217. DR. GARY MARCUS SANDBAGGED BY NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCE SCIENCE QUESTIONS

#61
The way you use intend (even for your computer examples) really amounts to "follows the laws of physics" - it is almost empty of meaning.
Everything follows laws of physics, so "computers only follow laws of physics" is empty of meaning.

Above, I say that a train "intends" to haul its load, but I'll correct myself. The robot's "intent" to find a green circle is not simply equivalent to a stone rolling downhill, any more than a germ cell mating with another germ cell to create a new cell with a unique pattern of DNA is simply equivalent to the stone, even if both the stone and the cells follow laws of physics. I'll call the mating "creative", but I wouldn't describe a stone rolling downhill this way.

Complexity matters. "Information processing" doesn't describe any matter in motion. It describes specific matter and specific motions. For that matter, a Turing machine doesn't require particular laws of physics at all. Turing machines can "exist" in a universe with entirely different "laws of physics", a "universe" of cellular automata (as in Conway's Game of Life) for example.

Right, but sometimes when confronted with real mysteries it is better to explore rather than try to deduce stuff logically.
Logic constrains the exploration, but consciousness, rather than intelligence, is the mystery I'm trying to explore here. I'm exploring it by process of elimination rather than deductive logic. A robot "intending" to find a green circle need not be conscious. That's my point. I'm ruling this "intention" out of necessary prerequisites for consciousness. We can distinguish this robot's "intention" to find a green circle from a "conscious intention", but then we're talking about consciousness again. Consciousness is a gap in my understanding. I explore it by mapping the space around it, as astronomers explore dark matter by exploring visible matter that can't account for the structure of galaxies.

I think the science of consciousness is at an equally primitive state.
I agree. Confusing artificial intelligence and the like with a science of consciousness is precisely what I'm trying to avoid here. AI is not a science of consciousness. Even if consciousness can somehow emerge in artificial, information processing machinery, we need more than AI to explain this emergence.

Good - I have read that many people cope with their voices by themselves without invoking medical help and possibly being fed strong drugs. I hope things continue to go well for you.
I'm not pathological. I suppose many people experience the "voices" and "personalities" I'm discussing but prefer to describe the experience otherwise. Since the experience is subjective, it's hard to know. I gave up on psychiatry, chemical and otherwise, decades ago.

... even if you call it an hallucination it must involve the coordinated effort of a lot of neurones.
I assume that the experience involves neurons rather than some immaterial mind-stuff able to leave the body but nonetheless experience sensations, like sight, ordinarily involving bodily organs, like eyes. The experiences are clearly enough real, but dreams and other experiences I can associate with NDEs are also real, and without some very persuasive evidence, I associate the NDE with the dreams I know rather than the immaterial mind-stuff I can only imagine.

Er, not exactly, psi research is poorly funded, and electromagnetically shielded rooms and the like don't come cheap.
Well, Shermer's tribe says that it's poorly funded because it hasn't produced much, and I confess that I've read more of their critique than any defense.

Again lets not get wrapped up in semantics - the usual aim in telepathy experiments is to rule out communication by any known means.
Why must telepathy not involve known means? Conventional telepathy must not involve artificial means, but must it somehow violate known laws of physics?

... standard QM rules prevent information passing in entanglement experiments - the entanglement is only detected statistically when both sets of results are compared.
The measurements are statistical, but I believe relativistic QM only rules out faster than light communication, which isn't much of a constraint. Still, I don't understand how a QM wave, for any number of quanta, entangled or otherwise, can be a mechanism for telepathy, and I reflexively dismiss most "quantum" talk in this context. On the other hand, even the quantum talk I learned in school often seemed like gobbledygook. Electromagnetic waves could certainly be a mechanism for telepathy.

... a wave function whose point of collapse is extremely hard to settle, ...
Collapse occurs, definitively, when a quantum interacts in one of a number of possible states. Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see any connection to consciousness.

A chemist tends to think of electrons as waves first, and particles second!
When I was an undergraduate physics major, I never progressed much beyond calculating the eigenstates (orbitals) and eigenvalues (energy levels) of a single electron in a hydrogen atom, and to this day, most "quantum talk" only confuses me, even from physicists.

