Disproving the Claim that the LHC Disproves the Existence of Ghosts

Recent articles in dozens of online magazines shout things like: “The LHC Disproves the Existence of Ghosts and the Paranormal.”

To which I respond: LOLOLOLOLOL

There are so many things wrong with this backwards scientific thinking, I almost don’t know where to start.  But here are a few…

1. The word “disproves” doesn’t belong here. It is unscientific at best. Maybe use “evidence against one possible explanation for ghosts” – I can even begin to appreciate that. But if I can demonstrate even one potential mechanism for the paranormal that the LHC couldn’t detect, you cannot use the word “disprove.” And here is one potential mechanism – an unknown force that the LHC can’t explore because its experiments are designed to only measure interactions in the 4 forces physicists are aware of.

The smoking gun is Brian Cox’s statement “If we want some sort of pattern that carries information about our living cells to persist then we must specify precisely what medium carries that pattern and how it interacts with the matter particles out of which our bodies are made. We must, in other words, invent an extension to the Standard Model of Particle Physics that has escaped detection at the Large Hadron Collider. That’s almost inconceivable at the energy scales typical of the particle interactions in our bodies.” So, based on that statement, here are a few more problems…

2. “almost inconceivable” is logically inconsistent with the term “disproves.”

3. “If we want some sort of pattern that carries information about our living cells to persist…” is an invalid assumption. We do not need information about our cells to persist in a traditional physical medium for paranormal effects to have a way to propagate. They can propagate by a non-traditional (unknown) medium, such as an information storage mechanism operating outside of our classically observable means. Imagine telling a couple of scientists just 200 years ago about how people can communicate instantaneously via radio waves. Their response would be “no, that is impossible because our greatest measurement equipment has not revealed any mechanism that allows information to be transmitted in that manner.” Isn’t that the same thing Brian Cox is saying?

4. The underlying assumption is that we live in a materialist reality. Aside from the fact that Quantum Mechanics experiments have disproven this (and yes, I am comfortable using that word), a REAL scientist should allow for the possibility that consciousness is independent of grey matter and create experiments to support or invalidate such hypotheses. One clear possibility is the simulation argument. Out of band signaling is an obvious and easy mechanism for paranormal effects.  Unfortunately, the REAL scientists (such as Anton Zeilinger) are not the ones who get most of the press.

5. “That’s almost inconceivable at the energy scales typical of the particle interactions in our bodies” is also bad logic. It assumes that we fully understand the energy scales typical of the particle interactions in our bodies. If scientific history has shown us anything, it is that there is more that we don’t understand than there is that we do.

lhcghosts

Slime Mold for President

In a year when many of us are losing faith in the intelligence of humanity, it’s refreshing to see an example of unexpected cognitive abilities in another species. But seriously, slime molds?

A slime mold is a bizarre single-celled organism which has the propensity to aggregate with others of its species to act like a large multicellular organism. Slime molds can be found on your lawn, in your gutters, or on decomposing logs, and might reach a size of a square meter or more. In both its unicellular state and in its aggregate slime state, the organism has neither a brain nor a nervous system.

So imagine scientists’ surprise to discover that one such representative species, Physarum polycephalum, has shown the ability to learn. Researchers from Toulouse University, placed the mold in a petri dish along with a food source, separated by a distasteful (to the mold) barrier consisting of caffeine or quinine. In the initial run of the experiment, the yucky tasting barrier stopped the mold from getting to its dinner. However, over a few hours, Physarum polycephalum learned to cross over the barrier to get to the food, after which each run of the experiment resulted in faster times and less hesitancy to get to its goal.

This rudimentary learning process requires “a behavioral response to whatever the trigger is, memory of that moment, and future changed behavior based on the memory,” which combination would appear to be impossible without a brain or nervous system.

Even more remarkable is Physarum polycephalum’s ability to solve complex mazes and emulate ancient Rome’s road building logic.

As science puzzles over this conundrum and develops theories based on cellular memory and binary genetic codes, I offer a simpler explanation:

Learning does require a sufficiently complex adaptive system, but that system does not necessarily need to be embodied in a central nervous system of the organism. Quantum Mechanics experiments have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that consciousness plays a central role in the creation of reality. This implies that consciousness is not an artifact of the system that it is creating – it is rather, a separate aspect of reality. Evidence abounds that we live in a consciousness-centric reality, and that consciousness is therefore “out there” elsewhere. The informational substrate in which consciousness resides is either “the true physical reality” or a “truer reality” than the virtual one in which we think we reside. It is that substrate that may contain the complexity for memory and learning on the part of the consciousness of the organism.

