The “Scientific World-view” Needs an Update

At the end of each year, I take the liberty of speculating on a scientific subject beyond the usual scope of this blog. This one is the broadest yet.


We live on an island surrounded by a sea of ignorance. As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance.
— John Archibald Wheeler

The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.
— Mrs Haine, my 6th Grade teacher (1961)

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.
erroneously attributed to Mark Twain

The community of scientists has bequeathed to us a picture of the world that is fundamentally wrong. The picture so many of us carry in our minds is derived from 19th Century science. It is utterly inconsistent with quantum physics, and has been contradicted directly by a body of research on powers of the mind that has been marginalized by the mainstream. Somehow, the picture has survived and become ossified in some of the smartest minds on the planet.

The big-picture stories that our culture carries have consequences for the way we live our lives and the way we organize our communities. The ”scientific world-view“ is not only deeply at odds with science, it is also related to the ways our world is falling apart—the sense of powerlessness and hopelessness that we carry, and especially the sense of isolation and existential loneliness.


What is the scientific world-view?

How do we know it is wrong? Six stories

  1. The Anthropic Principle
  2. Memory is not only in synapses. Thought is not confined to brains.
  3. PSI research, especially the REG experiments of Jahn and Dunne
  4. Bell’s Theorem is a proof that the observer participates in the creation of reality.
  5. QM of many-particle systems
  6. Quantum Zeno Effect

What will our world look like after the coming paradigm shift?


What is the scientific world-view?

Physical reality is the only reality. Particles and fields are real. Thoughts, emotions, desires are abstract concepts useful to us, but not fundamental constituents of reality. Elementary particles can be visualized well enough as miniature billiard balls. They interact with their near neighbors, following fixed laws. The laws of physics explain properties of the chemical elements, and the known laws of chemistry and physics are sufficient to understand biology, ecology, sociology, and on up.

Life is subject to the same physical laws as non-living matter. Life has no fundamental relationship to the physical universe. It’s just something that happened, going along for the ride.

There is no room for free will. Our feeling of making choices must be an illusion. The future is determined by the past plus pure chance. “Quantum random” is the gold standard for random events absolutely unpredictable and unrelated to anything else in the world.

This view is sometimes called “physicalism”—the physical world is the only thing that is real; and it is sometimes called “reductionism”—everything on large scales can be explained in terms of emergent, aggregate properties of smaller systems, coming down ultimately to the level of particles.

The perspective of the mechanical universe was inherited by Nietzsche, who declared that “God is dead”. There followed the nihilistic movements of the 20th Century: Dadaism, Existentialism, atonal music and punk rock, Post-modernism. If, as Yeats says, “the best lack all conviction…”, perhaps part of the reason lies in the fact that our best and brightest have been drawn to the Scientific World-view, with its subtext that all is mechanical, random, and ultimately meaningless… Am I being unfair, linking all this to a belief that the only things that exist are particles and fields?

How do we know it is wrong?

1. The Anthropic Principle

All physical theories rely on fundamental constants, numbers that are arbitrary inputs that just happen to be what they are. Examples are the speed of light, the mass of the electron, the size of Planck’s constant (which scales quantum effects), and the strength of gravity. After accounting for the arbitrariness of scales in mass, length, and time, there are about 20 such arbitrary constants. Beginning in the 1970s, it has been noticed that the kind of universe we live in depends sensitively on these numbers. In fact, many of them seem to be very finely tuned in the sense that if they were a little bit different from what they are, our universe would be vastly simpler and less interesting than it is. For example, if the gravitational constant were smaller, then there would be no galaxies or stars, just hydrogen and helium forever spread through space. If the strong force were a little less strong, there would be no chemical elements except hydrogen; and an extremely precise coincidence accounts for the abundance of carbon, which otherwise would be a trace element, far too rare to support life. Here are three books on the Anthropic Principle (Barrow & Tipler 1988, Davies, 2007, Rees, 1999).

How do scientists interpret this fact? The majority eschew any implication of design by positing that our universe, infinite though it may be in space and time, is but one among a truly stupendous number of universes that exist. The vast majority of such universes are incapable of supporting life. The very fact that we’re here to ask the question explains the special combination of constants that characterizes our particular universe.

But to me, all those extra universes are a gross violation of Occam’s Razor. The “Anthropic Coincidences” say to me that life is a fundamental reason why our universe is the way it is. I connect this idea to experiments of Robert Jahn cited below.

2. Memory is not only in synapses. Thought is not confined to brains.

Every October, Monarch butterflies across ⅔ of North America turn around and fly home, up to 2,000 miles, to find the exact tree (in California or Mexico) where their great, great, great, great grandparents overwintered the previous year. How is the road map transmitted from generation to generation? Plants don’t have anything that corresponds to nerves or brains, but Monica Gagliano has demonstrated that plants can learn, can store memories, can sense their environment and make decisions that have all the appearance of signal processing. Even single-celled ciliates can learn and remember. Caterpillars’ nervous systems are dismantled completely in the chrysalis, yet memories of the caterpillar survive in the butterfly. Humans who receive a heart transplant can take on some of the tastes, interests, and personality traits of the heart donor. There are too many stories of young children remembering verifiable details of a past life to dismiss the possibility of reincarnation.

