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I imagine a secret civilization on Mars, whose sophisticated culture approaches that of ancient Athens. Two of their great philosophers, let's call them Aristotle and Plato, have been stealthily observing the Curiosity rover for months.

"Clearly it is a chariot of some kind.", Plato remarks, "But where is the charioteer?"

"Ah", Aristotle answers, "there is a tiny man within who guides this strange chariot on it's peculiar journey."

"But how does he eat, drink, and breathe in that cramped contraption?" Plato replies.

"He is clearly of a strange, unknown race" Aristotle answers. "Perhaps, they are like plants that are nourished by the sun. And the chariot's scratching in the soil may be in search of food. There must be a man within, of that I am certain."

"Your argument is sensible", says Plato, "but I am equally certain that it is not so. Perhaps the charioteer abides in the heavens, and like a puppeteer guides the chariot with invisible strings."

"Now you have descended into the absurd" grumbles Aristotle. "Let us go down and meet the man inside."

Hours later, JPL reports a communication failure with the Mars rover. Plato and Aristotle report their observations to the council, and all agree with Aristotle that the tiny charioteer made a clever escape and is likely too small to be a threat to the Martians. Plato is rebuked for his "celestial charioteer" hypothesis and warned to get his head out of heavenly speculation and back down to the practical business of Mars.

No One, I have noticed over the years that I tend to agree with many of your comments on this blog as I agree with your previous comment.

You said, "Are we going to say that Native Americans and Africans, who were basically living in the stone age while Europeans were going through the enlightenment and setting the stage for the industrial revolution, are less evolved and "stupider" because they had no written language and used stone tools? is there any evidence that their brains are smaller or somehow less developed compared to Europeans?"

I think you have brought up a thought that is not currently discussable under the current societal paradigms but one which in spite of the difficulty I think should be considered in metaphysical discussions such as this--- but unfortunately perhaps even in this very creative-thought forum it can or should never be discussed.

The verboten idea is that perhaps there is a hierarchy in the development of human beings. I would say that perhaps there is a hierarchy in the development or evolution of the consciousness in human beings. In a couple of my previous posts I suggested that perhaps consciousness is evolving from a lower level to a higher one by experiencing life in differing life forms through transmigration of souls (consciousness) from one species to another. I did not comment regarding evolution of consciousness within a genus or species through its varietal forms.

( I want to say that determining that an organism 'belongs' to one species or another is somewhat arbitrary in many cases and commonly, species are reassigned to another group rather that the one originally thought to be appropriate for them. The ability to interbreed is not always a fool proof way to classify organisms in the same species. For example the horse and the donkey, although of different species, interbreed with viable, albeit usually infertile offspring, Duck species also interbreed with viable hybrids. Hybrids are often produced by crossing two different plant species. Routinely those hybrids have improved appearance, stamina and other traits over those possessed by either parent.)

To risk condemnation I will say that consciousness could evolve through the animal kingdom from lower to higher forms and it would seem reasonable to me that it could also continue to evolve within a so-called genus or species, e.g. Homo sapiens and (this is difficult to say) reincarnating from lesser developed varieties of the genus Homo and the species sapiens to higher developed varieties.

Within the genus Canis familiaris, I see a huge variety in form from the smallest Chihuahua to the largest Mastiff or Great Dane, from wild wolf to domesticated Poodle. They are all designated to be the same genus and some in the same species. I also see a great variety in the development of consciousness or intellect and behavior within these dogs. It is not a question of brain size here, especially if we agree that the brain does not create consciousness. Within the genus Canis there are different sizes of brains and while I might agree that some of the smartest dogs e.g., German Shepherd, Australian Shepherd, have comparatively larger brains, sometimes smaller dogs are smart too while some of the larger dogs can be pretty dumb! So I think that brain size per se has little to do with having an evolved or evolving consciousness. Relative brain size however could have something to do with intelligence but intelligence and consciousness are not the same thing. My point is that within the same so-called genus some varieties can be more advanced in consciousness and intellect than others.

I need to quickly say that I don't think that from a higher perspective one variety, species or genus is better, or favored more than another but that each variety, species, genus or form provides an opportunity for consciousness to evolve and that consciousness may have the chance to experience them all. All are equal and treasured in the eyes of God and all are part of the warp and woof of the fabric of all that is.- AOD

No One
I see that you referenced Sheldrake's study of psi in dogs. While I am aware of his interest in this subject I have not read his report closely. Having lived intimately with several dogs for many years I can say that dogs appear to be sensitive to or have learned to appreciate many things in their environment that humans may not associate with anything. I believe that dogs as well as other animals, birds for example, are very sensitive to light. That is, what may seem as psychic knowledge of someone's arrival may just be recognition of the amount of light and its direction at a certain time of day and the dog remembers that under these light conditions his 'master' returns home. Some dogs may also have exquisite hearing and may hear things at a distance such as an approaching car; others have a honed sense of smell. I am not saying that dogs may not be psychic but I think it is too easy to judge what dogs experience by a human standard.

