Tag: consciousness science

217. Dr. Gary Marcus Sandbagged by Near-Death Experience Science Questions

https://youtu.be/4j3CAv3noSQ Interview examines mainstream psychology's approach to near-death experience science. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Dr. Gary Marcus author of,  Kluge: The Haphazard Evolution of the Human Mind.  During the interview Marcus explains why he’s skeptical of near-death experience science: Dr. Gary Marcus:   I’m also very, very skeptical of . It doesn’t make sense to me, to be honest. It doesn’t fit with the rest of the stuff that I understand about how the brain works, which leads me to believe that something is likely being misinterpreted. I can’t promise that and I haven’t read every word on it… Alex Tsakiris:   Have you read any word on it? Have you read any of the leading researchers out there? Dr. Gary Marcus:   I’ve read a few words here or there but it doesn’t make sense to me. It would be like you asking me have I read anything on astrology. I mean, I know about astrology but I don’t see the causal mechanisms. Alex Tsakiris:  Yeah, but it’s not really astrology. You’ve got Parnia at Cornell, you’ve got the University of Virginia researchers. You’ve got a lot of pretty well-respected people who’ve studied it for a long time and are publishing... Bruce Greyson and all those folks... Dr. Gary Marcus:   I don’t doubt that there’s a phenomenon that needs to be explained but I doubt that the explanation is that the brain is not part of the experience that’s being processed. I cannot conceive of how that would be true. Alex Tsakiris:   But isn’t that where it gets interesting? These guys are coming at it strictly from a medical standpoint and saying, “Look, the guy died on my table and then told me what happened during resuscitation.” That’s a medical mystery that defies explanation in our current paradigm. Isn’t that where we start? Dr. Gary Marcus:   A more parsimonious explanation is the guy wasn’t really dead on the table. There was more stuff happening in the brain than you realize. It’s parsimonious because it fits with everything else we understand about the brain. Otherwise you have to invent a new causal mechanism. I’m not saying that that’s wrong, but I think the standards for doing that need to be high. (continued below) Dr. Gary Marcus's Webpage Click here for YouTube version Click here for forum discussion Play It  Listen Now: Download MP3 (29 min.) Read It: Welcome to Skeptiko, where we explore controversial science with leading researchers, thinkers, and their critics. I’m your host, Alex Tsakiris, and as you just heard, my guest today is Dr. Gary Marcus. Now this is one of those interviews that requires a bit of an explanation, not so much for the content of the interview but for why I would even choose to interview Dr. Marcus in the first place. But that explanation should really come at the end, and that’s where I’ve put it. So for now, here’s my interview with Dr. Gary Marcus:

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216. Dr. Dean Radin Urges Science to Examine the Supernormal

Interview examines the connection between ancient yoga practices and the science of extended human consciousness. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Dr. Dean Radin author of, A Supernormal: Science, Yoga, and the Evidence for Extraordinary Psychic Abilities.  During the interview Radin explains how he science can approach such topics: Alex Tsakiris: I wonder if we’re nibbling around at the edges of something that we have to swallow whole. As you mention in your book, Supernormal, and have mentioned previously in this interview, these yogic traditions don’t point to supernormal powers. In fact they go to great lengths to say, “Hey, it’s not about these supernormal powers. Don’t worry about them. It’s about changing your connection and how you relate to—for lack of a better word—God.” If we’re not willing to tackle the Divine then we’re playing a different game but are we playing the game? Dr. Dean Radin:   That’s a very good point. It’s true that the yogic path and many of these other mystical paths are basically pointing to enlightenment. Enlightenment is so far away from where science is that it’s probably too far a reach for now. And it’s also true that these traditions say you’re going to bump into these psychic things and don’t pay attention to them because they’re just yardsticks on the way to something more interesting. I would say that from the ancient traditions that advice was probably sound. Well, we’re in the modern age now and what science is able to do is study not the depths of enlightenment but we certainly can study the very place where mind and matter meet. It’s where the deep subjective and deep objective meet, and that is psychic phenomena. So the reason why the book is an entrée into that, it says you know what, science? We don’t know yet as scientists how to go all the way down to or all the way up to the enlightenment but we can begin to go much, much deeper than we have before. And in the process of studying the very area, that very boundary that the ancients would say not to pay attention to, well, we have to pay attention to that. (continued below) Dr. Radin's Webpage Click here for YouTube version Click here for forum discussion Play It  Listen Now: Download MP3 (37 min.) Read It: Today we welcome Dr. Dean Radin to Skeptiko. He’s here to talk about his new book, Supernormal: Science, Yoga, and the Evidence for Extraordinary Psychic Abilities. Dr. Radin, of course, is Chief Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences where he’s become one of the world’s best-known researchers on extended human consciousness. His two previous books, The Conscious Universe, and Entangled Minds, were truly ground-breaking and provide the scientific foundation for much of the current interest there is in this field. Dr. Radin, welcome to Skeptiko. Thanks so much for joining me. Dr. Dean Radin:  Thanks, Alex. It’s a pleasure to be here. Alex Tsakiris:   A lot of people are very excited about this new book of yours, Supernormal. Can you start just by telling us briefly what it’s about? Dr. Dean Radin:   Well, one way of getting into the topic is that you may know that the Dali Lama for years now has been having dialogues with scientists on the relationship between Buddhist ideas and practice and science. Primarily physics and the neurosciences. One of the things that you see when you read the transcripts of what goes on in these meetings, and have spawned a number of popular books as well, is that the Dali Lama is very interested in science and the practice of science and what science has discovered. He has said many times that if science demonstrates that something about Buddhist practice or beliefs is  incorrect that they’ll change their beliefs and practices. They’re after the truth. So that’s laudable. You would hope then that the same would be true on the scientific side, that if some scientific assumptions turn out not to be completely correct that scientists will correct them, as well. But after reading the transcripts you see that what we’re dealing with is an asymmetry. There’s a lot of interest on the part of the Buddhists on what science has to say but there’s so far very little interest on the part of science on what Buddhism has to say. You see this in stark contrast when the Dali Lama repeatedly tries to bring up issues about reincarnation and about the use of the Oracle and other things that we might consider to be psychic phenomena or related to that. The scientists present usually know nothing about these topics and they dismiss them. They dismiss them in a kind and gentle way so they don’t piss off the Dali Lama but nevertheless they say there’s no evidence so we can go on to other topics. I was just struck with this because for one thing, it really shows that the people that are talking to the Dali Lama are very straightforward, mainstream, very good at what they do, but they don’t actually know what they’re talking about when they dismiss these topics. And in almost every meeting there’s the Dali Lama or somebody else at the meeting who will try to raise well, what about telepathy? What about these issues? And it doesn’t go anywhere. So I was becoming annoyed at watching this year after year and I decided to write a book that looked in more detail at the origins of why the Dali Lama and other people say these things and what’s wrong with science.

