This time each year, I take the liberty of posting something more speculative and personal. In this essay, I propose that everything we consider the “scientific world-view” is only half the story, and that science must expand its foundations if it aspires to be a complete account of reality.
A reductionist approach to science has become so ubiquitous that many scientists find it difficult to imagine that science can be done in any other way. Interactions among elemetary particles are the ultimate explanation, the only final cause. Biology can be reduced to chemistry. Chemistry is the science of large numbers of atoms, interacting according to the laws of quantum physics.
But reductionism is only a habit of the way we do science. It is logically possible that there are global laws, interconnections, entanglements; and that these are discoverable by investigation that is rigorously scientific . Teleology is commonly dismissed as “unscientific”, but it is precisely teleology that we may need to explain a host of diverse findings that conventional science has swept beneath the carpet.
One of my oldest friends is a professor of computer science at a great mid-western university. An Israeli-American, Uri is descended on his mother’s side from an ancient line of Kabbalist mystics, but his philosophy is strictly materialist. He believes that “the mind is what the brain does”, that the brain is a computer, and that electronic computers can be programmed to do anything that our brains can do. Like a great majority of computer scientists, he believes that subjective consciousness is something that arises when computation attains a certain kind of complexity.
Last summer, Uri told me a story from his youth. In college, he had dated a young woman, a passionate political activist. Years after he had lost touch with her, she sunk into depression with the election of Ronald Reagan. Uri awoke one night, sweating and screaming, from a nightmare in which she had jumped from a building. Though he had not talked to her in several years, he reached out and tried to contact her the next morning, and her parents informed him she had killed herself that very night, jumping from the window of her apartment. Uri was shaken at the time, but he has filed the experience in his memory as a coincidence, a curious anecdote with no particular message about the way our world works.
Sitting in a canoe, listening to Uri’s story, I asked him if he thought an artificial intelligence might ever have such dreams. What would he think if his story and many like it were collected in a stastical database, and it could be demonstrated that such “coincidences” were far too frequent do be dismissed, that their composite probability was far rarer than “five sigma” (roughly “one chance in a million”), which is a conventional threshold for announcing that physics has discovered a new particle. He responded thoughtfully: He didn’t have time to do that kind of analysis. It depends on so many people’s stories, and people’s memories of such things aren’t so reliable. But if it could be established, he said, he would be forced to conclude there were new sub-atomic forces that brains can use to communicate, and that physics had not yet discovered. In any case, he was committed to the idea that reality is physical — space, time, matter and nothing else — and that every phenomenon of nature must be explainable in reductionist terms. By definition.
How Science came to be narrow-minded, with universal ambitious
Don’t doubt the Creator, because it is inconceivable that accidents alone could be the controller of this universe.
— Isaac Newton
Newton’s scientific ambition was prodigious. He first conceived the idea that the universe was governed by precise mathematical laws that were independent of place and time. But he never imagined that physics was a complete picture of the world. It was only in the 19th Century that the idea took hold that physical law might explain everything. Science had been enormously successful in accounting for diverse phenomena, expanding again and again to explain more of our world. Then scientific philosophy made an audacious leap: Every phenomenon in our universe is regular. All of our experience can be accounted for in terms of deterministic mathematical laws.
Is this statement true? We all assume it is. But in fact, it is an empirical statement, a bold one, to be sure, and all the more reason it should be challenged and tested experimentally.
Of course, it’s not literally true that two experimenters doing the same experiment always find the same result. There’s experimental error—mistakes and misjudgments that enter any human enterprise. And in biology, there is the complication that no two organisms are exactly alike. These things were understood and accounted for in the Nineteenth Century. This was the time when “vitalism” was stripped out of biology, and living things were boldly assumed to depend on the same mechanistic laws as non-living matter. Biology was conceived to be built upon chemistry, and chemistry could be understood as the interactions of atoms. It was at the level of atomic physics that the Universal Machine operated in a manner precisely determined by mathematical laws.
But 20th Century science shattered determinism. The Scientific World-view retreated just far enough to allow for quantum randomness and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.
“Philosophers have said that if the same circumstances don’t always produce the same results, predictions are impossible and science will collapse. Here is a circumstance that produces different results: identical photons are coming down in the same direction to the same piece of glass. We cannot predict whether a given photon will arrive at A or B. All we can predict is that out of 100 photons that come down, an average of 4 will be reflected by the front surface. Does this mean that physics, a science of great exactitude, has been reduced to calculating only the probability of an event, and not predicting exactly what will happen? Yes. That’s a retreat, but that’s the way it is: Nature permits us to calculate only probabilities. Yet science has not collapsed.”
— Richard Feynman
To Einstein’s consternation, God does play dice with the world. When the Twentieth Century discovered quantum indeterminacy, most philosophers of science made the minimal modification to their deterministic picture. To them, the future state of the universe is determined by its present state plus pure chance. In this paradigm, there is nothing outside physics, or if there is such a thing as “soul” or “spirit” or “free will”, it is irrelevant to science and to experience. It can have no observable effects, because the physical universe is a closed system, governed perfectly by a combination of deterministic laws and pure chance.
This is the philosophy of “materialism” or “physicalism” that has become synonymous with the scientific world-view today. But it is far more explicit than the original scientific world-view, which says only that our knowledge of the world depends on empirical observation plus mathematical logic. In fact, the original scientific world-view is a system for discovering truth, but it is silent about what that truth ought to be. This expanded scientific world-view is not just a statement about methods, but contains a description of the nature of the world. It is a scientific theory, in the sense that it says something about the empirical nature of reality. Like all scientific theories, the expanded scientific world-view can never be proven true, but it can be falsified by observation.
The original scientific world-view as bequeathed to us by the Enlightenment is an epistomology which we can accept or reject, but no arguments can be adduced for or against it. The expanded scientific world-view is a statement about the world, and we may legitimately ask, “Is it true?”
The issue of reproducibility is the crux of the matter, and it is related to science in two ways.
On the one hand, science seems to depend on reproducibility, at least in the statistical sense. If different experimenters at different times and places get different results from the same experiment, how can we ever hope to come to agreement about the world we live in? Reproducibility—in the expanded, statistical sense—seems to be a necessary feature of the world if we are to be able to study the world with science.
On the other hand, we may treat reproducibility as an empirical question. Is it true that the same experiment always results in the same results, at least statistically? To rephrase more provocatively: Is it true that the universe is governed by scientific laws that always hold true, or are there exceptions and one-off happenings, things that occur sometimes but without a regularity we can codify?
We might ask, “are miracles real?” Should the scientific world-view take a firm stance on this issue and answer, “No!”? Or should science be open-minded, and consider the possibility that those who report miracles are not always deluded or mistaken?
Evidence that we need a new model
From one stage of our being to the next
We pass unconscious o’er a slender bridge,
The momentary work of unseen hands,
Which crumbles down behind us; looking back,
We see the other shore, the gulf between,
And, marvelling how we won to where we stand,
Content ourselves to call the builder Chance.
— James Russell Lowell
There is no shortage of credible reports that cannot be explained by the reductionist paradigm of science, but most have been shunted out of the mainstream journals, attacked or simply ignored.
Perhaps you have had a dream or premonition similar to Uri’s. If not, you probably know someone who has. It has become common for scientists to dismiss “anecdotal evidence” without feeling a need to explain it. This comes from a ubiquitous assumption that all experiments are replicable — exactly the assumption which I think we need to challenge.
Daryl Bem is an emeritus professor in the Cornell Psychology Dept, recently retired after a long and distinguished career doing mainstream research about stimulus and response. In one of his last publications, he broke into a well-regarded psychological journal with an article that documented responses in human subjects that preceded the stimulus. This is precognition. The subject’s subconscious knew or sensed what image was about to appear before him on a computer screen. Julia Mossbridge summarized a substantial body of research, which collectively corroborates the reality of precognition with 99.999999999% certainty.
Robert Jahn, retired dean of the engineering school at Princeton University stumbled (through his student’s term project) upon evidence for the ability of human intention to affect probabilities that ought to be “quantum random”. Jahn had the curiosity to investigate further. When the anomaly wouldn’t go away, he refined the experiment and collected data over 30 years, by which time his results had achieved 5-sigma statistical significance — on a par with evidence for the Higgs Boson. Jahn was ostracized and ridiculed, and colleagues began to discredit his work in aerospace engineering based on his willingness to openly consider the possibility that the human mind might be able to affect quantum processes outside the organism.
Dean Radin has conducted a broad array of experiments that demonstrate different aspects of telepathy, precognition and telekinesis. He has a background in physics, and routinely takes extraordinary measures to guarantee the isolation of his experiments from extraneous physical influences. In one recent project, he found that focused attention of a person who is not in physical contact with the equipment can shift interference fringes of laser light passing through two slits. This connection between thought and quantum is akin to results reported by Jahn.
Outside the world of parapsychology, there are uncontroversial animal behaviors that defy explanation. Fish, turtles and cetaceans routinely navigate thousands of miles through the ocean, their guidance system unknown to science. Each fall, a generation of Monarch butterflies is able to retrace the 2,000-mile migration path flown by their great, great, great grandparents six months earlier. Flatworms have been conditioned to respond to light, then they are ground up and fed to other flatworms, who acquire some of the conditioning through cannibalism [skeptic’s account].
Dozens of labs around the world have successfully replicated the cold fusion experiments of Pons and Fleischmann. Reports of their work are sequestered in this on-line journal because mainstream physics journals have declared that cold fusion is impossible. In fact, there is nothing in fundamental physics that precludes cold fusion; it is, after all, a highly exothermic reaction, and the energy release is exactly as predicted. But cold fusion implies a new bulk quantum effect (akin to superconductivity, superfluidity and lasers) for which there is yet no theory. [video summary] The physicist who taught me quantum mechanics at Harvard was a Nobel laureate who became irate when the American Physical Society refused to publish his proto-theory of cold fusion.
Ian Stevenson and Jim Tucker are medical doctors who have each spent decades investigating cases “suggestive of reincarnation”. Children recall past lives, with details about the circumstances of that life that are later corroborated. Stevenson noted the frequent presence of birthmarks where former selves suffered trauma at death. Helen Wambach and Carol Bowman have used hypnosis to help adults find access to information about past lives.
The ganzfeld protocol is the most reliable experimental procedure for demonstrating telepathy. A meta-analysis of 59 ganzfeld studies reports a combined success rate of 30% in identifying a target photograph when the chance hit rate should be 1 in 4. The improbability of this result has been calculated in different ways, with results from 10-12 to 10-8.
