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Just found an article on Shakespeares word count from Popular Science . Dec. 1901.pp97-105.

http://books.google.com/books?id=KSQDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA97&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=2#v=onepage&q&f=false

You have probably seen it !

"quantum interconnections easily observed at the microscopic scale do not magically vanish in macroscopic systems."

Interesting, Michael, and totally relevant. It seems to me that entanglement is a powerful reason for science to not only be open-minded towards psi, but to be actively looking for it.

Which at least some of us are. :o)

And it's often occurred to me that the above quote works in reverse too. Shouldn't facts observed at the largest level also apply to the smallest?

What I'm getting at is this. The cosmos, it seems clear to me, is, acausal. Because how can a cause ever be assigned to the fact that anything at all exists in the first place? Clearly, it would seem, SOMETHING had to give rise to the singularity that "big banged" into the known universe, and something had to give rise to THAT. And so on, and so on.

So you're always left with an unexplainable beginning—a something that has no cause. A cosmos without a reason.

And if acausality is fundamental to the ORIGIN of the cosmos, why should we assume that it would ever just disappear? Why wouldn't it still be observable today?

Anyway, I don't know if I'm saying this very clearly, but it's something I've thought about for a long time as way of underscoring the complete powerlessness of the current scientific paradigm to explain anything at all on a genuinely fundamental level.

Though it occurs to me that instead of saying "current scientific paradigm", maybe I should simply be saying "rational thought". Because it doesn't seem to me that ANY attempt to understand these matters analytically or intellectually can ever get to the heart of the matter.

Which is why, it seems to me, we need to take seriously OTHER ways of knowing. Speaking of which, are you enjoying the Grof? :o) I'm really looking forward to your review of it, should you choose to write one.


"avian magnetonavigation" is particularly interesting there. If it's relevant to that it shouldn't be too hard to show it occurring throughout the human system -- with Robert Becker in mind.

All chemistry is quantum chemistry and all physics is quantum physics.

Think about it.

I would add to Radin's list Hameroff's Orch-OR (orchestrated objective reduction) model of human consciousness.

http://www.quantumconsciousness.org/.

and see here for an exciting conference on Mind, Brain and Reality in Stockholm.

http://www.consciousness.arizona.edu/

"are you enjoying the Grof?"

I haven't read much of it yet, but the little I've read so far has been very interesting. He's a good writer and seems to have a fascinating perspective.

I'm presently reading "After Death" by Darryl Reanney. http://tinyurl.com/3tp7x82
Reanney was a molecular biologist from New Zealand. He died from leukemia while he was writing his second book. After Death is about mankind's fear of death both on a personal level and a cosmic scale. It took Reanney ten years to write the book so as he was writing it his attitude toward the subject evolved and changed. So far I'm enjoying it. He's a pretty good writer. I'm still in the first part of the book and he is talking about time from a physics perspective.

There is no one in parapsychology who I have more respect for, personally and professionally, than Dean Radin. But this is one of a number of areas that I disagree with him on -- sort of.

These facts presented here are interesting and exciting and perhaps philosophically interesting. In fact the Everett Interpretation of QM pretty much says that every thing is entangled with everything, and the EI (popularly called the "Many Worlds Interpretation" though that was always more a sort of promotional term than a wholly accurate depiction of the theory and, with modern advancements in understanding it, is even less accurate now) is now the dominant interpretation among quantum theorists (the experimentalists are still are wedded to the "Shut Up and Calculate Interpretation" aka the Copenhagen Interpretation).

The fundamental assumption of EI is that the "wave function" never collapses (more accurately collapse is a non-assumption in EI). Apparent collapse is a product of a restricted reference frame, like centrifugal force. No collapse, ultimately no loss of entanglement -- being entangled or not entangled is a property of a reference frame.

However entanglement as the term is currently used in QM is irrelevant to a theory of psi. At its most fundamental, psi is about an anomalous information transfer from a brain-state (only brain-state is objectively measurable) to an external physical system (PK) or vice versa (ESP). It is a fundamental property of an entanglement that it cannot serve to carry information.

