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About Supernormal. It's a good summary of much of the present psi science. It does not deal with OBE or spiritual communications. Radin et al are leading scientists in their field, probably equipped with the best psi lab in the world, and he republish some of their findings and mentions others in the book. Since Radin has talked about the massive psi effects experienced yogis can demonstrate, I became disappointed to find no support for that in the book, except a few second hand anecdotes. Dean's explanation of the absence of heavy cases is: that the yoga masters avoid to demonstrate their powers in public since it boosts their ego - not good for their spiritual development (the main reason for me to by his book actually was to read about such performances). I think it's unfortunate that he as a leading scientist publicly talk about extraordinary extraordinary sensory perception and PK as a fact, thought he can't show anything resembling a proof. That'll give the skeptics extra ammunition. My critics concerns only minor parts, though. I recommend the book to anybody that's comfortable reading charts (there are just a few, but much of the text is scientifically biased and might be a bit difficult to digest) and who wants an up-to-date picture from the psi community. There are also several pages relating to yoga and its history.

Hi Michael,
I know You had a thread about split-brain before, back to 2009, but here is what I found recently, about Gazzaniga experiments:

"Gazzaniga devised an experiment that had such a patient look at a dot on a screen. Then a word was projected on the screen to the right of the dot. This meant that only the right eye could see the word. When he asked the patient to identify the word, the patient had no problem. He would say “cat”. That is because the right eye is wired to the left hemisphere of the brain and the latter is where the language centers are located.

Now what happened when a word was projected to the left side of the dot? The patient could not say what the word was. See above. However, and this is the fascinating part, the patient could draw a picture of the named object with his left hand. That is apparently because the more artistic, image processing modules of the brain are located in the right hemisphere. Whereas the left hemisphere could respond with language, the right hemisphere could respond only with a picture.

If substance dualism were correct, and the seat of consciousness is an immaterial soul that is somehow connected to the physical body and brain, then this experiment shouldn’t have worked that way. Information gathered by one half of the severed brain should have been uploaded to the uncut, immaterial soul. It should then have been available to the other hemisphere, since the soul both receives information from the physical senses and commands the physical body. That is precisely what did not happen.

Instead, cutting the corpus callosum effectively cut one human being into two. As long as the patient is looking at the world with both eyes, the two halves of the brain are working in tandem. The two half-brains in one skull are not aware that anything has changed. They can navigate the world well enough that no one else knows the difference, unless he is a neuroscientists conducting a clever experiment."
http://naturalrightandbiology.blogspot.ca/2013/04/neuroscience-soul.html

could You comment,please? The author uses this experiment to argue against the substance dualism

I'm not too clear on substance dualism vs. other varieties of dualism, but this outcome is what could be expected if something like the transmission theory is true. Consciousness originates as a "signal" outside the brain, but the signal must be translated into electromagnetic impulses in order to operate the physical body. Changes in the brain will affect this process, just as changes in the inner workings of a TV set will affect the way it picks up the signal and decodes it into pictures and sound.

Not sure I see the issue here; maybe I'm misunderstanding something?

Thanks for the response, Michael. Curiously, I opened the whole thread about it on Skeptico, and even one hardcore materialist skeptic there told he doesn't see how it presents problem for "transmission/filter" theory. As I understand this is just one of the arguments materialists try to bring, though perhaps one the most prevalent.I made search on internet and found many articles on skeptical sites about how split brain poses problems for soul. Rational Wiki even goes as far as postulating that this is the best thing demonstrating that mind is produced by the brain, though Rational Wiki is not the best source of course. I am in the middle of Chris's 'Science and the Near Death" and while Chris addresses many issues there , he doesn' talk about split brain challenge. I think it only for me were news,probably the rest if 'survivalist' community already aware if that,maybe asking directly authors of "Irreducible mind' would be also good idea.

Maybe that is what sleep is for? Time to upload transmissions and be processed in order to make sense of the "material" world? Perhaps it doesn't happen instantly? Like the difference between short term memory and long term memory.

I think computers sort of do this at the end, or at least they used to, where after you finished working and quit the computer would sit there and "whir" away for a minute to where they stored the memory of the stuff you had been working on. And if you cut it off before it was finished you'd lose a lot of your work. It took time to get it all sorted out?

It's interesting to me that almost every animal sleeps. What's it for? What really happens when we sleep? It's almost like there is something spiritual or supernatural about sleep. Like the animal is busy doing something but I'm not exactly sure what?

I used to have beagles that I used for rabbit hunting. When they'd dream I could see their feet moving in their sleep and sometimes they'd let out little yips in their sleep, like they were running rabbits in their dreams. Where they downloading the days memories into or onto the collective unconscious? Or the Akashic records?

I just thought of something else. Perhaps after a long day all your short term memory is full and it needs to be emptied for the next days information? If the brain only stores information for a little while - the most important information that needs to be emptied or dumped into the Akashic records happens while you sleep? Maybe that is the real purpose for sleep and why every animal seems to need to do it?

"I used to have beagles that I used for rabbit hunting. When they'd dream I could see their feet moving in their sleep and sometimes they'd let out little yips in their sleep, like they were running rabbits in their dreams. Were they downloading the days memories into or onto the collective unconscious?"

Art, would your dogs only have those dreams after they went hunting, or sometimes before? Because there's another possibility--maybe they were dreaming of the *next* day's kill:

"Dream hunting has also been reported by Hugh Brody, in his 1997 narrative Dreams and Maps. The skill is almost lost, according to the Beaver Indians living in the Canadian subarctic, and only a few elders still know the way. In short, the hunter dreams where the game is located, and in some cases, can even glimpse the particular animal that chooses to be sacrificed. In waking life, the hunters locate the game and respectfully make the kill."

