Shared publicly  - 
 
For fans of the NDE who think the brain is like a radio, I've added a footnote: http://bit.ly/U4RMUX
78
11
Tony Dolezal's profile photoTerry Walker's profile photoJesse Long's profile photoSteve Frost's profile photo
19 comments
 
The footnote makes sense. Moreover the filter theory a refinement to spiritualism. 
Al Bee
+
1
2
1
 
Oh, I thought this report was about the Republican efforts to erase science from education and everywhere else. Their efforts to deny man-made Global Warming and evolution and their campaigns to rewrite textbook history.
 
Not into the near death stuff, but it is interesting that we can't find consciousness in our brain.
 
+Daphne Sylk Not sure what you are trying to say; how exactly would you expect one to find "consciousness"?
 
The necessary proof would be even more difficult than you have stated.  Evidence that the brain had no activity during the NDE would be insufficient proof of spiritual experience.  Unfortunately, it would also be necessary to show that past experience was not retroactively assembled by the brain upon reactivation.  We keep learning more about how very flexible the brain can be in assembling disjointed data into plausible subjective experience.
C Chaos
 
interesting stuff from NDE researcher PMH Atwater on Eben Alexander III's book, "Proof of Heaven"

"There is one factual error in the book on page 78, where he states that he was allowed to die harder, and travel deeper, than almost all other NDE subjects.  Almost all?  Well, not exactly true, but sort-of.  Come to find out his editor insisted that this line be in the book, even though Eben did not agree and felt it was a stretch.  Seems to be the way of publishing these days - when in doubt, exaggerate.  There are several who evidenced medical conditions similar to Eben’s.  The record holder I know about is Walter Russell.  I carried some of his case in a number of my books.  You can look it up if you wish on page 129 and 130 of The New Children and Near-Death Experiences.  In a nutshell, Walter’s first near-death experience occurred when he was 7 years old.  It prepared him for the financial disaster his family would soon suffer.  Every seven years after that he had another one, each filling him with more knowledge and guidance, until, at age 49, he was suddenly enveloped within the fullness of cosmic consciousness and left “wholly mind,” dead or nearly dead to his family, his brain non-functional.  For 39 days and nights he existed similarly to how Eben did.  His family was on the verge of committing him to a hospital for the mentally ill and insane when he finally revived.  Eben got his mind back, all his scientific work, his family memories, everything that made him who he was, as well as all the “new stuff” - a new understanding of reality, of spirit, of God.  Water was not that lucky.  He was incapable of language afterward, nor could he even hold a pencil or walk normally.  It took him some time before the world inside his brain returned - along with so much more that eventually he was recognized as a genius specializing in chemistry, physics, and electromagnetics.  He was the first to predict black holes, and had an ongoing correspondence with Albert Einstein.  Read any of his books, especially The Secret of Light or the huge Universal One.  All of his work, his theories, his books, and his scientific experiments came directly in content and power from that 39 days and nights “without a brain, hovering at the edge of death - wholly mind.”  Link tohttp://www.philosophy.org or google him.  He and his wife Lao Russell founded the University of Science and Philosophy.  It exists today only via mail and Internet."

http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=e1987e10867e1be15381585f0&id=0cee899157

C Chaos
+
1
2
1
 
when Sam Harris was interviewed by Steve Paulson on "To the Best of our Knowledge", here's what he said. so I'm wondering why he was so hostile and insulting to Dr. Eben Alexander when Sam is really more like an agnostic on survival of consciousness beyond the brain/body. the bottom line is we simply do not know. the NDE phenomenon is another mysterious puzzle in the hard problem of consciousness.

------

Paulson: Now the really interesting thing about listening to atheists on consciousness is they're actually all over the map. Sam Harris, who is a neuroscientist, he has a Ph.D. in neuroscience, he has a very different view. It's entirely possible that there could be life after death. He is not willing to rule that out.

Sam Harris: There are good reasons to be skeptical of the naive conception of a soul and so that the idea that the brain can die and a soul that still speaks English and recognizes Granny is going to float away into the afterlife, that seems to be profoundly implausible. And yet, we do not know what the relationship between subjectivity and objectivity ultimately is and... For instance, we could be living in a universe where consciousness goes all the way down to the bedrock so that there is some interior subjective dimension to an electron, say.