Memory plays such a key role in defining our identities and personalities. These examples indicate that memory is not just in our brains, but at least sometimes can be in tissues other than nerves, or even outside the body altogether.

3. PSI research, especially the REG experiments of Jahn and Dunne

Almost everyone will acknowledge precognitive dreams or uncanny premonitions. We have learned to dismiss these as chance occurrences, coincidences without significance. We may be unaware there are surveys and statistical studies of such stories, arguing that explanations from selective memory or embellished storytelling are absurdly inadequate to account for their frequency and specificity. Studies of telepathy and precognition under laboratory conditions complement this anecdotal evidence and lend it credence. A robust, incontrovertible body of research on the paranormal demonstrates the reality of telepathic communication with an aggregate p value that is astronomically small. (If this assertion is new to you, I recommend Etzel Cardeña for a scientific review, or Dean Radin for an entertaining overview backed by rigorous science. A protocol called Ganzfeld produces consistent effects of size 14%, averaged over thousands of experimental trials in the last 30 years.)

I find special significance in a series of experiments done by Brenda Dunne and Robert Jahn, Dean of the Princeton University School of Engineering, over a 35-year period, using Random Event Generators (REG). They showed that the conscious intent of a human can bias the results of a quantum random process. This is of special significance because it cries out to us to consider that consciousness may play a role in fundamental physics. Standard quantum physics tells us that exactly half the information necessary to predict the result of any experiment is coded in the wave function. The other half does not exist. An element of pure randomness enters into every observation of reality. Jahn and Dunne’s results have been corroborated with completely different equipment, using optical interference fringes instead of REGs. They offer us a radical idea: that “quantum random” may not be random at all, but the gateway by which conscious intent creates physical effect. I’ll have more to say below.

James Carpenter cites evidence that psychic abilities inform our subconscious minds just as commonly as other, well-acknowledged subliminal input, but most of this information is never delivered up to the conscious mind that sits atop a far more extensive cognitive process. We who have been raised to trust our senses and our reason suppress these ubiquitous psychic messages far more thoroughly than indigenous peoples, who routinely regard extra sensory perception as part of their everyday reality.

4. Bell’s Theorem is a proof that the observer participates in the creation of reality.

Irish/Swiss physicist John Bell proved (1964 original) that the known and accepted principles of quantum mechanics imply that every observer affects what is being observed, and furthermore that that effect transcends space and time. The observer affects anything that has ever interacted with what he observes, and the effect can act on the past as easily as the future. (Subsequently, it has been verified in lab experiments that real physical systems do behave in this way, so you don’t even have to accept quantum mechanics to know that observers affect what they observe.

The implications of this force us to rethink the idea (fundamental to the scientific method) that there is an objective physical world, independent of the scientists who study it. Do we find a clue to the physical basis of the intention effect that Jahn and Dunne observed? Might we imagine that the Big Bang event (when, for a tiny fraction of a second, all matter was packed so tight that every particle interacted with every other) was caused in some sense by our looking out at the universe 14 billion years later?

John Wheeler describes the observer’s participation in creating reality by analogy with a game of 20 Questions, in which the observer asks the question and Nature makes up her answers ad libitem.

We think of observers as independent humans with free will, but the model of participatory co-creation raises the question, how does it come about that there is so much we can agree on in the one universe co-created by you and me and at least 7 billion other observers? Considering this question has led me to the conclusion that our consciousnesses are not really so independent as we experience them to be. This idea seems puzzling and wildly counter-intuitive, but it aligns well with the wisdom of mystics throughout the ages.)

5. QM of many-particle systems

Quantum mechanics is essentially about situations, not particles. We associate quantum physics with experiments and high-energy particles and with physics of the atom. The reality (rarely acknowledged) is that we do quantum experiments with single particles because that’s all we know how to calculate. Quantum mechanics provides a prescription for calculating future probabilities based on present measurements, but that calculation is utterly intractable except in the very simplest cases. Yes, the simple Schrödinger equation (not even relativistic QM or second-quantization quantum field theory) becomes completely intractable for any system more complicated than two particles. This is different from classical mechanics. You can solve the equations of motion for 2 particles in classical mechanics with twice as much computational effort as 1 particle, and 3 particles require 3 times as much computation. But in QM, a 2 particle system is represented by a wave function in a 6-dimensional configuration space, and a 3-particle system requires 9 dimensions, etc. This is sooo different from tracking one more particle in the same 3-dimensional space. In practice, a 2-electron computation requires a billion times more computing power than a single electron, and a 3-electron computation is beyond the conceivable ability of any transistor-based computer that will ever be built. A garden variety biomolecule typically contains a few thousand electrons.

