Sunday, March 08, 2015

Paranormal Phenomena, Nonlocal Mind and Reincarnation Machines

How I Came to Accept the Paranormal

While I’m generally an extremely stubborn person,  my opinion has radically changed on some topics over the years.   I don't view this as a bad thing.   I don't aspire to be one of those people whose ideas are set in stone, impervious to growth or adaptation.

Some of my changes of opinion have been purely "changes of heart" -- e.g. in my early 20s I transitioned from a teenage solipsism to a more compassion-oriented attitude, due more to internal growth than any external data or stimuli.   

Other times, the cause of my change of opinion has been encountering some body of evidence that I simply hadn’t been aware of earlier.  

The change of mind I'm going to write about here has been of the latter kind -- data-driven.

What I’m going to write about here is a certain class of paranormal phenomena that seem related to religious notions of “survival after death.”   In my teens and 20s I was pretty confident these phenomena were obviously nothing more than wishful thinking.   People didn't want to admit they were doomed to die one day, so they made up all sorts of fanciful stories about heavens and hells after death, and reincarnation, and ghosts and what-not.  

I didn’t want to die either, but I was interested in achieving physical immortality via fixing the problems that make the human body age, or  by uploading my  mind into a robot or computer or whatever – by methods that made good solid rational sense according to science, even if they seemed outlandish according to most peoples’ everyday world-views.   

(I did, in my youth, acquire from somewhere some sort of intuitive spiritual sense that my mind would continue to exist after my death, fused with the rest of the universe somehow.  But I didn’t imagine I’d continue to have any individuality or will after my body died – I intuitively, non-rationally felt I’d continue to exist in some sort of inert form, always on the verge of having a thought or taking an action but never quite doing so….)

My current view of these "survival-ish" paranormal phenomena is quite different.   I definitely haven’t had any sort of religious conversion, and I don’t believe any of the traditional stories about an afterlife are anywhere near accurate.    But I now am fairly confident there is SOMETHING mysterious and paranormal going on, related to reincarnation, channeling and related phenomena.

My new perspective doesn’t fit that well into our standard contemporary verbiage, but a reasonable summary might be:
  • Individual human minds have an aspect that is "nonlocal", in the sense of not being restricted to exist within the flow of our time-axis, in the same sense that our bodies are generally restricted.  
  • Due to this non-localized aspect, it’s possible for human minds that are evidently grounded in bodies in a certain spacetime region, to manifest themselves in various ways outside this spacetime region – thus sometimes generating phenomena we now think of as “paranormal”
  • This non-localized aspect of human minds probably results from the same fundamental aspects of the universe that enable psi phenomena like ESP, precognition, and psychokinesis
  • The path from understanding which core aspects of physics enable these phenomena, to  understanding why we see the precise paranormal phenomena we do, may be a long one – just as the path from currently known physics to currently recognized biology and psychology is a long one

How did I come to this new view?

The first step was to accept, based on an extensive review of the available evidence, that psi phenomena are almost surely real.   My perspective on this is summarized in the introductory and concluding chapters of  Evidence for Psi, a book I co-edited with Damien Broderick last year.   See also the links on this page.   I don’t want to take space and time here summarizing the evidence for psi phenomena, which includes lots of carefully-analyzed laboratory data, alongside loads of striking, well-substantiated anecdotal evidence.   It was the laboratory data that first convinced me psi was very likely real.  After getting largely convinced by the laboratory data, I started reading through the literature on anecdotal psi phenomena, and it started to seem less and less feasible that it was all just fabricated.

I’ve also speculated a bit about how one might tweak currently understood physics to obtain a physics in which psi could be possible.   See my blog post on Surprising Multiverse Theory.  Basically, I think it might be enough to posit that the various histories summed over in quantum-mechanical sums-over-histories are weighted in a manner that depends on their information content, rather than just on their energy.   This relates closely to a proposal made by the famous physicist Lee Smolin in a totally different context, as well as to Sheldrake’s morphic field hypothesis.

I recall reading (a few years ago) the excellent book Varieties of Anomalous Experience, with its run-down of various case studies of apparent reincarnation, and then digging into that literature a bit further afterwards.   I became almost-convinced there was SOMETHING paranormal going on there, though not terribly convinced that this something was really “reincarnation” as typically conceived.

