a “derivative from consciousness.” Eugene Wigner, another famous theoretical physicist and mathematician, also emphasized how “it was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.”

A paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Physics Essays by Dean Radin, PhD explains how this experiment has been used multiple times to explore the role of consciousness in shaping the nature of physical reality. The paper showed that meditators were able to collapse quantum systems at a distance through intention alone. The meditators were the “observer” in this case.

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In fact, as Radin points out in his lecture, a “5 sigma” result was able to give CERN the Nobel Prize in 2013 for finding the Higgs particle (which turned out not to be Higgs after all). In this study, they also received a 5 sigma result when testing meditators against non-meditators in collapsing the quantum wave function. This means that mental activity, the human mind, attention, and intention, which are a few labels under the umbrella of consciousness, compelled physical matter to act in a certain way.

“Observations not only disturb what has to be measured, they produce it… We compel [the electron] to assume a definite position… We ourselves produce the results of the measurement.”

Fascinating, isn’t it?

The New Study

I recently came across a post on Radin’s Facebook page regarding a new study just published in PLOS ONE titled Independent re-analysis of alleged mind-matter interaction in double-slit experimental data.

His Facebook post reads,

Just published. “… this paper is the third independent statistical analysis … showing significant differences in fringe visibility between concentration and relaxation epochs of human subjects….”. The author made several assumptions that differed from ours, which resulted in reduced statistical power. That in turn led to a more conservative conclusion. Even so, anomalies were clearly found in these data that defy ordinary explanations.

In that study, they provided a “two year long experimental dataset in which authors of Radin, et al., 2016 claim to find evidence of mind-matter interaction is independently re-analyzed. In this experiment, participants are asked to periodically shift their attention towards or away from a double-slit optical apparatus. Shifts in fringe visibility of the interference pattern are monitored and tested against the common sense null hypothesis that such shifts should not correlate with the participant’s attention state.”

They concluded that:

The thorough analysis pursued in this paper gives a much broader and full picture of the data than the ones previously published in [1] and [19]. On the one hand, we find undeniable anomalies in the human data with shifts of the fringe visibility in the direction expected by human intention. The fact that fringe visibility decreases when human intention tries to make it decrease, and increases when human intention tries to make it increase is remarkable.

That being said, the authors concluded that they still cannot give a definitive conclusion on mind-matter interaction. However, publications like this are still a huge step forward.

They also mention a very important point: The stigma behind these findings and how it encroaches on belief systems have perhaps not allowed a more rigorous scientific investigation into these subjects.

Given the controversial aspect of this research, attempts to reproduce such an experiment should be done by groups of experts from different fields of research including quantum mechanics, neuroscience and statistics, both skeptics and believers, collaborating to design the most rigorous protocol. Personal beliefs, may they be strongly in favour or against the mind-matter interaction hypothesis, have to be put aside, to collectively pursue a clear and objective investigation of this particular interpretation of the quantum measurement problem.

Here’s another great quote alluding to the same thing:

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)

What The Authors Failed To Recognize

Never in these studies do they mention real world examples. Cases of mind influencing matter have been reported throughout history and across many cultures, more specifically in regards to ‘supernormal’ abilities such as telepathy, psychokinesis, and other phenomena that lie within the realms of parapsychology. This is evident in ancient literature, from the Vedic texts and the yoga sutras to Jesus, Moses, Milarepa, Mohammed, and more.

In 1987, researchers at the Institute of Space-Medico Engineering, as mentioned in the CIA document earlier in the article, publicized a fraction of their work in the form of a film showcasing their work and what they had accomplished.

The film showed a medicine pill moving through an irreversibly sealed glass vial, which occurred in three frames of a 400 frame per second film. (source)

Another release (about Zhang) from the CIA (Research Into Paranormal Ability To Break Through Spatial Barriers) states:

A wooden cabinet 120 by 180 by 60 centimeters was used as a sealed container. Sheets of papers and boards with one  of a kind markings were used as the target objects and placed inside the cabinet on the upper shelf. Without damaging the cabinet or opening the door, the person with ESP was able to remove the target objets and also was able to put them back inside. This demonstrates that even when using especially large container it is possible to completely break through spacial barriers, however, the success rate was much lower and was exceptionally difficult. (Source)(source)

The CIA document linked above provides more examples.

According to Eric Davis, Ph.D, FBIS, from a declassified US Air Force document obtained via the Federation of American Scientists, Shuhuang reported that ‘gifted children’ were responsible for the teleportation of small, physical objects from one place to another. (source)

A study published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine, as seen in the the US National Library of Medicine, demonstrated that a woman with special abilities was able to accelerate the germination of specific seeds for the purposes of developing a more robust seed stock.  You can read that here.