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209. Talat Jonathan Phillips Chronicles His Transformation From Political Activist to Spiritual Seeker

Interview with activist and author explores his personal journey with Ayawaska, ETs, and energy healing. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Talat Jonathan Phillips author of, The Electric Jesus: The Healing Journey of a Contemporary Gnostic.  During the interview Phillips talks about finding a balance between the worldly and spiritual pursuits: Alex Tsakiris: If you buy into materialism, if you think you’re a biological robot and that’s all you are -- you’re lost. If you buy into our materialistic culture and this idea that we need to get all we can, and we need to bomb other people so they don’t get it -- all that stuff -- you’re lost. But as soon as you cross that chasm and you say, “Okay, there’s something more”, then I think you run into this problem what we’re talking about. And that is materialism keeps wanting to creep itself back into the equation. So, you’re saying, “I need to take action here. I need to go do this. I need to vote for this candidate. I need to do that.” Isn’t there the risk that we get into this back-door materialism, this “we’re in control” thing? Talat Phillips:   Oh yeah. But I think it’s both. We’ve set up an either/or and I think it’s both/and because if I look at most of my clients, most of them come in and think we’re going to talk about past lives and this and that. But most of them need to get into the material world a little bit. They need to get in their bodies and figure out jobs and live an abundant life. That doesn’t mean buy a mansion but it just means to know how to support themselves and talk with people. I don’t want to deny that aspect because it is important. I denied it for many years of my existence and maybe that was why I was a marginalized activist. On the other hand, I definitely saw this with Occupy. It was very frustrating for me seeing all the projected anger about finances. I do a lot of anger work with clients. It’s good to express anger but when you project it at others it creates more of that fear culture. What I like with Evolver.net is that we’re more like, “How can you create? How can you follow your bliss and your passions and do what you love?” I think Joseph Campbell talks about this. This is a dance we have of integrating.  So I think what you’ve brought up is a great study that we all do. It’s an alchemy of walking as a human and being as a human on this planet. It’s being and doing and creating a right relationship between that. Talat Jonathan Phillips Website Click here for YouTube version Click here for forum discussion Play It  Listen Now: Download MP3 (47 min.) Read It: Today we welcome Talat Jonathan Phillips to Skeptiko. Talat is the author of The Electric Jesus: The Healing Journey of a Contemporary Gnostic. He is also the co-founder of a rather amazing web magazine named Reality Sandwich and an equally amazing social movement at www.evolver.net. Welcome to Skeptiko, Talat. Thanks so much for joining me. Talat Phillips:  It’s great to be here. Thanks, Alex. Alex Tsakiris:   Well, your book, The Electric Jesus, is just a great read. I mean, I was just blown away at how it pulls you in and just makes you want to turn page after page. It’s a spiritual odyssey, as the name suggests, but it reads like a Tom Wolfe novel. Tell us a little bit about this book and how it came about and what people are going to find when they read it.

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208. Dr. Julia Assante On Technology Training Us to Talk With Spirits

Interview with author, scholar, and psychic medium Dr. Julia Assante challenges our fear of death. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Dr. Julia Assante author of, The Last Frontier: Exploring the Afterlife and Transforming Our Fear of Death.  During the interview Assante talks about the effects of technology on spirit communication: Alex Tsakiris:   Let’s face it, we love this materialism we’re wrapped up into. We love our computers—we love our Internet, our Google, our Skype. So whether we wind up merging with the machine as Kurzweil predicts, it’s hard to deny this trajectory of technology. Dr. Julia Assante:   I think we should really enjoy being in physical life. I think our technology is, in fact, the chief art of our era. And technology is also training us to think outside of the box, to think in terms of interdimensionality, and to think in terms of communicating with consciousness in other dimensions. If you think, for instance, of the telephone that was an astounding invention when it was presented in Philadelphia by Alexander Graham Bell. He used Hamlet’s soliloquy, talking to a skull of all things, to demonstrate the phone in public. People were nervous and frightened. They thought he was conjuring ghosts. So that kind of technology alone allows our paradigms to open and include discarnates, invisibles, crossing distances, all that kind of thing. The Internet is even doing more with the idea of cyberspace and collapsed space. I think that our use of electronics and digital systems are causing us to become more sensitive to subtler and subtler electrical impulses so I think technology is not at conflict with the so-called spiritual but is working with it as an analogy and as a training ground. Dr. Julia Assante's Website Click here for YouTube version Click here for forum discussion Play It  Listen Now: Download MP3 (46 min.) Read It: Today we welcome Dr. Julia Assante to Skeptiko to discuss her new book, The Last Frontier: Exploring the Afterlife and Transforming Our Fear of Death. Dr. Assante is an Ivy League scholar in ancient Near East studies and--here’s where things get really interesting--a longtime practicing psychic medium who even while pursuing her Ph.D. at Columbia was talking to the dead. So Dr. Assante, welcome and thanks so much for joining me today on Skeptiko. Dr. Julia Assante:   Oh, thank you for inviting me. It’s a great pleasure. Alex Tsakiris:   Your book has received very high praise from the likes of Dr. Dean Radin, Dr. Larry Dossey, who also wrote the Introduction, and other notables. So first of all, congratulations on this fine book. Dr. Julia Assante:   Well, I’m really honored to have these people, and even Deepak Chopra whose endorsements are very restricted. He’s only allowed to do seven a year so I’m very privileged.

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207. Rupert Sheldrake Censored by TED Conference’s Anonymous Scientific Board

Interview with Dr. Rupert Sheldrake about censorship of his Science Set Free lecture. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Dr. Rupert Sheldrake author of, Science Set Free: 10 Paths to New Discovery.  During the interview Sheldrake talks about the controversy: Alex Tsakiris:   The irony of this is, if not hilarious, certainly inescapable. A reputable Cambridge biologist publishes a book claiming  science is dogmatic.  He’s then censored by an anonymous scientific board.  You can’t script that any better. What does this say about how science can be dogmatic without even realizing it’s dogmatic? Dr. Rupert Sheldrake:   I think this whole controversy and the people who have weighed-in in favor of TED’s actions do indeed confirm what I’m saying. These dogmas are ones that most people within science don’t actually realize are dogmas. They just think they’re the truth. The point about really dogmatic people is that they don’t know that they have dogmas. Dogmas are beliefs and people who have really strong beliefs think of their beliefs as truths. They don’t actually see them as beliefs. So I think this whole controversy has actually highlighted exactly that. The other thing that is highlighted is that there are a lot of people, far more than I imagined actually, who are not taken in by these dogmas, who do want to think about them critically. One of the remarkable things about these discussions is lots of people are really up for the discussion of these dogmas. They really want it to happen, far more than I’d imagined, actually. I’m impressed by that and I think this TED debate has actually helped show that the paradigm is shifting. There’s no longer a kind of automatic agreement by the great majority of people to dogmatic assertions by scientific materialists. Dr. Rupert Sheldrake's Website Click here for YouTube version Click here for forum discussion Play It  Listen Now: Download MP3 (31 min.) Read It: Today we welcome Dr. Rupert Sheldrake back to Skeptiko. Many of you know the work of Cambridge biologist, Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, including his latest book, Science Set Free. But now you may have heard that this book has seemed to have struck quite a nerve because Dr. Sheldrake has found himself in the middle of a controversy surrounding the censorship of a video lecture that he presented and that was then posted on the very popular TEDx YouTube channel. It was then removed after—and get this—an anonymous scientific board deemed it unscientific. Rupert, welcome back to Skeptiko. Thanks for joining us. Tell us what’s happened here. Dr. Rupert Sheldrake:   Well, you summarized it more-or-less. I gave a talk at the TEDx series of talks in London in Whitechapel. The organizers were young women, students at London University, who organized a very lively event. It was called Challenging Existing Paradigms. They asked me to talk about challenging existing paradigms, which seemed just the right theme for my book, Science Set Free. So I did a TEDx talk for it. It was extremely popular; the event was sold out. There was a lot of lively discussion that was really fun. It went up on the TEDx website, as these TEDx talks often do, and all was well until it was denounced by two of America’s leading militant skeptics, PZ Myers and Jerry Coyne, who didn’t like it because it upset their rather dogmatic materialist worldview. So they called for it to be taken down and they said it discredited itself, etc. They put enormous pressure on TED and then they got armies of their supporters to send emails to TED and put comments on websites.