(In practice, physical chemists do computations of large atoms and complex molecules all the time, but to do so they start with the fiction that electrons don’t interact with one another (except through the Pauli exclusion principle) and then correct their calculation based on experimental measurements of chemical properties.)

We do experiments to test quantum mechanics on systems with a single particle, isolated through careful laboratory conditions, because that’s all we know how to calculate. But quantum mechanics is fundamentally a theory of systems. It applies naturally to many-particle systems, and to single particles in idealized circumstances that only obtain in specialized laboratories. The observations that we make in everyday life measure macroscopic properties of Avogadro’s numbers of particles. We cannot in practice perform quantum calculations for such systems, so we do non-quantum calculations that work well in most circumstances.

But we know there are exceptions. There are bulk quantum properties that occasionally surface, and we understand them only dimly. Superconductivity was observed for 50 years before there was a theory of it. Lasers are another bulk quantum phenomenon. Low energy nuclear reactions have been reported in dozens of laboratories around the world, but there is no accepted theory for them. They are a complete surprise to physicists who work with the standard approximations [New Scientist article]. Evidence from a handful of experiments suggests that plants and even bacteria are able to harness nuclear physics to transmute one element into another [reviewed by C. L. Kervran]. Biological nuclear transmutation is an observed phenomenon that defies explanation in terms of the usual approximations made by physicists when they apply quantum mechanics to macroscopic objects.

There is a small, pregnant field called quantum biology which has carefully documented a few examples of biological effects. I hold with those who speculate that life is an essentially quantum phenomenon, and that the observer effect is being harnessed continually to maintain the living state. A suggested approach to this topic derives from the

6. Quantum Zeno Effect

If you don’t watch an atom of Carbon 11, it will emit an electron and transform itself into Boron in about 20 minutes. But if you observe it after 1 minute, chances are 95% that it hasn’t decayed yet, and the 20 minutes starts all over again. You can observe it much more often, say every second, and then the probability that it has decayed in that time can be infinitesimally small. Curiously—this is a purely quantum effect—frequent observation helps to keep the atom in its metastable C11 state, and can greatly delay the average half-life. This is called the Quantum Zeno Effect (named for the Zeno paradox from the ancient Greek philosopher).

It is only slightly more complicated to use the same principle to guide one quantum state into another. You can demonstrate this easily in asimple home laboratory setup. If you polarize light with a horizontal polarizing filter, then none of it will get through a second filter that is rotated to be vertical. But if you insert a third filter halfway between the two, and you rotate that filter 45 degrees, then half the originally polarized light gets through the 45 degree filter, and half of that gets through the final vertical filter. The result looks like magic. You have complete dark at the back end, then you insert another dark filter into the system, and the light coming out the back becomes visibly brighter. You can extend the idea by using a dozen or a hundred different filters between the front (horizontal) and back (vertical) polarizers, with each one rotated just a smidgen compared to the previous one. The result is that you gradually rotate the polarization in many steps, and almost all the light that was horizontally polarized emerges as vertically polarized.

This is called the Inverse Quantum Zeno effect, and it could be used (in principle) to guide complex quantum systems along any desired path. In a brilliant book published 20 years ago, Johnjoe McFadden outlines a way in which the Quantum Zeno effect might be a breakthrough concept in explaining the origin of life and the efficiency of the evolutionary process in general.

Combining the Jahn experiment with the Quantum Zeno Effect, we can imagine how consciousness (or subconscious intent) might guide chemical processes inside a living cell, such that living cells really are subject to different laws than non-living matter. This is a return to vitalism, that was discredited by 19th Century science.

What will our world look like after the coming paradigm shift?

Life is not an opportunistic happenstance that took advantage of a set of arbitrary rules of physics to construct a self-reproducing hypercycle of chemical catalysts, primed to transform itself by the laws of chance and competition for resources into a diverse community of “forms most beautiful and wonderful”.

Conscious awareness is not an illusion, nor an epiphenomenon that arises whenever a sufficiently sophisticated computational algorithm achieves a threshold of self-reference.

While quantum mechanical equations are well-established, there are conflicting interpretations of what they mean . What is a measurement? And what happens when the wave function collapses. When we take Jahn and Dunne into account, there is a strong preference for the view that consciousness has an independent existence, outside the equations of QM, and that it is conscious observation that collapses the wave function. (This perspective was championed by von Neumann, Wigner, and others, but is currently out of fashion.)

Beyond this, anything I say about the coming paradigm will be hubris and foolish speculation. I’m not going to let that stop me.

