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Metaphysics & Psychology

Psychology and NDEs – Light at the end of the tunnel?

I’ve had three encounters with near death experiences (NDEs) in the last week.
The first was reading an article in the Telegraph by Colin Blakemore who was very dismissive of the paranormal claims of NDErs. Then last Thursday I attended a talk as part of Sheffield’s Off The Shelf literary festival. Author Linda Hoy was promoting her new book The Effect in which she argued that science and spirituality are converging. She spent a lot of time talking about NDEs. Finally today I read a very well-argued, enjoyable, but skeptical blog post by psychologist Christian Jarrett. His line of reasoning was that NDEs, are simply brain activity along the lines of certain types of drug use. He remains firm in the belief that the mind exists within the brain.
Dr Jarrett makes a strong case and argues well, however my view is that the opposing thesis – i.e. that the mind somehow exists beyond the brain – cannot be ruled out. The arguments presented by Jarrett and others are simply inconclusive. I hasten to add that there’s nothing empirical to support the idea that NDEs are real or that the mind can exist in a yet-to-be identified dimension. Therefore for me at least, it remains in the ‘possible but scientifically unsubstantiated’ category.
It seems to me that many take a position on this subject based on aspects of their psychological make up. It’s the old Carr (1961) dictum – “before you study history study the historian”. This is true for some historical theorising and also areas of psychology where there is a lack of good empirical data. So in this case materialists, atheists and others view the mind as being a physical neurological entity, whereas those who enjoy contemplating the metaphysical and spiritual allow for the possibility of as-yet undiscovered mental modus operandi.
The psychology of psychologists if you like.
The British Psychological Society magazine published a letter of mine earlier this year (BPS, 2012), in which I argued for a theoretical psychology similar to theoretical physics. The rationale for this was that there are some constructs that are very difficult to test (the idea of the big bang could not be adequately tested by physicists, so for many years it remained simply the best theory). At some point however, a methodology or serendipitous sequences of events may allow empiricism to be applied to the theory. Particularly note that it was the creative theoretical physicists who drove huge progress in the field (for better or worse) culminating in the splitting of the atom and nuclear power – and weapons.
Personally, I am attracted to the idea that a new concept of brain-mind would “shake our understanding of natural laws of science to its very foundations”. Anyone who has ever read Kuhn (1970) will know that huge leaps of scientific progress take place via such revolutions (paradigm shifts). I mean we haven’t had a Copernicus for a few centuries now (although Einstein probably counts) and I think we’re due one. Furthermore, there’s so much about human mental functioning that we don’t fully understand: psychopathy, dreams, and NDEs themselves. If a new paradigm helps answer some of these questions, then perhaps it is something to work towards – not to be afraid of. Heresies such as the brain-mind disconnect are simply a contemporary equivalent of those that Galileo and Copernicus expounded.
I agree that NDEs are weird. But so is quantum mechanics, and some of the theories at the far edges of astro-physics; indeed Copernicus’ idea of the Earth not existing at the centre of the universe led to some labelling him mad (Kuhn, 1970). Perhaps what is needed in psychology are more imaginative researchers, able to devise well-argued theories to explain many of the weird phenomena that occur in relation to the mind.
Ultimately psychology is about people. As Dr Jarrett accurately states, to the experiencers NDEs are psychologically significant events. A constant theme that runs through NDE reports (both positive and negative) is how real they feel to the experiencer. Perhaps it’s slightly high-handed of psychologists to ignore this element of the self report (when in so many other instances we completely rely on the self-report – I give you the Likert scale).
Therefore to dismiss aspects of these experiences because they challenge our current ideas about the universe is I feel, folly on so many levels. In the same way that medical researchers such as Dr Sam Parnia are performing scientific studies in this area, I think many more psychologists should have the courage to explore the weird too.
And for the record I guess I fall into the metaphysical/spiritual camp, however that aspect of my makeup (like my race, sexuality etc.) can co-exist quite happily with my respect for scientific principles.
References
Carr, E.H. (1961) What Is History?
Kuhn, T. S. (1970) The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions
BPS (2012) Letters: “Theoretical Work Psychology?” The Psychologist, 25 (4), p. 257

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Metaphysics & Psychology

Can the Universe consciously imitate its own existence?

According to the new hypothesis, the Universe imitates its own existence in a “strange loop”. In an article published by scientists from the Institute for the Study of Quantum Gravity, it is argued that the basis of the hypothesis is the theory of panpsychism, according to which everything in nature is animated. 

The article was published in the journal Entropy and, as the authors of the work write, is designed to combine understanding of quantum mechanics with a non-materialist point of view. In other words, scientists want to understand how real we are and everything that surrounds us. Agree, this is at least an interesting question for modern science and our understanding of the Universe.

What is reality?

How real is reality? What if all that you are, all that you know, all the people in your life, as well as all events do not physically exist in reality, but are a very complex simulation? Like in the series of the animated series “Rick and Morty” when one of the characters got into a simulation and did not even notice it. Our regular readers know that the philosopher Nick Bostrom addressed this issue in the foundational article “Do we live in computer simulation?”, Which suggests that our entire existence may be the product of very complex computer models (simulations) controlled by advanced creatures whose the true nature we may never know.

I am not a supporter of this idea, but despite all the seeming madness of Bostrom’s assumption, we really don’t know what reality is. Modern science is not yet able to cognize the quantum world and understand, for example, why at the atomic level particles change their behavior when they are watched. At a time when physicists are working on building a mission that can figure out if a parallel universe or universes exists, Bostrom’s idea does not look extraordinary.

But the new theory takes a step forward – what if there are no advanced creatures, but everything in “reality” is self-imitation that generates itself from “pure thought?”