Through a glass darkly: Where post-reductionist science is headed
All the progress in science since the Enlightenment has built on a reductionist paradigm: breaking down the whole into parts, explaining the parts in terms of influences that are nearby in time and space. If this is not the whole story, then we might imagine there are relationships among distant events. There might be large-scale patterns that cannot be explained as “emergent” from local laws. There may relationships that appear to us as retrocausality. There might be destiny.
It is clear to me that what physics calls “quantum random” is not random at all, but rather is determined non-locally, via quantum entanglement. Events distant in time and space are linked in a manner that baffle our usual methods of scientific inquiry, but that may be discoverable by a new kind of science.
There is nothing un-scientific about such a hypothesis, and in fact quantum mechanical “entanglement” suggests that such patterns must exist. David Bohm has laid foundations for a science based on holistic patterns in an Undivided Universe. He offers us a beginning toward understanding an “implicate order” that may complement the explicit order in time and space that is the basis of all of mainstream physics.
Possibly related is the idea that mind has an existence separate from matter, that free will operates in a sphere that is able to influence matter on a quantum level. This could be a resolution in Cartesian dualism of David Chalmers’s hard problem. One link between the realm of the self outside of space and time and the realm of physical matter could be through the quantum mechanics of the brain. Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff have proposed a model. Stuart Kauffman cites evidence that neurotransmitters in the brain are poised on a quantum knife edge where their behavior is dictated either by randomness (in the conventional view) or could this be the portal by which intention enters into physical behavior?
It may turn out that life is not an opportunistic parasite in a vast, cold and meaningless cosmos. Life may be built into the laws of physics at the very foundation. It may be that living behaviors are woven into the fabric of the cosmos. Or it may be that awareness and free will live in a realm separate from time and space, but linked to physics at the quantum level. This would be a way to resolve the Anthropic Coincidences without resort to an embarrassment of universes.
These ideas are not un-scientific, but they are difficult to study with current scientific methods. At the dawn of the Twenty-first Century, experimental science is bursting at the seams with phenomena crying out for an expanded scientific paradigm. The crisis will not be resolved by keeping speculative science out of the mainstream journals. It is not likely to be settled by a brilliant guess about the nature of reality that resolves all our anomalies in one fell swoop. The only way forward is for science to expand its methods and entertain a broad array of wild, new ideas, most of which are bound to fail. But if we open the gates to speculative ideas, if we shake off taboos about teleology and holism, if we broaden the scope of experiments and our ways of understanding them…then I trust that our collective brainpower will be up to the task of formulating a picture of the world that comprehends a greatly expanded — dare I say “wondrous” — vision of our world.
I would not have expected to find this other side of you.
I was impressed many years ago by The Roots of Coincidence by Arthur Koestler in trying to arrive at some sort explanation for phenomenon like Uri’s dream. Of course, I am familiar with all the usual criticisms the materialists round up every time one of these things happen.
Josh, I think you are way off ,and it shows that you haven’t studied physics.
As it happens, my PhD is in physics. It’s in biology and aging science that I’m an interloper.
That said — I realize that these ideas are highly speculative and only a small number of physicists would agree on the directions I have suggested.
Oh, sorry about that, I should have looked up your education. I assumed it was in biology or a similar field.
It was a bit strange to read about reductionism in your text. I don’t think any physicist would disagree; You can’t just look at the individual atoms to describe a living creature, there are emerging properties coming from all the atoms working together. It’s still science, but it’s too complicated to work out with physics alone.
Very interesting Josh. You named so many issues (though you disparaged the ‘Multiverse’ view of the universe in your “embarrassment of universes’ citation – but if you’ve read any of the physicist David Deutsch you might realize that as every decision separates the universe into two new universes, there seems to be communication between the universes as the missing diffraction lines formed by an electron ‘interfering with itself’ in a double-slit experiment can be explained by a canceling effect from the other universe created when both were formed according to the multiverse hypothesis. That is to say there are unknown sources of knowledge that are not encompassed in our limited, three and four dimensional picture of the world. The old saw is the quote attributed (wrongly) to JBS Haldane, the biochemist who said, “I fear that not only is the universe queerer than we think, it’s queerer than we CAN think (the capitalization is mine).
So then is the purpose of science understanding the universe? I again reference David Deutsch who maintains that science is infinite and we shall always stand at the “beginning of eternity” – so that our understanding the universe is an incremental task of which we have no certainty that its completion is within our reach. So I settle for the original purpose of science, which is to use the discoveries of science to advance mankind – to give it the ability to change the world for the better. Here I have to insert another David Deutsch statement of his three (two really), part, ‘theory of optimism’; every problem has a solution, every solution has problems, but every problem has a solution. I know I appreciate that mankind is taking to space, that we represent life’s salient – it is our mission to expand to other worlds. The sort of information you seek, out-of-body experiences, life after death, confirmation of other modes of information beyond our senses have been explored in the past, but what do you do with them? The majority turn out to be lies or deception (of which ‘self-deception’ is not a small part). In the few ‘authenticated’ cases, the effect is evanescent – sometimes there, sometimes not. In the real world of science – topics come up without explanation – say ‘cold fusion’ – the phenomena are investigated and more and more reports come out about the production of energy above what was chemically available, and the production of neutrons. So then why isn’t my car powered by a palladium battery? Because further experiments failed to show the effects and there was no credible evidence of nuclear by-products like neutrons. self-deception and lies – otherwise why would sane people dismiss it? So what do we do with the information that sometimes dreams can be true – or that someone’s death can be communicated through the ‘ether’ at various highly emotionally significant times? We can perhaps believe that there is another, greater world that enfolds this would of our conceptions – and that could lead to thoughts about immortal souls and Heaven, and then we enter the same trap as all prior civilizations, religion comes to dominate our lives, if there is something beyond this world, then the world is not important, even life or death is not important – God (or the Gods) decides the future and man’s puny abilities are to be given up – for God. – Wisdom is sadness, great wisdom, great sadness.
Perhaps on million planets are beings that believed like that – and died leaving nothing behind, – life’s promise broken – but I don’t want us to be like that. We have already accomplished more than the ancients could have dreamed of through our science – and our science is the road to the future – and our goal the same as the ‘believers’ – to walk immortal in the Heavens. Their method has brought personal consolation and societal misery, – in its thousands of years religion has brought division and death, the method of science – of reproducible, incremental growth doesn’t have the appeal of the mystical, but it does the job, unlike its unreproducible half – sibling, religion, which is the over-explored, (with nothing truly gained), evanescent and shifting terrain of religion and mysticism. Let knowledge be useful (remember Swift (Gullivers Travels) make fun out of ‘scientists’ who have no interest in practical applications)- let us not fool ourselves – those remain the function of science and the function of the scientific method.
On the subject of cold fusion: I became interested about 5 years ago, after watching the Mike McCubre video that I referenced. I visited 6 cold fusion labs and went to 2 conferences, as well as doing a lot of reading. I became convinced that the groups at SRI, at MIT and at Columbia, MO were really seeing cold fusion. The others might have been fooling themselves.
I don’t have a full answer to your question about why it hasn’t been commercialized. In part it is because the effect pops up when it wants to, and is difficult to control. I’m also convinced that there is active suppression by large financial interests in fossil fuels.
Julian Schwinger was the Nobelist who taught me physics at Harvard, and who became interested in formulating a theory of cold fusion. He and Feynman working independently formulated the quantum theory of the electron in the late 1940s. His name is revered through the physics world. Before writing about cold fusion, every paper he wrote sailed through peer review because he was reputed to be so brilliant that few would dare critique his work. But then Physical Review D sent him a form letter saying they weren’t going to come near this topic.
So the excuse is that energy companies are working against all the essentially free energy sources so they can control prices, and humanity. Makes sense except any energy company that harnessed that power could sell at a lower price and out-compete its competitors. So I don’t see an economic justification for that – unless the other energy companies were supporting them, bribing them not to compete. That would be traceable. So there is every reason to show cold fusion produces energy and no reasons not to – therefore if cold fusion ‘worked’ it would be used. So there’s no question Julius Schwinger is a genius – but that was then. And even the greatest geniuses are only human, and make mistakes. (Einstein’s greatest blunder, or Einstein’s greatest blunder, thinking it was a blunder!)
I have no doubt that many unexplained phenomena and hard to replicate experiments will eventually open up into new areas of science with fruitful applications. For example looking back at the Greeks and Romans with their wonderful aquaducts and catapults other engineering wonders – what did they know of electromagnetism or quantum physics: fields our whole modern world are based on? Magnetic rocks and static electricity perhaps? Attempts to understand these were no doubt very difficult, and experiments, if any were done, were hard to reproduce because of a lack of understanding of underlying mechanisms. In the future cold fusion and the EM drive, perhaps even precognition, will be explained and change the world with their applications.
The EM drive you reference is a phenomenon that is reproducible, we may not understand how it works (or may if the designer of the drive is correct – and then it does stretch our limits) but it works. That something works is my first criterion for interest. If something can be demonstrated to work – then the need for explanation arises. Precognition is anecdotal – like the ‘Abominable Snowman’, or dinosaurs in the Congo, it’s based on rare sightings with not enough evidence to establish it as true. The whole of ‘aging science’ is built on ‘should work if we are correct’ – and that is built on the solid bedrock of “aging is irreversible damage” – hence damage prevention and damage repair are the mechanisms for countering it. However heterochronic parabiosis and more recently, young blood/plasma/serum have been shown to rejuvenate tissues – particularly stem cells, bringing them to a youthful state. Work with induction to pluripotence shows that rejuvenation occurs in all measureable aspects of cellular aging, increase of telomere length, increased mitochondrial efficiency, decreased ROS production etc. Those procedures work, they are reproducible, so they come first, before even the common-sense theory that aging is irreparable damage. And those facts repudiate the notion that aging is irreparable damage (if damage is irreparable then rejuvenation couldn’t occur) – rather aging produces defects in cellular repair and maintenance and hence the accumulation of damage, (which can be to some large degree be repaired), is a consequence of aging and not its cause (although it makes death more probable). My point is, let’s not become ‘ghost hunters’ like in the various pseudo-scientific TV shows based on that theme. They draw a large audience and fill people’s lives with hope for a few hours each week, but produces nothing except flimsy, suspect evidence that there even is an underlying phenomenon being explored (“I felt something!”) and loads of useless speculation, i.e.. mental masturbation. Is there an afterlife – looks like we’ll all have a good chance of finding out (or not, if not). We could spend our entire lives speculating about that (mostly what religion is, that and how to get a good spot in the presumed afterlife), or use our lives to answer the questions that we can answer – and that has proved our greatest blessings even if we can’t share in them during our lives. The other path – religion, leads to madness (battles as to whether Jesus meant Peter or Rome as the base of the Church), to war and death with no progress – even with the ‘discovery’ of the ‘Golden Rule’, there are millions of people who still treat members of outside groups with hostility because there are no ‘facts’ produced by religion, one doesn’t have to accept the ‘Golden Rule’, only speculation.