In my experience dogs do intuit things about their human, not through psychic ability but by intelligent understanding of the behaviors of their human including facial expressions, voice intonation and volume and well as other body positions and stances.

My Australian Shepherd had a very good memory and when riding in the car with me he would remember where he had seen horses the last time we went that way and sit up in the seat looking for them whether they were present or not.

Regarding animal consciousness, here is an interesting account of crows appearing to mourn the death of one of their own. quoted by Dr. Diane Hennacy on her blog

http://dianehennacypowell.com/the-spiritual-life-of-crows-2/

"I recently learned that crows engage in mourning rituals when one of them dies…swooping in like gypsies to see the dead and then dispersing again. Vincent Hagel, former president of the Whidbey Audubon Society wrote, 'Just a few feet from the house lay an obviously dead crow, and about twelve other crows were hopping in a circle around the body. After a minute or two, one crow flew off for a few seconds, then returned with a small twig or piece of dried grass. It dropped the twig on the body, then flew away. Then, one by one, the other crows each left briefly, one at a time, and returned to drop grass or a twig on the body, then fly off until all were gone, and the body lay alone with twigs lain across it.' "

Maybe I am reading too much in to this account; then again the story may not be true. But perhaps crows as well as other animals do have a consciousness and understand much more than humans give them credit for - AOD


no one has some really great comments.

Concerning whether animals have an afterlife, I think this is pretty much proven. People meet beloved pets in NDEs, especially children.

As a medium, I have seen and communicated with animals in the Afterlife. My psychic friend who specializes in animals communications can also communicate with animals that have passed on. I think very few New Agers would say animals don't "make it."

If we see the "soul" as the information content of the entity, then yes, even trees have an afterlife. Anything does. An entity's degree of feeling and consciousness in the Afterlife corresponds to the degree in the physical life.

Amos said:

"In my experience dogs do intuit things about their human, not through psychic ability but by intelligent understanding of the behaviors of their human"

Amos, I've been consistently enjoying your comments. We think alike in many respects.

What you describe in this comment, though, doesn't begin to do justice to Sheldrake's work. He's thought of all the objections you raise, and addresses them in depth.

You might consider reading Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home. Since you love animals, it should be of particular interest to you.

no one wrote,

||Are we going to say that Native Americans and Africans, who were basically living in the stone age while Europeans were going through the enlightenment and setting the stage for the industrial revolution, are less evolved and "stupider" because they had no written language and used stone tools?||

Then AOD wrote,

||The verboten idea is that perhaps there is a hierarchy in the development of human beings. I would say that perhaps there is a hierarchy in the development or evolution of the consciousness in human beings.||

First, the Mayans independently invented writing, and many African cultures had writing systems (Egypt of course, but to the south Meroe, Kush, etc.). Many African cultures had steel, and some Native North and South American cultures had bronze.

At various times in human history, Egypt, China, the Ottoman Empire, and of course Europe could be said to be in the lead, technologically.

The question of whether some groups of humans are more spiritually or otherwise evolved than others is going to be very tricky. First, there is the question of what is DNA and what is culture. Sheldrake's morphic resonance is particularly pertinent here.

Perhaps the unspoken candidate for "more evolved" here is white people of European origin. But that's a mixed bag, isn't it? White people have done a good job of advancing technology and exploring the world, but they've done a poor job of treating people well. They've/we've left enslavement, exploitation, and outright genocide in our wake. White people are to thank for the hideous major wars of the past few centuries, including the French and Indian War, the Napoleonic Wars, and the two World Wars (of course Japan is also a culprit in WWII--Asians, another candidate for smarter or more evolved, have been pretty good at killing lots of people).

Every culture has both good points and bad points. I'd hesitate to call one people more developed than another at this stage.

Sheldrakes studies endeavoured to made sure that the dogs were not reacting habitually, Amos i.e. he made sure that the owners came home at different times of the day, and in different vehicles as well as on foot I think.

Recent research suggests crows are as intelligent as a seven year old (daily mail- blocked site where I live in Thailand so can't post).