Now I’ve just read the equally excellent book Immortal Remains by the philosopher Stephen Braude.   In the careful, rationalist manner of the analytical philosopher, he summarizes and dissects the evidence for various paranormal phenomena that others have taken as indicative of an afterlife for humans – reincarnation, mediumistic channeling, possession, out-of-body experiences, and so forth.   (But the book is a lot more fun to read than most academic philosophy works, with lots of entertaining tidbits alongside the meticulous deductions and comparisons – it’s highly recommended to anyone with a bit of patience who wants to better understand this confusing universe we live in!).

Survival versus SuperPsi versus ??

One of Braude’s themes in the book is the comparison of what he (following generally accepted terminology in this area) calls “survival” based versus “SuperPsi” based explanations of these phenomena. SuperPsi in this context means any combination of recognized psi phenomena like ESP, precognition, psychokinesis and so forth – even very powerful combinations of very powerful instances of these phenomena.

One thing that Braude points out in the book is that, for nearly all the phenomena he considers, there seems to be a thinkable SuperPsi-based explanation, as well as a thinkable survival-based explanation.   This is not surprising since neither the SuperPsi hypothesis nor the survival hypothesis can be very clearly formulated at this stage of our knowledge.  So, he considers the choice between the two classes of hypothesis to come down mainly to considerations of simplicity.  In his view, the SuperPsi explanations often tend to get way too complex and convoluted, leading him to the conclusion that there is most probably some survival-esque phenomenon going on along with probably lots of psi phenomena....  (For a discussion of why I agree with Braude that simplicity is key to a good scientific explanation, see this essay, which was reprinted with slight changes as part of my book The Hidden Pattern.)

The contrast of survival vs. SuperPsi makes a compelling theme for a book, but I suspect it may not be the best way to think about the issues.   

As far as my attitudes have drifted, I still strongly doubt that “survival” in any traditional sense is the real situation.   I really doubt that, after people have died, they keep on living in some “other world” – whether a heaven or hell or just another planet or whatever.   I also really doubt that, after someone dies, their soul or essence enters another person so that this other person is “a new version of them” (the traditional reincarnation story in its most common form).    One thing Braude’s careful review makes clear is how scantily the evidence supports these traditional conclusions.  

The evidence DOES support the conclusion that the paranormal phenomena Braude considers actually happen in the world, and don’t have explanations in terms of science as we now know it.  But the evidence does NOT especially strongly support any of the classical religious analyses of these paranormal phenomena.  My own view is that these religious attempts at explanation have largely served to cloud the matter.   Personally, the main reason I previously rejected these sorts of phenomena entirely, was my reaction to the various conceptual inconsistencies and obvious appeals to human emotion that I saw in these traditional religious explanations.

What we see in the data Braude considers is that:
  • After a human being dies, it is sometimes possible for “self and other mind patterns” associated with that human being’s mind to manifest themselves in the world at a later time. 
  • While a human being is alive, it is sometimes possible for  “self and other mind patterns” associated with that human being’s mind to manifest themselves in the world at some distant physical location, without any good conventional explanation for how this could happen
  • Sometimes these “self and other mind patterns” manifest themselves in a manner that is mixed up with other things, e.g. with someone else’s mind
  • Sometimes these “self and other mind patterns” provide evidence of their association with the mind of a spatially or temporally distant human, which is very difficult to “explain away” in terms of known science

Exactly what specific forms the above phenomena take is a long story, which Braude tells in his book, which I don’t feel like taking time to summarize here right now.  Read the book!

Anyway, it should be pretty clear that the above does not imply “survival / afterlife” in any traditional sense.   Yet Braude makes a good case that hypothesizing these phenomena to be caused by some combination of ESP, psychokinesis, precognition and so forth becomes inordinately complicated.

From Carbon to Ecosystems

One thing that strikes me is what a long distance exists between potential “physics of psi” explanations like my Surprising Multiverse Theory, and the complex, messy particulars of phenomena like mediumistic channeling.   Channeling, for instance, apparently involves subtle intersections between individual and social psychology and culture, and appears to mix up instances of ESP and psychokinesis with other “nonlocal mind” phenomena that are more distinct from traditional psi.