Dogs are at least as psychic as people, and dreaming about tomorrow's hunt would obviously be of more practical value than dreaming of yesterday's.

The brain split experiments still dont show anything. It is still one consciousness, but it is being modulated via the brain in various ways. In order to experience everyday life, consciousness perceives via the brain. Mess with the brain and perception is distorted. Force consciousness to percieve through only one hemisphere and I'm sure you'll get all kinds of interesting effects. Even so, its it's still a singular conscious experience that is manifested though.

There's some controversy about whether or not dogs actually dream. It's true that they move their paws and make little yips, which people interpret as dreaming about chasing rabbits or whatever, but it's also possible that these are just motor reactions and don't reflect any particular mental imagery. People do tend to read their own (human) level of consciousness into their pets.

It's even possible to do this with nonliving entities. When I watch my little Roomba robot vacuum cleaner work its way out of a corner, it's hard to resist the impression that the thing is struggling to get free.

After I have read the article about split-brain experiments, to my opinion to make connection between them and the existence of soul/substance dualism is a bit stretch.It seems that experiment were designed to merely test the perceptions of split-brain people and materialists uses them for their own purposes

This link showed-up on Huffington Post today. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0071275 suggesting that the left brain-right brain hypothesis may be erroneous. - AOD

Well in relation to dogs dreaming, "if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck" I figure it's a duck. I've seen some animals do some pretty amazing things in my life that look to me like they've had momentary strokes of brilliance. I worked with animals all my life and every once in a while it's almost like a light bulb goes off in their head and they do things that make me wonder just how sentient or conscious they are.

I raised homing pigeons my whole life and one time I was standing by me white truck when a female homing pigeon was being chased by a Cooper's Hawk. She came zooming towards me and landed on the truck next to me just a few inches from where I was standing. Now my pigeons were not tame or really pets. They lived their own lives and saw me as a source of food and water but not affection or friendship.

But at that moment that little hen pigeon had the foresight to realize that if she came landed by me she'd be safe from that hawk. When that hawk saw me it swerved off and flew away. After the hawk left the pigeon flew over to the loft and quickly went inside. I think she associated me with safety? I don't know....

Some years ago when I read about subpersonalities, I started to think about them I had in my own head (there are a few, we all have such). That made me feeling like balancing on the edge. The fence keeping the flock together, stopping them from running away on their own, suddenly felt very fragile. What will the spirit(s) for a person with multiple personality disorder look like when released? A scattering crowd running in all directions or an oversoul where they live in perfect harmony? Perhaps many of us keeping together pretty well in the body suddenly will act like a swarm of flies lifting from the meat (sorry, that's the best I could think of right now) when you try to catch'em.

Ghosts often seem to have a limited set of emotions, abilities and ambitions. Why on earth do they stay in their rooms, year after year (my vacuum cleaner ghost made a good choice though, but that's quite understandable)? There's a world out there, you know! Voluntary prisoners? Could it be that they only are subpersonalities (I'm thinking of interacting ghosts, not the 'recorded' ghost type), being ruled by only a tiny fraction of the persons resources in spiritual form, trapped in a thought form sticking to the walls?

Michael, MIT have shown that rats dream: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2001/dreams-0131.html I've also read something about brain studies on sleeping birds (they dreamt about singing :) ) and I think dogs too, don't know any link though.

True but its more likely that they ARE dreaming than they are not. Its not just a few random spasmodic movenents ive seen my parents dog and he is chasing something its simply the most likely explanation. Especially as we dream and we are mammals too.

Of course you can put it down to 'random motor functions' but observing a dog dreaming, this robotic interpretation is definitely the least likely of the two.

This is all to do with the still very ingrained bias of humans who do not want to asign any overly 'human' traits to animals, as to do so would result in uneasiness in the way we treat our animal cousins and also it would erode our self imposed superiority over them.

However check your research, the latest studies are indicating that many animals are displaying traits once thought only the preserve of humans.

Rather than being skeptical as to whether animals are like humans, you might want to be just as skeptical about the nition that we humans are unlike animals, why should we be? We are mammals like them, and we share more in common than we might like to admit.

"There's some controversy about whether or not dogs actually dream."

Michael, I'd be interested to know who some of those doubters are that you're referring to. I wonder if they're the same people who would say, for example, that dogs only *appear* to be able to experience love.

Thanks for posting the link to the Brian Whitworth articles, they were fascinating. He takes Boscom's idea that our universe is a computer simulation and reworks it into something much more interesting and testable. I was surprised at how well the whole theory held together and made sense. It is very interesting reading in its own right, even if you don't buy into his ideas.

Clearly our reality be it physical or virtual as he postulates, comes out of quantum mechanical reality. It is pretty shocking that science has been ignoring working on exactly what that means for so long now.

"This is all to do with the still very ingrained bias of humans who do not want to assign any overly 'human' traits to animals, as to do so would result in uneasiness in the way we treat our animal cousins and also it would erode our self imposed superiority over them.

I agree, Douglas! (See my own comment just following yours, at 10:21 AM).

I spent a little time Googling it, and found that the consensus today seems to be that dogs do dream (and so rats). This is a change from the older view of animals as essentially bundles of reflexes. I guess the controversy has been largely resolved, at least for now.

This is interesting in respect to Julian Jaynes' theory of consciousness, because according to Jaynes, bicameral man did not experience active dreams (dreams in which he visualized himself acting things out). I'm pretty sure Jaynes also insisted that animals do not dream. The new research suggests that many animals do dream, and that they dream about actively doing things like running a maze or chasing a rabbit. These findings would demolish that part of Jaynes' theory.

I'm almost tempted to post this on the discussion board of the Julian Jaynes Society, but unfortunately I know from experience that they are not too interested in evidence that challenges their point of view.

