Archive for the Science & Spirituality Category

Dr. Kevin Nelson on Skeptico

Posted in Science & Spirituality with tags , , on January 29, 2010 by jackpot12

Kevin Nelson

I personally find Alex Tsakiris profoundly annoying. I think he has a naive believer’s mentality, is condescending and gets in over his head. Why doesn’t Alex Tsakaris have a show about how Pam Reynolds NDE started 2 hours before stand still?

I am partial in this debate to Roger Nelson even though I frankly don’t agree with either of them. DOCter Nelson is fond of saying that we have an enormous amount of understanding about consciousness. But what he means is we have a bunch of data about the neural correlates of consciousness and no understanding at all of the actual generation and origin of experience (assuming you are not like Dan Dennett and think there actually is a problem to be solved). One must explain what the correlation is between electromagnetism generated by ion gradients across membranes, and the experience of being aware of your existence and typing such emails to your friends all the time as “why do we even bother to wake up in the morning”. Descartes should have said something like “I am healthy and pain free, yet I often wonder why I bother to exist….. therefore I am.” That would have been far more profound. Unconscious entities don’t ponder why they continue to bother operating. In reality, everyone who thinks for a moment about this puzzle of consciousness must find it absolutely striking. The total failure of AI to form anything resembling a consciousness or a fluid intelligence seems to drive home the point that the complexity and number of interconnections is not what *causes* consciousness to occur. At least, it has mostly convinced me. Wrapping quadrillions of Christmas lights around the planet and turning on the power would do nothing to make the planet conscious, or even on iota closer to becoming conscious. There is a totally missing element. One we have no idea about. It may be generated by the brain, it may not. But the typical non-religious lay person who thinks  they have consciousness all figured out just because there are neural correlates just hasn’t  thought deeply about the problem at all.

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A fascinating life

Posted in Science & Spirituality on January 9, 2010 by jackpot12

Integral nihilism

I love this picture of the post-NDE Kenneth Wilber staring out the window with some unknown reflection in mind.  You can see this and other interesting things on his website.

I find Wilber to be an endlessly fascinating person of almost unparalleled intellectual ability. He can read three books before lunch with a self described “spooky” reading comprehension ability.

Recently Wilber came close to death and wrote extensively about it. Since then I’ve often wondered what he thinks about death and whether he still believes in LAD. Was anything changed by coming to the brink? His body took a tremendous beating and it took him a great effort to recover from a grand mal seizure which triggered, according to Wilber’s own account, multiple classic NDEs.

I wish that Wilber would distance himself from Andrew Cohen. I think Cohen will eventually go down in a blaze of glory and scandal. Despite Wilber’s massive egoic desire to define and confine life and nature into a philosophically elaborate description in order to give meaning to the meaningless cacophony of randomness called life, Kenneth has a level of personal balance that seems immune to serious scandal.

Life after life

Posted in Science & Spirituality with tags , , on December 28, 2009 by jackpot12

Another solid hit recorded by Garry Schwartz

I have watched Life after Life at least 4 times since 1999 when it came out. It is a good documentary and details some hair raising accounts. It ends with a seemingly astounding mediumship session from George Anderson. But after watching it several times I came to the conclusion that there are time frame discrepancies which reveal the highly edited nature of the reading. The show makes it look like Anderson was right on the money in sequence, but you can tell the sketchy parts were edited out to make it look like a very smooth reading. Watch closely. If the reading were given exactly as it appears without editing it would be a shocking triumph for mediumship. But in seeing the father’s remaining skepticism concerning all of George’s misses, it would seem that he did not experience the same reading as us viewers did watching the documentary.

After 10 years since this first mediumship experiment, what has transpired? John Edward got his own show which was cancelled, and mediums are still so bad at what they do that none of them can even convince me (someone who wants to believe) that it is true. One must question the ethics of mediums. If a medium was even 70% accurate it would be shocking. Yet that would mean the other 30% of a good medium’s statements given to a grieving family are made up. Am I the only one who thinks this is bad?

If there be an afterlife, the veil is not thin, but thicker than lead.

Thomas Campbell’s My Big TOE

Posted in OBE, Science & Spirituality with tags , on December 6, 2009 by jackpot12

I have enjoyed watching this seminar by Thomas Campbell, the author of “My Big TOE”, TOE meaning theory of everything. Campbell is the physicist mentioned in Bob Monroe’s books. He helped Bob set up the Monroe Institute research. A few things I find rather refreshing about listening to Campbell’s views-

– He is rational.