There is a new science waiting to be formulated that will fundamentally redefine the way we think of our relationship to the universe and to the biosphere. It can only be called “biophysics”, though it will have nothing in common with what today is called “biophysics” (=application of known principles of physical chemistry and of fluids to cell structures.) My guess is that the new theory will embrace Cartesian dualism, and bring consciousness into the fold of physics, as a third realm of existence distinct from particles and fields.

Quantum biology is going to grow and morph from a quirky intersection of two largely-independent fields of science, and become our fundamental understanding of what life is. The non-living world is steered and guided loosely by a global Conscious observer or by many competing or reinforcing consciousnesses (small “c”). But a living being has an observer inside who is constantly asking the question of Schrödinger’s cat, “Am I alive or dead?”. The Quantum Zeno effect sustains life.

Medical research is going to realize that what we have swept aside as the “placebo effect” is a window into a much richer realm in which the mind influences the body via attention, expectation, and intention. Western medicine based on chemistry will be seen as tapping only half the potential ways in which we can create health and wellness.

The tension will be resolved between Christians who insist that all life is the handiwork of an old man who lives in the sky, and the Darwinian fundamentalists who insist that all evolution from a dilute pool of simple molecules to the diverse biosphere has been the result of chance mutations and a race for the fastest reproducer. Evolution is directed by consciousness through the Quantum Zeno Effect, as Johnjoe McFadden described 20 years ago .

The Life Extension movement and the transhumanist movement will embrace the solid evidence for reincarnation , and for the reality that consciousness is flavored by but not dependent upon a physical brain . Freed from the desperate urgency that derives from belief that death is the end of all, we will continue to pursue life extension, but moved by love of life, rather than fear of death; and we will supplement the tools of biochemistry and regenerative medicine with technologies of the traditional shamans and spiritual masters.

There is a biological destiny in which we all participate, a guiding hand pulling us toward an ever richer and more diverse biology. Planet Earth is probably just one among trillions of ecosystems that are destined to merge and co-evolve as humans learn the technology of space travel from alien visitors who are, in fact, far less alien than we imagine.

49 thoughts on “The “Scientific World-view” Needs an Update

  1. Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to carefully support your arguments, Josh. They demonstrate neither hubris nor foolish speculation. Even though, for example, the existence of 500 duodecillion (at the very least) dead multiple universes can’t be disproven, there is certainly nothing unscientific in being open minded about the anthropic principle and the ideas you have presented, as they are either currently beyond the realm of science, or (as you have documented so nicely), even enjoy some preliminary scientific evidence in their favor.

  2. Bravo Josh. I highly recommend the book, The Idea of the World, by Bernardo Kastrup. He presents very well thought out and cogent arguments for the notion that all reality is within consciousness and no reality lies outside of a universal consciousness. All living metabolic beings, such as ourselves, are localized alters of this more universal ontological primitive consciousness.

    Many of his arguments are similar to yours and he solves the hard problem of consciousness quite convincingly.

  3. I, too, am a fan of Kastrup. The idea that consciousness is primary and matter secondary is appealing, until you ask “whose consciousness?” Somehow this world must be created by all our consciousnesses together, you–me and that white toadstool popping out of my lawn. If we did it all together, why don’t we have more awareness of collective consciousness? Here’s a poem I wrote on the subject.
    Maybe if I would try ayahuasca it would all become clear.

    • All our consciousness together is, I think, what religious people call God. When they pray, they influence themselves and people around them with their intentions, expectations with authority as they bring in God. And sometimes the result can be miraculous. Unfortunately it doesn’t work with people like me who try to rationalize everything.

      • Intriguing, thought provoking article, Josh.

        Cassia: With respect to your thoughts on collective consciousness and God. Perhaps that is what is meant by the thought that “God is within”.

        As for thoughts about creating our own reality: As others here likely already know, It has been documented that people with Dissociative Disorder (formerly Multiple Personality Disorder) can have one personality that has diabetes or other health issues, while other personalities test as perfectly healthy.