Even women have smaller brains by average then men, but have a higher average intelligence- since 2012. Probably due to increased access to education among other factors. Ha ha, had to mention that one.

http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/07/16/why-women-finally-have-higher-iqs-than-men/

Lets face it, we are a very ego-centric species. We may have evolved originally from a consciousness, but tend to see ourselves in terms of mammals grounded in a material world.

Dogs although having a smaller brain outdo us in their sense of hearing and smell, and its no wonder that when we cook food they beg. The overload on the senses must drive them mad. Even insects with their compound eyes can pick up light spectrums we cannot see. Lyn x.

To add, I think ego-centricity is one of the main reasons why consciousness is not studied outside of our brain i.e. we solely study a brains neurone's to endeavour to understand how consciousness arises.

And as a recent physicist explained, since the double spilt experiments, scientists can no longer assume observation is a passive exercise. That merely observing an experiment changes its measure.

If that isn't evidence that our consciousness is integral to our universe, not merely ourselves. I don't know what is. Lyn x.

@AOD: Yes, I agree. I too find it strange that the Native Americans, despite their relatively simple and considerably more natural lifestyle, seem to be (or at least appear to have been) far more spiritually developed than the European Homo sapiens. 'Tis a great pity that people cannot see beyond their own level of understanding.

@AOD: I think you need to take a look at Rupert Sheldrakes animal telepathy experiments. He controlled for the variables you mention.

"The verboten idea is that perhaps there is a hierarchy in the development of human beings."

You got it, AOD.

"I would say that perhaps there is a hierarchy in the development or evolution of the consciousness in human beings."

Well, I wasn't really being judgmental. I would just stop at "differences" as opposed to a hierarchy. Same brain, if you scan it or slice it up and look at it through whatever microscope gizmo.

The differences come from the morphic resonance, the consciousness archetypes, the fields of awareness. Again, where the awareness is focused. We can't all be aware of the totality of ALL. So we represent facets of IT; as individuals and as cultures and races.

Of course, just as there as a feedback loop from individual's biology to the individual human's field of awareness, there is feedback to and from the physical environment and the morphic fields (archetypes, consciousness fields) that inform a culture.

Can I prove this? Heck no. However, it does help explain a lot that Materialists cannot.

Re; Sheldrake's dogs - Read his methodology. As someone who likes dogs you may find it interesting. He seems to have controlled for their heightened perception of physical sensations being the explanation.

Thanks for the direction. I shall read Sheldrake's study in detail. - AOD

Lynn writes:

"Even women have smaller brains by average then men, but have a higher average intelligence- since 2012. Probably due to increased access to education among other factors."

As measured by standardized intelligence tests, IQ is a potential - not something that is only altered by up to 9 points by training/education.

The bell curve distribution demonstrates that most women are in the middle - it's a steep curve. It's a much shallower curve for males. Thus while there are more males scoring in the top 2% there are also more males scoring in the bottom 2%.

Correction: I meant to say, and not something that can be altered by more than 9 points.

I think that we need to stop pretending that all men are created equal when we know that they are not and start understanding that all men and women are of equal value with certain inalienable rights among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. -AOD

Matt:
Ah well, white people don't have a corner on the market when it comes to enslavement, exploitation, war and outright genocide. Perhaps most peoples over time have been guilty of these atrocities and others during their development or decay.

As you stated "Every culture has both good points and bad points." but, they all provide an experience for consciousness. "Bad' or 'Good' are value judgments defined by a culture and of course each culture sets its own parameters for what is 'bad' or 'good' according to what is bad or good for them.

I think I would be reluctant to say that some groups of humans are more 'spiritual' than others. There is a level of spirituality in all groups but I don't think it is a quantifiable entity. I think that consciousness has expanded more in some groups than in others but the spirituality or consciousness of the dust mite is not lesser in the eyes of God than the spirituality or consciousness of a Tibetan monk, both are learning and growing toward a higher reality. - AOD

"I think that consciousness has expanded more in some groups than in others" - AOD

Quite! And one of those groups is more likely than not the Native Americans. And we can talk about that. :)

FYI on what's coming down the pike from the Immortality Project:

http://ucrtoday.ucr.edu/28956

Looks like this Templeton-funded group has not found NDE veridicality to be impressive.

Why do ya'll think this life is about experiencing spirituality? It's exactly the opposite, it's not about experiencing spirituality but experiencing the physical, "soul stuff" experiencing what it's like to be separate, what it means and how it feels to experience time and space, be inside and limited to that body and control the body, and live in a 3 dimensional + 1 time universe.

