Aldous Huxley: The Doors Of Perception

Posted in Books on  | 7 minutes | No Comments →

I enjoyed Brave New World in high school, and until recently, that was all the Aldous Huxley I’d read. A few weeks ago I found a “two books in one” volume with Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell. The former chronicles a mescalin trip Huxley took in the spring of 1953. I’ve never taken mescalin, but if the right opportunity presented itself, I would consider it. I’m sure that statement may seem anathema to many Christians, but… I’m just being honest. Is it right? Is it wrong?

I mean, how many Christians rely on pharmaceutical medicines for their day-to-day existence? In God’s eyes, how does that compare to a person taking mescalin once? Is taking an anti-depressant really that much different than drinking wine or smoking weed? Which, if either, is the greater sin, and what is the biblical justification for the argument? Perhaps we can explore this in greater detail in the thread, if anybody has anything interesting to add. Instead of summarize Huxley’s book, I’d like to share selected passages that stood out for me, and expound on them.

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Proof Of Dualism?

Posted in Consciousness, Web/Tech on  | 1 minute | 87 Comments →

I’ve been thinking about AI for the past few days, and I find the following questions interesting:

1) If Ian Pearson is correct and we are able to download human consciousness onto machines by 2050, wouldn’t this effectively prove that consciousness can exist outside a human brain, e.g., that some type of mind-body dualism is correct?

2) This is more of a technical question, but, what, exactly, would we be downloading? The original, so to speak? A replica? A set of algorithms that recreates the original?

3) Could we falsify the claim that any given machine is conscious?

4) Wouldn’t claims of conscious machines have to be assumed, in the same way we assume the existence of other minds?

The Warfare Is Mental: Consciousness Primer

Posted in Consciousness on  | 2 minutes | 19 Comments →

I’d like to thank all the new readers who’ve found their way over here in the past few days, especially dguller, whose persistent questioning has caused me to realize that my blog is nowhere near as organized as it was before importing to WordPress. Certain questions indicate that new readers might be unfamiliar with what I’ve written on the subject of consciousness. This is my fault, because as I said, the blog suffered some pretty heavy disorganization in the import process, and the majority of my consciousness posts weren’t previously accessible via the consciousness category, which only contained about a half-dozen entries as of yesterday.

I’ve been doing some housekeeping to make previous writings on consciousness more accessible to new readers. I spent a few hours locating the foundational posts, and made sure they are filed under the consciousness category, which now has about twenty entries. I also added a link to my series of rebuttals to Ebonmuse’s essay, A Ghost In The Machine, in the Series homepage, accessible from the green tabs above the TWIM header. Lastly, I doctored up a few posts for formatting issues, as the XML import didn’t go so smooth. If you notice any posts with particularly atrocious formatting issues, by all means, please let me know.

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The Atheist Afterlife: p17-36

Posted in Atheism, Books, Consciousness, Philosophy, Science, The Atheist Afterlife on  | 4 minutes | 1 Comment →

Today's post covers pages 17-36 of The Atheist Afterlife, by David Staume.

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Veridical Dreaming: Anomalous Mental Phenomena, IV

Posted in Anomaly, Atheism, Consciousness, Parapsychology, Psychology, Science, Skepticism, Thinking Critically on  | 4 minutes | 9 Comments →

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 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.

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Simultaneous Dreaming: Anomalous Mental Phenomena, III

Posted in Anomaly, Consciousness, Parapsychology, Psychology, Science on  | 5 minutes | 12 Comments →

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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Phenomena / Consciousness Chart

Posted in Consciousness, Parapsychology, Psychology, Science on  | 3 minutes | 5 Comments →

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.
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Asking The Right Questions

Posted in Consciousness, Parapsychology, Psychology, Science, Thinking Critically on  | 3 minutes | 3 Comments →

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.
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A Precognitive Reality: Anomalous Mental Phenomena, II

Posted in Anomaly, Consciousness, Parapsychology, Religion on  | 9 minutes | 22 Comments →

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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The Tripartite Model Of Consciousness

Posted in Consciousness, Parapsychology, Psychology, Religion, Science on  | 5 minutes | 9 Comments →

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.

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