THE BLOG
07/03/2013 09:06 pm ET | Updated Sep 02, 2013

Scientists and Scholars in the Consciousness Community Weigh in about: Who Are The Enemies of Reason?

Since the publication of a previous blog - Richard Dawkins Plays God: The Video our office has received many communications, which has started an ongoing conversation with scientists and scholars in the consciousness community. Some very interesting research ideas have surfaced from this dialogue.

The following are some of the more recent unedited communications, which are in the order received.

The following are some of the more recent unedited communications, which are in the order received.

Conversations with scientists and scholars in the consciousness community:

Jim Johnston, June 22 at 3:29 am

Carolyn and Deepak,

Regarding the interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsH1U7zSp7k

I feel awkward in saying that I was disappointed in your answers, Deepak. They did not seem to me to be well-focused. Dawkins was asking good questions. E.g., he asked about "quantum healing"; and I still do not know what that is. His follow-up question was aimed at determining what the quantum elements are. And, the answers did not specify such.

Bio- and Neural- feedback have been used successfully since the 1970s. Changes in physiological parameters, muscle tension, blood-volume-amplitude, heart-rate, heart-rate/respiratory synchrony, sensory-motor-rhythm EEG feedback, etc., have direct effect on physiology and often on emotions (they are often not independent) to produce healing of various kinds. This is understood without reference to quantum observer effect, quantum non-locality, etc. I do not know what or where quantum healing is used.
Dawkins' questions were mostly "neutral" (regardless of his intent). It might be useful to review his questions and write some clear, relatively compact answers. (Maybe there are others, like me, that could learn from such.)

As a listener, I get lost when there is a lot of extraneous information thrown in. This is offered in good-will; I am one of the listeners.

Best wishes,
Jim Johnston

Deepak Chopra, June 22 at 3:57 am
Thank you Jim for your feed back Even the longer interview as appeared on You tube was an edited version. I and Amit Goswami Prof of Physics have both written about how a shift in biology from homeostasis to physiological chaos can occur suddenly & discontinuously with a single thought i.e. from being at peace & in love to suddenly being told your beloved died in a car accident. The opposite is also true -- we and others are studying the effects of a single meditation on cortisol levels and telomerase and gene activity. Already the evidence is showing that shifts occur dramatically and dis continuously. I'm glad you brought up your points. Why not ask Dawkins and colleagues to engage in healthy debate with a group of people with dissenting views including your own. Quantum biology is an emerging field. I was ambushed, as were others like Sheldrake and Satish Kumar etc. and agreed to do a lengthy interview that ended up as a 3 min episode on Enemies of Reason. Did you watch both cuts? I'm sure there is a 3rd version that will emerge as I recall the interview was much longer. In any case the tactics that went into making the movie were those used usually by zealots and not scientists.

Best regards,
Deepak

Deepak Chopra, June 22 at 4:00 am

Jim --I already responded and will send you a copy of my book-Quantum Healing and also books by Amit Goswami on the subject. Menas and colleagues are writing papers on quantum biology ( I'm involved as well). I'm sure they we weigh in. Its really impossible to explain the biological organism/environment as a single system without invoking quantum biology. Science proceeds in slow steps but we will get there. As I mentioned, I was ambushed for the interview, which has now appeared in 2 versions. More will soon emerge as there is someone in their production team who is slowly leaking all the other interviews and the tactics used to make the film. All this was a while ago. I'm glad it happened or we would not be having this discussion.
Best
Deepak


Menas Kafatos, June 22 at 6:56 am

Dear Jim and Deepak:
Let me make a couple of comments on the whole issue: It is one thing to have a healthy debate about scientific matters and even to debate about the so-called dividing "chasm" (it is not real) between science and metaphysics, science and religion. We can even debate tricky issues such as quantum biology. It is another thing to push a particular agenda. As many of us scientists believe, consciousness is beyond sensory input as it is the ground of all experience. This is what quantum theory has brought into the modern world view of reality. As such, quantum theory opened the door to consciousness or the role of mind, through the issue of observation and, therefore, many issues that used to be in the realm of philosophy or metaphysics, can now be debated scientifically (as they have been since the advent of quantum mechanics, since the early twentieth century). It now is becoming evident that quantum phenomena are prevalent in biological systems and complicated brain processes; how could they not be? If quantum theory is the most advanced physical theory that we currently have at our disposal, then (following the view that everything is physical, which we term the physicalist point of view), everything should be based on quantum theory. The materialists who profess on nothing existing beyond the physical cannot have it both ways: they cannot be denying the consequences of quantum theory, while at the same time insisting that everything is physical. The reason is that the view of the cosmos that quantum theory has brought forward is decidedly "non-physical", at least in the classical, Newtonian sense. And in biology, there is no way for evolution to proceed without quantum self-guiding (no, this is not hocus pocus, it is not pseudoscience, it is the consequence of the quantum universe). Quantum phenomena are ubiquitous in life, in photosynthesis, in the flying in formation of flocks of birds, in the recording of single photons in the retina, in the coherent states observed in microtubules and ion channels, and as such, quantum coherence appears to be essential in many sites in brain processes, giving rise to perhaps non-locality and coherent alpha brain states.

All of this can be debated scientifically. But if the debate reduces to name calling and assigning names by zealots such as "pseudoscientists", to anyone who dares to raise issues that can be subjected to tests of science, to the tests of what is ultimately pure reason, then there is another agenda going on. Really, what science they are defending are the atheists referring to? Their own concept of science which appears to be very much reductionist and Newtonian? The quantum physicists' view who founded QM? Einstein? Schroedinger? etc. Science does not need defending, science evolves by questioning itself, only dogma needs defending, only dogma never questions itself. Think about it.