My feeling is that science tends to push trick problems under the carpet - the simple question, "what is consciousness" is certainly one of them.
Science is about repeatable, measurable phenomena. Consciousness doesn't fit the mold. Denying consciousness also seems silly to me, but denying a science of consciousness may not be.
 
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#62
I don't know how much you know about computers, so let me enlighten you a little.
I have degrees in computer science and applied mathematics, and I've worked in IT for 35 years including a decade at the high energy astrophysics lab at Marshall Space Flight Center. I've also published in Nature, on the cover, but I don't claim much of the credit.

These things are designed to do just that and nothing else, except keep themselves cool with a fan!
O.K. You could also tell me that brains are all neurons and synapses, and I couldn't explain consciousness in one of them either. I'm not claiming that billions of transistors on a silicon chip are or ever could be conscious, but I only claim that billions of neurons can be, because I am billions of neurons (in part at least), and I am also conscious. I have no other reason to associate brains with consciousness, and I'm not sure that everything with a brain is conscious.

My point is that it is utterly absurd to even contemplate the idea that a computer is conscious, ...
I can't go that far with you, because I don't how anything is conscious, but I don't claim that any artifact is conscious or ever will be.

If you wanted to say anything was conscious in there, it would be the computer program, but that in turn is rather like saying that a book might be conscious!
Comparing a dynamic, information processing system, like a computer, to a book makes less sense to me than comparing a computer to a brain; however, neither comparison explains consciousness or lack thereof.
 
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#63
"Thick as a brick" is a colloquialism along the lines of "dumb as a box of rocks". You appear to be taking the figurative as literal and vice versa as and when it pleases you -- who knows, maybe just to be contentious for the heck of it. I have no idea why you're posting here, but won't be responding to anything else you say as I find it a pointless exercise.
I know the colloquialism, but your use of it does compare a computer to a brick, and I'm not accusing you of being contentious for the heck of it. We're also comparing computers to books, and this comparison also seems extreme. Bricks and books don't play chess or Jeopardy or Go or drive cars or translate English into Spanish. I posted here to learn something about NDEs, like experimental protocols and results, and the rest is my response to other people including you.
 
#64
I posted here to learn something about NDEs, like experimental protocols and results,
This is sound. Keeping a border between computation - intelligence - consciousness is also sound. You are making sense Martin.

NDE's, if valid under sufficient rigor and protocol (but not necessarily replication since this is a white crow signal), present a deductive approach to the issue of consciousness. Whereas guessing that simple computation models at some point in scale or complexity, magically become conscious - is abductive or inductive at best. Weak forms of inference in perspective to such an important question.

So NDE's do skip over the issue of intelligence a bit. Not my favorite thing to do, addressing a more complex topic experimentally first. But that is the situation we are given. However, since it offers falsifying/alternative-deducting inference potential, NDE's might be the best research horizon we have at our avail. You will notice that, unlike in the case of your self, there exists a LOT of resistance to conducting such research - as being inductively unnecessary (failing Ockham's Razor). We are battle-worn from fighting such faking skeptics... You probably sense this. :)

Your nose has led you to the critical path question. If an NDE can be shown to be real - and not the process of a dying computation set inside mere biology - then the idea that consciousness is bound inside the set of monist discrete objects ....has been falsified.

It does not prove anything else (and Woo believers will go unsuitably giddy) - it only falsifies the compliment (is deductive).

I contend that this has already been done.
 
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#65
Above, I say that a train "intends" to haul its load, but I'll correct myself. The robot's "intent" to find a green circle is not simply equivalent to a stone rolling downhill, any more than a germ cell mating with another germ cell to create a new cell with a unique pattern of DNA is simply equivalent to the stone, even if both the stone and the cells follow laws of physics. I'll call the mating "creative", but I wouldn't describe a stone rolling downhill this way.
Right - I wondered if you would argue that point.

I think if you follow that argument, you find it denies consciousness to a brain unless you allow it to some degree to alarm clocks, computers, and trains, etc. Note that within conventional science it is meaningless to designate certain things as creative, they all simply follow the laws of physics. You either follow conventional science, or you recognise that it is probably seriously incomplete and wrong in some cases.