Excellent article. I’ve learnt a lot and thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Happy New Year, Dr Mitteldorf!
Thank you for stimulating my brain for the start of 2018!
This Slate article (Daryl Bem Proved ESP Is Real, Which means science is broken.
MAY 17, 2017) says that Bem’s paper started psychology’s recent self-criticism about biases in reports of psychological experiments — and that Bem’s results have not been replicated.
Apparently I’m not allowed to post a link.
Reductionism is rooted in a specific method for determination of the inferences that will be made by a model of a physical system. The method is to make this determination through application of an intuitive rules of thumb aka heuristics.
Centuries ago, David Hume isolated a flaw in this line of thinking. The flaw was to think that the future resembled the past. For avoidance of this flaw, an alternative to this thinking was required. In the year 1948 the roots of an alternative were provided through publication of information theory by Claude Shannon. The alternative was information theoretic optimization. Under this alternative, the whole of a physical system was not necessarily the sum of this system’s parts. Thus, for example, the chemical properties of matter were not necessarily fully explained by the properties of sub-atomic particles.
Application of this alternative frees a researcher from the constraint of reductionism. The book “Multivariate statistical modelling” by the late theoretical physicist Ronald E. Christensen describes how this method for construction of a model can be executed. There have been dozens of applications, some of them in biomedical science or engineering.
How can anyone explain the creation of our universe (or if needed the multi-universe) without a beginning from nothing. Should a “prior source” be the immediate answer (such as the singularity from which the big Bang began), the question remaining as its origin is impossible to understand in purely scientific terms. It is here that religious faith and scientific knowledge are combined for in our Bible ()Genesis) we can read that the Creation began from nothing as well as from something called “tauhu ve vohu”, which has been translated as confusion. For the rest: the trouble with religious faith is that it is 100% certain and the trouble with scientific knowledge is that it isn’t!
Happy New Year, Josh!
“But if it could be established, he said, he would be forced to conclude there were new sub-atomic forces that brains can use to communicate, and that physics had not yet discovered.”
I wonder why he concludes that this is the only way to explain such a phenomenon. It is possible that he and this woman grew to know and understand each other on a very deep level. In the same way that my wife and I finish each other’s sentences, and generally share quite a bit of the same mental patterns, it is possible that Uri and this woman shared the mental factors that led to her suicide. In her case this mental conditioning led to actual suicide, and in his case it led to a dream about her suicide, both taking the same amount of time to play themselves out, just like a sentence being finished. It might be far fetched, but surely less so than a subatomic particle enabling subconscious communication between brains.
I like Hawkings’ title referring to quantum physics as “The Dreams that Stuff is Made Of.”
The Dreams That Stuff Is Made of: The Most Astounding Papers of Quantum Physics and How They Shook the Scientific World’ is a 2011 book by English physicist Stephen Hawking. Wikipedia
Happy New Year 🙂 I’ve been enjoying your blog for a while. Thank you! I have a question and hope you could point me in the right direction or maybe even explain it (I can dream!)
I have a hypothesis about the nature of a telepathic signal. As I see it, the main problem is that current science is not able to guess the nature of the signal nor how it is transmitted. But is it possible that the signal is a regular EM wave within a narrow band of spectrum?
My understanding is that, currently, the science is not able to detect all the wavelengths (actually, the continuum) of the EMR and => there are “blind spots”, meaning that the signal maybe there, but we have no means of detecting it. What if telepathy signal falls into such a blind spot?
Now, regarding the range –which of many blind spots on detectable EM spectrum this signal may fall– I thought that liquid crystals, with their fascinating properties make a likely candidate for a mechanism of reception and transmission. How can I find out the approximate range of EMR with which liquid crystals, with predominantly sodium or potassium ions, interact?
I realize that my hypothesis rests merely on “blind spots” in detectable EM spectrum. and I know there are still many such blind spots though their number diminishes with each passing year. Am I totally off?
Thank you 🙂
I was forced into accepting the reality of effects that ought not be possible because I experienced them myself. While working with mainframes, starting in the early ’70s, I found that I could make them go down, on demand, and from a distance. When first experimenting at the bank where I worked at the time, I imagined ‘static’ at the machine. Several years later, while working on a DEC VAX 11/780 in a MacDonnell-Douglas Tempest shield room, I found that while it was sealed and I was outside, I could not cause the VAX to go down. But once I changed my mental model, and imagined the ‘static’ appearing in the room, rather than traversing the space between me and the VAX, I could once again make it go down. My original model assumed that it was EM radiation, which could not enter the room. I followed that experiment with one at SAC HQ in Omaha, where I did not know the location of the computer, and made it go down on demand.
This affect only worked for early mainframes (I tried it with IBM 360s and 370s) and superminis such as the VAX. My conclusion: either (a) later supercomputers and microprocessors were not susceptible, or (2) I no longer could cause whatever ‘static’ I had been generating.
My model of the world had to change, in order to accept the reality of such influence over electronics equipment at a distance. Distance and location were irrelevant. Experience like that causes you to evaluate science in a different way.
Good day Mr. Mitteldorf,
I wish you and your family a prosperous and happy year.
His reflective article is provocative.
In my personal case I have had many “unexpected” events that questioned and influenced my current way of dealing with life.
I can separate my beliefs from my profession in computing and teaching, but undoubtedly a physicist or a biologist will not be able to do so freely.
The kind of events that impress me the most are those of precognition.
To be able to “feel” something happen, and that there is nothing we can do to prevent it –or avoid.
Just yesterday-01/31/17) I had one that almost ends in tragedy for my grandson.
A family member played with him (1 year) and not knowing why it came to mind that he could get hurt. But I throw it away as something meaningless.
10 seconds later, he slipped out of his hands and fell to the ground face-miraculously without consequences.
My question-open is, so that evolution gives us tools that are useless, like the possible random ability to have premonition?
A very insightful and courageous post. Maybe your best yet.
Determinism is the flavor of the day in all scientific fields, even psychiatry, and God help you if you differ ever so slightly in what has become essentially a new religion in its fervor and intolerance of opposing viewpoints.
Every few years I re-read Viktor Frankl’s masterpiece, Man’s Search For Meaning, where even under the horrors of life in a concentration camp, a few of the prisoners were able to dig deep and maintain their spiritual freedom. And no one , and no amount of physical torture and torment, was able to rob them of their freedom to choose their attitude in any given set of circumstances, an inner decision independent of deterministic circumstances.
There is much that science does not understand, and probably never will, but that does in no way undermine their enormous achievements, but it also doesn’t give them the right to arrogantly mock and ridicule the theologians and philosophers who have been considering these matters of free will, beauty , joy, truth, consciousness, and God for literally hundreds of years.
I’m hoping that the scientists of the future will be more tolerant , and not less, of ideas that aren’t strictly deterministic and reductionist in nature, but I sort of doubt it.
You mention “free will” a couple of times. I believe “free will” is actually an illusion. Depersonalization Disorder, which I suffer from, is a direct experience of losing that illusion. I do the best I can, go about my business as if I have free will, though I don’t believe any of us do.
Are you saying your intentions, desires, plans, or any other aspect of consciousness, has no influence on your behaviour whatsoever?
If so, that’s impossible. Otherwise how come your sentences are actual sentences rather than random words jumbled together?
Or consider your thoughts, say when you’re trying to figure out a puzzle. The chain of thought that you entertain is informed by your growing understanding. That is to say your thoughts follow a specific direction informed by your conscious understanding.
It may be an illusion as you say, but I directly experience it, and I’ll take that over theory any day. If only one person under the same circumstances chooses a different path, like Frankl and others did in Aushwitz, it becomes hard to argue for strict determinism.
Hi Paul, NY2LA
The striking thing about the ‘free-will’ of Frankl, is that is cannot be taken away by external circumstance. This is the key finding of stoicism, and Zen Buddhism too – to be true to your own internal circle of control, and to be utterly unconcerned about how things turn out. Of course in reality the way you act will affect external reality, how could it not? – but that is not of primary importance. That is why philosophies like stoicism and Zen look to the modern mindset to be Nihilistic, for we who can have (almost) everything cannot understand what it must have been like for those in much more difficult and limited circumstances. But indeed it is from these people of the past that we must learn if we are to ever have true contentment. In many ways our quest for great longevity runs along parallel lines; removal of the ever encroaching tyrant of time, so we may live carefree as children again.
NY2LA – I’ve always regarded free will as an oxymoron; what is it that is ‘free’ or not anyway? The only answer I could ever come up with was just some artificial mental construct of my own making. But I am curious about your condition, it sounds familiar to experiences I’ve had after long periods of meditation, but these never lasted more than a couple of days, and indeed were as pleasurable and they were strange – and from what you are describing, it sounds unpleasant?
BTW I did read Frankl book upon you recommendation and was astonished by the capacity of some prisoners to go above their horrible conditions and suffering. Very insightful and fascinating book.
Sorry to learn about your issue and I hope you’ll get better soon. I have no expertise in neurology but I believe that free will and consciousness are currently outside the scope of science. You can of course have an opinion about it, but the most interesting part for me is to try to have some fun with philosophical arguments. For example, Scott Aaronson, a computer scientist from the MIT, has written some interesting pages about free will:
Whether or not we have free will is impossible to verify.
I like to think I am making decisions independently, but then again I wonder if perhaps everything is preordained and my sense of free will is simply an illusion.
If free will is an illusion, then what is the reality apart from direct experience upon which it can be contrasted in order to call it an illusion? An illusion is only an illusion when it can be contrasted with something more real. Do you experience determinism as more real?
The idea that we can ever decide on whether ‘free will’ exists is simply another source for mental masturbation, Kant discussed this some time ago in his masterwork,”The Critique of Pure Reason”. To quote, “A large part of Kant’s work addresses the question “What can we know?” The answer, if it can be stated simply, is that our knowledge is constrained to mathematics and the science of the natural, empirical world. It is impossible, Kant argues, to extend knowledge to the supersensible realm of speculative metaphysics. The reason that knowledge has these constraints, Kant argues, is that the mind plays an active role in constituting the features of experience and limiting the mind’s access only to the empirical realm of space and time.” So it might be fun to speculate on these things, it is a useless exercise as we can never discover the ‘truth’ about them.