Paulson: That's interesting, though, because most evolutionary biologists, I mean I'm in particular thinking the, the secular ones would say, "Of course, consciousness can not survive the brain. It will not survive death." You are not willing to make that claim.

Harris: Yeah, I just don't know. If we were living in a universe where consciousness survived death in some sense or just transcended the brain so that, you know, that single neurons were conscious. We would not expect to see it by our present techniques of neuroimaging or cellular neuroscience, and we would never expect to see it. There are profound philosophical and epistimoligical problems that, that anyone must confront who's trying to reduce consciousness to the workings of the brain and this discourse is in its infancy, and who knows where it's going to go?

http://ttbook.org/book/transcript/transcript-steve-paulson-why-consciousness
 
+Daphne Sylk i'm a computer scientist, but i think it's valid to see the brain as some sort of computer, if we were to find a computer without any notice about how it worked, and only could look at the flow of electrons from places to places, it would be very hard to say "the OS is there" too, it's just so many levels of abstractions above what we can observe, that it's nearly impossible to understand from the low level.
C Chaos
+
2
3
2
 
Bernardo Kastrup just posted an addendum on his blog as a response to Sam Harris's footnote on brain as "reducing valve" hypothesis. nice. why don't you guys do a formal debate already! :)

"Harris wrote an addendum to his post, which you can find here. In it, he equates the 'filter hypothesis' to what is known as the 'transmission hypothesis,' according to which consciousness is a kind of radio signal received by the brain. He then proceeds to correctly point out the problem with the transmission hypothesis, which is that we are supposedly the signal, not the radio.

However, although the transmission hypothesis entails the filter hypothesis, the filter hypothesis does notnecessarily entail the transmission hypothesis. As a matter of fact, the filter hypothesis doesn't even entail dualism! My own metaphysical position, for instance, is not dualist. Yet, the filter hypothesis holds well under my views, as I wrote about in this earlier article, which I encourage you to read. According to this article, the brain is the partial image of a process by means of which mind localizes itself, 'filtering' everything else out. Notice how this solves Harris' question: Instead of being an external 'signal' that is no longer being received, but which we still are, in my formulation mind folds in on itself in the form of a vortex, limiting its own breadth. We are mind, and yet mind self-limits. Under this formulation, to say that electrochemical processes in the brain are the cause of consciousness is as illogical as to say that lightning is the cause of atmospheric electrical discharge; or clots the cause of coagulation; or fire the cause of combustion. Fire is the partial image of the process of combustion as viewed from the outside and, as such, correlates very well with the process it depicts; just as electrochemical processes in the brain correlate very well with conscious states.

Currently, I am 2/3 of the way through writing a new book that will explain all this in details, and very specifically. That book will be my ultimate reply to Sam Harris. So please bear with me while I finish and publish it. It should be available at some point in 2013.

It is true that even I have used the radio metaphor when discussing the filter hypothesis. After all, the analogy is a very handy, metaphorical device to convey certain ideas. For instance, I once wrote a fairly elaborate explanation of the filter hypothesis under an implicit dualist metaphor. The article is availablefrom here. But my use of the radio metaphor does not mean that I believe consciousness to be literallysome kind of external signal being received by the brain. I don't. Assuming that would amount to taking the metaphor way beyond its intended scope.

Overall, Harris' understanding of the filter hypothesis seems to be based on an extremely casual and limited reading of it. Huxley wrote two paragraphs about it in The Doors of Perception. When Bergson wrote about it in Matter and Memory, his point was to discuss memory. Before Harris can pass judgment on the hypothesis, he needs to, at the very least, acquaint himself with a proper articulation of it. For instance, he should read my paper on it, and then my idealist formulation of it."

~ http://www.bernardokastrup.com/2012/11/sam-harris-prejudiced-or-ignorant.html 
 
+Chrono Tata Sorry if I was unclear. There are areas of the brain for visual, auditory, scent and tactile functions. Other areas are involved in thinking, fear response, memory. But there's nothing to point to that is responsible for consciousness.I think +Gabriel Pettier makes a good point with his computer example. (The difference with a computer is it doesn't have a self sustaining power supply, the brain does, in a manner of speaking.)  
 
My impression is that the experienced world is a mental conception supposed to be "out there," but that it is only consciousness causing the collapse of wave functions to give a material appearance to the world.

