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Dr. Christopher White traces multidimensional science concepts through spiritual thinking.

photo by: Skeptiko

I keep having these vivid dreams like thinking weird things.

What sorts of things?

If you’re watching any popular TV shows or movies about the future of technology, like this clip from Netflix is Black Mirror, you know the future.

Your fate is being dictated. You’re not in control.

And you know it’s not very good.

Today’s guest look past the dystopia and sees something else.

Alex Tsakiris: Where you were going and reaching towards with the shared near-death experience and Raymond Moody and the higher-ordered geometry, is there the possibility to actually imagine a higher-ordered science that already exists and then where does that take us?

Chris White: Well, maybe. Certainly, one thing that you find, when you study the history of science in the last 150 years, is that scientists have been pretty committed to policing the boundaries of their disciplines. One thing that they rule out is any kind of philosophical or even spiritual reflection, right?

You see that, in my first book that I mentioned earlier, it looked pretty closely at the history of social sciences, you know, sociology, psychology, psychiatry, science is a mind and brain. And one thing that the founders of those disciplines really work hard at is squeezing out any mention of any kind of spiritual thing, or any, even philosophical questions.

Maybe you’re right, that in the future, when scientists and social scientists are less allergic to or less afraid of thinking about these other orders of existence or thinking about spirit, maybe that opens up a whole new way of thinking about and doing science.

I really enjoyed having Dr Chris White on Skeptiko today and we talked about other topics like whether much of this dark, dark dystopic, apocalyptic science stuff is socially engineered… is designed to make us feel even more isolated, afraid, alone? It certainly keeps us away from any kind of deeper examination of spirituality.

So, it’s a great chat with a very distinguished and deep thinker. Stick around for my interview with Chris White.

 Alex Tsakiris: Today we welcome Dr Christopher G White to Skeptiko. He’s here to talk about his new book, Other Worlds: Spirituality and the Search for Invisible Dimensions.

Now, I don’t usually read a lot of book blurbs on this show, but this is a really good one. So, let me read this in, because it will give you an idea of where he’s coming from.

“For a long time people have argued that the rise of science has caused the decline of religion. Other Worlds, this book, presents a different perspective, showing that modern Europeans and Americans often use scientific ideas in imaginative ways to develop new enchanted views of nature. The book examines the history and imaginative power of one scientific idea in particular, an idea that has been crucial to modern physics, as well as modern science fiction, and that is the idea that the universe has a higher invisible dimension.”

Very, very nice. I should also mention, real quickly, that Chris, I’m going to call him Chris here, has a PhD from Harvard and is Professor and Chair of Religion at Vassar, one of the top liberal arts colleges in the United States. So, in other words, he’s a really, really smart guy, but you would have figured that out anyway, as we go along.

It’s great to have you here Chris. Thanks for joining me.

Chris White: Thanks for that introduction Alex. You’re really raising expectations for your listening audience here. So, I don’t know, hopefully I won’t disappoint. We’ll see how it goes.

Alex Tsakiris: Okay, I don’t think you will. You have a terrific book here.

Chris White: Thank you.

Alex Tsakiris: It’s really well-written. You’re covering a topic that a lot of people probably expect to either find very superficial or laden down with a lot of academic stuff, and you don’t fall into either one of those. It’s really light and it carries a lightness about spirituality with it. It’s great.

Chris White: Good, I’m glad you liked it. I definitely worked hard on it. There’s a lot of pieces to putting together a book. You’ve got to get all of the information and do the research and then write it up and try to write it up in an interesting way. And like you say, I tried to make it a book for students and for scholars and for everyone else who wants to read about higher dimensions and how they’re changing, how we think about spirituality. It took a few years to do it, but I had fun with it, for sure.

Alex Tsakiris: I want to let people know that we’re going to talk about the book and I really want people to check out the book. Listeners to this show, I think, will really, really like it, but you’ve also opened yourself up and are willing to have a more free ranging discussion, because that’s really what Skeptiko is about. It’s kind of trying to figure out how, a really smart guy like you, how your work fits into these larger questions of who are we and why are we here, and how it fits into the other topics we’ve explored. So, that’s really terrific that you’re willing to do that.

Chris White: Absolutely, yeah. 

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Alex Tsakiris: Thanks. Here are a couple of lead off questions. You’re a science and spirituality guy and I am too, so here’s a question. What’s something you’ve learned from science that’s changed your life?

Chris White: Yeah, well that’s actually a really good question to start this discussion with because in some ways, it’s sort of science and my reading of science and popular science that started me thinking about the book.

In the book I talk a lot about the ways in which modern people, who call themselves spiritual or spiritual but not religious, are getting a renewed sense of awe and wonder by thinking about nature, and I think I’m in that category too. I think that that’s where I began my reflections in the book, and I began my research on the book.

So, I think I get that sense when I watch a science documentary or when I read one of Brian Greene’s books, who’s a physicist at Columbia University. He wrote Fabric of the Cosmos and a couple of other books about the multiverse. You can Google him and watch his documentary on YouTube. He has that same sort of sense of awe and wonder at how amazing and how big and how mysterious the universe or the multiverse is.

So, I think in some ways I kind of started with that and I think science has given me that. And it’s not unlike a number of people in my book, like C.S. Lewis or Madeleine L’Engle or many other people in the other chapters who kind of get a reenchanted worldview, really, from what I’m calling, fantastic scientific concepts.

So, in some ways the book is biographical, autobiographical in that way.

Alex Tsakiris: That’s awesome. Was there any specific scientific discovery? Because I’ll just share with you, I’ve been doing this show for a while and I had all of these kinds of questions and the same kind of thing, you know, wonder of science thing. But I ran across the near-death experience science research peer-reviewed published stuff and it really changed me, because I had lingering doubts about the survival of consciousness and when I was really able to finally pin that down for myself, I’m not saying this applies to anyone else, but it really, kind of turned something in me. I was like, “Wow, science, the best way that I can understand it, has changed, fundamentally, what I can accept about consciousness and death.”

Do you have any kind of similar parallel thing, something in science, a scientific discovery that really led you to, just a new belief system?

Chris White: Yeah. I think that, when I started the project… I was raised in the Baha’i faith, so I’m a Baha’i, and one of the teachings in Baha’i religion or the Baha’i faith is that there are many worlds. Just the title of the book, right? But there are many worlds that the divine essence or the transcendent has created or contains many worlds.

So, I think I had that sensibility going into it and then, actually, it’s funny you mention the near-death experiences. About 10 years ago I got interested in reading Raymond Moody and near-death experiences and out-of-body experiences and I got really interested in thinking about that and kind of inspired by that and that changed my thinking, I guess, a little bit, like you, thinking about many layers and many worlds.

Then, I guess the third piece was when I was doing research for my first book, which is called Unsettled Minds, which is more a history of psychology and sciences of mind and brain and how they influence American thinking about spirituality and religion.

But, when I was doing that project, I came across an awful lot of people who are interested in science and religion and physics or science, religion and cosmology, and these were people who were talking more about higher dimensions and using that kind of fantastic scientific term; higher dimensions, parallel universes.

So, that was maybe the third thing that got me excited, like, “Wait a minute, what’s the relationship between all of these different things?” What’s the relationship between an idea, a spiritual idea that there might be an afterlife or other worlds on the one hand, and also the near-death experiences on the other hand, and then also more scientific ideas, that there might be invisible spaces or layers to reality? What’s the story and how do people put those different categories together?

That’s really the book and I have a number of those different kinds of people in the book. I have spiritual or religious people in the book, who have different ideas about an afterlife and then I have people who have afterlife experiences and have a more empirical kind of view and want to study these kinds of things scientifically, and then I also have skeptics in the book, right? As you know, I have scientists and others in there who sort of push back on all of that and say, “You know, that’s not really what we’re talking about when we’re talking about higher dimensional spaces.” But that conversation goes around and around and in the book I try to turn it into a story.

Alex Tsakiris: Great. Have you had any spiritual experiences that have really changed your life in a significant way?

Chris White: Yeah, that’s a good question. I get that question when I’m doing a podcast or doing maybe a radio show or an interview or something, and it’s always a let-down because I haven’t had a UFO experience, or I haven’t heard a voice or seen a light. I know people that have had these experiences and in fact I’ve talked to them, because I study these kinds of experiences and at Vassar I teach about these experiences too, and ways of interpreting them.

But aside from having my own, sort of, meditation and prayer life, which is more of a constant practice in my life, aside from that, no, I’ve never had an out-of-body experience or these kinds of dramatic experiences or uncanny experiences that many people have had, and I think you’ve had as well.

So, I’m always interested in hearing them and talking about them and I write about them quite a bit in my book, but I’ve never had one.

Alex Tsakiris: That’s interesting. No, I really haven’t had any super profound spiritual experiences, but I’ve found that when I really dig into it and probe it with people, especially people like you and if I can say, like me, in terms of I have a steady spiritual practice, a meditation practice, a yoga practice, because it works for me on so many levels. But if I really dig into that and if I get passed the need to have all of the fireworks, yeah, I have had spiritual experiences, even if they’re small ones that have, kind of, moved me on the course. Does that relate to you, because I think most people that consider themselves spiritual, they have to be getting some chromes that they’re following along the path?

Chris White: Absolutely. I remember being 14 or 15 and not really believing in God but then sort of taking up the issue of prayer and just being open-minded and taking an experimental view sort of thing, “I’m going to do this practice and I’m just going to see what happens. I don’t have to believe anything but I’m going to do it and I’m going to see.”

And then, as you say, kind of along the way you do feel, kind of a sense of change coming over you and a sense of being grounded in a certain way and a feeling that this is the right path and maybe those types of practices turn on parts of the self that we don’t think about sometimes. Maybe they turn on parts of the self that we use words like intuition to talk about, intuition or feeling or religious emotions. Certainly, I’ve had those types of, kind of confirming experiences with those practices, for sure.

And then, when you ask the question, another thing I think of, about spiritual experiences, and I think this gets back to awe and wonder and maybe nature, but also an element of the beyond, of the beyond nature, things like the birth of my children.

You have these kinds of fantastic moments that happen to you in your life and they do kind of strike you as revelatory in a certain way, and we all know the science behind childbirth. We could take a completely scientific approach to it, but I actually think that that kind of approach, I’m not sure that it really does take away from the, kind of fantastic and awesome nature of some of these things. Just like if we know the science and the geology of the Grand Canyon or these other kinds of experiences, it’s a bit different when you go there, and you experience them.

There definitely is something, an experience that has made it possible for me to feel a sense of transformation and I know for people that have more dramatic experiences, like maybe near-death experiences, who come out of those experiences and they feel completely transformed in various ways.

Alex Tsakiris: Right, excellent. Let’s return then and talk a little bit about the book. One of the points that you make, and I’ve just read it in the blurb there, that I’d love for you to talk about because I think we really need to hone in on it, and that is this idea of invisible dimensions, multiple dimensions. You really pull that apart and you have this interplay between what science is discovering and what spirituality is discovering, if we can apply that word to spirituality. Do you want to talk about that?

Chris White: Sure. The book begins 100 years ago or so, with people who, I think, consider themselves scientific but then who start to, through the mathematics and through the physics, they start to think about the possibility that there are invisible spaces or dimensions to reality. Some of them are interested in that as scientists, higher dimensions as even a physical space and then others get interested in these spaces as possibly spiritual spaces or spaces where there might be spirits or ghosts and so on. And you can have scientists who themselves, who pursue those ideas.

Is it possible to have a scientific perspective on the afterlife? Is it possible to study spirituality scientifically or empirically? These are all questions that some of these folks raised when they started to think about higher dimensions.

Maybe I can just say a quick word about what dimensions are, just to make that clear in our conversation.

I think there’s a number of different ways of talking about other dimensions or other universes or parallel worlds and so on, and I try to take up some of those in the book. The main thing I engage in the book though is just this idea that there might be a higher spatial dimension.  

So, in our world we have three spatial dimensions. Basically, if you can imagine drawing a line on a piece of paper, that’s a one-dimensional object, just a straight line. Now, that has one dimension that we call length.

Then, if you were to take that line on that flat piece of paper and take all of the points in that line and stretch them in a new direction, that’s perpendicular to the line, you would have a two-dimensional object, an object, a flat square, that would have length and width. Those would be its two dimensions or directions.

Then, if you do the same thing, if you take that flat square and you take every point in the square and you stretch it in a new direction that’s perpendicular to the other two directions, you would stretch that flat square into a three-dimensional cube. So, that cube has three spatial dimensions, it has length, width and height.

Now, this is where it gets tricky, alright? So, everything in our world apparently has three spatial dimensions, that’s the world that we seem to live in. But geometers and mathematicians and physicists in the 19th century started to incorporate a fourth spatial dimension into their equations, because it seems to simplify the laws of nature and allowed them to do things that were interesting to them mathematically.

So, this would be, if you were to think about what a fourth space, and again, this fourth spatial dimension is not a dimension that we can perceive, although a number of people in my book say that there are practices that you can do to actually see into a fourth dimension. But this dimension would involve taking that three-dimensional cube, like that Rubik’s cube, and taking all of the points in the cube and all of the points on the surfaces of that cube and stretching it in a fourth direction or dimension, and that direction would have to be perpendicular to the other three.

If your listeners sit there and try to imagine what that direction would be, it’s a pretty hard thing to do. It’s a pretty hard thing to imagine and that’s because we apparently don’t have that spatial dimension. But nevertheless, physicists, cosmologist or mathematicians, they do use this idea of there being a fourth dimensional space or a fifth dimensional space to reality. Maybe this is a space that we can’t perceive because of the limitations of our consciousness.

So, that’s sort of the beginning of the book and then these ideas get taken up by lots of different kinds of people.

There are other ways that we might think about dimensions, like today we have multiverse theory. This is a theory, not so much a theory of other dimensions, as a theory of parallel universes. Maybe there are other universes that exist outside of our own.

There’re other kinds of theories that have other layers or worlds to them, right? And I’m sure your listeners are familiar with these other kinds of theories, but string theory, which is a modern theory among mathematicians and physicists that tries to account for, it tries to come up with one set of equations that can accommodate all of natures’ forces, basically and string theory incorporates many extra spatial dimensions.  

There’s also something called brain theory. Lisa Randall at Harvard, a physicist, talks about brain theory and others talk about brain theory. This is the idea that there are membranes or brains in the cosmos and our visible universe is just on one of those membranes, spread out on one of those membranes or one of those layers in reality and that there are other layers in reality, or rather brains or membranes to reality that we can’t perceive.

So, there are a lot of different reasons that mathematicians and physicists have positive the existence of these other dimensional spaces, parallel worlds and there’re even other theories that I haven’t mentioned, like the many worlds’ interpretation of quantum mechanics, which says that our universe is constantly creating new additional parallel worlds.

So, there’re mathematical and scientific reasons that these theorists are coming up with these ideas. I should say there’s no proof, there’s no mathematical or scientific proof that these higher dimensions exist, or that these parallel worlds exist, but many physicists, mathematicians are actively pursuing the mathematics of these higher dimensional worlds and they’re also trying to figure out ways to empirically confirm whether or not they exist.

So, that’s a big excursus into higher dimensions. We can talk more about that if you want. There are a lot of scientists who talk about them, but then there are lot of people in pop culture now use them too and that, of course, is in the book. All of the sci-fi writers, all of the comic book artists, all of the people who create TV shows like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits and films like Interstellar. So many people use these ideas of there being other dimensional realities.

Alex Tsakiris: And then Chris, of course what you do, is you link that to a lot of spiritual people, if we can use that category, mystic thinkers or experiencers, who have come at it from a different way and there’s this interplay of cross-fertilization informing each other, kind of thing, right? That’s the other part of this, and then, tell us how you researched. Obviously, you’re smart enough to go and read the science and understand that, but you also researched the writings and understandings of the spiritual people as well, right?