Name calling and attacks to preserve the "purity" of science smack of past eras when those who opened new vistas and new tracks in human thought, both in the East and particularly in the West, often paid with their own lives their attempts to move humanity forward. Now the tools that the dogmatists possess are not as crude as they were back then but can still ruin people's reputation and careers. Let's be clear about it: Fundamentalism, whether it is of the religious kind or of the "defend the science" type is, ultimately, the same: Pure, unadulterated fundamentalism. The question is: Why? What is the real agenda behind defending the purity of science, or religion?

Jim, you may want to read the "Conscious Universe" (Springer-Verlag, 2000) where the issue of hidden metaphysics of many so-called scientific views are discussed.

Menas C. Kafatos
Fletcher Jones Professor of Computational Physics
Chapman University
Orange, CA 92866

Neil Theise at June 22, at 7:40 am

Bravo on all fronts; however (there's always a "however"), while I think that there are certainly aspects to biological processes that are related to quantum physics, both in terms of quantum effects being implicated in physiological processes (e.g. electron tunneling in enzymatic functions, photosynthesis) and in terms of issues of observer/observed interlinking (my current work with Menas Kafatos regarding complementarity in biological systems1), I think we risk something when we foresake precision for metaphor in these kinds of discussions. By using "quantum healing" as a mnemonic tag for the general kinds of things that Deepak has been trying to point toward - and doing so as metaphor - it opens up a polemical point for the likes of Richard Dawkins. So while abrupt changes in physiology occur, these are not yet clearly direct analogies to the either/or leaps between electron shells in an atom, for example. I'm not saying they are NOT that, but so far it is merely a metaphorical comparison. So it's a sly maneuver of Dawkins to point to that and then to say "invalid science" - Deepak wasn't saying (yet) that it is more than metaphor - but that was cracking open a door for Dawkins to make his polemical points.

So, I think that entering into these kinds of discussions/debates, from a tactical standpoint one must be supremely cautious to be crystal clear when something is "merely" metaphor (however useful) as opposed to a true and precise analogy. If combating militant fundamentalisms (religious or atheist) is now, also, a useful metaphor, then tactics need to be considered when waging such campaigns. And the challenge for someone like Deepak, I think, is that while metaphors for attracting and keeping the attention of a wide population of lay people who can benefit from his teachings can be useful (quantum stuff is sexy in our culture!), they may not be useful in these kinds of debates. And that puts Deepak in a potentially difficult bind - or at least one that needs to be navigated carefully. He has two audiences expecting information and responses from him and what serves one may not serve the other, and vice versa. Tricky!

In terms of the terms of the debate itself: Dawkins and Co. enjoy pointing to "religion" as a damaging process in human culture. In general, over the decades, when dealing with friends and/or colleagues, in and out of the sciences, who question my being a scientist at the same time as I am a relatively observant Jew and a practicing Buddhist contemplative, i have relied on two essential, simple points that they always have to agree with and then have nothing to say afterward:

1. There is no product of human culture or of the natural world that can't be used for ill or for good: fire - to cook or to burn down a village? Likewise, money, electricity, the internet, etc. Why should religion be any different? To look at only the "bad" side of religion is to be deceitful (talking to others) or deluded (talking to oneself). Paraphrasing the Buddha: "everything is poison, everything is medicine."

2. The only truly LOGICAL approach to the question of G'd/Not-G'd is to be an agnostic - that is the only tenable, Western scientific position, so far. To definitively state that the tenet "G'd does not exist" is in fact a proven axiom is a form of fundamentalism just like the religious fundamentalisms that are a world class problem today. It is based on faith (in G'd's non-existence) in the same way that religious fundamentalisms are based on faith.

To the militant atheist, no amount of data will convince them that G'd exists or that religion can be and has been, also, a force for good in the world. Any more than my fundamentalist Hassidic cousins (I have a few) will change their minds when we have discussed the question that the world isn't merely about 6000 years old and that fossils were planted by G'd to test our faith in the Hebrew Bible's narrative (sigh...).

So, tactically, we must always be aware that our audience isn't Dawkins and Co. themselves - but the people who are listening to the debates as they unfold. For them, the two most compelling statements i've ever used were the two above. "The rest is commentary" as Rabbi Hillel once said.

* Theise ND, Kafatos M. Complementarity in biological systems: a complexity view. Complexity 2013 [in press].

Deepak Chopra at June 22 at 7:49 am

Thank you Neil for these astute observations!

Peter Walling at June 22 at 7:50 am

Menas,

You ask "What is the real agenda?"

Dawkins is a self-professed Militant Atheist.

He is at war with Religion, anything "spooky", and the concept of a Deity.

He seems to abide by the spirit of "All's fair in Love and War".

His belief system is based solely on the evidence of experiments.

However, by distorting the evidence from his interview with Deepak, he exposes not only his flank, but his feet of clay.

In his arrogance, he probably believes that strict empirical honesty only applies to others.

Thank you all for exposing this huge chink in his armor, and beware of interviews in which your opponents' side controls the editing!!

Very best wishes,

Peter T. Walling, B.Sc. (Physiol), MD, FRCA.
Bartonville, Texas

Bob Sweeney, June 22, at 8:41 am

I find these observations by Neil to be compelling.

Dawkins has a reputation for being acerbic in his debates with those he disagrees with. To be fair, he is an excellent evolutionary biologist and superb writer. However, I have felt for quite some time that his distaste for religious ideas borders on contempt. As a historian, I found The God Delusion, his best known book on this topic, to be both naïve and superficial in its understanding of why religion has appeared in human society, and what it means to be religious. Naturally, it is easy to agree with his remarks about extremism, superstition and the historical record of how religion has provided comfort to atrocity. Not only is that critique nothing new, but it also obscures the history of atrocities perpetuated under the mantle of "science". A much more thoughtful commentary on the origins of, and functions of, religion is provided in Darwin's Cathedral by David Sloan Wilson.