The physics of the other side, the place we call heaven, is very different from what we experience here. We learn all this stuff so that after the body dies the soul transitions to "heaven" and it remembers what it was like to be separate, what time and space looked and felt like, and what it was like to live inside and control a body - so that it can understand and relate to what it is seeing and experiencing those things when it "sees" them on the other side.

excerpt from Mark Horton's NDE:
"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.

I have always, I don't know why, had a very strong "pull" toward Scotland. I have some Scottish ancestry, but no more so than English, Swedish, and Prussian, but I don't know why I have such a strong affinity for the land, its history, its culture, and the music. (No sound in this world can stir the feelings that the sound of bagpipes arise in me!) Well, one of my first "trips" was to Scotland, on a high cliff overlooking a grey, crashing sea during a violent thunderstorm. I was there! I could feel the wind lashing at me and the driving force of the rain while I could see and hear the crashing of the thunder and the sea. All I had done was have the merest fleeting thought of the land and I was there!" http://celestial.kuriakon00.com/nde/mark_horton.htm

AOD wrote,

||Ah well, white people don't have a corner on the market when it comes to enslavement, exploitation, war and outright genocide. Perhaps most peoples over time have been guilty of these atrocities and others during their development or decay.||

"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."--Romans 3:23.


||I think that consciousness has expanded more in some groups than in others [...]||

Different cultures have taken consciousness in different directions. Look at what the Indians, including Gautama Siddhartha, achieved. Look at what South American peoples have achieved, to the extent that people are going there for ayahuasca journeys. Look at what Western Europeans achieved with the art of the Renaissance.

I truly would hesitate to say that one group has achieved such greater heights than another. The good news is that we can choose unity and all learn from each other.

@ Julie, I think the article explains it all rather well. And as you say yep, men have a broader range of scores and women's cluster closer to the middle, or mean. Measured using the Intelligence quotient. The article is suggesting some of the possible reasons.

Partly as women have more intellect genes on the X chromosome and as men only get one X, if this has a higher IQ quotient so to speak, he inherits all of that, if less however, he inherits that. However women's IQ inheritance can be diluted by the contribution of her other X. So there are genetic inputs as well as environmental factors.

But what they are documenting however (and known for quite some time), is that women's IQ's have been rising for some years, while mens have not to the same extent. They are correct in saying that women have more advanced degrees and are represented more at campus now- so better access to education for example may be a possible factor.

Good article I thought. Lyn x.

I have reread Rupert Sheldrake's study of the dog JayTee in which Seldrake hypothesizes that JayTee may have demonstrated psi ability when he looked out of a window at times corresponding with his owner Pam Smart's intent to return home.

I have to assume that those who recommended this study to me have read it also.

I remember now why I dismissed this study when I originally became familiar with it. As Mark Twain is reported to have said, 'There are lies, there are damn lies and then there are statistics! Not that I think that Sheldrake is lying in this study but in my opinion he may be grossly mislead by normal dog behaviors and tries to use these normal behaviors and statistical data he collected to show that he has found a dog that may have psi ability.

It is easy to be flummoxed by a distinguished professorial type with an English accent and posh demeanor from a distinguished English university . Perhaps those who see this report as evidential may have a tendency to support one's comrade in arms in a battle to prove that psi and other parapsychological phenomena really exist . But, taken with a clear eye and a cool head, this study is lacking in anything one could consider scientific.

As you might anticipate from the above, I didn't find Sheldrake's report of JayTee's psi abilities anything other that very very weak data/evidence, if any, of psi ability in JayTee---and that is really reaching. To the contrary I found it high-schoolish, off-putting and somewhat embarrassing as I am one who has a tendency to believe that psi ability may exist and I don't like being laughed at because of this report. I suspect that any Skeptic or skeptic who reads and thinks about this study will be strengthened in their belief that psychic abilities are all 'bosh'. In some places Sheldrake's comments are ludicrous. For example, he offers as a possibility that "JayTee was telepathically picking up R.S's (Rupert Sheldrake's) intention to beep P.S. (Pam Smart) from over 300 km away . . . It is also perhaps conceivable that Jaytee had a precognition of when P.S. would be beeped." Sheldrake doesn't take these possibilities seriously however and says that it is more economical to consider a possible explanation in terms of telepathy from P.S."