Alexander

||If substance dualism were correct, and the seat of consciousness is an immaterial soul that is somehow connected to the physical body and brain, then this experiment shouldn’t have worked that way.||

Well, dualism *isn't* correct. In my view, the soul is not an "object" that lives outside or inside the body. Nor is the transmission theory *fully* correct.

The "soul" is the complete set of information content of the person. Both in life and in the Afterlife, this information is self-organizing.


||Information gathered by one half of the severed brain should have been uploaded to the uncut, immaterial soul. It should then have been available to the other hemisphere, since the soul both receives information from the physical senses and commands the physical body. That is precisely what did not happen.||

I think how the brain works is that it is constantly uploading and downloading to Akashic records. The brain does not store full memories; it just stores where to *find* them in the eternal and indestructible pool of information. The brain can upload not only simple facts but entire brain states. (Think of how a concert pianist can just play the whole piece. If you've ever done music, you'll know that it's not like remembering and executing individual notes [although that's possible too] but having the whole piece flow through your body.)

||Instead, cutting the corpus callosum effectively cut one human being into two. As long as the patient is looking at the world with both eyes, the two halves of the brain are working in tandem. The two half-brains in one skull are not aware that anything has changed. They can navigate the world well enough that no one else knows the difference, unless he is a neuroscientists conducting a clever experiment.||

Yes, I've read about these people too. They don't feel that there is anything wrong about themselves, and they are capable of engaging in perfectly normal, coordinated action. Isn't that proof that the "soul" *does* exist? Yes, you can construct an experiment to demonstrate what differences now *do* exist, but if there were not some overarching organizing principle, why would these people not be a hot mess after their operation?

I think the answer is that they are still able to "download" and "upload" whole brain states that allow them continue life pretty much normally.

Yes dogs dream take a look at this it's a cat not a dog.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Js50Orx94iM

Following on from the 'do animals dream' theme, here's yet more new evidence of animals dreaming, in this case owls: http://m.livescience.com/38977-owlets-sleep-like-humans.html?cmpid=51462710951174

As soon as you accept that animals dream, it then follows that animals have their own inner subjective life. Quite a thought!

Alexander Zlotnick - If substance dualism were correct, and the seat of consciousness is an immaterial soul that is somehow connected to the physical body and brain, then this experiment shouldn’t have worked that way. Information gathered by one half of the severed brain should have been uploaded to the uncut, immaterial soul. It should then have been available to the other hemisphere, since the soul both receives information from the physical senses and commands the physical body. That is precisely what did not happen.

All it takes to make this compatible with interactive dualism is to postulate that during life the soul or spirit consciousness totally interpenetrates the physical brain, and that when it is in this condition it is limited by the neural connections of the physical brain. The transmission (or transceiver) theory has no more problem with split brain phenomena than it does with Alzheimer's or stroke damage or effects of drugs, etc.

Matt Rouge - The "soul" is the complete set of information content of the person. Both in life and in the Afterlife, this information is self-organizing.

Consciousness isn't just information. A data store completely describing the body and brain and memories and personality of a person would not be conscious - it would be digital bits in a supercomputer mass memory, or the data encoded in some other substrate. To say it would be self organizing is just another way of referring to the mystery of the all important essence or spark of consciousness that is simply not understood. Information does not solve the "hard problem" of consciousness.

This is related to the "universe is a simulation" theories, which in most formulations seem to assume that humans not only live in a simulation, but that we are simulations ourselves. Such notions ignore the problem described above, since information processing is no more the essence of consciousness than is straight information (except to mind = brain materialists).

I think how the brain works is that it is constantly uploading and downloading to Akashic records. The brain does not store full memories; it just stores where to *find* them in the eternal and indestructible pool of information. The brain can upload not only simple facts but entire brain states.

A problem with this hypothesis seems to be the fallibility and distortability of memory. People can "remember" partially or entirely false things as a result of suggestion and all kinds of psychological factors, drugs, and brain damage. Of course maybe false memories are also encoded in the Akashic records.

I think I might be on something. Yesterday I felt a bit depressed. I wasn't proud of my writing here. I still think the metaphor with the flies on the meat was apt, but why was I writing that shit at all, diminishing the spirits to these disgusted insects? I could have used butterflies instead or no metaphor at all. Sometimes it seems as if I want to drag the divine in the mud. That's not my intention. But I seriously thought about quit writing here. My spirit vanished. Then, in the evening, my Director threw a bone to me, like telling me ”don't be sorry, chew on this for a while”. It has happened many times before; when I've failed and become low, I've received a new idea, new force. I realized that what I've got might be just what I've been looking for: the main route for the spirit in a quantum perspective (like many other 'good' ideas it might fade away when the flaws become apparent, but it still seems useful). It explains childrens past life memories, some NDE related experiences and possibly many other things.

The idea is just one of thousands floating around among us. How unique it is I can't tell. It will probably take some time for me to work through it, until I'll decide whether I'll publish it (as a rough draft) or not. But I like it so far. It's a challenge to my brain, stretching it to its limits. A weird hobby indeed.

||Consciousness isn't just information. A data store completely describing the body and brain and memories and personality of a person would not be conscious - it would be digital bits in a supercomputer mass memory, or the data encoded in some other substrate.||

I use "information" since that's an efficient word to use. I would call it "information/Platonic forms/fact of the matter/truth/," and that would still probably not be enough. This information is medium-free.