There are many fascinating examples within the lore of parapsychology.

Many of these results are just as strong, if not stronger, than a lot of the results that come from hard sciences like physics and mechanical engineering. As far back as 1999, the head of the statistics department at UC Irvine, Jessica Utts, published a paper showing that results dealing with parapsychology and mind-body connection are a lot stronger than the results used to approve some of our medications!

The Takeaway

The idea that mind influences matter is not new. From a hardcore scientific perspective, the results may be questionable, but we have to transcend science as its current parameters have become some sort of religion, failing to take into account many factors. A lot of science today has been dominated and taken over by the corporate world. The politicization of science is a real thing, and new science has confirmed the metaphysical world and is breaking down current and old paradigms. Everything from the mind-body connection to quantum physics and parapsychology are showing us how much more we have to learn about ourselves and what we are capable of.

Thing about the implications this could have for our planet? Imagine if billions of people all over the world found peace within themselves, what type of world would we create?

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Alternative News

Research Reveals Plants Can Think, Choose & Remember

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    This article was written by Sayer Ji, founder of Greenmedinfo.com where it was originally published. Posted here with permission.

  • Reflect On:

    Does all form of life poses some type of 'consciousness' regardless of its biological structure? If so, what does this mean?

Modern science is only beginning to catch up to the wisdom of the ancients: plants possess sentience and a rudimentary form of intelligence. 

Plants are far more intelligent and capable than we given them credit. In fact, provocative research from 2010 published in Plant Signaling & Behavior proposes that since they cannot escape environmental stresses in the manner of animals, they have developed a “sophisticated, highly responsive and dynamic physiology,” which includes information processes such as “biological quantum computing” and “cellular light memory” which could be described as forms of plant intelligence. Titled, “Secret life of plants: from memory to intelligence,” the study highlights one particular “super power” of plants indicative of their success as intelligent beings:

“There are living trees that germinated long before Jesus Christ was born. What sort of life wisdom evolved in plants to make it possible to survive and propagate for so long a time in the same place they germinated?”

According to the researchers, “plants actually work as a biological quantum computing device that is capable to process quantum information encrypted in light intensity and in its energy.” This information processing includes a mechanism for processing memorized information. For example:

“plants can store and use information from the spectral composition of light for several days or more to anticipate changes that might appear in the near future in the environment, for example, for anticipation of pathogen attack.”

According to the study, “plants can actually think and remember.”

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Moreover, plant not only possess a mechanism for information gathering and processing, but appear to exercise agency or “choice” vis-à-vis different scenarios:

“different group of chloroplasts and cells in the same leaf under identical constant and stable light, temperature and relative humidity condition have different opinion “what to do” in such conditions and tests different scenarios of possible future development.”

The study also offers an explanation for why plants absorb more light energy than is needed for photosynthesis alone:

“Another possible answer to the above question is a light training of young naïve leaves. Let’s imagine when young leaf or flower is emerging out of a plant, it would be nice for that leaf or flower to know about the conditions in which it is going to emerge. Older, more experienced leaves that actually are acclimated to outside conditions can train naïve emerging young leaves with the PEPS [photoelectrophysiological signaling ]and cellular light memory mechanisms. This explains why plants possess a natural capacity to absorb more light energy than that required for photosynthetic CO2 assimilation. They need this absorbed energy in excess for optimization and training of light acclimatory and immune defenses.”

The authors leave us with the provocative conclusion:

“Our results suggest that plants are intelligent organisms capable of performing a sort of thinking process (understood as at the same time and non-stress conditions capable of performing several different scenarios of possible future definitive responses), and capable of memorizing this training.17 Indeed leaves in the dark are able to not only “see” the light,8,34 but also are able to differently remember its spectral composition and use this memorized information to increase their Darwinian fitness.”

Why is this discovery important?

There are many reasons why recognizing the sentience and intelligence of plants may have positive implications for the future of humanity. For one, it helps us all to transcend the dominant worldview that non-human life forms are best defined in strictly mechanistic terms, and that attributing a “life essence” or consciousness to them is a form of magical thinking. French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Pointy called this world view the “Great Object,” namely, that everything in the universe is compromised of material objects externally related to one another, and with consciousness merely an ephemeral subjectivity found only in humans.

