The Consciousness Lab

Updated May 17, 2018

"Exploring the mind frontier is essential and the key to successful exploration is a greater psychic awareness. The mind is rich in unfathomed resources ripe for exploration, a limitless source of treasures for advancing all mankind, and a serious threat to those who ignore its potential. We must overcome our psychic inhibitions, stop denying the existence of paranormal events, and start trying instead to understand the nature of these phenomena."—Dolan M. McKelvy, Lieutenant Colonel, USAF, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, May 1988

I have a primary interest in the fundamental nature of consciousness and the practical applications of the knowledge gained from such research. I agree with McKelvy's assessment. We have barely begun this work and the impact of the practical applications is enormous. My lines of research in the past, in chronological order, have included mathematical logic, quantum mind, beliefs about consciousness and reality, altered states of consciousness, anomalous phenomena, self-transformation, and the flicker theory of reality. Rather than summarizing them here, readers can just follow the paper trail on the Publications page. What I will do here is to just give a synopsis of some of my ongoing research.

I have several collaborators, most notably Akshya Vasudev in the Department of Psychiatry here at Western University, and Natalie Trent, affiliated with the Psychology Department at Harvard University. In addition I have a PhD student whom I am co-supervising, an MA student, two undergraduate thesis students (so far), an undergraduate Independent Study student, and a part-time research assistant.

REG Experiments

Several undergraduate students have been involved with trying to identify the psychological parameters that appear to be implicated in a person's ability to deviate an electronic random event generator from random behaviour. From the first two experiments, it appears that the presence of feelings of love could be implicated. Too early to tell, though. And I still need to analyze the data from Experiment 3 in which participants described what they were doing as they interacted with the REG. And a student is setting up an experiment for the flip side of love. We want to see what happens when people who are clinically depressed or anxious interact with a REG. We're just setting up the protocol and IRB forms for that study. However, ethical concerns arise as we gradually develop our understanding of the variables underlying these phenomena, thereby probably making them more widely accessible, and I will be talking about some of those at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Scientific Exploration in Las Vegas in a couple of weeks.

Persistent Transcendent States of Consciousness

From the paper trail, readers can see that I have had a continuing interest in transcendent states of consciousness. This year, one of my undergraduate students and I conducted a survey of the Finders Course alumni, many of whom appear to be in a persistent transcendent state. My student is presenting the results today at a conference at the University of Ottawa and I will be presenting them at the Society for Consciousness Studies Conference at the California Institute of Integral Studies in a couple of weeks. It's complicated. While it is clear that these states are highly desirable, there are some inconsistencies that require explanation. In particular, we found some disconnection between losing a sense of self and feeling that everything is fundamentally okay. Those two are usually conceptualized as being associated. And I just refereed a paper today for our journal Consciousness summarizing some of the research showing that transcendent states of consciousness are not uniformly euphoric. There are some interesting observations here that need to be pursued.

Flicker Theory

Some time ago, I proposed a flicker theory of reality based on some ideas about the measurement problem in quantum mechanics, and have now developed the theory further from the flicker-filter theory Julia Mossbridge and I presented in our book Transcendent Mind: Rethinking the Science of Consciousness. In particular, I've introduced a theory of meaning fields, instantiating meaning beyond the human, which I describe in detail in Chapter 2 of Book 7, which I am currently cleaning up and preparing for submission to a publisher. I am also cleaning up a paper about meaning fields for the journal Edgescience. I also thought that the structure of meaning fields could most clearly be conceptualized using category theory, so I developed a mathematical model for them, which I will be presenting later this summer at the annual meeting of the Society for Mathematical Psychology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. I like the theory, and some of my colleagues have expressed their appreciate for it as well, so it could prove to be useful.

© 2013−18 Imants Barušs