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206. Rick Archer From Buddha at the Gas Pump on Meditation and Spiritual Practices

Interview with Rick Archer host of the website and Youtube channel, Buddha at the Gas Pump. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Rick Archer of, Buddha at the Gas Pump.  During the interview Archer talks about a thought experiment he uses to better understand our place in the universe: Rick Archer: Here’s the game: zoom out to the level of perspective where you can watch the Andromeda galaxy collide with the Milky Way over the next 8 billion years. Realize, of course, that that’s actually a very, very tiny localized event compared to the whole universe but it’s big enough for our purposes here. Then imagine as you watch that over 8 billion years all the trillions and trillions of lives playing themselves out on all the inhabited planets in those galaxies. Each one of those lives seems very real and serious to the person living it, but from that perspective they’re like little fireflies winking in and out, even faster than that. Billions and trillions of little strobe lights going on and off. Now zoom it down, past the human level down to the level of the plank scale and you discover there is no universe. It’s just all a field of pure potentiality in which even a cubic centimeter of empty space at that level has more energy than all the energy in the entire manifest universe. That’s essentially what you are. Now zoom it back to the human level.  Here’s what you are in expressed form, in a manifest, living form. But, this perspective as a human being is no more real than the zoomed out cosmic perspective or the zoomed in plank scale perspective. Those are just different perspectives on reality. We just have a peephole as a human being. Just a little peephole and yet we can actually culture an awareness that is cosmic like that. That does transcend time and space. That’s vast. That’s eternal. That can be our living reality. That can be the sort of substance of our lives. That’s what enlightenment is all about, which is the question you started this interview with. It’s not a pipedream; it’s not a fantasy. It’s something that many people have lived throughout history and something that we would have a very interesting world on our hands if it were commonplace. All the problems and travails that beset us as a civilization today would be just distant memories if that were a common experience.  Buddha at the Gas Pump Website Click here for YouTube version Click here for forum discussion Play It  Listen Now: Download MP3 (91 min.) Read It: Today we welcome Rick Archer to Skeptiko. Rick is the creator and host of Buddha at the Gas Pump, a website and YouTube channel that features an amazing collection of interviews with all sorts of interesting thinkers, spiritual teachers, and enlightenment-seeking individuals. Rick, I’m a big fan of your show and I’m so happy to welcome you to Skeptiko. Rick Archer:   Well, the feeling is mutual. I started listening to your show for the first time last Tuesday and now it’s Saturday and I think I’ve listened to six or seven of them, which means over an hour a day I’m listening to Alex while I ride my bike and wash the dishes and stuff. I’m thrilled by it. I’m going to continue listening. You and Bill Maher and Bill Moyer are my favorite podcasters now.

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203. Out of Body Experience Expert Robert Bruce on Our Demon Haunted World

Interview with out of body (OBE) expert and author Robert Bruce explores extended consciousness as an open-minded skeptic. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Robert Bruce author of, Astral Dynamics: The Complete Book of Out-of-Body.  During the interview Bruce discusses why out of body experience finding don’t generate scientific attention: Alex Tsakiris:   Recently journalist, Matt Baglio, published a book called, The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist. What he was go to Rome and went to the school where the Vatican instructs priests in how to perform exorcisms. He sat in on dozens and dozens of exorcisms and what he found was that, despite the modern perception, they weren’t just bringing people in to convert them to Christianity or convert them to Catholicism. They have licensed therapists there. They say 95% of these people are not demon possessed.  But, surprisingly, they claim 5% of them are. And, they have very specific criteria that they use in determining that; and they have unbelievable stories that this journalist has gathered and that these exorcists can attest to. So it seems that this is a phenomenon that is much more prevalent than I think most of us are willing to acknowledge or even look into. I think most people just won’t even examine the evidence for it. Robert Bruce:   You hit the nail on the head there. People don’t want it to be true. They don’t want to know. They avoid the information. Now, to be a true scientist you need to be an open-minded skeptic. I mean, open-minded skepticism is pure science. You’re open-minded and you’re skeptical.  You look at the evidence and you examine the phenomena, or whatever it is, until you start to understand it. Now, I have that same approach and I approach this not just with my own experiences which made it real to me. Anybody who doubts this, and they should doubt it until they see it for themselves or experience it for themselves -- Heaven forbid. If you confront one demon or an evil spirit—even a poltergeist, a real one— you become a believer. Robert Bruce's Website Click here for YouTube version Click here for forum discussion Bonus Material: Interview with Andrew Paquette and Graham Nicholls explores experiences working with extended consciousness. Listen Now: Download MP3 (68 min.) Play It (Interview With Robert Bruce): Listen Now: Download MP3 (54 min.) Read It: Today we welcome world-renowned out-of-body experience expert, Robert Bruce, to Skeptiko. Robert is the author of several best-selling books including the one he’s probably best-known for, Astral Dynamics, which is also the domain name where you’ll find his excellent website, www.astraldynamics.com. He holds seminars around the world on out-of-body experience travel and spirituality and other related topics. It’s a pleasure to have you on, Robert. Thanks for joining me on Skeptiko. Robert Bruce:   Good day, Alex. It’s nice to be here at last. Alex Tsakiris:   Yes. Robert, you’re known as an expert on primarily out-of-body experience, what some people call astral projection. You also have quite a bit to say about spirituality in general. I read your first book, Astral Dynamics. I didn’t quite make it all the way through. It’s a pretty big, fat book. But I was very impressed. It’s very practical. A lot of step-by-step kinds of instructions. Down to earth but meaty, not like it’s light or anything like that. Packed with a lot of information.