Well I am not sure if all behavior can be traced to specific causes either environmental or reflexive, as expressed by determinism,
Maybe it can. Then again, maybe not. I just have no proof either way.
I have tantalizing glimpses of possibilities, but no real proof.
I only know what I believe, but I truly do not know whether or not what I believe is coming from my own consciousness or an outside source.
Reality as my perceived direct experience gives me a basis on which to hang the labels illusion and reality, anchored in man made constructs of language and symbolism, nothing more.
Contrasting Reality with an illusion defines the two in context to each other, but it explains neither.
I prefer to act as if I have free will, rather than just a mass of quantum detritus floating aimlessly through the universe like a piece of flotsam an jetsam being pushed and pulled by ocean currents.
It makes me feel as if I have control over my life.
Still, maybe going with the flow would give me more control, really, because it might still bring me to the same place, eventually, with less effort.
If we accept to restrict our scope on a narrow version of “free will”, namely to focus only on the “freedom” part, there are interesting things to be explored.
A reasonable consequence of free will is that it makes your behavior unpredictable in a strong way (because of your choices). This is not only about non-determinism. For example, quantum mechanic is fundamentally non-deterministic but still allow to compute an accurate probability distributions of possible outcomes. In order to have free will, you need to have a behavior that cannot be accurately predicted, even by a probability distribution.
Scott Aaronson from MIT has written an interesting essay on that subject:
“It is the non-normal scientist, the daring, the critical scientist, who breaks through the barriers of normality, who opens the windows and lets in fresh air, who does not think about the impression he/she makes, but tries to be well understood.” (Sir Karl Popper: “The Myth of the Framework: In Defence of Science and Rationality”)
Thank you Josh for your truly thought provoking and courageous post!
With a background in physics (long ago) and having often mused on the very same topics, your post gave me the occasion to go back to the thinking of one of giants of the 20th century philosophy I have just quoted: Sir Karl Popper. I find him a great guide in clarifying concepts and possibly inspire a reply to some of the questions arising from your post, at least those related to the rational thinking, the methodology of science, the reductionism, not to enter in the specific merits of cold fusion as well as the many other different topics you have touched.
The topics of determinism vs indeterminism, reductionism etc.. are analyzed in many Popper’s writings, in particular in one of his three “Postscript to the Logic of Scientific Discovery”: “The Open Universe, An Argument for Indeterminism” (OU)
I found his thinking liberating, open, fostering progress and a better World. As a side note, and referring to the interesting reply to your post by Harold Katcher, David Deutsch, whose thinking is also very inspiring to me, dedicated his “Fabric Of Reality” book in particular to Popper.
I think one of the main messages of Popper’s philosophy, at least as I interpret it, is that everything can be discussed, rationally and critically, and in this respect I re-join your wish to see an “expansion” of the scientific method. I would probably not call it an “expansion” as to me it looks rather an humble re-focusing to the Popper’s meaning of critical thinking and doing science.
So, triggered by your post, I returned to Popper’s OU and rediscovered there the Peter Medawar’s (the same Medawar who lied the foundation of the modern theories of aging, as I learned from your book!) very suggestive analogy he draws between the reductionist concatenation: Physics –> Chemistry –> Biology –> Ecology/Sociology and geometry: Topology –> Projective Geometry –> Affine Geometry –> Metrical (Euclidean) Geometry.
To me this insight exemplifies (probably many other examples can be found!) that you can do science and pursue truth at every layer of the concatenation while at the same time not agreeing to a simple logical reducibility. I think this liberates the critical discussion, avoids dogmatism and possibly also unfair rejections of papers …! Popper writes “…For example, metrical geometry, especially in the form of Euclidean geometry, is only very partially reducible to projective geometry, even though the results of projective geometry are all valid in a metrical geometry embedded in a language rich enough to employ the concepts of projective geometry. Thus we might regard metrical geometry as an enrichment of projective geometry…”
Again thank you for another very insightful post!
A very happy, healthy and successful new year!
If anyone here has run out of time on stopgap methods, Bill Andrews has slots open in his telomerase-vector trial… outside the FDA zone.
This is pretty cool. I hope the trial is successful. I’d expect real lengthening of telomeres across a range of tissues to be very effective. I guess the sticking point here is the expense in making all the viral vector. I wonder what it would take to bring those costs down, or whether there is an alternative delivery method?
So they have now identified 25 genetic markers associated with longevity, up from the previous 8, and this was published in Aging, 12/07/17. Of interest to us is that virtually all of these markers has to do with inhibiting senescence and inflammation.
Human Longevity: 25 genetic loci… Luke Pilling
Kant’s is not an unsupported assumption, that’s his thesis. We don’t know the confines of the natural world (that is gained by our senses), but we do know what is not within those confines (nor you would stipulate, which senses we have – precognition might be one of them), but the questions which we cannot answer are those concerning the existence of free will, or God – or other human concepts which can never be proven or disproved. If we have evidence, firm evidence of a phenomenon, then it’s worth discussing, otherwise we get no further than discussion and the solidification of beliefs into a ‘system’, and more likely, many different systems (as, for examples there are varieties of Christianity going from Southern Baptist to high church Episcopalian, to Catholic to Evangelical, all based on the same source Jesus’s death and resurrection). Which one is correct?
In science we know that when AMP-kinase is ‘turned’ on, mTOR is turned down – this isn’t speculation. These are facts we can work with that point us to an even deeper and more complex picture of the working of the world – there’s a lot to be gained from inference from (extended) sense perceptions coupled to understanding – but nothing to be gained by considering these matters of ‘free will’ or ‘the existence of God’, the ‘existence of an afterlife’ – it is a waste of time and a distraction – and worse, a trap that all of humanity, with some small exceptions falls into, the assumption, without evidence, that there’s an afterlife – and that afterlife, being infinite (another assumption), is more important to you than the life you have, (which in general sucks anyway) – especially when they promise you undreamed of pleasures for belief and eternal torture for non-belief. Truth is no one has come back to sue for breach of promise, so I guess it works. Have you ever taken propofol? I had procedures using it where in no time passed between when I took the drug (which effects my physical brain and not my ‘soul’) and after the procedure was done and I ‘awoke’ from the completely timeless blackness. If I hadn’t awoke, I’d be dead, but have no regrets, be no worse off than I was before the operation, (or before I was born) – only my family and friends would be hurt. My guess is most of this stuff is self-delusion, the rest, coincidences wrapped together to form pleasing packages. Truth is I do try to live a life consistent with doing what is right (to me) – and if that’s not good enough to get into some Heaven assuming there are any, then I should pick a religion – but which one is correct? I heard two fundamentalist (Protestant) preachers on the same radio hour, separated by about a minute, one saying baptism in water is the only way to get into heaven, the other saying that ‘baptism in the spirit’ is the only way to get to Heaven and water baptism is an illusion of salvation and insufficient. This was from the same church in Zarapeth, NJ.
Numerous studies have shown that attendance of religious services is inversely related to all-cause mortality rate. So I mind my own business, and respect the people who go to Church.
I have nothing against people who attend religious services or believe in any religion (at least one that isn’t directed against me) – and largely people are not too bright – those who belong to a community and attend a church probably have ‘better’ lifestyles as compared to those who are not part of a community. Religion teaches self-discipline and communities possess knowledge. I do object to science butting into religion however. As I said religion is personally comforting but results in societal misfortune when people turn to ‘holy wars’ (for example), with loads of deaths resulting – or forcing others to conform to their beliefs, or simply hating and killing them because they do not – there are many conflicting religions. And religion is more likely to attack science which steps on its ancient (and incorrect) wisdom, while science is more likely to ignore religion. And that’s what science should do, is all that I’m saying. There are scientists and philosophers who attack religion, but that’s not the business of science. We’re (GRG) interested in life extension or at least health-span extension – is your solution to go to church? We’ve tried that approach for thousands of years, maybe it will work now? We’ve explored the afterlife for thousands of years what do we know now that we didn’t ten thousand years ago? We’ve talked ‘free will’ for centuries – our conclusions?
If you delve deeper into the life extension benefits of attending religious services, it appears to indicate that the actually benefit is derived from the social interactions while in attendance at the church gatherings.
Therefore, all social interaction supposedly offers a life extension benefit as opposed to isolating one’s self.
Of course, perhaps if a person is a social phobic interaction with people may actually stress them out and hasten their demise.
Cortisol levels may be the factor.
Or oxytocin may be the life-lengthener for social interaction.
On the other hand, the power of prayer is an important part of all religions. When tested this ‘power’ has no or even negative effects (heart patients told they were being prayed for fared worse as I recall from one such study). Sure people can tell you times where their prayers were answered and that occurs in all religions, but the majority of prayers are not. Until the invention of modern medicine, prayers were the answer, but notoriously ineffective as compared with antibiotics.
I would say that your views are in concert with most of the scientific community which feels that science has most of the important things already figured out and all else, like matters relating to free will, precognition, God, beauty, joy, love, etc., is just a big waste of time.
For many reasons, which would require a very lengthy post, I’m not entirely in that camp. I believe that matters of science as well as the metaphysical are worthy of serious contemplation.
The various religious denominations have really nothing to do with my position on the matter one way or the other.
I agree that matters of science and the metaphysical are worthy of serious contemplation.
I have had ESP experiences, as have most people.
I think there are a lot of people who have thought of a friend minutes before the friend texts or calls them on the phone, or minutes before bumping into them on the street… Sometimes even in a city far away from both their homes.
I have also at age nine had a visitation from a dead person at least an hour prior to learning of their actual death.
I could feel the person’s presence, and touch, and knew who it was, as if they were corporeal. I could also see impressions of where there body sat, but I could not actually see the person.
My parents later told me it was wishful thinking or a dream because I knew the person was ill.
I do not believe it was, but of course, not sure. I think if it were a dream or wishful thinking, I would have actually seen the person’s body.
Regarding Josh’s reference to Robert Jahn’s work and the former PEAR laboratory and Princeton University, I actually participated in those experiments for about 8 weeks.
The first time when writing down my intent and attempting to influence the direction of a line on a computer graph, my efforts worked as I hoped in that the line moved up when I wanted it to and down when, I wanted it to.
It worked so well, actually, that I questioned if I was being observed and humored. They assured me I was not.
The graph experiment appeared to work best when I thought of my intent but did not focus on it obsessively.
For example: I did other things while in the room such as flipping through text books and wandered around looking at photographs, while continuing to think of the upward direction.
