Mod+ 246. DR. MICHAEL GRAZIANO LIKENS NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE RESEARCH TO ASTROLOGY

#61
Alex,

Is there any way to take the MOD+ designation off this thread, because I'd absolutely love to read the skeptics discussing this guy :)

David
 
#62
Just wanted to voice my profound appreciation for your work Alex. Deep Gratitude.

Loved the interview, you ask some great questions, but I couldn't help feeling that you went very lightly on Dr Graziano. Towards the end of the interview, it sounded to me like you just gave up with Dr Graziano.

I don't know if it was me projecting my own inner sense of exasperation towards Dr Graziano onto the interview I heard, or if you kind of did just end it like you did, amiably, but out of a sense of - "I honestly give up, we're going nowhere here, you don't know what you are talking about, thank you and good day".

Nevertheless, great interview Alex. Can't get enough of your work ... It has had, and is having, such a profound effect on shaping my world view, and therefore my world, that I can't thank you enough for the show, and your interest and honesty in exploring the most important topics of mankind.

Soul
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#65
Going to throw out another recommendation, Feser's refutation of Paul Churchland's critique of dualism.

Though Feser is specifically seeking to defend a particular viewpoint of what a soul is, the arguments he makes largely apply to any immaterialist conception of the mind.

And in case I didn't mention it, the posts of Ian Thompson (here) and Nbtruthman (here, here, here) on this subject are also worth a read.

Thompson actually has a site dedicate to the proposition of substance dualism here.
 
#66
On the other hand, I really hate to say it, but I personally think he's absolutely correct about the angle taken by Jeffrey Schwartz. I read his book The Mind and the Brain, which was an incredible book. But I think Schwartz is just wrong about how the ability of thought to affect the brain is proof of a kind of substance dualism in which mind is ontologically different than brain. I think Graziano's response is one hundred percent correct--we have always known that the mind's activities have an effect on the brain. So whereas I think highly of Schwartz (and am very glad he'll be on the show--congratulations!), I just don't think he's correct about this. And the unfortunate effect is that by offering up his argument as decisive evidence against materialism, we are lobbing up a softball for the materialists to knock out of the park.
I agree with this, and I have always felt it was unfortunate that people pull this out as absolute proof that mind != brain. To put it at its most simple, a computer program can modify itself (usually not usefully, but not always!).

I actually agreed with most of what you said, and since Michael Graziano has placed his email address at the top of his website, I think you might want to send him your views, or even try to persuade him to post here!

The one point that I didn't quite agree with you, was the idea that he was smug. I felt that he is an incredibly intelligent man - who writes music and studies theoretical physics as hobbies - who is jammed stuck in the hole of materialism in a spectacular way! In a way, I feel sorry for him - indeed I suspect he knows his theory is wrong! I rather hope he retreated from that interview and went to read all the papers that he should have read before he came on the show! In a way, I wonder if he himself is ripe for a paradigm shift.

I am really glad that that interview didn't turn bitter, because I think it is important for all of us to be reminded just how empty materialism is. It really is the case that materialist consciousness ends up concluding that consciousness doesn't exist!

David
 
#67
Loved the interview, you ask some great questions, but I couldn't help feeling that you went very lightly on Dr Graziano. Towards the end of the interview, it sounded to me like you just gave up with Dr Graziano.
No - I think there is no sense in being rude to guests. I think if a guest reveals the shortcomings of his work, it is probably best to leave it at that. I'm sure that guys like Dr Graziano are extraordinarily difficult to interview, because they want to say something that is fundamentally daft - rather like interviewing a guy who thinks there is a squirrel in his head :)

David
 
#68
Dualism is perfectly justified as a property of nature. Athough in nature it's particle-wave duality. The way I look at it is that from the outside looking in, quantum systems appear to have eigenstates that are chosen at random; but from the inside looking out, random eigenstates are equivalent to a free will by whatever spirit exists therein.
I like that idea, however I think that reality may appear dualist, but ultimately be idealist. The problem with dualism is that something has to couple the mental and physical worlds together - even if all the mental world can do is collapse wave functions.