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202. Scientific Evidence of Afterlife Overwhelming Says Chris Carter

Interview with author Chris Carter explores the scientific evidence for the survival of consciousness. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Chris Carter author of, Science and the Afterlife Experience: Evidence for the Immortality of Consciousness.  During the interview Carter discusses the consequences of accepting scientific proof of an afterlife: Alex Tsakiris:   Are there unintended consequences for overthrowing materialism? Maybe the game is going to wind up being played one way or another. We’re going to wind up with scientific materialism or Church rule. Someone has made the decision that at the end of the day I choose the phony scientific materialism over the thin, phony Church state. Chris Carter:   I think that’s a false dichotomy. I don’t think that’s the choice. One of the major themes of my book is that there’s a third alternative, one that does not require a leap of faith and one that does not require embracing the pseudo-scientific ideology of materialism. There’s a third alternative and it is to examine the evidence without prejudice, without materialistic prejudice or religious prejudice, and see what the evidence says. I believe that the conclusions that the evidence implies are not dogmatic. They do not ask people to go out and burn those who disagree with us at the stake or to wage war against those who disagree with us. Chris Carter's Website Cynthia's Book: Belief Is So Last Century Click here for YouTube version Click here for forum discussion Play It: Listen Now: Download MP3 (58 min.) Read It: Today we welcome Chris Carter back to Skeptiko. Many of you know Chris for his withering attacks on skeptical nonsense and his books, Science and the Near-Death Experience, Science and Psychic Phenomena, and his latest, Science and the Afterlife Experience. Chris holds undergraduate and Master’s degrees in philosophy from Oxford. He’s a very fine writer, and it’s a pleasure to welcome him back to Skeptiko. Chris, welcome back. Thanks for joining me. Chris Carter:   Thanks, Alex. How are you doing? Alex Tsakiris:   Great. Everything’s good. This latest book is really fascinating. It’s obviously a topic that we love to talk about here. You really dig into so much. I’m hoping we can talk about the book but also talk about a lot of other things surrounding the book. I’m anxious to have you back on.

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198. Mike Clelland Struggles to Understand Contact With Alien Consciousness

Interview with Blogger and UFO researcher Mike Clelland about reports of contact with alien consciousness. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Mike Clelland, host of the Hidden Experience Podcast.  During the interview Clelland discusses various account of contact with alien consciousness: Alex Tsakiris:  I look at the UFO phenomena and I am challenged to either fit it into that near-death experience, mystical/spiritual framework, or say that it lies outside of that framework. So are the aliens God? Mike Clelland:   I’m sure you could cherry-pick the reports and you could come up with that answer that they are God. In these UFO narratives people come back and they tell what they experienced and so one person in one narrative asked the little gray aliens, “Are you Angels?” And the gray aliens reply, “Yes. But not in the way you think of Angels.” Which is an interesting answer. In another report someone asks the gray aliens, “Did God create the universe?” And the aliens reply, “No. God is creating the universe moment-by-moment.” Alex Tsakiris:   That gets back to the most challenging part of all that which is we don’t understand the nature of that extended consciousness beyond our physical level, so whenever we talk about theatre, then is it theatre to us? Or is it theatre to them? Mike Clelland: I feel like I’m constantly confronted with—and the phrase I will use is “something’s going on behind the curtain.” I’m implying that there’s this other dimensional realm that “they,” these aliens, can access that we can barely access. Maybe we can access it through death; maybe we can access it through psychedelics. Maybe we can access it through intense meditation or through dream realms.  We can access that realm fleetingly. Mike Clelland's Website Click here for YouTube version Click here for forum discussion Play It: Listen Now: Download MP3 (82 min.) Read It: Today we welcome Mike Clelland to Skeptiko. In addition to being a pretty amazing illustrator, Mike is also a blogger and podcaster at www.hiddenexperience.blogspot.com where he tackles a number of paranormal topics mainly centered around alien contact. Now I know that can be a challenging topic for those who haven’t really studied the phenomena very much, but I’m really hoping that in this Skeptiko interview we can jump past all that first-level skeptical silliness because it’s really not that interesting. If you think all this stuff is swamp gas and ball lightning  then more power to you but that’s not really what we’re going to talk about today. What I’m hoping to get into with Mike is questions about this other form of consciousness that many, many folks he’s been coming in contact with and hopefully trying to tie that back to so many of the topics that we’ve talked about here on Skeptiko, be it remote viewing or out-of-body experience or near-death experience, lucid dreaming, psychedelics, all the rest. So with that rather long introduction, Mike, welcome to Skeptiko. Thanks for coming on. Mike Clelland:   Thanks for having me.

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197. Dr. Diane Powell Uses Serious Science to Understand Psychic Phenomena

Interview with Dr. Diane Powell about her book, The ESP Enigma, and why research into extended human consciousness remains taboo.  Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with neuroscientist, psychiatrist and author Dr. Diane Powell about her book, The ESP Enigma: The Scientific Case for Psychic Phenomena.  During the interview Powell discusses why psychic abilities are not accepted by mainstream science: Alex Tsakiris: My opinion is that if you’re waiting for the paradigm shift, if you’re waiting for science to roll over and say, “Uncle. We admit it. This phenomenon is obvious; it’s self-evident,” it’s not going to happen.  What do you think? Dr. Diane Powell:   I agree and I think that, as I said, it is counterproductive to think that way. I think that people close their minds to considering new possibilities. I mean, like I said, in the early 1900’s when people thought that all of the physics had been discovered there was this whole other world out there. I believe that’s true for consciousness. I think we’re just now starting to have more and more receptivity to studying that. But still, trying to understand—I think human consciousness is just too vast a topic and you’re not going to be able to understand it with conventional materialistic science. I mean, that’s only one tool in trying to obtain knowledge. Dr. Diane Powell's Website Play It: Listen Now: Download MP3 (40 min.) Read It: Today we welcome Dr. Diane Powell to Skeptiko. Diane has an amazing background, stellar credentials, Johns Hopkins trained neuroscientist, MD in psychiatry from Johns Hopkins, as well. Faculty position at Harvard Medical School.  Salk Institute right here in my backyard in La Jolla. I mean, the credentials go on and on. She’s also written a book titled, The ESP Enigma. Dr. Powell, thank you so much for joining me and welcome to Skeptiko. Dr. Diane Powell:   Thank you. It’s a pleasure.