There is way too much to comment about here but my over-riding question is
why would JayTee be honing in telepathically on Ms Smith's thoughts and intentions or Sheldrake's or his assistant's thoughts and intentions during the study when there are more important things in a dog's life. There is just too much in this report that boggles my mind. I just want to say, "Please go away! Please!" - AOD

How are the women's IQ being measured, Lynn? I can see that if ,overall, there is something like a nine-point increase then, like the Asians when compared to the Westerners, their mean IQ will be higher. (Asians, on average, are-six points above Westerners.)

Ps. I would add that good degree results do not necessarily equate with High IQ. Several years ago, a series of IQ tests were administered at the Oxford and Cambridge Universities. The average IQ a those universities was around 110 and only a few few were above 125.

Chris S: ||Looks like this Templeton-funded group has not found NDE veridicality to be impressive.||

Totally predictable. Looking at the background of the investigators it's a foregone conclusion that this so-called "Immortality Project" will find nothing. Apparently most of the committee basically believe survival to be impossible and that therefore to investigate it would be a waste of money. After all, they're materialist philosophers like the vast majority in academia.

I don't want to rain on the parade of the ever hopefuls here but what about a Biblical interpretation? I'm going to relate what I've read of it. The Biblical pundits state that all these experiences NDE's, mediums, reincarnation memories, death bed vision, apparitions etc are demonically produced- demons projecting images and thoughts into our brains. The Bible, they state, claims that man is a living soul, dies once, and then will be resurrected and judged when Christ returns, although some would say judged immediately and the soul is dispatched immediately to Heaven or Hell.

@Matt: "I truly would hesitate to say that one group has achieved such greater heights than another. The good news is that we can choose unity and all learn from each other."

I suspect we all have the same potential re consciousness but whether or not we achieve that potential is quite another thing. That aside, I very much doubt that Western civilization has advanced our consciousness very far. I often suspect that mammals such as whales and dolphins are in advance of us - perhaps elephants too! After all, they're not the ones destroying the planet.

The human race reminds me of one of those American cartoons where someone saws of the branch that they're all sitting on.

"this study is lacking in anything one could consider scientific."

As I recall, Sheldrake found that the dog went to the window significantly more often when his owner was heading home than at other times. Since the owner varied the time of her return unpredictably, the inference was that the dog psychically sensed when she was on her way home.

"I very much doubt that Western civilization has advanced our consciousness very far. I often suspect that mammals such as whales and dolphins are in advance of us - perhaps elephants too!"

I don't know why people are so sentimental about dolphins and whales. I mean, they're neat animals, but I can't see any reason to think they have achieved a wonderfully advanced consciousness. Any higher mammals will have a relatively high level of consciousness - dogs, horses, elephants, giraffes, etc.

As for Western civ, I can't see how humanity would have gotten very far without the contributions of Plato, Aristotle, Newton, Copernicus, Darwin, and Einstein ... not to mention the great composers, writers, architects, sculptors, painters, pioneers of medicine, economists, engineers, and on and on ...

Like spoiled children who grew up rich and pampered, we take our immense good fortune for granted, when we ought to be deeply grateful for all the gifts we haven't earned.

That should have read, 'saws off the branch'. :)

"what about a Biblical interpretation?"

Whoa, I'd never thought of that!

Mind. Blown.

Lobber,
The Biblical Pundits who have a Christian Fundamentalist view of biblical writings apparently have not read any of the parapsychological literature because if they had read it they would be hard pressed to continue to believe that NDEs, mediums, reincarnation memories, death bed visions, apparitions etc. were produced by demons. That is the stuff of Hollywood horror movies. Documented real-life reports of NDEs, mediumistic communications and reincarnation cases are much in contrast to what is seen in the movies. It would be the pinnacle of imbecility to suggest that Dr. Ian Stevenson was demon-directed in his career studies of his twenty cases suggestive of reincarnation.

I challenge any Biblical Fundamentalist to read the poetry and novels of Patience Worth written through 'medium' Pearl Curran and explain what in the world the devil wins in Patience's 600-page novel of the life and times of Jesus Christ and well as many of her poems which talk of God in a totally committed and loving way. What was the point of demons projecting poetry that expressed nothing but love of God and his creations. It seem to me that a house divided against itself cannot stand and if the devil and his demons have projected this writing for evil intent, then they have failed colossally.

Everyone is entitled to his or her belief system and if fundamentalist Christians interpret the Bible in a way to promote their own belief systems, then so be it. It's their right to do so in a free society. - AOD

"As for Western civ, I can't see how humanity would have gotten very far without the contributions of Plato, Aristotle, Newton, Copernicus, Darwin, and Einstein ... not to mention the great composers, writers, architects, sculptors, painters, pioneers of medicine, economists, engineers, and on and on ..."