  4. Your latest article Josh was certainly worth waiting a whole year. Thank you!
    You say that, … “anything I say about the coming paradigm will be hubris and foolish speculation. I’m not going to let that stop me.” This absolutely delights me – since the issues you raise, demonstrate that scientific knowledge today surely is just scratching the surface and we desperately need to fill the huge gaps for the good of all of us. “Unknowns” are everywhere and even many things said to be “knowns” need revisiting as they are clearly wrong. We therefore need people like yourself who look not only forward to a possible paradigm shift, but question many assumed “knowns” rigidly accepted, when evidence overwhelmingly suggests they are false. In my view a paradigm shift would be nice, but too mild; as I would suggest a revolution is needed in order to shift the entrenched, but wrong views of some so-called leaders in their field. Dawkins comes to mind with the nonsense belief in Neo-Darwinism mutation driven evolution, when both the experimental evidence and information theory shows this is impossible. For a modern update on this see the recent book,
    https://www.amazon.com/Evolution-2-0-Breaking-Deadlock-Between/dp/1940363802
    On reflection and no doubt as you well know, just about everything you say under your heading “What is the scientific world-view”, seems wrong to me or only partially correct. For example, you say, “Physical reality is the only reality. Particles and fields are real. Thoughts, emotions, desires are abstract concepts useful to us, but not fundamental constituents of reality. Elementary particles can be visualized well enough as miniature billiard balls. “
    We find that far from elementary particles being like billiard balls, the latest theories suggest that our perceptions are very much flawed and that, “Every particle is actually a field. The universe is full of fields, and what we think of as particles are just excitations of those fields, like waves in an ocean” (see reference link below). In other words, since this is the case, non-physical reality is a better descriptor of our reality than is physicality – so beloved by most physicists.
    https://www.symmetrymagazine.org/article/july-2013/real-talk-everything-is-made-of-fields
    Your inclusion of, “Thoughts, emotions, desires are abstract concepts useful to us, but not fundamental constituents of reality” – are also (as above) included under your heading of, “What is the Scientific world-view. I consider that in contrast, these should well be considered as “things”- as it is largely accepted today that thought/consciousness collapses the Schrödinger waveform to create the “physical” reality which surrounds us all. You go on further to say, “Life is subject to the same physical laws as non-living matter. Life has no fundamental relationship to the physical universe. It’s just something that happened, going along for the ride.” I agree Josh that this is typical of mainstream science belief today, but what happened to the so-called openness of science which existed in Newton’s day, where all things were left open to possibilities for exploration. “Vitalism” is now a long-rejected theory, maybe too hurriedly as no one even today can explain how lifeless chemicals in a body can form life itself?
    Finally, wonderfully you cover under the title, “What the World Would Possibly Look Like After a Paradigm Shift”. I agree that quantum biology provides a strong possibility that it will provide many answers for us now and in the future. Professor Lanza (called the Einstein of Biology) with is his milestone book, “Biocentrism” and his concept of the Primacy of Consciousness I consider fills many gaps.

    Bio-communication and holography appears to be the principles that explain “Consciousness” itself and suggest that this probably preceded even planet formation following the inception of the Big Bang, See,
    https://theconversation.com/amp/could-consciousness-all-come-down-to-the-way-things-vibrate-103070
    I also agree completely that the evidence for reincarnation needs to be considered. In my opinion the evidence could be said to be now not just compelling, but overwhelming and must also be considered because of this. Not just largely ignored as currently.

    All of the above subjects are covered in detail in my national prizewinning book, “The Paranormal is Normal (the Science Validation of Reincarnation, Your Immortality and the Paranormal)” and on my website with additional articles for those that are interested. See my website link below.
    https://www.theparanormalisnormal.com/
    Thanks again Josh.

    • Thanks, Bruce. I hope it was clear that in re-stating the “scientific world-view” I was clarifying but not endorsing it. I look forward to reading The Paranormal is Normal and continuing to learn from you.
      – Josh

    • “We find that far from elementary particles being like billiard balls, the latest theories suggest that our perceptions are very much flawed and that, “Every particle is actually a field. The universe is full of fields, and what we think of as particles are just excitations of those fields, like waves in an ocean” (see reference link below). In other words, since this is the case, non-physical reality is a better descriptor of our reality than is physicality – so beloved by most physicists.”

      Aren’t waves physical?

  5. Thanks for a wonderful, thought-provoking article!
    I was, until recently, a staunch believer in the view that “reality is the only reality”.
    Now, having read the story that Bell’s Inequality has been shown to be violated, I am not so sure.
    Having said that, I also find David Deutch’s arguments for the existence of the “Multiverse” persuasive.
    On top of that, I have a sister who has been a clairvoyant/clairaudient to people at the “highest levels” for many years. And even she has no idea how “everything” works!
    So I guess I’m still confused…

    • Thomas – Thank you for comments on all sides. I think we’re all confused, and this is a defining moment for physics. The sooner we acknowledge that, the sooner we’ll have the best minds in physics embracing composite theories of mind and matter.
      – Josh

  6. “There is a biological destiny in which we all participate, a guiding hand pulling us toward an ever richer and more diverse biology.”

    I think this is not only incorrect but an ill advised thought even if it were true.

    We shouldn’t expect a guiding hand to bail us out of the problems we have created.

  7. Josh – Compelling as ever! Bravo! Your work continues to press the bounds of both common and scientific understanding in ways that are both inherently rich and intuitive.

    Your article makes me think of the recent presentation by one of my favorite thought leaders – Jordan Peterson – The Meaning and Reality of Individual Sovereignty: https://youtu.be/JpA5iDpnrbw
    in which Jordan does such an excellent job in outlining how our consciousness functions in the horizon potential. Jordan helps us make sense of it all in such a way that can help motivate a next generation of thinkers to make further sense of a new realm of Quantum Biology.

