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I like Dr. Whitworth's stuff, but sometimes I feel like he's unwilling to take that final step--probably for fear of it being labeled *gasp* paranormal.
For instance, in his "evidence" list, or anywhere in the article that I could see, he doesn't mention the observer effect. I think that's a rather central facet of quantum theory--if the universe is a quantum simulation. What about Bell's Theorem? Wave-particle duality? I wouldn't even mention any psi experiments.
But the other biggie: he mentions "that a quantum reality is "out there" apart from us." In a virtual reality, there could be no "out there," no "us." Consciousness would be a ghost of a ghost. A virtual phenomena that arise from virtual phenomena.
Saying the physical substrate is virtual, but the observer substrate is not, is, in a way, just a semantic twist of dualism. (Plus, isn't that a lot of substrates?)
It's almost like some of these guys are so close to arriving at breakthrough ideas but they immediately resort to old paradigms, or templates.
Maybe we need to schedule interventions.

I always find it funny (read: humorous, exasperating, and strange) when people talk about how the world "should" behave. What do we know? How is non-physical quantum processing more "realistic" - or indeed different from - a "reality beyond the physical"?

I agree with Matt in that people will go a long way to use language that doesn't sound "paranormal." The universe is a weird place - maybe we should just get used to that.

Michael, you might want to check out a recent BBC Horizon episode that specifically looks at the phenomenon of consciousness, albeit from mainly a reductionist POV. Still quite fascinating though.

The Secret You

Thanks for the link Markus. Just watched it. It's a disturbing idea that my brain arrived at the "decision" to type these words 6 seconds before my finger touched the keyboard!

"For instance, in his "evidence" list, or anywhere in the article that I could see, he doesn't mention the observer effect"

He does mention the "observer" effect. It is his position that within the VR everything is consciousness, and oberves itself to forward the VR. He does not currently get into "spiritual" issues, but has stated that this will be the topic of a future paper.For a more fully deeloped spiritual take on the VR see Tom Campbell's "My Big TOE."


I know that Tom Campbell's TOE has been discussed here and I know that Michael wasn't able to get through his Trilogy but his theory includes and I beieve transcends Whitworth's work. I also recommend Vlatko Vedral's excellent and highly readable book "Decoding Reality:The Universe as Quantum Information" which nicely supports Campbell and Whitworth's work.

Hi Greg--
I think that makes more sense. I didn't pick up that idea from the article though, although I may have scanned through it.
If you could pull that part out, I would appreciate it.
I have yet to read TOE, but have read about it. Thanks for the recommendations.

I can't see how how another reality beyond the physical would double the existential problem?. Afterall, that is what the evidence from survival strongly shows.

Great link, Michael, thank you.

As GregL indicates, Michael’s link includes this statement from Brian Whitworth:

‘The "observer"… is not us personally as human beings, but all existence "knowing" itself directly. So no tree falls in a forest unseen as the ground it hits "sees" it...the fundamental observer of the universe is not physical at all, let alone technical or biological, but the essence of consciousness in all things.”

The self-reference idea (the eye looking at itself) is not a new one, though, is it?!

Incidentally, the latest “Horizon” programme broadcast last week called “What Is Reality” (available on BBC iPlayer – it gets interesting at about the 34 minute mark) includes Craig Hogan at Fermilab who is shortly to do an experiment to check if we are living in a Virtual Reality. His $1 million “holometer” will check the grain of the universe to see if there’s a fuzziness. If there is, this will suggest the universe may be a giant hologram.

America’s foremost physicist Leonard Susskind was inspired by Hawking’s idea that black holes encode the information falling into them at the event horizon (apparently converting 3D to 2D). The scientists at Fermilab wondered if this might apply (in reverse) to the Universe as a whole (ie everything here is projected in from its edge).

And guess what - if the result is positive, it would not only give a fillip to Brian Whitworth’s theory, but to Art’s as well!

Exciting times ahead, even if, as Leo says, it doubles the existential problem!