it is my opinion that there is only one observer, and that observer is God. God is infinite consciousness. Souls are individualized subsets of God's awareness, with freewill. It is perfectly reasonable that an Infinite Consciousness will want to experience many things. Would it create universes, and then extend senses into that universe to experience it? Why not? Game designers do it all the time. When God senses universes that He (or She) creates, those senses are a living consciousness that is shaped by spirit substance.
Personally, I'd just rather we didn't take that word 'God' and stretch its meaning quite so far. I think most people understand the concept of God to be an entity that is not us, but who can reward or punish us. If all consciousness is coupled together, perhaps I'd rather say that. I think people vary to the extent to which they have been burned by the tyranny of the Church, and its concept of God - they don't like to see that introduced in a different form.
This spirit substance is molded and shaped by many lifetimes of reincarnation into fleshy bodies that are themselves driven by evolutionary forces. While evolution may be driven by necessity, I fear I may not be able to prove to your satisfaction that a spirit or soul is necessary, other than to say that the soul is along for the ride whether it wants to be or not.
I used to believe in evolution by natural selection, but the interesting thing is that there do seem to be powerful arguments that this didn't happen. One of the crucial points is that while NS can remove some of the combinatorial explosion associated with a blind search, it can't remove all of it.

It is better to make the most practical use of religions, mysticism and faith than to attempt a full explanation of consciousness. Scientists are too optimistic in their belief that EVERYTHING can be measured and proven. I assure you it is not so. Nature can be as mysterious in its refusal to account for it's actions without any paradoxes or instabilities. You would all be well advised to turn to religion, mysticism, magic, New Age crystals or any other topic that has a chance to work it's magic rather than to go down this road. Take it as faith that you have a soul and go on to something more delightful. If you continue down this road, you will become lost in probabilities and whirlwinds of mathematics that do not care if they tear your mind apart.
Well I think several speakers, such as Dr. Graziano, are supplying the proof that physical explanations of consciousness are impossible - unless you start from the axiom that it doesn't exist - LOL! One part of having faith that you have a soul, is to see how empty the alternative is.

David
 
#69
Personally, I'd just rather we didn't take that word 'God' and stretch its meaning quite so far. I think most people understand the concept of God to be an entity that is not us, but who can reward or punish us.
Personally - and I guess this is all any of us can do here - I'd steer as far clear of the ideas of reward and punishment as possible. For one thing it has echoes of a vengeful God of the Old Testament, and for another reward and punishment really belong in the materialist framework and don't fit anywhere near the concept of God which I hold.
 
#70
David Bailey said:
Personally, I'd just rather we didn't take that word 'God' and stretch its meaning quite so far. I think most people understand the concept of God to be an entity that is not us, but who can reward or punish us. If all consciousness is coupled together, perhaps I'd rather say that. I think people vary to the extent to which they have been burned by the tyranny of the Church, and its concept of God - they don't like to see that introduced in a different form.
Many near death experiences include encounters with God, Jesus, beings of light, etc. For this reason, I don't believe it's possible to remove God. All we can really say is that, from the NDE literature, there is very little evidence of a wrathful old testament God that punishes. There is evidence that many atheists go to heaven and some Christians and atheists get a little bit too close to hell, to close for comfort. That really implies that a few people have to change their evil ways. Given the failure of physicists to explain how the laws of physics were created or how the physics constants are set, and given that God continues to make appearances, there is no reason to dismiss God. The idea that we are separate entities from God, or each other, flies in the face of NDE research and also doesn't sit well quantum physics, quantum entanglement and quantum field theory. I maintain my position that we are all part of God akin to individual senses of the Creator. That would reaffirm that God an Infinite Intelligence, Infinite consciousness that is irreducible. By irreducible, I mean that God is infinite consciousness, that consciousness cannot be created without a soul, a soul is always part of God. It would mean that each of us is a tiny spark of the divine Creator.

I like that idea, however I think that reality may appear dualist, but ultimately be idealist. The problem with dualism is that something has to couple the mental and physical worlds together - even if all the mental world can do is collapse wave functions.
If I am right in describing a spirit as having qualities similar to a quantum field, that quantum field can be trapped in a potential energy well, then it would mean that we simply have to locate possible potential energy wells in the cells of the living organism in order to figure out how the spirit connects to the physical body. When we die and our spirit leaves the body, the particle component drops away leaving only the quantum field, which is traditionally referred to as the spirit or the soul. Only then do we become unified.
 
#71
Many near death experiences include encounters with God, Jesus, beings of light, etc. For this reason, I don't believe it's possible to remove God. All we can really say is that, from the NDE literature, there is very little evidence of a wrathful old testament God that punishes.
All I really want is a name change. The word 'God' is hopelessly bound to an idea that isn't what you are talking about. That idea has enormous pull, and anyone in the West who talks about 'God' is likely to get understood as talking about the traditional Christian God.