The brain works as it does upon that foundation, but a little contemplation should reveal that the "I am" is real and always will be, whether the world is or not. I feel I am, and given such, there must be some ultimate reality.

How can anyone existing and aware not persist beyond the mental conception of time, even after the abandonment of form, memory, sense perception, etc? Whatever one considers, the real must be more subtle and never cease to exist. Who could not be that?
C Chaos
 
great to see Dr. Alexander responding to his critics. for what it's worth, I'm just glad to see the NDE debate going mainstream. so take your best shot Sam Harris! this rabbit hole goes deep...

"Since telling my story here, I’ve been amazed and profoundly gratified at how powerfully it has resonated with people all over the world. But I’ve also weathered considerable criticism—in large part from people who are appalled that I, a brain surgeon, could possibly make the claim that I experienced what I did.
"I can’t say I’m surprised. As a scientist, I know that the consensus of my tribe is that the self is created through the electrochemical activity of the brain. For most neurosurgeons, and most doctors generally, the body produces the mind, and when the body stops functioning, the mind stops, just like a picture projected on a screen does if the projector is unplugged.

"So when I announced to the world that during my seven days of coma I not only remained fully conscious but journeyed to a stunning world of beauty and peace and unconditional love, I knew I was stirring up a very volatile pot. Critics have maintained that my near-death experience, like similar experiences others before me have claimed, was a brain-based delusion cobbled together by my synapses only after they had somehow recovered from the blistering weeklong attack."

http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/11/18/the-science-of-heaven.html

 
He might be responding to his critics, but he seems to be ignoring their criticisms. He's still supplied no evidence!
 
There really is no NDE debate and the rabbit hole is nothing more than derivative, reverse engineered wishful thinking. Alexander needs to trade his MD for a top-hat and crawl back to the Carny that spawned him. 

I can almost give a pass to the unsophisticated psychics and mediums that prey on hurting people, almost. But Alexander is (I assume) scientifically trained to have a critical mind and weigh evidence carefully and yet he seems to be doing anything but that. Sam Harris is correct; history will judge us harshly for this kind of tripe. 
 
There is this confusion between "substance" and "process". The former is conserved in Nature, while the latter is not. Consciousness, mind, and indeed, life itself are the latter: they are just a sequence of coordinated, internally driven, activities. It is a molecular machine running. When the machine becomes severely discoordinated, it ultimately stops. But this is apparently a difficult concept.

My son recently asked me, after some cellular biology class: if one could place all the atoms and molecules exactly in the right position, and have them each in the right internal state, the way they are organized in a cell, would it then become alive? It puzzled me a bit, why is that not obvious? Why do we doubt that? Why proper organization of matter alone cannot be enough? Surely, some sort of soul, prana, chi, the "stuff" of life (eternal!) has to be added and only after that things are alive.

Part of the reason, I think, is nowhere in our everyday macroscopic experience do we ever see machines so intricately complex as those behind life and mind. So due to this incomprehensible complexity gap, life and mind look to us as "something else".

The problem is, this something else would have to interact with "normal" matter, the very matter of which living things are composed. So why wouldn't the numerous physics experiments that probe fundamental interactions of matter ever see it? Why did the LHC collaboration (the Higgs boson people) never detect any inexplicable interactions of normal baryonic matter with the "soul stuff"? My point is, I don't think we need to go to neuroscience, biology or even chemistry. The lack of evidence for any soul, beyond-death entity is showing already in fundamental particle physics.

All that's left is "soul is made from ordinary matter", but then finding it would be even more trivial.
 
Sam dismisses the filter theory on the basis that brain damage would lead to the filter not working correctly - not filtering out enough. I would love to know why, if it is, is it inconceivable that the filter might stop working correctly by filtering out too much? 
 
The brain  indeed is like a radio.  Its funner when the brain does not have damage in a lot of ways though.  I have a diagnosis of ADD.  I take Adderall XR every other day instead of every day because I have a mutated gene: MTHFR A1298C/C677T.  This means I clear toxins less efficiently. I also have hypothyroid problems from a virus I got several years back called Hashimotos thyroiditis.  Neuroscience and genetic testing have been key factors in my health maintenance.  My health and wellness doctor ordered the test.  
 
Sam writes well. Thanks, Sam!
 
People do have a hard time facing truth and even really knowing what truth really is. With what people try to understand through all these atoms and particles I can see where things can get confusing among the neurons in each brain.
Add a comment...