The insight that Neil Theise provides with his comments shown elsewhere in this response is that there is an important difference between a metaphorical argument and one that is empirical. For that reason, I try to avoid the use of terms like "quantum" except in the latter, empirical, context. The public as best I can tell has little understanding of the mathematics or physics underlying these ideas (Sometimes I wonder if any of us do!). That difficulty or obstacle makes it easy for anyone to slide into metaphorical applications that are vague. Vague ideas are always subject to misinterpretation or distortion by other parties.

Robert E. Sweeney, DA, MS
CEO
Challenger Corporation
Member BOD
Foundation for Mind-Brain Sciences

Lothar Schafer, June 22 at 9:15 am

Dear All,

What a wonderful discussion and made with a sense of kindness, even when the opinions are different. That's how it ought to be.

What I am generally missing in such discussions is the awareness of simple facts of quantum chemistry. Biology is based on Biochemistry. Biochemistry in turn is based on Quantum Chemistry; that is, the quantum properties of molecules. Chemical reactions are quantum processes and our students learn about them in Physical Chemistry 1.

So, when Neil says in his inspiring reply: "while i think that there are certainly aspects to biological processes that are related to quantum physics, both in terms of quantum effects being implicated in physiological processes (e.g. electron tunneling in enzymatic functions, photosynthesis) and in terms of issues of observer/observed interlinking (my current work with menas), i think we risk something when we foresake precision for metaphor in these kinds of discussions...," then it sounds like that, apart from some special processes you can forget about the importance of quantum effects for biology. In contrast, I must say that, "NO," there are not only "aspects to biological processes that are related to quantum physics," but biology is first of all quantum chemistry and quantum chemistry is based on the principles of quantum physics, which it extends.

Consider, for example, the synthesis of a gene. A gene is a molecule and its synthesis is a chemical reaction. In a chemical reaction, a molecule must make transitions between quantum states. In every step of its synthesis, a gene molecule must make a transition - a jump - from its ground state, to a transition state, and then to a product state. In each individual transition, the outcome of such a process is not predictable with 100% certainty: individual quantum events are intrinsically unpredictable. A molecule may make a jump or not. A gene may take a jump to a desired state, or not. If not, it may take a jump that makes it mutate. On top of all that, while the molecule is making the state transition, it has to exist for a short time in a superposition of all the states involved. In a superposition state it is in several states at the same time. In such a state a molecule cannot be a part of the empirical world. This is a simple fact of chemistry, but we like to overlook it. What can happen when a molecule is in a non-empirical state, we can't know! It is science to state that we cannot know what is going on in the non-empirical realm of reality. And it is a fact of empirical science that forces us to accept that such a non-empirical realm exists. We can't just disregard it for biology. And we can't know it as a matter of principle! It is unscientific to say that it don't matter. Biology is based on processes which contain an unknowable element.

The molecules in your body are constantly making state transitions: between vibrational, rotational, translational and electronic states. In each transition a specific molecule leaves the empirical world for a short time, because it has to go through a superposition state. In other words, the molecules in your body are constantly blinking in and out of the empirical world. Why does your body not constantly vanish from the empirical world, if its molecules are doing that? Because the molecular transitions aren't synchronized, but each molecule does it on its own.

Nevertheless, in state transitions a molecule could be subject to influences, or patterns of information from a non-empirical world, which might be the basis of non-local factors that appear in special processes, like in "quantum healing." This is not my field, but I think it is worthwhile to explore a number of non-local phenomena, such as synchronicity, Jung's collective unconscious, etc., bringing the properties of the quantum basis into play.

The universe is lawful. Only individual quantum phenomena seem un-caused, or random. I suggest, that they are also lawful processes, but caused by factors in a part of reality that we can't see.

I am not going to proofread this message, because I have to go and play tennis. You know, there are facts of life! You will find more details of how quantum chemistry is important for biology and the evolution of life in the book that Deepak helped me to publish: "Infinite Potential. What Quantum Physics Reveals About How We Should Live."

Greetings,
Lothar Schäfer, Author of "Infinite Potential. What Quantum Physics Reveals About How We Should Live."

Neil Theise, June 22 at 9:25 am

No disagreement, Lothar! Was just applying a short hand. But you're completely correct.

N.

Wolfgang Baer, June 22 at 12:51 pm

I fully appreciate the discussion especially the warnings about metaphoric vs. empirical argument and the necessity to consider simple facts of quantum physics and chemistry before using these labels in metaphoric arguments.
Let me add a few comments:

1) the classic test for scientific propositions is "the ability to prove the proposition is wrong." Hence the postulate of God is not scientific because by definition an all powerful deity can always create miracles to explain any logical difficulty and hence can never be proven wrong. This does not mean the God proposition is wrong but rather that it is not Scientific.

2) Dawkins may be a die hard atheist but his questions are valid and address the weakness in metaphoric "quantum healing" arguments as you (Niel) point out which should not be taken as an attack but rather as an opportunity to answer by clear responses - preferably by defining testable differences.

3) Science whatever its claim is also based upon fundamental assumptions that place it logically on the same footing as any other belief system whose ultimate test is practicality. Therefore we should not look at the details of the competing belief systems but at the common process and architecture within which the creation and utility of all belief systems fall. If we recognize a Scientist as a model creator then I submit the basic metaphor is:

God is to Reality as the every Scientist is to his Model of Reality
or in a more mathematical for
God / Reality = Creator_of_Model / Model

4) I would strongly urge us all to step above the fray and recognize the semantic nature of the argument.
Gravity and Electricity are the Gods of Science
Experiments in Science are the prayers of Religion
Scientists are the Priests
I believe we are arguing about the meaning of words when we should be joining together to develop our understanding of the process within which the words are used.

5) The substantive content and "the agenda" behind the argument is a power struggle between organizations built around the definition of their words. The definition of words become physical operators in our thought processes that represent tangible value to these organizations. Learning one set of words makes the user a believer( at some level) in the organization and thus provides the vehicle for control and job security for its priests.