Chris White: Oh yeah, sure. I think you’re right, that people came at it from two different directions. The mathematicians and scientists were intrigued by where the mathematics was leading them, and then they asked questions like, “Well, if I’m using a fourth spatial or a fifth spatial dimension in the context of my mathematics, could there actually be a real fourth space or fifth space?”

So, some came at it that way and then, as you say, others come at it from a spiritual side, let’s say somebody has an out-of-body experience. I talk about a number of people, I think it’s in chapter six in the book, which is a chapter about people who have dreams that seem to predict the future. In that chapter I talk about a couple of people who have out-of-body experiences and near-death experiences. So, these kinds of things happened to them and then they go to the science. So, this kind of strange stuff happens and then they say, “Well, is there any possible way I can explain what happened to me?” Then they turn to popular science books that might be about Einstein science or quantum mechanics or a lot of different things. So, you’re right, it goes in both directions in the book.

Alex Tsakiris: Maybe that’s a good way to launch into one of the points I want to talk about in kind of a more freewheeling interactive discussion, and I have three of them. But the first one relates directly to what you were saying there, and it relates to a quote I pulled out of the book. It was the chapter that you were dealing with Raymond Moody, who you mentioned earlier, the real pioneer of near-death experience research and most recently, I love that you pulled out that he’s really gotten into shared death experiences. That is not just the experiencer who has the cardiac arrest or whatever, but people that are with them in the hospital bed, who also share that experience. Quite remarkable and quite evidential really.

What you point out in the book is that a lot of these people are reporting alternative geometrical understandings or visions or experiences, like alternative geometry. So, you want to talk about science, I mean, it’s very sciencey.

So, the way I’d frame up this topic is, spiritually transformative experiences, there’s an app for that.

So, I guess my point is, one way to take what you’re doing is to suggest, as some people do, that our understanding of spiritually transformative experiences is going to change dramatically as we have a better understanding of technology and science. And you’re, kind of playing nice with spirituality and spiritual people, but eventually, all of that will be subsumed by technological advancement.

So, I just throw that on the table as a topic that we might kick around.

Chris White: Yeah, I think that’s a good observation. I think you can talk about that in a number of different ways. I think you could say technological advancement changes how people talk about spiritual experiences. I think you could say technological advancement gives people new metaphors or ways of thinking about spiritual experiences. I’m not sure what the direction of the causal arrow is, because you could also argue that people’s religious and spiritual questions leads them to different forms of scientific investigation and technological innovation.

So, a number of people in the history of science look at the direction of that arrow going both ways. There’s no question that scientific innovation and technological innovation comes from a cultural context. It’s not just that new science and technology comes out of, like a discovery vacuum and then it produces new kinds of religious people, there’s a more dynamic quality to it.

But I definitely agree with what you’re talking about. In general, I think what I’m trying to do with the book is I’m saying, given the fact that, in the West, fewer and fewer people are going to church and reading the bible or going to a synagogue and participating with traditional religious congregations. What are the ways that they’re now thinking about what ghosts are and what spirits are and where are they getting their new ways of talking about or experiencing these things? And that’s where, in the book, things like higher dimensions move in.

Alex Tsakiris: But that’s one question. I guess what I’m getting at is the underlying nature of spiritual experiences. Do they exist or are they somehow being counterfeited in some artificial way or is both true? Is there both an underlying reality to spiritual experiences, and we could talk about the implications for that, in terms of higher spiritual beings? And if you’re saying higher, you’re implying a hierarchy, in which case you’re talking about God, I guess, at some level, so what does that mean? Or are we saying that intelligences, be they this planet or another planet, if you’re willing to expand it to that, or even if you’re willing to go into spiritual dimensions and spiritual things, are they somehow able to manipulate our experience in order to create the illusion of a transformative spiritual experience?

So that, I think, rather than just focusing on, “Oh well, people are now spiritual but not religious and how might they go forward?” What’s the underling nature of these spiritual experiences?

Chris White: Well, that’s a good question. I don’t know if I can answer that. I would say that I think that there is reality to it. My personal view is that there is a kind of spiritual reality and when people talk about being inspired or having near-death experiences, these kinds of things, I think that there’s truth to that. So, I wouldn’t be the person who would be reducing all of those things to brain chemistry or to FMRIs, where you can look at the brain or whatever.

I definitely think that we are body, mind and spirit. So, I think all of those things are smashed together in a package, and I think you certainly can look at the scientific side of people’s religious experiences.

Now, some scientists will do that, and they will then make a more reductive move and they’ll say, “Well, this is the cause of the spiritual experience, the cause is actually in the body or the cause is in the material thing.” Some scientists will make that reductive move. I wouldn’t make that reductive move myself. I think that all kinds of brain states and mind states and even spiritual states have analogues in the physical body, for sure, but I wouldn’t want to reduce them to the physical body. So, I would be more on the side of people who would be open to the reality of real spiritual experiences.

Then, you raise other questions in your comment too, which is, where do they come from? Do they come from other dimensions or extraterrestrials or gods or whatever, right?

Alex Tsakiris: Beyond that, where I thought it was really interesting where you took us in the book, and I think where you were going and reaching towards with the shared near-death experience and Raymond Moody and the observers and the higher-ordered geometry, is that, we are so stuck in this materialistic, scientific, dogmatic thing, and we’ll talk about that in minute, but once we free ourselves from that, is there the possibility to actually imagine a higher-ordered science that already exists and we’re observing in those situations? And then, where does that take us, in terms of, if they really do have a higher-order, then is there a whole parallel kind of science to that, that we have yet to explore?

Chris White: Yeah, there may be. Certainly, one thing that you find when you study the history of science in the last 150 years is that scientists have been pretty committed to policing the boundaries of their disciplines. One thing that they rule out is any kind of philosophical or even spiritual reflection, right?

You see that, in my first book that I mentioned earlier, it looked pretty closely at the history of social sciences, you know, sociology, psychology, psychiatry, science is a mind and brain. And one thing that the founders of those disciplines really work hard at is squeezing out any mention of any kind of spiritual thing, or any, even philosophical questions.

Maybe you’re right, that in the future, when scientists and social scientists are less allergic to or less afraid of thinking about these other orders of existence or thinking about spirit, maybe that opens up a whole new way of thinking about and doing science.

Alex Tsakiris: Right, well that is one of the conclusions you have in the book, and you have specific examples of where that’s happening. We all hear these stories of famous and fantastic scientists who just come right out and say, “Hey, it was a spiritual inspiration that led me to that discovery,” which makes us kind of wonder…

Actually, that’s kind of a lead-in to the second topic that I wanted to throw on the table for discussion and that is “the cathedral predates the city”. I always like to give credit to Gordon White for this, because he’s the first one who really brought my attention to this quote that is attributed to Klaus Schmidt, who was the guy who did the whole Göbekli Tepe thing in Turkey, where they discover this enormous and amazing archeological dig that is 10,000, at least, 10,000 years before Egypt and the pyramids and all of that stuff.

Of course, one of the takeaways that no one wants to focus on very much is that now we’ve turned this whole myth of progress thing on its head and we always had this idea that people get together and they’re hunter-gatherers and then they finally get enough stuff together where they can build the city and then after, they have a bunch of leisure time. Then, they start sitting around and thinking about God.

Chris White: Like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs or whatever?

Alex Tsakiris: Exactly, and now the archeological evidence is unfolding and telling us exactly the opposite, which we were just talking about a minute ago, that spiritual impulse, from everything we can tell, is the impetus for all of this. It kind of makes me wonder, in some ways, are we looking through the wrong end of the telescope when we focus so much on science and how science has informed spirituality? Is it really the other way around? And we can balance them out and say, “Oh well, they’re informing each other,” but if we kind of take a stand one way or another, it kind of does give us a different perspective on the whole thing.

Chris White: Yeah, that’s a great point. I agree. I think that there seems to be something in human cultures around the world that people seem to be born with. They seem to be born with an interest in finding that orienting point or that kind of spiritual connection or maybe a sense of wonderment about what exists beyond. I’m not surprised that you pointed to, sort of the temple being the first consideration. People seem to pursue that.

Of course, scientists, they’ll come around and have an explanation that’s secular for that, which is that this is sort of an artefact of evolution, that people who have this kind of instinct will be adapted better to the environment and they have better survival skills and so on.

Some religious people have actually made religious arguments about that impulse and said that this is an impulse that is the starting point and that it’s, sort of a God given starting point. C.S. Lewis actually made this argument, and many people make this argument, but scientists do turn it around and they say, “Well no. This is just an artefact of evolution and it doesn’t actually point to anything real. It doesn’t actually point to any real beyond or the existence of a real beyond, supernatural.”

Alex Tsakiris: Doesn’t that kind of beg the question though, that they want to use that as the arbitrary starting point then, in terms of the evolutionary process, which doesn’t make any sense? But you know, I feel like those debates kind of go in circles, they don’t really wind up anywhere.

But I do have to interject there because I think what’s important about that discussion and about materialistic science and its complete failure, scientifically, not only that but philosophically, which we can talk about in a minute, is, I go back to the consciousness thing and the near-death experience thing.

So, that little bit of science tells me, okay, the neurological models that we have are either, a) completely wrong or b) suggest that they can’t handle the evidence that we have, because clearly the evidence we have is that people have states in which they aren’t supposed to be able to form memories, have experience, let alone have the most significant experiences of their life. So, their brains, their physiology isn’t supposed to be able to do that, and yet scientifically we can match their reports of those experiences with being in that body state.

So again, the whole skeptical thing, I don’t know why we have to try and balance the scales. They don’t really have any substance to their arguments. Consciousness, as far as we can tell from the evidence at hand, seems to survive bodily death or at least compromised brain states in a way that undermines the, kind of nitwit neurological model that we have. Isn’t that a case closed, kind of thing?

Chris White: Well unfortunately, as you know it’s not, maybe for some the reasons we’ve already talked about, in terms of the ways that scientists, psychologists, neurologists kind of police the limits of their discipline.

Whenever something like that comes up, they might either rule it out as saying, “Well, I can’t talk about that because it’s not ‘scientific’, as I’ve defined what scientific is”, or they’ll try to develop an alternate explanation.

Now, I think, like you, I don’t really find the alternate explanations as persuasive as some scientists do, because, as you know, scientists will come up with their own explanations for how it might be possible in the last moments of life to have these kinds of experiences and so on. Like you, I don’t find those persuasive. But what can you say? It’s sort of like you said, you can kind of go around and around.

I do think that, on the issue of consciousness, you’re right. Consciousness, for the last 50 years, has been, not an inflection point for science, I think it’s been a category that creates a lot of tension and handwringing.

Now, with quantum mechanics and the ways that it has moved subjectivity, human subjectivity and consciousness to the foreground, I think that creates so much anxiety for scientists, because of the issue that I mentioned earlier, which is that they’ve been pretty determined to keep outside of the boundaries of science, these kinds of questions about things that might transcend the material world.

And consciousness really provides a lot of trouble. All of these theories in physics and quantum mechanics about the role of the conscious observer, that it seems to have a sort of role in shaping or influencing physical reality at the quantum level and then all kinds of ways to try to interpret or explain away how that could be possible in the history of quantum of mechanics. Or just what you had in the 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s, just a lot of people saying, “Look, just forget about that. Let’s just be physicists and calculate and not talk about those things that we don’t understand,” one of which is the role of subjectivity and shaping physical reality. “Let’s just not talk about that and let’s just do our work. The equations seem to work.”

So again, that’s a group of scientists who are just, sort of ruling out a conversation and consciousness, it is a tricky issue and as I’m sure you know, what makes it worse for some of these physicists, some very prominent physicists within their mix, they start to go off and have these kinds of spiritual and philosophical reflections and say things like, “Well I think, in order for our world to exist like it does, we must have a God. That’s the ultimate consciousness and God observed the universe and provoked it into a concrete existence,” you know, like Eugene Wigner, Nobel Prize winning physicist, who makes that kind of statement. That even causes more anxiety for the physicist, saying, “Oh my god, we can’t talk like this.”

But you’re right, consciousness has become a real thorn and a really difficult issue for scientists who want to rule out broader philosophical conversation.

Alex Tsakiris: I actually think the ‘shut up and calculate’ assertion is, kind of a more intellectually honest approach. The only problem I see with it, is that they then forget that they’ve done a philosophical bypass of the whole problem. There’s no issue for me in reaching an impasse and saying, “Let’s set that aside so we can go and do our calculations and build our iPhone, that’s great, but you can’t then pretend like you didn’t do that sidestep.”    

Chris White: Yeah, exactly. As you know, they have all kinds of ways of reasoning themselves out of these things, and one thing they say is, “Well, as I define science, those questions don’t fit in with my definition, so I don’t talk about them.” But that’s just a way of punting the ball and giving up.

Then the other issue is, often materialist worldviews kind of sneak in the backdoor or they’re operating at all kinds of levels that these scientists are not willing to admit. They are actually privileging a metaphysical system. It’s materialism, or physicalism, or whatever you want to call it.

Alex Tsakiris: With a high degree of faith, really. So, if you look at it from that perspective, they’ve…

Chris White: They’ve chosen a starting point.

Alex Tsakiris: Yes, and they’ve chosen an unproven theory, that is scientific materialism, and they’ve put that above experience, right? Everyone has the experience of being conscious, of there being a reality to their conscious experience. So, if we set aside whether that is real or whether you should trust your experience, at least we have to acknowledge that that’s your experience.

So philosophically, if you’re choosing something different, what are you choosing? Well, you are choosing a theory. Well, that’s okay, has that theory been tested and proven? Well no, it really hasn’t been proven, in a real robust way, in terms of establishing scientific materialism and as you and I are talking about, as a matter of fact, the data, the more you look at it suggests that that theory really has been falsified over and over again. So, it’s kind of a strange situation we find ourselves in.

Chris White: Yeah, I think so. I think people do have a metaphysical starting point, which, as you say, is not really a proven thing, but is more just, “These are the set of assumptions I am accepting,” and they include, ‘all there is is matter in the world’.

Alex Tsakiris: Right, ‘give me one miracle and I can explain the rest’. And that kind of leads into the third and the last big topic I had and then we can talk about other stuff, anything that interests you, and this is kind of a tough one. I’m going to pull you into the deep waters here Chris, but…

Chris White: These have all been tough Alex, what are you talking about? Those were the easy ones, consciousness?

Alex Tsakiris: This is softball stuff for you.

Chris White: Those were softball stuff, absolutely.

Alex Tsakiris: Here’s how I’ve labelled it. Scientific materialism, social engineering and the spirituality of dystopia. I want to throw out the idea that this wacky scientific materialism, and it is wacky, has its roots in a social engineering project. In a project that, in a lot of ways if we look at the, I don’t want to say deep state and shadow government, because it kind of throws people on a lot of different ways, but if we look at the remote viewing research that’s done at Stanford Research Institute, okay, that’s just solid stuff. You can trace the money in Stanford Research Institute and they really did all of this stuff. Or, if you look at the MK-Ultra stuff, which is really sinister, but it’s still real, they did it and we have the documents and all of that stuff. It’s clear that these guys didn’t believe in scientific materialism. They were way off the reservation on this.

So, that brings me back to the understanding or the idea, at least willing to consider that what this scientific materialism is about is really social engineering, however you want to put that. It’s part of a meme that makes people more, I don’t know, controllable or just heads culture in a way that certain groups think might be advantageous for culture to move to, for whatever reasons, but linked with that, and this is really the troubling part that I see, is this dystopia.