Anthropologists studying primitive African tribes such as the Ik might disagree with you, Michael. The inclusiveness and overall psychological health of such tribes is (was) incredible . . . . . that is until Western civilization was thrust upon them. Ditto, I imagine, the Native Americans.

Do you know that the Ik were so community spirited that their children grew up playing ritualized social games. One such example is where a sapling would be bent over and it's crown tied down. All the children would each cling onto a branch. At the word 'go' (or, rather, its equivalent) every child had to let go at exactly the same time to avoid being whipped up into the air as the sapling straightened itself. There were many examples of the Ik's tremendous abiding community spirit . . . . . . that is until the Western approach to culture/civilization found them.

I'ts all in that marvellous book co written by Robin Skynner and John Cleese, 'Life and How to Survive It'.

In short, the Ik's motto was basically 'inclusiveness rules OK'. In sharp contrast to the Western rat-race mentality whereby competitive social and material ambition is drilled into children from an early age.

Ps. I forgot to mention the dolphins. Did you know that science regards the number (density) of convolutions on the surface of the brain as physical evidence of advanced intelligence?
Well, dolphins and humpback whales have even more cortical convolutions and more surface area for those than do human brains. Brain size is relative and large aquatic mammals have relatively more than we do.

"Brain size is relative and large aquatic mammals have relatively more than we do."

This page disagrees:

http://understanddolphins.tripod.com/dolphinbrainandintelligence.html

" ... another way which has been suggested to measure intelligence is by determining the measure of relative brain size defined as the ratio between actual brain mass and predicted brain mass for an animal of a given size. This is called the 'encephalization quotient,' or EQ. This measurement suggests the higher the number, the greater the intelligence. The human EQ is 7.0. The EQ for great apes, elephants, chimpanzees and whales is about 1.8-2.3, meaning they have smaller brains for their body size than do humans. The dolphin's EQ is 4.2, the closest EQ ratio to the human than any other animal."

However, they do agree about the cortical folds (for dolphins, but not whales): "The only animal to have a more folded cortex than man is the dolphin." The dolphin's extra folds may be involved in echolocation, not cognition, but no one really knows.

With regard to Western civ, I'd point out that we know about EQ and cortical folding, etc., only because of science, which is the quintessential product of Western civ. The Ik, whatever their splendid qualities, did not go around conducting experiments in neurology.

Michael wrote,

||As I recall, Sheldrake found that the dog went to the window significantly more often when his owner was heading home than at other times. Since the owner varied the time of her return unpredictably, the inference was that the dog psychically sensed when she was on her way home.||

I have read about it to a significant degree as well and was impressed.

||I don't know why people are so sentimental about dolphins and whales. I mean, they're neat animals, but I can't see any reason to think they have achieved a wonderfully advanced consciousness. Any higher mammals will have a relatively high level of consciousness - dogs, horses, elephants, giraffes, etc.||

Right, valuable animals, glad they're on the planet, but they have not done what humans have done.

||As for Western civ, I can't see how humanity would have gotten very far without the contributions of Plato, Aristotle, Newton, Copernicus, Darwin, and Einstein ... not to mention the great composers, writers, architects, sculptors, painters, pioneers of medicine, economists, engineers, and on and on||

Yes, both Western and Eastern Civs are awesome. We *should* be grateful. But when we talk about how advanced or not these civs are, we should remember that they have not always been kind to others.

||Whoa, I'd never thought of that!

Mind. Blown.||

LOL.

It may be worth adding that in many aboriginal societies "community spirit" does not extend to other communities - as witness the chronic tribal warfare of many North American Indian tribes, who tortured, slaughtered, or enslaved their enemies.

There's been too much romanticizing of pre-technological societies. I'm not saying those societies didn't have their good points, but the modern notion that they were virtual utopias is naive. I think it springs from the fact that most of us moderns are safely insulated from the harsh realities of the battle for survival. Never having faced starvation or plague or death by frostbite, we are free to fantasize in a "Dances with Wolves" kind of way about how great it would be to live a simple life close to nature.

Most of history is the story of human beings trying to hold nature at bay - and for good reason, since nature, for the most part, wants to kill us and eat us!

Julie- using the Intelligence Quotient which has been shown to be "statistically reliable predictor of future educational achievement, job performance and income".

Not fallible I agree e.g. it is consistent with european middle class values being one fault. Which is why they allude to the gender and race debate.