An analogy that springs to mind, however, is the relation between the carbon atom and the complexities of the Earth’s ecosystem.   The carbon atom enables the development of life, and this can be seen, in a general sense, via looking at the atom at the micro level, and the nature of the bonds it permits.   On the other hand, predicting the specifics of macroscopic life based on the microscopic properties of the carbon atom is something we still can’t come close to doing.   We can’t, yet, even solve the protein folding problem (a very particular subcase of this more general problem).  

Similarly, it’s “easy” to see that hypotheses like the Surprising Multiverse Theory have some potential to explain how the universe could contain phenomena like mediumistic channeling, apparent reincarnation, and so forth.   But getting from something like a low-level information-theoretic tweak to quantum physics, up to specific predictions about paranormal phenomena among human beings, is bound to involve a lot of complexity, just like any explanation bridging multiple hierarchical levels of reality.  

Toward a Paranormal-Friendly (Patternist) Philosophy of the Cosmos

I don’t have anywhere near a scientific explanation of these paranormal phenomena I’m talking about, at present.  I would like to find one, perhaps by building up from Surprising Multiverse Theory or something similar, perhaps by some other means.  Of course, I don’t think it makes sense to reject evidence simply because we don’t have a good theory for it yet.

I do have a philosophical perspective on these phenomena, which helps me think about them in what I hope is a coherent way.   My basic philosophy of the universe is summarized in The Hidden Pattern (free pdf) and A Cosmist Manifesto (free pdf).  But thinking about paranormal phenomena leads me to enrich and extend that basic philosophy in certain ways.

As I’ve said in my previous writings, my preferred way of thinking about these things involves positing a Pattern Space, which exists outside our spacetime continuum.   The whole spacetime universe that defines our everyday being, is just one particular pattern of organization, which in some sense exists within a much larger space of patterns.   When a pattern like a human mind emerges within our spacetime continuum, it also exists in the broader pattern space.   

But what is meant by a pattern being “within our spacetime continuum"?  I haven’t thought about this deeply before.  Basically, I suggest, what it means that this pattern is heavily interlinked with other patterns that are “within our spacetime continuum”, and not so heavily interlinked with other patterns that are not “within our spacetime continuum.”   That is: the spacetime continuum may be thought of as a special sort of cluster of interlinked patterns.

Since the spacetime continuum is just one powerful, but not omnipotent, pattern of organization, it’s not so bizarre that sometimes a pattern that is heavily interlinked with other patterns in the “spacetime continuum pattern cluster”, could sometimes interlink with other patterns that are outside this cluster.   Extra-cluster pattern interactions are then perceived, by patterns inside the cluster, as “paranormal.”

This way of thinking ties in with philosopher Charles Peirce’s “one law of mind” – which he formulated as “the tendency to take habits.”   Peirce observed that, in our universe (but NOT in a hypothetical random universe), once a pattern has been observed to exist, the probability of it being observed again is surprisingly high.  This is the basic idea underlying the Surprising Multiverse Theory.   This seems conceptually related to the statement that the patterns we observe mainly live inside a cluster in pattern space.   Inside a cluster, the odds of various entities being connected via a strong pattern should be atypically high – that’s closely related to what makes the cluster a cluster.

Mind Uploading via Reincarnation Machines?

If indeed the paranormal phenomena Braude surveys are real, and have some sort of scientific explanation that we just haven’t found yet, then this has fascinating potential implications for mind uploading.   It suggests that, when someone dies, their mind is still in some sense somewhere – and can potentially be brought back by appropriate dynamics in certain biophysical systems (e.g. the mind of a medium, or a child born as an apparent reincarnation, etc.).

This raises the possibility that, by engineering the right kind of physical system, it might be possible to specifically induce “paranormal” phenomena that cause a dead person’s mind to manifest itself in physical reality, long after that person’s death.

Of course, this is utterly wild speculation.   But what makes it fun is that it’s also fairly logical extrapolation from empirical observations.   If the data about the paranormal is real, but the data ultimately has some scientific explanation rather than a religious one, then most likely the underlying phenomena can be tapped into and manipulated via engineered systems, like all other scientifically understood phenomena.

Of course, a scientific understanding of these phenomena will likely include an understanding of their limitations.  Maybe these limitations will prevent us from building reincarnation machines.   But maybe they won’t.