We shared a link, because you’re a pop culture guy and I shared a link to the Black Mirror show, which is really a cool show and I just watched it with my wife. We just watched the latest episode which was really cool, but it’s all so freakin’ depressing. You just want to take a shower afterwards and it’s like, “This is the vision for where this advancement, this technological advancement, this scientific advancement, this is where it will lead us?”

Your book is refreshing, it’s uplifting and it’s certainly inspiring, but I don’t get that, from what our culture is telling us about science and where science is going, and I still suspect that there is another agenda behind this. What are your thoughts?

Chris White: Yeah, those are big questions. A couple of things. I would say that just to divide American history over the last 150 years and maybe re-divide it in 1950 or something, but I would say that between 1850 and 1950, you have the rise of science. When you go back and read people from that period, there’s a lot of euphoria about science, about social sciences, about biology, chemistry, physics. There’s a lot of euphoria and a lot of hope and optimism and a sense of, that if we just keep working and get better and better and devote more funding to big science, that we’re going to be able to solve problems and we’re going to be able to… this gets back to your question about social engineering, but we’re going to be able to solve human problems, we’re going to be able to raise better babies, we’re going to be able to raise better people, we’re going to be able to have a lot of success in technology.

I think we should say that a lot of that was true. I think we should say that science is amazing and has done amazing… Like antibiotics, prosthetic limbs, new technologies like the iPhone.

There is a way in which between 1850 and 1950, a lot of amazing things did happen. I mean, telephones, television, electric light. So, science was this thing that people embraced with awe and wonder, and people are fully onboard with and many of the cultural authorities in this country, were embracing and putting tax dollars behind. And all the way through the wars, for sure, which the wars themselves were great incubators of new medical science and other kinds of technologies. Obviously, wars are not great examples of what technology can do.

So, I think technology and science, there was this real euphoria, a lot of optimism about it and I think if you watch the sci-fi equivalence of, Stranger Things, for instance, back in 1940 it looks different. Even some of The Twilight Zone, you have these kinds of heroic, white lab coated figures, male scientists who basically save the day.

So, I think science back then is one thing, and then I think what’s happened now, since 1950, is maybe a slightly different picture that we’re getting from artists, cultural elites on television and film, and you’re right, it looks very dystopian. Stranger Things or a lot of sci-fi about other dimensions, The Matrix, or even the new film, Interstellar from 2004, a lot of these films are about dystopias and the dystopias are created by science that has gone and run amuck or technology that has run amuck and they’ve destroyed the world. Global warming has destroyed the world.

So, since 1950 or ’60, I think there’s been a kind of turn and much more skepticism about science and what it’s bringing us. Much more skepticism about technology and about nuclear power and nuclear weapons.

So, I think there is a turning point there.

Alex Tsakiris: But I have to wonder, in the same way that your book explores the interaction between science and spirituality, there’s definitely an interaction in between the social engineering project and the evolving of culture, you know? So, I just wonder which comes first. I think there is a certain awakening within our culture that exposed the bullshit of the perfect 1940s, ‘50s, lab coat scientists.

Chris White: That’s the 1960s.

Alex Tsakiris: Exactly. So, they become unmasked and one thing that we know from studying the social engineering project is, those guys are sharp and they’re one step ahead of the game. So, then the game shifts to, what’s the ultimate coopt, to then jump on that side and go, “Yeah, those guys in the lab coats, they’re not so great.” There is this dystopic future, but then that is coopted as well to tell a different story, that then leads to something else.

The example I often use, because it’s such a great one and so many people aren’t aware of it, is like feminism and Gloria Steinem, because she’s totally been outed as a CIA operative, not just during her little feminist project, but a lifetime player, who’s still involved with these kinds of bizarre women’s rights for Syria, one of the most secular countries in the Middle East.

The point being, there’s nothing to get upset about. Of course, feminism had a just cause, a just purpose, a just goal behind it, but the coopting of it is the interesting part, how they get in there. They just want a foot in the door to be able to shape things the way that they want.

I just wonder and worry if that’s what we’re seeing with science and the way scientific materialism, even though it fails again and again and again, it gets propped up and it gets reenergized and like you said, it never seems to die, there’s always another explanation, as bizarre as it can be, and those explanations always come from a ‘top scientist’. And meanwhile, we’re being told that the result of all of this, what it’s going to lead to, is not very good and not very positive.

So, I’m long-winded there, but is this transition that you’re talking about, which I see, and I think everybody sees, is that potentially another coopt move, you know, where that’s been coopted?

Chris White: Yeah, it’s a good question. I think when you talk about what they’re doing, in terms of those people who are doing the social engineering, I might want to break that down a little bit and talk about different types of people. I might want to talk about artists, people involved in the media. You might want to talk about governments. You might want to walk about corporations and advertising. You might want to talk about big business. I think everybody has a different angle on this.

When I think about the dystopian fiction, which is in novels and in television and in films, I see something different there. I don’t know that I see that as an effort by elites to kind of get our attention by playing out our dystopian fears or fantasies. I see that more as, kind of a reflection of, kind of a skepticism about big business or big government. I kind of see some of those visions as pushing back rather than coopt. I see those visions, in some ways, as kind of pushing back, in the same way as people in the ‘60s sort of pushed back and said, “You know what, big government doesn’t have our best interests at heart,” or, “The US military is in it for itself.”

So, I see some of the artistic and fictional and televisual, I see some of that stuff as push back against the older idea of the heroic scientist, who just has our best interests or the American government that just has our best interests. I think that’s why you have a lot more conspiracy type thinking and a lot more skepticism now about the government and about big business, as you have many decades of, kind of push back, and some of that is created by these artists and writers who are creating these dystopian stories.

You’re right, it is depressing, the dystopian stuff. I’ve actually also wondered, like you, where is this coming from? Cormac McCarthy or films or whatever it is, I’ve also kind of wondered, “What is the great appeal today of the dystopian novel?” Maybe it speaks to the way in which people have lost hope. People have lost faith, they’ve lost hope. I don’t know. Maybe I sound, kind of old-timey with that explanation.

Alex Tsakiris: I don’t think you sound old-timey at all, and I think you make a couple of great fantastic points that I want to pull out and highlight, because they’re new to me. One is that, we do have to be very careful when we say, “They,” and whenever I say, “Social engineering project.” It’s multifaceted. Like you said, corporations are clearly doing it with just one goal and that’s just to make money, a coke and smile and all of that, and we get that. And then there’re other parts that are valid, in terms of protecting our way of life, however uncomfortable that is. There are other forces that we don’t want to be like some of the other countries or cultures that we see, we like our thing better. So, all of that stuff is really good. I’m glad you bring it up.

On your last point though, I really want to jump on that and get a little dialogue in the little bit of time we have left on that, is that the thing that your book does so beautifully is, it weaves together the stuff that really is there, all of these threads that we might overlook and says, there really is a spirituality to science, there really is an interplay. And if we start with spirituality or we start with science, we kind of wind up in the same place and isn’t that interesting? Isn’t that something we should pay more attention to and perhaps put our attention towards?

And I contrast that with what I get from the social engineering project that is scientific materialism, in my opinion, and the conclusion is the absolute opposite of that. It’s a pulling apart of those threads, it’s the spirituality of dystopia.

Chris White: Yeah, I think that’s true, I do see that, and I think that’s disheartening too. I don’t think it leads to hope. I don’t think it leads to optimism or hope.

But I appreciate what you’re saying about the book, in the sense that it does try to weave a story through science and pop culture about the possibilities of a new type of science, and I think that, in some ways, that that new type of science has arrived in some ways. I think that the scientists themselves, especially when you see them get on television or write a popular science book, they traffic in all of these fantastic scientific ideas now, and they have a sense of excitement and a sense of wonder.

I mentioned Brian Greene earlier, but there’s also Michio Kaku, there’re many scientists who have a real sense of awe and wonder about nature and its many mysteries, whether that’s entanglement or non-locality or dark matter or dark energy or the multiverse or higher dimensions or the many worlds interpretations of quantum mechanics.

There have been, in the last 50 years, these kinds of fantastic pieces of science that have come back in the backdoor, even while scientists themselves have tried to keep them out. So, I think they kind of have come back and I think some scientists, especially scientists who write popular science, in many ways they can’t help themselves, they have to bring these things in because people who are doing popular science need and want buy-in. They want to sell books and the way to do that is to have this kind of excitement, have this kind of more open-ended science, have these kinds of more fantastic scientific notions or more mysterious scientific notions, which maybe, in an earlier era, scientists were more quickly to sweep under the rug.

So, I think it’s possible that in the coming decades you will see more of this. You will see more open reflections about physics and consciousness studies or different kinds of combinations that many scientists before, in some ways because they were professionalizing and building their sciences, were kind of against. But now, who knows, maybe there’s going to be a new openness to this? I hope so.

Alex Tsakiris: Great. Our guest again has been Dr Christopher White. The book that you’re going to want to check out, Other Worlds: Spirituality and the Search for Invisible Dimensions. Now, you can find the book in the normal ways, right Chris? Amazon?

Chris White: Yeah, you can get it from Amazon. If you like it, leave a review on Amazon. You can get it through Harvard University Press’ website, they sell the book as well. It’s published by Harvard University Press. If anyone wants to reach out to me, they can find me at Vassar or they can also follow me on Twitter, @chris_g_white. I’m happy to communicate with people if they want to reach out.

Alex Tsakiris:  Great. Well, I’m sure there’ll be a bunch of people reaching out on the forum after this show. So, if you have a minute, I’ll set you up so you can pop over there and see what people are saying.

Chris White: That would be great, sure.

Alex Tsakiris: That would be great for us. It’s right up our alley and you’ve just amassed some amazing work in this area. It’s been great having you on. I thank you again so much for coming on Skeptiko.

Chris White: Thanks so much Alex, it was great talking to you for an hour.

Alex Tsakiris: Okay.

Chris White: Let’s do it again.

Alex Tsakiris: Alright, let’s do it again.

Chris White: Okay.

Alex Tsakiris: Thanks again to Dr Chris White for joining me today on Skeptiko. I guess I’d have one question to tee up from this interview and that is, what do you make of the premise of Chris’ book? Is there a subtler, deeper interplay between science and spirituality and is it being revealed, to a certain extent, in technology advancement? I think that’s a really interesting topic to explore and I’m really interested to see what you have to say about it, because there’re so many different directions we could take and I’m not even sure where I stand on it. So, that’s why I do these shows, by the way, is I need y’all to straighten me out, which you do so often and clarify my thinking on these things. I can’t tell me enough how often that occurs. I learn from you. That’s what this show is all about. That’s the payoff for me.

So, join me over on the Skeptiko forum or other places and tell me your thoughts.

0:08 – 0:15 these dreams like thinking weird things

0:12 – 0:18 what sorts of things if you watch any

0:15 – 0:21 popular TV shows or movies about the

0:18 – 0:24 future of technology like this clip from

0:21 – 0:35 Netflix is Black Mirror you know the

0:24 – 0:38 future and you know it’s not very good

0:35 – 0:42 today’s guest looks past the dystopia

0:38 – 0:43 and sees something else where you’re

0:42 – 0:46 going and reaching towards with the

0:43 – 0:49 shared near-death experience in Raymond

0:46 – 0:51 moody in the higher-order geometry is

0:49 – 0:55 there the possibility to actually

0:51 – 0:57 imagine a higher ordered science that

0:55 – 1:00 already exists and then where does that

0:57 – 1:02 take us there maybe I mean certainly one

1:00 – 1:04 thing that you find when you study the

1:02 – 1:06 history of science in the last hundred

1:04 – 1:08 50 years is that you know scientists

1:06 – 1:10 have been you know pretty committed to

1:08 – 1:12 police policing the boundaries of their

1:10 – 1:15 disciplines and one thing that they rule

1:12 – 1:17 out is any kind of philosophical or even

1:15 – 1:19 spiritual reflection right you see that

1:17 – 1:21 in my first book that I mentioned

1:19 – 1:24 earlier it looked pretty closely at the

1:21 – 1:27 history of social sciences you know

1:24 – 1:29 sociology psychology psychiatry sciences

1:27 – 1:31 of mind and brain and one thing that the

1:29 – 1:33 founders of the those disciplines really

1:31 – 1:37 work hard at is you know squeezing out

1:33 – 1:39 any any mention of any kind of spiritual

1:37 – 1:40 thing or any even philosophical

1:39 – 1:43 questions and you know maybe you’re

1:40 – 1:46 right that in the future when scientists

1:43 – 1:48 and social scientists are less allergic

1:46 – 1:51 to or less afraid of thinking about

1:48 – 1:53 these other orders of existence or

1:51 – 1:55 thinking about spirit maybe that opens

1:53 – 1:57 up a whole new way of thinking about and

1:55 – 1:60 doing science so I really enjoyed having

1:57 – 2:02 dr. Chris White on skeptic oh today and

1:60 – 2:04 we talked about other topics like how

2:02 – 2:07 much of this dark dark dystopic

2:04 – 2:09 apocalyptic science stuff

2:07 – 2:13 socially engineered is designed to make

2:09 – 2:15 us feel even more isolated afraid alone

2:13 – 2:19 it certainly keeps us away from any kind

2:15 – 2:20 of deeper examination of spirituality so

2:19 – 2:22 it’s a great chat from a very

2:20 – 2:26 distinguished and deep thinker stick

2:22 – 2:34 around for my interview with Chris white

2:26 – 2:37 [Music]

