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Metaphysics & Psychology

The End of Sleep

You want the sheeple to wake up?  Jessa Gamble writes at Aeon:

Since stimulants have failed to offer a biological substitute for sleep, the new watchword of sleep innovators is ‘efficiency’, which means in effect reducing the number of hours of sleep needed for full functionality. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) – the research arm of the US military – leads the way in squeezing a full night’s sleep into fewer hours, by forcing sleep the moment head meets pillow, and by concentrating that sleep into only the most restorative stages. Soldiers on active duty need to function at their cognitive and physiological best, even when they are getting only a few hours sleep in a 24-hour cycle.

Nancy Wesensten, a psychologist for the Center for Military Psychiatry and Neuroscience at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Maryland, has a mission to find ways to sustain soldier operations for longer, fighting the effects of acute or chronic sleep deprivation. She has argued that individual’s sleep should be regarded as an important resource, just like food or fuel. Working with the Marine corps, Wesensten is not trying to create a super warrior who can stay awake indefinitely. She does not even see herself trying to enhance performance, as she already considers her subjects the elite of the elite. Everyone has to sleep eventually, but the theatre of war requires soldiers to stay awake and alert for long stretches at a time.

Whereas the US Army and Air Force have a long history of adopting stimulants — pioneering modafinil applications and dextroamphetamine use in 24-hour flights — the Marines generally will not accept any pharmacological intervention. Like Wesensten, Chris Berka, the co-founder of Advanced Brain Monitoring (ABM), one of DARPA’s research partners, told me that she is cautious about the usefulness of stimulants, ‘Every so often, a new stimulant comes along, and it works well, and there’s a lot of interest, and then you don’t hear anything more about it, because it has its limitations.’

Some failed Air Force missions have drawn attention to the dangers of amphetamine-induced paranoia. Less than a decade after a 1992 Air Force ban on amphetamines, ‘go pills’ were quietly reintroduced to combat pilots for long sorties during the war in Afghanistan. On 17 April 2002, Major Harry Schmidt, who had trained as a top gun fighter pilot, was flying an F-16 fighter jet over Kandahar. Canadian soldiers below him were conducting an exercise, and controllers told Schmidt to hold his fire. Convinced he was under attack, the speed-addled pilot let loose and killed four Canadian soldiers. The friendly fire incident resulted in a court martial, but in the media it was the drugs that were on trial.

With military personnel in mind, ABM has developed a mask called the Somneo Sleep Trainer that exploits one- or two-hour windows for strategic naps in mobile sleeping environments. Screening out ambient noise and visual distractions, the mask carries a heating element around the eyes, based on the finding that facial warming helps send people to sleep. It also carries a blue light that gradually brightens as your set alarm time approaches, suppressing the sleep hormone melatonin for a less groggy awakening.

Sleep ideally contains multiple 60- to 90-minute cycles, from slow-wave sleep back up to REM, but a 20-minute nap is all about dipping into Stage 2 as quickly as possible. The idea of the Somneo is to fast-track through Stage 1 sleep, a gateway stage with few inherent benefits, and enter Stage 2, which at least restores fatigued muscles and replenishes alertness.

For Marines at Camp Pendleton near San Diego, four hours of sleep or less is one of the rigours of both basic and advanced training. As a character-building stressor, night after night of privation is a personal endurance test but, as Wesensten has argued, it runs counter to other goals of their training, such as learning how to handle guns safely, and then remembering that information in a month’s time. Berka agrees. ‘We demonstrated cumulative effects of chronic sleep deprivation, even prior to deployment, and it was having an impact on learning and memory,’ she explained, after ABM had brought brain-monitoring devices into the camp for 28 days of measurement. ‘It was defeating the purpose of training for new skill sets, and command acknowledged this was important.’ It’s not cheap to equip dozens of trainees with night goggles and train them to distinguish foes from friends — all the while paying out salaries.

The Somneo mask is only one of many attempts to maintain clarity in the mind of a soldier. Another initiative involves dietary supplements. Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in fish oils, sustain performance over 48 hours without sleep — as well as boosting attention and learning — and Marines can expect to see more of the nutritional supplement making its way into rations. The question remains whether measures that block short-term sleep deprivation symptoms will also protect against its long-term effects. A scan of the literature warns us that years of sleep deficit will make us fat, sick and stupid. A growing list of ailments has been linked to circadian disturbance as a risk factor.

Both the Somneo mask and the supplements — in other words, darkness and diet — are ways of practising ‘sleep hygiene’, or a suite of behaviours to optimise a healthy slumber. These can bring the effect of a truncated night’s rest up to the expected norm — eight hours of satisfying shut-eye. But proponents of human enhancement aren’t satisfied with normal. Always pushing the boundaries, some techno-pioneers will go to radical lengths to shrug off the need for sleep altogether.