If we buy the “morphic field” type idea, then what would attract the reincarnation of a deceased person’s mind, would likely be a set of mind-patterns very similar to that person’s mind.  This would be in the spirit of the well-demonstrated phenomenon of ESP among identical twins.   

In this case, it would follow that one very good way to engineer reincarnation might be to create an intelligent robot (perhaps with a quantum-computer infrastructure?) with
  • Lots of the mind-patterns of the deceased person one wishes to reincarnate 
  •  Lots of degrees of freedom capable of being adjusted and adapted

This would be achieved, for instance, if one created a robot intended as a simulacrum of a deceased person based on information they had left behind – videos, emails and what-not.  There are existing organizations focused specifically on accumulating information about people so as to facilitate this kind of post-mortem simulation.

The strange and exciting hypothesis one is led to, is that such a simulacrum might actually attract some of the mind-patterns of the person simulated, seducing these patterns out of the overarching pattern space – and thus animating the simulacrum with the “feel” of the person being simulated, and perhaps specific memories and capabilities of that person, beyond what was programmed into the simulacrum.

Oh Really?

If you’re a typical tech geek who’s a fan of my AGI work, you may think I’ve gone totally nuts by this point.   That doesn’t bother me particularly though.  

I mean, AGI is almost trendy now, but when I started out with it 30 years ago everyone thought I was nuts to be thinking about it or trying to work on it.    Peer pressure doesn’t really work on me.

I don’t have any real interest in arguing these points with people who haven’t taken the time to inform themselves about the relevant data.   If you want to discuss the points I’ve raised here, do us all a favor and read at least

If you’ve absorbed all this data and are still highly skeptical, then I’m quite willing to discuss and debate with you.   On the other hand, if you feel like you don’t want to take the time to read so many pages on this sort of topic, that’s understandable – but yet, IMO, by  making this choice you are forfeiting your right to debate these points with people who HAVE familiarized themselves with the data.

This is weird stuff, for sure.   But don’t blame the messenger.   It’s a weird world we live in.   We understand very little of it, at present.   If we want to increase our understanding as rapidly as we can, the best strategy is to keep an open mind – to look at what reality is showing us and really think about it, rather than shutting out troublesome data because it doesn’t match our preconceptions, and rather than accepting emotionally satisfying simplifications (be they scientific or religious in nature).

Immortality and Immortality

Does this line of thinking I’ve presented here reassure me that my possible forthcoming physical death (I’m 48 years old now, certainly old enough to be thinkig about such things!) may not be so bad after all?    Hmmm – kind of, I guess.  But I’m not going to cancel my Alcor membership, nor stop devoting a portion of my time to longevity research.   I want to keep this body going, or port my mind to a different physical substrate in a direct way.   

The apparent fact that my mind exists outside of spacetime, and can potentially be brought back into spacetime – at least in some partial way – after my death, doesn’t really diminish my urge to keep on continually existing within THIS spacetime continuum, going forward from right now.   Why would it?  

The overarching pattern space is no doubt wonderful, but ongoing existence in this limiting time-axis is pretty cool too – and keeping on living here is very unlikely to stop my mind-patterns from flourishing and romping trans-temporally in the cosmic pattern space, sooo.... 


LME said...

One can hardly dismiss such a rational, well grounded overview of this issue as "Ben going off the deep end." I have followed my own thought train to similar places. May I suggest the relevance of the view that consciousness is in some way a fundamental attribute of the universe, manifesting locally in the same way a crystal radio set suddenly, when tuned to the right configuration, manifests music that was invisibly there in the "ether" all the time. Our inventory of known tunings is perhaps too small to fully comprehend all the circumstances in which consciousness can manifest.
I am fond of The Hidden Pattern and often suggest to friends that it does a far better job of describing my world view than my own ramblings do. Thanks for continuing to share your thinking. - @LesElkind

Unknown said...

If published studies are to be trusted, there is modest but statistically significant evidence for psi. But it's hard to think of any field more susceptible to publication bias. Countless studies have been conducted, mostly small and informal. Perhaps fewer - I would guess _far_ fewer - than 1 in 20 have been published. The studies submitted for publication belong overwhelmingly to the minority that have yielded positive results. Do some fancy statistical meta-analysis on these published studies and, well, seemingly we have a rupture in the unity of science - an intellectual revolution in the making to eclipse relativity and quantum theory of the last century.