The explanation that a lot of people - including some physicists - are coming round to, is that the brain is really a receiver of consciousness, not its generator. A loose analogy can be made with a radio controlled robot on another planet. Like with those robots, some sensory information is pre-processed locally, and some simple feedback loops work locally (not least because of the time delay in the case of planetary robots). This immediately makes NDE's and OBE's comprehensible, and multiple personality disorder also make a lot more sense - two or more consciousnesses tuned to one mind.

It also means that life may continue after death without violating common sense, and mediums can be taken seriously. Look up the podcasts that Alex did with Julie Beischel. She is a statistician who decided to number of mediums to the test. She was well aware of the usual 'explanations' of mediums - that they used cold reading to obtain information about the deceased, or nowadays that they used the internet to obtain information ahead of the reading. She devised a multiply blinded protocol so that a medium did not meet the deceased relative, did not know the the names of the people involved, and communicated with a intermediary who also did not know any of that information.

You would naturally expect that under those conditions the result would be pure guesswork. The next stage was to give the relative a transcript of two such readings, only one of which belonged to their loved one. The test was whether the relatives could pick out 'their' reading. I forget the statistics exactly, but the outcome of this experiment was highly statistically significant. Even working under such extreme conditions some mediums could produce consistent results!

Most of the 'impossible' things claimed by parapsychology, make much more sense if the consciousness is distinct from the brain and probably distinct from matter - Dualism.

It is easy to baulk at th eabove, but remember that consciousness is such a mystery, the explanation is likely to be rather earth-shaking!

David
 
#66
Bricks and books don't play chess or Jeopardy or Go or drive cars or translate English into Spanish.
Actually books do play chess, drive cars and translate English into Spanish - but they do so via printed or electronic image static schema. I would contend that a computer is a dynamic manifestation of that same schema, simply in a user interactive form. In celestial navigation, I use the Nautical Almanac and the sight reduction tables in Pub 229 or similar in order to calculate my geographic position, from a sufficient set of celestial observation and chronometer inputs. With a navigation computer (or even GPS for that matter) I am doing the same exact sets of disciplines and calculations as the book. With GPS, I no longer have to carry the Nautical Almanac and Pub 229 (save for emergency conditions). The books have been deployed in a user friendly, portable and streamlined interactive electrical format. But they are still 'books'.

As the head of a $100+ million IT firm, I and my teams developed some of the most sophisticated modeling, trade and forecasting systems available. I sold the IP functional cores of such packages to SAP, Oracle, etc. We worked with neural modeling and AI firms to craft the functionality. As sophisticated as these packages were - they were still simply an API enabled and interactive schema of proprietary standards and principles my advisory firm had developed over 30 years. I am selling a small static framework of my knowledge, in such a way that it produces revenue which could not be derived through flying there, and performing small perfunctory tasks with 150 people, in person.

They were a way of deploying proprietary practice and understanding schema, into the hands of our clients, in a fashion congruent with a 'how to' book. Yet they were far still closer to a book, than they were even remotely near the mind of a savvy 30 year executive developinig novel practices and groundbreaking new understandings inside that same discipline.

I think that the logical calculus fatal flaw here resides in, similar to Wolfram's approach, underestimating what indeed is a mind, while overestimating his 'highest level of computational sophistication'. This unbalances the playing field a priori, and tampers with the process so that material monism is the only possible result - a circular argument.
 
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#67

Hoffman speaks often of evolution and selection pressure, etc. and might seem like a Darwinist. But is he? I too accept RM + NS have an effect, but only at the microevolutionary level; what causes major developments in body form (macroevolution) above the level of genus is still unknown. I haven't seen him being directly asked the question, but nothing I've so far heard him say, to my mind at least, implies he's completely swallowed the conventional view of Darwinism.

His flavour of idealism (a bit like but not exactly the same as bishop Berkeley's, as Hoffman explains in the video) isn't saying that chairs and tables don't exist, only that they are a shorthand way of our interpreting reality, which may not actually be literally anything like tables and chairs. Some flavours of idealism grant that there is a reality, but the "thing in itself" (Kant's "Ding an sich") can never be directly perceived; it always appears to us as what Hoffman might call an "icon": a kind of shadow of what is actually existent, good enough for us to survive, with a bit left over for constructing our hypotheses about reality that we employ in empirically-based science.