Just looking at the table of contents indicates that the so-called "Debating Psychic Experience: Human Potential or Human Illusion?" appears to be dominated by the skeptics in terms of sheer volume of writing. There are 11 chapters, epilogues, postscripts, etc. by seven skeptics versus 4 chapters by two proponents. Kind of unbalanced for a true debate. I wonder if Radin and Carter knew what they were getting into.

The world is not made of "physical" "things." It is made out of relationships, and relationships are information, and information is intelligence, and intelligence is consciousness. The world, the universe, is consciousness.

There are an infinite number of levels, according to the physicist David Bohm, and lower levels unfold from higher levels. So there are higher dimensional planes, which are the "super-natural" "other worlds" that human beings have always been aware of.

The word "physical" just means "natural." Sure, everything is part of nature. But nature is more than this level.

The universe is conscious, and that means the universe is "personal." What do we mean by a "person" anyway? A person doesn't need a "physical" body. A person is an integrated center of consciousness.

The conscious universe is "god," but that doesn't mean there is only one god. Our concept of number, of "one" and "many" is limited to our dimensional level. On higher levels, it would not be limited in this way.

So it is meaningless to ask if there is one god or many gods,

Modern science and the central concepts of most religious and mystical traditions are compatible. Yet our mainstream science still denies this.

Thanks Ben for the heads up on the Horizon program with Craig Hogan. I'm putting that on my list of things to do! It's too late tonight all ready and if I tried to listen to it now I'd fall asleep but perhaps tomorrow afternoon?

I believe the education of the soul is too important to leave up to chance.

I couldn't stand it. I had to watch it before I went to sleep. I went and found the program on youtube and watched the last part of it and saw Craig Hogan talk about his holometer. Hogan was on #4 talking about his holometer. There are 6 parts on youtube, each one 10 minutes long. Good stuff! Thanks again.

Horizon - What is Reality 1 of 6

Nick Bostrom holds that it's fairly plausible this whole darn world is just a simulation.

I'm fairly convinced that our Universe is some kind of strange hologrpahic projection. How do I know? Hundreds of near death experiencers have told me.

"I literally had the feeling that I was everywhere in the universe simultaneously." - excerpt from mark horton's nde,

Art, I have a question about the hologram theory. If everything here is over there, does that mean all the bad things are over there too...the AIDS virus, old age, our horrible industrial architecture and wastelands, acne, etc. Or instead would perhaps the most idealized version of everything be "over there?"

Everything exists all at once in a holographic piece of film. What near death experiencers report is that whatever they focused their attention on, whatever they thought of, that is what they "experienced."

It's sort of like having a DVD of a movie and if there is a certain part of the movie you want to go back to you just go back to it and re-watch it, only in a holographic DVD it wouldn't be up on a screen but you would experience it 3 dimensionally as if you were there.

Another words, if you want to experience guinea worms, fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, poisonous snakes, briars, poison ivy, etc. if you think about them and focus your attention on them you can probably do so.

The physics of the other side is very different from this side. It's what you would expect in a holographic piece of film instead of the hologram (which is a projection from the film).

excerpt from an interview in National Geographic with Dr. Brian Green, PhD physicist from Columbia University:

"In the final chapter of your book, you suggest that the world may be a hologram. That sounds very Matrix-like."

Greene responds: "It's a very speculative idea that seems to, strangely enough, naturally emerge from string theory. Basically, the fundamental laws of the universe don't really operate in the environment around us. They may operate on sort of a distant bounding surface and give rise to the familiar world that we experience in much the same way that a thin piece of plastic, when illuminated correctly—if it's a hologram—can yield a three-dimensional image.

It might be that the deep laws are more like the thin piece of plastic existing on a thin bounding surface. Everything we know might be akin to a holographic projection of those distant laws."

Here is an example from Mark Horton's NDE (my favorite NDE and the one I have bookmarked in my list of favorites):

"I was pure intellect, absorbing information and knowledge through "sensors" or means that I have no concept of. From this vantage point, I had to merely think of a place and time and I was there, experiencing everything about the place and time and people present."