To the contrary, if we open ourselves to the possibility that we are all participants in an interconnected web of life, as many indigenous peoples believed and actually experienced things to be, destroying the natural world simply to serve the essentially suicidal infinite economic growth model will be identified for the insanity that it is. If we recognize, as biologist James Lovelock proposed, the Earth as a whole should be looked upon more like a self-regulating organism (Gaia hypothesis), or as mycologist Paul Stamet envisions, that there is a fungi-based internet within the ground connecting all living things on the planet in an information-sharing network, we will be less likely to both perceive and to treat the natural world as “other” to be dominated. We’ve also been reporting on the role of exosomes as cross-kingdom messengers, which provides a plausible mechanism for how all of the Earth’s inhabitants — plant, fungal, bacteria, animal, etc. — are linked together in an open access, information sharing network.

Recognizing that plants, for instance, have consciousness, or that their simple presence in our environment has healing effects, reintroduces an element of wonder and mystery back into the experience of the natural world. A perfect example of this can be found in the singing plants of the sacred forest of Damanhur. Damanhurian researchers in the mid-70’s reported using custom equipment to capture electromagnetic changes on the surface of leaves and roots and transforming them into audible signals. The researchers also observed that the plants learned to control their electrical responses, indicating they had some rudimentary awareness of the music they were creating. To learn more visit the Damanhur project website, and watch the video below.


Sayer Ji is founder of Greenmedinfo.com, a reviewer at the International Journal of Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine, Co-founder and CEO of Systome Biomed, Vice Chairman of the Board of the National Health Federation, Steering Committee Member of the Global Non-GMO Foundation.


Original Article


If you’d like more information from Greenmedinfo, you can sign up for their newsletter here

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Discover

Meet The Kenyan Engineer Who Created Gloves That Turn Sign Language Into Audible Speech

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Innovator Roy Allela has invented gloves that read the unique hand movements involved in sign language and turn them into audible speech through an Android app. He calls his gloves Sign-IO.

  • Reflect On:

    We are creating a world where we can all truly communicate, but imagine what our world could be like if inventions like these, and many others, were not limited by costs and start-up processes. Think of what we'd solve if we all worked together.

Imagine a world where communication between everyone is THAT much easier. Well, we’re getting closer and closer to that as every year passes by.

25-year-old Kenyan engineer and innovator, Roy Allela, recently helped humanity take another step in this direction. Allela designed new gloves that will improve communication between those who are deaf and those who cannot understand sign language. His new invention is called the ‘Sign-IO’ gloves, which can translate sign language movements into audible speech.

Allela’s gloves contain sensors located on each finger that are able to detect the positioning of each finger, including how much each finger bends into a given position. This is important, as sign language contains many unique movements that require small details to be detected accurately. The gloves connect via Bluetooth to an Android phone, which then uses text-to-speech technology to allow the person witnessing the sign language to understand what is being said through audio.

Roy was inspired to create the gloves because he has a young niece who is deaf. No one in his family including Roy knows sign language, and thus they often struggled to communicate with her.

“My niece wears the gloves, pairs them with her phone or mine, then starts signing. I’m able to understand what she’s saying,” Allela said.

“People speak at different speeds and it’s the same with people who sign: some are really fast, others are slow, so we integrated that into the mobile application so that it’s comfortable for anyone to use it,” he continued, referring to the creative engineering involved in his project.

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The Sign-IO app, which vocalises words signed by the person wearing the gloves. Photograph: Brett Eloff/Royal Academy of Engineering.

Early on, Allela sees his gloves in schools for special needs children throughout his home country of Kenya. From there, he hopes to expand his business and invention to impact as many deaf people and children around the world as possible. As mentioned, the Sign-IO gloves are just one of many innovations furthering the connection of humanity, no matter what unique aspects of life we are experiencing.

Allela’s gloves are currently in the prototype phase of development and are not yet available to the public. Regardless, they are creating quite the buzz around the world given what they propose to do. Sign-IO was the 2018 grand winner of the “Hardware Trailblazer Award” at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) global finals in New York, and also took home a second runner-up acknowledgement at the Royal Academy of Engineering Leaders in Innovation Fellowship in London.

The Takeaway

Imagine the world we could create if we did not have the limitations imposed by businesses, start-up costs, and so forth. There are incredible people out there who are able to do incredible things for the world, and they’re finding ways to do so even within a society that limits humanity’s potential. If we could bring these amazing minds together and blow off these limitations, then we could truly create a world where communication is not only possible for all, but that would just be the beginning!

As we discussed in our Hidden Energy technologies interview with Susan Manewich on CETV, it’s important to note that the suppression of new, life-changing technologies is not just as a result of the elite, it’s due to our level of consciousness as well. You can check out the interview to learn more on CETV. 

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