For my Masters project in college, I had to develop a system that would take rich complex information from weather balloon sensors and crunch the data to match the low bit rate telemetry limitations of the transmission system. In an analogous manner, perhaps, the consciousness that got stuck with the poor slime mold template has very little to work with in terms of interacting with its virtual world. But all the mold really needs is a small subset of the three elements described above: the ability to sense and deliver information to its conscious host and the ability to respond to instructions from that host and interact with its environment. The consciousness does the rest.

In a similar way, a perfectly respectable individuated consciousness may be stuck with a cognitively challenged human template running as a presidential candidate.

Yellow_slime_mold trump

Transhumanism and Immortality – 21st Century Snake Oil

Before I start my rant, I recognize that the Transhumanism movement is chock full of cool ideas, many of which make complete sense, even though they are perhaps obvious and inevitable.  The application of science and technology to the betterment of the human body ranges from current practices like prosthetics and Lasik to genetic modification and curing diseases through nanotech.  It is happening and there’s nothing anyone can to to stop it, so enjoy the ride as you uplift your biology to posthumanism.

However, part of the Transhumanist dogma is the idea that we can “live long enough to live forever.”  Live long enough to be able to take advantage of future technologies like genetic manipulation  which could end the aging process and YOU TOO can be immortal!

The problem with this mentality is that we are already immortal!  And there is a reason why our corporeal bodies die.  Simply put, we live our lives in this reality in order to evolve our consciousness, one life instance at a time.  If we didn’t die, our consciousness evolution would come to a grinding halt, as we spend the rest of eternity playing solitaire and standing in line at the buffet.  The “Universe” or “All That There Is” appears to evolve through our collective individuated consciousnesses.  Therefore, deciding to be physically immortal could be the end of the evolution of the Universe itself.  Underlying this unfortunate and misguided direction of Transhumanism is the belief (and, I can’t stress this enough, it is ONLY that – a belief) that it is lights out when we die.  Following the train of logic, if this were true, consciousness only emerges from brain function, we have zero free will, the entire universe is a deterministic machine, and even investigative science doesn’t make sense any more.  So why even bother with Transhumanism if everything is predetermined?  It is logically inconsistent.  Materialism, the denial of the duality of mind and body, is a dogmatic Religion.  Its more vocal adherents (just head on over to the JREF Forum to find these knuckleheads) are as ignorant to the evidence and as blind to what true science is as the most bass-ackward fundamentalist religious zealots.

OK, to be fair, no one can be 100% certain of anything.  But, there is FAR more evidence for consciousness driven reality than for deterministic materialism.  This blog contains a lot of it, as does my first book, “The Universe-Solved!“, with much more in my upcoming book.

The spokesman for transhumanistic immortality is the self-professed “Transcendent Man“, Ray Kurzweil.  Really Ray?  Did you seriously NOT fight the producers of this movie about you to change the title to something a little less self-aggrandizing, like “Modern Messiah”? #LRonHubbard

So I came across this article about the 77 supplements that Ray takes every day.  From the accompanying video clip, he believes that they are already reversing his aging process: “I’m 65. On many biological aging tests I come out a lot younger. I expect to be in my 40s 15 years from now.”

He has been on this regimen for years.  So let’s see how well those supplements are doing.  Picking an objective tool from one of Ray’s own favorite technologies – Artificial Intelligence – the website how-old.net has an AI bot that automatically estimates your age from an uploaded photo.  I took a screen shot from the video clip (Ray is 65 in the clip) and uploaded it:

Ray Kurzweil Age

85!  Uh oh.  Hmmm, maybe the bot overestimates everyone’s age. I’m 10 years younger than Ray.  Let’s see how I fare, using a shot taken the same year at a ski resort – you know, one of those sports Ray says to avoid (Ray also claims that his kids will probably be immortal as long as they don’t take up extreme sports):

JimHowOld

I don’t know if it is the supplements that make Ray look 20 years older than he is, or the extreme skiing that makes me look 13 years younger than I am.  But I’m thinking maybe I’m onto something. [Note: I do realize that the choice of pictures could result in different outcomes.  I just thought it was ironic that the first two that I tried had these results]

Yes, I’m fairly confident that these supplements have some value in improving the function of various organs and benefiting a person’s overall health and well being.  I’m also fairly certain that much of traditional medical community would disagree and point to the lack of rigorous scientific studies supporting these supposed benefits as they always do.  On the whole, I suspect that, on the average, supplements might extend one’s lifetime somewhat.  But I doubt that they will reverse aging.  The human body is far too complex to hope that adding a few organic compounds would be sufficient to modify and synchronize all of the complex cellular and systemic metabolic chemical reactions toward a reversal of the aging process.  Kurzweil is obviously a very bright man who has had a significant entrepreneurial legacy in the high tech world.  However I think he and the rest of the materialist transhumanists are way over their heads on the topic of immortality and our place and purpose in the Universe.