Some Asian races- they are not all the same. Not all have a higher average IQ than Europeans e.g. but some such as the Japanese (East Asians). Yep.

An IQ level of 110 (considered a high average), with some at 125 would be expected IQ's of an average university student.

@ Amos, heres a piece on the standards of research in general. One way of seeing Sheldrakes study I guess in comparison to others.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/henrymiller/2014/01/08/the-trouble-with-scientific-research-today-a-lot-thats-published-is-junk/

"A number of empirical studies show that 80-90% of the claims coming from supposedly scientific studies in major journals fail to replicate. This is scandalous, and the problem is only likely to become worse with the proliferation of “predatory publishers” of many open-access journals. According to an expose of these practices by Gina Kolata in the New York Times, the journals published by some of the worst offenders are nothing more than cash-generating machines that eagerly, uncritically accept essentially any submitted paper ".

Cheers Lyn.

To add, Sheldrakes experiment with animals, had been replicated.
Lyn x.

Hi Amos,

I'm just putting it out there and do note the witty irony in your response - "a house divided against itself." But, unfortunately, the 'Fundies' seem to have another shot with respect to your critique. They would say, or rather have said, that the "demons" in your example do not apparently acknowledge Jesus Christ in their ruse of appealing directly to God. Here, I must confess that I'm not familiar with the author you mentioned and how she talks about Jesus- his" life and times" don't necessarily acknowledge his Divinity and his mission to achieve our salvation. If your author has missed this then this is where the Fundies would rail.

They maintain, according to Biblical authority, that the only way to the Father is through Jesus- he is the light, the way and the life. It is by only by accepting Jesus that we have any chance of getting into Heaven. By ignoring Jesus we are doomed by our sinful natures to Hell. Jesus is our boat out. The demons thus, according to our Biblical friends, dash us onto the rocks by scuttling our ship.

So where are we now? We have, on the one hand, your belief system and the Christian one. And lets not forget the others in this world: idealists , atheists, materialists etc.of all shades....How do we decide? How did you decide?

I would venture here that Michael appears to be committing the fallacy of false dilemma in posing transmission v production. As you can see, there is is at the very least a third alternative which can't readiily be dismissed with a flourish of the hand-even though it may offend yours and others' sensibilities or intelligence. We are "living souls" that die once and look to be resurrected. Also what Michael takes as evidence falsifying production can be dismissed by the Fundies, who would assert that these evidences are all stratagems of demons to doom our salvation.

It's all deep and confusing waters. Oh well, we all must keep exploring and, hopefully, come to some conclusions before we die or shuttle off this mortal coil.

All the best to every explorer.

" The Biblical pundits state that all these experiences NDE's, mediums, reincarnation memories, death bed vision, apparitions etc are demonically produced- demons projecting images and thoughts into our brains."

And why we were going to admit this interpretation? The Bible was written long ago for uncritically accept their interpretations and we can state that any psychic / spiritual irruption would be interpreted as demonic to prevent this casuistry destroys the status quo of society.

By psychical research we are now more informed to judge I think that some cases of apparitions, mediumship, etc., are instances of spirits of deceased humans.

"With regard to Western civ, I'd point out that we know about EQ and cortical folding, etc., only because of science, which is the quintessential product of Western civ. The Ik, whatever their splendid qualities, did not go around conducting experiments in neurology."

We know abou EQ by common sense, surely? Is it not blindingly obvious that those who are most able to get along with others will succeed most easily in almost every sphere of community life?

"It may be worth adding that in many aboriginal societies "community spirit" does not extend to other communities - as witness the chronic tribal warfare of many North American Indian tribes, who tortured, slaughtered, or enslaved their enemies."

No significant change there, then, Michael.

Ps. And I'm not altogether convinced that we need neurological experiments to ascertain that some creatures are brighter than others. Surface convolutions on the brain are an interesting curiosity - especially as they appear to correlate with cortical ability (something that science not long ago believed was non-existent in the 'lower' species). Indeed, we are little more than a century further on from that period during which scientists routinely tortured dogs by performing surgical operations on them minus anaesthesia. Of course, it was obvious that animals don't feel pain, wasn't it?

Was it Einstein or Hawkins who asserted that there is no evidence that intelligence is advantageous to survival . . . . . . . or words to that effect?

My apologies for mistakin your use of the abbreviation, EQ. But my understanding too is that the relative size of the brain per se is not the significant factor. It's the fact that brain size allows a greater surface area for convolutions.