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195. Dr. Mario Beauregard Sees an End to the Era of Biological Robots

Interview with Dr. Mario Beauregard about his new book, Brain Wars, and the battle between old brain science and new brain science.  Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with neuroscientist and author Dr. Mario Beauregard about his new book, Brain Wars: The Scientific Battle Over the Existence of the Mind and the Proof That Will Change the Way We Live Our Lives.  During the interview Beauregard discusses the coming revolution in the way science understands consciousness: Alex Tsakiris: Near the end of your book, Brain Wars, you talk about a shift in consciousness within science. I’d like you to talk about whether you really think that is likely.  I mean, we are so enmeshed -- we are so married to this materialism -- can we really get beyond it? Dr. Mario Beauregard:   Well, I can say that at least in my own field there’s an increasing number of scientists and also in other disciplines challenging the old materialist worldview, so it’s done not only by scientists but also by philosophers themselves. In the last few years we’ve seen books come out about the waning of materialism and so on.  Now several different scientists are starting to question this. We’re in a transition period, like I said before, and in certain circles scientists are creating a sort of union where they’re getting together and trying to get organized. For instance, there’s a special issue of a mainstream journal in neuroscience called, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, and next year there will be a special issue about the possibility of non-local mind. This is a sign of the times because only 10 years ago or 15 or 20 years ago, this would not have been possible at all.  Now it’s becoming possible to discuss these important issues publicly and even to challenge the mainstream view overtly. This was not possible at all before. There’s a progress regarding this evolution in our field.  I think that there eventually will be another big revolution in science and this will be about mind and consciousness. The same kind of revolution that they’ve had about 100 years ago in physics from classical physics to quantum physics. We’ll have probably the same in our own field. At the same time in parallel, like you said at the beginning of the interview, if you talk to laypeople, most people do not believe that they are strictly biological robots and don’t have any influence over their brain activity or what’s happening in their body.  So, if there’s the start of really a transition within science, it will go quickly because the rest of the world is very sympathetic regarding a non-materialist view of consciousness and of human life and the universe. Mario Beauregard's Website Click here for YouTube version Click here for forum discussion Play It: Listen Now: Download MP3 (46 min.) Read It: Today we welcome Dr. Mario Beauregard to Skeptiko. Dr. Beauregard is an Associate Research Professor at the Neuroscience Research Center at the University of Montreal. He has a Ph.D. in neuroscience also from the University of Montreal. He also has two post-Doctorate fellowships in experimental neuropsychology. He's the author of over 100 publications in neuroscience, psychology, and psychiatry. And he’s here today to talk about his latest book, Brain Wars: The Scientific Battle Over the Existence of the Mind and the Proof That Will Change the Way We Live Our Lives. Mario, thank you very much for joining me today on Skeptiko and welcome. Dr. Mario Beauregard:   Thanks to you.

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193. Dr. Daryl Bem on the Quantum Theory Secret Psychologists Need to Know

Interviews from the 2012 Parapsychology Association conference with Dr. Daryl Bem, Dr. George Williams, Dr. Athena Drewes and Dr. Robert Van de Castle. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris and Dr. Richard Grego for interviews from the 2012  Parapsychology Association conference. During one of the interviews Dr. Daryl Bem reveals the secret psychologists need to know about quantum theory: Dr. Daryl Bem:  Quantum theory, quantum mechanics, has never had an empirical failure.  That is, to the degree you can measure, within the error of measurement, every prediction made by quantum mechanics has come true. The thing that so boggles the mind of physicists in the 20th Century was no one knows how it works. So even Richard Feynman, who won a Nobel Prize for all of this said, “Stop beating yourself up by asking ‘But how can this be?’ Nobody knows how this can be.” And psychologists and non-physicists generally don’t know that conundrum exists in physics. They say, “Well, I don’t have the mathematical knowledge to know what quantum mechanics is.” They should give themselves more credit. No one knows. No one has an understanding of the mechanics of how it works. Now some psi researchers actually think quantum mechanics does contain the seeds of an explanation. It has to do with what we call “Quantum Entanglement.” Now, there are technical arguments why that won’t work, but every week in physics there’s usually some new paper that shows entanglement at higher temperatures than we would have expected. Or, at longer distances. Or, at a more macro level.  So some of psi researchers believe that’s this is going to be it. Dr. Richard Grego's Website (full audio interviews) Click here for YouTube version Click here for forum discussion Play It: Listen Now: Download MP3 (48 min.) Read It: Today we welcome back Dr. Richard Grego to Skeptiko. Rich, as you may remember, has brought us some kind of feed on the street interviews, most recently a few episodes back from The American Psychology Association Conference. This time, he has a series of interviews that he recently conducted at the Parapsychology Association meeting for 2012 and I believe that was in Durham, North Carolina, is that right, Rich? Dr. Richard Grego:  Yes, it is.

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187. Graham Nicholls, Out-of-Body Experiences Aren’t All About Angels and Demons

Interviews with author and out-of-body experience expert Graham Nicholls explores misconceptions about OBEs. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Graham Nicholls, author of Navigating the Out of Body Experience: Radical New Techniques. During the interview Nicholls discusses some misconceptions about out-of-body experiences: Alex Tsakiris: Your answer is very much in line with Dr. Rupert Sheldrake there, so you guys are on the same page, but I just don’t know how we can walk that fine line of --okay, don’t worry, “science” will figure this out eventually. There are a number of well known out-of-body experiencers who talk about a much more rich spiritual landscape that they feel like they’ve traversed and have come back and tell us about. They’ll tell you about lower levels; they’ll tell you about different kinds of beings, including what we would call evil or demonic beings up to beings we would associate with a lot of religious traditions. They’ll tell you directly that they’re related to some religious traditions. So I guess my point is I think we’re obligated to really take that stuff much more seriously once we cross over and say yes, this really is happening. I don’t know how we can really have such a wall and say it’s all going to be explained. Graham Nicholls:   I don’t feel there’s a wall. I feel I’ve explored a lot of those kinds of ideas.  I’ve found that those things just didn’t hold up. Alex Tsakiris:   Didn’t hold up in terms of as you went and tried to explore them yourself and validate them, you couldn’t personally validate them. Is that what you’re saying?  Graham Nicholls:   But not just me personally. Also the people I work with… I’ve tried to really dig beyond the preconceptions and step outside of the box a bit and saying, “What might actually be going on,” rather than just going with the presumption that it’s all spiritual and demons and Angels and that kind of thing. If I saw those things or if I saw a consistency across cultures with everyone I worked with, I would take those things onboard. But the thing is I don’t see that so it doesn’t give me a strong reason to take them onboard. Graham Nicholls' Website Click here for YouTube version Click here for forum discussion Play It: Listen Now: Download MP3 (38 min.) Read It: Alex Tsakiris:   Hi Graham. It’s so great to have you back on Skeptiko. Graham Nicholls:  Hi Alex. It’s great to be back on.