– He knows that a real TOE must include consciousness.

– He understands that all spiritual techniques, meditation techniques,and so called healing arts techniques are non-literal training wheel ways of directing intent (I tried unsuccessfully to explain this to my friends for years, they still believe in their fantasy techniques).

– He has had numerous OBEs on the level of those described by Monroe and he believes in them. He claims to have tested his own OBEs and confirmed their reality. He at least seems believable and quite passionate about what he is saying. In this final clip at 8 minutes he encourages people to test their OBEs to confirm that they are not just fooling themselves.

Still I am puzzled to no end why people who make claims of veridical proficiency cannot just commit themselves to proper experimentation to document the reality of their perceptions. I reject the notion that proof is unattainable. This leaves me highly skeptical of any such claims such as “I proved it to myself but I can’t prove it to you.”

I still consider it likely that the OBE is as Michale Raduga says- a journey into ones own subconscious mind. But this does not say it is not real. I have yet to see verifiable evidence retrieved from this state.

I posted this before watching the following clip. I think this is a very meaningful and courageous statement made by Campbell. He certainly walks his talk of not being afraid.He explains here how the NDE or DE is an intermediate frame where the powers that be will tell you any little story you need to make you feel better while you transition. It may be sad for some to hear that the loved ones met are “virtual” people and not what they seem to be.

Life Before Life, My psi Experiments, Karl Jansen

Posted in Science & Spirituality with tags , , on December 1, 2009 by jackpot12

Jim Tucker

I just finished the book “Life Before Life” by Jim Tucker who is the successor of Ian Stevenson’s reincarnation studies. Fortunately for Mr. Tucker, he is forcing me to break my spree of dissatisfaction with spiritual types and not superimpose his face on someone else’s body or give him new hair. Tucker did make the mistake in the book of giving the readers the false impression that Pam R. heard the saw and surgical assistants during standstill. I saw another guy on youtube try to say that Pam was in standstill during the NDE again. It would seem that the Reynolds case has achieved such a folklore from such repeated misinformation that the myth is more accepted than the truth. This is due to some high profile books and T.V. shows which made no clarification of the timetables.

The reincarnation accounts are astonishing, if we are to believe them. Tucker talks a lot about the possible explanations for the events and statistics concerning them. I was pleased to see that his goal now is to create a body of research on the American past life accounts of children. The story of James I found fascinating enough to read through the book.

I should interject here that Dinesh D’Souza uses the reincarnation work of Stevenson to build a case for the afterlife, which makes it even more unreasonable for him to believe in Christianity. For why would someone care about a blood sacrifice for their sins if they thought they existed long before they were born?

Tucker discusses NDEs and relates an account from Bruce Greyson’s research where a man during surgery was able to describe the peculiar way one of the physicians flaps his elbows after washing his hands. Once again I say, show me the money. If people can see these things, it will be proven. If they cannot, it will not. Simple as that. I appreciated how Tucker shares my attitude by saying that further research should be able to confirm the reality of reincarnation if it happens.

My pregnancy intuition experiment is quite disappointing. After an initial surge of lucky guesses, now only about 56% of 37 guesses were correct. I started keeping track of dream guesses and they are 50% so far.

On another note, I have racked up 3,360 guesses in an experiment using my iphone ESP trainer app. You have four colored boxes, one has a picture behind it. If you guess correctly the phone vibrates and shows the picture. Initially I got no result, but realized I thought it a better experiment to reverse the game and try to avoid tapping the box with the picture. I decided to start an actual experiment this way, mainly testing how well I can *avoid* hitting the picture and once in a while deciding to try to hit the picture also. I plan on doing 10,000 to end the experiment. So far I have p=.03 which would be considered a significant effect. So either Targ’s app is flawed to prevent people from finding the picture or I am getting really lucky and the results will even out by the time I get to 10,000 or the bible is the word of the Almighty God and Jesus died as a blood sacrifice for our sins despite the fact that we were alive for an eternity before we were born. As esp tests go I think this is a good one. The vibration of the phone is annoying to me and alarming, so it has the potential to combine not just “viewing” but feeling as well which may increase results. Or it may be a bunch of shit.