    I would love to hear more about how you theories your describe play into epigenetic expression – where it seems to me we begin to find baseline evidence of this theory at work.

    p.s. it looks like you may have a repeat cut/paste typo in your post paragraph 6. best, regards

  8. love this post.
    dovetails with a New Scientist article on entropy – https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24432590-200-the-universe-tends-towards-disorder-but-how-come-nobody-knows-why/
    I had never heard of “observational entropy” before.
    and this sidebar is in some ways relevant – the universe is powered by information – data is the energy source in essence – “An engine driven by information is, quite frankly, hard to imagine. And yet consider this: there is no way to process information without physical systems using energy. This includes erasing information: wiping a hard drive has an energy cost. Turn this observation on its head, and information starts to look like a potential way to fuel machines.”

  9. I like these more philosophical pieces you do at the turn of the year Josh, I think I understand you a little better after reading this one. Like you I originally came from a physics background, and it always disappointed me that physics was stuck in a time loop from the 1930s.

    What I’d love someone to explain to me is this. How do quantum effects, normally restricted to very small numbers of particles at low temp, work in the large, warm and wet body?

    • Mark, hopefully the link to this Wikipedia article might give you some illumination on this – particularly the text following the heading, Orch. OR, which commences, “Penrose outlined…

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orchestrated_objective_reduction

      The text outlines that Hammeroff and Penrose theorised that the brain could attain quantum processing via microtubes in the brain. However, a bandwagon of critics soon joined in an assertion that the brain’s “warm, wet and noisy” environment would ensure that decoherence would always occur at ambient temperatures. This effectively suggested that brain quantum processing was impossible.

      The argument still rages along theoretical lines. Ironically, this Wikipedia coverage also mentions that, since the 1990s, numerous counter-observations to the “warm, wet and noisy” argument existed at ambient temperatures, in vitro and in vivo (i.e. in photosynthesis and for bird navigation). For example, Harvard researchers achieved quantum states lasting for 2 sec at room temperatures using diamonds. It was also observed that all plants routinely use quantum-coherent electron transport at ambient temperatures in the photosynthesis process. In 2014, researchers used theoretical quantum biophysics and computer simulations to analyze quantum coherence among tryptophan π resonance rings in tubulin. They claimed that quantum dipole coupling across the tubulin protein are plausible. Another major point which suggest critics are wrong about the validity of the Hammeroff /Penrose tubulin theory is that humans typically find at the high temperatures, typically present in desert situations, that cognitive reasoning becomes impossible – suggesting decoherence has finally occurred and as would be expected.

        • Thank you James for that link, I most certainly will follow it up. So little is really known about consciousness, it would be wonderful if in the near future we might discover the answer to all our questions on it. I rather favor Chalmers view that it might likely be a fundamental but currently unknown universal attribute that permeates the Universe, such as magnetism.You might be interested to know that Bernard Kastrup a few days has written a new article on consciousness. See:
          https://iai.tv/articles/will-we-ever-understand-consciousness-auid-1288
          Evidence in favor of panpsychism is so extensive today I cannot understand Kastrup’s lack of interest in it, or acceptance of it. After all Bohr himself gained recognition and became famous when he discovered many years ago that plasma has the ability to exhibit purposeful behavior, leading to it being named – plasmons.
          Bruce

          • The objection would be that those things that are non living, or without a metabolism, do not in any way exhibit a consciousness. The further problem is that in panpsychism, wherein all things are conscious, then rocks would be conscious. It is problematic adding these low levels, and even totally unapparent consciousnesses together to wind up with the highly complex ones of living things. These kind of building blocks work with the material but seem improbable when dealing with something like consciousness.

            It is more likely to conceive of a universal mind that can become localized in living things. In other words, when it comes to consciousness, trickle down is more probable than adding up.

          • Paul,

            I don’t how a universal mind is either more or less likely to be true over the idea that everything is matter and consciousness is either somehow an attribute of matter or emerges from it. Both ideas might be equally unprovable. Both require some sort of magic to bridge the gap between our subjective world and the world external to it.

          • James

            I understand that both ideas aren’t provable or falsifiable, but what it boils down to is which unlikely notion is more probable since there doesn’t seem to be another option. I find it difficult to conceive of something immaterial like consciousness emanating from something material. When does that ever happen?

            Furthermore, if that we’re to occur, one would logically predict that under circumstances of heightened consciousness, like LSD or psychedelics, one would see increased brain activity on an EEG. However, it is the exact opposite which occurs. Enriched and heightened conscious experience invariably is associated with depressed brain activity on both EEG and fMRI. Why would that be if consciousness is merely brain activity?

          • Paul,

            I would be careful about the psychedelic arguments. I know Kastrup makes a big deal about your point but it isn’t at all clear that the psychedelic experience must correlate with increased brain activity. That are many aspects of the experience that match with decreased activity – simplified images, time slowing. The subjective impression of mind expansion may be primarily the result of disruption of the coherence of brain circuits and/or EM fields – in other words fewer neurons firing in sync leading to a more diffuse experience of the world rather than the focused one of normal consciousness..