Entanglement represents a very real connection but it is a misconception when people speak of one element of an entanglement having an influence on another.

Now, does this kind of non-local connection imply that space-time is not as fundamentally limiting as is classically believed, and that therefore we my find some other physical phenomenon where not just a connection but an actual influence can occur non-locally? Yes.

Can we use the quantum entanglement of remote systems as a kind of metaphor to entanglement of mind with other mind or remote matter, so as to better understand how psi could fit within a physical theory? Perhaps (though, personally, I think it would lead to more confusion than clarification). When challenged on the idea that his "entangled minds" represent a quantum entanglement as currently understood, this is what Dean tends to say he means -- but in his gut he seems to believe (as implied above) that quantum entanglement can explain psi, and clearly thinks of it that way.

Could the current theory of QM be wrong and could modifications to it be small enough to be consistent with the experimental evidence and yet explain psi phenomena? Absolutely. In fact, I have been advocating exactly this since the mid 70s (although my ideas do not involve entanglement). Of course, if the EI is correct, physical phenomena are quantum phenomena and in that sense, any physical theory of psi will have to reduce to a modified QM.

Topher

I agree with Topher. Entanglement simply doesn't allow for instantaneous transfer of information, doing so would create too many physical paradoxes.

Typically for me, I'm going to somewhat disagree with someone (sam) who is agreeing with me.

First off, the paradoxes that would arise are exactly the same produced by retrocausal psi (retro-PK and precognition). The point is that QM (and more specifically entanglement) as currently understood excludes those paradoxes and, specifically, do not allow entangled objects to use that entanglement to transmit information in any way, instantaneously or at the speed of a sleepy snail. The information in all the experiments is carried externally to the entanglement. It is only upon receipt of that information does the connection become apparent.

Also, special relativity says that "simultaneous" and thus "instantaneous" doesn't mean anything absolute. If we assume an information transfer between two events and that transfer is seen to be instantaneous in one reference frame (i.e., the events are seen to be simultaneous) then the transfer will be seen to be finite in one direction from other, equally valid, reference frames, and to be finite but occurring in the opposite direction in others. (All reference frames will, however, agree that the apparent transfer is superluminal).

Topher

I see what you're saying. Either way, I was just agreeing that entanglement, instantaneous or not, can not be used to transfer information, and can not be the mechanism of psi.

To me, the significance of entanglement is not that it would serve as mechanism for information transfer, but that it suggests that the space-time universe is not the be-all and end-all of reality. Since entangled particles change their spin simultaneously even when separated by billions of miles, it would seem that their separation in space is, in some sense, an illusion, or at least not the ultimate reality. At a deeper level, the particles must be directly connected somehow, perhaps like pixels on a computer screen, which are all equally "near" or "distant" as far as the processor is concerned (so that a change in the program's instructions will effect simultaneous changes across a wide array of pixels).

In other words, the significance of entanglement (as I see it) is that it puts the lie to materialism as a complete explanation of reality, and implies that the barriers of space and time may be more apparent than real. This in turn has obvious implications for the plausibility of ESP, life after death, etc.

"like pixels on a computer screen, which are all equally "near" or "distant" as far as the processor is concerned"

Excellent, Michael! What a great way to illustrate the fact that space (and time) may seem entirely real to the human eye and mind, but beyond the virtual reality of the physical realm, not even exist.

MP - your point about the fact that such particles are connected at all and the corresponding implications for our view of the way the universe works seems very important to me.

My understanding is that changes to the spin of such entangled particles occur instantly irrespective of physical distance and that therefore any connection between the two particles must exist outside our 3 dimensional world and time (would that mean outside 4 dimensions?).

I recall reading somewhere that even particles such as electrons and protons etc do not have a permanent continuous existence in our worl but 'flicker' in and out of our reality constantly - did I get the wrong end of the stick here?

"Excellent, Michael!"