This information is also alive to the extent that the things it is "about" are alive. Thus, the information content of your body and mind in the year 2010 includes all the quantum states, etc., and is a perfect model of your body and mind. Since it's perfect, it itself is alive. In fact, it *is* you in that period of space-time. Because, remember, information *is* the building blocks of arbitrary reality (but not the building blocks of non-arbitrary reality, such as mathematical truths).

||To say it would be self organizing is just another way of referring to the mystery of the all important essence or spark of consciousness that is simply not understood. Information does not solve the "hard problem" of consciousness.||

I think it's a big piece of the puzzle. I find it interesting that (to the extent that I am aware), you don't find the soul being described as an object, created or otherwise, in channeled material (anyone here have references to the contrary?). I think this interpretation jibes pretty well with Hindu and Buddhist thought, too.

||This is related to the "universe is a simulation" theories, which in most formulations seem to assume that humans not only live in a simulation, but that we are simulations ourselves. Such notions ignore the problem described above, since information processing is no more the essence of consciousness than is straight information (except to mind = brain materialists).||

That is complicated. I think the *essence* of consciousness is the eternal, unitary I-Thought, but otherwise consciousness *does* seem to consist of information processing of various types.

||A problem with this hypothesis seems to be the fallibility and distortability of memory. People can "remember" partially or entirely false things as a result of suggestion and all kinds of psychological factors, drugs, and brain damage. Of course maybe false memories are also encoded in the Akashic records.||

You raise a great point. Obviously, as Freud well noted, human consciousness is pretty messy and imperfect. We don't have perfect brain states, so imperfect brain states get stored. The thing to keep in mind is that people store memories not as objective facts about the world but as perceptions and other brain activities running on the hardware of the brain (this is where transmission theory is incorrect or incomplete, I think). The brain then is able to find that content again as stored in the Akashic records.

There are lots of good scientific reasons to believe that the brain does this, the biggest being that the seat of memory has not been found in the brain yet and does not appear to exist.

I use "information" since that's an efficient word to use. I would call it "information/Platonic forms/fact of the matter/truth/," and that would still probably not be enough. This information is medium-free.

This information is also alive to the extent that the things it is "about" are alive.

This is to postulate an existent (pure information that somehow is not encoded in a substrate) that cannot be visualized in any physical sense - it is a mystical concept presumably requiring a higher state of consciousness to understand, if that is possible at all. Then it is also postulated that it can be alive and conscious if the physical things it corresponds to are alive and conscious. This just adds one more step in magical mystical thinking, adding one more mystery on top of the already acknowledged mystery of qualia and consciousness. This doesn't solve the problem - it just complicates it.

All information that we know about in this world is encoded in physical substrates of various kinds, and is of a fundamentally different nature than consciousness or qualia of experience. I think it is more parsimonious to accept as valid the psychical evidence for independence of human consciousness from the physical brain, and assume that when in the disembodied state human consciousness is still 'something' that is not reducible to mere information. Though it certainly contains vast amounts of information. This information would just be encoded in a more subtle substrate than physical neurons, perhaps something along the lines of the Theosophical concept of the etheric body.

That is complicated. I think the *essence* of consciousness is the eternal, unitary I-Thought, but otherwise consciousness *does* seem to consist of information processing of various types.

But Platonic forms/pure information presumably can't process anything since processing requires having an encoded structure with which to interact.

||This is to postulate an existent (pure information that somehow is not encoded in a substrate) that cannot be visualized in any physical sense||

Right. I think it could be visualized in metaphorical senses that could be accurate, however.

For example, the Life Review is accessing the information pool about your own life/brain states pertaining to this life.

||- it is a mystical concept presumably requiring a higher state of consciousness to understand,||

Don't know if it's "mystical" or not, but I think we can understand it on at least some practical level.

||if that is possible at all. Then it is also postulated that it can be alive and conscious if the physical things it corresponds to are alive and conscious. This just adds one more step in magical mystical thinking, adding one more mystery on top of the already acknowledged mystery of qualia and consciousness. This doesn't solve the problem - it just complicates it.||

I don't think it complicates it, since qualia clearly *are* information and easily conceptualized as same.

||All information that we know about in this world is encoded in physical substrates of various kinds, and is of a fundamentally different nature than consciousness or qualia of experience.||

I would say substrate-free information is already a proven fact. Information delivered by psi is clearly not making use of any known or postulated substrate or medium.

Also, what you say is not accurate, even by the standard of materialist science. Radio waves are not a substrate (they are a medium) but they can encode information.

||I think it is more parsimonious to accept as valid the psychical evidence for independence of human consciousness from the physical brain, and assume that when in the disembodied state human consciousness is still 'something' that is not reducible to mere information.||

Then you are saying that it is more parsimonious *not* to venture an explanation than to venture one. You yourself call it "something" above--a blank to be filled in. I am saying that that blank is filled in with "information."

||Though it certainly contains vast amounts of information. This information would just be encoded in a more subtle substrate than physical neurons, perhaps something along the lines of the Theosophical concept of the etheric body.||

Well, we basically agree. I am simply saying that no medium is required to encode it.

||But Platonic forms/pure information presumably can't process anything since processing requires having an encoded structure with which to interact.||

Apparently not! Psi is proof that this is not the case.

"All information that we know about in this world is encoded in physical substrates of various kinds"

I'm no expert in quantum physics, but as I understand it, when subatomic entities such as electrons behave like waves, they are actually not physical waves but "probability waves" - probability distributions or information curves. In other words, the electron in its wave form is just a smear of possible locations ("potentia"), none of which has been actualized. This spread of data points would constitute information, I think, yet I don't know that it is encoded in a substrate. What would the substrate be? The quantum vacuum?

I am presently reading a book called "What Survives" which is a collection of essays by researchers of Life After Death. It is edited by Dr. Gary Doore, PhD.

There is a story on page 87 that I thought was really interesting, written by Julian Burton. Burton's study grew from a dramatic personal event that Burton experienced shortly after his mother died in 1973 from a massive stroke.