Sadly I remain sceptical
Boringly conventional Dave

(Actually, as you know, I believe consciousness is fundamental and only sub-femtosecond neuronal superpositions can explain phenomenal binding, but such odd ideas are intended to save physicalism rather than explode it - as would the reality of psi.)

Spaceweaver said...

I've read the hidden pattern quite a long time ago. I must admit I do not remember a lot. The pattern space idea is of course a remote derivative of the platonic realm of ideas and also reminiscent of the more contemporary ( and more to my liking for many reasons) concept of virtuality conceived by Deleuze. One interesting observation about the virtual aspect of reality is its causal sterility. From which I may derive a question about the causal efficacy of patterns that ARE NOT actualized i.e. not embodied in space-time or any other alternative configuration that facilitates causality. I think that before trying to figure out a natural explanation, one can frame a minimal set of necessary constraints that such explanation must be based upon. The example of the tuned crystal mention by LME is somewhat obscuring the fact that the pattern of music the crystal suddenly resonates with was caused by a physical transmitter and is not just floating there as a pattern in pattern space. Using the a virtual space of patterns as a basis, the prospective phenomena that Ben mentions are possible only if we can show a clear path of such causally sterile pattern being progressively determined (individuated) into causally efficacious circumstances in the physical universe that may thus create effects perceivable by other embodied minds.

Another direction of explanation arising from an entirely different premise is what I would call "the non-existence of individual minds". The line to follow here is that individual minds have no intrinsic quality and are only complex conglomerations of very simple (actual) patterns like certain beliefs, desires, emotions, habits of activity etc. There is nothing unique to individual minds, even the idea of uniqueness is itself not very unique:-\ On the basis of this, the question of Psi phenomena mentioned in the post becomes a kind of an exercise in probability. Since the basic constituent patterns of individual minds are ubiquitous and only their particular combinations are unique or rare, we can conceive of approximations to certain configurations that would be 1. Deceivingly similar to a specific mind say of a loved one 2. not awfully improbable thus rarely appearing from time to time. The advantage here is that there is no real mystery. We already know that as observers our brains do a fantastic job in fabricating and complementing details that are not present in sense-perception data and are able to produce complex and reliable experiential manifestations based only on very little actual information (see Andy Clarck's "Whatever next" review paper). Since the main 'measurement' tool of psi phenomena is the observing minds, well psi becomes not so far fetched.

Acuvox said...

One of the most common mis-applications of mineral science paradigms to biology is Occam's Razor. Biology thrives on complexity, in fact it is necessary for robust organisms and eco-systems. Simplified and unique solutions mostly indicate the brink of collapse. A great explanation of the role of complexity in evolution is Andreas Wagner's recent book "Arrival of the Fittest".

I have a documented personal experience that supports life after death over alternate explanations by a very large factor. Studies which document the absence of psi phenomena can only prove indetectability in one set of circumstances - and since we are not aware of the variables, even a small number of positives outweigh the overwhelming mass of evidence against.

Damien said...

Ben,you have no idea how relieved i am to read this ;)
Have to admit,i was a little scared from reading only the title ;)

I'm just like you,when you were in your 20's,i'm 25 now.
I am very,very sceptical about "paranormal" and hate this word in scientific context.

But on the other hand, being too sceptical contradicts having a open mind to the various possibilities.

So i guess i have some reading to do ;) (btw.Immortal Remains sounds intriguing )

Damien said...

"But I’m not going to cancel my Alcor membership, nor stop devoting a portion of my time to longevity research. I want to keep this body going, or port my mind to a different physical substrate in a direct way."

Ben,you have no idea how relieved i am to read this ;)
Have to admit,i was a little scared from reading only the title ;)

I'm just like you,when you were in your 20's,i'm 25 now.
I am very,very sceptical about "paranormal" and hate this word in scientific context.

But on the other hand, being too sceptical contradicts having a open mind to the various possibilities.

So i guess i have some reading to do ;) (btw.Immortal Remains sounds intriguing )

Ben Goertzel said...