Thanks, Bruce, but it's not an original thought. It's derived from the theory of a Virtual Reality universe which has been advanced by a few physicists. If you Google this site for the term "virtual reality," some posts will come up.

"I recall reading somewhere that even particles such as electrons and protons etc do not have a permanent continuous existence in our world but 'flicker' in and out of our reality constantly"

Although this would be consistent with VR theory, corresponding to the refresh rate of the screen, I don't think it's been established as a fact. Virtual particles (which facilitate energy transfers) do appear and vanish in a fraction of a second, but more stable particles like electrons and photons have not been proved to "flicker." If they do flicker, it is at a rate too rapid to be measured (yet).

Incidentally, the furor about the possible discovery of the Higgs boson has died down today, after a statement from CERN disowning the leaked memo.

My reading of quantum mechanics (admittedly I haven't got my head round it) seems to imply that electrons exist physically when observed but otherwise are not 'real' matter. Anyhooo this is beyond my pay grade.

That's a good point, Paul. Electrons exist as particles when observed/measured or when they interact with other particles in certain ways. Otherwise they exist as wave forms, which (unlike physical waves) are usually construed as consisting of information. Essentially the wave is the range of all possible locations that the electron, if it were a particle, could occupy - a probability distribution. So in that sense, I guess we could say that particles go in and out of physical existence. I hadn't thought of it that way.

My grasp of QM is limited at best, so I invite corrections from those more knowledgeable.

"Essentially the wave is the range of all possible locations that the electron, if it were a particle, could occupy - a probability distribution. So in that sense, I guess we could say that particles go in and out of physical existence."

To take this thought further, have you ever considered how time occupies an analogous position - that it is either present or it is just potential? Channellers talk about communicating with their own future (selves), which might be seen as following a probability-path ahead, then bringing back insights. The future is, if you like, unmanifest, like unobserved electrons, and our higher selves are a calculated probability distribution based on all our likely future choices...

I'll make a bunch of uncharacteristically brief comments, and perhaps expand later on some of them:

1) Distant entangled particles do not change their spin instantaneously, quickly, slowly or any other way. Their pre-existing spin is measured and later those measurements are found to be correlated.

2) You should not confuse "localism" and "materialism". The disproof of classical local realism does not disprove materialism.

3) The pixel metaphor is at best a theoretically loaded one and worst a wholly incorrect one since it implies that they are connected via something that corresponds to hidden variables. A better metaphor is that every peak in the waveform of a concert is connected and has implications about other peaks.

4)An electron is both a wave and a superposition of particle states -- those are different ways of saying the same thing. When "collapse" (to the extent that is a meaningful concept) occurs there are fewer superposed states and it looks more like a single particle, but even in the Copenhagen Interpretation there isn't really an alternation.

5) Being "observed/measured" and "interact[ing] with other particles in particular ways" are exactly the same thing.

6) In the Everett Interpretation the "connection" is only a constraint on how the states of other superposed particles will later be able to match up with the states of the entangled superposed particles. The "connection" is more of an "tagging" than a "channel". Even if you don't accept the EI keeping that in mind may help to avoid assuming that more is implied by the connection than is actually justified.

Topher

"Distant entangled particles do not change their spin instantaneously, quickly, slowly or any other way. Their pre-existing spin is measured and later those measurements are found to be correlated."

I thought the idea was that if the spin of Particle A is altered, the spin of Particle B is simultaneously altered in a complementary fashion. Isn't that the whole point of the Aspect experiment?

"The disproof of classical local realism does not disprove materialism."

I disagree, because if reality is ultimately nonlocal, then space and time are not part of ultimate reality, and how can we have materialism without space and time? What we seem to be left with is pure information. "The universe begins to look more like a great Thought than a great Machine," as James Jeans said.

"The pixel metaphor is at best a theoretically loaded one and worst a wholly incorrect one since it implies that they are connected via something that corresponds to hidden variables."

If the VR theory is right, the pixels/particles are generated by information processing. If the VR theory is wrong, the pixels metaphor is wrong.