At those times, of partial concentration, when the computer program ended, I could see the line had gone in the direction I intended.
If I stopped doing other things, and concentrated solely and very intensely on the computer graph line’s direction, It seemed to go into an inverse mode, always and consistently moving in exactly the opposite direction of my intent, very Odd.
The Lab manager Brenda Dunne, mentioned that this response appeared to be typical, so typical that it was statistical significant.
After Brenda’s feedback, sometimes while in the experiment room I would try different levels of concentration.
For example I would begin putting all my focus into one of the physics books in the room, reading it intensely, without thinking of the line’s direction.
That level of concentration always showed a random pattern in the lines directional movement.
Brenda explained that, according to her records, moving the line in the intended direction seemed to work best when, a person was not intently and solely focused on the outcome.
For example: Perhaps flipping through a catalog, or only intermittently thinking of a specific direction. That was my experience too.
Another experiment, in which the person would try to guess which of previously viewed photographs would appear on the computer screen, seemed to almost always only work in a 50/50 way, for me.
Jahn, once peaked into the room, while I was working on that , and asked me what I though,when I told him it appeared to be 50/50, his shoulders stiffened and he ducked back out of the room.
Perhaps Jahn ran into so many road blocks with his peers because he was not open to negative feedback.
My negative feedback was not a criticism but I was hoping for some suggestions on how to improve my score similar to the suggestions Brenda had offered.
Typical of jet propulsion experts, and engineers, perhaps, Robert Jahn, by my personal observation, was not the most socially engaging person, I had ever met.
Brenda Dunne, however was more engaging and open to working with the experiment participant regarding negative feedback.
Personal I think ESP and telekinesis and other paranormal skills are very easily disrupted by outside influences and therefore difficult to study.
It’s interesting that some Buddhist sects, discuss not focusing to intently on an outcome as the best way to achieve it.
It’s not that I doubt such phenomena exist and I have had experiences similar to those myself- it’s simply that I don’t think they can be explored by science or by the human intellect and yield no information or insights, nor even convincing evidence of their existence – how many times do you think of someone and they don’t call? How much is pure coincidence? In the limited time we have, wasting it on metaphysical speculation brings us no closer to the truth – if you have a scientific way of exploring these phenomena then that would be a different story – but you have not. In spite of those now rare psychic researchers who assessed ESP by use of decks of cards – there hasn’t been enough evidence to conclusively prove the phenomenon even exists, much less explore its basis. So it’s idle speculation – without results or conclusions, in ways like the repeated trips to haunted houses the TV ‘ghostbusters’ make every week, and every week there’s a ‘did you feel that’ – or ‘look, I didn’t have that scratch before!, I’m really scared now’ – but no one learns a thing or ever authenticates a ghost. Ditto ‘big foot’. For how many thousands of years have people been seeing ghosts, and yet there’s no convincing evidence of ghosts?
I agree that most paranormal research typically yields minimally useful information.
Seriously, what good is being able to predict a future event, if no one will believe you, or you are not in a position to change a negative outcome, or the prediction is so minor that it has little purpose, or the prediction is so vague that it can not be linked conclusively to any specific location or person?
I get that.
Still, research does show statistically significant patterns. The patterns are consistent enough to prove the phenomena exists.
We may not understand it’s origins, or exactly what the phenomena is, but we do have evidence of its occurrence. We just do not know how to harness it so that it may be more useful.
Maybe researching a way to harness the ability or hone it, is a better project.
As for coincidence, well, there is garden variety coincidence and there is meaningful coincidence or synchronicity as suggested by Jung. There is a difference between the two.
If you think of a person that you interact with of all the time, and they text or call, that is most likely a coincidence.
However, if you have not thought of someone, or heard from someone in ten years, then all of a sudden you randomly start thinking about them in detail, and 15 minutes later you run into them on the street of a foreign city that neither of you knew the other would be visiting, then that is more than a simple coincidence.
If people are closed to the concept of synchronicity, they will most likely miss significant meaningful coincidences.
When people open up to the concept of synchronicity, they are often surprised by how often they notice them.
Personally, I think our brain is capable of commanding our bodies to do more than we think humanly possible, at this time.
Perhaps, as has often been suggested, we limit our ability by doubting our ability.
We are, for the most part, persistently conditioned by society’s reactions to the paranormal to inhibit and doubt such abilities.
Paul once mentioned the “Iceman.” He is a man who can raise his body temperature, at will, similar to Buddhist monks who can heat up towels put on their backs, after willing their temperature to rise high enough to document the towels steaming.
As for seeing ghosts, and gathering proof, perhaps people just do not like mentioning that they had a ghostly visitation for fear of being thought of as living on the lunatic fringe. Or being thought of as having a medical or mental or neurological condition that causes hallucinations or delusions.
Most ghost sightings are unpredictable ephemeral events.
Even if a person were prepared with camera in hand, photographs or video today are somewhat worthless because of advanced special effects equipment and techniques that can make it difficult, if not impossible, presently, to determine if a special effect was used in a particular case.
Whenever there are security camera videos of chairs moving and items moving on desks, in reputedly haunted offices or homes, almost always people dismiss the movement as wind, or electromagnetic phenomena, or a minor earthquake, even though they have no proof of those things occurring, at the time, either.
At the end of the day, though, you are right. In all its known forms the paranormal is still a very controversial subject, and without the ability to harness the random or minimal results, it’s a somewhat useless phenomena.
If having free will consists of a behavior that can’t be predicted, even statistically, that would mean that behavior was completely divorced from history, from experience. That would mean that the person with free will makes choices completely at random. The don’t learn from experience. That is not what I mean by free will. In the multiverse all possible choices will be made (some by mistake) so which of those universes you find yourself in is purely chance. Too bad, you could be in a universe where you are worshipped as a god and are immortal. Bad choices, bad luck?
Let me try to clarify.
The definition of unpredictable does not mean completely random. Actually, a completely random process has a well defined probability distribution. For example, when you flip a coin, the result is Head in 50% of the cases and Tail in 50% of the cases. It means that over a large number of trials you’ll see with a very high probability that the ratio of number of Heads over number of Tails is very close to 1. We can measure if a process is perfectly random.
Now imagine a coin with free will. It should not behave as a random process. It will choose Head or Tail in a unpredictable way depending on his choices. If you measure a large number of trials you won’t see a clear distribution of probability as in the previous case. Sometime it might choose to produce more Tails than Heads, sometimes it might choose the opposite. In short, you won’t be able to reliably predict its behavior, even in a probabilistic way.
It is expected that he behavior of a being with free will cannot be reliably predicted by looking at its past behavior, even in a probabilistic way. That’s a natural consequence of having a free will since a perfectly predictable system (even in a probabilistic way) cannot be expected to have free will.
Focusing on this consequence instead of the full notion of “free will” gives a way to approach the problem scientifically. The meaning of the “will” part of “free will” is left apart because there is no known scientific way to approach it, up to my knowledge.
You hit it on the head Aldebaran.
I know of identical twins who were raised in an abusive environment, one of whom is also an abuser as an adult since he saw this as ” normal behavior” while growing up. The other one, in the same environment as a child, has grown up to reject the “horrors” of his childhood and is now gentle and compassionate. Two different attitudes and choices to the same situation, neither of which was determined or predictable in any known way.
As for paranormal, I have never had such an experience, but my wife woke me up one night saying that she saw a spiritual being hovering in the room and she felt that it had something to do with her grandmother. She then spent the entire next day doting over her grandmother, who was 82 and in perfect health, but was killed that night by a drunk driver in an auto accident. She hasn’t had a similar experience of a supernatural event before or since.
I do have direct experience of free will, love, my own existence, beauty, etc. For me to be willing to deny such experiences as illusory would require a great deal of evidence of some alternative that is “more real” than direct experience. As of now I have no knowledge of such an alternative.
Okay, what have we learned from that? The possibility of precognition – and if we accept that possibility – what do we have to accept as well? That important information, (dealing with loved ones), may come from the relative future to it’s relative past. This thesis has already been raised by de Broglie’s ‘guide-waves’ – and in another interpretation of the double-slit experiment, the multiverse, “many worlds” hypothesis of Everett suggests that the future of different universes can interfere in the relative past of ‘your’ particular universe. That is, the pattern formed by the electron/photon that passed through the lower slit interferes with the pattern formed with the same electron passing through the upper slit in the other universe formed by the ‘decision’ as to which slit the photon will pass through.
I agree that our direct experience should be our best guidance in the absence of any strong scientific argument. And there are many domains in which science cannot tell us a lot, for example consciousness. Interesting story about the twins and about your wife’s experience with her grandmother. I have never experienced anything remotely paranormal so I am not sure how I would react.
Maybe you have had a paranormal experience but your logical mind refused to believe or acknowledge it and thus simply dismissed it as an odd occurrence.
Many times, I have talked to a person who vehemently insists that they never had a paranormal experience but then they segue into a description of an event that appeared to be a meaningful coincidence, with an ESP component, or a paranormal experience in general, but they do not recognize it as such.
Broglie’s “guide-waves” sound suspiciously similar to the ancient description of the “Akashic Records” residing in the Akasa. The Akasa ( a Sanskrit word for either or atmosphere) is a Buddhist belief in records of past present and future human emotions and intentions, etc., encoded in the ether or “astral plane,” available for humans to access.
The Akashic records are supposed to be permanent, but maybe they are not. Maybe they are just a guide to possible futures.
IMO, the multiverse bleed through also makes sense. Perhaps that is why a precognitive or a future prediction is thought to be a possible future rather than a fixed future event.
It does seem as if, for the most part, “we cannot step outside of our own reality and run the ‘computer program’ without actually living it,” as mark suggested.
But there is sometimes bleed through.
An example is a person who has a terrible feeling about a particular plane flight. He changes his plans at the last minute only to learn later that the plane crashed and he dodged a bullet.
These things have actually happened but we dismiss it as luck or simple coincidence.
Some religious folk, would opine that it was not yet his time to die.
That however indicates that he did not step out of the computer program and his death date is predetermined.
As you said, I could be biased toward too much rationality. Certainly, before acknowledging any paranormal experience, I will exhaust all the possible rational explanations I can think of (but shouldn’t everyone do that?).
I certainly would be very interested about any serious evidence of a non-explainable phenomenon. As such, I do not dismiss the existence of paranormal but I am just not aware of any real evidence of its existence. I certainly respect your opinion but the sort of experience that would convince me would need to be strong enough to be self-evident.
I think we are on the same page regarding concrete evidence.
IMO, it is important to exhaust all the possible rational explanations we can think of before simply accepting a paranormal experiences as anything but an unexplained event.