If the dolphin has a greater number of covolutions on the surface of its brain than we humans then perhaps it's not beyond the bounds of possibility that the dolphin is as smart as we are. Perhaps the real difference is that the dolphin has the EQ (as in emotional quotient) to balance its IQ. The suggestion that the density of cortical folds might be more relevant to echolocation smacks to me as human face saving. That aside, what are our extra human convolutions for? To help us find our bottom in the bath?

Re crows. About eight months ago there was a power outage on my block, accompanied by a loud band from a transformer shorting out. About ten minutes later I heard a tremendous cawing noise from a flock of crows. I went outside in my back yard and saw over 30 of them roosting in my trees and circling around them. I'd never seen more than six of them together around my place. They looked and sounded angry. It was like something out of Hitchcock's film, The Birds.

45 minutes later a truck from the utility pulled up at an electricity pole right across the alley from my yard. I went out to watch them fix the transformer. They told me that it had been shorted out by a crow--and the worker in the cherry picker swept him off a little platform alongside the transformer. It seems that crows often do this, unless the transformer is protected by a shield that the workers who originally installed it forgot to include.

Michael, I think that romanticizing of tribal societies as a Dances with Wolves/Garden of Eden utopia relates in some ways to Matt's latest guest post, Death of the Western Myth. The notion that there is some ideal state that things would naturally exist in, but for human blundering/sin; with the tribal arrangement being such an ideal and a perceived counter to the ennui and angst that many experience in modern society.

As others have said, all offer some piece of the total and none, alone, are "it".

"Michael appears to be committing the fallacy of false dilemma in posing transmission v production. As you can see, there is is at the very least a third alternative ... We are 'living souls' that die once and look to be resurrected."

What does the last sentence have to do with transmission vs. production? It seems like a non sequitur.

In any event, it's not correct that any logical (i.e., imaginable) possibility is equally valid. Parapsychological hypotheses are grounded in the data of parapsychology, which can be analyzed, assessed, and disputed. Neurological theories are grounded in the data of neurology. But Biblical theories are grounded in ... what? Tradition, belief, but no observable, testable facts.

"They told me that it had been shorted out by a crow--and the worker in the cherry picker swept him off a little platform alongside the transformer. It seems that crows often do this, unless the transformer is protected by a shield that the workers who originally installed it forgot to include."

Hmm. Then it would appear that crows aren't smarter than people, after all.

"my understanding too is that the relative size of the brain per se is not the significant factor."

Okay ... but which one of us brought it up? ;-)

"perhaps it's not beyond the bounds of possibility that the dolphin is as smart as we are."

It's not beyond the bounds of possibility. But it's far from proven.

Don't get me wrong. I like dolphins and whales and elephants. The elephant is my favorite animal. I think all of them are smart. But I'm suspicious of the New Age habit of ascribing wonderful spiritual properties to them.

I think much of this stems from the fact that elephants and whales are large, graceful, majestic animals, while dolphins are sleek and almost balletic. The mind (that is, the human mind) understandably sees a graceful spirit emanating from these physical qualities.

If we were looking at, say, a rat the size of an elephant or a duck-billed platypus the size of a dolphin, we might not have the same reaction, regardless of the creature's relative brain size or cortical structure - because rats and platypuses (platypi?) just don't seem "spiritual" to us.

Rats are very spiritual - at least in my experience! Having kept them as pets, I can attest to the fact that they are bright, kind loyal and jolly good fun to train.

""my understanding too is that the relative size of the brain per se is not the significant factor."

Okay ... but which one of us brought it up? ;-)"

I mentioned the size of the brain because the size of the brain is what gives it the greater capacity for more surface convolutions. I can see from the way I phrased the point that it can be assumed that I meant the size (or relative size of) the brain as distinguished from the surface area.

That aside, no one (least of all me) is suggesting that primitive tribes represent some kind of utopia. My point is merely that the simple life they present is, overall, more natural/less destructive/more psychologically healthy that or present state of being. Or, to put it another way, I cannot get pas the feeling that modern 'civilization' has thrown the baby out with the bathwater.

@Lynn: "Julie- using the Intelligence Quotient which has been shown to be "statistically reliable predictor of future educational achievement, job performance and income".

I understand Intelligence testing. I'm a former Chairman of British Mensa. The first lady-chairman, in fact.

@Lyn (to whom I suspect my last posting should have been addressed)re: IQ testing:

"Not fallible I agree e.g. it is consistent with european middle class values being one fault. Which is why they allude to the gender and race debate."

In order to provide the best possible accuracy, IQ testing must include culture fair tests.

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