I enjoyed this video btw, but I don’t think it’s far away from a pretty mainstream view of perception. You’ll probably be aware that my favourite reference point is colour. In ‘reality’ there is no such thing as colour, only different wavelengths of light. We filter these wavelengths of light through our retinae and subsequent visual pathways to represent colour, but these colours (or qualia) are illusions.

So the idealist and the ‘mainstream materialist’ hold similar positions with respect to this, but the idealist tries to go further and deny any interaction with an external reality at all, and everything is in experience/awareness. I can think of a few facts that are difficult to reconcile with such a model. But before we get in to that, is there anything I’ve written with which you disagree?
 
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#68
You’ll probably be aware that my favourite reference point is colour. In ‘reality’ there is no such thing as colour, only different wavelengths of light. We filter these wavelengths of light through our retinae and subsequent visual pathways to represent colour, but these colours (or qualia) are illusions.
Are all qualia - such as pain and suffering - illusions too?
Perhaps that overlaps with some Buddhist ideas. I'm not sure though that to most people, having their sufferings so readily dismissed is entirely appropriate.
 
#69
I enjoyed this video btw, but I don’t think it’s far away from a pretty mainstream view of perception. You’ll probably be aware that my favourite reference point is colour. In ‘reality’ there is no such thing as colour, only different wavelengths of light. We filter these wavelengths of light through our retinae and subsequent visual pathways to represent colour, but these colours (or qualia) are illusions.

So the idealist and the ‘mainstream materialist’ hold similar positions with respect to this, but the idealist tries to go further and deny any interaction with an external reality at all, and everything is in experience/awareness. I can think of a few facts that are difficult to reconcile with such a model. But before we get in to that, is there anything I’ve written with which you disagree?
Well, you can say that there's no such thing as colour from a materialistic viewpoint, but there certainly is such a thing as the impression in our minds that "certain wavelengths of light" make. That's expressing things in the usual materialistic terminology; however, that reflects the materialistic paradigm that everything is caused by interaction of particles and forces, and that is the very point that I as an idealist would challenge.

To my mind, particles and forces have no reality: they're just useful models. The real causality doesn't reside in particles and forces, but in processes occurring in universal consciousness which happen to present an appearance to perception of something we can model as particles and forces.

I don't agree with what you say here: We filter these wavelengths of light through our retinae and subsequent visual pathways to represent colour, but these colours (or qualia) are illusions." Again, that is based on a materialistic viewpoint, on accepting models of reality as actual reality. As a matter of fact, the only things we perceive are qualia: everything else is an interpretative model. It is the qualia that are nearest the real: if they're illusions, then all of science is an illusion since it is based on the qualia we empirically observe. I believe it's rather the case that what's unreal are the models which physicalism reifies and arbitrarily gives precedence over qualia.

This is a conceptual trap, which materialists have the greatest difficulty avoiding; having constructed what are, after all, only models of reality, they then argue their case based on the assumed concrete reality of those models -- and that's a form of circular reasoning.

One difficulty with trying to talk about idealism is that ordinary language necessarily makes it difficult to express things in non-mechanistic terms. We tend to think in terms of causality as usually understood: such-and-such happened, and there must be a rational way of explaining that involving particles and forces.

Sure, we can come up with all sorts of explanations that may or may not model a situation well, but the fact is, no physical model of the universe is completely consistent, one of the most egregious examples being the fundamental inconsistency of general relativity and quantum theory. You may get a stack of physicists a mile high swearing that one or the other is correct, but none of them can say both are correct, and to my mind that tells me there's something wrong with physicalist interpretations of the world. Quite possibly, both GR and QT as currently understood are incorrect, albeit good enough for purposes of modelling working technologies.
 
#70
This is sound. Keeping a border between computation - intelligence - consciousness is also sound. You are making sense Martin.
Thanks, ES. I'm still struggling to pay $52 for the Kindle version of the NDE Handbook, but I listened to this four-part lecture by one of the editors.