Neutral example: The value basis of Microsoft is neither in its product or the engineering cost invested in their products development but rather in the billions of man-hours spent learning to use them by the population as a whole.

Best,
Dr. Wolfgang
Baer Research Director Nascent Systems Inc.

Deepak Chopra, June 22 at 1:53 pm

V enjoyable read :) - a power struggle over the meaning of words :)) The mind is the source of all conflict!!

Dean Radin, June 22 at 4:14 pm

The semantic and sociological issues in this discussion remind me of the frailties of peer review and what is considered to be a "mainstream" idea. A classic study on peer review, published in Behavioral and Brain Sciences in 1982, did the following. The authors took "12 already published research articles by investigators from prestigious and highly productive American psychology departments, one article from each of 12 highly regarded and widely read American psychology journals with high rejection rates (80%) and nonblind refereeing practices. With fictitious names and institutions substituted for the original ones (e.g., Tri-Valley Center for Human Potential), the altered manuscripts were formally resubmitted to the journals that had originally refereed and published them 18 to 32 months earlier. Of the sample of 38 editors and reviewers, only three (8%) detected the resubmissions. This result allowed nine of the 12 articles to continue through the review process to receive an actual evaluation: eight of the nine were rejected. Sixteen of the 18 referees (89%) recommended against publication and the editors concurred. The grounds for rejection were in many cases described as 'serious methodological flaws.'"

This simultaneously sad and funny outcome has not improved much three decades later, as this 2006 article indicates in an article in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. It concludes that "Peer review is a flawed process, full of easily identified defects with little evidence that it works. Nevertheless, it is likely to remain central to science and journals because there is no obvious alternative, and scientists and editors have a continuing belief in peer review. How odd that science should be rooted in belief."

Or, perhaps it's not so odd after all, given that everything we know is ultimately rooted in one belief or another.

Best wishes,
Dean Radin
Senior Scientist
Institute of Noetic Science

Menas Kafatos, June 22 at 5:09 pm

I do agree with Lothar: Thank you for bringing out the superposition argument in molecular transitions so clearly and also the non-randomness of quantum phenomena (which is tied to life processes, at the foundation of which is biochemistry). It is indeed quantum all the way down and all the way up! Which means that the observer is everywhere (this is not a metaphor, it is the one reality). And Neil of course agrees (see also the sentience article just published by Neil and myself, which I believe you all have received it--Sentience Everywhere: Complexity Theory, Panpsychism, & the Role of Sentience in Self-Organization of the Universe", Journal of Consciousness Exploration & Research, Vol. 4, Issue 4, April 2013, pp. 378-390.).

Jim Johnston, June 24 at 3:54 pm

Menas and Lothar,
Regarding:
"On top of all that, while the molecule is making the state transition, it has to exist for a short time in a superposition of all the states involved. In a superposition state it is in several states at the same time. In such a state a molecule cannot be a part of the empirical world. "

I find the logic troubling.

If the statement that a molecule is in a superposition state is true, that means that it could be detected by a detector "tuned" to that superposition state.
It is indeed part of the empirical world. Practical limitations on ability to make such a detector are not relevant.

Single discrete quantum transitions do not support any analysis of intermediate states; there are none.

If there are intermediate states, those are in principle detectable.

The choice of basis states is always arbitrary.

Stable or metastable states are convenient choices for basis states; one is free to use other basis states if they wish.

Discrete quantum transitions do not have any intermediate states.

Sorry for spoiling a good story.

Only un-analyzable single transitions or detectable multiple transitions are possible.

Best wishes,
Jim

Suzanne Mendelssohn, PhD, June 24 at 5:01 am

Hugs, Ashok,

Many thanks for including me in the latest Chopra exchange.

Dawkins' comment that religion is the root of all evil takes no account of the materialism, which has destroyed our universe and makes clear again Dawkins' pathology about God. This is no surprise, nor is the timorousness on the topic of quantum healing from those claiming objectivity if not awareness.

Love,
Suzanne

PS It'll be interesting to see Deepak's new statement on consciousness.

Menas Kafatos, June 24 at 8:40 pm

Hi Dean:
Peer review may be faulted but no one has shown a better alternative so it is highly unlikely that it will be replaced by a single system. Herein is the problem. We need multiple systems of assessing the inherent value of published (or attempts to publish) materials and the ideas arising from them. The internet presents great opportunities but also challenges. Today an author or originator of ideas can go directly to millions of viewers through e-publishing, YouTube, on-line materials, etc. It also means that strange ideas can move fast. But, generally, such things don't last long.

Peer review is used in securing publications in prestigious journals evaluated themselves through a variety of factors such as high impact factors, etc.; publications are crucial in the other most important peer review process, namely tenure granting at universities; and in securing grants. All these are crucial for the whole conduct of science. They are the essential tools of keeping the whole enterprise going. How big is the enterprise? Probably tens of trillions of $ if one considers the crucial role of science in modern societies. So there are strong, all encompassing factors to keep the whole structure in place.

As such, pressure to publish is tremendous. We have recently witnessed several examples of scientific misconduct, particularly in the biotech areas, involving multi-million patents and products, even publishing false data. Even though such actions are most often discovered, the damage done to the entire scientific process is not minor. And the forces at hand don't diminish the risks. There have been many cases where so-called prestigious journals have published false results, albeit without knowing they were false. But the rush to publish and "get there first" is the culprit. One of these days (maybe it has already happened) a Nobel will be given for what will turn out to be false results or theory. What will happen then? Will the recipient be forced to return to Prize?