"Time could also be contracted, I found. Centuries would condense into seconds. Millenniums would shrink into moments. The entire civilization that I was part of passed by in the blink of an eye."
excerpt from John Starr's NDE,

"Time as I had known it came to a halt; past, present, and future were somehow fused together for me in the timeless unity of life ... I could be anywhere instantly, really there"
excerpt from Dr. George Rodonia's NDE,

"Suddenly I thought of a mountain, I had seen as a child. When I looked up from the road there it was; The Mountain! Not just the mountain! But the most breathtaking mountain I had ever seen! Details the likes of which no one could imagine. Colors shades of color, shadows for which there are no words in the human language to describe it."
excerpt from Mark H's (not the same person as Mark Horton) NDE,

"All at once I seemed to feel like I was a boy, a girl, a dog, a cat, a fish. Then I felt like I was an old man, an old woman - and then a little tiny baby."
excerpt from Randy Gehling's (age 10)NDE,

Another really interesting holographic idea comes from Emmanuel Swedenborg's writings. I'm in the process of wading through his book Heaven and Hell. Swedenborg talks about how when the Angels communicate one word is so rich with meaning that it would take a thousand words to explain it. A common theme in NDEs is that information is downloaded as a "bolus" of information. Instead of getting a stream of information, because everything is connected, you get the whole idea all at once. Another words just like Swedenborg describes in his description of communication in heaven. It's a very holographic idea.

Very interesting, Art, thanks for explaining all of that! Oddly enough, Jane Roberts expressed similar ideas, that in the state after death, whatever we imagine or expect instantly happens. I've come across this same idea among other spiritual thinkers too. Understanding at once sounds awesome--perhaps at last I'll finally be able to understand how a television set works :-)

Many near death experiencers say they had "all knowledge" or that whatever they thought about they instantly had the answers. It makes sense to me because that is exactly what I'd expect in a place where everything is infinitely connected to everything, where everything interpenetrates, and "one".

Which is a perfect description of a holographic piece of film. In a holographic piece of film all the information is spread throughout the entire hologram. Our consciousness simply moves from this plane, the physical universe, to the "other side" or "heaven".

Beverly B NDE
"I was given more than just the answers to my questions; all knowledge unfolded to me, like the instant blossoming of an infinite number of flowers all at"

Analisa D's NDE
"It were as though all knowledge was being poured through me, .... I was very alert, more alert than when I was alive it was as though all knowledge was"'s%20NDE.htm

Patsy D NDE
"Suddenly, I had all knowledge."

Your interpretation of these NDE's are a kind of culture dependent poetry. If they were translated to chinese and given to a chinese person to interpret he might very well end up with a complete different understanding. Or even better, you should try to look for the holographic aspect in a non-western NDE. The cultural aspect of NDE's are proven and I bet you won't find what you are looking for in a non-western NDE.

"The cultural aspect of NDE's are proven"

Your evidence for this statement?

A person's culture most certainly influences the way they describe their NDE, yes. Since NDEs are often said to be "ineffable," it makes sense that people would use cultural tropes when attempting to relate their experiences.

Also, it has been said that there isn't really a logical reason for an afterlife not to contain elements of a person's culture. If we think of the afterlife as "cosmic realm where all differences between people are washed away and we lose individuality," then maybe culture would not play a part. But that's our expectation, based on certain religious teachings, not something based on any particular evidence. While a person is alive, culture is certainly very important. Furthermore, if the afterlife is a place where our thoughts come to life, then surely people might get to experience whatever they want/expect, and this might well include sights and other features from their culture.

Another possibility is that, if more than one of earth's religious traditions is assumed to be at least partly right, there may be different "realms" within the afterlife that have some correspondence to this-world cultures. Basically, we have no idea what the spirit world/afterlife might be like, beyond the glimpses that NDErs give us, so we really have no grounds for saying "culture isn't a part of the afterlife."


Not quite true: We have plenty of testimony about what the afterlife may be like from those claiming to be permanently resident - through mediums. Far more testimony than from NDEs.

Perhaps interestingly such evidence tends to support your suggestion that culture does indeed remain a part of such an existence, at least for some time.

"I bet you won't find what you are looking for in a non-western NDE."

That's interesting. You may be right.

