One of the things that annoys me about humans is that many of us look for evidential loopholes to avoid unwelcome conclusions. It reminds me of the lawyer who’s able to get an otherwise solid case thrown out of court because the cops didn’t have a search warrant. Of course, I’m human, which means there’s a good chance I’ve done this, too, so please don’t read this as some sort of “holier than thou” thumbing of the nose.
Lately, one of our resident skeptics has taken to taunting me:
…I suspect that you are minimizing the importance of relying upon quality evidence with minimal bias and confounding factors, because all of your evidence is likely tainted by these elements. [dguller]
Oh really now? A bit strange coming from someone who admittedly doesn’t have any idea about paranormal energy, methinks, but that’s beside the point. Despite the fact that this claim is false–and note that dguller failed to include any evidence which would sustain the charge of minimizing the importance of quality evidence, which means that according to his own standards, we should assign his claim a “very low likelihood” of being true–today, I’ll present a study that controlled for bias and confounding factors: a randomized double-blind study published in Western Journal of Medicine [v.169(6); Dec 1998], demonstrating the medical and psychological benefits of distant healing (DH) in a population with advanced AIDS.
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Let’s get this straight right off the bat: this is not the post where I provide a body of replicated scientific findings so persuasive that it demands acceptance from even the most ardent of skeptics. Rather, this is the post where I present a well-documented instance of a proposition that–if true–directly supports the idea that human consciousness can exist outside the physical body. I’ve pieced this together from several books, articles and papers across the internet, so please be sure to correct me if anything jumps out as a red flag, detail-wise.
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In Pt. III, we introduced Marianne George (Cultural Anthropologist, Ph.D, University of Virginia).
The context of that discussion was simultaneous dreaming, and it ended with Marianne deciding that republishing her paper in its entirety would be the best approach. She added that if I were to do so, she’d be Well! I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly glad she’s given us this opportunity, as it’s not everyday we get to talk to the scientists who actually publish the papers we read and cite in our discussions of (a)theism.
Although Marianne saved me the work of having to relay her words to you, which also nicely eliminated the possibility of me getting any of her words wrong, I’d still like to address the relevance of Sleepdream #3 to our ongoing discussion on consciousness. For those who’d like to skip my thoughts and go straight to the source first, please do: you’ll find links to Marianne’s paper (in its entirety) at the end of this post.
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In Pt. I, we read about Ingo Swann and pondered remote viewing. In Pt. II, we discussed a veridical precognitive experience I had while working as busboy in an upscale club. Today, I’d like to introduce you to Marianne George, who received a Ph.D in anthropology from the University of Virginia. George conducted fieldwork amongst the Barok tribe of New Ireland, Papua New Guinea (PNG) from 1979-1985. The Barok use the word griman to describe an animated or purposeful interpretation of a common phenomenon: dreaming.
Different cultures place varying importance on dreams. In America, where we tend to view things only in the crudest of intellectual dichotomies, dreams basically reduce to a sort of “steam-release” for the day’s neural (over)activities. Now, I do not intend to argue that there is no such element to dreams. I’m also well aware that people who place “undue” emphasis on dreams are often labeled superstitious eccentrics, then conveniently filed away in the “kook” drawer. On the other hand, if we are to honestly face all of the evidence, it becomes clear that we cannot classify all dreams as mere steam-release for our brains. Indeed, some are compelling evidence for the “all-encompassing reality” upon which the religious and spiritual traditions are founded.
The following incident occurred in 1979 when Marianne was living among the Barok in New Ireland, PNG.