"My wife and I were entertaining relatives. I was in the kitchen cutting a pineapple when I heard what I thought were my wife's footsteps behind me to the right. I turned to ask the whereabouts to a bowl but realized that she had crossed to the left outside my field of vision. I turned in that direction to repeat my question and saw my mother standing there. She was fully visible, looking years younger than at the time of her death. She was wearing a diaphanous pale-blue gown trimmed in marabou which I had never seen before.

The figure gradually dissolved, but the real denouement came the following day. The next morning I called my sister Jean and told her what had happened. She was upset and began to sob asking why our mother had not come to her. I felt bad about this and asked her if she believed what I had told her, whereupon she said she knew it was true. Why was she so certain? She replied that she and Mother had gone shopping together two weeks before the stroke and Mother had tried on the pale blue gown I had described. Although Mother looked attractive in the dress and wanted it very much, she had balked at paying two hundred dollars for such a garment."

I would say substrate-free information is already a proven fact. Information delivered by psi is clearly not making use of any known or postulated substrate or medium.

Also, what you say is not accurate, even by the standard of materialist science. Radio waves are not a substrate (they are a medium) but they can encode information.

From Merriam-Webster: "Information - the attribute inherent in and communicated by one of two or more alternative sequences or arrangements of something (as nucleotides in DNA or binary digits in a computer program) that produce specific effects."

In our world and presumably in any world, information consists of a configuration making up a pattern. This configuration or pattern has to be made up out of something not nothing. The information may have no meaning whatsoever, like the spatial configuration of sand particles on a beach or atoms in a snowflake, or it can be the complex specified information of the configuration of letters in an encyclopedia. The important thing is that the information always consists of some medium or substrate that is configured into a pattern. In the examples it is sand particles, H2O molecules, and the ink forming the letters printed on the paper of the book.

In the case of esp the physical brain of the psychic is the substrate through which the information is received in our world. Individual neurons are somehow being physically influenced and encoded with the information. In order for the psychic information to be received, the complex specified information of it (consisting of a pattern composed of some "substance") had to traverse the space surrounding the psychic or tunnel through from a higher reality. We don't know what this substrate is, but it must exist for the information to exist.

We can't conceive of information existing without it having a substrate of which it is composed. With radio waves the information is carried by the magnitude, phase and frequency of the electric and magnetic fields making up the EM wave. There is a substrate - the EM wave itself, and ultimately the space traversed by the wave.

Since information seems to necessarily consist of a configuration of some substance, and since qualia and consciousness cannot be just a configuration of some substance, consciousness is not just information.

What about the probability waves in QM, doubter?

To me, it's the QM applications of VR theory that make it most compelling. Brian Whitworth's essays are an example; so is TheBottomLayer.com .

Of course, even in terms of information theory, it's possible to posit a substrate - we just don't know what the substrate is. As Whitworth says, it's not possible to formulate a Theory of Everything, because each solution leads to further questions. The best we can do is formulate a Query of Everything, as he puts it.

This spread of data points would constitute information, I think, yet I don't know that it is encoded in a substrate. What would the substrate be? The quantum vacuum?

This is a good point. I don't know how the behavior of subatomic particles/waves relates to the apparent macroscopic necessity for information to be made out of some substance or substrate. However, this form of information consisting of a probability distribution would presumably be purely Shannon information not the complex specified information such as makes up the structure of living beings.

doubter,

As a demonstration of my point:

Let's say you and I played a series of chess games in 2005. We didn't write down the moves, and we don't remember them.

Does that mean that now the actual moves are indefinite? That the content of the games is as good as not existing at all?

I don't know whether even materialists would say that. They would probably claim that, barring some technology that allows us to see into the past, there is no way to know what the moves of the games were, but that the games exist as is in their own region of space-time.

Even if hard-core materialists would not argue thus, I think that it is entirely correct to state that the games *had* definite, factual moves whose actuality is not dependent on our memory. At the very least, those moves influence in some small way the current state of the universe.

And if we agree that the past has definite content, then the question is, What makes the past one thing and not another?

Is it that there is a substrate that "encodes" the past and makes it what it is/was? I would say that there is no reason to believe that such a thing exists. This is what I mean when I say that "information" includes the concept of "fact of the matter": the *fact* of those chess moves is indestructible and eternally retrievable. As is *all* information pertaining to the past.

If we aren't materialists, then I think this fact becomes even more clear, as is evidenced by Life Reviews and other phenomena.

You wrote,

||From Merriam-Webster: "Information - the attribute inherent in and communicated by one of two or more alternative sequences or arrangements of something (as nucleotides in DNA or binary digits in a computer program) that produce specific effects."||

The definition does say *something,* but it does not say "medium" or "substrate." I agree that information must consist of "something." I disagree that it requires a physical medium or substrate.

Another reason why I make this claim I one I haven't presented here yet. If a medium/substrate is required, then presumably there would information pertaining to the medium/substrate, and so on, leading to an infinite series of media/substrates. Reductio ad absurdam, in other words.

||In our world and presumably in any world, information consists of a configuration making up a pattern.||

I agree.

||This configuration or pattern has to be made up out of something not nothing.||

Ah, but the configuration/pattern already *is* something--that's the point! In fact, it *is* the fundamental substance of the Universe.

||The important thing is that the information always consists of some medium or substrate that is configured into a pattern.||

This is question-begging. You haven't demonstrated the necessity of the medium/substrate.

||In the case of esp the physical brain of the psychic is the substrate through which the information is received in our world.||

Perhaps. But the information appears to *travel to* the brain without making use of any medium or substrate.

Now I think it's almost certain that this information transfer is regulated by a host of rules, just as other phenomena in the natural world are. The thing is, the rules don't seem to be "encoded" either. For example, is there a tablet somewhere on which is written the gravitational constant?