David Pearce, you say

Perhaps fewer - I would guess _far_ fewer - than 1 in 20 have been published. The studies submitted for publication belong overwhelmingly to the minority that have yielded positive results

but do you have any evidence to back up this assertion? This contradicts other studies of the parapsychology field, which have been done carefully and with great attention to the available evidence.

One aspect of the psi field is that many people (such as yourself) seem to feel justified in making extremely confident assertions about the topic, in spite of having almost no detailed knowledge about the field.

For a topic as tricky as this one, you can't rely on hearsay and secondary or tertiary sources. Look at the primary literature yourself, starting from the secondary literature I've linked to in my article. If you don't have time or energy to do this, fine -- but then don't talk about the topic as if you knew what you were talking about !!


Ben Goertzel said...

David Pearce -- really, I know of no other field of science that pays so much attention to the "file drawer problem" and other questionable research practics, as parapsychology.... The issues you allude to have been probed by the parapsychology with statistical and other methods, with great care and detail.... As you would see if you read the books I cited in my post!

davidpearce said...

Ben, apologies, to reiterate, I said I was sceptical (not scornful, dismissive or any of the more colourful responses I'm sure you've encountered) If you or anyone else can devise a prospective, replicable test of psi that sceptics (and hostile critics!) can carry out, then I'll be the first to congratulate you - even if the outcome is negative.

For the record, I haven't seriously investigated psi since the John Taylor saga. I am not an authority on psi research, and don't pretend to be.

Tim Gross said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim Gross said...

>We can make actual scientific predictions of the after death state by considering the implications of the Schumann Resonance- the ~7 Hz resonance in the geomagnetic field that is the same frequency and energy level as the cycle of neural electrical activity between the limbic system and the neocortex- and the general frequency/energy level of most nervous systems and mycelial networks in the biosphere-

the general prediction is the Schumann Resonance would act as a natural storage medium for all conscious memory and sensation- and would sustain these patterns of electricity possibly perpetually- this means consciousness may not cease at the death of an organism- just as many of the leading scientists in electricity have believed through history- and there would be a kind of multiverse of individual Bardos / astral realms/ and shared dream spaces- likely composed by the same processes that generate memory and dreams in living organisms- without a living brain these patterns would be sustained through resonance with the geomagnetic field and the biosphere- and these conscious states would include all other species of plants and animals-

the patterns would likely not re-enter new bodies as discrete egos- but this sort of reincarnation might be possible- but most souls likely spend some subjective epoch just after death in a state of memory dreamscapes- which would evolve and expand over time into new states- eventually connecting to other Bardos and minds in the geomagnetic medium- merging/sharing/confronting other minds and fragments of minds in a myriad afterlife types-

But whether this Bardic Metaverse actually exists or not- eventually information technology will mature to be able to reconstruct all minds and resurrect them into living or machine bodies once more- either reconnecting with the stored resonating signal in the geomagnetic field- as Tesla /Steinmetz / Edison envisaged- or through a quantum computing simulation which might actually invoke this Bardic Metaverse into being in the past through retrocausal post-selection of the quantum states of the geomagnetic field-

Anonymous said...

we reincarnate many many times.
real life is actually the experience OUTSIDE this body- mostly this life is a dream where you attempt to reason and experience something where you are mostly unconscious.

it gets much more complex but that's mostly it.

Unknown said...

Ben, Always love to hear the way your mind works. I sum up my thoughts with the quote from my favorite musical comedian Tim Minchin; "Every mystery that has ever been solved turned out to be...not magic" Only those like yourself who are brave and intellectually curious enough will find the answers.

Anonymous said...

I can dig it, but I can't shake my innate feeling and personal experiences that always draw me back to the same conclusion which is that our individual consciousness is eternal and that is the definition of the multiverse. Yours and mine may be similar but never the same. The boundaries are distinctly different and our understanding of one another are as abstract as alternate dimensions...

Anonymous said...

"If you’re a typical tech geek who’s a fan of my AGI work, you may think I’ve gone totally nuts by this point. That doesn’t bother me particularly though."

It should bother you given that you complain about the lack of AGI funding. Surely you can see that anyone who thinks you've gone totally nuts probably wont fund your projects, or even worse come to the premature conclusion, by mere association, that your AGI ideas are another instance of "crackpottery"

Unknown said...