2:34 – 2:40 today we welcome dr. Christopher G white

2:37 – 2:43 – skeptic oh he’s here to talk about his

2:40 – 2:47 new book other worlds spirituality and

2:43 – 2:49 the search for invisible dimensions now

2:47 – 2:51 I don’t usually read a lot of book

2:49 – 2:54 blurbs on this show but this is a really

2:51 – 2:55 good one so let me read this in because

2:54 – 2:58 it’ll give you an idea where he’s coming

2:55 – 3:01 from for a long time people have argued

2:58 – 3:05 that the rise of science has caused the

3:01 – 3:07 decline of religion other worlds this

3:05 – 3:09 book presents a different perspective

3:07 – 3:13 showing that modern Europeans and

3:09 – 3:16 Americans often use scientific ideas in

3:13 – 3:19 imaginative ways to develop new

3:16 – 3:22 enchanted views of nature the book

3:19 – 3:25 examines the history and imaginative

3:22 – 3:27 power of one scientific idea in

3:25 – 3:30 particular an idea that has been crucial

3:27 – 3:32 to modern physics as well as modern

3:30 – 3:36 science fiction and that is the idea

3:32 – 3:40 that the universe has a higher invisible

3:36 – 3:42 dimension very very nice I should also

3:40 – 3:45 mention real quickly that Chris I’m

3:42 – 3:47 gonna call him Chris here has a PhD from

3:45 – 3:49 Harvard and his professor and chair of

3:47 – 3:51 religion at Vassar one of the top

3:49 – 3:53 liberal arts colleges in the United

3:51 – 3:56 States so in other words he’s a really

3:53 – 3:57 really smart guy but you would have

3:56 – 3:59 figured that out anyway as we go along

3:57 – 4:02 but it’s great to have you here Chris

3:59 – 4:03 thanks for joining me thanks for that

4:02 – 4:05 introduction Alex you really you really

4:03 – 4:07 you know raising expectations for your

4:05 – 4:09 listening audience here so I don’t know

4:07 – 4:12 hopefully I won’t disappoint well let’s

4:09 – 4:14 see how it goes okay okay I don’t think

4:12 – 4:17 you will you you have a terrific book

4:14 – 4:20 here and I really like you yeah well

4:17 – 4:22 written you’re covering a topic that you

4:20 – 4:27 know a lot of people probably expect

4:22 – 4:29 either find very superficial or Laden

4:27 – 4:30 down with a lot of academic stuff and

4:29 – 4:32 you don’t fall in either one of those

4:30 – 4:34 it’s really light and it carries a

4:32 – 4:37 lightness about spirituality with it

4:34 – 4:39 that is great good yeah no I’m glad you

4:37 – 4:40 like that I am I definitely worked hard

4:39 – 4:42 on it you know there’s there’s a lot of

4:40 – 4:43 pieces to put in together a book you

4:42 – 4:45 know you got to get all the information

4:43 – 4:48 and do the research and then

4:45 – 4:50 write it up and try to write it up in an

4:48 – 4:52 interesting way and like you say you

4:50 – 4:54 know I tried to make it a book for

4:52 – 4:55 students and for scholars and for

4:54 – 4:57 everyone else who wants to read about

4:55 – 4:58 sort of higher dimensions and how

4:57 – 5:01 they’re changing how we think about

4:58 – 5:03 spirituality so yeah it was it was it

5:01 – 5:05 took a few years to do it but but I had

5:03 – 5:07 fun with it for sure well I want to let

5:05 – 5:08 people know that we’re gonna talk about

5:07 – 5:11 the book and I really want people to

5:08 – 5:13 check out the book listeners of this

5:11 – 5:16 show I think will really really like it

5:13 – 5:18 but you’ve also opened yourself up and

5:16 – 5:21 are willing to kind of have a more free

5:18 – 5:22 ranging discussion because that’s really

5:21 – 5:26 what skeptical is about is kind of

5:22 – 5:27 trying to figure out how you’re a really

5:26 – 5:31 smart guy like you how your work fits

5:27 – 5:33 into these larger questions of who are

5:31 – 5:35 we and why are we here and and how it

5:33 – 5:38 fits into the other topics we’ve

5:35 – 5:40 explored so that’s really terrific that

5:38 – 5:41 you’re willing to do that but absolutely

5:40 – 5:43 yeah thanks

5:41 – 5:45 here are a couple of leadoff questions

5:43 – 5:48 you’re a science and spirituality guy

5:45 – 5:51 and I am too

5:48 – 5:55 so here’s question what’s something

5:51 – 5:56 you’ve learned from science that’s

5:55 – 5:58 changed your life

5:56 – 6:00 yeah well that’s actually a really good

5:58 – 6:02 question to start this discussion with

6:00 – 6:04 because in some ways you know it’s sort

6:02 – 6:06 of science and my reading of science and

6:04 – 6:09 popular science that that started me

6:06 – 6:11 thinking about the book you know I’m you

6:09 – 6:13 know in the book I talk a lot about you

6:11 – 6:15 know the ways in which modern people who

6:13 – 6:18 call themselves spiritual or spiritual

6:15 – 6:20 but not religious are getting you know a

6:18 – 6:22 renewed sense of awe and wonder by

6:20 – 6:24 thinking about nature and I think I’m in

6:22 – 6:27 that category too you know I think that

6:24 – 6:29 that’s where I begin my reflections in

6:27 – 6:32 the book and and I began my research in

6:29 – 6:34 the book so you know I think I get that

6:32 – 6:36 sense right when I watch a science

6:34 – 6:37 documentary or when I read one of Brian

6:36 – 6:40 Greene’s books he’s a physicist at

6:37 – 6:42 Columbia University and he wrote fabric

6:40 – 6:44 of the cosmos and a couple other books

6:42 – 6:45 about the multiverse and then he’s also

6:44 – 6:49 you know you can google him and watch

6:45 – 6:51 his documentary on YouTube YouTube um so

6:49 – 6:53 but you know and he has that same sort

6:51 – 6:56 of sense of sort of awe and wonder at

6:53 – 6:58 how amazing and how big and how

6:56 – 6:59 mysterious the the universe of the

6:58 – 7:01 multiverse

6:59 – 7:03 and so I think that in some ways I kind

7:01 – 7:06 of started with that and I think science

7:03 – 7:07 has given me that and it’s not unlike a

7:06 – 7:10 number of people in my book like CS

7:07 – 7:12 Lewis or Madeleine L’Engle or mint many

7:10 – 7:15 other people in any other chapters who

7:12 – 7:18 kind of get rien santa dword view really

7:15 – 7:21 from what i’m calling like fantastic

7:18 – 7:23 scientific concepts so in some ways the

7:21 – 7:26 book is biographical or autobiographical

7:23 – 7:30 in that way you know that’s awesome was

7:26 – 7:31 there any specific scientific discovery

7:30 – 7:33 because I’ll just share with you like

7:31 – 7:35 yeah I’ve been doing this show for a

7:33 – 7:37 while and I had all these kind of

7:35 – 7:39 questions and the same kind of thing you

7:37 – 7:42 don’t wonder a science thing but I ran

7:39 – 7:44 across the near-death experience science

7:42 – 7:46 research peer-reviewed published stuff

7:44 – 7:48 and it really changed me because I had

7:46 – 7:51 lingering doubts about the survival of

7:48 – 7:54 consciousness and when I was really able

7:51 – 7:55 to finally pin that down for myself I’m

7:54 – 7:57 not saying this applies to anyone else

7:55 – 7:60 but it really kind of turned something

7:57 – 8:02 in me I was like wow there are science

7:60 – 8:05 the best way that I can understand it

8:02 – 8:09 has changed fundamentally what I can

8:05 – 8:10 accept about consciousness and death do

8:09 – 8:12 you have any kind of similar parallel

8:10 – 8:15 thing of something in science a

8:12 – 8:18 scientific discovery that really led you

8:15 – 8:20 to just a new belief system yeah well I

8:18 – 8:22 think that you know when I started the

8:20 – 8:24 project I was raised in the Baha’i faith

8:22 – 8:26 so I’m a Baha’i and like one of the

8:24 – 8:28 teachings in the Baha’i religion or the

8:26 – 8:30 Baha’i faith is that there are that

8:28 – 8:31 there are many worlds you know which is

8:30 – 8:34 the title of the book right that there

8:31 – 8:38 are many worlds that the divine essence

8:34 – 8:41 or the transcendent you know has created

8:38 – 8:43 or contains you know many worlds and so

8:41 – 8:45 I think I had that sensibility going

8:43 – 8:46 into it and then actually it’s funny you

8:45 – 8:48 mentioned the near-death experiences I

8:46 – 8:50 did you know about ten years ago I got

8:48 – 8:52 interested in reading Raymond Moody and

8:50 – 8:54 kind of near-death experiences and

8:52 – 8:57 out-of-body experiences and I got really

8:54 – 8:58 interested in thinking about that you

8:57 – 9:01 know and kind of been kind of inspired

8:58 – 9:03 by that and that kind of changed my

9:01 – 9:05 thinking I guess a little bit like you

9:03 – 9:07 I’m you know thinking about many layers

9:05 – 9:08 and many worlds and and then I guess the

9:07 – 9:10 third piece was when I was doing

9:08 – 9:12 research for my first book which is

9:10 – 9:13 called unsettled Minds which is more a

9:12 – 9:15 history of

9:13 – 9:18 psychology and sciences of mind and

9:15 – 9:21 brain and how they influence American

9:18 – 9:22 thinking about spirituality and religion

9:21 – 9:25 but when I was when I was doing that

9:22 – 9:28 that project I came across an awful lot

9:25 – 9:30 of people you know who were interested

9:28 – 9:33 in science and religion and physics or

9:30 – 9:35 science religion and cosmology and these

9:33 – 9:37 were people who were talking more about

9:35 – 9:39 higher dimensions right and using that

9:37 – 9:42 that kind of fantastic scientific term

9:39 – 9:44 higher dimensions parallel universes and

9:42 – 9:46 so that that was maybe the third thing

9:44 – 9:47 that you know got me excited like well

9:46 – 9:49 wait a minute you know what’s the

9:47 – 9:50 relationship between all these different

9:49 – 9:53 things what’s the relationship between

9:50 – 9:54 you know an idea a spiritual idea that

9:53 – 9:56 there might be you know an afterlife or

9:54 – 9:58 other worlds on the one hand and also

9:56 – 9:60 you know the sort of near-death

9:58 – 10:02 experiences on the other hand and then

9:60 – 10:03 also you know more scientific ideas that

10:02 – 10:05 there might be invisible spaces or

10:03 – 10:07 layers to reality and you know what’s

10:05 – 10:09 the story you know and how people put

10:07 – 10:12 those different categories together and

10:09 – 10:13 that that’s really the book you know and

10:12 – 10:15 I have a number of those different kinds

10:13 – 10:17 of people in the book you know I have

10:15 – 10:18 spiritual or religious people in the

10:17 – 10:21 book who who have different ideas about

10:18 – 10:23 an afterlife and then I have people who

10:21 – 10:26 you know have afterlife experiences and

10:23 – 10:28 have a more empirical kind of view and

10:26 – 10:29 want to want to study these kinds of

10:28 – 10:31 things scientifically and then I also

10:29 – 10:33 have skeptics in the book right as you

10:31 – 10:35 know I have scientists and and others in

10:33 – 10:37 there who sort of push back on all that

10:35 – 10:39 and say you know that’s not really what

10:37 – 10:42 we’re talking about when we talk about

10:39 – 10:44 higher dimensional spaces on but that

10:42 – 10:46 conversation goes round and around and

10:44 – 10:49 in the book I try to I try to turn it

10:46 – 10:52 into a story great have you had any

10:49 – 10:54 spiritual experiences that have really

10:52 – 10:56 changed your life in a significant way

10:54 – 10:58 yeah that’s a good question I get that

10:56 – 11:00 question you know I get that question

10:58 – 11:02 when I’m doing a podcast or doing maybe

11:00 – 11:05 a radio show or an interview or

11:02 – 11:08 something you know and it’s always it’s

11:05 – 11:09 always a letdown because because I you

11:08 – 11:12 know I don’t have you know I haven’t I

11:09 – 11:13 haven’t had a UFO experience or I have I

11:12 – 11:16 haven’t heard a voice or seen a light

11:13 – 11:17 I’m you know I know I know people that

11:16 – 11:18 have had these experiences and in fact

11:17 – 11:20 I’ve talked to them right because

11:18 – 11:23 because I study these kinds of

11:20 – 11:24 experiences and advice or I teach about

11:23 – 11:27 these experiences too and like ways of

11:24 – 11:29 interpreting them but I mean aside from

11:27 – 11:31 you know having my own sort of

11:29 – 11:33 meditation and prayer life you know

11:31 – 11:36 which is sort of more of a kind of a

11:33 – 11:38 constant practice in my life aside from

11:36 – 11:39 that no there I don’t really you know

11:38 – 11:42 I’ve never had an out-of-body experience

11:39 – 11:45 or these kinds of you know dramatic

11:42 – 11:46 experiences or uncanny experiences that

11:45 – 11:49 people that many people have had and I

11:46 – 11:50 think you’ve had as well but um so I’m

11:49 – 11:52 always interested in hearing them and

11:50 – 11:53 talking about them and I write about

11:52 – 11:55 them quite a bit in my book but I’ve

11:53 – 11:57 I’ve never had one that’s interesting

11:55 – 12:01 because I know I really haven’t had any

11:57 – 12:03 super profound spiritual experiences but

12:01 – 12:05 I found that when I really you know dig

12:03 – 12:08 into it and probe it with people

12:05 – 12:11 especially people like you and if I can

12:08 – 12:14 say like me in terms of I have a steady

12:11 – 12:17 spiritual practice a meditation practice

12:14 – 12:20 a yoga practice because it works for me

12:17 – 12:23 on so many levels but if I really dig

12:20 – 12:26 into that and if I get past the need to

12:23 – 12:28 have all the fireworks yeah I have had

12:26 – 12:31 spiritual experiences even if there’s

12:28 – 12:34 small ones that have kind of moved me on

12:31 – 12:36 the course and does that relate to you

12:34 – 12:39 because I think most people that are

12:36 – 12:42 consider themselves spiritual they have

12:39 – 12:44 to beginning some yeah crumbs that

12:42 – 12:46 they’re following along the path oh

12:44 – 12:49 absolutely I mean you know when I

12:46 – 12:51 remember being 14 or 15 and not really

12:49 – 12:53 believing in God but but then sort of

12:51 – 12:54 taking up the issue of prayer and just

12:53 – 12:57 kind of being like open minded and

12:54 – 12:58 taking an experimental view and sort of

12:57 – 12:60 saying you know well I’m gonna do this

12:58 – 13:01 practice and I’m just gonna see what

12:60 – 13:03 happens I don’t have to believe anything

13:01 – 13:05 but I’m going to do it and I’m gonna and

13:03 – 13:07 I’m gonna see and then as you say come

13:05 – 13:10 along the way you do feel kind of a

13:07 – 13:12 sense of change you know coming over you

13:10 – 13:14 in a sense of being grounded in a

13:12 – 13:16 certain way and a feeling that this is

13:14 – 13:18 this is the right path you know and

13:16 – 13:21 maybe it may be those types of practices

13:18 – 13:23 turn on parts of the self that we don’t

13:21 – 13:25 think about sometimes right maybe they

13:23 – 13:27 turn on parts of the self that you know

13:25 – 13:30 we use words like intuition to talk

13:27 – 13:33 about right or you know intuition or

13:30 – 13:35 feeling or religious emotions on you

13:33 – 13:37 know certainly you know I’ve had those

13:35 – 13:41 types of kind of confirming experiences

13:37 – 13:42 with those with those practices for sure

13:41 – 13:43 and then and then you know when you ask

13:42 – 13:46 the question another thing I think of

13:43 – 13:48 about sort of spiritual experiences is

13:46 – 13:51 you know I think this gets back to awe

13:48 – 13:54 and wonder and maybe nature but also an

13:51 – 13:56 element of of the beyond of the beyond

13:54 – 13:58 nature is is things like you know the

13:56 – 13:60 birth of my children you know you you

13:58 – 14:03 have these kind of fantastic moments

13:60 – 14:06 that happen to you in your life and they

14:03 – 14:09 do kind of strike you as as revelatory

14:06 – 14:11 right in a certain way you know and we