There is evidence that many atheists go to heaven and some Christians and atheists get a little bit too close to hell, to close for comfort. That really implies that a few people have to change their evil ways.
If you mean hellish NDE's, I understand that studies don't show any indication that these happen to 'bad' people.Of course, you can assume their evil is somehow concealed, but there are obvious alternative explanations for hellish NDE's.

Given the failure of physicists to explain how the laws of physics were created or how the physics constants are set, and given that God continues to make appearances, there is no reason to dismiss God.
Again, this is a semantic issue. The 'God' of the Bible has (and still does) fueled enormous cruelty, we really need a new word.
The idea that we are separate entities from God, or each other, flies in the face of NDE research and also doesn't sit well quantum physics, quantum entanglement and quantum field theory. I maintain my position that we are all part of God akin to individual senses of the Creator. That would reaffirm that God an Infinite Intelligence, Infinite consciousness that is irreducible. By irreducible, I mean that God is infinite consciousness, that consciousness cannot be created without a soul, a soul is always part of God. It would mean that each of us is a tiny spark of the divine Creator.
I am very cautious about using religious language. Part of the problem is that it always sounds as if we know far more than we really do. I mean, we don't know for sure that the community of coupled conscious entities that you like to call 'God' actually exists - though I agree the evidence does point that way. We certainly don't know if it is infinite, nor do we know what a soul is, unless we understand it as simply a disembodied mind.
I used to have a materialistic POV, and one of the big problems with that - as exemplified by the podcast - is that people assume they know far more than they really do - I suspect this may also be a problem nowadays with science generally. Therefore, I am reluctant to see us fall into the same trap with a new understanding of reality.

If I am right in describing a spirit as having qualities similar to a quantum field, that quantum field can be trapped in a potential energy well, then it would mean that we simply have to locate possible potential energy wells in the cells of the living organism in order to figure out how the spirit connects to the physical body. When we die and our spirit leaves the body, the particle component drops away leaving only the quantum field, which is traditionally referred to as the spirit or the soul. Only then do we become unified.
I am very cautious about connecting anything spiritual with physics. Quantum mechanics and quantum fields follow strict mathematical laws, with a random component thrown in. In that sense, they are mechanistic. To me, there is nothing mind-like about mechanism, and indeed materialism is endlessly stuck because it wants to explain consciousness mechanistically, but that doesn't make sense.

I agree, it is tempting to think that QM has something important to tell us about the relationship between mind and matter, but I don't think it is at all obvious. Remember that the quantum field that describes the particles of our bodies, continues to describe those particles after a person becomes a corpse! The idea of the quantum field just flying away after death doesn't fit with physics. Indeed, the concept of the quantum field applies to all matter, dead or alive.

I am a great believer in keeping a very open mind about all this!

David
 
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#72
The problem is that literature – yeah, I’m sure if you go to people or you go to astrologers you would get a unanimous account of how astrology is valid. I think maybe a little bit of this is going on here with respect to NDEs.
The problem is in Graziano by largely ignoring the NDE literature.

There’s an NDE world out there. I would say that it’s very, very difficult and I’m very skeptical of the claim that the brain is actually non-functioning.
Okay, but NDEs still evidence that the mind can act independently of the nervous system although it has brain activity during NDEs because extrasensory and veridical experiences and cases "Peak in Darien". But I guess he will not accept this by him knowledge of NDEs...

There is no mind or experience independent of the functioning of the brain.
Graziano said before, there are no scanning methods currently to check for brain activity during NDEs, now he says there is no experience independent of brain activity. That's the spirit of a genuine truth seeker! :)

I was going to say one of the cornerstone observations from which all neuroscience emerged is that damage the brain and you damage bits and pieces of the mind and that observation, you know, from Hippocrates on is, like I said, a cornerstone.
Yes, but that does not imply that the mind-brain function is not more complex, because NDEs and other phenomena ( aparitions, mediumship...) point to that the mind is a transmissive function of the brain: mind and brain affect each other, but the mind continues to exist after the brain death.

I don’t know any serious or reputable scientists who have bothered to do experiments to refute psychic phenomena
I do know it; that's your problem.
 
#73
In the recent Alexander/Novella debate the latter claimed he could induce an OBE by manipulating the brain. If this is true why bother with studies like AWARE? Surely you could just flick a brain switch, get someone out of their body and look for hidden targets?
 
#74
I agree with this, and I have always felt it was unfortunate that people pull this out as absolute proof that mind != brain. To put it at its most simple, a computer program can modify itself (usually not usefully, but not always!).