Did you ever have a number sync occur frequently on a digital interface? 11:11, 5:5, 9:11 or other. Perhaps the number syncs were followed or preceded by encounters with associated synchronous events, like my experience of reaching the 1.1 kilometer marker on a hike up Bluff Knoll in the Stirling Ranges, Western Australia, glancing at the digital clock on my cell phone and seeing 11.11am.

Synchromysticism is a portmanteau of the words "synchronicity" and "mysticism." The art form is especially refined in the work of

Robert Anton Wilson and Timothy Leary wrote extensively on the concepts of reality tunnels and the eight circuit model of consciousness.

Interestingly, the unfolding of the eight circuits is represented symbolically in various cultural traditions. On the second doubling from two to four we reach the four corners, four great elements, four worlds & four noble truths, three physical dimensions and one of time – some kind of physical reality limit. The eight guardian deities of the eight points of the heavens emerge on the next doubling. The Balinese Octagram Mandala is an impressive representation with the centre of the octagram being of particular symbolic significance. The centre of the octogram is the nineth. A hidden zero, nun, nil, nothing. 9 is the font of god. Something emerges out of nothing. In the Leary Wilson model, the top four elements of the circuit resonate with the lower four.

R. Buckminster Fuller in Synergetics writes in detail about the geometrical function of Nine -

All the axis squares are axis groups – Rediscover the fire & water cycle stacks of the Lo Shu Square, energy mapped in the C3, C6, C9 mirror C3, C9, C6 stack - . Find the Staff of Hermes and the path of information through the brane layer.

The Tarot or Rota was passed from Aleister Crowley, the Great Beast,666 to Timothy Leary. Both updated the Rota for their respective ages. Aleister Crowley suggested that we were entering the Age of Horus . Terence McKenna confirmed this fact with his time wave theory. Interestingly, all three of these bard’s had ingested Psilocybin. My own experience with Psilocybin is that it appears to increase the experience of synchronous events well after the effects of the drug have worn off.

Crowley learned about the Rota from Elphias Levi. Levi leaves a rich treasure trove of writings including -
• Levi Conjuration of four elements
• Levi Mysteries
• Levi – The Paradoxes of the Highest Science
• Magical Ritual of the Sanctum Regum
• Book of Splendours

Levi was a proponent of superior rationality. “Occult Medicine is essentially sympathetic. Reciprocal affection, or at least real goodwill, must exist between doctor and patient. Syrups and juleps have very little inherent virtue; they are what they become through the mutual opinion of operator and subject; hence homoeopathic medicine dispenses with them and no serious inconvenience follows.”

On Wikipedia, I notice that that this is part of the Ideology series oF Transhumanism. Some of the links from the page are to – - represented by the chaosphere

So here we arrive at a synchronistic, time-based information event involving Ben Goertzel, leader of the Transhumanism movement, as he opens a scientifically taboo portal between the physical and metaphysical worlds.

Giulio Prisco said...

Awesome post Ben! Thanks for saying what I also think, much better than I could. Of course you know that these ideas, the linked post on Sheldrake and the Surprising Multiverse, and so many forbidden unkosher words (like reincarnation, resurrection...) will attract the wrath of the ultra-rationalist mobs. I am sure you don't give a damn (I most certainly don't).

Khani said...

Stop making me cry in desperation.

Unknown said...

Hey Ben, nice entry.

We've talked about Stu Kauffman's last book before,

I was very surprised to see him go off on quite a bit of an exposition on quantum biology in this book. But having read that, I was not terribly surprised to see his name on this landmark paper , "Quantum Criticality at the Origin of Life", which appeared just three weeks ago.

This work, along with quantum biology research I have previously sponsored, all posits that biological proteins represent an entirely new class of condensed matter--a disordered conductor tuned exactly to the metal-insulator transition point, which as a result is in a permanent critical quantum state. Basically this means that we are quantum computers.

Anonymous said...

I would love to see a simple experiment done, but it would require a large pool of participants (perhaps at the level of your readership).

1. Announce that on a weekly basis you will select a simple stock photo from the internet (no background, could be a person, vehicle, pair of glasses, particular color, etc.) print it out and place it on your desk.
2. Create a text field on your site where users can enter a short description for their guess as to what the photo is each week.
3. Text entries populate a simple database that is represented visually by a word map giving the most frequently used words a larger font size
4. Word map is published at the end of the week along with the corresponding stock photo, and the process is started again for the next week for some period of months.