14:09 – 14:13 all know the science behind childbirth

14:11 – 14:15 right we can we could take it completely

14:13 – 14:18 domestic and take a completely

14:15 – 14:20 scientific approach to it but I actually

14:18 – 14:22 think that that that kind of approach it

14:20 – 14:24 doesn’t really I’m not sure that it

14:22 – 14:26 really does take away from the the kind

14:24 – 14:28 of fantastic and awesome nature of some

14:26 – 14:29 of these things just like if we know the

14:28 – 14:30 science and the geology of the Grand

14:29 – 14:32 Canyon or these other kinds of

14:30 – 14:34 experiences it’s a bit different when

14:32 – 14:35 you go there and you experience it right

14:34 – 14:39 so I mean there definitely is something

14:35 – 14:41 an experience that that has that’s made

14:39 – 14:42 it possible for me to feel a sense of

14:41 – 14:45 transformation and and I know for people

14:42 – 14:47 who have more dramatic experiences right

14:45 – 14:49 like maybe near-death experiences right

14:47 – 14:51 who come out of those experiences and

14:49 – 14:53 you know they feel completely trance

14:51 – 14:57 transformed it in various ways right no

14:53 – 14:59 excellent so let’s return then and talk

14:57 – 15:01 a little bit about the book one of the

14:59 – 15:03 points that you make and I just read it

15:01 – 15:06 in the blurb there that I’d love for you

15:03 – 15:08 to talk about because I think we really

15:06 – 15:11 need to hone in on it and that is this

15:08 – 15:13 idea of invisible dimensions multiple

15:11 – 15:15 dimensions and you really pull that

15:13 – 15:18 apart and you have this and an interplay

15:15 – 15:21 between what science is discovering and

15:18 – 15:23 what spirituality is discovering if we

15:21 – 15:26 can apply that word to spirituality yeah

15:23 – 15:30 you want to talk about that so yeah sure

15:26 – 15:33 I mean you know the the book begins you

15:30 – 15:35 know a hundred years ago or so with with

15:33 – 15:37 people who I think consider themselves

15:35 – 15:40 scientific but then who you know start

15:37 – 15:41 to through the mathematics and through

15:40 – 15:43 their physics they start to think about

15:41 – 15:46 the possibility that there are invisible

15:43 – 15:48 spaces or dimensions to reality and some

15:46 – 15:52 of them are interested in that as

15:48 – 15:54 scientists right higher dimensions as

15:52 – 15:54 even a physical space and then and then

15:54 – 15:57 other

15:54 – 15:59 get interested in these spaces as you

15:57 – 16:01 know possibly spiritual spaces or spaces

15:59 – 16:03 where there might be spirits or ghosts

16:01 – 16:06 and so on and you can have scientists

16:03 – 16:08 who themselves or pursue that or pursue

16:06 – 16:13 those ideas you know is it possible to

16:08 – 16:16 to have a scientific perspective on the

16:13 – 16:18 afterlife is it possible to study

16:16 – 16:19 spirituality scientifically or

16:18 – 16:21 empirically right these are all

16:19 – 16:23 questions that some of these folks

16:21 – 16:25 raised when they started to think about

16:23 – 16:27 higher dimensions and maybe I can just

16:25 – 16:30 say a quick word about what dimensions

16:27 – 16:32 are just to sort of make that clear in

16:30 – 16:33 our conversation but I think there’s a

16:32 – 16:35 number of different ways of talking

16:33 – 16:37 about other dimensions or other

16:35 – 16:39 universes or parallel worlds on and so

16:37 – 16:42 on and I try to take up some of those in

16:39 – 16:44 the book the main thing I’m gay gin the

16:42 – 16:46 book though is just this idea that there

16:44 – 16:48 might be a higher a higher spatial

16:46 – 16:50 dimension so you know in our world we

16:48 – 16:54 have we have three spatial dimensions

16:50 – 16:56 you know on basically you know if you

16:54 – 16:57 can imagine drawing a line on a piece of

16:56 – 16:60 paper that’s a one-dimensional object

16:57 – 17:02 just a straight line you know that has

16:60 – 17:03 one dimension that we call length you

17:02 – 17:05 know and then if you were to take that

17:03 – 17:07 line on that flat piece of paper and

17:05 – 17:09 take all the points in that line and

17:07 – 17:11 stretch them in a in a new direction

17:09 – 17:14 that’s perpendicular to the

17:11 – 17:16 perpendicular to the line you would have

17:14 – 17:18 a two-dimensional object an object a

17:16 – 17:20 flat square right that would have length

17:18 – 17:22 and width those would be its two

17:20 – 17:24 dimensions or directions and then if you

17:22 – 17:25 do the same if you do the same thing if

17:24 – 17:27 you take that flat Square and you take

17:25 – 17:29 every point in the square and you

17:27 – 17:30 stretch it in a new direction that’s

17:29 – 17:33 perpendicular to the other two

17:30 – 17:35 directions you would stretch that flat

17:33 – 17:37 square into a three-dimensional cube so

17:35 – 17:39 that cube has three spatial dimensions

17:37 – 17:42 all right it has length width and height

17:39 – 17:44 now this is where it gets tricky right

17:42 – 17:46 so you know every everything in our

17:44 – 17:47 world apparently has three spatial

17:46 – 17:51 dimensions that’s the world that we seem

17:47 – 17:52 to live in but geometers and

17:51 – 17:54 mathematicians and physicists in the

17:52 – 17:56 19th century started to incorporate a

17:54 – 17:59 fourth spatial dimension into their

17:56 – 18:01 equations because they it seemed to

17:59 – 18:02 simplify the laws of nature and it

18:01 – 18:04 allowed them to do things that were

18:02 – 18:06 interesting to them mathematically so

18:04 – 18:07 you know that this would be this would

18:06 – 18:09 be

18:07 – 18:12 if you were to think about what a fourth

18:09 – 18:14 space and again this fourth spatial

18:12 – 18:16 dimension is not a dimension that we can

18:14 – 18:17 perceive although a number of people in

18:16 – 18:20 my book say that there are practices

18:17 – 18:22 that you can do to actually see into a

18:20 – 18:24 fourth dimension but this would involve

18:22 – 18:26 you know this dimension would involve

18:24 – 18:28 taking that three dimensional cube like

18:26 – 18:31 that rubik’s cube and taking all the

18:28 – 18:33 points in the queue and all the points

18:31 – 18:35 on the surfaces of that cube and

18:33 – 18:38 stretching it in a forth direction or

18:35 – 18:39 dimension right and that direction would

18:38 – 18:42 have to be perpendicular to the other

18:39 – 18:44 three and if you know your listeners sit

18:42 – 18:46 there and try to imagine what that

18:44 – 18:48 direction would be it’s a pretty hard

18:46 – 18:50 thing to do um it’s a pretty hard thing

18:48 – 18:51 to imagine and that’s because we don’t

18:50 – 18:54 we apparently don’t have that spatial

18:51 – 18:56 dimension but nevertheless you know

18:54 – 18:58 physicists cosmologists and

18:56 – 18:60 mathematicians they do use this idea of

18:58 – 19:01 there being a fourth dimensional space

18:60 – 19:03 or a fifth dimensional space to reality

19:01 – 19:06 you know maybe this is a space that we

19:03 – 19:08 can’t perceive because the limitations

19:06 – 19:09 of our consciousness and so that that’s

19:08 – 19:12 sort of the beginning of the book and

19:09 – 19:14 then these ideas get taken up by lots of

19:12 – 19:16 different kinds of people there are

19:14 – 19:19 other ways of that we might think about

19:16 – 19:21 dimensions like today you know we have

19:19 – 19:24 multiverse theory right this is a theory

19:21 – 19:26 that not so much a theory of other

19:24 – 19:28 dimensions as a theory of parallel

19:26 – 19:29 universes

19:28 – 19:33 you know maybe there are other universes

19:29 – 19:35 that exist outside of our our own

19:33 – 19:38 there’s other kinds of theories that

19:35 – 19:39 have other layers or worlds to them

19:38 – 19:41 right and I’m sure your your listeners

19:39 – 19:43 are familiar with these other kinds of

19:41 – 19:45 theories but string theory which is a

19:43 – 19:47 modern theory and and among

19:45 – 19:49 mathematicians and physicists that it

19:47 – 19:51 tries to account for it tries to come up

19:49 – 19:53 with one set of equations that can

19:51 – 19:56 accommodate all of the all of nature’s

19:53 – 19:59 all of nature’s forces basically and

19:56 – 20:00 string theory incorporates many extra

19:59 – 20:03 spatial dimensions there’s also

20:00 – 20:05 something called brain theory Lisa

20:03 – 20:06 Randall at Harvard a physicist talks

20:05 – 20:08 about brain theory and number of others

20:06 – 20:11 talk about brain theory this is the idea

20:08 – 20:13 that there are membranes or brains in

20:11 – 20:17 the cosmos right and our visible

20:13 – 20:20 universe is just one is just on one of

20:17 – 20:21 those membranes spread out on one of

20:20 – 20:22 those membranes or one of those

20:21 – 20:26 players in reality and that there’s

20:22 – 20:28 other layers in reality or other brains

20:26 – 20:30 or membranes to reality that we can’t

20:28 – 20:32 perceive so there’s a lot of different

20:30 – 20:34 reasons that mathematicians and

20:32 – 20:36 physicists have posited the existence of

20:34 – 20:38 these other dimensional spaces parallel

20:36 – 20:40 worlds and there’s even other theories

20:38 – 20:41 that I haven’t mentioned like like the

20:40 – 20:44 many-worlds interpretation of quantum

20:41 – 20:45 mechanics na which says that there that

20:44 – 20:48 our universe is constantly branching

20:45 – 20:50 into other additional constantly

20:48 – 20:53 creating new additional parallel worlds

20:50 – 20:55 so there’s mathematical and scientific

20:53 – 20:57 reasons that these theorists are coming

20:55 – 20:59 up with these ideas I should say there’s

20:57 – 21:01 no proof you know there’s no there’s no

20:59 – 21:03 mathematical or scientific proof that

21:01 – 21:05 these higher dimensions exist know that

21:03 – 21:07 these parallel worlds exist but many

21:05 – 21:09 physicists and mathematicians are

21:07 – 21:12 actively pursuing the mathematics of

21:09 – 21:14 these of these higher dimensional worlds

21:12 – 21:16 and they’re also trying to figure out

21:14 – 21:18 ways to empirically confirm whether or

21:16 – 21:22 not they exist so that’s a big that’s a

21:18 – 21:24 big you know that’s a big sort of

21:22 – 21:25 excursus into higher dimensions we can

21:24 – 21:27 talk more of that about that if you want

21:25 – 21:29 but so there’s a lot of scientists who

21:27 – 21:30 talk about them but then a lot of people

21:29 – 21:32 in pop culture who use them too and that

21:30 – 21:34 that of course is in the book all of the

21:32 – 21:37 sci-fi writers all the comic book

21:34 – 21:39 artists right all the people who create

21:37 – 21:40 TV shows like The Twilight Zone and the

21:39 – 21:44 outer limits and films like interstellar

21:40 – 21:45 and right and so many people use these

21:44 – 21:48 ideas there being other dimensional

21:45 – 21:51 realities and then Chris of course what

21:48 – 21:53 you do is you link that to a lot of

21:51 – 21:55 spiritual people if we can use that

21:53 – 21:58 category mystic yeah thinkers or

21:55 – 22:00 experiencers who have kind of come at it

21:58 – 22:04 from a different way and there’s this

22:00 – 22:05 interplay of cross-fertilization and

22:04 – 22:07 forming each other kind of thing right

22:05 – 22:09 that’s the other part of this and then

22:07 – 22:11 tell us how you researched obviously

22:09 – 22:12 you’re smart enough to go read the

22:11 – 22:15 science and understand that but you also

22:12 – 22:16 researched the writings and

22:15 – 22:19 understandings of the spiritual people

22:16 – 22:21 as well right oh yeah yeah sure I mean

22:19 – 22:22 yeah I think I think you’re right that

22:21 – 22:24 people came out of from two different

22:22 – 22:26 directions you know the mathematicians

22:24 – 22:28 the scientists sort of were intrigued by

22:26 – 22:29 you know where the mathematics was

22:28 – 22:32 leading them and then they asked

22:29 – 22:34 questions like well you know if I’m if

22:32 – 22:35 I’m using a fourth spatial or fifth

22:34 – 22:37 spatial dimensions in the car

22:35 – 22:40 types of my mathematics could there

22:37 – 22:42 actually be a real fourth space or fifth

22:40 – 22:44 space so some come at it that way and

22:42 – 22:45 then as you say others come at it from a

22:44 – 22:47 spiritual side let’s say someone has an

22:45 – 22:49 out-of-body experience you and I talked

22:47 – 22:51 about a number of people I think it’s in

22:49 – 22:55 Chapter six in the book where which is a

22:51 – 22:57 chapter about people who have dreams

22:55 – 23:00 that seem to predict the future right in

22:57 – 23:02 that chapter I talk about a person who

23:00 – 23:04 or a couple of people who have

23:02 – 23:06 out-of-body experiences and near-death

23:04 – 23:08 experiences and so these kinds of things

23:06 – 23:10 happen to them and then they go to the

23:08 – 23:12 science right so they this kind of

23:10 – 23:13 strange stuff happens then they say well

23:12 – 23:15 is there any possible way I could

23:13 – 23:18 explain what happened to me you know and

23:15 – 23:19 then they turn to they turn to popular

23:18 – 23:21 science books that might be about

23:19 – 23:23 Einstein science or quantum mechanics or

23:21 – 23:24 you know a lot of different things so

23:23 – 23:26 you’re right it goes kind of in both

23:24 – 23:31 directions of the book so you know maybe

23:26 – 23:32 that’s a good way to launch into one of

23:31 – 23:33 the kind of points I want to talk about

23:32 – 23:35 in kind of a more freewheeling

23:33 – 23:37 interactive discussion and I have three

23:35 – 23:39 of them but the first one relates

23:37 – 23:41 directly to what you’re saying there and

23:39 – 23:45 it relates to a quote I pulled out of

23:41 – 23:47 the book and it was a chapter that you

23:45 – 23:50 were dealing with Raymond Moody who you

23:47 – 23:53 mentioned earlier the real pioneer of

23:50 – 23:54 near-death experience research and you

23:53 – 23:57 know most recently I love that you

23:54 – 24:01 pulled out that he’s really gotten into

23:57 – 24:03 shared death experiences that is not

24:01 – 24:06 just the experiencer who has the cardiac

24:03 – 24:09 arrest or whatever but people that are

24:06 – 24:11 with them in the hospital bed who also

24:09 – 24:14 share that experience quite remarkable

24:11 – 24:18 and quite evidential really and what you

24:14 – 24:21 point out in in the book is that a lot

24:18 – 24:25 of these people are reporting gyah

24:21 – 24:28 alternative geometrical understandings

24:25 – 24:30 or visions or experiences like

24:28 – 24:33 alternative geometry so you want to talk

24:30 – 24:37 about science I mean it’s very science

24:33 – 24:40 II so the way I’d frame up this topic is

24:37 – 24:43 spiritually transformative experiences

24:40 – 24:47 there’s an app for that so I guess my

24:43 – 24:48 point is you know one way to take what

24:47 – 24:52 you’re doing is

24:48 – 24:54 to suggest as some people do that our

24:52 – 24:57 understanding of spiritually

24:54 – 24:60 transformative experiences is going to

24:57 – 25:03 change dramatically as we have a better

24:60 – 25:05 understanding of technology and science

25:03 – 25:09 and what we you know you’re kind of

25:05 – 25:12 playing nice with spirituality and

25:09 – 25:15 spiritual people but eventually all that

25:12 – 25:18 will be sassoon by technological

25:15 – 25:21 advancement so I just throw that on the

25:18 – 25:24 table as a topic that we might kick

25:21 – 25:25 around yeah yeah I yeah I think that’s a

25:24 – 25:28 I think that’s a good observation I mean