Frame from the series Rick and Morty. The moment Jerry found out that all this time he lived in a simulation

The Physical Universe is a “strange loop”, writes Quantum Gravity Research, a Los Angeles-based Institute for Theoretical Physics, founded by scientist and entrepreneur Clay Irwin. The work is based on the Bostrom modeling hypothesis, according to which all reality is an extremely detailed computer program – and they ask: instead of relying on advanced life forms to create the technology necessary to create everything in our world, is it not better to assume that the Universe itself is a “mental imitation of oneself”? Scientists associate this idea with quantum mechanics, considering the universe as one of many possible models of quantum gravity.

One important aspect that distinguishes this point of view from others similar to it is related to the fact that the initial hypothesis of Bostrom is materialistic and considers the Universe as physical. For Bostrom, we could just be part of an ancestral simulation created by posthumans. Even the process of evolution itself can simply be a mechanism by which future beings experience countless processes, purposefully moving people through levels of biological and technological growth. In this way, they generate the alleged information or history of our world. Ultimately, we will not notice the difference.

But where does physical reality come from that would spawn a simulation? Their hypothesis takes a non-materialistic approach, arguing that everything in the universe is information expressed in the form of thought. Thus, the Universe “self-realizes” into its own existence, relying on the underlying algorithms and the rule that researchers call the “principle of an effective language”. According to this proposal, the simulation of everything is only one “great thought”.

How could a simulation have arisen on its own?

Surprisingly, the answer is simple: she was always there, researchers say, explaining the concept of “timeless emergentism”. This idea says that there is no time at all. Instead, there is a comprehensive thought, which is our reality, offering a built-in semblance of a hierarchical order, full of “sub-thoughts” that extend down to the wormhole to basic mathematics and fundamental particles. The effective language rule also comes into force, which assumes that people themselves are such “emergent sub-thoughts” and experience and find meaning in the world through other sub-thoughts (called “code steps or actions”) in the most economical way (well, then) .

We do not know much, which means we must consider all hypotheses without exception

In correspondence with Big Think, physicist David Chester said:

Although many scholars advocate the truth of materialism, we believe that quantum mechanics can give a hint that our reality is a mental construct. Recent advances in quantum gravity, such as the vision of spacetime arising from a hologram, are also a hint that spacetime is not fundamental. In a sense, the mental construction of reality creates space-time to effectively understand itself, creating a network of subconscious entities that can interact and explore the totality of their capabilities.

Scientists associate their hypothesis with panpsychism, which considers everything that exists as thought or consciousness, the purpose of which is to generate meaning or information. If all this is difficult to understand, the authors offer another interesting idea that can connect your everyday experience with these philosophical considerations. Think of your dreams as your own personal simulations, the team suggests. Although they are fairly primitive (by the superintelligent standards of the future AI), dreams tend to provide better resolution than modern computer modeling and are a great example of the evolution of the human mind.

Of course, not everyone will like it, but the Universe can really have consciousness. 
At least we cannot rule it out.

Most notable is the ultra-high resolution accuracy of these mind-based simulations and the accuracy of the physics in them. They point to lucid dreaming – when the dreamer realizes that he is in a dream – as examples of very accurate simulations created by your mind that at times cannot be distinguished from any other reality. So how do you know, while you are reading this article, that you are not in a dream? It turns out that it is not so difficult to imagine that the extremely powerful computer that we can create in the near future will be able to reproduce a similar level of detail.

Of course, some of the ideas of Clay and his team in the academic community are called controversial. But the authors of the work believe that “we should think critically about consciousness and some aspects of philosophy that are inconvenient for some scientists.” We can not agree, because in science there are no or, should be no authorities. 

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Metaphysics & Psychology

The journalist predicted a cancer-free future and was healed

ABC11 American journalist Michael Perchick predicted on his Twitter account that his future would not be related to cancer. The reporter later reported healing, and the post scored 1.8 million likes.

A 28-year-old North Carolina channel correspondent said in January that he was diagnosed with cancer. However, the journalist did not somehow comment on the current state, but wrote about the future. 

“In four months, I will be the 28-year-old who defeated cancer. To the battle! ” – Perchik noted.

Many users supported his entry with comments with words of support. Some users remembered how they themselves fought with a similar diagnosis and they managed to prevail over a deadly disease. 

“I was diagnosed at the same age, two days after my 28th birthday. I’m 34 now. You will succeed, man. Kick your ass cancer,” Humphrey03Pat wrote .

In April, Perchik announced that he had completed the necessary course of chemotherapy. 

On June 5, he retweeted his January post and wrote:

“New information about my life: I was right.” 

This meant that the journalist was cured. In the comments, he met positive feedback from users. Some responded with a meme about dancing coffin carriers from Ghana, symbolizing a cancer funeral.

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Metaphysics & Psychology

Death Angel Drummer talks about meeting with Satan during a coronavirus coma

Will Carroll, a member of the Philippine-American thrash metal band Death Angel, spoke about a meeting with Satan during a coronavirus coma. It is reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.

The 47-year-old drummer is sure he has been to hell. He fell ill with COVID-19 after a European tour of the band and was in critical condition for two weeks at a California medical center. Carroll was connected to a ventilator and was in a coma.

According to a member of the group, in nightmares, he appeared to have Satan in a female guise, who reproached him for being lazy and turned him into a monster resembling Jabba from Star Wars. After that, the drummer decided to abandon the use of strong alcohol and marijuana.

“I will still listen to satanic metal, and I still love Deicide and similar bands. As for my personal life and what I experienced, I don’t think that Satan is so cool” Carroll said. 

He explained that he was close to death, but now he feels as if he was born again.

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