May 23, 2007

From Joop Gerritse:

Re: What is consciousness? Study aims to settle debate (May 20): It seems that almost nobody realizes that you cannot see anything and remain invisible. Not, at least, if we’re talking about true vision. In that case, you have to diffract, focus, and absorb light, and you should be visible, maybe in infrared, maybe in X-rays... So, direct your camera towards the ceiling, and check if you see two “eyes” somewhere... I don’t think that you will find anything, though.

Joop Gerritse
D-47546 Kalkar-Wissel

From Debra Hurt:

Re: What is consciousness? Study aims to settle debate (May 20): Educators have known for a couple of decades now that people of all ages have certain sensory predispositions in relating to the world. For example, some are primarily visual, others kinesthetic. While these perceptual biases operate all the time, they are especially involved in “novel” experiences, like “learning.”

It seems silly to me that an experiment on consciousness such as the one described in the article would be constructed in such a way as to ignore these perceptual biases. It seems to me that leaving the body would be a novel enough experience that I would especially attune to it through my primary sensory mode, which has been reinforced (in my case for several decades) as being the first choice in evaluating new things. Since I am primarily auditory tonal, I might be a good candidate for research based on perception of sound as the benchmark of having had or not had a particular experience. But if I were primarily kinesthetic, why would I be drawn to auditory cues? Likely sensation, or lack of sensation, would be my main preoccupation.

If the premise of the experiment is that sensory input can be perceived in the state of consciousness being observed, why are certain prejudices with regard to that input being ignored?

From Marc Latham:

Re: What is consciousness? Study aims to settle debate (May 20): I have worked out the following formula to define the limits of how far I can understand whether my best thoughts are from God or nature:

1. genius,

2. God’s work,

3. both of those: God giving me genius

4. my brain not functioning properly

5. a combination of 1, 2 and 4: God making my brain different, so I would have genius thoughts

6. a combination of 4 and 1: there is no God, and my brain just works differently due to scientific reasons

7. none of the above: I do not have genius thoughts, I have Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Dr. Marc Latham

May 22, 2007

From Boris Artemenko:

Re: What is consciousness? Study aims to settle debate (May 20): Once again it is clear that our scientists are skeptics in their vast majority and prone to make facts fit theories they somehow form previously...

Man is not a machine and each man, in his individuality, develops a unique degree in the use of his capabilities.

Consciousness is the awareness of beingness. How it functions depends on the uniqueness of the individual and depends on intangible factors that cannot be generalized in laboratory tests or experiments because no one fits a preestablished formula. This mecanicistic view has more than been proved an utter fallacy which those scientists continue to pursue.

That there is a basic sameness in the way the body through its systemic interlacing of all organic and energy functions becomes and perceives itself to be alive, is a fact that doesn´t need any laboratorial research. They themselves, those know-alls should clearly realize that if they only look at themselves in a mirror, lol

The capacity to use this pseudo mechanic consciousness or awareness of beingness stop right there and then follows completely unique lines. Some people think, others research, others are pretentious in trying to regulate the whys and hows of it... and all these depend on a multitude of factors that are not tangible nor general, they are unique to each individual, and even age is still a factor to contend with, especially of the older generations.

The academic millieu unfortunately is one that has become less and less capable of consciousness to its fullest... because the expansion of this capacity in humans obeys only the laws of cause and effect as dictated by each humans open-mindedness to such awareness, and the academic curricula usually close the mind onto a very rigid and limited path or course.

The human being acquires uniqueness of consciousness when he/she realizes the whole, and not the parts as these scientists do. Even animals in our age are acquiring more consciousness of themselves and their growing interaction with humans (also animals of a higher level of evolution?), than those scientists who seek to reduce mankind to a robotic set of laws of behaviour.

Spsirituality not spiritualism is the real evaluator of consciousness. And spirituality is not produced in a laboratory according to mechanistic laws or theories. It is the current result of the balance each individual achieves of the interaction of body (the physical constituents including the brain); the mental (including emotional and intelelectual vision) and the soul (a complex concept of what makes us all tick whether of divine or natural origin, lol). Everybody has spirituality in a unique degree, some more “consciously” than others, lol

Many live out their lives to unconscious patterns despite the fact that they have an equivalent close-minded and skeptic spirituality. For these, the fact that they are “alive” is the sum total of their consciousness as this article proposes. Others presume to be far more advanced and so forth. For a comment I have gone far enough. Thank you.

Boris Artemenko
São Paulo, Brazil

From zme ower@ yaho

Re: What is consciousness? Study aims to settle debate (May 20): This idea of sending sounds while a person is brain dead seems to be not very well thought out. Hearing is a mechanical chemical process, and this test tells us about the functioning of both the hearing process AND the ability to remember. So if either of these are nonfunctional in a brain dead-then revived patient, then this test can only conclude that either the ears were not working, or the person could not remember. The test tells us nothing about he who would hear. The reality or non reality of self is not tested by this, or any test. All that can be tested are the functions of consciousness, not consciousness itself.