I do agree with many of your points. Ultimately it is the power of words that bind us or sets us free. And words come from the mind. The inherent power of sounds and words and the ability of the mind to bind us was understood by the great sages, particularly of India. A simple example can be given: If one were to call another person in English "you are a fool" that person would get very upset and may react in a variety of ways (look at the current international politics situation where a single statement by some thoughtless politician can unleash forces hard to contain). However, if you break up "you are fool" to its constituent letters and associated sounds, "y" "o" "u" etc., by themselves don't have the same effect. If you scramble the letters together, same thing, no harm. If the intended recipient did not know English and had no access to an interpreter, no harm.
So the sounds and words have meaning and effect (both qualia) because of the power of the mind. And the mind is a condensed form of consciousness. If we understood the power inherent in sounds, arising from the deep layers of the mind (I have written about this in "Looking In, Seeing Out", Quest Books), we wouldn't be so caught up by the power of our own minds. But we are not. This is the human condition. As you say, belief systems, qualia originating from the mind.
Science has power because it is a human, collective activity, based on the mind. We should understand it as such.
Best,
Menas C. Kafatos

Dean Radin, June 24 at 9:17 am

Not only is the "pressure to publish ... tremendous," but there is a strong inverse relationship between the prestige of a journal and its retraction rate. So paradoxically the information published in the top journals is actually less reliable than information published in less well known journals. As with the limitations of the peer review system, this peculiar situation is unlikely to change anytime soon because there are no obvious alternatives.

Best wishes,
Dean

Stuart Hameroff, June 24 at 9:49 pm

Hi everyone

People like Dawkins must be confronted head-on. To defend 'quantum healing',
attack Dawkins' so-called strength, put him on the defensive. Be as biological as
possible. He really doesn't know much about it.

1) Healing is health; health is optimal life. What is life? Increasingly, life at its core
is shown to be a quantum system, non-local and thus susceptible to 'quantum healing'
(which I would define through nonlocal entanglement)

2) Dawkins' 'God' is DNA. DNA, like other important biomolecules, is a quantum device
(invite him into an argument about quantum biology)

3) the Anthropic principle - to explain how the cosmological constants, or dimensionless
numbers which govern the universe happen to be precisely right for life and consciousness without
a guiding hand, Dawkins (whether he realizes it or not) needs to invoke multiple worlds/multiverse b.s.
Make him defend that.

Talk about life and biology, his supposed strengths.

Stuart Hameroff MD
Professor, Anesthesiology and Psychology
Director, Center for Consciousness Studies
The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

Jim Johnston, June 25 at 3:41 pm
Neil,

I am late in telling you how happy I was to read your email on June 22, 2013 9:40 AM.

I hesitated a long time before sending my first email to everyone (after hesitating even to send the message).
I felt compelled to say what I said, and worried afterward that I may have offended.

Your email indicated that the kind of dialog I hoped for was not only happening,
but was far more insightful than I expected.

Again, thank you.
Jim Johnston

Deepak Chopra, June 25 at 4:33 am

I disagree that Peer reviewed journals are the best way to disseminate progressive ideas or even research. They are just another club. A new more democratic process is emerging.

Neil Theise, June 25 at 5:02 am

But they are the club that i still depend on... ;-)

My choice (so far) is to push things through in our current, formal system and then turn to other means for spreading the ideas once "certified" in that manner - of course understanding that such "certification" has more apparent than real significance for the value of my work.

Of course, for me, these efforts at moving beyond the academic structures are embryonic compared to what you're capable of, Deepak! Dharma talks at Zen centers here and there, an occasional media interview, a piece here or there in Tricycle (one in editing process now). But I have dreams (and concrete ideas) about this! ;-)

n.

Deepak Chopra, June 25 at 6:21 am
We are going to take this conversation to the masses together
In gratitude

Menas Kafatos, June 25 at 7:27 am
I actually agree with Deepak, I believe we all have our concerns with the peer review process. It is time to open the scientific process to everyone. The current situation is not sustainable, something will have to give. We all publish in peer review, we have our grants and "successes", and we will continue to do so, yet in the age of information, we've got to do better.

If science and particularly quantum theory are fundamental, they ought to apply to people's everyday lives and be grasped by most if not everyone. A little anecdotal story: I met a very bright (and famous in his own field, music) young man at my last trip to Korea. We talked about quantum theory. I told him the fundamentals (the foundational principles) and he understood. He said he always wanted to know about fundamental science. It all took about half an hour and it was a lot of fun. That's the way science communication should be.

Indeed we may have a new democratic process in the rise. As it is happening in political systems, maybe is happening in knowledge systems as well.

Deepak Chopra, June 25 at 8:13 am

Here we are--the beginning of the democratic process http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deepak-chopra/open-letter-to-skeptics_b_3493419.html?utm_hp_ref=tw


Wolfgang Baer, June 25 at 10:56 am

It would be great if the invitation to Sages and Scientists Symposium where accepted especially the emphasis on "new lines of research" that I hope would lead to an emphasis on how Science could be improved to accommodate the subjective rather than sinking into a I'm-right-your-wrong style discussion.

Wolf

Rudy Tanzi, June 25 at 8:07 pm

Yes, Wolf, we need "new lines of research" that focus on prioritizing the hypotheses that need to be tested in studies of consciousness. One topic concerns the role of brain activation versus brain connectivity in the integration of consciousness. We need to think not only about flow of information and energy in the brain but distinguish between levels of activation in specific brain regions versus connectivity among brain regions.I am very excited and humbled to work with this group to as we consider the best and most responsible ways to experimentally address the basis of consciousness.

Dr. Rudolph E. Tanzi
Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy
Professor of Neurology,
Harvard Medical School
Director,
Genetics and Aging Research Unit,
MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease
Massachusetts General Hospital

Deepak Chopra, June 25, 2:02 am

Totally agree !

Stuart Hameroff, June 25 at 9:32 pm

Rudy,

You're right. Connectomics is way, way, way over-rated, changing from second to second anyway.
But what is the activation associated with consciousness? I think I know.
A deeper level.