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185. Dr. William Bengston’s Hands On Healing Research Ignored by Cancer Industry

Interview with St. Josephs College sociology professor Dr. William Bengston examines his extensive scientific research into hands on healing. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Dr. William Bengston about his book, The Energy Cure: Unraveling the Mystery of Hands-on Healing.  During the interview Bengston describes his experiments with hands-on healing: Dr. William Bengston:   …starting from these clinical that, for example, malignant growths respond quickly and benign growths don’t respond so quickly, I thought to myself, ‘How are we going to get a handle on this? How are we going to go from spontaneous clinical experience to very controlled conditions?’ I wanted an absolute air-tight, no question about it, experiment that if it worked you didn’t have a viable counter-hypothesis… So, we looked at treating cancer in mice. At the time we started this, the longest lifespan for a mouse with this particular type of cancer was 27 days. No mouse in literally thousands of experiments had lived longer than 27 days after injection with this particular mammary cancer. And you knew exactly how many mice would die and what particular day after injection because it’s again, very well documented, found in labs all over the world. …So I put my hands around the cages of the mice for about an hour a day. I suspected at the time that healing, if it were to work, would be something analogous to radiation. But instead, the cancer started to grow and I thought it was failing. So the tumors grew and I said, “Let’s call it off. Why put the mice through this?” But I got talked into going a little longer. The tumors kept growing bigger and bigger. Then they developed this ulceration on the tumor and I really thought it wasn’t working. The ulceration grew and the tumor imploded and the mice were completely cured. Alex Tsakiris:   And this was unprecedented medically in this particular experiment with these particular mice, right? Dr. William Bengston:   Never happened before for any reason. So the world’s longest living mouse after being injected with this particular cancer was 27 days.  In our experiment the mice went through this process of growth then ulceration then implosion, and the mice were cured. I used to say they remitted but that’s the wrong word because remitted means a reduction in symptoms or temporary disappearance. These mice are cured for life. So we watched them and we leave them for two years and they live out their normal lifespan hanging out, being completely happy. Alex Tsakiris: Let’s finish this story, Bill. So, the world changes. You received the Nobel Prize for Medicine. Cancer treatments around the world are revolutionized and this has become the most highly researched area of medicine, right? I got all that right? Dr. William Bengston:   Uh, except for the entire scenario. This isn’t something where because we’ve cured a bunch of mice, therefore the cancer industry folds their tent. William Bengston's Website Click here for YouTube version Click here for forum discussion Play It: Listen Now: Download MP3 (68 min.) Read It: Alex Tsakiris: Today Today we welcome Dr. William Bengston to Skeptiko. Bill is a Professor of Sociology at St. Joseph’s College in New York where he specializes in research methods and statistics and is the author of The Energy Cure: Unraveling the Mystery of Hands-On Healing. Here’s the real interesting part: Dr. Bengston is an amazing healer himself. For the past 30 years he’s compiled a series of carefully controlled scientific experiments that challenge not only our ideas about healing and medicine but about energy, about belief, about science in general, and how we practice it, and a whole bunch of other stuff that I hope we can get to. Bill, welcome to Skeptiko. Thanks so much for joining me. Dr. William Bengston:   Thanks for having me on, Alex.

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184. Dr. Rupert Sheldrake Sets Science Free From Dogma

Interview examines how scientific assumptions about materialism and consciousness have constrained us. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with biologist and author Dr. Rupert Sheldrake about his new book, Science Set Free: 10 Paths to New Discovery.  During the interview Sheldrake explains his post-materialist worldview: Alex Tsakiris: I think that’s part of the problem. I think all these questions of the spiritual are not buried deep in these scientific questions you pose -- they’re right there under the paper-thin surface of them.  Take survival of consciousness, if we just look at the data and we say, “That seems to suggest that consciousness survives death,” well, for any man on the street, as well as any scientist, that proposition immediately launches us into deep questions of the spiritual. I don’t know how you can get around that. Dr. Rupert Sheldrake: I think it’s quite important to decouple these.  Although the science is very relevant to these issues it doesn’t map in such a way that to be an Atheist you’ve got to be a Dawkins-style materialist or to be a religious person you’ve got to be a dualist. I think what we’re heading for is a post-materialist worldview which is what my book is trying to point the way towards. We could have a holistic way of looking at things, a scientific investigation into things, which leaves these bigger questions open. For example, in one chapter of the book where I’m dealing with the dogma that memories are stored as material traces inside the brain that becomes the question, are memories stored as material traces in the brain? I’m not confident memories are stored in brains. I think that brains are more like tuning devices, more like TV receivers than like video recorders. Now that’s really a scientific question, how is memory stored? We can do experiments to try and find out how memory works. So for materialists it’s a simple two-step argument. Memories are stored in brains; the brain decays at death, therefore, memories are wiped out at death. Whereas, if memories are not stored in brains then the memories themselves are not wiped out at death. They’re potentially accessible. That doesn’t prove they are accessed, that there is personal survival. It just means that’s a possibility whereas with materialism it’s an impossibility. So one position leaves the question closed and the other leaves it open. Rupert Sheldrake's Website Click here for YouTube version Click here for forum discussion Play It: Listen Now: Download MP3 (38 min.) Read It: Alex Tsakiris: Today we welcome back to Skeptiko biologist and author, Dr. Rupert Sheldrake. He’s here to talk about his latest book, The Science Delusion. If you’re here in the U.S. you’ll find it at Amazon under the title, Science Set Free. Rupert, welcome back and thanks for joining me. Dr. Rupert Sheldrake:  It’s very good to be with you again.

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179. What Happened When the “Father of Stealth” Told His UFO Secrets? Hint — It’s ESP

When military intelligence insider Ben Rich told this UFO investigator UFOs were powered by the same force that causes ESP everything changed. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with UFO researcher, and author, Grant Cameron. During the interview Cameron explains how his research led him to uncover the connection between ESP, telepathy and the UFO phenomena: Alex Tsakiris: One of the things that we like to do on Skeptiko is to keep pulling on a string and follow it as far as we can. That’s led me to you because when you look at human consciousness and you start looking for explanations for things like telepathy, precognition, out-of-body experiences, and other altered states of consciousness it eventually leads to this UFO thing, and the numerous reports of mind control and telepathy associated with it. So when I heard you say government insiders who really know about the UFO have told you that you can’t really understand this UFO phenomena without having an expanded view of consciousness I was intrigued.  Tell me how you came to this conclusion. Grant Cameron: …We tracked this guy down and he turns out to be Dr. Eric Walker, who was former President of Penn State University. For 15 years he was the Chairman of the Board of the Institute for Defense Analysis, which is the top military think tank for the United States military. He was the co-developer of the homing torpedo. He was friends with Vannevar Bush. He had this incredible, unbelievable background of military and connections with Presidents and stuff like this. So when we go to him, we’re interviewing him as UFO researchers. We’re not thinking about the mind and consciousness; we couldn’t care less about that, no connection whatsoever. We’re talking to him and we’re trying to find out about this supposed UFO group that runs the whole thing, the MJ-12. We’re asking him questions about MJ-12. “Did you have contact with the aliens? How did the thing operate? How did you cover-up the UFO thing?” And suddenly in the middle of one of these interviews in 1990 he suddenly cuts off the conversation talking about hardware, about bodies and all this, and he suddenly says, “How good is your sixth sense? How much do you know about ESP?” And Walker says, “Unless you know about it and how to use it, you will not be taken in.” …Then in 1993 there’s a related story about a conversation that takes place with Ben Rich. Ben Rich was the guy who ran “Skunk Works”, where the U2, the SR-71, the Stealth fighter, the Stealth bomber, they were all developed by what was called Skunk Works. Ben Rich ran it and he would get a number of questions about was this UFO technology? He’s giving a lecture in 1993. He’s dying of cancer. He gives a lecture at UCLA to a bunch of engineers and he’s talking and he says, “We’ve got the technology to take ET home.” He gives his lecture, he finishes the lecture, he’s walking out, and one of the engineers who was interested in UFOs runs after him. He asks, “How are these things propelled? How are UFOs propelled?” And Ben Rich turns around and says to him, “Let me ask you a question. How does ESP work?” Grant Cameron's Website Click here for YouTube version Click here for forum discussion Play It: Download MP3 (68 min.) Read It: Alex Tsakiris: Today we welcome Grant Cameron to Skeptiko. Grant is a highly-regarded UFO researcher who’s made some fascinating connections between what we know about the UFO phenomena and the kind of extended human consciousness we talk so much about here on Skeptiko. Grant is in the process of publishing two new books and regularly blogs at www.presidentialufo.com. Welcome, Grant, thanks for joining us. Grant Cameron: Thanks, Alex, for having me on.

