© 2017 Imants Barušs
September 13, 2017. A brief introduction to the professor's background in the study of consciousness. Orientation: course outline, schedule and homework questions, grading criteria, BACARQ, scoring manual for BACARQ; teaching content and skills, The Write Place as a resource for writing skills, importance of coming to class. Introduction: perspectives on consciousness; Hugo Munsterberg, Bernard Baars, Steven Harnad, William Lycan, Christof Koch; definitions of consciousness, failure of the equivalence between subjective consciousness2 and behavioural consciousness2, neurons, glial cells, astrocytes, the imitation game, the Turing Test, connection between self and others; anomalous phenomena as subject matter in psychology, debate about whether extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Writing of one-minute essays: "What are you looking forward to in this course? What do you dread about this course?"
September 20, 2017. Guest Lecture: Monika Mandoki. Rules for small groups discussion. Small groups discussion of Question 1: "Describe the beliefs about consciousness and reality dimension found by Barušs and Moore. What difficulties does the existence of such a dimension pose for the study of consciousness? Optional, as part of answer: Fill out and score the BACARQ. You can include information about your own scores on the BACARQ in your answer." Comments arising from small groups discussion. Lecture: materialism, dualism, and idealism; responses to research about anomalous phenomena. Writing of one-minute essays: "In what ways did the various discussions in class today advance your understanding of the subject matter of this course? Also, questions and comments."
September 27, 2017. Comments about 1-minute essays: question about how much of what we know is something that we know and how much is something that we accept because others have told us to accept it. Comments about Homework Question 1: answers must be double-spaced, by writing "c" I mean "consciousness," you need to write an introduction and conclusion for your paper, APA style discourages the use of singular "they" and recommends alternating singular pronouns. Powerpoint slides about Beliefs About Consciousness and Reality (reproduced below): beliefs about consciousness and reality table, personality correlates of beliefs about consciousness and reality, IQ correlates of beliefs about consciousness and reality, possible correspondence between ability to do the Object Assembly task and ability to integrate transcendent features of reality with everyday functioning. Lecture: characteristics of billiard-ball version of reality, Cheshire cat experiment, Kochen-Specker theorem, Hempel's dilemma, promissory materialism, plurality of ideas in physics; panpsychism, Hinkfuss' pail. Small groups discussions of Question 2: "What evidence is there that consciousness has nonlocal properties?": nonlocality of both input and output side of consciousness; importance of preselection of participants; association of increased alpha wave activity with creativity and anomalous information transfer; emotionality and meaning as factors in anomalous information transfer. Watching 20 minute film of Daryl Bem's Ganzfeld studies. Writing of 1-minute essays: "What was the most significant thing that you learned today? Also, questions and comments.
October 4, 2017. Distribution of practice test, which can also be found in the resources box on the course web site. Comments about 1-minute essays: The entrenchment of the billiard-ball theory of reality in the education system; the nature of alpha waves and their correlation with anomalous information transfer. Comments about Homework Question 2: The importance of directing the answer to the question that is being asked; the answer is largely just a summary of material from Chapter 2; the meaning of "local" vs. "nonlocal;" people from the general population seem to be fine with telepathy and clairvoyance unlike academics and professionals; Questionable Research Practices; file drawer phenomenon, file drawer number; differences between authentic science and scientism, lumpy diagram of differences of knowledge among scientists, boggle threshold. Small groups discussions of Question 3: "Discuss the nature of time." Lecture about time: the problem of when now occurs in the brain, binding problem, temporal binding problem, neuroscience of temporality, significance of nonconscious processing for anomalies; definitions of subjective apparent time, objective apparent time, subjective deep time, and objective deep time; double-slit experiments, buckyballs, delayed-choice experiments, quantum eraser experiments, retrocausation vs. superposition; Julian Barbour's theory of "Nows;" life reviews in the context of near-death experiences, future memory, the indistinguishability of actual physical experience and experiences in altered states of consciousness. Class demonstration of retrocausal recall. Writing of one-minute essays: "Write whatever you want."
October 18, 2017. Comments about Homework
Question 3. Explanation of the way in which the relativity of simulaneity leads
to the notion of a block universe in the special theory of relativity. Small
Groups Discussions of Question 4: "What is the nature of consciousness?"