A paranormal experience to me is simply one that as yet has no concretely rational explanation for its occurrence.
We should ponder all possibilities, though, IMO.
I totally agree Aldebaran. Even if we completely understood and had mapped a person’s every possible response to every eventuality, this would not mean we could predict all their actions. This is a computational problem. Imagine that we are all characters in a computer simulation. That does not mean whoever is running the simulation knows what we are going to do; that is why they are running the simulation. Similarly we would look at a colony of ants – we would not say an ant has free will – and yet we cannot see all eventualities of how that colony will react to different changes in circumstance, or even reliably predict the path of a single ant.
In the same way we cannot know how we will react to future stimuli – we cannot step outside of our own reality and run the ‘computer program’ without actually living it. Of course we all do try and predict the future, that is what human intelligence is all about, but we do so in the understanding that all predictions are limited by current knowledge and that the future is highly fluid and unpredictable.
I understand that I am a limited being and from some god-like perspective it would look like my options are limited and therefore not truly ‘free’, but the unpredictability of the future and even my own actions (to myself) seems more important.
The only strange experiences I can relay, is that I seem to be able to become synchronized with certain people whom I am good friends with, and even separated for long periods often come up with the same insights at the same time – almost like our thinking has been clocked together. If such a person were to become suicidal, for example, I think I’d know.
That a random process has a well defined probability is besides the point; in any process that involve guessing heads or tails there is a binary decision either heads or tails that is made. To be unpredictable, every time that binary decision was made, it had to be made completely randomly. If the decision were to remain in the path of a fast moving rock or jump away from its path. We assume a person with ‘free will’ would always jump away from that rock – because he has the will to protect himself from hurt. Or are you suggesting the free-willed man will ‘sometimes’ allow the rock to hurt him (to protect someone else for example – but that could be a predictable event if you know his character. And how many times must ‘sometimes’ be – if its one in ten rocks, that makes his behavior quite predictable – 90% of the time you can say he will move out to the way of the rock – so really – then you’d have to have a random distribution to be really unpredictable, he’d have to move towards the rock as often, statistically, as away from it. So predictability is not a test of free will – a person who stands by his principles is a high exemplar of free will – but who is thereby very predictable.
Hi Harold. I am not saying that being unpredictable = having free will. I don’t believe we do have free will. But I am fine with that because of the fact we can still be unpredictable.
The point I was trying to make (perhaps not very well), is that just because you can predict a person’s given action in a certain scenario, i.e. self-preservation vs. a rock, does not make him predictable. As I said, even if his every action to every situation was predictable in theory, you still couldn’t do it in reality because you don’t have the computational power (in your brain or in any conceivable computer) to perform the necessary calculations. Real life is just too complex for accurate predictions about specific events.
For me “free will” is not related to any moral value or principle but rather to the possibility of a physical system (the human brain) to escape any predetermined behavior. I expect someone who stands by its principle to have exactly the same kind “free will” as any human.
I am not sure if we do have “free will” or not but I was interested by Scott Aronson’s paper which explore deeply the consequence of having such a freedom.
It is not clear at all if a physical system with such a freedom can exist. In particular, any computer program has a completely deterministic behavior and as such, cannot have “free will”. If you add randomness to the mix, then you can only build a system with a completely predetermined set of probability distributions (such as Non-deterministic Turing Machine). This does not sounds like a system with free will either.
I agree with Scott Aaronson that adding randomness to a system does not fundamentally change its predictable nature:
“Throughout, I’ll use the term freedom, or Knightian freedom, to mean a certain strong kind of physical unpredictability: a lack of determination, even probabilistic determination, by knowable external factors. That is, a physical system will be “free” if and only if it’s unpredictable in a sufficiently strong sense, and “freedom” will simply be that property
possessed by free systems. A system that’s not “free” will be called “mechanistic.””
“Many issues arise when we try to make the above notions more precise. For one thing, we need a
definition of unpredictability that does not encompass the “merely probabilistic” unpredictability of (say) a photon or a radioactive atom—since, as I’ll discuss in Section 3, I accept the often made point that that kind of unpredictability has nothing to do with what most people would call “freedom,” and is fully compatible with a system’s being “mechanistic.””
Some opine that the self-preservation instinct is rooted in rational and logical thought and behavior.
Cardiac myocytes are able to dodge dangerous or foreign substances that may harm them.
Myocytes, also appear to hibernate after a heart attack.
According to Narula and Young this is an attempt to wait out lack of resources for possible resuscitation.
So would we say cardiac myocytes have free will?
Let’s first look at the concept of ‘will’. Will implies goals or purposeful action. Do myocytes have purposeful actions? Yes they do. (Each of them has the genetic wherewithal to form an entire human being who knows what they ‘think’?). Does anything other than life or its products have a purpose? (Have a purpose other than one assigned it.) No. So ‘will’ is a fundamental property of life. The paramecium swimming away from danger and towards food has a purpose and a ‘will’. Free? What does that mean – the extent to which our behavior comports with achieving our goals?
As long as we can predict reliably the behavior of a myocyte in reaction to various stimuli (even probabilistically), I don’t see any reason to think that it has free will. This is because a predictable behavior is compatible with a purely mechanical system.
For example, if a myocyte always hibernate whenever we restrict its access to oxygen to a given level, then, it is just acting in a deterministic way.
The fact that the myocyte react appropriately to preserve itself when there is a lack of oxygen is not an argument in favor of its free will since it could have been programmed by evolution to do exactly that.
On the other hand, if the myocyte was not always acting in the same way in reaction to the same condition (and without following any defined probabilistic pattern), then, I would see that as an hint that it might have free will.
In practice though, a myocyte is a way too complicated system to be completely modeled. So finding out if it is purely mechanical is just not feasible.
Do all myocytes react exactly the same to stimuli – do they all approach sources of attractants with the same avidity — at the same velocity – or are there some that are slower – some that maybe even go in the opposite direction? I don’t think there is any eukaryotic system that is that mechanical- that predictable.
I do not know if all cardiac myocytes behave in a predictable way. A way that strives for self preservation.
Perhaps in a sick system the cardiac myocytes may be sluggish (seemingly depressed) and not respond at all.
Most humans will seek to dodge a truck, if it is heading for them, out of self preservation.
Some people may freeze like a deer in the headlights.
Did they choose to freeze, instead of choosing the flight or fight response?
A sick individual, however, might not be able to summon the energy to react quickly enough to the truck’s path.
A depressed individual might not care enough to react. They may choose death.
Or, death my simply be the result of their dysfunctional state fostering an inability to react in a so called “normal” manner to the stimulus of the truck and impending harm.
They may logically and rationally realize they should dodge the truck but they can not rise above their dysfunctional state.
I also do not know if the behavior of a cardiac myocyte is independent of the organism they are living within.
I agree with your points. For me the “free will” debate, when focused only on the freedom part, is interesting from a theoretical point of view because science might be able to say something about it. In particular, it is not clear to me if a physical system intrinsically unpredictable (even in probabilistic way) can exist.
In practice though, I doubt that we can make any progress in that debate by looking at living systems.
There is a distinct difference between being strongly Motivated to behave a certain way and Determined to do so. If a car is coming at me I am strongly motivated by self preservation to get out of the way , and this would be quite predictable of me and of any sane individual, but I am still aware that I have a choice to remain there, as in suicide for instance. It is not strictly determined, but sane and logical behavior can be predicted since we do generally respond in a similar way to similar strong motivating factors. But weaker factors, such as the choice to refuse candy, are less of a motivating factor, and the behavior is less predictable, but still free and not strictly determined. I am motivated but not determined to make choices.
Totally agree. Good explanation.
Anyone else read this?
‘Alzheimer’s drug turns back clock in powerhouse of cell.’
More work out of Salk. The drug J147, which is based on curcumin, improves the health of mitochondria. Don’t know much more about yet it than the headlines.
Paper is free too:
‘The mitochondrial ATP synthase is a shared drug target for
aging and dementia’.
Saw that yesterday. Authors claim that it holds real promise as an anti-aging drug and to even reverse dementia. Phase 1 trials are starting soon .
Looks certainly promising.
However, is there really a fundamental difference between J147 and curcumin? I am not sure if it is clearly explained in the paper. Since J147 is probably patented, it could just provide a way to sell curcumin at a big premium.
In any case, they are going to start clinical trials which is always good to see.
They claim that it is similar, but distinct, from curcumin and that in mice it imparted many signs of youthfulness at the cellular level. Who knows.
We could read that both ways but regardless of the outcome, the trend in Alzheimer research seems to move more toward a general anti-aging approach, which is a very good sign.
I think we have to be suspicious until it is shown that J147 is superior. Call me a cynic!
Regarding J147, which is seeking status as a new drug.
It would not be the first time a pharmaceutical firm changed a single molecule of a natural substance, or it was molecularly bonded to another substance in order to synthesize it into a patented substance enabling them to make huge profits from its sale.
Sometimes, in doing so, they introduce a negative physical effect that has not yet been noticed or studied.
It may take time to notice this effect in a newly synthesized substance.
There are already a registered, patented forms of more bio-available, more easily assimilated Curcumin, sold over the counter.
One is BCM-95:
From marketing materials:
“BCM-95 is curcumin extract combined with essential oils derived from the turmeric rhizome. BCM-95 is comprised of standardized 86% curcuminoids (curcumin, bis-demethoxycurcuminoid, and demethoxycurcuminoid) plus 7-9% essential oils (α-tumerone, β-tumerone, ar-tumerone). …
Studies show that just one 400 mg capsule of Super Bio-Curcumin® with BCM-95® per day provides curcumin blood concentrations equivalent to 2,772 mg of typical 95% curcumin products.”
“Meriva is the brand name for a form of curcumin that is combined with phosphatidylcholine to improve absorption. The reason for doing this is that curcumin is not naturally well absorbed, butphosphatidylcholine passes through cell membranes like a magnet, by attaching the two curcumin gets a free pass into the bloodstream. That is why it has been shown to be ~30x more bioavailable than Curcumin-95% + piperine. Raw absorption is one thing, but the most important feature of Meriva is that it has a better plasma curcuminoid profile that features demethoxycurcumin which is thought to be more potent in suppressing inflammation.”
The Euro j of Nutrition took a look recently at the different absorptions of curcumin and the one that clearly stood out ( 40 times ) was CW8 which is sold ( expensively) as cavacurmin.
Analysis of different innovative formulations of curcumin ….