From Stephen Mikesell:

Re: What is consciousness? Study aims to settle debate (May 20): The idea to put images near the ceiling in hospital rooms to discover whether people actually had gone out of body in “out of body experiences” was in one of Carl Sagan’s books several decades back, I believe. He advised putting books on a shelves near the ceilings of emergency rooms and then asking people their titles. He was somewhat skeptical and offered an alternative explanation having to do with memory, which perhaps should also be tested.

From Tim Taylor:

Re: What is consciousness? Study aims to settle debate (May 20): I believe that both sides of the so called scientific debate mentioned in your article are quite far off base in their respective approaches to the meaning of consciousness.

First of all, consciousness (as distinguished from cognition) is not a biological process. Consciousness is entirely a mental process, a method of thinking abstractly by using metaphors from language. Consciousness is LEARNED. It is not innate.

You learned consciousness starting from infancy as you learned language. There is no consciousness without abstract language. Thus, infants are not conscious until they have learned to think using abstractions which arise from language. Humans were not conscious before the advent of abstract language. The historical record proves this, as we can see that language and abstract thinking was not common among humans only 10,000 or so years ago. Humans had not begun to think using abstractions.

Animals are not conscious. They think cognitively and can think very well but, do not use consciousness which is nothing more than abstract thinking. (Some animals come close though) We humans do not always use consciousness in our thinking. We can drive a car or bicycle or do may repetitive tasks while completely unconscious. That involves cognitive thinking. Consciousness only comes into play when we start thinking abstractly.

Out of body experiences are the product of abstract thinking using consciousness. Using abstract thinking, for example, you can “see” yourself outside of your physical body. Anyone can do it and we humans do it all the time. There is no mystery about it -- nothing supernatural or even complicated for that matter.

I’m surprised that such renowned scientists haven’t figured this out. Perhaps it is so simple that it eludes them.

From Wes Stillwagon:

Re: What is consciousness? Study aims to settle debate (May 20): I find it humorous to think about scientists, who for the most part do not even acknowledge the human unconscious to be theorizing and researching the conscious. Usually their lack of education in the realm of the psyche is sparse or non existent and I believe this is true with the researchers featured in this article. A medical education does not an expert on the human psyche make although it should. Many Western scientists do not even consider psychology a science at all and when they do they may refer to it as a “soft-science” supported by weak empirical study. Usually they arrogantly believe they know all there is to know about the structure, dynamics, and functions of the psyche. I suspect that this is true with these researchers.

Proper study of the human psyche may require the abandoning cause-effect in favor of an analytical approach. For the most part, only nuclear physicists acknowledge this and utilize such scientific research methodology.

Such researchers are usually unaware that their primary research tool for the study of the psyche is the subject of their research and that alone makes maintaining objectivity difficult to impossible.

They also usually believe that anything not proven true is automatically proven false. They ignore or forget the possibility that their thesis, examination method, and testing may be flawed. The opposing thesis deserves as much respect. They usually approach studies in such things as the human psyche and conscious expecting to prove such things false and this is often reflected in their thesis, study design, and conclusions. I suggest they review the Rosenthal ( effect on this subject to check their attitude and objectivity.

A study of the “out-of-body” experiences of clinically dead patients is hardly a way to draw a definition of human consciousness. It may help define a small facet but consciousness is a complex for which this is one very minor node.

So my point is that I do not believe the researchers are really qualified to speculate on or research anything having to do with the human psyche and I think that I could convincingly debate my position.

Wes Stillwagon
Lillington, North Carolina

From Mike Sherwood:

Re: What is consciousness? Study aims to settle debate (May 20): Better idea: Disembodied consciousness is supposed to be able to pass through walls. Have a code word on a notice board outside the theatre. Not put it up untill patient is behind closed doors. Have it taken down before she/he leaves the theatre.

More rigorous example: can the disembodied conciousness read a message in a closed safe?

DM Sherwood, B.Sci.

From Renee Fears:

Re: What is consciousness? Study aims to settle debate (May 20): I love that people are growing more interested in the proof of existence after this physical one. I will always believe it is true; I’ve had too many experiences pertaining to said same to consider anything else. I thought you may think this interesting pertaining to your research and maybe give you a little bit of a different direction to puruse it from, if not anything else. Very briefly, without alot of details:

At 2 years old I fell down a concrete stairwell about 6 to 8 feet up. I fell flat on my face, airborn, as I was walking the ledge. For years up until about 38 actually, everytime I recalled this accident which made me stutter until 5 or 6 years old, broke 2 bones in my nose, and killed all the nerves in my teeth, (to this day I’ll just have a tooth showing no decay suddenly break in half and its black on the inside then will continue to change and discolor after its cracked open like an egg)it was always the same view. I am looking at myself upon the floor of the stairwell. I could actually lay down on the floor and show you what I looked like on the concrete below, as I was about half the distance above me up the stairwell. It was a totally ‘aerial view’, if you will. I remember thinking, its ok, I’m alright, Moms not gonna be mad, I didnt get hurt. Then suddenly as I’m thinking this I feel something slipping from under me. It felt as if you were being suspended by cobwebs, an d yo u were suddenly too heavy and they began to give. I felt them stretching, and suddenly, they gave, and I fell again; twice that day actually. The second time I fell, well, you felt that and I assure I did get hurt, as you heard earlier. That first breath I took I’ll never ever forget, it hurt so so bad. It was all I could do to scream and it took a bit. Turn around time at this point I couldnt tell you. The Dr. I saw, Dr. Pierce, is long since dead as I’m 43 now. The original accident was in the year 1966, as I would turn three in November of that year, my birthday eing 11/27/63. Just wanted you to know and also remember that ‘near death experiences’ without having a major physical condition or terminal illness, should also be considered.

May 03, 2007

From Jim Probe:

Re: Is reality a misunderstanding? (April 29): So the obvious question after this wonderful article, is: Who’s been measuring and perceiving the quantum world for the last 15 billion years, before we humans got around to experimenting with it? GOD?!?

If reality does not exist until we look at it, or at least some piece of reality does not exist until it’s looked at, what is it that calls our attention to it in the first place?? The idea that there is nothing until we perceive it, and it disappears when we “turn our backs”, makes no logical sense to us. Reductio ad Absurdum.

There’s some error in the analysis or in the experiments of Bell, Aspect, etc.

Thanks for a great e-publication.

Jim Probe
Brookfield, IL

From Roeland Voorrips:

Re: Distant planet judged possibly habitable (April 23): How is the habitable zone around a star established? I would expect that this depends very much on the atmosphere of the planet. The difference in surface temperature between Earth and Venus is due more to the difference in atmosphere than to the distance to the sun.

Roeland Voorrips
The Netherlands

From Carol Mariane Harrison:

Re: Clues to language origins seen in ape gestures (April 30): I’ve read, many decades ago, of the horrendous treatment of these primates. It’s like they were imprisoned in cages. I find it abhorrent that research of primates, cat, dogs... any animals remains. Animals are sentient beings, not inanimate objects.

From Robert Burt:

Re: Is reality a misunderstanding? (April 29): These are matters of language. There is no invalidity inherent in the world. But there are numerous incapacities in human languages to describe the world. Math is a language. So is music. English too. Numbers seem to represent reality, but they are capable of accurately representing only a particular type of reality. Humans mistake this capacity as extending to all types of realities. Math is not capable of representing all aspects of reality. Neither is English, or Chinese, or Russian, or any human language. That objective is not incorporated into languages of any sort. The only accurate description of the universe is the universe. English cannot describe it. Neither can mathematics.

But English speakers can think that English is capable of describing it, just as mathematicians can think that mathematics is capable of describing it, just like composers can think that music is capable of expressing the human soul, or even the universe’s soul. Consider this. In English it is possible to say, “The positer of ethics lies in negative summations compacted from successively smaller degress of implied symbolicism, together with rubrics derived from the partial spellings of exponential potentialities, except when component rasterizations are inhibited.” Is that reality? In a sense it is. But really it’s just words. It’s grammatically correct, though careless. And it causes our minds to generate images, though the images mean nothing. And someone could probably base their doctoral thesis on it, if they wanted to. They might even be able to get the government to fund their scientific enquiries into the matter. A univeristy somewhere might name a department after them. They could build a big machine that would explain the passage of time on the basis of it, or at least a small percentage of that phenomenon, always looking to derive the conclusive definition somewhere down the road on the way to the ultimate destination: complete and perfect knowledge. In the meantime they could draw a pretty good salary. And nobody else would be able to compete with them, because they would be the only person who knows what they are doing, or so it would appear.

English is good for saying things like, “It’s time for lunch,” “The fish are biting,” “Some taxis are yellow.” It’s absolutely not any good at all for saying things like, “God created the world,” “Democracy is the best system,” “Reality is strange.” It is time that we humans grew up and stopped pretending that numbers can explain -or describe, or express- everything. Fact is, when you get down to the minutest possible observation, everything else seems to be thrown out of whack, no matter what the observation focuses on. Philosphers recognized this a long time ago. And at least two poets have remarked upon it in poetic works. Physicists need to be alert to this phenomenon. It is an aspect of reality also.

From Hillel Gazit:

Re: Is reality a misunderstanding? (April 29): I am interested in another question: Like in your article: “An example occurs when certain particles decay, or break up, into two photons -- particles of light. These fly off in opposite directions and have the same polarization.”

Let’s make a slightly different expereiment: One photon has two opening in front of it, and behaves like a wave. The other photon also has similar two openings, but we have detectors that can find which opening it took, so it behaves like a particle. Since the other photon has the excat same properties, we know which opening the other photon took, beating Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle.

What do I miss?

From Joshua Smith:

Re: City-sized fossilized forest found (April 23): It is more likely that there was an enormous flood that immediately covered this forest. If an earthquake sunk this area for several months, then it was lifted up again. Gee, what made the climate then much warmer and wetter than it is today?