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I've heard people talk about the value of "walking in doubt" lately. I certainly think there's a grain of truth in that statement — but then again — there's a grain of truth to, "Reagan was a good President." Saturday, commenter left a response to The Non-Existent Upstairs Neighbors that corroborated some of the same phenomena we've been discussing lately:
I myself am experiencing similar events. I live in Los Angeles, in an old house built way back in the early 30's or 40's. I live alone and I hear foot steps in my attic, in the hall way, and tapping/ thumping noises coming from the other rooms (mostly from the master bedroom). There were two counts in the summer when there was no air, no breeze and the back door closed on its own. Even with a strong breeze, the door wouldn't shut close, it would have been pushed open by the wind. There was no explanation that I can think of on why and how the back door closed shut. I feel that my house could be haunted, definitely. I haven't seen a ghost materialize, at least not yet, and I don't want to see one. I feel a presence constantly, like someone is watching you from behind. Its a very disturbing feeling to look and no one is there, its very chilling every time. I ignored it for sometime, but now its getting annoying and quite freeky. Every time I hear the foot steps, taps, and thumps, I think it might be an intruder, so I check out the sound with my weapon drawn, every time… Where is this "noise" coming from then?
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I typically don’t keep jobs too long. At last count I’d worked over 50 jobs by the time I was 30. I was 19 when the following incident happened, and it was my fourth job.
I’d been working for a few months at a private club atop the county’s most prominent skyscraper. It was really a fun gig, to say the least. The day shift basically consisted of lunch for the elite. I was an upscale busboy, complete with a suit, a “crumber” and the whole kit. The clientele consisted of everybody from real estate moguls to business tycoons to sports team owners. Even some Hollywood types. There was a private gym up there where some of these types would congregate for various non-athletic activities, if you catch my drift. The club and the gym took up the entire top floor and you could see out over the Pacific or out over the mountains. Sunsets in wintertime were amazing. The whole setup was just so high-class and… just weird.
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Ingo Douglas Swan (Ingo Swann) is a Colorado-native and consciousness researcher who, along with laser experts Russell Targ and Harold ‘Hal’ Puthoff at Stanford Research Institute, pioneered the field of remote viewing (RV), an anomalous mental phenomenon where subjects appear to gain information by means outside the traditional senses.
Swann sees remote viewing as an innate human ability that can be activated and practiced like any other muscle, and not all parapsychologists or practitioners share this view. Swann claims to have had paranormal experiences since youth. In one experiment, conducted by Gertrude Schmeidler, a professor at City University in New York, Swann was apparently able to cause temperature fluctuations in sensitive equipment presumably by pure thought. Some of these thermometers were spread openly about the room, others were locked safely inside Thermos containers. The test went by sequence, in which Swann focused on a specific thermometer during each stage of the test. He was not allowed to move around the room and was given 45 seconds to rest between stages. Even amongst the sealed instruments, Swann was able to effect changes in temperature up to almost a full degree Celsius.1
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Well. Friday night I went over to my buddy A's house. You might remember A and his house from The Video Game Incident. After the day's small-talk had come to an end, A proceeded to tell me about the latest set of strange occurrences at his house.
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It so happens that a single claim forms the entire foundation upon which nearly all varieties of theism must inevitably be built: the claim that consciousness can exist outside of a material body. Although the claim is a necessary component of nearly all religions, we should note that it is not necessarily theist, as there are atheists who accept the existence of metaphysical entities.
As far as traditional monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam or any derivative thereof) are concerned, we can safely say that if no spirits exist and consciousness cannot exist outside of a body, then their key claims are either false or severely distorted (Ephesians 6:12, Luke 3:22 & John 4:24, as examples).
Most skeptics and rationalists are familiar with the difficulty (note: not impossibility) of proving a negative. While it’s certainly difficult to prove the materialist’s claim that there is not a ghost in the machine, what’s less difficult and also theoretically possible is proving or at least supporting the claim that consciousness can and does exist outside physical bodies. Let’s refer to this claim as the immaterial consciousness hypothesis, or ICH for short [NOTE: the TMC introduced here envelopes the ICH. In other words, the ICH represents a deprecated term that has since been modified. I explain the reason for the change here, and I apologize for any confusion].
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This morning I'd like to write a post about something that happened a year or so ago, something that pops into my head quite frequently ever since it happened.
It was just after eight o'clock when a buddy of mine who is also a published writer and also likes to drink beer called me up with the equivalent of, "Let's catch the bus down to club so-and-so, and grab a coupla' beers."
"Okay," was my immediate response, and that's how this story starts.
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