Tucker’s blog contains a quote from Karl Jansen, the ketamine researcher- I now believe that there most definitely is a soul that is independent of experience.…Ketamine is a door to a place we cannot normally get to; it is definitely not evidence that such a place does not exist.” This seems like it might be quote mining to me. I would like to know in what context it was said. I want to know exactly why Karl Jansen went from saying All features of a classic NDE can be reproduced by the intravenous administration of 50 – 100 mg of ketamine to saying that there most definitely is a soul.

D’Souza’s Sophomoric Arguments

Posted in Science & Spirituality on November 28, 2009 by jackpot12

Dinesh's Crowning Achievement: Being Born Again

 

 

Oh good gaaawwwwdddd. I can’t believe I even considered buying this guy’s book. It goes to show that any of us have the ability to write a successful book about the evidence for the afterlife (couldn’t be any more sophomoric than Dinesh’s), but we just lack the name recognition. Here is a guy who starts the show by talking about how the existence of hell in religion is some sort of powerful refutation of atheism because, as Dinesh says, if religion is all about providing an afterlife paradise why would it include a hell? Almost giggling with self-congratulatory brilliance. He says it twice, so I guess he really is this short sighted. I shudder to think that he has never considered that people long for justice beyond the grave and the addition of hell provides a place where enemies can dwell. Every religion or spiritual system has a way to contionue justice after death- hell, karma, learning lessons, being forced to reincarnate until you are “enlightened”. This is as obvious as breathing the air, but apparently an elusive concept for D’souza.  But of course, I often wonder when I hear conservatives talk about anything, whether they even believe what they say. Could D’souza really not have thought of this? Or is this just the same old talk radio canard of hoping your audience doesn’t know a whole lot so you can make a point that seems convincing? Reminds me of when the fake T.V. preacher Robert Tilton said, “there are five people watching me right now, and you’re one of them!” (never mind the show was taped). I guess it weeds out all those threatening elitists who might know better, leaving only those dumb enough to think they actually are one of 5 watching.

My perception of D’souza as a smart idiot is validated by this. But granted, a person who has never had an NDE who scours the NDE literature in a scholarly way only to come to the conclusion that fundamentalist Christianity is valid is either lying, brain dead, or delusional. Christians who want to believe in NDEs must somehow omit the ones that don’t fit (the majority of accounts) or pretend the devil is tricking people. Everyone else who wants to believe in NDEs must just look at Christian accounts as symbolic. I don’t know how Dinesh pulls it off. He is a scholar, but seems brutally intellectually challenged nonetheless. Blinded by stubborn indoctrination.

He makes one good point. 100 people taking LSD will have 100 very different experiences, but 100 people having NDEs will have a 100 experiences with striking similarities.

The Greyson Approach of Radical Diplomacy

Posted in NDE, Science & Spirituality on November 26, 2009 by jackpot12

Bruce Greyson, one of the open minded skeptics regarding the near death experience has said that there is not enough evidence proving or disproving the afterlife. He says he would not be surprised either way. I agree. Part of me feels as if the NDE must be caused by endogenous brain activity. I suspect that Karl Jansen’s idea that the brain in trauma or perceiving trauma or under other circumstances will release neurotransmitters which cause some sort of blockade effect which leads to an experience more profound than any externally introduced hallucinogen such as LSD, is a very reasonable hypothesis.  The other half of me thinks that psi is probably true, consciousness is real and probably has some sort of property independent of space-time and thus is easily imagined (or by nature must) go beyond the degree that materialists confine it. But with comments Chopra provides like, “when there was no measurable activity in the brain, when they were in fact brain dead” despite such measurements not even being part of the Dutch study and not being fully understood, the biased perception comes through- Chopra begins the whole thing insisting that the brain does not create consciousness.

Always with the professional believers like Chopra there is some element of their beliefs that betrays good sense. Someone may have rational views towards psi experimentation and then make some statement about how the evidence for RAMTHA is incontrovertible. I get exactly the same feel from Peter Fenwich who seems very reasonable for a while and then jumps to some pretty wild rationalizations about the elements of the NDE that seem to me extremely unlikely and not supported by the bulk of the accounts.

Michael Shermer is so sold on the idea that the brain does everything that he states that neurons create consciousness as a solid fact. Maybe he’s right, but how can such a conversations have any meaning when both contestants write conjectures as if they are facts, and are so blinded by their own bias that they don’t even notice when they say it? Neither is open to the others conclusions. In the end, we just don’t have enough evidence either way. I would not be surprised by either of these “astonishing hypotheses”. But upon learning which one is true, I would be stunned.