      • You should look at Johnjoe McFadden’s electromagnetic field theories. He has written extensively on quantum biology but does not believe QM is involved in consciousness.

        • James

          One would think that under the pure physicalist model that brain activity and consciousness are inseparable. In fact, one and the same, so when looking at slower brain activity there would have to be a lessening of conscious experience. This correspondence would by definition need to be 1:1.

          I do know that in REM sleep , brain activity looks virtually the same as wakefulness. It has also been recently demonstrated that the EEG patterns of general anesthesia can remain unchanged when those rodents are aroused into a wakeful state with acetylcholine.

          Nevertheless, this hard problem of consciousness has been with us for a very long time and will probably never be fully resolved. If we can manufacture a conscious computer then that would be an interesting development, but what would that even tell us? Perhaps nothing more than we managed to create something living.

          • Paul,

            What leads you to believe that isn’t a lessening of conscious experience with psychedelics?

            I think many people have bought into the mind expansion hype and simply assumed that there is more rather than less consciousness with psychedelics. People certainly report strange and unusual experiences and they might describe them in terms associated with greater consciousness but these are subjective reports. I’m not saying psychedelics might not be valuable for self-exploration, problem solving, and maybe other sorts of insights. But this might not equate with greater consciousness. I’m not sure there really is a good objective measure of the degree of consciousness.

            BTW, I have considerable experience with psychedelics and used to think of them as mind expanding.

            To make the matter more confusing, Kastrup lumps together hypoxic experiences, like high G-force blackouts, with psychedelics. But these experiences, while also weird and unusual, are typically characterized by tunnels and lights which can’t be seen as expansive in any way unless we are just classifying the weird or emotionally profound as expansive.

            One researcher tried to use some sort of complexity measure of brain waves and showed that psychedelics do show more complexity in the brain waves than normal consciousness. I’m not sure I completely buy that measure either.

            My thought is that psychedelics primarily disrupt the coherence of the brain and lead to a more diffuse experience of the world. Subjectively this may feel like expansion but actually it results in fewer neurons firing in sync, hence less overall activity. Consciousness, at least the normal variety, is characterized by focused attention and is associated with relatively large numbers of neurons firing simultaneously. Meditation would more logically map to expanded consciousness than psychedelics.

          • James

            This is an interesting discussion and much more will be learned in the years ahead which will help to elucidate all of this. I come from a dual philosophy and medical background and tend to view things from a philosophical vantage point.

            To that end, I am fully convinced that I am a thinking conscious being that is not only conscious of the world, but is also self reflective. In other words, I am aware that I am conscious. I don’t believe that the purely physical can explain this experience. I also reject the notion that it’s not real and all an illusion. My consciousness is not willing to deny consciousness.

            I’m also not convinced of some sort of mind / brain duality in a strictly Cartesian sense. The two seem to be very intimately related, and in some ways co- dependent, but still not one and the same. As an example of this intimacy, I’m able to calm my anxious brain, and even my entire sympathetic nervous system via conscious and willful meditation, but I’m also able to do so by directly inhibiting my nervous system with a beta blocker like inderal.

            The hard problem of consciousness will never be resolved by way of pure reductionism. We not only observe our world, but we give it meaning . We may love it , appreciate it, assign to it truth and beauty, or even hate it , but regardless we’re active conscious participants in it. I don’t believe that it all eminates from matter, but it might be, I’ve certainly been wrong before.

  10. ” , and for the reality that consciousness is flavored by but not dependent upon a physical brain .”

    An individual consiousness depends on an individual physical brain AND the environment – external and internal (body) in which it develops.
    It was shown in the cases of extreme isolation that the consiousness fades away (the body and the brain remained the same).
    The buddhist concept of reincarnation does not refer to reincarnation of individual consciousness but to a “subtle” process.
    The reality as we know it is A MODEL of the human brain of the environment.
    Let’s take a classic wood table (a board with four legs). Does this table exist for non-humans ? No. What exist is a bunch of woods. Does wood exist for an animal ? NO. What exist is a specific wood (let’s say oak). Does oak exist for a dolphin ? NO. Then what dolphin sees ? Perhaps only four bars and a board that doesn’t matter what are made of.
    All our present reality is only a model of the environment. Our ancestors have other reality quite different from the modern man. For them the Gods were real (beyond any doubt as it is science for the modern man), In their model of the world they were part of nature in which the lived. In the actual model of the world the modern man tries to dominate the nature and thinks he(she) is the God (through science and technology).