Discussion about defining consciousness, subjective experience, nonlocality,
consciousness as fundamental, and efficacy of consciousness. Pop Practice Names
and Numbers Quiz:
1. Who reintroduced the Greek notion of atomism into early modern thought?
2. How many definitions of consciousness did Imants Barušs identify?
3. Who invented the imitation game?
4. What is the correlation of Performance IQ above the median with Global Beliefs?
5. Who wrote: “If I were at the beginning rather than at the end of a scientific career, as I am today, I might possibly choose just this [psychical] field of research, in spite of its difficulties”
6. What is the hit rate that keeps cropping up through multiple meta-analyses of Ganzfeld data across decades of research?
7. Who was the statistician contracted by the United states government to analyze the Stanford Research Institute’s and Science Applications International Corporation’s remote-viewing evidence?
8. How many unpublished studies would need to exist in order for the statistical significance of the accumulated evidence from the Ganzfeld studies to disappear?
9. Who predicted the existence of time dilation?
10. At most, how many particles pass through the slits at any given time in a two-slit experiment?
11. What was the name of the entity channelled by Pearl Curran?
12. How long did it take Cynthia Larson to read the first of two picture books to her daughter in a waiting room?
Review: Discussion of answers to the pop quiz; the Kochen-Specker Theorem, John Searle's Chinese room argument, parts of brain responsible for experience of time, future memory, relationship of panpsychism to attribute dualism, reactions to information about anomalous phenomena, the block universe. Writing of 1-minute essays: Make up one question for Part I and one question for Part II of the test.
November 1, 2017. Comments about Term Test: Importance of writing about one's own understanding rather than just writing what students think that the instructor wants to hear. Answers to questions:
1. What is the significance of Pierre Gassendi and Robert Boyle
for this course?
Pierre Gassendi and Robert Boyle reintroduced Greek atomism into early modern thought (p. 7).
2. Describe the Cheshire cat experiment.
Neutron’s mass goes down one path while its spin goes down another (p. 9).
3. Define attribute dualism.
There is only one fundamental kind of substance that can have mental or physical attributes (Monika’s handouts).
4. Describe the material-transcendent dimension of beliefs about consciousness and reality.
Pp. 26–28 and Summary of course web site.
5. What was Sigmund Freud’s attitude toward telepathy?
Public skepticism but growing private endorsement (pp. 30–33).
NB: Freud was not a psychologist, he was a psychiatrist, i.e., a medical doctor.
6. Describe one of the experiments that has been carried out to test for telepathy or clairvoyance.
Any of the experiments from Chapter 2.
7. What is the optional stopping problem? How is the problem usually rectified?
Stopping to accept participants into a study when an experimenter has the result that she wants. The problem is rectified by stating the total number of participants in a study before data collection begins (p. 41).
8. What is the relationship between alpha brain waves and clairvoyance?
Appears to be positive correlation, but that could be result of alpha activity being indicative of attunement to subjective experiences (pp. 48–49).
9. What is the difference between apparent time and deep time?
Apparent time is time as measured by a clock or experienced in the ordinary waking state whereas deep time is whatever it is the structures successions of subjective or objective events (pp. 58–59).
10. What is the temporal binding problem?
How does the varied temporality of the sensory modalities get integrated into a single temporal stream (p. 62)?
11. Describe the procedure in Daryl Bem’s retrocausal recall experiment.
Participants are shown 48 common words, then engage in a free recall task, then practice 24 randomly selected words, in order to see whether there can be retroactive facilitation of recall (p. 68 and class demonstration).
12. What are some of the characteristics of life reviews in the context of near-death experiences?
13. What, if anything, is wrong with materialism?
The problem is not with science, but scientism.
Not clear how panpsychism is materialism.
14. In this course we have considered a number of phenomena that challenge conventional interpretations of reality. What were some of these phenomena and why do they challenge conventional ways of thinking? How well do they succeed in doing so?
Pretty much everything we’ve talked about.
Small groups discussions of Question 5, "Do discarnate entities exist?" Discussion about electronic voice phenomenon, Konstantīns Raudīve, pareidolia, Kārlis Osis and death bed visions, Peter Fenwick and events that occur at the time of death, instrumental transcommunication, Frederic Myers, survival research since 1882, super-psi hypothesis, chess match with the ostensible Géza Maróczy, posession and dissociative identity disorder. Watching the 15 minute video: "Philip: The Imaginary Ghost" available in the library with call number BF1031.P45. Writing of one-minute essays: Write anything you want.