Hi Topher - you seem to speak with authority on this subject, may I respectfully ask what your background is? Are you a physicist? I am not trying to make a point - just interested in understanding the source of your knowledge/experience.
Paul

Paul --

Not a physicist. Just someone with a strong mathematics background who has been working to understand this stuff for several decades.

My day job is as a software engineer (I've done work in numerical algorithms, statistical computing, AI, computer languages, algorithms, speech recognition and object oriented technology).

My avocation is as a parapsychologist, although I haven't been able to do much in that area for a while.

I thought the idea was that if the spin of Particle A is altered, the spin of Particle B is simultaneously altered in a complementary fashion. Isn't that the whole point of the Aspect experiment?

No, in some ways the Aspect experiment is about that not being true. Interpreting it that way comes about from thinking of this as if it were a classical system but the whole point of the experiment was to demonstrate that it was an unambiguously non-classical system.

Just to clarify lets put aside the fact that simultaneity doesn't have any absolute meaning and take a look at an Aspect like experiment.

We produce an entangled pair of particles with opposite polarization but still superposed and send them off to two observers, particle a to observer A and particle b to observer B, with A and B separated by 1 light minute. At time 0 A chooses some axis of a's polarization and observes it. At time 30 seconds, B chooses an axis of b's polarization which, as it happens, is not orthogonal to A's choice. Repetitions of this experiment shows that there will be a correlation between A's and B's observations that depends in a specific way on the angle between their choices of axis of polarization to observe.

BUT -- particle b is still in a superposition of states from t=0 to t=30 seconds. It has not been changed in any way by A's remote observation of a. Furthermore, the nature of the correlation is such that while B knows something about what A observed contingent on the angle A chose (e.g., B can say "if A happened to choose an angle of 45 degrees to observe, there is a 55% probability that "up" was observed) that information is essentially information carried in a non-spooky way by particle b at the finite velocity it took to reach B. Nothing inexplicable to classical physics has taken place yet. It is only when information reaches B in a conventional manner that the correlation appears that cannot be explained.

I know that this doesn't make sense. By nature and nurture we think classically and this cannot be made sense of classically.

Read Merman's classic article at "http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.110.8947&rep=rep1&type=pdf" a few times and see if it makes any more sense. It is generally considered to be the clearest explanation of Bell's Theorem (which the Aspect experiment tested), and I haven't found anything better. Clearest doesn't mean clear, however, expect to work at it.

Topher

"The disproof of classical local realism does not disprove materialism."

I disagree, because if reality is ultimately nonlocal, then space and time are not part of ultimate reality, and how can we have materialism without space and time? What we seem to be left with is pure information. "The universe begins to look more like a great Thought than a great Machine," as James Jeans said.

No, it does not mean that space and time are not part of ultimate reality, it just means that not all phenomena are bound by it. You are furthermore simply assuming that what would be left is just thought. Loop quantum gravity theory, for example, eliminates space-time as something fundamental but replaces it with something just as material if less familiar (a mesh of interlinked, non-metric loops in a higher dimensional space).

Remember: Newton's Theory of Gravity had the strength of the gravitational field vary with distance, but it propagated instantaneously without any spatially intermediate causative linkage. In other words, it is a non-local theory. Yet it is pretty much the epitome of materialism.

Quantum Mechanics is a materialist theory that includes this non-locality. It is this materialist theory that generates this non-locality.

(The Everett Interpretation doesn't even see this as non-local, though it requires a bit of a stretch of "realism").

Topher

If the VR theory is right, the pixels/particles are generated by information processing. If the VR theory is wrong, the pixels metaphor is wrong.

Exactly, the metaphor is, as I said, theoretically loaded. It is not a metaphor for the phenomenon being discussed but a metaphor for the theory.

It is a metaphor, therefore that limits one's ability to think about the phenomena rather than aiding it. And that means that it simply begs the question in regard to the VR theory.

To summarize, bringing quantum mechanics into a psi context seems feeble. Nobody involved with psi research has to my knowledge ever mentioned exactly what entanglement has to do with psi. Quantum Entanglement does no simply mean "connected" as connected in the classical fashion.