25:25 – 25:29 I think it kind of I think you can talk

25:28 – 25:31 about that in a number of different ways

25:29 – 25:33 I mean I think you could say you know

25:31 – 25:35 technological advancement changes how

25:33 – 25:37 people talk about spiritual experiences

25:35 – 25:39 I think you could say technological

25:37 – 25:40 advancement gives people new metaphors

25:39 – 25:43 or ways of thinking about spiritual

25:40 – 25:45 experiences you know I think you know

25:43 – 25:47 I’m not sure I’m not sure what the

25:45 – 25:48 direction of the causal arrow is right I

25:47 – 25:50 mean you know because you could also

25:48 – 25:52 argue that people’s religious and

25:50 – 25:55 spiritual questions leads them to

25:52 – 25:56 different forms of scientific

25:55 – 25:58 investigation and technological

25:56 – 25:60 innovation so you know a number of

25:58 – 26:01 people in history of science look at

25:60 – 26:03 look at the direction of that arrow

26:01 – 26:05 going both ways and you know I mean

26:03 – 26:07 there’s no question that scientific

26:05 – 26:09 innovation and technological innovation

26:07 – 26:11 comes from a cultural context so it’s

26:09 – 26:13 not just that new science and technology

26:11 – 26:15 comes out of a like a discovery vacuum

26:13 – 26:17 and that and then it produces new new

26:15 – 26:19 kinds of religious people there’s a kind

26:17 – 26:20 of a more dynamic quality to it but I

26:19 – 26:22 definitely agree with what you’re

26:20 – 26:24 talking about you know in general that

26:22 – 26:26 that’s I think what I’m trying to do

26:24 – 26:28 with the book is I’m saying given the

26:26 – 26:30 fact that in the West fewer and fewer

26:28 – 26:32 people are going to church and reading

26:30 – 26:35 the Bible or going to synagogue I’m

26:32 – 26:37 participating with traditional religious

26:35 – 26:41 congregations what are the ways that

26:37 – 26:43 they’re now thinking about what ghosts

26:41 – 26:44 are and what spirits are and where are

26:43 – 26:46 they getting that there are new ways of

26:44 – 26:48 talking about or experiencing these

26:46 – 26:50 things and and that’s where in the book

26:48 – 26:53 you know things like higher dimensions

26:50 – 26:55 you know moves in right to kind of see

26:53 – 26:57 but this but that’s one question but I

26:55 – 27:00 guess what I’m getting at is the

26:57 – 27:02 underlying nature of spiritual

27:00 – 27:04 experiences do they

27:02 – 27:07 exist or are they somehow being

27:04 – 27:10 counterfeited in some artificial way or

27:07 – 27:13 do both or is both true is there both an

27:10 – 27:15 underlying reality to spiritual

27:13 – 27:16 experiences and we could talk about you

27:15 – 27:19 know the implications for that in terms

27:16 – 27:20 of higher spiritual beings and if you’re

27:19 – 27:23 saying higher you’re implying a

27:20 – 27:24 hierarchy and which case you’re talking

27:23 – 27:26 about god I guess at some level and then

27:24 – 27:29 so what does that mean

27:26 – 27:32 or are we saying that intelligences be

27:29 – 27:34 they on this planet or another planet if

27:32 – 27:35 you’re willing to explain you know

27:34 – 27:38 expand into that or even if you’re

27:35 – 27:40 willing to go into spiritual dimensions

27:38 – 27:44 and spiritual things are they somehow

27:40 – 27:46 able to manipulate our experience in

27:44 – 27:49 order to create the illusion of a

27:46 – 27:52 transformative spiritual experiences so

27:49 – 27:54 you know that I think rather than than

27:52 – 27:56 just kind of focusing on you know

27:54 – 27:58 oh wow people are now spiritual but not

27:56 – 28:01 religious and how might they go forward

27:58 – 28:04 what’s the underlying nature of these

28:01 – 28:06 spiritual experiences well that’s a good

28:04 – 28:08 question you know I I don’t know if I

28:06 – 28:10 can answer I would say that you know I

28:08 – 28:13 think that there there is that there

28:10 – 28:15 there there is reality to it you know I

28:13 – 28:16 mean my personal view is that there is a

28:15 – 28:18 kind of a spiritual reality and that

28:16 – 28:19 Pete when people talk about being

28:18 – 28:21 inspired or having near-death

28:19 – 28:23 experiences these kinds of things I

28:21 – 28:24 think that there’s that there’s truth to

28:23 – 28:26 that you know so I wouldn’t be I

28:24 – 28:29 wouldn’t be the person who would be

28:26 – 28:32 reducing all those things to to brain

28:29 – 28:34 chemistry right or to fMRI is where you

28:32 – 28:37 can look at the brain or whatever so I

28:34 – 28:39 think that you know we are we are body

28:37 – 28:41 mind and spirit so I think all of those

28:39 – 28:43 things are smashed together in a package

28:41 – 28:45 and I think you certainly can look at

28:43 – 28:47 the scientific side of people’s

28:45 – 28:49 religious experiences now some

28:47 – 28:50 scientists will do that and they will

28:49 – 28:52 then they will then make a more

28:50 – 28:55 reductive move and they’ll say that well

28:52 – 28:57 the this is the cause of the spiritual

28:55 – 28:59 experience the cause is actually in the

28:57 – 29:01 body or the causes in the material thing

28:59 – 29:02 some scientists will make that reductive

29:01 – 29:05 move I wouldn’t make that reductive move

29:02 – 29:07 myself I think that all kinds of brain

29:05 – 29:09 states and mine states and even

29:07 – 29:11 spiritual states have analogs in the

29:09 – 29:13 physical body for sure but I wouldn’t

29:11 – 29:15 want to reduce them to the physical body

29:13 – 29:16 so I would be more on the side of people

29:15 – 29:18 who would be

29:16 – 29:20 open to the reality of real spiritual

29:18 – 29:22 experiences you know and then you raise

29:20 – 29:23 other questions in your comment to which

29:22 – 29:25 which is you know where do they come

29:23 – 29:28 from you know do they come from other

29:25 – 29:31 dimensions or extraterrestrials or gods

29:28 – 29:32 or whatever write it beyond that you

29:31 – 29:34 know where I thought it was really

29:32 – 29:36 interesting where you took us in the

29:34 – 29:38 book and I think what you were where you

29:36 – 29:40 were going and reaching towards with the

29:38 – 29:42 shared near-death experience in Raymond

29:40 – 29:46 moody and the observers in the

29:42 – 29:49 higher-order geometry is that you know

29:46 – 29:51 we are so stuck in this materialistic

29:49 – 29:54 scientific dogmatic thing and we’ll talk

29:51 – 29:56 about that in a minute but once we free

29:54 – 29:59 ourselves from that is there the

29:56 – 30:02 possibility to actually imagine a higher

29:59 – 30:05 ordered science that already exists and

30:02 – 30:08 we’re observing in those situations and

30:05 – 30:10 then where does that take us in terms of

30:08 – 30:13 if they really do have a higher order

30:10 – 30:16 then is there a whole parallel kind of

30:13 – 30:19 science to to that that we have yet to

30:16 – 30:20 explore yeah there may be I mean

30:19 – 30:22 certainly one thing that you find when

30:20 – 30:25 you you know when you study the history

30:22 – 30:27 of science in the last 150 years is that

30:25 – 30:29 you know scientists have been you know

30:27 – 30:31 pretty committed to police policing the

30:29 – 30:34 boundaries of their disciplines and one

30:31 – 30:36 thing that they rule out is any kind of

30:34 – 30:38 philosophical or even spiritual

30:36 – 30:40 reflection right you see that in my

30:38 – 30:42 first book that I mentioned earlier it

30:40 – 30:45 looked pretty closely at the history of

30:42 – 30:48 social sciences you know sociology

30:45 – 30:49 psychology psychiatry sciences of mind

30:48 – 30:51 and brain and one thing that the

30:49 – 30:53 founders of those disciplines really

30:51 – 30:57 work hard at is you know squeezing out

30:53 – 30:59 any any mention of any kind of spiritual

30:57 – 31:01 thing or any even philosophical

30:59 – 31:04 questions and you know maybe you’re

31:01 – 31:06 right that in the future when scientists

31:04 – 31:09 and social scientists are less allergic

31:06 – 31:11 to or less afraid of thinking about

31:09 – 31:13 these other orders of existence or

31:11 – 31:15 thinking about spirit maybe that opens

31:13 – 31:19 up a whole new way of thinking about and

31:15 – 31:21 doing science right well that is one of

31:19 – 31:23 the conclusions you have in the book or

31:21 – 31:25 you have specific examples of where

31:23 – 31:28 that’s happening right and we all hear

31:25 – 31:29 these stories of famous and fantastic

31:28 – 31:31 scientists who

31:29 – 31:33 just come right out and say hey it was

31:31 – 31:36 it was a spiritual inspiration that led

31:33 – 31:38 me to that discovery which makes us kind

31:36 – 31:42 of wonder actually that’s kind of a

31:38 – 31:44 lead-in to the second topic that I

31:42 – 31:47 wanted to kind of throw on the table for

31:44 – 31:50 a discussion and that is the cathedral

31:47 – 31:52 predates the city and I always like to

31:50 – 31:53 give credit to Gordon White for this

31:52 – 31:56 because he’s the first one who really

31:53 – 31:59 brought my attention to this quote that

31:56 – 32:02 was that is attributed to Klaus Schmidt

31:59 – 32:04 who was the guy who you know did the

32:02 – 32:08 whole gobekli tepe thing in Turkey where

32:04 – 32:11 they discover this enormous and amazing

32:08 – 32:14 archaeological dig that is ten thousand

32:11 – 32:16 at least at least 10,000 years before

32:14 – 32:19 Egypt and the pyramids and all that

32:16 – 32:21 stuff and of course one of the the

32:19 – 32:24 takeaways that no one wants to kind of

32:21 – 32:28 focus on very much is that now we’ve

32:24 – 32:31 turned this whole myth of progress thing

32:28 – 32:33 on its head and we always had this idea

32:31 – 32:34 that okay well people get together and

32:33 – 32:37 they’re hunter-gatherers and then they

32:34 – 32:39 finally get enough stuff together where

32:37 – 32:40 they can build a city and then after

32:39 – 32:42 they have a bunch of leisure time then

32:40 – 32:45 they start sitting around and thinking

32:42 – 32:48 about God like I’m as low as a hierarchy

32:45 – 32:51 of needs or whatever exactly yeah and

32:48 – 32:52 what what now the archaeological

32:51 – 32:55 evidence is unfolding is telling us

32:52 – 32:57 exactly the opposite which we were just

32:55 – 33:00 talking about a minute ago that the

32:57 – 33:03 spiritual impulse from everything we can

33:00 – 33:05 tell is the impetus for all of this

33:03 – 33:08 and it kind of makes me wonder in some

33:05 – 33:10 ways are we looking through the wrong

33:08 – 33:13 end of the telescope when we focus so

33:10 – 33:16 much on science and how science has

33:13 – 33:19 informed spirituality is it really the

33:16 – 33:20 other way around and and if we can

33:19 – 33:22 balance amount say oh well they’re

33:20 – 33:25 informing each other but if we kind of

33:22 – 33:27 take a stand one way or another it kind

33:25 – 33:28 of does give us a different perspective

33:27 – 33:30 on the whole thing

33:28 – 33:32 yeah I know that’s that’s a great point

33:30 – 33:33 I mean I agree I think that you know

33:32 – 33:35 they’re just there seems to be something

33:33 – 33:37 and human cultures around the world that

33:35 – 33:39 that people seem to be born with you

33:37 – 33:42 know they seem to be born with an

33:39 – 33:43 interest in finding that orienting point

33:42 – 33:45 or that

33:43 – 33:48 kind of spiritual connection or the or

33:45 – 33:51 maybe a sense of wonderment about what

33:48 – 33:52 exists beyond and you know I’m not

33:51 – 33:54 surprised right that you’re pointing to

33:52 – 33:57 the sort of the temple being the first

33:54 – 33:59 the first consideration people seem to

33:57 – 34:02 pursue that of course you know you know

33:59 – 34:03 scientists do come they’ll come around

34:02 – 34:05 and have an explanation that’s secular

34:03 – 34:07 for that right which is that you know

34:05 – 34:09 well this is this is sort of a you know

34:07 – 34:11 an artifact of evolution that you know

34:09 – 34:14 that people who have this kind of

34:11 – 34:16 instinct will will be will be adapted

34:14 – 34:18 better to the environment and they have

34:16 – 34:20 better survival skills and so on so you

34:18 – 34:22 know some religious people have actually

34:20 – 34:23 you know made religious arguments about

34:22 – 34:25 that impulse and said that this is an

34:23 – 34:27 impulse that is the starting point and

34:25 – 34:28 that is sort of a god-given starting

34:27 – 34:29 point

34:28 – 34:31 CS Lewis actually made this argument

34:29 – 34:33 many many people make this argument but

34:31 – 34:34 scientists do turn it around you know

34:33 – 34:36 they end to say that well no this is

34:34 – 34:38 just kind of an artifact of evolution

34:36 – 34:39 and it doesn’t actually point to

34:38 – 34:41 anything real

34:39 – 34:44 it doesn’t actually point to any real

34:41 – 34:46 beyond or the existence of a real beyond

34:44 – 34:48 supernatural so doesn’t that kind of beg

34:46 – 34:50 the question though I mean that they

34:48 – 34:53 want to use that as the arbitrary

34:50 – 34:55 starting point then in terms of the

34:53 – 34:57 evolutionary process which doesn’t make

34:55 – 35:00 any sense but you know I feel like those

34:57 – 35:02 debates kind of go in circles that would

35:00 – 35:04 they don’t really wind up anywhere but I

35:02 – 35:06 do have to interject there because I

35:04 – 35:08 think what’s important about that

35:06 – 35:10 discussion and about materialistic

35:08 – 35:13 science and its complete failure

35:10 – 35:15 scientifically not only that but

35:13 – 35:15 philosophically which we can talk about

35:15 – 35:18 in a minute

35:15 – 35:21 is I go back to the consciousness thing

35:18 – 35:24 yeah and the near-death experience thing

35:21 – 35:28 so that little bit of science tells me

35:24 – 35:32 okay the neurological models that we

35:28 – 35:35 have are either a completely wrong or B

35:32 – 35:38 suggests that they can’t handle the

35:35 – 35:40 evidence that we have because clearly

35:38 – 35:43 the evidence we have is that people have

35:40 – 35:47 states in which they aren’t supposed to

35:43 – 35:49 be able to form memories have experience

35:47 – 35:52 let alone have the most significant

35:49 – 35:54 experiences of their life yeah so their

35:52 – 35:57 brains their physiology isn’t supposed

35:54 – 35:59 to be able to do that and yet scientists

35:57 – 36:02 we can match their reports of those

35:59 – 36:05 experiences with being in that body

36:02 – 36:08 state so again the whole skeptical thing

36:05 – 36:11 I don’t know why we have to try and

36:08 – 36:14 balance the scales they don’t really

36:11 – 36:16 have any substance to their arguments

36:14 – 36:18 consciousness as far as we can tell from

36:16 – 36:21 the evidence at hand seems to survive

36:18 – 36:24 bodily death or at least compromise

36:21 – 36:28 brain States in a way that undermines

36:24 – 36:30 the kind of nitwit neurological model

36:28 – 36:32 that we have isn’t that a case closed

36:30 – 36:35 kind of thing well unfortunately as you

36:32 – 36:37 know it’s not because like a lot of a

36:35 – 36:39 lot of a lot of scientists you know it

36:37 – 36:41 may be for some of the reasons we’ve

36:39 – 36:43 already talked about in terms of you

36:41 – 36:45 know the ways that scientists

36:43 – 36:46 psychologists neurologists you know kind

36:45 – 36:48 of police the limits of their discipline

36:46 – 36:50 but whenever something like that comes

36:48 – 36:52 up I think they you know you you might