Purpura, M 2017, Feb 16
So the mode of action of curcumin is supposed to be anti-inflammatory – and seems to concern the pathway leading to NF-kB and iNOS inhibition. That sounds completely different from the stated mode of action of J147 which works on the mitochondrial ATP synthase preventing ATP hydrolysis. There are references to curcumin and most other drugs this group has been interested in as delaying aging as inhibiting the ATPase activities of ATP synthases (http://mmbr.asm.org/content/72/4/590.full.pdf+html.) So then is this the secret of delaying aging – preventing ATP synthase from hydrolyzing ATP? It does make sense if energy concerns are the causes of aging.
You make a good point and it makes me think that J147 isn’t merely a better curcumin.
The biggest problem with curcumin is bioavailability. If they’ve solved that problem – produced a variant with curcumin’s ability but was soluble and readily entered cells that would be a big break-through. We know a depletion of energy is behind many ageing phenomena (and perhaps aging itself) and that a decrease in mitochondrial efficiency (ATPs produced per acetyl group entering) is a concomitant of aging – so perhaps there is where a curcumin-like molecule is effective? Exciting news – though we’re working on a different level to find a cure for aging – if it turns out they already have it, I can happily deal with my disappointment.
I think there is a lot we can do with mitochondria. For example I think we could possibly block apoptosis and also cancer from metastatising with the right manipulation using mitochondria targeted antioxidants. Keeping the process of mitophagy going could also lower lifetime ROS levels as well as keeping up energy levels in older people. However i am just not convinced the answer to aging lies in mitochondria. Like you, happy to be proven wrong.
The changes in mitochondrial efficiency and in ROS levels are part of the aging program. Lapasset showed that when cells were induced to pluripotence they became younger in all aspects including mitochondrial efficiency (and telomere length). So mitochondrial problems are the result of cellular aging (though they contribute to eventual death) and not its cause.
In the following open access paper, they provide more detail about J147:
A Novel Neurotrophic Drug for Cognitive Enhancement and Alzheimer’s Disease “PLoS One. 2011
“Curcumin is a curry spice with multiple biological activities that is also effective in transgenic AD mouse models , . To improve the potency and pharmacokinetic properties of curcumin, we synthesized a series of hybrid molecules between curcumin and cyclohexyl-bisphenol A (CBA), a compound that has neurotrophic activity which curcumin lacks . The best compound in our initial library was CNB-001, a molecule that has improved stability over curcumin and that is neuroprotective in multiple neurotoxicity assays in which curcumin is inactive . We then generated a large number of derivatives of CNB-001 and selected the best compound on the basis of activity in our multiple toxicity assays. The result was a much more potent molecule called J147”
Good information. A better curcumin.
Once a year I take a look over my multiple anti-aging/ healthspan substances, like others look at their portfolios, to see if any changes should be made. It occurs to me that my particular combination will never be studied for synergy and so it’s impossible to really know how to tweak it. For instance if you take rapamycin +curcumin +sulforaphane +astaxanthin+green tea+willow bark+melatonin
Add to that a specific diet and exercise program+9 hours of sleep.
You now have a combination that will never be studied, may be quite unique, is impossible to know if it’s right or wrong, may or may not be a proper synergy. Much is guesswork.
But still my hope is that 2018 brings yet more possible options to the equation like C60 or J147. I’m thinking that aging will have to be conquered in baby steps.
I know what you mean. I try and cycle things on and off to get a sense of what each gives me. It is rare something has such an obvious effect you can’t miss it. Rapamycin, resveratrol and C60 have all been very noticeable for me. Other things may be doing me good in the long run, but it’s hard to tell. I recently read a few papers that showed curcumin and resveratrol both help each other’s bioavailability so are good to take together. Also, as we’ve discussed before curcumin and rapamycin shouldn’t be taken on the same day due to effects on the CYP4A enzyme that slows the digestion of rapamycin. I’ll have to check but resveratrol and Berberine might do the same thing so should not be taken with rapamycin.
Remind us if you would about C60 dose and frequency. How do you feel with it? Any side effects noted?
Hi Paul. Hard to say what dose frequency to take for C60 in olive oil. There is an exercise endurance boosting effect pretty immediately after taking it. I played around with how it made me feel and when I started to feel worse took another dose. I found every 3 days taking another teaspoonful worked well for me. If i took it more than this sometimes it made me tired. I’m speculating but it could be an effect of too much C60 getting into mitochondria; maybe lowering the intermembrane potential temporarily? Often I have a break of a few weeks when I run out and order more. The main downside with taking it is you may down regulate your own endogenous anti oxidant production, so it might be advisable to also take brocolli extract or resveratrol or something like that, either on non C60 days or when on a break from it, to boost those Nrf2 levels back up.
I expect the exercise boosting effect is due to having all those extra electron donor/acceptors in the mitochondria. The life extension in rats was probably due to the fact mitochondrial anti oxidants can stop metastasis, also evidenced from the fact none of the rats in the one famous study got cancer (very unusual). Wish they’d noted what they actually died of.
Might have to give it a go. Would be good on HIIT days especially.
Where do you get it?
Vaughter Wellness is the only source in Eurpe that I know of, but there is plenty in the States; I’ve heard the stuff from C60OliveOil is good, but shipping to me is too much so I always use VW.
Thanks. I did find a good brand at carbon60oliveoil for about $45/100ml.
For those new to this site, and to C60, it extended the lifespan of mice by 90%, and as you say none of them got cancer. The mechanism is very unusual so correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems that the mitochondrial membrane carries a positive charge on the outer, and a negative charge on the inner membrane, and it is this charge differential that leads to dangerous ROS creation. C60 is able to carry up to 6 protons and therefore reduces the differential thereby reducing or even stopping ROS formation in the first place ( unlike antioxidants).
But there is also evidence that it can stimulate ROS production under certain circumstances thus accounting for its cancer killing abilities.
So it can both increase the “good” ROS and decrease the “bad” , in accordance with hormesis essentially.
There is also evidence of an anti-inflammatory action.
The main negative is concern over possible long term DNA damage, but this is yet to be firmly established.
It is also very interesting to note the very long effect that the stuff has after dosing it, at least on longevity. Maybe once or twice a month would do the trick.
Did I miss anything?
I am not up-to-date on C60 but my understanding is that the only study that show life extension was with 6 mice (90% life extension as Paul mentioned) but some follow-up experiments failed to reproduce life extension.
Isn’t it quite speculative at this point to try C60? I think we might have update from Ichor therapeutics in 2018 so why not wait few more months?
Six animals that lived twice as long as normal (that would be in excess of six years each for six rats) vs no change in lifespan (How many rats)? That’s a pretty big range from which to draw a conclusion. I suppose unless fullerene hurts you…, but how many know the long-term effects on humans – no one. Is there any population that’s been exposed to them? One, that I can think of – chimney sweeps, (because a lot of smoke carbon is in that form) – and the only connection that occurs to me there is testicular cancer.
It is certainly speculative. However the size of the effect even with small sample size makes me think this is real. Plus 1. MitoQ, a mitochondrially targeted antioxidant, can stop metastasis (paper easy to find), 2. The C60 in olive oil protecting against toxic chemicals part of the rat study has been replicated (recent paper, will have a look for it tmw) even though the lifespan part hasn’t, 3. Lots of people have been taking it since 2012 and haven’t heard any bad reports.
I think replicating the study will be tricky because olive oil is of uncertain composition and itself is highly unstable (though the C60 should help with this). Plus mice and rats are not good on high fat diets. Humans however are fine!
I doubt we’ll get much from Ichor.
Oh and ps, breathing in pure C60 dust like a chimney sweep would be very dangerous! Drinking it as an adduct with an oil = completely different thing.
Long-term? You don’t know, sorry, I don’t mean to be rude, but I don’t think anyone knows – the molecule enters the body by some means but once it’s in the body, what determines how it acts – not the original material it was dissolved in? So, of course looked at optimistically, it sometimes appear to almost double lifespan and doesn’t appear to decrease lifespan – but I’d suggest finding out what olive oil they used in the apparently successful experiment. I wouldn’t depend on any results that stemmed from progeric animals. (I haven’t read the studies, do you have citations?)
I see. Still speculative but we can be relatively confident about the safety on the medium term and there is some reasonable evidence that the effect is real.
‘A Mitochondrial Switch Promotes Tumor Metastasis’
‘Fullerene C60 nanoparticles ameliorated cyclophosphamide-induced acute hepatotoxicity in rats’
‘The prolongation of the lifespan of rats by repeated oral administration of fullerene’
I don’t think you’re being rude Harold, you’re right to be cautious – this is a foreign substance the human body may not be equipped to deal with long term; my guess is it is fine but everyone needs to make their own decision on this.
Bear in mind that even if the lifespan effect is replicated, a doubling of the lifespan of rats is probably mostly due to the elimination of cancer as a cause of mortality. This would obviously be useful in humans, but unlikely to have the same effect on lifespan.
Vince did a very thorough review of this several years back and he did note that nucleotide damage with long term use could be a real concern. Just like rapamycin, dose and frequency are probably key to its success or toxicity. It was remarkable how prolonged the effect was when you consider that the dosing was stopped when the first rat died, and yet the longevity effect persisted. It may be feasible to dose it very intermittently, like weekly, and avoid the possible problems.
It seems that these buckyballs have a long half-life in the body – is it known how or whether they are excreted or which tissue they can be found in?
It’s interesting that the rats were given C60 for 17months of their life and then no more was given, yet they lived for 66 months longer, thus the C60 effect lasted for years after the last dose was administered.
Also, the half life of mitochondria in a rat is very short, a few weeks or less, so did the C60 confer extraordinary longevity to the mitochondria? Or did they cause the mitochondria undergoing mitophagy to transform into new mitochondria?
All interesting stuff about a very unusual substance. The people at carbon60oliveoil claim to have the identical product as that used in the longevity study, so why can’t they just duplicate the results?
Oh and i think that C60 is not just dissolved in the olive oil, it forms bonds with it and this does control how it acts within the body. Hence the uncertainty with olive oil being generally a mix of different oils. I need to look into this further.
C60 olive oil locates to the mitochondria, where is does it’s thing improving electron transport chain efficiency, reducing ROS, resisting apoptosis, lowering membrane potential (or whatever the hell it does).
There has been some modelling done that suggested pristine C60 could bind to the minor DNA groove, and possibly impair replication, which might be bad, although who knows – rapamycin, heavy water, etc. all slow replication too. But in any event C60 olive oil doesn’t appear to get into the nucleus, and even if it did it’s a much bigger molecule so probably wouldn’t do the same thing.