The subjective impressions of ND experiencers are interesting and worthy of research for their own sake, but Holden's reports of veridical perception in this lecture disappoints me. She says that only a hundred of 3000 NDE subjects studied report these perceptions, and of the hundred, Holden discusses only three cases in any detail. She most often discusses a woman who envisioned her father buying a candy bar from a vending machine at the hospital while the women was in cardiac arrest. The other cases are similarly anecdotal. Dreaming of one's father with a candy bar while he actually eats a candy bar is not a very convincing example. If the father habitually eats sweets under stress, his daughter would know it. Sifting through 3000 cases to find one report of this sort is not science and is not compelling anecdotally either. An anecdotal observation could be more compelling. I'd like more examples, but I suppose Holden chose three of the most compelling she knows to discuss, and she chose to emphasize this one.

A protocol with potentially compelling results is not difficult to devise or costly to implement. Ask people before open heart surgery to participate in a study. Instruct a patient experiencing an OBE during the surgery to look for a four digit number (chosen at random before the surgery) displayed somewhere in the room not visible to the patient. Silently display the number after the patient is unconscious and remove it before the patient regains consciousness. Have a few experimenters witness the protocol. If ten patients out of a thousand accurately report the number after surgery, the result is highly significant, even if twenty others report the number inaccurately. Five digit numbers yield even more significant results.

This sort of protocol is not unduly rigorous. If it produces a significant result, the phenomenon raises many, very difficult questions for both materialists and their critics. How does a disembodied consciousness see without eyes? If a disembodied soul requires no eyes to see, why do embodied souls have eyes? What evolutionary pressure selects eyes for beings that can see without eyes? One need not be a zealous materialist to demand compelling evidence of a phenomenon raising such difficult questions.

"Soul" does not suggest anything religious or supernatural here. I routinely refer to my consciousness as "my soul" without assuming anything supernatural. Souls need not be immaterial or separable from a material embodiment. Traditional theology doesn't always count human souls among the immortals.

Holden also says that not all of her "NDE" subjects were near death (stopped heart for example). Most were, but she's also studying subjective experiences associated with other, highly stressful situations or a perception of imminent death, like an experience during a fall in a rock climbing accident.
 
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#71
Thanks, ES. I'm still struggling to pay $52 for the Kindle version of the NDE Handbook, but I listened to this four-part lecture by one of the editors.

A protocol with potentially compelling results is not difficult to devise or costly to implement. Ask people before open heart surgery to participate in a study. Instruct a patient experiencing an OBE during the surgery to look for a four digit number (chosen at random before the surgery) displayed somewhere in the room not visible to the patient. Silently display the number after the patient is unconscious and remove it before the patient regains consciousness. Have a few experimenters witness the protocol. If ten patients out of a thousand accurately report the number after surgery, the result is highly significant, even if twenty others report the number inaccurately.

This sort of protocol is not unduly rigorous. If it produces a significant result, the phenomenon raises many, very difficult questions for both materialists and their critics. How does a disembodied consciousness see without eyes? If a disembodied soul requires no eyes to see, why do embodied souls have eyes? What evolutionary pressure selects eyes for a being that can see without eyes? One need not be a zealous materialist to demand compelling evidence of a phenomenon raising such difficult questions.

"Soul" does not suggest anything religious or supernatural here. I routinely refer to my consciousness as "my soul" without assuming anything supernatural. Souls need not be immaterial or separable from a material embodiment. Traditional theology doesn't always count human souls among the immortals.

Holden also says that not all of her "NDE" subjects were near death (stopped heart for example). Most were, but she's also studying subjective experiences associated with other, highly stressful situations or a perception of imminent death, like an experience during a fall in a rock climbing accident.
100% Agreed Martin:

1. Soul is a placeholder for an inductively indicated construct (not a hypothesis, because it is not mature yet). But still of value. So I use the term poetically and not analytically.

2. An anecdote to the negative modus absens is just an anecdote, however an anecdote to the positive modus praesens is either inductive data or deductive falsification. We are hoping for the latter.

