Summary

© 2017 Imants Barušs

September 13, 2016. 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?"

 

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September 21, 2016. 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: the purpose of writing essays before the material is discussed in class, overlap between conservative transcendence and extraordinary transcendence, contradictory nature of materialist and transcendent beliefs. 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. Addition of the paper "Intelligence Correlates of Transcendent Beliefs: A Preliminary Study" to the list of required readings for the course (found in the resource box). List of four definitions of materialism: billiard ball schema, physicalism, neuroscientism, and materialism as measured by BACARQ. Lecture about materialism: importance of goodness-of-fit for theories of reality, evidence for poor goodness-of-fit of materialism to the evidence: characteristics of billiard-ball version of reality, 2-slit experiment, delayed choice 2-slit experiment, quantum eraser 2-slit experiment, Cheshire cat experiment, Kochen-Specker theorem, Hempel's dilemma, promissory materialism, plurality of ideas in physics. Lecture about objections to the occurrence of anomalous phenomena: ease with which anomalous phenomena can be demonstrated, labelling as pseudoscience, methodological criticisms, accusaions of fraud and mental illness, violation of known laws of physics, insistence that "extraordinary claims" require "extraordinary evidence," insistence that there is no evidence, anomalous phenomena as being beyond one's "boggle threshold," materialism as dogma, groupthink, academic corruption, the question of who has the right to set the agenda. 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 28, 2016. Comments about 1-minute essays: the difficulties of understanding physics, 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 prohibits the use of singular "they" but requires alternating singular pronouns; material-transcendent dimension found during a bottom-up process through cluster and factor analyses, possibility of overlapping beliefs positions, changes in beliefs about consciousness and reality of students in classes from the beginning to the end of a course, the addition of the paper "Overview of Consciousness Research" to the list of required readings for the course (found in the resources box), the changing laws of physics, Ptolemy's epicycles, the problem of hull-down ships for those who believe in a flat earth, differences between science and scientism. Small groups discussions of Question 2: "What evidence is there that consciousness has nonlocal properties?": problems with acceptance of the existence of anomalous information transfer, Sigmund Freud's duplicity, anomalous phenomena studied scientifically since 1882, existence vs. parameter studies, Ganzfeld studies, shared mind, collective unconscious, locked-in locality vs expanded consciousness, parallels of anomalous information transfer with process of creativity. 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 5, 2016. Distribution of practice test, which can also be found in the resources box. Comments about 1-minute essays: value of small groups discussions. Comments about Homework Question 2: The importance of directing the answer to the question that is being asked; the answer is largely just a sumary of material from Chapter 2; people from the general population seem to be fine with telepathy and clairvoyance unlike academics and professionals; neuroscientism bias; jittering as a way of controlling for cyclical brain activity; the questionable research practices of confirmation bias, optional stopping problem, and file drawer effect; the possibility of tracking someone else's experience. Small groups discussions of Question 3: "Does time exist?" Lecture about time: distinctive temporalities for different modalities, temporal binding problem; duration, order, and flow; definitions of subjective apparent time, objective apparent time, subjective deep time, and objective deep time; twin paradox, time dilation, the notion that time does not exist because simultaneously observed events are equally real, spatialization of time, block universe, split between physicists' objective approach and psychologists' and philosophers' subjective approach to reality, second law of thermodynamics, entropy, delayed choice experiments, retrocausation vs. superposition, Julian Barbour's theory of the disappearance of time; implicit precognition experiments, presentiment experiments. Addition of the paper "Failure to Replicate Retrocausal Recall" to the list of required readings for the course (available from instructor).  Class demonstration of retrocausal recall. Writing of one-minute essays: "What was the most significant thing that you learned today? Also, any questions and comments.

October 12, 2016. Comments about 1-minute essays and 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 can we learn about time from altered states of consciosuness?" Discussion of the use of information from altered states of consciousness as data, timelessness, life reviews in the context of near-death experiences, ayahuasca, apparent subjective time as proper time, temporality and clarity of life reviews during near-death experiences. 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; definitions of telepathy and clairvoyance; the second law of thermodynamics; basic physics concepts, scalability, Cheshire cat experiment, determinism, objectivity, reductionism, relativity of space and time, defnition of anomalous phenomena. Writing of 1-minute essays: Make up two questions for Part I and one question for Part II that you would like ot answer next week on the test.