Would be interesting to see the results and would not take much effort to set up.

Sean said...

I see this patterning as a fractal expression of living algorithms. I see it constantly in nature, a beautiful birch tree that holds the pattern of a naked female human somehow melded into its form. I once had in my possession a stump with the features of a fetus, vagina and a cross. The nature of math carrying the representations of patterns through turbulent changes seems likely.

Therefor it is the wrong question to ask is there an after life? It would be better to ask what is it that I am.

Ted Sanders said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ted Sanders said...

Can I use PSI remote viewing to win the lottery?

I ran some math to determine if remote viewing is actually accurate to 52.65% chance (quoted from I forgot how I stumbled on that but I swear you linked to that somewhere), what would it take to win the lottery at a 95% chance?

A quick google shows the odds of winning the lottery are one in 175 million, so I take that to mean that you could come up with an encoding to convert a 28 bit binary number into each possible lotto ticket, i.e log2(175000000) ~ 28.

So to predict the winning ticket, i.e. the 28bit binary number to 95% confidence, you have to predict each bit at a .95 ^ (1/28) = 99.82% confidence.

I read from Greg's remote viewing site ( I saw that one could
"nest many ARV trials together to use consensus to predict the outcome of ONE single event."

To calculate the number of trials needed to predict one event to 95% certainty, the math boils down to the cumulative distribution function of the binomial distribution.

Some easy python code to find the numbers:

from scipy.stats import binom

Manually find a value of N such that:
1.0 - binom.cdf(k,N,p) > .9982

That comes out to about 3100.
So we need 3100 trials of flipping the 52.65% biased PSI coin to have a 99.82% probability that a majority of those 3100 trials predicts the right bit.

So you there go 28 sets of 3100 remote viewing sessions to predict the winning lotto ticket to 95% confidence :)

You could start a PSI quant fund hire about 200 people have them do about 15 remote viewing trials a day over the course of a month and there you go ;)

Stephen Paul King said...

Ever watch the TV series Caprica? The explanation of uploading within the story is close to Ben's narrative.

Giulio Prisco said...

Some thoughts:

Anonymous said...

I did download Ben Goetzel's book from 2006, The Hidden Pattern some weeks ago, and found it quite good. I did a follow-up email to at Ben's website, concerning a computational afterlife, but received no reply, so I guess BG found it too insipid a question? Beyond this, I am amazed that BG has never heard of philosopher, Eric Steinhart at William Patterson university's work? This is because Ben's view intersects with Steinhart's like a Venn Diagram. It's all very close together in view.

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Anonymous said...

I want to reject the existence of reincarnation, but I can not avoid that belief, despite being a rationalist, simply because I do not know if my life is result of a absurd universe, or I am the result of quantum vacuum fluctuations as a probability wave (I can hardly buy it) or the universe runs with hidden laws or hidden to determine my human birth and not birth as born animal or insect.
What about the other living creatures that are a Mcmenu burger king for humans? cease to exist, they do not deserve to reincarnate these animals in humans?

Tim Gross said...

the idea that precognition should allow people to win the lottery doesn't work for a very obvious reason- there would be paradoxes if an observer could easily change what they observed in precognitive remote viewing- so states that are causally connected to the observer and dependendent on the observer's ignorance and impotence to change the outcome won't be observered- Casandra's Curse- Nature avoides causal paradoxes -

Anonymous said...

I kinda like your ideas. Could you write more about your ideas of death? Beings experience a clear beginning of consciousness at some time after birth and cessation at death. What state should a dead being find itself at after death? Reincarnation? Re-run of the same life? Waking up in a post-human society? I am aware of the simulation hypothesis but I don't know what are it's precise implications for an observer that dies.

Unknown said...

Good work Ben :-).

Interesting theory with the pattern-space, perhaps it will have some utility.

Certainly I agree that reincarnation-worthy host-bodies can be made/engineered.

I'm happy you are of a similar opinion.

UsamaAk said...

I am unable to read articles online very often, but I’m glad I did today. This is very well written and your points are well-expressed. Please, don’t ever stop writing. unexplained mysteries

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Anonymous said...

Great post, Ben! Your lone voice is important and refreshing on this topic.