November 8, 2017. Comments about one-minute essays: seeking to become a medium: 1. Some children appear to have these capabilities but question their own sanity and learn to suppress them; 2. One needs to be prepared to encounter ugly situations; 3. The importance of self-development and psychological and moral integrity as prerequisites for exceptional development. Comments about Question 5: the importance of demonstrating how the evidence presented is actually evidence for the existence of discarnate entities. Small groups discussions of Question 6: "What is the evidence for the existence of consciousness without a brain? Evaluate that evidence." Discussion about Wilder Penfield's isolation of a "computer's mechanism" and "mind's mechanism" in the brain, John Lorber's research with anencephalic children, terminal lucidity, the mind in a compromised brain, near-death experiences, the biological process of death, "astral projection," the apparent retention of individual identities after death, the apparent creation of one's environment in the afterlife. Watching the first part of "The Afterlife Investigations" with permission of UFOTV (available at the Service Desk in the King's library with call number BF1275.S3A32 2010). Writing of one-minute essays: Write whatever you want.
November 15, 2017. Comments about one-minute essays: NDEs of blind people, synesthesia, and transcendental awareness; the strange case of Géza Maróczy, narrow range of phenomena associated with ITC and mediumship. Small groups discussions of Question 7: To what extent can physical manifestation be affected directly by the mind? Lecture: evidence for anomalous "output;" experimenter effects, whole-world effects, discarnate vs incarnate influences, damping effects; micro- vs macro-pk, Murphy, REG, FieldREG; the Pauli effect, poltergeist activity, Thomaz. Class demonstration of fieldREG, which ran high, outside the p < .05 envelope; and classic PEAR REG protocol, which resulted in a high of 100.61 and low of 100.28, with clear separation of the high and low streams; discussion of why the class appeared to have a high bias. Writing of one-minute essays: Write anything you want.
November 22, 2017. Comments about 1-minute essays: Explanation of Helmut Schmidt's experiments, radioactive decay, quantum mechanical tunnelling, reverse current in a diode; the notion that we create our reality with our thoughts. Comments about Question 8: Definition of "physical manifestation;" the importance of answering the "extent" part of the question; explanation of statistical significance and confidence intervals; the Philip experiment; the two-slit experiments; control of the body as a psychokinetic effect via quantum processes, Evan Harris Walker, Henry Stapp. Small groups discussions of Question 9: "Discuss the importance of self-development for understanding the nature of consciousness." Lecture: the notion of "tracking" another person's subjective experience; John Watson's misdirection, the need for freedom from social influence, integrity; Roberto Assagioli's egg diagram, noosphere, lower and higher psychosynthesis; eliminating biases during sleep, self-development training; meditation, introspection, intentionality, concentrative meditation, witnessing meditation, mindfulness, reflexive meditation, shamatha. Write anything you want.
Deep Release Meditation
USE AT OWN RISK!
In our ordinary waking state we are usually immersed in processing the objective world around us which can lead to the stress response. The purpose of this meditation is to create a movement in the opposite direction toward subjective experience, the induction of the relaxation response, and the release of inner wisdom. Most meditation has two structural components: “support” and “content.” The “support” manages the logistics of the meditation whereas the “content” is what the meditation is about. There are three components of the support: attention, monitoring, and volition. “Attention” refers to the capacity to attend to specific mental contents. “Monitoring” refers to introspective tracking of what is happening during the meditation. “Volition” is the ability to change what is happening, including redirecting attention. “Content” has at least three mental tracks to which we can attend: thoughts, words, and images. “Thoughts” refers to concepts that we can have in our minds. “Words” refers to silent self-talk. And “images” refers to pictures that we can have in our minds that are separate from actual sensory perceptions. A stated commitment at the beginning is used as a device for sustaining the meditation.
Say to yourself: “I commit myself to x minutes of meditation” where x is any length of time in minutes. The duration of a meditation session can be judged subjectively without using a clock.
Stage 1: Thoughts and images: Notice a tight muscle group in the body and direct attention to releasing those muscles. If none of them seem tight, pick whichever muscle group you wish. If it will not release, just imagine it releasing. Repeat this with other muscle groups. Words: Repeat the word “release” over and over again, synchronized with the breath if so desired. When monitoring notices that your thoughts have strayed to other mental contents, just use volition to redirect attention to the desired contents. When you feel that you have done this for long enough, say the word “into” and move to the next stage.