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Metaphysics & Psychology

Consciousness Affects Reality: Repetition and consolidation of experience?

Dr. Joe Dispenza was one of the first who began to study the influence of consciousness on reality from a scientific point of view. His theory of the relationship between matter and consciousness brought him world fame after the release of the documentary “We Know What the Signal Does.” 

A key discovery made by Joe Dispensa is that the brain does not distinguish between physical and mental experiences. Roughly speaking, the cells of the “gray matter” absolutely do not distinguish between the real, i.e. material, from the imaginary, i.e. from thoughts.

Few people know that the doctor’s research in the field of consciousness and neurophysiology began with tragic experience. After Joe Dispenza was hit by a car, doctors suggested he fasten the damaged vertebrae with an implant, which could subsequently lead to lifelong pain. Only in this way, according to doctors, could he walk again. But Dispenza decided to quit taking out traditional medicine and restore his health with the power of thought. After only 9 months of therapy, Dispenza could walk again. This was the impetus for the study of the possibilities of consciousness.

The first step in this direction was communication with people who experienced the experience of “spontaneous remission”. This is a spontaneous and impossible from the point of view of doctors healing a person from a serious illness without the use of traditional treatment. During the survey, Dispenza found out that all people who went through a similar experience were convinced that thought is primary in relation to matter and can heal any disease.

The theory of Dr. Dispenza claims that each time, experiencing some kind of experience, we “activate” a huge number of neurons in our brain, which in turn affect our physical condition. It is the phenomenal power of consciousness, due to the ability to concentrate, that creates the so-called synaptic connections – connections between neurons. Repeated experiences (situations, thoughts, feelings) create stable neural connections called neural networks. Each network is, in fact, a certain memory, on the basis of which our body in the future reacts to similar objects and situations.

According to Dispensa, our entire past is “recorded” in the neural networks of the brain, which form the way we perceive and feel the world as a whole and its specific objects in particular. Thus, it only seems to us that our reactions are spontaneous. In fact, most of them are programmed with stable neural connections. 

Each object (stimulus) activates one or another neural network, which in turn causes a set of certain chemical reactions in the body. These chemical reactions make us act or feel in a certain way – to run or freeze in place, rejoice or be upset, become excited or fall into apathy, etc. All our emotional reactions are nothing more than the result of chemical processes caused by established neural networks, and they are based on past experience. In other words,

The basic rule of neurophysiology is:

nerves that are used together are connected.

This means that neural networks are formed as a result of repetition and consolidation of experience. If the experiment is not reproduced for a long time, then the neural networks break up. Thus, a habit is formed as a result of regular “pressing” the buttons of the same neural network. This is how automatic reactions and conditioned reflexes are formed – you have not yet had time to think and realize what is happening, and your body is already reacting in a certain way …

Our character, our habits, our personality are just a set of stable neural networks that we can weaken or strengthen at any time thanks to a conscious perception of reality! By focusing consciously and selectively on what we want to achieve, we are creating new neural networks.

… Previously, scientists believed that the brain is static, but studies by neurophysiologists show that absolutely every smallest experience produces thousands and millions of neural changes in it that affect the body as a whole. In his book “The Evolution of Our Brains, the Science of Changing Our Consciousness,” Joe Dispenza asks a logical question: if we use our thinking to cause certain negative states in the body, will this anomalous state eventually become the norm?

Dispenza conducted a special experiment to confirm the capabilities of our consciousness. People from the same group daily pressed the spring mechanism with the same finger for an hour. People from another group had only to imagine that they were clicking. As a result, the fingers of people from the first group got stronger by 30%, and from the second – by 22%. 

Such an influence of purely mental practice on physical parameters is the result of the operation of neural networks. So Joe Dispenza proved that for the brain and neurons there is no difference between real and mental experience. So, if we pay attention to negative thoughts, our brain perceives them as reality and causes corresponding changes in the body. For example, illness, fear, depression, a surge of aggression, etc.

Another conclusion from Dispenza’s research concerns our emotions. Stable neural networks form unconscious patterns of emotional behavior, i.e. a tendency to some form of emotional response. In turn, this leads to a repeated experience in life. We step on the same rake only because we don’t realize the reason for their appearance! But the reason is simple – each emotion is “felt” due to the release of a certain set of chemicals into the body, and our body simply becomes somewhat “dependent” on these chemical combinations. Having realized this dependence as a physiological dependence on chemicals, we can get rid of it. Only a conscious approach is needed.

Of course, despite the studies of Dispenza, official science is distrustful of his claims. But why wait for official approval from scientific minds, if now the results of these discoveries can be applied in practice? The main thing is to realize that thought is capable of changing the physical world.

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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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