My suggestion, Ray… skip the supplements, skip the self-promotion, skip the Google plugs, drive your goddamn car, and don’t be afraid to be active.  Stick with high tech, leave the evolution of the universe to its own devices, and enjoy the rest of this life.

Questions to Ask at the End of Your Life

“I wish I had worked harder.”  Said no one ever on his or her deathbed.

Isn’t it ironic how there seems to be a consensus on how not to live one’s life, and yet; very few of us really live our lives according to that wisdom. It is as if we have two identities: one, which revolves around playing the game, chasing the dream, helping corporations and governments move capital around like piles of sand from one place to the other, paying taxes, chasing passions, using the right apps, wearing the right clothes, and rooting for the right team. And then, there is the other identity, which wryly observes all of this madness and is deeply fulfilled instead by love, connections, service, spirituality, and beauty. Eckhart Tolle explains these two identities clearly in his book “The Power of Now.” The first identity, he says, is the ego, and is created from all of the mental thinking that we do when we focus our attention on the past and on the future. The second identity is our true Being, the individuated consciousness that is connected to everything else, to “all that there is,” which we find when we focus on the present.

So it got me thinking about what questions I would ask at the end of my life, as I look back and assess how well I did this time around. I came up with a few:

  • How well did I learn to love, forgive, and be compassionate?
  • How much of a positive impact did I make on other living entities?
  • How well did I learn the life lessons that I was supposed to, in order to evolve my consciousness?
  • How well did I attain happiness?
  • How well did I eradicate fear from my driving forces?

Questions I would not ask:

  • Did I work hard enough?
  • Was I punctual?
  • Did I follow the rules?

Still, I know that I am expending more energy following the ego’s plan, but it is ever so slowly shifting.

I would love to hear what questions others would ask and not ask.

questions

The Asset-Light Generation – A Sign of Humanity Evolution?

We are moving from an era where it was important to possess everything to an era where it is considered cumbersome.  From racks of CDs and DVDs to music (Spotify) and movies (Netflix) in the cloud, accessible by subscription from a small handheld device.  From bookcases full of books to reading on demand from an iPad.  From stores full of products to eCommerce sites full of data.  From workplaces with cubes and desks to telecommuting and Workforce as a Service (WaaS).  From owning cars to sharing cars (Uber).  From a physical wallet full of cash and credit cards, to digital wallet transactions with just enough bitcoin in the account to satisfy “just in time” needs.

This new era is called the Shared Economy or Collaborative Economy and the individuals who thrive in it are becoming known as the Asset-Light Generation (fka Millennials, or Gen Y).

It strikes me that in many philosophies and spiritual teachings, the suppression of material desires is a crucial step on the road to evolving the spirit.

“All suffering is caused by desire.”
– Buddha

“If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”
– Jesus Christ

“It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly.”
– Bertrand Russell

“When we share – that is poetry in the prose of life.”
– Sigmund Freud

“It ain’t no fun if the homies can’t have none.”
– Snoop Dogg

So I wonder – if each generation of humanity is becoming less interested in ownership and increasingly more comfortable with the idea of sharing resources, is that another indication that humanity is evolving spiritually?

Or is it just cool tech?

sharing400

Nature, Nurture, Neither?

Most of us are aware of (or may be part of) a family where siblings are radically different from each other, their personalities, interests, and value systems sometimes seeming to be completely opposite.  It is difficult to chalk this up to either nature or nurture because both parties couldn’t have a more common nature environment, or common nurture environment.  Having been raised in the same household for their entire lives, and being biologically from the same sets of DNA, what could possibly cause such stark differences?

Psychologists and biologists have attempted to tease out the influential factors by studying criminal records, IQ, personality traits, and sexual preferences of identical twins raised together, identical twins raised apart, adoptive siblings raised together, fraternal twins, siblings, and random pairs of strangers.  Criminality appears to have influences from both nature and nurture, while IQ seems largely hereditary.  Some studies support the conclusion that personality traits are mostly hereditary, while others lean toward environmentSexual preference appears to be unrelated to DNA, yet is also hard to explain by environment alone, given the results of identical twin studies.  However, even in studies of these traits, where correlations are observed, the correlations tend to be small, leaving a large portion of the reason for such traits up in the air.