Stage 2: Thoughts: Think about the concept of silence as a positive quality rather than just as an absence of sound. Words: Repeat the word “silence” over and over again, synchronized with the breath if so desired. Images: Imagine a scenario, such as a favourite spot in nature that suggests silence to you. When monitoring notices that your thoughts have strayed to other mental contents, just use volition to redirect attention to the desired contents. If desired, contents other than silence can be chosen, such as joy, love, emptiness, and so on. When you can sustain attention effortlessly on the contents, move to the next stage.
Stage 3 (advanced practice only): Release the support and allow an inner process to direct contents.
Somasthetic and kinesthetic sensations can occur as tension is released. These can themselves be released. Once attention is sustained effortlessly at any of the stages, spontaneous images or knowledge can arise that can be meaningful. Such inner wisdom can be deliberately pursued, if desired, or noted for future reference and released. With practice, nondual states of consciousness can eventuate in which all conceptual distinctions have dissolved.
November 29, 2017. Comments about 1-minute essays: the extent to which there is accuracy for subjective reports; concentrative meditation vs. self-inquiry. Comments about Question 8: adult vs. mature ways of valuing. Small groups discussion of Question 9: "Describe and evaluate the flicker-filter theory of consciousness." Lecture: Federico Faggin's theory of consciousness, Julian Barbour's theory of time, A Watched Pot Never Boils Theorem in quantum mechanics, implications of observation in subatomic physics to everyday life, pre-physical substrate, deep consciousness, David Bohm's implicate order, filter theories, flicker theories, psychedelic drug vs. meditational effects on connector hubs in the brain, the question of when techniques work, the case of Anita Moorjani, the Sokal spoof, quality of scholarship in the academy. Writing one-minute essays: What do you want to review?
December 6, 2017. Comments about 1-minute essays: summary of
flicker-filter theory in one paragraph: All that exists in apparent time are
nows that appear to occur in a sequence, each of which has an apparent past
and apparent future attached to it, making the nows into apparent block
universes. These nows emerge as an apparent sequence from deep
consciousness, otherwise called pre-physical substrate or implicate order, by
following deep structures that exist in deep consciousness. There are meta-rules
that allow a person to switch between deep structures so that the pasts and
futures of nows can be changed from now to now.
Comments about affecting events in the lives of others. Comments about Question
9: One of the ways of completing the evaluation part of the question would have
been to go through the textbook chapter-by-chapter to see how well the phenomena
described in that chapter could be accommodated by the theory; issues with
identity and memory, the notion of a single "I," the problem of tracking what
happens if memories change between nows, "time travel" techniques for
apparently changing undesirable past events, "not there" technique, questions of
free will and extent of effectiveness of any techniques for changing reality,
ethical issue of giving people access to "consciousness technologies." Pop
Practice Names and Numbers Quiz:
1. Who was the skeptic whose fiancee’s grandfather’s radio mysteriously began playing at their wedding?
2. Name one of the three investigators in the Scole experiment.
3. Who was the ostensibly discarnate grandmaster who played chess with Victor Korchnoi?
4. How many experimentally placed hidden targets have been correctly identified by people during near-death experiences?
5. What was the nickname for the random mechanical cascade at the PEAR lab?
6. What was the name of the fictitious ghost created by the Toronto Society for Psychical Research?
7. How many of the 15 eggs hatched during Thomaz’s chicken-hatching feat?
8. Who proposed the introduction of state-specific sciences?
9. Who experienced the world as coming into manifestation again and again after he was poisoned?
10. According to Richard Feynman, what are the first two digits after the decimal point for the coupling constant?
Review: Discussion of answers to the pop quiz; Operator 190; review of main theories and key studies such as flicker-filter theory, David Bohm's analogy of the fish tank, materialism, superpsi vs. survival, recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis, quantum mind, ganzfeld studies, PEAR research program, two-slit experiments, delayed-choice experiments, field and case studies of anomalous phenomena; the double vs. dream landscapes; psychophysics; psychophysiology; Wren-Lewis' void which is aliveness; operationalization of variables in psychology. Writing of one-minute essays: Make up questions for the final examination.