3. Your protocol is very sensible. In order for the test to be double blind however, only a few actual instances will discover the number, because the number would be sufficiently concealed and the medical team could not be led, nor lead the patient there (double blind). Such veridical cases would and should be few and far between.

My favorite is this one, from Salon Mag in 2012

Maria was a migrant worker who had a severe heart attack while visiting friends in Seattle. She was rushed to Harborview Hospital and placed in the coronary care unit. A few days later, she had a cardiac arrest but was rapidly resuscitated. The following day, [her social care worker Kimberly] Clark visited her. Maria told Clark that during her cardiac arrest she was able to look down from the ceiling and watch the medical team at work on her body. At one point in this experience, said Maria, she found herself outside the hospital and spotted a tennis shoe on the ledge of the north side of the third floor of the building. She was able to provide several details regarding its appearance, including the observations that one of its laces was stuck underneath the heel and that the little toe area was worn. Maria wanted to know for sure whether she had “really” seen that shoe, and she begged Clark to try to locate it.

Quite skeptical, Clark went to the location described by Maria—and found the tennis shoe. From the window of her hospital room, the details that Maria had recounted could not be discerned. But upon retrieval of the shoe, Clark confirmed Maria’s observations. “The only way she could have had such a perspective,” said Clark, “was if she had been floating right outside and at very close range to the tennis shoe. I retrieved the shoe and brought it back to Maria; it was very concrete evidence for me.”

What this and probably a couple hundreds cases just like it serve to establish is deductive falsifying evidence. However, that does not mean that science has proved the hypothesis in this case. It DOES however mean that Ockham's Razor has been met and surpassed - the ethical balance has changed.

Plurality should not be posited without necessity.​
We now have necessity. The subject should be actively studied as a leading hypothesis as a result. No stigma. The problem is - the resistance to studying this emanates from a powerful anti-science movement.
 
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#72
Are all qualia - such as pain and suffering - illusions too?
I don’t think we can totally discount that possibility. I can instantly stop pain with local anaesthesia. Where does it go? Like colour, did it ever really exist? Like Hoffman says, we need to start thinking differently to crack this.

Perhaps that overlaps with some Buddhist ideas.
Perhaps. There is a certain intuition to it.


I'm not sure though that to most people, having their sufferings so readily dismissed is entirely appropriate.
I don’t mind being inappropriate sometimes ;)
 
#73
A protocol with potentially compelling results is not difficult to devise or costly to implement. Ask people before open heart surgery to participate in a study. Instruct a patient experiencing an OBE during the surgery to look for a four digit number (chosen at random before the surgery) displayed somewhere in the room not visible to the patient. Silently display the number after the patient is unconscious and remove it before the patient regains consciousness. Have a few experimenters witness the protocol. If ten patients out of a thousand accurately report the number after surgery, the result is highly significant, even if twenty others report the number inaccurately. Five digit numbers yield even more significant results.

This sort of protocol is not unduly rigorous.
Yes. It is unduly rigorous.

It assumes that a person who is dying and experiencing the shocking novelty of leaving their body is going to remember, or care, or have the control over the OBE to focus on some 4 or 5 digit numbers. Why would a person in that state of awareness give a flying flip about someone's protocols?
 
#74
Thanks, ES. I'm still struggling to pay $52 for the Kindle version of the NDE Handbook, but I listened to this four-part lecture by one of the editors.


The subjective impressions of ND experiencers are interesting and worthy of research for their own sake, but Holden's reports of veridical perception in this lecture disappoints me. She says that only a hundred of 3000 NDE subjects studied report these perceptions, and of the hundred, Holden discusses only three cases in any detail. She most often discusses a woman who envisioned her father buying a candy bar from a vending machine at the hospital while the women was in cardiac arrest. The other cases are similarly anecdotal. Dreaming of one's father with a candy bar while he actually eats a candy bar is not a very convincing example. If the father habitually eats sweets under stress, his daughter would know it. Sifting through 3000 cases to find one report of this sort is not science and is not compelling anecdotally either. An anecdotal observation could be more compelling. I'd like more examples, but I suppose Holden chose three of the most compelling she knows to discuss, and she chose to emphasize this one.

