December 17, 2009
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 happy to receive criticism, answer questions, and/or discuss the paper. 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.
December 7, 2009
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.
December 5, 2009
I made a chart to help visualize and clarify key concepts in our current discussion on consciousness. By no means is this chart intended to be exhaustive, but I think we’ve covered the basic categories of so-called AMP (anomalous mental phenomena), alternatively delta phenomena or psi. A red X indicates an alleged point of incoherence or contradiction between the respective phenomena (represented by rows) and model of consciousness (represented by columns). A green checkmark indicates an alleged point of coherence or support for the respective model of consciousness.
December 3, 2009
To conduct good critical thinking, it’s necessary to ask the right questions. Whether we are evaluating anecdotes of spontaneous events or scientifically studied phenomena, we should remove or at least recognize as many of our assumptions as possible, and a good way to do this is by questioning our interpretations of the evidence. The last thing I want to do in discussing these phenomena is convey the impression of a superstitious or reckless inductor grasping at straws to prove his point.
November 24, 2009
Last Thursday we made what I felt were some necessary emendations to the cerebro-centric consciousness hypothesis (CCH). Today we’ll do the same for its primary competitor.
By consciousness I refer to a base set of abilities, including but not limited to expression, intuition, volition, emotion, and intellect. Here we introduced the CCH’s primary competitor as the immaterial consciousness hypothesis, with the basic premise being that consciousness can exist outside of a physical body. After much thought, I’ve decided to do away with that name in favor of the tripartite model of consciousness (TMC), with the basic premise being that consciousness is not an exclusively biological or cerebro-centric phenomenon. Under the TMC, three distinct yet overlapping elements merge to create human consciousness: spirit, soul, and body.
November 6, 2009
For lack of a better word, the existence of “the supernatural” is perhaps the second most foundational claim behind nearly every religion. From the monotheistic, patriarchal religions such as Judaism, Islam and Christianity, to the more esoteric Eastern mysticism, to Hinduism to today’s modern Aquarianism, the idea that existence extends beyond the physical plane is a key undercurrent. Each of these religions — and many more — claim that something akin to a supernatural realm exists. Very plainly one can see that without this “other world,” the foundational claims of many religions unravel from the core and reduce to metaphor at best. So, if I want to establish the plausibility of the MGH, establishing the plausibility of this “other world” seems a good place to start.
October 28, 2009
Well, I’ve run into some unexpected difficulty getting my hands on a certain article, so the article I wanted to post yesterday is going to have to wait some more. This afternoon I’d just like to offer the following to see how people of varying worldviews react, and if anybody can add anything or make any other valuable suggestions.
A few posts back I took a stab at defining consciousness:
While I hesitate to speculate on what consciousness is, I feel fairly confident in asserting what consciousness does, or what its characteristics are: consciousness affords the abilities to feel, to know, to create, to express intent and to choose. Consciousness also affords the ability to manipulate objective matter via choice…
Something elemental, like wind, can certainly manipulate objective matter, yet it presumably does so independent of any choice or consciousness. For what it’s worth, I’m currently unsure to what extent I’d claim that consciousness is analogous to soul / spirit, but I believe that regardless of the distinction, any demonstration that consciousness is anything else besides a mere product of neural transactions has [the conventional cerebro-centric view of consciousness] dead in the water.
June 17, 2008
As I was writing yesterday, I overheard a trailer for this show about kids experiencing paranormal phenomena. Since I've had more than my fair share of interesting phenomena occur throughout my life and have dedicated a substantial amount of time to reading and independent thought about the subject, I anticipated its 10:00pm debut on A&E. The show turned out to be both about as good and also a lot worse than I expected, and I do not mean to eschew or denigrate the families or producers. Contrary, I side with the parents in their estimation that what is happening to their children represents an authentic phenomena, but I think the methods used by the producers to present such a controversial subject to the general public are subjective, confounded and devoid of any substantive scientific value.