I posted a long comment on a thread at the blog Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature, and since I liked what I wrote, I'm reproducing it here.
Another commenter had written, in part:
I know you're very interested in parapsychology and that might explain your respect for James' transmission theory. It's not the thing that I can debate seriously without having looked at the evidence for it, but I think that if you find parapsychology convincing, then the evidence for brain states influencing mental states is far stronger and should not be even resisted by yourself.
This is how I replied:
Of course brain states influence mental states. This was well known even in William James' time. (If a guy got a railroad spike through his noggin and lived, his behavior would be affected.)
The point of the transmission theory is that even though brain states influence mental states, it doesn't follow that brain states give rise to consciousness. The TV set analogy is an attempt to explain this.
Perhaps a better analogy is the Mars Rover. If some Martian were watching the Rover move around, he might assume the Rover had a mind of its own. In fact, however, it obeys a signal sent from Earth. If the Rover is damaged, it may not pick up the signal anymore, or it may not pick it up as clearly, or it may have trouble carrying out the signal's instructions. The Rover's "brain states" influence its "mental state" - i.e., its built-in circuitry influences its ability to receive, decode, and utilize the signal.
Moreover, the Rover is also sending back data to Earth, and these data influence the future instructions that are sent. If the Rover beams back a picture of a cactus, you can bet the Earthbound controllers are going to instruct the Rover to mosey on over and take a closer look. On the other hand, if the Rover beams back a picture of a bottomless pit, the Earthbound signalers will tell it, "Stay away from that pit!"
So there is interaction between the two; it's not a one-way street.
Furthermore, the Rover presumably has some sort of firmware built into it that can operate even in the absence of a signal from Earth. I would assume that, like the Roomba vacuum cleaner, it can detect a precipice and automatically back away. So some of the Rover's behavior may be the result of built-in mechanisms not dependent on an external command. Similarly, I wouldn't doubt that some human behavior is the result of reflexes and instincts.
It's a complicated interplay, which we certainly don't understand. Will we ever understand it fully? Maybe not; as [blogger] Greg [Nyquist] suggests, it may be impossible for the mind to fully encompass itself.
In any event, the correlations of neuroscience cannot address the chicken-and-egg question of which came first, mind or brain. (Or did they arise together, as neutral monism would have it?)
You might say there's no point in considering such a complicated theory when it's more parsimonious to assume that the brain generates the mind. This would be true if there were no evidence to the contrary. In my opinion, however, there is a great deal of evidence to the contrary - evidence for ESP, life after death, etc. Obviously this evidence is controversial. But if you believe, as I do, that much of it is legitimate, then the transmission theory or something like it begins to look like the best explanation.
It doesn't matter, incidentally, if the evidence of neuroscience is "stronger" than the evidence of parapsychology. It's not a competition. The evidence of neuroscience can peacefully coexist with the evidence of parapsychology if something like the transmission theory is correct. Conflict comes in only when some neuroscientists start interpreting their evidence in line with materialist presuppositions. Then we don't have a disagreement of evidence, but a disagreement of worldviews.
BTW, I owe the Mars Rover analogy to The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton, though I've expanded it somewhat.
More on the transmission theory and the well-known TV set analogy here. I do think Lipton's analogy is better, though it takes longer to explain.