Stuart

KM Galdamez, June 25 at 9:38 pm
Dear All,
I hope that your summer is wonderfully busy and that much joy is running your way. I wanted to address just a few aspects of the conversations previously discussed, quite general though, due to time. But, I believe that there were two topics that have grabbed my attention. Those are the discussion of 'quantum biology' as an apparent outcome from the initial discussion on 'quantum healing'.

While it is not yet fully understood how quantum biology exactly works, I will venture to say that the very scientists working on such topics are conservative as to 'how quantum' their systems of study are, particularly in sight of decoherence in increasingly large systems. The systems of study vary from green sulfur bacteria, to stem cell, or cultured DNA, to other molecular ensembles as previously described by others. The quantum effects on all of these include quantum tunneling, quantum coherence (or quantum non-locality) and entanglement - which of course should be differentiated from quantum coherence since entanglement is a different phenomena requiring more strict criteria ( see article attached).

It is however difficult for the ones of materialist views to make the connection between femto second coherence times, such as those in green sulfur bacteria, to 'quantum healing'.

'Quantum healing', possibly an appealing word in the general public, is commonly associated to 'distant healing'. Distant healing, while having experimental evidence (see attached) has no theoretical explanations and nearly no efforts exist to move research is that direction.

The questions raised by such phenomena are of primary importance. Those questions are: what is the medium through which such healing energy travels, is it a field?, is it a non-local field?, what is the mathematical characterization of such energy?, is it of electromagnetic kind? or is there a more subtle and yet persistent interpenetrating energy that lives in all things and is shared by all beings that can (somehow) be directed in various ways from one place to another?

If we are to have a direct phenomenological description of such energy in controlled experimental set ups and find that such energy is of a quantum-like nature, then will we be fully justified in calling 'distant healing' as equivalent to 'quantum healing'?

The very term 'quantum healing' as a metaphor is a gateway to the world of Spirit, independent of religion. I mean by Spirit that which transcends the physical, to the understanding that there is something mysterious that operates in apparently non-local ways amongst people and objects through the act of intention, or thought, or feeling.

Equally important is to recognize that there exist such methods, well documented and painstakingly practiced by many, whether these are healers in the Hawaiian island (please see attached papers) or presently within our very culture. This type of healing also exists in various eastern traditions from Buddhism to Hinduism. In addition, as it is available to many in this list, the very practice of meditation as an insight into a deeper reality opens wide the gateways to healing through the development of an inner vision or inner wisdom involved in seeing clearly - to seeing ourselves as fully and intrinsically interconnected with all existence, not separate from such.

Nonetheless, the publication of these type of research is nearly blocked from all main stream journals. Thus, what is a researcher to do if this is the main area of interest, of investigation?
We find ourselves constantly in an increasing divide between phenomena that is acceptable to science and that which is not. That which is non-acceptable, the un-traditional research, does not find a gateway through main stream science.

Thus, whether the publications are peer reviewed or not, whether the journal of publishing is main stream or non-mainstream, there is a sense that this research, from which many in this list are part of, needs a voice and needs to be linked to the existent main stream research for the enhancement of our own world view, and as some would say, for the next step in our evolutionary track as a species - i.e. the realization that there is an interconnected web that links us all; and further that our faculties go beyond the ordinary.

Thus, independent of where researchers publish, it is of such primary importance to respect each other's work, to support each other's work and life long commitment to making a change.
I have felt attracted to several readings and thought I would share this one below with you, which while being a lover of thought myself, still wonder if thought can be guided (as a sort of pilot wave) through the wisdom of the Heart.

An intellectual is all the time showing off.

Lovers dissolve and become bewildered.

Intellectuals try not to drown,

while the whole purpose of love is drowning.

Intellectuals invent ways to rest, and then lie down in
those beds.

Lovers feel ashamed of comforting ideas.

You've seen a glob of oil on water? That's how a lover

sits with intellectuals, there, but alone in a circle of himself.

Some intellectual tries to give sound advice to a lover.

All he hears back is, I love you. I love you.

Love is musk. Don't deny it when you smell the scent!

Love is a tree.

Lovers, the shade of the long branches.

To the intellectual mind, a child must learn to grow up and be adult.

In the station of love, you see old men getting younger and younger.

Shams chose to live low in the roots for you.

So now, he soars in the air as your sublimely articulating love!

~ 'Like This', Rumi.

Thus, would it be possible to speak to each other under Love?, as those of the same team, yes with different ideas, with different perspectives, but singing the same song, pushing forward the same paradigm.

Thank you for your time.

With very kind regards to you and living in awe of you,
Karla

Stuart Hameroff, June 25 at 10:21 pm
Bravo Karla

Karla
While it is not yet fully understood how quantum biology exactly works, I will venture to say that the very scientists working on such topics are conservative as to 'how quantum' their systems of study are, particularly in sight of decoherence in increasingly large systems.

Stuart
I've never been accused of being conservative :)
Please see two papers (below) from Anirban Bandyopadhyay's group at NIMS in Tsukuba, Japan. They show quantum resonances in single microtubules at ambient temperature in frequency ranges from gigahertz to megahertz to 10 kilohertz, thus coherence times of 10^-4 secs at least. The frequency ranges appear to be fractal-like
Megahertz in mechanical vibration is ultrasound. Weve recently shown transcranial ultrasound improves mood. Now we are looking in the lab at ultrasound effects on development of single neurons. If ultrasound accelerates neuronal growth and development (as it should, by resonating microtubules) its a therapy for brain injury.
We hope to look at this in the next year.

The mechanism in microtubules looks like the quantum coherence in photosynthesis
proteins, which apparently needs coherent mechanical vibration for the quantum states.
So ultrasound mechanical vibrations can stimulate quantum coherence in microtubules.
That's quantum healing.