To me it seems like a attempt to get the attention and acceptance of mainstream science without having any hard science behind it.

Thanks Topher :)

re sbu:

Overstated I think. Those who believe that psi phenomena are explained by contemporary QM are as mistaken as those who believe that physicists mean a conscious observer when they refer to an observer.

Entanglement does however, show a place where small modifications of QM theory might create room for psi. It also openly violates some of the principles that detractors of psi research have claimed are so sacrosanct as to allow them to reject the evidence for psi without actually looking at it. Further, it allows us to look at a broader view of the way the universe operates which might have room for psi in ways not directly based on entanglement. Finally, it provides a metaphor for helping us reason about remote connections between things -- in particular, helping us think about interactions that may not depend on our familiar energy mediated information transfer models.

To put it another way -- neither QM in general nor entanglement in particular imply psi phenomena, but they may give us some handle on how to reconcile these observed phenomena with the physical universe.

Topher

"Those who believe that psi phenomena are explained by contemporary QM are as mistaken as those who believe that physicists mean a conscious observer when they refer to an observer."

Topher, knowing as little as I do about these things, you've got me puzzled. What kind of of observer isn't conscious? Do you mean a mechanical device?

When Bohr first started talking about "an observer" he meant a system obeying classic physics rules affected by an interaction with a quantum system. He used the phrase because he was thinking in terms of lab experiments where "observations" are made and recorded for analysis. The observations might be done by a machine or by a human being. But to Bohr, as far as the theory was concerned the crucial event in the observation was an interaction as I discussed, and he pretty much assumed that meant his laboratory instruments.

For many years there was some debate about whether Bohr was incorrect and whether something special, i.e., consciousness, was needed to create the classic system. It was always a tiny minority of physicists who thought this was likely, and there were no serious physicists who believed that was what most physicists meant by "an observation." It's been several decades since it was demonstrated conclusively with experiments that the QM "operation" of observation does not require anything conscious (the first such demonstration I know of was conducted by two physicists who were also parapsychologists).

Today the consensus is that an observation is made by interaction of a quantum system with any physical system with enough complexity to cause "decoherence" through irreversible interactions.

So, in QM, an observer refers to any physical system which is "large enough" -- where enough depends on the type of system, the temperature, and the type of interaction between it and the QM system.

In other words, the cat will be either dead or it will be alive, the air in the box, the poison gas, the gieger counter mechanism, each and every hair on the cat's body, and the box itself are each extremely well qualified to be enough of an observer to insure that.

We do not even need a mechanical system -- just a physical one.

Topher

"In other words, the cat will be either dead or it will be alive, the air in the box, the poison gas, the gieger counter mechanism, each and every hair on the cat's body, and the box itself are each extremely well qualified to be enough of an observer to insure that. We do not even need a mechanical system -- just a physical one."

But it does not have to be physical -it can be virtual. The Universe certainly behaves as if calculated. As Brian Whitworth says:

"The observer of this virtual reality is not human existence, but all existence. No tree can fall in a forest unseen, as the very ground it hits "sees" it."


Thanks for the explanation, Topher.

I see that there still is at least some controversy as to whether consciousness is required. This is from an article trying to debunk Deepak Chopra on this matter:

"Now it is important to note that Chopra is not a solitary thinker, and claims that his views are supported by such well-known figures as Sir Roger Penrose, Stuart Hameroff, MichioKaku and Leonard Mlodinow amongst many others"

My guess is that you won't be very impressed with that list. :o)

Although I'm no expert on QM, I have the impression, from the reading I've done, that some of these issues remain more controversial than Topher suggests.

For instance, Eugene Wigner, a leading physicist of the 20th century, said it is "not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to the consciousness."

Bob Berman, a well-known astronomer who cowrote the book Biocentrism with Robert Lanza, also takes the approach that consciousness is fundamental to QM.

Also see the FAQ related to a book called Quantum Enigma (which I haven't read). The authors, both physicists, write:

"Doesn’t the “decoherence” argument show that quantum mechanics has nothing to do with consciousness?