Mathematically, nature plus nurture doesn’t appear to explain why we are the way we are.  However, if instead we adopted the well-supported and researched view that we are not our bodies, then our consciousness exists independent of our bodies.  As such, it is reasonable to expect that that consciousness learns, adapts, and evolves across multiple lifetimes, and perhaps non-physical experiences.  And this would certainly provide an excellent explanation for the anomalies listed above.  It would make sense, for example, that IQ, perhaps being related to the function of the brain, be largely influenced by genetics.  However, it would not make sense for value systems to be genetic, and the influence from family environment would only extend back to childhood; hence personality traits should show some nurture correlation from “this life”, with the majority of the influence being from past lives (and therefore, a mystery to those who don’t understand or accept this paradigm).

Research supports this view and notes that ‘many aspects of the child’s present personality have carried forward intact from the past life: behavior, emotions, phobias, talents, knowledge, the quality of relationships, and even physical symptoms.’  Sadly, such research is as heretical to scientific orthodoxy as heliocentrism was 500 years ago, although referring to it as epigenetics may be a safe way for scientists to dip their toes into the water without getting scalded.

So, the next time someone gets on your case for not living up to the family ideal, smile knowingly, and be proud of your karmic heritage.

nature_vs_nurture2

RIP Kardashev Civilization Scale

In 1964, Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardashev proposed a model for categorizing technological civilizations.  He identified 4 levels or “Types”, simplified as follows:

Type 0 – Civilization that has not yet learned to utilize the full set of resources available to them on their home planet (e.g. oceans, tidal forces, geothermal forces, solar energy impinging upon the planet, etc.)

Type 1 – Civilization that fully harnesses, controls, and utilizes the resources of their planet.

Type 2 – Civilization that fully harnesses, controls, and utilizes the resources of their star system.

Type 3 – Civilization that fully harnesses, controls, and utilizes the resources of their galaxy.

halosphere500

As with philosophical thought, literature, art, music, and other concepts and artifacts generated by humanity, technological and scientific pursuits reflect the culture of the time.  In 1964, we were on the brink of nuclear war.  The space race was in full swing and the TV show “Star Trek” was triggering the imagination of laymen and scientists alike.  We thought in terms of conquering people and ideas, and in terms of controlling resources.  What countries are in the Soviet bloc?  What countries are under US influence?  Who has access to most of the oil?  Who has the most gold, the most uranium?

The idea of dominating the world was evident in our news and our entertainment.  Games like Risk and Monopoly were unapologetically imperialistic.  Every Bond plot was about world domination.

Today, many of us find these ideas offensive.  To start with, imperialism is an outdated concept founded on the assumption of superiority of some cultures over others.  The idea of harnessing all planetary resources is an extension of imperialistic mentality, one that adds all other life forms to the entities that we need to dominate.  Controlling planetary resources for the sake of humanity is tantamount to stealing those same resources from other species that may need them.  Further, our attempt to control resources and technology can lead to some catastrophic outcomes.  Nuclear Armageddon, grey goo, overpopulation, global warming, planetary pollution, and (human-caused) mass extinctions are all examples of potentially disastrous consequences of attempts to dominate nature or technology without fully understanding what we are doing.

I argue in “Alien Hunters Still Thinking Inside The Box (or Dyson Sphere)” that attempting to fully harness all of the energy from the sun is increasingly unnecessary and unlikely to our evolution as a species.  Necessary energy consumption per capita is flattening for developing cultures and declining for mature ones.  Technological advances allow us to get much more useful output from our devices as time goes forward.  And humanity is beginning to de-emphasize raw size and power as a desirable attribute (for example, see right sizing economic initiatives) and instead focus on the value of consciousness.

So, certainly the hallmarks of advanced civilizations are not going to be anachronistic metrics of how much energy they can harness.  So what metrics might be useful?

How about:  Have they gotten off their planet?  Have they gotten out of their solar system?  Have they gotten out of their galaxy?

Somehow, I feel that even this is misleading.  Entanglement shows that everything is interconnected.  The observer effect demonstrates that consciousness transcends matter.  So perhaps the truly advanced civilizations have learned that they do not need to physically travel, but rather mentally travel.

How about: How little of an impact footprint do they leave on their planet?

The assumption here is that advanced civilizations follow a curve like the one below, whereby early in their journey they have a tendency to want to consume resources, but eventually evolve to have less and less of a need to consume or use energy.

wigner

How about: What percentage of their effort is expended upon advancing the individual versus the society, the planetary system, or the galactic system?

or…

How about: Who cares?  Why do we need to assign a level to a civilization anyway?  Is there some value to having a master list of evolutionary stage of advanced life forms?  So that we know who to keep an eye on?  That sounds very imperialistic to me.

Of course, I am as guilty of musing about the idea of measuring the level of evolution of a species through a 2013 cultural lens as Kardashev was doing so through a 1964 cultural lens.  But still, it is 50 years hence and time to either revise or retire an old idea.