I actually agreed with most of what you said, and since Michael Graziano has placed his email address at the top of his website, I think you might want to send him your views, or even try to persuade him to post here!

The one point that I didn't quite agree with you, was the idea that he was smug. I felt that he is an incredibly intelligent man - who writes music and studies theoretical physics as hobbies - who is jammed stuck in the hole of materialism in a spectacular way! In a way, I feel sorry for him - indeed I suspect he knows his theory is wrong! I rather hope he retreated from that interview and went to read all the papers that he should have read before he came on the show! In a way, I wonder if he himself is ripe for a paradigm shift.

I am really glad that that interview didn't turn bitter, because I think it is important for all of us to be reminded just how empty materialism is. It really is the case that materialist consciousness ends up concluding that consciousness doesn't exist!

David
Please could you link 4-5 papers he "should have read" before he came on the show?
 
#75
Yes. I had some sympathy for Graziano's points until he started implying that he ruled out all psychic phenomena without so much at a glance at the literature.
Can't really blame him. He's a brain expert, so focused on his subject matter that his brain has produced a cartoonish view of reality. But I can't believe Alex wasn't all over that. I know he's focused on NDE stuff these days, but really--40 years of Ganzfeld experiments, and experiments by Bem, Radin, others, and Alex just lets it slide with Graziano not only dismissing it but laughing about it. Interesting.

Cheers,
Bill
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#77
I actually think using "God" as a signifier for a variety of concepts is good so long as one explains at the outset what the term refers to.

The reason I think this is a good think for anyone interested in further scientific exploration of the Numinous/Imaginal/Phenomenal is that both fundamentalists of varied faiths and materialist evangelicals have attempted to enshrine a False Dilemma that there's only a choice between particular religious doctrines and the supposed rational view that leads to libertarian/liberal values held by secular humanists.

This in turn makes parapsychology into a political affair, and this battle between extremes even extends to philosophy of mind and research into quantum consciousness. (The latter b/c if quantum processes are indeed genuinely random it suggests that inspite of intrinsic chaos that should make our will random we have stable civilizations....which in turn suggests every human thought is miraculous.)
 
#78
I do think Graziano had at least one point that should be taken more seriously in our discussions of what exactly NDEs prove and how they do it. I think it may be a mistake for us to harp on the fact that NDEs show that people can have substantial conscious experiences without brain function. After all, it IS very difficult to get hard data showing that there is no brain function at the exact time the experiences are happening. It seems to me that skeptics are right to point out that it needs to be shown (1) that there was a point for the NDEr at which they had no brain function and (2) that the experience happened AT EXACTLY THAT TIME, and not, for instance, as the brain was shutting down or coming back online. It seems to me that the best way to prove when the experiences actually happened is to focus on information that the subjects obtained that they couldn't have known had they not been conscious at the very time that they had no brain function. It's my impression (from listening to a lot of Skeptiko episodes!) that these cases do exist in the literature, and I think they are the ones that need to be focused on during a debate with a skeptic. That being said, someone who believes in psychic phenomena might not be convinced by them: what's to rule out the possibility that the person was not conscious during the time their brain was offline but, when they began to revive, their brain had clairvoyant access to past events? Just saying--the subject of proof can get very murky!
Hi Sharon... I think we been conditioned to accept this kind of apologetics... but it's a mistake to go down this path. Science and medicine isn't about proof (that's for mathematics) it's about theories that best fit the data. We should not bend over backwards to jam a materialistic model of mind=brain into the NDE phenomena.
 
#79
... but I couldn't help feeling that you went very lightly on Dr Graziano. Towards the end of the interview, it sounded to me like you just gave up with Dr Graziano.

I don't know if it was me projecting my own inner sense of exasperation towards Dr Graziano onto the interview I heard, or if you kind of did just end it like you did, amiably, but out of a sense of - "I honestly give up, we're going nowhere here, you don't know what you are talking about, thank you and good day".
well, he is a likable guy... and at this point (i.e. ep. 246) we all know where these kind of discussions are going. no need to pile on :)

BTW thx for these very kind words... much appreciated.
 
#80
Can't really blame him. He's a brain expert, so focused on his subject matter that his brain has produced a cartoonish view of reality. But I can't believe Alex wasn't all over that. I know he's focused on NDE stuff these days, but really--40 years of Ganzfeld experiments, and experiments by Bem, Radin, others, and Alex just lets it slide with Graziano not only dismissing it but laughing about it. Interesting.

Cheers,
Bill
like others have said... when you are dealing with someone who is this deep into the denial game you can only go so far.
 
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