"Even some physicists mistakenly think so. Decoherence theory explains how the physics discipline can, for all practical purposes, ignore its encounter with consciousness. But Zurek, probably the leading developer of decoherence theory, admits that the ultimate explanation of the mystery of observation must involve “a model of consciousness.”"

They also write:

"Nothing in quantum theory leads to ESP, the claims of the pseudo-scientists notwithstanding. But we now know that what Einstein derided as “spooky actions” do indeed exist. Arguably, at least, this does make ESP less unlikely. If ESP were shown to be real, it would revolutionize our thinking about the world. That’s a reason we can’t accept it without very strong evidence. At present, the experimental evidence for ESP is controversial. But can we dismiss it out of hand?"

http://quantumenigma.com/faq/

I may have missed the point here, but I although I can see why QM might not imply psi phenomena per se, is it possible that it might form part of a framework which could explain how observed phenomena might work?

Once there is a theoretical model for the operation of psi, including communications via mediums, wouldn't this be a step forward?

Michael:

I was speaking of a consensus, not a unanimous consensus. In science you can generally find a few people who will take almost any stance -- occasionally they are actually qualified, and may even be right, though that is generally a bad bet.

However --

Wigner is irrelevant. If that statement was made on his deathbed it would be about 15 years old. More likely, he made it 30 years or more ago. It doesn't have much to do with current thought.

Berman is an astronomer, not a theoretical quantum physicist. He may be very knowledgeable but he is no more professionally qualified to contribute to the consensus of the qualified experts than you are or I am.

That brings us to the "two authors" who are physicists. But what kind of physicists? Being a physicist does not mean that they took much more than the introductory quantum computations class, so we do not know if they are properly part of the community in question.

They, in turn, cite Zurek, whose opinions are undoubtedly relevant. But based on other things I have read of Zurek's thinking, this appears to me a somewhat misleading citation. Although I could certainly be wrong, I suspect that Zurek is talking about the difficulties that the Everett interpretation has for our intuitive beliefs about consciousness. Specifically, it requires that consciousness "splits" along with the quantum states. This has always been one of the major impediments to acceptance of EI -- it directly challenges our beliefs about our selves. We do indeed need a model of consciousness in regards to QM -- that doesn't mean that consciousness has any special role in the observation operator (which, in fact, doesn't fundamentally, distinctly exist in EI).

Paul -- psi is anomalous within the current framework of QM as well as within the current framework of classic physics.

One or the other of them, probably both, will need to be modified to accommodate psi phenomena.

Of course, a theory of psi would be a step forward -- but experience shows that it is not going to help a whole lot in getting it accepted by the pseudo-skeptics. One of great Catch-22's promulgated by them is to dismiss the evidence of psi because there is no theoretical foundation and to dismiss any theorizing about psi because there is no accepted evidence to justify any change to the current received understanding.

"He may be very knowledgeable but he is no more professionally qualified to contribute to the consensus of the qualified experts than you are or I am." - Topher
--------------------------------------------

No one is more qualified than I am to decide what I am going to believe. As far as I'm concerned the rest of the world can go jump in a lake.

"I am the boss of me."

"No one is more qualified than I am to decide what I am going to believe."

In the sense that your beliefs are derived from a wide range of sources and experiences, and are subject to continous reassessment? If so, I agree, because trying to understand how and why the universe fits together is a problem for a meta-physician, not an expert in any one physical field. (Consider, for instance, how quantum theory and relativity seem to work in themselves and yet violently contradict each other.)

" . . . trying to understand how and why the universe fits together is a problem for a meta-physician, not an expert in any one physical field."

Excellent point, Ben!

Trying to figure out why the universe fits together, and what it means that it fits together the way it does is the job of a metaphysician (a philosopher), but figuring out how the universe fits together is precisely what a physicist does (as do, in other aspects of the universe, do other scientists a.k.a., natural philosphers).