Arbitrary rules must be "regulated" by Universe somehow, but it's unclear how this happens, and it's hard to see how a medium or substrate could play a role.

||Individual neurons are somehow being physically influenced and encoded with the information.||

"Somehow," yes. And it's unclear to what degree individual memories are encoded in the brain itself. I think that only their "location" in the information pool is encoded.

||In order for the psychic information to be received, the complex specified information of it (consisting of a pattern composed of some "substance") had to traverse the space surrounding the psychic or tunnel through from a higher reality. We don't know what this substrate is, but it must exist for the information to exist.||

Question-begging again.

||We can't conceive of information existing without it having a substrate of which it is composed.||

I can! Michael seems able to do so as well.

||With radio waves the information is carried by the magnitude, phase and frequency of the electric and magnetic fields making up the EM wave. There is a substrate - the EM wave itself, and ultimately the space traversed by the wave.||

Technically, I believe a substrate has to be made of matter.

||Since information seems to necessarily consist of a configuration of some substance, and since qualia and consciousness cannot be just a configuration of some substance, consciousness is not just information.||

I *don't* think consciousness is just information. I think consciousness is the I-thought interacting with information in a particular manner.

I disagree, but I do appreciate the thoughts you are bringing to this debate. Namaste!

I have read the dialogue that Doubter and Matt Rouge are doing, and I think this thread might be useful:

http://forum.mind-energy.net/skeptiko-podcast/5215-soul-physical.html

Correct me if I'm wrong but I think Matt's position is that mind and matter are not fundamental, but only what fundamental are the events or the information, events are not supported on something. Instead Doubter's position is that the matter is fundamental and all events and information given on concrete objects, which may be material or energetic. My position coincides with the Doubter's position, because we have the intuition that events and information have to be in something concrete, so that the evidence of the afterlife requires something like the astral body, but Matt's position is self-consistent and I do not think there's any way to refute ontological position.

Matt Rouge - This is what I mean when I say that "information" includes the concept of "fact of the matter": the *fact* of those chess moves is indestructible and eternally retrievable. As is *all* information pertaining to the past.

Barring some form of personal mystic revelation we have no way of knowing if events of the past still exist in any form, or that they are retrievable (like a postulated Akashic Records library). Such a transcendental definition of "information" is your concept and assumption. It is true that NDE life reviews seem to indicate that memories of the details of personal experience are stored somewhere and are retrievable by the spirit.

Another reason why I make this claim I one I haven't presented here yet. If a medium/substrate is required, then presumably there would information pertaining to the medium/substrate, and so on, leading to an infinite series of media/substrates. Reductio ad absurdam, in other words.

An interesting argument, but I think the series ends with the first reduction. At least it does in the physical world, where for example the information describing the ink on the pages of the encyclopedia, to be retrievable, has to be actualized in some also physical form, like more ink letters and numbers on paper. Then information about that information simply needs to be held in the same form, etc. Otherwise, we can imagine the information may exist in some Platonic form, but it is not retrievable or actualizable.

Ah, but the configuration/pattern already *is* something--that's the point! In fact, it *is* the fundamental substance of the Universe.

Unsubstantiated - this is assuming what is being debated. Maybe if one has had a revelation of this while in a higher state of consciousness. Short of that, for me reasoning seems to require there to be a substrate, medium, substance, etc.

The thing is, the rules don't seem to be "encoded" either. For example, is there a tablet somewhere on which is written the gravitational constant?

It is true that the way things work in logic, mathematics and physics has no corporeal existence. These are just givens. This information is just built in to our reality, so you could say that the universe itself is their substrate. I don't think the information describing human beings and their lives has some sort of Platonic transcendental existence any more than the physical constants or mathermatical constants like e or pi.

I *don't* think consciousness is just information. I think consciousness is the I-thought interacting with information in a particular manner.

I think this may finally resolve the debate, in that I have been arguing that consciousness cannot be 'just' information. I agree somewhat with your statement, except that I don't know what the other essential ingredient or factor is. You think you do. It is certainly true that the information content of consciousness, for instance the information content of qualia, is apparently not made up of any "substance" since qualia are not made of any substance.

"It is true that the way things work in logic, mathematics and physics has no corporeal existence. These are just givens. This information is just built in to our reality, so you could say that the universe itself is their substrate."

But couldn't you also say that these givens are the substrate, and the universe is built on them?

It's not an idle point. Many people have noticed that the universe had to get an extraordinary number of things "just right" in order to be stable and habitable. These "cosmic coincidences" involve universal constants and other key "rules" apparently baked into the cake at the Big Bang. An article by Hugh Ross (who approaches the subject from a Christian perspective) lists many of these cosmic coincidences:

http://www.reasons.org/articles/design-and-the-anthropic-principle

Ross's list (which is not original with him) includes such things as the gravitational constant, the strong and weak nuclear forces, and the ratio of electron to proton mass.

Now, for the universe to "work" as a fit habitat for any conceivable life form, these values have to be set within narrow parameters - sometimes exceedingly narrow, and almost impossible to arrive at by sheer chance. Scientists, recognizing this problem, have suggested that there are trillions of universes, all with different initial conditions, and that by the law of averages a few of them will be suitable for life. There's no actual evidence for these trillions of other universes, however.

Another possibility is that, as Sir James Jeans put it, "The universe begins to look less like a great Machine and more like a great Thought." Or as Sir Fred Hoyle put it, "A super-intlelect has been monkeying with the laws of physics." That is, the rules may have been designed in just that way in order to make the universe turn out like Goldilocks' porridge - "just right."