On the other hand, there aren't very many documented non-Western NDEs, compared with Western ones. And it seems to me that the "all knowledge" element occurs in only a minority of Western NDEs anyway. So the absence of this feature in non-Western NDEs (if it is absent) *might* indicate only that the sample is too small to include such cases.

It is normal to interpret what we read according to our past. I have 30 graduate hours towards a Masters Degree in Holistic Teaching and learning. There is no doubt in my mind this has affected how I see life and "why we are here."

What it means to learn holistically is that the learning is buried within our everyday lives. You learn just as you go about living your life. It is the way children learn before they ever start formal schooling and the way we continue to learn after we graduate and start working. Most people learn more after they graduate from college and start their actual job than they learned while they were in classes.

This is why I believe the soul's lessons are embedded in our everyday lives and it is holistically imprinted with what it needs to learn regardless of who we are, or where we live, or what we believe. The Creator of the Universe was so smart that (S)He was able to create a Universe where we learn what we are supposed to learn even if we don't want to. The Education of the Soul is too important to leave it up to chance and "resistance is futile."

We see and interpret the life after death experience as being completely religious or spiritual but when I read them I oftentimes see a scientific element buried within. And yes I realize this is probably because I spent most of my life working in laboratories and teaching physical science. It's the way my mind works.

My first degree was in Animal Science and then I worked in Biomedical research for 20 years. There are elements of quantum physics and holographic universes and the physics of what I know about light and holograms.

Even the "realer than real" that NDEers talk about reminds me of the fuzziness or blurriness that is inherent in a hologram which is the realm we are living in now which explains to me why the other side is the way it is. It is the original holographic film, not the projection from the film.

Seeing "more colors than normal" might simply be because they see the entire light spectrum instead of just a small part of it like we do now. "All knowledge" exists simply because the other side is the original holographic film and in holographic film each piece contains the whole.

Time and space not existing is because in a holographic film everything exists all at once, past, present, and future, and each piece contains the whole so all the information is spread throughout the entire piece of holographic film.

After people come back from their experience they sit and stew on it and try and put into words what they experienced. They interpret it according to the culture in which they were raised.

Sort of like going through life with "rose colored glasses" - everything looks pink so you think the world has a pink hue to it. Betty Eadie had been raised in a very Christian environment so after she came back her mind thought the being she saw in the Light had to be Christ.

Howard Storm was a self avowed atheist so all he had to compare his experience to were long buried childhood memories of religion. After he came out of his body and found himself still alive after his body was dead scared him and he fell back on those long forgotten memories.

We see what we expect to see.

Paul - that's a good point; I forgot. But it does make sense.

I guess in general I'm inclined to see the cultural-influence debate as a bit of a red herring. I think there are a lot of other features of NDEs that are far more relevant in helping us determine the phenomenon's true nature.

I'm just trying to challenge your research Art :) Personally I would would like very much to know more about non-western NDE's and OBE experiences. There are after all about 4-5 billion people in the world with a non-western cultural background. But it's difficult to find trustworhty documentation about these.

Hi Jane

I agree with you that the cultural-influence discussion seems a bit of a red herring.

It could be that I am missing the point but I don't see the importance of it unless one focuses purely on NDEs and excludes all the other evidence of survival. I can see that cultural elements might suggest that the NDE phenomena is generated by the person's mind and isn't objective but this does seem to presume that any 'afterlife' would be devoid of such cultural nuances and I cannot see why it would need to be, at least initially.

sbu,from what I've read, there are many interesting similarities in after-death experiences described in The Tibetan Book of the Dead, a non-Western source, and Westerners' NDEs.

"Never try and teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig."
- Robert Heinlen

Art: ""Never try and teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig."
- Robert Heinlen

Very amusing but what is the relevance?

The Tibetan Book of the Dead is a scientific study no more a than the Bible. I'm looking for a scientific approach to understanding reality not religion. If you accept everything at face value you can quickly invent your own version of reality. This is probably great for some people, but leaves me with a nagging doubt.

"Art: ""Never try and teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig."
- Robert Heinlen

Very amusing but what is the relevance?"

I think the remark may be directed at confirmed materialists.

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