36:50 – 36:54 either kind of you know rule it out as

36:52 – 36:55 saying well I can’t talk about that

36:54 – 36:58 because it’s not quote-unquote

36:55 – 36:59 scientific as I’ve as I’ve defined what

36:58 – 37:01 scientific it is or or they’ll try to

36:59 – 37:04 develop an alternate explanation now I

37:01 – 37:06 think like you I don’t really find you

37:04 – 37:08 know the alternate explanations as

37:06 – 37:09 persuasive as as some scientists do

37:08 – 37:12 right because I mean as you know

37:09 – 37:14 scientists will come up with you know

37:12 – 37:16 their own explanations for you know how

37:14 – 37:17 it might be possible in the last moments

37:16 – 37:19 of life to have these kind of

37:17 – 37:23 experiences and so on like you I don’t

37:19 – 37:24 find those persuasive so what can you

37:23 – 37:26 say it’s sort of like you said is that

37:24 – 37:28 gonna go you can kind of go around and

37:26 – 37:29 around but I do think that on the issue

37:28 – 37:32 of consciousness you’re right I think

37:29 – 37:34 that when you consciousness for the last

37:32 – 37:36 50 years has been a kind of um you know

37:34 – 37:40 an inflection point for science I think

37:36 – 37:43 it’s been a category that that creates a

37:40 – 37:46 lot of tension and and hand wringing you

37:43 – 37:48 know now right with quantum mechanics

37:46 – 37:50 and the ways that it is moved

37:48 – 37:52 subjectivity human subjectivity and

37:50 – 37:55 consciousness to the foreground I think

37:52 – 37:58 that creates so many so much anxiety

37:55 – 37:59 right for for scientists right because

37:58 – 38:00 of the issue that I mentioned earlier

37:59 – 38:04 which is that you know they’ve been

38:00 – 38:07 pretty determined to kind of keep out

38:04 – 38:10 keep keep out outside of the boundaries

38:07 – 38:12 of science these kind of questions about

38:10 – 38:14 you know things that might transcend the

38:12 – 38:17 material world and consciousness really

38:14 – 38:19 provides you know a lot of trouble right

38:17 – 38:21 you know all these theories and physics

38:19 – 38:23 and quantum mechanics about the role of

38:21 – 38:26 the conscious observer you know it seems

38:23 – 38:28 to have some sort of role in shaping or

38:26 – 38:30 influencing physical reality at the

38:28 – 38:32 quantum level and and then all kinds of

38:30 – 38:34 ways of trying to interpret you know or

38:32 – 38:35 explain away you know how that could be

38:34 – 38:37 possible right and the history of

38:35 – 38:40 quantum mechanics or just what you had

38:37 – 38:42 in the 50s nineteen fifty forty fifties

38:40 – 38:44 and sixties just a lot of people saying

38:42 – 38:47 look just forget about that hey now just

38:44 – 38:49 you know let’s just be physicists and

38:47 – 38:50 kind of calculate and not talk about you

38:49 – 38:53 know those things that we don’t

38:50 – 38:55 understand one of which is the role of

38:53 – 38:57 subjectivity in shaping physical reality

38:55 – 38:59 let’s just not talk about that and let’s

38:57 – 39:01 just do our work you know the equation

38:59 – 39:03 seems to work so again that that’s a

39:01 – 39:05 group of scientists who are just sort of

39:03 – 39:07 ruling out a conversation and

39:05 – 39:10 consciousness is it is a tricky issue

39:07 – 39:12 and as I’m sure you know you know some

39:10 – 39:14 of these what mate what makes it worse

39:12 – 39:16 these businesses some of the some very

39:14 – 39:18 prominent physicists within their myths

39:16 – 39:19 right they start to go off and have

39:18 – 39:21 these kind of spiritual and

39:19 – 39:24 philosophical reflections you know and

39:21 – 39:26 say things like you know like well I

39:24 – 39:28 think you know in order for our world to

39:26 – 39:30 exist like it does you know we must have

39:28 – 39:32 we must have a god that’s the ultimate

39:30 – 39:34 consciousness and God you know observed

39:32 – 39:36 the universe and provoked it into into a

39:34 – 39:38 concrete existent you know like Eugene

39:36 – 39:40 Wigner it’s Nobel Prize when he visits

39:38 – 39:42 us who who makes that kind of statement

39:40 – 39:44 right that even causes more anxiety for

39:42 – 39:46 the physicists right so oh my god you

39:44 – 39:49 know you can’t talk we can’t talk like

39:46 – 39:51 this so but but you’re right

39:49 – 39:53 consciousness has become a real thorn

39:51 – 39:56 you know and a real difficult issue for

39:53 – 39:58 scientists who want to rule out broader

39:56 – 40:00 philosophical conversation you know I

39:58 – 40:04 actually think this shut up and

40:00 – 40:07 calculate your assertion is kind of a

40:04 – 40:09 more intellectually honest approach that

40:07 – 40:13 the only problem I see with it is that

40:09 – 40:15 they then forget that they’ve done a

40:13 – 40:18 philosophical bypass with the whole

40:15 – 40:20 problem I mean it’s no there’s there’s

40:18 – 40:22 no issue for me in reaching an impasse

40:20 – 40:24 and saying you know what let’s set that

40:22 – 40:26 aside so we can go

40:24 – 40:29 do our calculations and build our iPhone

40:26 – 40:34 that’s great but you can’t then pretend

40:29 – 40:35 like you didn’t do that sidestep well

40:34 – 40:37 you know yeah exactly but as you know

40:35 – 40:39 this I have all kinds of ways of you

40:37 – 40:40 know reasoning out reasoning in

40:39 – 40:42 themselves out of these things

40:40 – 40:44 well and one thing they say is like well

40:42 – 40:46 as I define science those questions

40:44 – 40:48 don’t fit in with with my definition so

40:46 – 40:49 you know I don’t talk about them but

40:48 – 40:52 that’s just a way of punting the ball

40:49 – 40:54 and giving up you know and it’s it’s not

40:52 – 40:56 a very and then the other issue is you

40:54 – 40:58 know that often materialist worldviews

40:56 – 40:60 kind of sneak in the back door or

40:58 – 41:02 they’re operating at all kinds of levels

40:60 – 41:04 that these scientists scientists are not

41:02 – 41:06 willing to admit they are actually

41:04 – 41:08 privileged in a metaphysical system you

41:06 – 41:11 know it’s it’s it’s materialism you know

41:08 – 41:13 it’s it’s um physicalism or whatever you

41:11 – 41:16 want to call it on with a high degree of

41:13 – 41:18 faith really so if you look at it from

41:16 – 41:21 that perspective they’ve chosen a

41:18 – 41:24 starting point yes and they’ve chosen an

41:21 – 41:27 unproven theory that is scientific

41:24 – 41:31 materialism and they’ve put that above

41:27 – 41:33 experience right so how everyone hasn’t

41:31 – 41:35 the experience of being conscious of

41:33 – 41:38 there being a reality to their conscious

41:35 – 41:40 experience so if we set aside whether

41:38 – 41:42 that is real or whether you should trust

41:40 – 41:43 your experience at least we have to

41:42 – 41:46 acknowledge that that’s your experience

41:43 – 41:48 and then so philosophically if you’re

41:46 – 41:49 choosing something different what are

41:48 – 41:51 you choosing well you’re choosing a

41:49 – 41:54 theory well that’s okay has that Theory

41:51 – 41:57 been tested and proven well no it really

41:54 – 42:02 hasn’t been proven in terms of in in a

41:57 – 42:04 real robust way in terms of establishing

42:02 – 42:06 scientific materialism and you and I are

42:04 – 42:09 talking about as a matter of fact the

42:06 – 42:11 data the more you look at it suggests

42:09 – 42:12 that that theory really has been

42:11 – 42:15 falsified over and over again so it’s

42:12 – 42:17 kind of a strange situation we find

42:15 – 42:19 ourselves in yeah I think so I mean I

42:17 – 42:21 think you know people do have a

42:19 – 42:23 metaphysical starting point which as you

42:21 – 42:25 say is not really a proven thing but is

42:23 – 42:28 more just the set of assumptions I’m

42:25 – 42:29 accepting and you know they include that

42:28 – 42:31 they include that they’re all there is

42:29 – 42:33 as matter you know in the world

42:31 – 42:37 give me one miracle and I can explain

42:33 – 42:37 the rest you know and that kind of leads

42:37 – 42:40 into the

42:37 – 42:41 the third and the the last big topic I

42:40 – 42:44 had and then we can talk about other

42:41 – 42:45 stuff anything yeah I miss you but and

42:44 – 42:48 this is kind of a tough one I’m going to

42:45 – 42:60 pull you into the deep waters here Chris

42:48 – 43:03 but here’s how I’ve labeled it

42:60 – 43:05 scientific materialism social

43:03 – 43:09 engineering and the spirituality of

43:05 – 43:13 dystopia and I want to throw out the

43:09 – 43:17 idea that this wacky scientific

43:13 – 43:20 materialism and it is wacky has its

43:17 – 43:23 roots in a social engineering project in

43:20 – 43:25 a project that in a lot of ways if we

43:23 – 43:27 look at the I don’t want to say deep

43:25 – 43:28 state and shadow government cuz it kind

43:27 – 43:30 of throws people in a lot of different

43:28 – 43:31 ways but if we look at the remote

43:30 – 43:34 viewing research that’s done at Stanford

43:31 – 43:36 Research Institute okay that’s just

43:34 – 43:38 solid stuff you can trace the money in

43:36 – 43:40 Stanford Research Institute and they

43:38 – 43:42 really did all this stuff or if you look

43:40 – 43:44 at the MKULTRA stuff which is really

43:42 – 43:45 sinister but it’s still real they did it

43:44 – 43:48 and we have the documents and all that

43:45 – 43:50 stuff it’s clear that these guys didn’t

43:48 – 43:54 believe in scientific materialism they

43:50 – 43:57 were way off the reservation on this so

43:54 – 43:59 that brings me back to the understanding

43:57 – 44:02 or the idea or at least willing to

43:59 – 44:05 consider that what this scientific

44:02 – 44:07 materialism is about is really social

44:05 – 44:10 engineering however you want to kind of

44:07 – 44:14 put that it’s it’s part of of a meme

44:10 – 44:17 that makes people more I don’t know

44:14 – 44:21 controllable or just heads culture in a

44:17 – 44:24 way that certain groups think might be

44:21 – 44:26 advantageous for culture to move to for

44:24 – 44:28 whatever reasons but linked with that

44:26 – 44:32 and this is really the troubling part

44:28 – 44:35 that I see is this this dystopia that

44:32 – 44:37 you know I we shared a link as your pop

44:35 – 44:39 culture guy and you know shared a link

44:37 – 44:41 to the black mirror show which is really

44:39 – 44:43 a cool show and I just watch with my

44:41 – 44:45 wife then we just watched the latest

44:43 – 44:49 episode which was really cool but it’s

44:45 – 44:51 also freaking depressing it’s you just

44:49 – 44:54 want to take a shower afterward

44:51 – 44:57 you know this is the vision for where

44:54 – 44:60 this advancement this technological

44:57 – 45:02 advancement this scientific advancement

44:60 – 45:05 this is where it will lead lead us your

45:02 – 45:08 book is refreshing it’s uplifting and

45:05 – 45:11 it’s certainly inspiring but I don’t get

45:08 – 45:14 that from what our culture is telling us

45:11 – 45:17 about science and where science is going

45:14 – 45:19 and I do suspect that there’s another

45:17 – 45:22 agenda behind this what are your

45:19 – 45:24 thoughts yeah those are those are big

45:22 – 45:26 questions I mean a couple of things I

45:24 – 45:29 would say that you know just of to

45:26 – 45:32 divide you know American history over

45:29 – 45:34 the last 150 years you know and maybe we

45:32 – 45:36 divide it around you know 1950 or

45:34 – 45:38 something but I would say that you know

45:36 – 45:41 between 1850 and 1950 you know you have

45:38 – 45:43 the rise of science you know when you go

45:41 – 45:46 back and read people from that period

45:43 – 45:49 there’s a lot of euphoria about about

45:46 – 45:51 science about social sciences about

45:49 – 45:54 biology you know chemistry physics

45:51 – 45:56 there’s a lot of euphoria and a lot of

45:54 – 45:58 hope and optimism and a sense of that if

45:56 – 46:00 we just keep working and get better and

45:58 – 46:03 better and and devote more more funding

46:00 – 46:05 to big science that we’re going to be

46:03 – 46:07 able to solve problems and we’re gonna

46:05 – 46:08 be able to you know this gets back to

46:07 – 46:10 your question about social engineering

46:08 – 46:12 but we’re gonna be able to solve human

46:10 – 46:14 problems we’re gonna be able to raise

46:12 – 46:16 better babies we’re gonna be able to

46:14 – 46:19 raise better people we’re gonna be able

46:16 – 46:21 to you know have a lot of success in

46:19 – 46:24 technology and I think it I think we

46:21 – 46:25 should say that a lot of that was true I

46:24 – 46:28 mean I think we should say that science

46:25 – 46:29 does is amazing and amazing like

46:28 – 46:31 antibiotics

46:29 – 46:34 you know prosthetic limbs um you know

46:31 – 46:36 new technologies like the iPhone I mean

46:34 – 46:39 there is a way in which between 1850 and

46:36 – 46:41 1950 a lot of amazing things did happen

46:39 – 46:44 I mean telephones right television

46:41 – 46:46 electric light so science was this thing

46:44 – 46:48 that people embraced with awe and wonder

46:46 – 46:51 and and people were fully on board with

46:48 – 46:53 and many of the cultural authorities in

46:51 – 46:56 this country right we’re embracing and

46:53 – 46:58 putting tax dollars behind and all the

46:56 – 47:00 way through to through the wars for sure

46:58 – 47:03 right which with the wars themselves

47:00 – 47:04 were great incubators of new medical

47:03 – 47:06 science and

47:04 – 47:08 other kinds of technologies and

47:06 – 47:10 obviously wars are not great examples of

47:08 – 47:12 what what technology can do but so I

47:10 – 47:14 think technology and science there was

47:12 – 47:17 this really forea a lot of optimism

47:14 – 47:20 about it and I think if you watch the

47:17 – 47:22 sci-fi equivalents of you know stranger

47:20 – 47:25 things for instance right back in 1940

47:22 – 47:27 it looks different I think you know even

47:25 – 47:30 even some of the Twilight Zone you know

47:27 – 47:32 you have these kind of heroic lab white

47:30 – 47:35 lab coat at figure male scientists who

47:32 – 47:37 basically you know save the day so I

47:35 – 47:38 think science back then was one thing

47:37 – 47:41 and then I think what’s happened now

47:38 – 47:43 since 1950 is a maybe a slightly

47:41 – 47:46 different picture that we’re getting

47:43 – 47:48 from artists and cultural elites on

47:46 – 47:51 television film and you’re right it

47:48 – 47:54 looks very dystopian you know stranger

47:51 – 47:55 things or you know a lot of sci-fi about

47:54 – 47:58 other dimensions

47:55 – 48:00 you know the matrix a lot of these shows

47:58 – 48:03 or even the new film interstellar from

48:00 – 48:05 2014 a lot of these films are about

48:03 – 48:08 dystopias and the dystopias are created

48:05 – 48:09 by science got run amuck I mean our

48:08 – 48:10 technologies run amok and they’ve

48:09 – 48:14 destroyed the world

48:10 – 48:17 you know I’m global warming you know has

48:14 – 48:19 has destroyed the world right and so in

48:17 – 48:22 in since nineteen fifty or sixty I think

48:19 – 48:24 there’s been a kind of a turn and much

48:22 – 48:26 more skepticism about science and what

48:24 – 48:29 it what it’s bringing us much more

48:26 – 48:31 skepticism about technology and and

48:29 – 48:34 about nuclear power and nuclear weapons

48:31 – 48:36 and so I think I think you know there is

48:34 – 48:38 a there is a turning point there you

48:36 – 48:40 know but but I have to wonder in the

48:38 – 48:43 same way that your book explores the you