But if this second possibility is true, then the rules are not merely an accidental byproduct of the physical universe, but the jumping-off point for the universe. The universe thens starts to resemble the virtual reality environment of a computer game, in which the rules (the program) precede the boot-up of the game itself.

The question of how these rules (or information) can be encoded without any known substrate doesn't particularly worry me, for three reasons: 1) Just because information must be encoded in physical form in our physical reality does not mean it must be encoded in physical form in some hypothetical nonphysical reality; 2) just because i can't imagine a nonphysical reality doesn't make it impossible, any more than a Flatlander's inability to imagine a third dimension makes a third dimension impossible; and 3) I'm not insisting that there is no substrate to the information anyway. Maybe there is. Maybe consciousness (in some large sense) is the substrate. Or maybe the truth is some version of neutral monism in which consciousness and information are both grounded in some deeper "thing." (And maybe that thing is grounded in something deeper still ...)

Juan,

Thanks! I am looking at your thread on the other board with interest.

Doubter,

||Barring some form of personal mystic revelation we have no way of knowing if events of the past still exist in any form, or that they are retrievable (like a postulated Akashic Records library).||

You have been saying this more than once, but a personal revelation is not necessary. I am going on evidence from a variety of sources, including one we apparently agree is important, NDEs.

Plus, there are philosophical arguments, one of which I made. In everyday life, we treat the past as though it exists objectively. I think materialist scientists do the same. Certainly in courts of law, the working assumption is that particular things happened. Further, the past does not merely consist of what people *happen* to remember, so that if everyone forgot about something, then it would cease completely to exist.

If we agree that the past has an objective existence, then the question poses itself: What makes it so? I would say that the difficulty is cleared up if we recognize a certain principle, namely: "Information is eternal and indestructible."

A further confusion in our discussion is your saying that such things are my assumptions, etc. I may be wrong, but I am trying to advance theses that match the facts on the ground, so to speak. I am advancing theses that fit such mundane realities as the fact that we treat the past as an objective reality, as well as evidence from NDEs, channeled materials, ancient and modern myths, my own introspection (including observations of how memory works) etc.

||It is true that NDE life reviews seem to indicate that memories of the details of personal experience are stored somewhere and are retrievable by the spirit.||

Not only that, but they often show the past from the perspective of others, indicating that they are not just retrieval of memories from the departed.

||An interesting argument, but I think the series ends with the first reduction. At least it does in the physical world, where for example the information describing the ink on the pages of the encyclopedia, to be retrievable, has to be actualized in some also physical form, like more ink letters and numbers on paper. Then information about that information simply needs to be held in the same form, etc. Otherwise, we can imagine the information may exist in some Platonic form, but it is not retrievable or actualizable.||

This logic works for materialism. Materialists say that the physical world *just is.* Any information *about* it is nothing more that stuff we hominids are creating for our own convenience, necessarily limited by physical media like paper and servers. There is no God, no inherent meaning behind any of it. There are no such things as NDES, and any life review comes from the content of our own neurons, nothing more. Hence, no "universal storage medium" is required; in fact, the notion is absurd.

This logic doesn't work for spiritual realities, however. If NDEs are real, then, according to you, all of that content needs to be stored in a physical or analogous medium somewhere. If you grant that this medium stores information with 100% accuracy and is eternal, indestructible, and unalterable, then I would say that we already, in essence, hold the same position regarding information. In such a case, I would simply hold that whatever "physical" attributes the stored information had were simply part of the nature of information.

OTOH, if you were to hold that the storage medium were temporal and subject to destruction or alteration, then I think you would have a philosophical problem on your hands.

I make a similar argument about the soul. If the soul is an "object," then presumably it can be destroyed. That which potentially can happen eventually *will* happen, granted eternity and presumably an infinite number of opportunities for it to happen. Western religion has dealt with this by saying that God is taking care of everything and protecting one, etc. (What I was taught as a Catholic was that God had created souls to be eternal.)

Similarly, if information pertaining to NDEs and other spiritual realities is subject to destruction, then there must be something that guards it, and so on. I think you get into some messy stuff, and I have seen no evidence from the sources I cite at the top of this post that this is the case.

||It is true that the way things work in logic, mathematics and physics has no corporeal existence. These are just givens. This information is just built in to our reality, so you could say that the universe itself is their substrate. I don't think the information describing human beings and their lives has some sort of Platonic transcendental existence any more than the physical constants or mathermatical constants like e or pi.||

You have lumped two unlike things together! The laws of mathematics and logic are necessary. Ceteris paribus, 2 + 2 = 4 in all possible universes. (I have had materialists argue this point. It's frustrating!)

In contrast, the gravitational constant and all other *laws* of physics appear to be completely arbitrary. They do not appear to be necessary in all possible universes. They are *not* "just givens." For example, we can easily imagine a universe in which the gravitational constant is double what it is in ours.

I agree that the laws/truths of mathematics and logic (perhaps lumpable as the "laws of pattern") are non-corporeal. I would argue that they are *not* encoded and *cannot* be encoded, since they cannot be otherwise. BTW, I think the existence of these laws are a good argument against Western-style monotheism, since any "God" would be subjected to them and cannot really be "supreme."

You say, "so you could say that the universe itself is their substrate." This is interesting, and with this you seem to concede that a substrate is not always necessary. For if you say the Universe is the substrate, isn't that agreeing that non-physical "encoding" of information is possible?

||I think this may finally resolve the debate, in that I have been arguing that consciousness cannot be 'just' information.||

I don't recall this as our main point of argument, but I agree.

||I agree somewhat with your statement, except that I don't know what the other essential ingredient or factor is. You think you do.||

Well, I don't think I have any special insight here. I am borrowing from Indian thought and Averroes.

||It is certainly true that the information content of consciousness, for instance the information content of qualia, is apparently not made up of any "substance" since qualia are not made of any substance.||

True!