October 26, 2016. Comments about midterm examination: the importance of stating what something is when giving a definition; prestating number of participants to ameliorate optional stopping problem; block universe as a universe in which all events already exist in a deterministic four-dimensional universe in which the fourth dimension is spatialized time; three lines of argument against materialism (disproved by scientific evidence, cannot explain anomalous phenomena, inadequate metaphysical foundations); explanation of reductionism and direction of scalability; distinction between materialism and science; the two horns of Hempel's dilemma; materialism's inability to explain the hard problem of consciousness; the notion of panpsychism and its relationship to materialism. Small groups discussions of Question 5: "How wide-spread is after-death communication? Why do we not know about it? What, if anything, can we learn from after-death communication? Lecture: after-death communication; trusting investigators; Michael Shermer's anomalous experience; unfinished business on the part of the deceased as a motivation for after-death communication; veridicality of after-death communication; story about the imaginary black cat; Roberto Assagioli's egg diagram depicting the dynamic structure of the psyche; the apparent individualization of personalities in the afterdeath state; Peter Fenwick and the art of dying. 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 2, 2016. Comments about Homework Question 5: the importance of answering all three questions; the importance of directing an answer toward the question, rather than just recapitulating the the material in the text in the order in which it occurs; the absence of delusion among those experiencing after-death communication does not imply that the information they are receiving is coming from the deceased. Small groups discussions of Question 6, "Do discarnate entities exist?" Discussion about seriousness of the subject matter; super-psi versus survival hypothesis; Julie Beischel's quadruple blind studies; multifactorial nature of the evidence for the survival hypothesis; chess match with the ostensible Geza Maroczy; the notion that intrusions could occur as a result of psychological breakdown; the role of altered states of consciousness in mediumship; unwanted intrusions; electronic voice phenomenon, instrumental transcommunication. Watching a few minutes of "The Afterlife Investigations" with permission of UFOTV. Writing of one-minute essays: Write whatever you want.

November 9, 2016. Comments about one-minute essays: "It's getting more complicated every week and clearer at the same time." Comments about Question 6: two stages of reasoning about mediumship evidence for discarnates; numerous first- and second-hand accounts of after-death communication. Small groups discussions of Question 7: "What is the evidence for the existence of consciousness without a brain? Evaluate that evidence." Discussion about terminal lucidity, John Lorber's research with anencephalic children, physiological evidence of lack of normal brain activity, question about the retention of individual identities after death, the biological process of death, pre-birth communication, nature of what it is that mediums access, the notion of levels in the afterlife, creating reality in the afterlife and life. Watching the first part of "The Afterlife Investigations" with permission of UFOTV. Writing of one-minute essays: Write whatever you want.

November 16, 2016. Comments about one-minute essays: why the Scole phenomena are not more widely regarded as being evidential; fear of unwanted intrusions. Small groups discussions of Question 8: To what extent can physical manifestation be affected directly by the mind? Lecture: intercessory prayer, experimenter effect, whole-world effect on experiments, damping effects, meaning fields, support pk, the gold-leaf lady, Thomaz, the Pauli effect, non-contact healing, mechanisms. Class demonstration of fieldREG and classic PEAR REG protocol. Writing of one-minute essays: Tell me what I need to hear.

November 23, 2016. Comments about 1-minute essays: Difficulty finding unbiased information about anomalous phenomena on the Internet although one useful recent resource is an encyclopaedia published by the Society for Psychical Research which can be found at http://psi-encyclopedia.spr.ac.uk/; ethical issues raised by accelerated biological processes; explanation of how a REG functions, the role of quantum mechanics in understanding human-machine interactions. Comments about Question 8: Definition of "physical manifestation;" the importance of answering the "extent" part of the question; explanation of confidence intervals; Murphy's quantum fluctuations; the reason for the use of truly random REGs; story about Philip could be irrelevant to the phenomena that occurred during the Philip experiment; the potential use of anomalous phenomena for healing. Small groups discussions of Question 9: "Discuss the importance of self-development for understanding the nature of consciousness." Lecture: defnition of consciousness, the need for introspection in order to study that which is subjective; implicate vs explicate attitudes and how to measure them; removal of biases, Irving Janis' notion of "groupthink," Solomon Asch's conformity experiments, rectifying groupthink by assigning someone to take a contrary point of view; first and third person methodologies, psychophysics, Weber's law; developing the latent abilities of the superconscious, the use of inner resources, a group of intuitives predicting discoveries about the nature of bipolar disorder. Lecture about planetary crises: the sixth mass extinction, the Anthropocene and the Great Acceleration, Peter Ward's notion that species destroy life, nuclear instability, nuclear winter; human factors in global crises such as capitalism and denial. Writing of one-minute essays: Write anything you want.

November 30, 2016. Comments about 1-minute essays: the extent of biases across subject areas. Comments about Question 9: Importance of directing the answer as an answer to the question, reminder not to use singular they. Small groups discussion of Question 10: "Describe and evaluate the flicker-filter theory of consciousness." Lecture: filter theories, controlling the filter, deep time, timelessness, pre-physical substrate, David Bohm's implicate order, intentionality, evidence from psychedelic experiences and life reviews during near-death experiences, Julian Barbour's "Nows," intention, liking; clinical applications of consciousness studies, happy schizotypes; global crises, subtle activism. Writing one-minute essays: Write anything you want.

 December 7, 2016. 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 Question 10: 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; with regard to jumping between block universes, perhaps we have more control than we think in that we could be in an "alive" rather than "dead" system as we sometimes assume that we are. 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; Sokal spoof; transcendental awareness; the Great Acceleration; Julie Beischel's quadruple blinded mediumship studies; variations on the two-slit experiment; other significant experiments discussed in the course; reintegrating subjectivity into consciousness research, neutralizing biases, learning observational skills, contemplative observatories; pedagogical chalkboard exercise, consciousness, deep time, deep consciousness, the impact of consciousness studies on psychology, David Bohm, implicate order, block universes, Julian Barbour's drops of "now." Writing of one-minute essays: Write anything you want.

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