A protocol with potentially compelling results is not difficult to devise or costly to implement. Ask people before open heart surgery to participate in a study. Instruct a patient experiencing an OBE during the surgery to look for a four digit number (chosen at random before the surgery) displayed somewhere in the room not visible to the patient. Silently display the number after the patient is unconscious and remove it before the patient regains consciousness. Have a few experimenters witness the protocol. If ten patients out of a thousand accurately report the number after surgery, the result is highly significant, even if twenty others report the number inaccurately. Five digit numbers yield even more significant results.

This sort of protocol is not unduly rigorous. If it produces a significant result, the phenomenon raises many, very difficult questions for both materialists and their critics. How does a disembodied consciousness see without eyes? If a disembodied soul requires no eyes to see, why do embodied souls have eyes? What evolutionary pressure selects eyes for beings that can see without eyes? One need not be a zealous materialist to demand compelling evidence of a phenomenon raising such difficult questions.

"Soul" does not suggest anything religious or supernatural here. I routinely refer to my consciousness as "my soul" without assuming anything supernatural. Souls need not be immaterial or separable from a material embodiment. Traditional theology doesn't always count human souls among the immortals.

Holden also says that not all of her "NDE" subjects were near death (stopped heart for example). Most were, but she's also studying subjective experiences associated with other, highly stressful situations or a perception of imminent death, like an experience during a fall in a rock climbing accident.
this is Shermer-esque :) i.e. way behind the curve re the NDE research. these are all questions that have been hashed out again and again over the yrs.
Dr. Michael Shermer on Near-Death Experience Science |379 - Skeptiko
 
#76
They shouldn’t.

But what this is seeking to establish is why anyone should give a flip about people’s experience stories.
Why does anyone give a flip about anything? Why give a flip about "science" or philosophy? It's just doomed bundles of neurons quacking away in a mechanical universe, right?
 
#77
Why does anyone give a flip about anything? Why give a flip about "science" or philosophy? It's just doomed bundles of neurons quacking away in a mechanical universe, right?
Chin up ;) Whatever the nature of reality, it’s absolutely mind-blowing, and our understanding incomplete. Thus science, philosophy etc.
 
#78
Chin up ;) Whatever the nature of reality, it’s absolutely mind-blowing, and our understanding incomplete. Thus science, philosophy etc.
If science and philosophy are approaches limited to a narrow range of human perceptual potentials, then you will never get to the larger truth because you will always be operating within a closed system.

You start with the premise that mind = brain and the universe is made of matter only and you use tools made of matter and brain, you merely end up confirming your original premise.

Of course, it doesn't have to be that way. An truly objective researcher would be honest about the limits of the tools. When the tools fail to account for the data, he would realize that he needs a new tool. However, honest objective researchers are few and far between. What usually happens instead is that the data that the tool cannot address is tossed out (you did this yourself, "But what this is seeking to establish is why anyone should give a flip about people’s experience stories"). This is what dishonest/unethical skeptics do.

The man with a hammer just wants a bigger hammer when he fails to accomplish digging a hole with his regular hammer. He never decides he needs a shovel. And he then goes on to declare that digging holes is stupid and irrelevant.
 
#79
Yes. It is unduly rigorous.

It assumes that a person who is dying and experiencing the shocking novelty of leaving their body is going to remember, or care, or have the control over the OBE to focus on some 4 or 5 digit numbers. Why would a person in that state of awareness give a flying flip about someone's protocols?
I'm open to other suggestions.

You're saying that a null result (no significant reports of the numbers) would not prove the non-existence of immaterial souls leaving bodies and somehow seeing without eyes. You're right. Proving a negative is difficult, and the experiment is not designed to prove the negative. A null result is inconclusive, but a positive result is conclusive. That's the point. If you want conclusive evidence of the hypothesized phenomenon, a positive result from this type of experiment could provide it while the anecdotes described in Holden's lecture are also inconclusive.
 
#80
this is Shermer-esque :) i.e. way behind the curve re the NDE research. these are all questions that have been hashed out again and again over the yrs.
I heard the episode with Shermer but didn't hear the questions addressed. Does the research reported in Holden's handbook address them?
 
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