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178. What Does Science Have to Say About Synchronicity? New Research. Surprising Results.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBd-3T8gWnQ One researcher's creative experiment reveals a surprising link between synchronicity, spirituality and the paranormal. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Robert Perry, author of, Signs: A New Approach to Coincidence, Synchronicity, Guidance, Life Purpose, and God's Plan. During the interview Perry explains his research: Robert Perry: CMPE which stands for a Conjunction of Meaningfully Parallel Events. It’s basically an extreme form of synchronicity. Most of our paranormal events that we’re studying now, they’re inner experiences with hopefully a veridical component but in the end they seem to say something about our abilities or our ultimate nature being perhaps immaterial. But with CMPEs their statement seems to be more about something other than us that seems to giving us messages. Alex Tsakiris: I’m just not quite sure that we can make that last leap because there’s this whole idea of time and that maybe time is not linear. But also in terms of you and I being co-creators of our reality. So we get back to this idea of what’s reality and how is reality being created and experienced and again, what’s our relationship to time? Robert Perry: We shouldn’t act like anything is substantive yet however I think that there is a contemporary bias, even among those of us who are into the paranormal; a bias against sort of agents that are beyond the human. Maybe, if we take NDEs seriously for instance, it looks like that experience involves a certain amount of initiative from the Other Side. Maybe something coming to the human level from the Other Side is part of how life works. Robert Perry's Website Click here for YouTube version Click here for forum discussion Play It: Download MP3 (44 min.) Read It: Alex Tsakiris: Today we welcome back to Skeptiko Robert Perry. Robert’s here to talk about his book, Signs: A New Approach to Coincidence, Synchronicity, Guidance, Life Purpose, and God’s Plan. He’s also here to tell us about a pilot study he’s done about this work along with Dr. Bruce Greyson that is suggestive that he really is onto something here. So Robert, thank you for joining me. Welcome back. Robert Perry: Oh, it’s a great pleasure and I’m very honored to be here. I love the show and listen every week.

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176. Dr. Jeffrey Kripal On Science Fiction As a Trojan Horse For the Paranormal

Interview with author and Professor of Religious Studies examines how paranormal experiences have fueled the work of famous science fiction and comic book authors. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Rice University Professor of Philosophy and Religious Thought, and author of, Mutants and Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal, Dr. Jeffrey Kripal. During the interview Kripal discusses how science and culture affect our worldview: Alex Tsakiris: It’s also interesting how you used the term “Trojan Horse” because one of the themes of the book is this indictment against science as we know it.  Science that insists not only that the paranormal doesn’t exist, but that it’s impossible. Dr. Jeff Kripal: Basically what I’m trying to get out there is that the thoughts we think and the worldviews we inhabit are determined by our cultures. The reigning culture is this scientific materialism that essentially argues that we’re only matter and that we can never get outside of our bodies and the particular historical context in which we find ourselves. What happens to human beings all the time is that they have these sorts of extraordinary experiences that do seem to take them outside of their context, outside their bodies, even outside of space and time which is how my artists and authors talk about it today. So I’m simply pointing out that those sorts of experiences are dismissed or ignored because there’s no way to fit them into the reigning paradigm. But once we just open up the paradigm, then they make actually a good deal of sense. They actually become really interesting and powerful experiences to take into consideration. You can’t think yourself out of a box with the terms of the box. You have to find some other way to get out of the box. Alex Tsakiris: Right, but the paradox is that that’s what we’re required to do. I mean, we’re reading this book in this here-and-now-reality and yet we’re exploring this very different reality. Maybe you want to expound on this idea of “human as two” that recurs in your writing. Dr. Jeff Kripal: The book came out of a series of interviews and readings of artists and authors who create these forms of popular culture. A lot of them are very clear that when they have these paranormal experiences they were not in their normal sense of self or their normal psyches. The experience is essentially one of being split in two where part of the human being is outside of space and time and part of the human being is in space and time. Dr. Jeffrey Kripal's Website Play It: Download MP3 (62 min.) Read It: Alex Tsakiris: Today we welcome back Dr. Jeff Kripal to Skeptiko. Jeff holds a chair in Philosophy and Comparative Religion at Rice University in Houston. He was a very popular guest when he joined me last year to talk about his excellent book, Authors of the Impossible. He’s back today to talk about his latest, Mutants and Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal. Jeff, thanks for joining me. Welcome back. Dr. Jeff Kripal: Thanks for having me back again.

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170. Dr. Daryl Bem Responds to Parapsychology Debunkers

Interview with Cornell University Professor Emeritus Dr. Daryl Bem looks at the reaction to his groundbreaking parapsychology experiments. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with noted psychology professor Dr. Daryl Bem. During the interview Bem discusses the reaction to his research among parapsychology opponents: Alex Tsakiris: What do you think is going to happen with this latest round of debunking? The skeptics have risen up and it seems like a very well-organized, concerted effort to knock down your research. What do you think their game plan is? What do you think is going to happen? Dr. Daryl Bem: Well, I think the flurry of activity in the popular media will just sort of die down. When I look at Google News on it there are still four or five articles that pop up in which it just shows how successful Wiseman is at getting his point of view out. I have been replying to people who’ve asked me to reply to blogs and things of that sort. Without accusing him of actually being dishonest, he has now published the three studies that he and French and Ritchie tried to get published in several journals that rejected it. I replied with a comment on that. If there’s anything dishonest there, it’s when you publish an article, even if it’s of your own three experiments—they did three experiments that failed trying to replicate one of my experiments—you always have a literature review section where you talk about all the previous research and known research on the topic before you present your own data. What Wiseman never tells people is in Ritchie, Wiseman and French is that his online registry where he asked everyone to register, first of all he provided a deadline date. I don’t know of any serious researcher working on their own stuff who is going to drop everything and immediately do a replication... anyway, he and Ritchie and French published these three studies. Well, they knew that there were three other studies that had been submitted and completed and two of the three showed statistically significant results replicating my results. But you don’t know that from reading his article. That borders on dishonesty. Dr. Daryl Bem's Website Play It: Download MP3 (45 min.) Read It: Today we welcome Dr. Daryl Bem to Skeptiko. Dr. Bem is a very highly regarded social psychologist and Professor Emeritus from Cornell who created quite a stir last year with his paper, “Feeling the Future: Experimental Evidence for Anomalous Retroactive Influences on Cognition and Affect.” Alex Tsakiris: Dr. Bem, it’s a great pleasure to have you on Skeptiko. Thanks for joining me. Dr. Daryl Bem: Good to be here.