Stuart

21. S. Sahu, S. Ghosh, B. Ghosh, K. Aswani, K. Hirata, D. Fujita, A. Bandyopadhyay Atomic water channel controlling remarkable properties of a single brain microtubule: Correlating single protein to its supramolecular assembly. Biosensors and Bioelectronics 47:141-148, 2013

22. S. Sahu, S. Ghosh, K. Hirata, D. Fujita, A. Bandyopadhyay. Multi-level memory-switching properties of a single brain microtubule. Appl. Phys. Letts. 102, 123701; 2013

Rita Pizzi, June 26 at 12;15 am
Very interesting links, thanks Stuart,
the findings are in line with those coming from my experiments.

About frequencies, I just have to underline that they depend on the size of the resonating objects, so for each physical object we should find its specific frequency: we cannot transfer one result to another frame, in particular to the whole neuron.

On the other hand we cannot deny that the resonant effect on microtubules could affect the neuron itself. But high-level effects cannot be proven to be caused by their underlying structures, or by those specific (microtubules) underlying structures.

In any case, interesting research.

Best,

Rita

Anirban Bandyopadhyay, June 26 at 12:50 am

Dear Rita

We are almost at the last stage of real neuron experiments. For the last one year, we have been developing an unique set up where live neuron experiment could be done.

The biggest experimental challenge we had was to isolate the wireless resonance communication between two far distant neurons and their chemical firing.

The experiment is going on, we are repeatedly culturing neurons and checking wireless signal transmissions. We are more interested in the correlation between neuron firing and wireless communication. This is very challenging for many reasons. Simple noise in measuring electrode can cause firing of neurons.

However, we will be able to tell you by the end of this year exactly how microtubule's "frequency fractal" is translated via neuron firing to multiple other neurons in the neighborhood.

Initially, we were working on individual resonance peaks, it was a wrong approach, now it seems that it is getting clear. You are right, at different scales, resonance will have different impact, but "frequency fractal" does not care scale, it can scale up to the entire brain, in principle. First step is to see its scaling up between local neighborhood of neurons. And because of "anharmonic overtones" of microtuble and use of imaginary frequency space, this is an extremely lengthy experimental task. But within this year, we will finish this study and we will have an answer.

Best Regards

Anirban

Deepak Chopra, June 26 at 2:06 am
The brain is a verb and not a noun. The universe is a verb and not a non either. The field of pure potentiality is both noun and verb - non-changing and changing

Deepak Chopra, June 26 at 2:09 am
V interesting!

Rita Pizzi, June 26 at 3:20 am
Very interesting!, is it possible to have some more information , maybe just me if the list is not interested in reading more ?
I will be curious to see if at the end of your experiments on "wireless communication" match mine

http://homes.di.unimi.it/pizzi/pubbl/2009%20SSE%20Viterbo.pdf

At the end of the paper I hypothesize exactly a resonance origin of these crazy findings.

Best,

Rita

Suzanne Mendelssohn, PhD, June 26, 6:47 am

Hugs, Ashok,

Your question "is there a more subtle and yet persistent interpenetrating energy that lives in all things...?" is the key question about healing, and the topic of sessions between Edgar Mitchell and me this week in our deepening re entanglement which clearly is not a process which occurs in nature but instead in Divine Mind governing frequencies the most efficacious being used in conscious, intended resonance between a patient or other percipient and true ultimate source minus intellect's characteristic recourse to hazardous discarnate spirits. To quality for resonance with Source all one must do is obey it, however, refusal of such control though resulting in health, results in being controlled by disease.

Were it not for this human reality disease would already be obsolete and is already becoming so, AND HAS BECOME SO in anomalous instances in which obedience to source specified service is preferred to the still prevailing myth of free will. Choices retard evolution and thwart it individually and specieswide.

Love to all,
Suzanne Mendelssohn, PhD

Deepak Chopra, June 26, 2013 at 10:29 am

Dear All If you time ability or desire please read Dean Radin's book Supernormal which we just published at Random House at my imprint Rita- you will like it

Dean Radin, June 26 at 10;29 am

Thanks Deepak.

For anyone who is interested, you can read the Foreward and the first chapter of my book here: www.supernormalbook.com. It is available for sale on July 16, but most online book sellers are taking preorders.

Best wishes,
Dean

Rudy Tanzi, June 26 at 12:05 pm

Anirban--
Have you considered using human neural precursor cells made from immortalized stem cell lines. We grow them in 3-D in 24 well plates where they make neural networks, fire, and with Alzheimer's mutations even make plaques and tangles in a dish! Let me know if you would like to collaborate. We are about to submit the 3D system paper to Nature and believe it is among the best in vitro mimics of the brain and neural networks available.
Best,
Rudy

Anirban Bandhyopadhyay, June 26 at 5:29 pm

Dear Rudy

Thank you for your email. How your samples could be transferred to Japan? I will be happy to collaborate. It will be great if you could send samples in my address below (signature).

If you cannot send samples then there is an alternative. I will be staying in MIT for one year,November 1 2013 to November 1 2014. I am planning to take some of my neurophysiology set up with me then we can work together, I think your lab is near MIT.

The project that we planned to do in MIT is that:

We have discovered "frequency fractal" in microtubules and "negative resonance", these two terms we have coined very recently, let me explain. It means apart from the fundamental frequencies (8MHz, 12MHz, 18MHz, 22MHz, 95MHz, 128MHz, 184MHz, 228MHz etc) it follows anharmonic and harmonic overtones. To explain simply, in normal musical instruments, you have one fundamental frequency say 8MHz and their integral multiples, right? So it will be 16, 32, 48.... and so on. But in microtubule it is 1.3 times, then 1.8 times then 2.3 times etc. This is remarkable in musical instruments. You can vibrate at some frequencies and communication will occur through a different overtones, this has been demonstrated theoretically and experimentally. Now, negative resonance means, some frequencies do not send signal in the forward direction, rather, in the reverse way. What is the outcome? You get x and y parts (positive and negative resonance) which constructs basic overtones (pixels) so you get a fractal.