Specifically, to use the language of the dominant school of thought in the branch of metaphysics called the philosophy of science, physicists are expert on constructing, refining and judging testable models of reality based on rigorous evidence.

And that is what we've been discussing.

That general relativity and QM in their present form are incompatible (special relativity works just fine with QM) just means that the job isn't done yet, not that physicists are not the right people to do the job. (The disagreement is not particularly violent -- I've yet to see a fist-fight break out over the issue :-)).

The conflict comes about because it exists on the boundary between two disciplines which have built different models. What we are talking about is smack dab in the middle of a single discipline (note: this is not a question of conflicting interpretations of QM, though it has some relevance to that more philosophical issue, its about the physical theory itself).

Hi Topher
I understand the point you make regarding 'pseudo sceptics'. I suppose admitting the existence of any psi effect, including mediumship - which is my personal interest, is the thin end of the wedge as far as materialism is concerned.

In practical terms it probably makes little, if any difference to those researching the matter with an open mind or who are fortunate enough to have evidential objective experiences.

Thank you for your detailed description of the aspects of QM under discussion.

the job isn't done yet, not that physicists are not the right people to do the job.

Personally, Topher, I can't see how physicists can "do the job" if they discount psi and consciousness research before they even enter their labs (which the "consensus" you referred to earlier certainly do). I mean, they're only ruling out the most important factor! Physics as presently formulated is woefully short of comprehending the full nature of reality – I mean, we’re barely out of kindergarten!

This will become apparent when free energy comes along – Andrea Rossi’s LENR “cold fusion” generator and Aviso’s self-charging electric car to name but two (of many) imminent paradigm-busting technologies! The second law will be consigned to closed systems, because we will soon see that the universe is not closed for new business! All the old conventions will be swept away …a new golden age is coming, and it will be a golden age built by engineers and their brilliant minds, not by physicists and their cumbersome particle accelerators.

Bruce, you may now wish to distance yourself from this flake called Ben..

"Trying to figure out why the universe fits together, and what it means that it fits together the way it does is the job of a metaphysician (a philosopher), but figuring out how the universe fits together is precisely what a physicist does (as do, in other aspects of the universe, do other scientists a.k.a., natural philosophers)."

Topher, I don't think it's as simple as separating the how from the why. As I said recently on this blog, when you get to the most fundamental "how" of all— how does the cosmos come into existence?— the physicist is mute. Obviously, merely going back to the Big Bang doesn't do the trick. Because the question still remains, how does that mysterious "singularity" come about?

This is a legitimate "how," is it not? And as Ben said, this is where META-physics comes into play.

And, by the way, you equate a metaphysician with a philosopher. I'd like to use a different word: mystic. A mystic is one who looks for the big answers not by using an instrument like a telescope, or microscope, or by applying only one part of himself, such as his intellect, to the task.

The mystic uses ALL of himself—his mind AND his heart. And I certainly understand that to much of the scientific community, statements like that sound just plain silly. (In much the same way, perhaps, that priests in the Middle Ages had little respect for those outside the Church who, without referring to the Bible, claimed to have genuine spiritual insights.)

But that's why we on this forum are attracted to phenomena like the NDE, isn't it? An experience like that is a way of gaining insight that is NOT confined to our rational, logical, minds. In an NDE or other deeply altered state of consciousness, what we learn has as much to do with what we FEEL as what we think.

When I first learned of NDE's and began studying them, what excited me beyond measure was that it introduced to me the idea of combining science and spirit, mind and heart, and it made those combinations seem not only respectable but necessary. I still feel that way.

"When I first learned of NDE's and began studying them, what excited me beyond measure was that it introduced to me the idea of combining science and spirit, mind and heart, and it made those combinations seem not only respectable but necessary. I still feel that way."

And long may you do so, sir. Holistic thinking!

"Bruce, you may now wish to distance yourself from this flake called Ben.."

Well, I just don't know, Ben. :o) Are you serious about the following?

"All the old conventions will be swept away …a new golden age is coming, and it will be a golden age built by engineers and their brilliant minds."