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160. Dr. Christof Koch on Human Consciousness and Near-Death Experience Research

Interview with Cal Tech professor and author of the upcoming, Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist,  Dr. Christof Koch. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Dr. Christof Koch, author of, Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist.  During the interview Dr. Koch discusses the limits of near-death experience research for understanding consciousness: Dr. Koch: …once again it’s all about the details. The only way you can do such an experiment would be to have a near-death experience while your brain waves are being recorded, while you’re in a brain scanner. Because otherwise, how do I know? Otherwise, the guy wakes up an hour later, right, and then you ask what happened to his brain an hour before. Of course, an hour before he wasn’t in the brain scanner. So the only way to do the experiment is while you’re having this near-death experience. Alex Tsakiris: Great. And that makes it impossible to do the experiment. We’re back to ground zero. But hold on. I don’t think that’s the case. You referenced the GLOC experiments with the pilots. Well, by deduction you’re incorporating in human experience. You’re saying that of course, which is obvious, people can say what happened to them. The other thing about it is that they have this continuity of experience, right? They say, “Oh, I was awake and then I started blacking out and then this happened and then I woke up.” They have a continuous experience. Now you can say they recreated that continuous experience after they woke up but the burden is really on you, especially when it’s consistently reported as a continuous experience. Why would we assume that it’s not continuous? That’s the way it’s being reported. Dr. Koch: When I go to bed I suddenly wake up inside and I fly. I just did this tonight. I have no experience of the intervening two hours, right? So suddenly I’m flying. Well, wonderful. So now what? So now you’re going to say it’s not up to you to find out through which space that I flew? No. I have this experience every night. My brain gives rise to all sorts of experiences. Of course I realize them. I don’t deny them for one second. But they’re caused by specific brain activity. Christof Koch's Website Bernardo Kastrup's Response Play It: Download MP3 (47:00 min.) Read It: Today we welcome Dr. Christof Koch to Skeptiko. Dr. Koch is recognized as one of the world’s leading consciousness researchers. He has a very distinguished academic career and was a Caltech professor before becoming the chief scientific officer at the Allen Institute for Brain Science. Christof, thanks so much for joining me today on Skeptiko. Dr. Koch: My pleasure, Alex.

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159. Stanton Friedman on Extended Human Consciousness and Mind Control

UFO researcher sees evidence of telepathy in the accounts of UFO witnesses. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Stanton Friedman, author of Science Was Wrong.  During the interview Friedman discusses the implications of his research for human consciousness: Alex Tsakiris: I want to talk about extended consciousness in terms of the research you’ve done because there’s this whole controversy within the field that wants to push everything into the psycho-social explanation. But at the same time we do have to acknowledge, as you did in your work with the famous abduction case of Betty and Barney Hill that we do have reports of telepathy, mind control, psychokinesis, and all the rest. I’m wondering what that evidence tells us about ourselves and our human capabilities that extend beyond what we normally think of as our conscious experience. Stanton Friedman: Well, it’s a very important point because I’m convinced that any advanced civilization will know about telepathy and mind control and communication at a distance. It really came home to me when I was standing at the exact location where Barney Hill was standing when the saucer was over their car and he’s looking through binoculars at the crew on board. For no good reason, they jumped back in the car, very frightened, and they get off the main road, Route 3, and they go onto a secondary road. Then they go onto a dirt road --which Barney would never have done. And he winds up alongside the only place in the area where you could land a, let’s say 80-foot in diameter, flying saucer. It was a sandy area, there were trees all over the place, but this area was big enough to get a saucer like the one they described down. It was clear proof to me that these guys were directing his actions. It seems to me eminently clear that these guys have capabilities—as the only simple term I know—to do things that we don’t look upon as being respectable. Such as mind-reading, mind control, and getting people to forget. Stanton Friedman's Website Play It: Download MP3 (50:00 min.) Read It: Alex Tsakiris: Today’s guest was a nuclear physicist before becoming one of the best known and most well informed UFO researchers. I’m talking about Stanton Friedman and Stan, it’s a great pleasure and an honor to welcome you here today on Skeptiko. Stanton Friedman: I appreciate that. I always like doing it. I grew up with radio. I’m one of the old guys, you know. Put the pictures in my head instead of on a tube.

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158. Bernardo Kastrup’s Controversial View of Consciousness Research

Author and scientist sees pattern of decreased brain activity during peak experiences. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Dr. Bernardo Kastrup, author of Meaning in Absurdity.  During the interview Kastrup discusses his beliefs about human consciousness: Alex Tsakiris: You make some interesting connections between the "fainting game", erotic asphyxiation  and some new research with psychedelic mushrooms. You suggest that when we really look at what’s going on in the brain we actually see a dampening down of brain areas – the opposite of what we would expect. So what are the implications of this in terms of this idea of filtering of consciousness? Bernardo Kastrup: The current paradigm says that conscious experience is an epiphenomenon, a by-product, of brain activity. So you should always be able to find a tight correlation between conscious states as reported by the subject and measurable brain states as measured, for instance, with an FMRI scanner. Usually this correlation is there, but there are instances, like this study you mentioned, where this correlation is not there in a very spectacular and repeatable way. What it suggests is that we have to find another model of reality, if you will, to accommodate this. A model that accommodates both the fact that normally, ordinarily, conscious experience is modulated by brain states, but also sometimes there is a lack of correlation in a spectacular way. Alex Tsakiris: So these anomalies you’re talking about, for example, with psilocybin and reduced brain functioning, or brain injuries that lead to increased consciousness, these have to be explained. We can’t just sweep them off the table and say, “well, materialism seems to work pretty well in the general sense,” right? Bernardo Kastrup: These anomalies are major anomalies. They are gigantic anomalies. The only way we can get away with them and still honestly believe in the materialistic paradigm as many of us do is because that paradigm embodies an approach of looking upon the world that is a third-person perspective. In other words, it’s not through personal experience but through reports and measurements. Metaphysical Speculations Website Play It: Download MP3 (48:00 min.) Read It: Alex Tsakiris: Today’s guest is an author, blogger, an entrepreneur with a Ph.D. in computer engineering and all-around fascinating guy, Bernardo Kastrup. Welcome to Skeptiko. Bernardo Kastrup: Thanks, Alex. It’s a pleasure to be here.

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