  11. An individual consiousness depends on an individual physical brain AND the environment – external and internal (body) in which it develops.
    It was shown in the cases of extreme isolation that the consiousness fades away (the body and the brain remained the same).
    The buddhist concept of reincarnation does not refer to reincarnation of individual consciousness but to a “subtle” process.
    The reality as we know it is A MODEL of the human brain of the environment.
    Let’s take a classic wood table (a board with four legs). Does this table exist for non-humans ? No. What exist is a bunch of woods. Does wood exist for an animal ? NO. What exist is a specific wood (let’s say oak). Does oak exist for a dolphin ? NO. Then what dolphin sees ? Perhaps only four bars and a board that doesn’t matter what are made of.
    All our present reality is only a model of the environment. Our ancestors have other reality quite different from the modern man. For them the Gods were real (beyond any doubt as it is science for the modern man), In their model of the world they were part of nature in which the lived. In the actual model of the world the modern man tries to dominate the nature and thinks he(she) is the God (through science and technology).

  12. This comment is balderdash.
    . Life has no fundamental relationship to the physical universe. It’s just something that happened, going along for the ride.
    Life is the result of biochemistry. We are the product of the material world. If you disagree, please drink such today and email me why you disagree tomorrow.

  13. @Josh,

    amazing read. I’ve copied most of your links to read them. BTW I missed a mention to the classic Einstein-Tagore conversation.

    I think you’re over-weighting the mystical/awareness/shaman/reincarnation part, basically becuase all of that has evolved nothing (sort of) the humanity, while the rational/western/reducionist/narrow sighted side is transforming the human evolution in just a few centuries.

    • It may be that shamanic and mystical traditions have lived in harmony with the world’s ecosystems and at peace with one another for tens of thousands of years, and that the burst of western/reductionist mindset in the last few hundred years has been humanity flirting with the unsustainable.

  14. Dean Radin video on mind changing interference patterns.
    Really shocking and beutiful. Until this post by Josh I was completely unware of this line of research.

  15. An interesting read Josh. Gives me lots to think about. Some of the ideas you write about were espoused many years ago by Roger Penrose in his book, The Emperor’s New Mind. Penrose shared the Wolf prize for physics with Stephen Hawking in 1988, so he has serious credibility. There is much of the world that we don’t understand and dismiss but I am also deeply suspicious of superstition and it is sometimes I find it hard to know the difference. I would certainly have believed that water divining was rubbish, but I have seen my own brother, who in all other respects is a strong rationalist and sceptic, use on many occasions, a forked stick to find pipes, and underground water. He has never failed to find it and digging and sewerage, drainage maps have always confirmed this strange, ‘unscientific’ practice. There must be a scientific reason it works- we just have not understood it yet.

    • Sue, “dowsing” is considered very much the same as “remote viewing” a military term for “clairvoyance”, all have the meaning of “seeing afar”. Remote viewing generally has a moderate acceptance – even by some scientists, due to its successful use for spying during the cold war. The other names given to the different forms of essentially the same process, await acceptance of a future hoped-for paradigm shift in scientific attitudes mentioned above by Josh. Despite lack of general scientific acceptance for dowsing, accuracy in practice is high and it is still used successfully fairly widely today. See:

      http://www.paranormalia.com/

      Also, the quantum holography science that fully explains dowsing, remote viewing and clairvoyance has been known for some years, but for world-wide acceptance; it seems it awaits the blessings of the high priests of materialistic scientists. It is covered fully in my book. See:

      http://www.theparanormalisnormal.com

      – with a whole chapter devoted to it. Below is a link to an excellent detailed article which covers it in some depth. See: (to see article below, scroll down on opening)
      http://journalofcosmology.com/Consciousness149.html

  16. Josh, I just want to thank you, I am so grateful for your blog It is well written and easy to understand and very informative. I love to read and every time you have a new blog post it is the highlight of my week. Keep up the great work

  17. I believe in time that what has been fringe will become evermore mainstream with the hopeful evolution of Humanity. The most astounding aging news yet in terms of life extension of the Human equivalent of 400 year lifespan can be found at the Longevinex website and clicking on the news articles, with the article giving the details.

    • Apologies that the news articles have been taken down, but the news can be googled by entering “Biologists identify pathways that extend life by 500%”. Much of this figure is down to synergy being more powerful than thought, and the Longevinex article was helpful in naming many of the available nutrients that would have effect on these pathways.

  18. This is the way:

    “Remodeling of epigenome and transcriptome landscapes with aging in mice reveals widespread induction of inflammatory responses”
    Bérénice A. Benayoun

    They created a transcriptome and histone code analysis of young and aging mice genome across 4 tissues.
    This and the resulting articles are keys in understanding the aging process.

  19. If we do not know something at this point in time does not automatically mean we can never know it.

    To me there is no harm in speculating and especially about the future. We will hopefully live to see how it turns out.

    What seems strange to me is to use the term Quantum Biology when is seems to be impossible to calculate even 2 particles on the quantum level. I would consider that a misuse of the term Quantum.

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