Matt wrote, "In everyday life, we treat the past as though it exists objectively. I think materialist scientists do the same. Certainly in courts of law, the working assumption is that particular things happened."

Although I'm partial to the idea of a hyperdimensional reality in which past, present, and future coexist, I'm not sure I follow this particular argument. Saying that something existed or happened in the past does not mean that it still exists or is still happening now. Or am I missing something?

||Although I'm partial to the idea of a hyperdimensional reality in which past, present, and future coexist, I'm not sure I follow this particular argument. Saying that something existed or happened in the past does not mean that it still exists or is still happening now. Or am I missing something?||

It's an interesting question. Let's say we're materialists. It's a murder trial. Do we say, "Well, the past doesn't exist, so there is no point in putting this guy on trial"? I think very people would hold such an opinion on a practical level.

The argument then stems from this fact of how we think of the past on a *practical level.* If we think of the past as having *some sort* of existence (XYZ happened and not ABC), then the question is, "What makes the past the past?"

I'm a believer in the holographic universe theory. If our universe is a holographic projection that means it is projected from "somewhere" and in that somewhere, which is like a holographic piece of film, everything past, present, and future all ready exists.

I suspicion that the education of the soul is too important to leave up to chance. We are here to learn the things that can't be learned in heaven.

If we think of the past as having *some sort* of existence (XYZ happened and not ABC), then the question is, "What makes the past the past?"

One can argue that the substrate of the information from the past is the entire universe, so I do not think it is a case of information without substrate.

Michael Prescott - "It is true that the way things work in logic, mathematics and physics has no corporeal existence. These are just givens. This information is just built in to our reality, so you could say that the universe itself is their substrate."

But couldn't you also say that these givens are the substrate, and the universe is built on them?

An interesting point. The laws of logic and mathematics seem to be the way all of possible reality works, so any possible physical reality has to embody these principles. These laws are not so much a substrate substance as the absolutely necessary way of being for anything. The physical constants are different - they are contingent on the existence of our universe of spacetime, matter and energy, which is the something not nothing which actualizes them and acts as their substrate. And they are finely tuned to allow our existence.

Matt Rouge - In everyday life, we treat the past as though it exists objectively. I think materialist scientists do the same. Certainly in courts of law, the working assumption is that particular things happened. Further, the past does not merely consist of what people *happen* to remember, so that if everyone forgot about something, then it would cease completely to exist.

If we agree that the past has an objective existence, then the question poses itself: What makes it so? I would say that the difficulty is cleared up if we recognize a certain principle, namely: "Information is eternal and indestructible."

In physical life, past events can be referred to purely because they have left memories and physical traces of their existence in our present time. All that there still exists (that we can detect) of the previous time is those memories and physical traces. It is an unwarranted assumption that the past somehow still has an objective existence in some transcendental sense. Treating the past in common parlance as if it has an objective existence is a linguistic convenience.

I am advancing theses that fit such mundane realities as the fact that we treat the past as an objective reality, as well as evidence from NDEs, channeled materials, ancient and modern myths, my own introspection (including observations of how memory works) etc.

Evidence from NDE life reviews is just as easily accomodated by the hypothesis that life experiences of ourselves and others are encoded in some non physical substrate accessible to the spirit. Channeling and myths are not persuasive to me - so much of it is fantasy. Different people, different intuitions. My own introspection is that for information to exist it must be tangible in some sense and formed of a substrate of some kind.

If you grant that this medium (for NDE life review data) stores information with 100% accuracy and is eternal, indestructible, and unalterable, then I would say that we already, in essence, hold the same position regarding information. In such a case, I would simply hold that whatever "physical" attributes the stored information had were simply part of the nature of information.

We know that life reviews occur that seem to show that personal experiences and experiences of other interacting individuals apparently are recorded in incredible detail. We don't absolutely know for certain (short of channeled and other spiritual teachings and individual personal intuitions all of which can be unreliable) that this information is eternal and indestructible.

OTOH, if you were to hold that the storage medium were temporal and subject to destruction or alteration, then I think you would have a philosophical problem on your hands.

There is evidence for an afterlife and for the retention of uncannily detailed memories of physical life experiences. Just staying with the evidence, beyond that I don't see that there is a philosophical problem with allowing for the possibility that records of human experience are held encoded in some immaterial substance that nonetheless is not infinite and absolutely indestructible. This is a problem only with various spiritual teachings about the afterlife and the soul.

You have lumped two unlike things together! The laws of mathematics and logic are necessary. Ceteris paribus, 2 + 2 = 4 in all possible universes. (I have had materialists argue this point. It's frustrating!)

I agree. There is a fundamental difference between the laws of logic and mathematics which seem to be the only possible such laws in all of existing reality and all possible universes, and the physical constants. I would still hold that the laws of physics and the physical constants are all givens in our universe, information that is built into our particular reality where the spacetime matter/energy universe itself can be regarded as their substrate. The laws of logic and mathematics seem to be the only information that exists independent of a substrate, in some form of Platonic hyperreality. The physical constants only exist as they are actualized in the spacetime matter/energy of our universe.

For if you say the Universe is the substrate, isn't that agreeing that non-physical "encoding" of information is possible?

No, because the Universe consisting of physical space, matter and energy is "something" not nothing.

||One can argue that the substrate of the information from the past is the entire universe, so I do not think it is a case of information without substrate.||

I'm fine with that, but I think in this case the use of the word "substrate" would be 100% metaphorical (though not necessarily "wrong").

I'm fine with that, but I think in this case the use of the word "substrate" would be 100% metaphorical (though not necessarily "wrong").

I think that the substrate can be literal, something like the quantum vacuum.

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