Now communication operating at astronomically large number of frequencies simultaneously (at real and imaginary space, by basic definition of fractal), cannot remain confined inside a microtubule, we have checked these vibrations controls neurotransmitter motions, then "firing" patterns and as you know fractal never dies if there is a fractal like hardware. We have it all over the body. That means frequency fractal will be everywhere in every single rhythm, from neuron firing to circadian rhythm. We want to map the entire fractal frequency architecture of entire human brain and body in one year by collaborating with an MIT professor Chi-Sang Poon who works for large scale rhythms in the brain and the body.

If we find a generic rule, it will be a new kind of biology operating in parallel with the existing chemical only biology. And it will also be proved that all brain building projects will fail, we require a completely new kind of science, materials and engineering technology to understand basic biology more completely before even we think of replicating brain.

Therefore, if your expertise is added it will be a great thing. Until now we planned only to look at it physically. Professor Poon and I both believe that we need a biologist who can correlate our work with biology and show that chemical only molecular biology and our physical biology live side by side.

Please let me know your opinion.

Best Regards

Anirban

KM Galdamez, June 26 at 8:24 pm

Dear Stuart,

Thank you very much for your kind email. I will certainly take a look at the papers you recommended and will get back to you with some questions.

In regards to publishing, I just got this through the email concerning changes in university publication policies - For those of you in northern CA, maybe attendance could be possible.

http://app.certain.com/profile/web/index.cfm?PKwebID=0x4924815e39&varPage=home

Warm wishes to all,

Karla

Rudy Tanzi, June 26 at 8:51 pm

This all sounds great. The cultures are tricky so it would be best to take advantage of your sabbatical at MIT. You could just come to our lab that is only about 10 min from the MIT campus. A whole body frequency fractal map is an incredible concept! This will be an amazing project. Can't wait!!!!

Rita Pizzi, at June 27 at 7:51 am
Hi,
all our experiments on neurons have also been made with human neural stem cells, grown up to adult neurons, and creating a networks that is connected to electronics using Multielectrode Arrays (MEAs), i.e. Petri dishes with inside microelectrodes that attach to neurons one by one. I confirm that stem cells create extremely sensitive neurons (although very delicate to treat). The MEA system allows simultaneous acquisition and stimulation of the whole neural networks, that allow to study a human neural network in a nearly physiological frame.

Rudy Tanzi, June 27 at 8:32 am

That's wonderful. It would be great to compare systems. We use a novel system that creates a physiological neural network with glial cells, which is intended to more accurately recapitulate the brain than classic neuronal cultures. I will share the paper with the group as soon as we submit it it would love to hear more about your system as well. Thanks!

Stuart Hameroff, June 27 at 8:56 am

Just to add that we have preliminary evidence from neuronal culture (by Uma Raman working in Sourav Ghosh's lab) that ultrasound accelerates neuronal development compared to controls. Ultrasound is megahertz vibrations, and Anirban has shown megahertz resonances in microtubules.
Microtubules drive neuronal growth, development and differentiation. Ultrasound may well promote these microtubule activities. If the results hold up, we intend to try noninvasive transcranial ultrasound in traumatic brain injury patients.

Stuart

Rudy Tanzi, June 27 at 9:19 am
Would be great to compare effects of ultrasound across neuronal systems. Ours for the first time actually allowed us to produce Alzhiemer's plaques and tangles in a dish using a customized gel matrix and mixing in glial cells. This will be fun!!!

Neil Theise, June 27, 9:30 am

you guys almost (ALMOST) make me want to foresake liver for brain. ALMOST. ;-)

Jim (James) Johnston, June 29 at 2:12 am

In the final chapter of "Quantum Healing", Deepak Chopra writes: "... quantum healing is the ability of one mode of consciousness (the mind) to spontaneously correct the mistakes in another mode of consciousness (the body)." Healing processes (with varying degrees of "maturity") fitting this description have existed for centuries. They existed without any conception of quantum physics. Knowledge of the sources of wisdom in the many cultures that have developed various forms of mental/emotional healing might be at least as interesting as quantum effects.

Quantum theory is important here because it broke a barrier to relevant consideration of psyche and mind based on a Newtonian mechanical view that also included the assumption it was valid for all aspects of reality. That assumption was an "original error" (that is still present to some extent in our society). There is much excitement now because quantum theory has indicated the need to combine human observation and choice with description of physical reality -- releasing us from that "original error". Over-identification of mental healing with quantum theory could, possibly, lead to a much more subtle "second error": over-identification with quantum theory. The development of deeper understanding of consciousness has to come from direct experience thereof, with an overview of the learnings/teachings of those deeply practiced in such, along with scientific exploration.

While knowledge of quantum physics may add some insight regarding healing by mind, it is already known that psychophysiological practices (e.g., autogenic training, peripheral and neural biofeedback, Tai Chi, meditation, etc., etc., etc.) are effective tools in varying degrees. (In all of these, mental components are essential.) The involvement of mind in healing is not new, and traditionally not related to quantum theory. The quantum theoretical inclusion of awareness and choice as part of the description of physical reality does not mean that all aspects of consciousness are addressed by physical law. (In some perspectives the inverse, consciousness as source of physical law, may be true. This involves important distinctions within consciousness, especially various levels of individuality and wholeness.) The most salient contribution of quantum theory is the release from the inappropriate prison of the "original error" imposed by classical views.

Even though quantum theory is supporting new creative consideration of mind and body, my concern is that in this "new quantum opening", quantum concepts (even with consideration of human awareness and choice) will lead to an overemphasis on quantum processes (physical law), where (layers of) mental/emotional/"deeper-knowing" processes are central. It is possible that the wisdom leading to mind-oriented healing is deeper than that providing a quantum description of such. In all cases, looking deeply into microscopic processes will eventually lead to some aspect of quantum theory. If all such processes have the word "quantum" attached, that word loses descriptive power.

This response is evoked by the attribution of "quantum healing" to mind-oriented healing in general.