48:40 – 48:46 know the interaction between science and

48:43 – 48:49 spirituality there’s definitely an

48:46 – 48:52 interaction between the the social

48:49 – 48:54 engineering project and the evolving of

48:52 – 48:55 culture you know so I just wonder which

48:54 – 48:57 comes first

48:55 – 49:00 I think there’s there was a certain

48:57 – 49:04 awakening it within our culture that

49:00 – 49:07 exposed the bullshit of the perfect

49:04 – 49:10 1940s 50s lab code scientist that’s the

49:07 – 49:13 1960s exactly so they become unmasked

49:10 – 49:16 and one thing that we know from studying

49:13 – 49:18 the social engineering project is those

49:16 – 49:21 guys are sharp and they’re one step

49:18 – 49:24 of the game so then the game shifts to

49:21 – 49:27 what’s the ultimate co-opt is to then

49:24 – 49:30 jump on that side and go yeah those guys

49:27 – 49:33 in the lab coats they’re not so great

49:30 – 49:36 there is this dystopic future but then

49:33 – 49:37 that is co-opted as well to tell a

49:36 – 49:40 different story you know

49:37 – 49:42 it then leads to something else the

49:40 – 49:44 example I often use because it’s such a

49:42 – 49:47 great one and people so many people

49:44 – 49:49 aren’t aware of it is like feminism and

49:47 – 49:52 Gloria Steinem because she’s totally

49:49 – 49:55 been outed as a CIA operative not just

49:52 – 49:57 during her little feminist project but a

49:55 – 49:60 lifetime player who’s still involved

49:57 – 50:01 with these kind of bizarre women’s

49:60 – 50:03 rights for Syria you know one of the

50:01 – 50:05 most secular countries in the Middle

50:03 – 50:06 East the point being there’s nothing to

50:05 – 50:09 get upset about

50:06 – 50:12 of course feminism had a just cause a

50:09 – 50:14 just purpose just goals behind it but

50:12 – 50:18 the co-opting of it is the interesting

50:14 – 50:20 part how they get in there and then they

50:18 – 50:22 just want a foot in the door to be able

50:20 – 50:25 to shape things the way that they want

50:22 – 50:28 and I just wonder and worry if that’s

50:25 – 50:30 what we’re seeing with with science and

50:28 – 50:33 the way scientific materialism even

50:30 – 50:36 though it’s fails again and again and

50:33 – 50:39 again it gets propped up and it gets

50:36 – 50:41 Rhiannon and like you said it you know

50:39 – 50:43 it never seems to die there’s always

50:41 – 50:46 another explanation as bizarre as it can

50:43 – 50:48 be and they’re all those explanations

50:46 – 50:51 always come from our quote-unquote top

50:48 – 50:53 scientists and meanwhile you know but

50:51 – 50:56 we’re being told that the result of all

50:53 – 50:59 this what it’s going to lead to is not

50:56 – 51:02 very good and not very positive so a

50:59 – 51:05 long-winded there but is this transition

51:02 – 51:08 that you’re talking about which I see

51:05 – 51:11 and I think everybody sees is that

51:08 – 51:14 potentially another co-op move you know

51:11 – 51:16 where that’s been co-opted yeah yeah

51:14 – 51:18 it’s a good question I mean I think that

51:16 – 51:21 I think that when we talk about you know

51:18 – 51:22 what what they’re doing in terms of you

51:21 – 51:24 know those people who are doing the

51:22 – 51:25 social engineering I might want to break

51:24 – 51:27 that down a little bit and and talk

51:25 – 51:29 about different types of people you know

51:27 – 51:33 I might want to talk about you know

51:29 – 51:34 artists people involved in the media

51:33 – 51:37 you know you might want to talk about

51:34 – 51:39 government because you know you might me

51:37 – 51:41 talk about corporations and advertising

51:39 – 51:43 you might you might want to talk about

51:41 – 51:45 this big business and I think everybody

51:43 – 51:47 has a different you know a different

51:45 – 51:49 angle on this but you know what when I

51:47 – 51:51 when I think about like the dystopian

51:49 – 51:53 fiction which is in novels and in

51:51 – 51:56 television and films I mean I see

51:53 – 51:58 something different there I I don’t know

51:56 – 51:60 that I see that as an effort by elites

51:58 – 52:02 to kind of get our attention by by

51:60 – 52:05 playing out our dystopian sort of years

52:02 – 52:07 or fantasies I see that more as kind of

52:05 – 52:11 a reflection of kind of a skepticism

52:07 – 52:12 about big bit big business or big

52:11 – 52:16 government you know I kind of see some

52:12 – 52:18 of those visions as pushing back right

52:16 – 52:20 rather than co-opt you know I see those

52:18 – 52:21 visions in some ways that’s kind of

52:20 – 52:22 pushing back in the same ways that

52:21 – 52:24 people in the sixties sort of push back

52:22 – 52:26 and said you know what big government is

52:24 – 52:28 not it doesn’t have our best interests

52:26 – 52:30 at heart right or the the US military is

52:28 – 52:33 kind of in it for itself so I see some

52:30 – 52:35 of the artistic and fictional and a

52:33 – 52:38 televisual I see some of that stuff as

52:35 – 52:41 push back against you know against the

52:38 – 52:43 the older idea of the heroic scientist

52:41 – 52:45 who’s just has our best interest or

52:43 – 52:47 right or the American government that

52:45 – 52:48 just has our best interest I think that

52:47 – 52:50 I think that’s why you have a lot more

52:48 – 52:53 conspiracy type thinking a lot more

52:50 – 52:56 skepticism now about the government and

52:53 – 52:58 about big businesses you you have a many

52:56 – 52:60 decades of kind of push back and some of

52:58 – 53:02 that is some of that is created by these

52:60 – 53:05 artists and writers who are creating

53:02 – 53:07 these dystopian stories I mean you’re

53:05 – 53:09 you’re right it it is depressing the

53:07 – 53:11 dystopian stuff and I’ve actually also

53:09 – 53:13 wondered like you where is this coming

53:11 – 53:15 from I’ve also you know Cormac McCarthy

53:13 – 53:16 or films or whatever it is I’ve also

53:15 – 53:18 kind of wondered you know what is the

53:16 – 53:21 great appeal today of the dystopian

53:18 – 53:23 novel and you know and maybe it maybe it

53:21 – 53:25 speaks to kind of the way in which

53:23 – 53:28 people have lost hope you know people

53:25 – 53:30 have lost faith they’ve lost hope you

53:28 – 53:31 know I don’t know I mean maybe I sound

53:30 – 53:33 kind of old-timey with that explanation

53:31 – 53:35 oh I don’t I don’t think you sound

53:33 – 53:37 old-timey at all and I think you make a

53:35 – 53:38 couple of great fantastic points that I

53:37 – 53:40 want to come pull out and highlight

53:38 – 53:42 because they’re new to me and one is

53:40 – 53:44 that we do have to be very careful when

53:42 – 53:45 we say they and or even when I say

53:44 – 53:48 social engineering

53:45 – 53:50 you know it’s multi-faceted like you

53:48 – 53:53 said corporations are clearly doing it

53:50 – 53:56 and with with just one goal and that’s

53:53 – 53:57 just to make money coke and a smile and

53:56 – 53:59 all that and we get that and then

53:57 – 54:02 there’s other parts that are valid in

53:59 – 54:04 terms of protecting our way of life

54:02 – 54:07 however uncomfortable that is there are

54:04 – 54:10 other forces and we don’t want to be

54:07 – 54:12 some of the other countries or cultures

54:10 – 54:14 that we see we like our thing better so

54:12 – 54:15 all that stuff is really good I’m glad

54:14 – 54:17 you bring it up you know on your last

54:15 – 54:20 point though I really wanted to kind of

54:17 – 54:21 jump on that in and kind of get a little

54:20 – 54:24 dialogue in a little bit of time we have

54:21 – 54:28 left on that is that the thing that your

54:24 – 54:29 book does so beautifully is it weaves

54:28 – 54:32 together the stuff that really is there

54:29 – 54:33 all these threads that we might overlook

54:32 – 54:36 and says you know there really is a

54:33 – 54:38 spirituality to science there really is

54:36 – 54:40 a interplay and if we start with

54:38 – 54:42 spirituality or we start with science we

54:40 – 54:43 kind of wind up in the same place and

54:42 – 54:46 isn’t that interesting

54:43 – 54:48 isn’t that something we should pay more

54:46 – 54:52 attention to and perhaps put our

54:48 – 54:55 attention towards and I contrast that

54:52 – 54:57 with what I get from the social

54:55 – 54:60 engineering project that is scientific

54:57 – 55:02 materialism in my opinion and the

54:60 – 55:04 conclusion is the absolute opposite of

55:02 – 55:06 that it’s a pulling a part of those

55:04 – 55:09 threads it’s the spirituality of

55:06 – 55:12 dystopia yeah yeah I think that’s true I

55:09 – 55:13 do see I do see that and and that’s I

55:12 – 55:16 think that’s disheartening too you know

55:13 – 55:21 and I don’t think it’s I don’t think it

55:16 – 55:24 leads to you know hope right I don’t I

55:21 – 55:26 think it leads to optimism or hope but

55:24 – 55:28 yeah I mean I I appreciate what you’re

55:26 – 55:32 saying about the book in the sense that

55:28 – 55:34 it does try to weave a story through

55:32 – 55:36 science and pop culture about the

55:34 – 55:38 possibilities of a new type of science

55:36 – 55:40 and I think that you know in some ways

55:38 – 55:42 that that new type of science has

55:40 – 55:44 arrived in some ways I think that their

55:42 – 55:45 scientists themselves especially when

55:44 – 55:47 you see them you know get on television

55:45 – 55:50 and a write a popular a popular science

55:47 – 55:52 book you know they they traffic and all

55:50 – 55:55 of these kind of fantastic scientific

55:52 – 55:57 ideas now right and they had a sense of

55:55 – 55:59 kind of excitement and a sense of wonder

55:57 – 56:01 and I mentioned Brian Greene earlier but

55:59 – 56:04 you know there’s also michio kaku and

56:01 – 56:07 there’s many scientists who have a real

56:04 – 56:08 sense of kind of on wonder about nature

56:07 – 56:12 and its many mysteries right whether

56:08 – 56:14 that’s entanglement or nonlocality or

56:12 – 56:17 dark matter her dark energy or the

56:14 – 56:18 multiverse or or higher dimensions you

56:17 – 56:20 know or the many-worlds interpretation

56:18 – 56:22 of quantum mechanics you know there

56:20 – 56:25 there have been in the last 50 years

56:22 – 56:26 these kind of fantastic pieces of

56:25 – 56:29 science that have kind of come back in

56:26 – 56:31 the back door even even even while

56:29 – 56:33 scientists themselves that try to try to

56:31 – 56:36 keep them out so I think they kind of

56:33 – 56:38 have come back and I think scientist um

56:36 – 56:40 scientists especially scientists who

56:38 – 56:41 write popular science they in many ways

56:40 – 56:43 they can’t help themselves they have to

56:41 – 56:46 bring these things in because you know

56:43 – 56:48 people are doing popular science need

56:46 – 56:51 and want buy it then they want to sell

56:48 – 56:53 books and you know the way to do that is

56:51 – 56:55 to is to sort of have this kind of

56:53 – 56:57 excitement right have this kind of more

56:55 – 56:59 open-ended science have these kind of

56:57 – 57:02 more fantastic scientific notions or

56:59 – 57:05 more mysterious scientific notions on

57:02 – 57:06 which maybe in an earlier era scientists

57:05 – 57:08 are more quickly to kind of sweep under

57:06 – 57:10 the rug so I think it’s possible that in

57:08 – 57:12 the coming decades you will see more of

57:10 – 57:15 this you know you will see more kind of

57:12 – 57:18 open reflections about you know physics

57:15 – 57:19 and consciousness studies right or you

57:18 – 57:24 know different kinds of combinations

57:19 – 57:25 that that many scientists before in in

57:24 – 57:26 some ways because they were

57:25 – 57:29 professionalizing and building their

57:26 – 57:31 Sciences we’re kind of against but now

57:29 – 57:33 maybe this who knows maybe there’s gonna

57:31 – 57:36 be a new openness to this I hope so

57:33 – 57:39 great well it’s great work our guests

57:36 – 57:40 again has been dr. Christopher white the

57:39 – 57:44 book that you’re gonna want to check out

57:40 – 57:47 other worlds spirituality and the search

57:44 – 57:48 for invisible dimensions now you can

57:47 – 57:50 find the book in the normal ways right

57:48 – 57:52 Chris Amazon yeah you can get it from

57:50 – 57:54 Amazon you can if you like it leave a

57:52 – 57:56 review on Amazon you can get it through

57:54 – 57:58 Harvard University presses website they

57:56 – 57:60 they sell the book as well it’s

57:58 – 58:01 published by Harvard University Press

57:60 – 58:03 and if anyone wants to reach out to me

58:01 – 58:06 they can find me at Vassar or they can

58:03 – 58:09 also follow me on Twitter I’m at Chris

58:06 – 58:12 underscore Gees and George underscore

58:09 – 58:13 white so happy to happy to communicate

58:12 – 58:15 with people

58:13 – 58:16 want to reach out great well I’m sure

58:15 – 58:20 there’ll be a bunch of people reaching

58:16 – 58:22 out on the forum after this show so yeah

58:20 – 58:24 you have a minute I’ll set you up so you

58:22 – 58:26 can pop over there and see what people

58:24 – 58:28 are saying cuz that’d be great sure Oh

58:26 – 58:30 that’d be great for us it’s it’s right

58:28 – 58:32 up our alley and you’ve you’ve just

58:30 – 58:35 amassed some amazing work in this area

58:32 – 58:37 so it’s been great having you on I thank

58:35 – 58:39 you again so much for coming on skeptic

58:37 – 58:42 oh thanks so much Alex it was great

58:39 – 58:45 great talking to you for an hour okay

58:42 – 58:47 let’s do it again all right let’s do it

58:45 – 58:49 again thanks again to dr. Chris white

58:47 – 58:51 for joining me today on skeptic oh I

58:49 – 58:53 guess I’d have one question to tee up

58:51 – 58:55 from this interview and that is what do

58:53 – 58:58 you make of the premise of Chris’s book

58:55 – 59:02 is there a subtler deeper interplay

58:58 – 59:05 between science and spirituality and is

59:02 – 59:07 it being revealed to a certain extent in

59:05 – 59:09 technology advancement I think that’s a

59:07 – 59:11 really interesting topic to explore and

59:09 – 59:13 I’m really interested to see what you

59:11 – 59:15 have to say about it because there’s so

59:13 – 59:18 many different directions we could take

59:15 – 59:20 and I’m not even sure where I stand on

59:18 – 59:23 it so that’s why to these shows by the

59:20 – 59:27 way is I need y’all to straighten me out

59:23 – 59:29 which you do so often and clarify my

59:27 – 59:33 thinking on these things I can’t tell

59:29 – 59:36 you enough how often that occurs I learn

59:33 – 59:40 from you that’s what a show is all about

59:36 – 59:42 that’s the payoff for me so join me over

59:40 – 59:45 on The Skeptical forum or other places

59:42 – 59:47 and tell me your thoughts have a couple

59:45 – 59:49 of really cool shows coming up please

59:47 – 59:52 stay with me for all of that and until

59:49 – 59:56 next time bye for now

59:52 – 59:56 [Music]

59:59 – 60:02 [Music]

60:11 – 60:16 so thanks for watching this video if it

60:14 – 60:19 wasn’t really a video but just an audio

60:16 – 60:20 stored as a video well I apologize but

60:19 – 60:22 there’s more videos out there as well

60:20 – 60:24 but please check out the skeptic Oh

60:22 – 60:25 website you can see it here we cover a

60:24 – 60:28 lot of different stuff you might be

60:25 – 60:31 interested in relating to controversial

60:28 – 60:34 science and spirituality a lot of shows

60:31 – 60:37 up there over 350 of them are so all

60:34 – 60:39 free all available for downloads so do

60:37 – 60:49 check it out

60:39 – 60:49 [Music]

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