I’m sure that no component of olive oil makes a covalent bond to C60 so it’s just fat soluble. During mitosis, when the nuclear membrane disappears there’d be nothing to prevent C60 from entering the nucleus of cycling cells.
Unfortunately I do not have access to the original paper regarding the study, so I can only quote Vince’s blog: Three groups of 6 rats (10 months old, weighing 465.31(10 months old, were administered daily for one week, then weekly until the end of the second month and then every two weeks until the end of the 7th month, by gavages with 1 ml of water or olive oil or C60 dissolved in olive oil (0.8 mg/ml), respectively.” All rats in cohort (a) were alive until week 18 of the experiment and all were dead by week 38. All rats in cohort (b). were alive until week 36 and all were dead by week 58. In cohort (c). all rats were alive until week 60 and all dead by week 66 (the last one being sacrificed at week 66). Between weeks 38 and 60 all the control rats were dead and all the C60-fed rats were alive and well. Olive oil alone produced a weighted average of 18% life extension while the weighted average for the C60-olive oil brew was 90%.
From the above:
The rats are not treated for 17 months instead it was 10 months old rats treated for 7 months. The treated rats did not live for 66 months longer. They lived 66 weeks (15 months = 66/4.33) more after the treatment (unfortunately they sacrificed the last rat at 66 wks after treatment so we will never know the true life span of that rat). So the longest lived treated rat lived 32 months (17+15). The longest lived rat treated with olive oil without C60 lived 30 months (17+58/4.33). There is not so much difference between these two groups when comes to maximum life span. The shortest lived rat in control was 21 months (17 + 18/4.33). The shortest lived treated rat lived 31 months (17 = 60/4.33). The longest lived control rat lived to 26 months (17 + 38/4.33). 32 versus 26 months in maximum life span; 31 versus 21 months in minimum life span. I do not know how they arrived at the conclusion of 90% life span increase with C60 Olive oil treatment.
Of course, I could be totally wrong as I did not have access to read the original paper. Someone who have access to the full article of that research please correct me.
With the untreated controls dying at 18 weeks, this must be a progeric strain of mice – even the oldest lived only 66 weeks – 15 months, when you’d expect about 40 months for the oldest rats of a cohort. So either their diet was lacking something, or there was a genetic disease that the addition of olive oil made up for. The results you give certainly illustrate the benefits of olive oil at least to short-lived rats feed on Rat Chow or whatever. The difference between the oldest olive oil and oldest C60 was about twenty days – less then a month – so big deal – since I already consume olive oil I’d consider myself among that oil consuming group. I’d certainly want to see that experiment replicated by others, perhaps with longer lived animals and using different solvents before I tried it – if it were really 90% greater than normal lifespan, (but 66 weeks is not even close to normal) I’d have been more inclined to try it. Assuming the report is accurate.
I agree with you that the experiment does not seems that convincing but my understanding from Cassia’s post is a bit different than yours. I think control rats start to die at 10 month + 18 weeks ~ 14 months and the last control rats die at 10 month + 38 weeks ~ 19 months. So probably the rats were not progeric but with such a small sample, it is possible that control rats were all particularly short lived for some reason. The difference in max life span between control and olive oil group (10 months + 58 weeks ~ 23.5 vs 19 months (more than 20%) point to that possibility as I would be very surprised if olive oil could have such a dramatic effect.
For me this experiment still indicates a possible strong effect of C60 + olive oil on life span. However, it really needs to be reproduced with more animals to prove that even in rats this is real.
That “for some reason” says it all. Dying at 14 months is like dying in early middle-age – so something might have been ‘wrong’ in their environments (physical or genetic) that resulted in such early deaths – that feeding olive oil or olive oil plus C60 fixed. So I would hesitate to apply the conclusion of lifespan extension to normal rats (for whom 66 weeks is still very much in their prime of life), much less to humans.
Sorry, I didn’t make it clear enough. From what I understood from reading Vince’s blog the controls started to die at 10 months + 7 months + 18 weeks, which is about 21 months. The longest lived treated rat (C60 in olive oil) lived to 10 months + 7 months + 66 weeks, which is about 32 months.
But it would be nice if someone with access to the original paper could read it and let us know exactly how long these 18 rats lived.
Oh sorry. A strange way of presenting the data.
On 2/25/14 Vince and Watson did a very comprehensive look and evaluation of C60 on their anti-aging website. They state this about the results, “the C60 fullerenes in olive oil were initially administered every day at a dose of 4mg/kg. After 7 days the dose was reduced to weekly for the next 2 months. After that doses were only given once every 2 weeks until the first rat died ( the average lifespan of a rat is 1.8 years).
Then no more C60 was given. This amounted to 17 months of C60 treatment, then no C60 was given for the rest of the rat’s lives. The rats who received C60 in olive oil lived as long as 66 months, which was 90% longer than the control group, which lived 14-38 months.Thus the C60 had a prolonged effect which lasted for years after the last dose was given.
On 10/24 /17 Joe Cohen also reviewed this on his site and he states that “some studies used a derivative of C60 while using actual C60 in olive oil can get a 90% increase in lifespan for rats”
Three groups of 6 rats (10 months old, weighing 465.31(10 months old, were administered daily for one week, then weekly until the end of the second month and then every two weeks until the end of the 7th month, by gavages with 1 ml of water or olive oil or C60 dissolved in olive oil (0.8 mg/ml), respectively.” All rats in cohort (a) were alive until week 18 of the experiment and all were dead by week 38. All rats in cohort (b). were alive until week 36 and all were dead by week 58. In cohort (c). all rats were alive until week 60 and all dead by week 66 (the last one being sacrificed at week 66). Between weeks 38 and 60 all the control rats were dead and all the C60-fed rats were alive and well. Olive oil alone produced a weighted average of 18% life extension while the weighted average for the C60-olive oil brew was 90%.
Above was 100% quote from Vince’s blog. “In cohort (c). all rats were alive until week 60 and all dead by week 66” He mentioned week 66, so cohort c lived 10 months + 7 months + 66 weeks.
This is the link to his original blog post. The paragraph started with:
There were several sub-studies reported in this paper. In the chronic toxicity and longevity sub-study, only 18 rats middle-aged were involved divided into three cohorts of six rats each:
That’s a good place to start.
“Domestic rats live about two to 3.5 years, or 112 – 182 weeks. In agreement with Quinn the average laboratory rat lives approximately three years. In a survey, rat lifespan in the UK was 21.6 months (93 weeks), and 95% percent had died by age of three years. (note that that’s 156 weeks)
So by these numbers (which are not internally consistent) a rat that lived 66 weeks which is about 15.3 months is not a long-lived rat but a short-lived one- only long-lived compared to extremely short-lived mice.
You can get the paper from Sci Hub.
The lifespan figure in it was wrong however and they issued a correction – if you type in ‘the prolongation of the lifespan of rats Figure 3 correction’, the top Google image result is the correction.
On it is shows that a water fed Wistar rat died early at 15mo due to a tumour – this is why they stopped gavaging the rats and just observed them without any further doses. So the short dosing protocol was an accident, not part of the study design.
After ~34 months (reading the graph) all the control group were dead. This is roughly in accordance with the expected lifespan (remember they only had 6 rats per group).
After about 37 months all olive oil rats were dead, apart from one, who freakishly lived till age 50 months. But again remember only 6 rats per group mean you’ll get strange results like this.
The first rat in the olive oil plus C60 group died at 51 months old. They were all dead at 55 month old, but I believe the last one was killed (can’t remember where I read this, but I think it was an interview with the lead author).
So I absolutely agree, this experiment needs to be re-run with Wistar rats in much larger groups. But even with such a small sample size, this is quite an amazing result.
Thanks Mark for clarifying.
My search at Science Hub doesn’t turn up anything. Maybe the site is somewhat blocked in Canada. C60 is probably safe, but I wouldn’t put too much faith in a single study.
You can get the paper from ‘c60antiaging (dot)com’
And like I said, Fig 3 had a correction.
I’ll never understand why they haven’t yet re-run it under the exact same conditions.
It was interesting, when interviewed, that the authors were convinced that if they hadn’t stopped giving them the stuff that they would have lived for a very very long time. It’s still amazing that C60 in olive oil had such a prolonged effect and Watson speculated that it was a direct effect on mitochondrial longevity or creation of new mitochondria.
It will be important to use the Exact same stuff next time.
Exactly. I am really wondering why Spindler or another high caliber expert in life span studies has not yet been interested enough in that story to try reproducing the results.
Agreed. It’s a beginning – so why hasn’t it been repeated with larger groups? If people are selling C60 in olive oil, why don’t they fund some research that might grow their business (unless they’re afraid the results won’t hold up)?
How much would it cost to re-run the results with say 60 rats total, and with the food/water/cages for 5 years? Probably quite an undertaking for a un-patentable molecule.
Apparently Ichor are doing it but with mice and their own to-be-patented delivery method (not olive oil).
Not sure if this is in their interest to fund a study as long as they can sell their stuff. On the other hand, if C60 + OO could be somehow patented, a private company might give it a try.
“Sell their stuff” – with a study consisting of six animals in each group (and a surprising increase in lifespan from olive oil alone) I wouldn’t put much stock in that experiment as other than a rough and ready proof of principle, a go ahead to continue will longer dosing and more animals. That wouldn’t be enough to have me try it, however, if it were repeated with longer dosing and more animals and the same or better results obtained (say longer dosing meaning longer lifespans) then I would, and almost anyone else would, be willing to give it a shot. So they’re selling it – it’s not in the Big Pharma model to sell non-patent-able drugs – so then the only other nutraceutical companies would compete and you’d have name recognition and proof that your product worked. Like “Bayer” aspirin persisted so many decades in spite of its higher price.
Thanks for clarifying. The study is indeed more convincing than what I thought. But still very few rats and no successful follow-up study to confirm their results. Maybe there is an important detail in the experimental setup or in the C60 dosage that everyone has missed so far.
Does Vince takes himself C60?
Maybe it is easier for a non-academic to appreciate the excellent value of the thinking in the article. Mainstream scientific opinion may not, after all hold a monopoly over knowledge and understanding of the universe. As an outsider, I wonder how the statistics would look between (1) the status quo academics that are prepared to play ‘chicken’ with their careers by challenging trite views and (2) the conventionalists. I am thinking that not so long ago, the scientific community closed ranks and helped to put firewood beneath the burning ‘witches’. Were they correct in their assumptions and theories? I am a simple person, who is much taken by Shakespeare quote: “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” It is easy to presume that we can become more than a student. Congratulation on a well balanced article.