Seems like you're anointing a new priesthood, no? But maybe you're saying that tongue-in-cheek?

I read a book called The Spiritual Universe by Dr. Fred Alan Wolf and it he talked about thoughts being things and consciousness creating reality. I immediately saw the connection between that idea and some NDEs where the experiencer said that he went into a library in heaven and it seemed like the building itself was "made out of knowledge." A.J.Ayers said that it was strange because "his thoughts became people." Mark H. said he thought of a mountain and one appeared.

When NDE'ers say that they saw more colors than normal it can't help but remind me that we are only able to see a very small portion of the light spectrum and that in actuality there is a huge portion of the light spectrum we don't see. Perhaps after we are no longer limited by our human bodies we will be able to see the entire light spectrum in heaven?

And most recently when Craig Hogan, the director of Fermilab, made the comment there is a certain inherent degree of blurriness in a holographic projection I saw a correlation between that comment and when near death experiencers say that it was "more clear than normal" or "realer than real." In the original holographic film that blurriness that Hogan talks about wouldn't exist.

Or how about how in a holographic piece of film all the information is spread throughout the entire piece of film and when near death experiencers say something to the effect of "I literally felt like I was everywhere in the Universe at once and I mean everywhere!"

There is a connection between NDEs and quantum physics and the holographic universe theory that is not easily explained away.

Topher, I don't think it's as simple as separating the how from the why. ... when you get to the most fundamental "how" of all— how does the cosmos come into existence?— the physicist is mute.

I hold by the conceptual point, and within the specific context I think it was reasonably expressed. In a broader context though, it conflates a conceptual point with a linguistic one. What are conceptually "why" questions are frequently, and legitimately, phrased as "how" questions, and vice versa. For example "How does the cosmos come into existence?" = "Why does the universe exist?" Both are correct English, but if you are asking about mechanism you are asking a scientific question even if it is one that you lack the evidence to answer -- but the mechanism issue will always lead to infinite regress, while the real guts of the mystery is understanding why such a thing as existence should ... well, exist.

In the other direction "Why is the sky blue" can also be phrased "How does the sky produce a blue color?" The phrasing of the latter is clumsy, but the answer sought (mechanism -- scattering, etc.) is more an answer to that question than the original.

Topher

Everyone has the right to their own opinion. That doesn't mean that everyone's opinion is equally worthwhile, even to themselves.

People who have detailed knowledge of the evidence, know the reasons for the current theories and understand why others have been rejected, and who have the experience to avoid the traps and see the opportunities in novel situations are not always right but are much more likely to be than not. When there is a consensus on some issue among such people it is a poor bet -- not a certain loss, but a poor bet -- to bet against them unless you have a much better reason than that you don't like what they are saying.

This is particularly true when you are arguing about what they mean by something.

No priesthood -- I'm suggesting that you listen to some people who are worth listening to even if you would rather that they were saying something else. Disagreeing with them is not heresy, just generally poor judgment.

Note, however, that I do disagree with them on a number of points for what I think is a very good reason -- they are not taking into account the evidence for psi which directly falsifies the absolute applicability of the causality principle.

Topher

A recent symposium on Psi and psychology: I found it fascinating.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Tdiu5kwjKs

"Everyone has the right to their own opinion. That doesn't mean that everyone's opinion is equally worthwhile, even to themselves." - topher
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Bottom line? Who gets to decide what I believe? I've read a plethora of books on popular science - quantum physics and the holographic universe theory, online articles and websites, NDEs and death bed visions, mystical and transcendental experiences, and books about various Mediums, TV shows about Mediums, etc.

The evidence is out there, tons of it, and each person is free to read it and decide for themselves what they want to believe. I'm betting in the grand scheme of things belief is irrelevant.

I'm betting the Creator of the Universe was so smart that He/She was able to create a Universe where our souls learn what they are supposed to learn regardless of who we are, or where we live, or what we believe. It's called learning holistically which means the lessons are embedded in our everyday lives and it is holistically imprinted on our souls and resistance is futile!

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