« Humans are naturally optimistic. Which helps explain religion. | Main | Embrace uncertainty, shun dogma -- be a possibilian! »

June 02, 2011


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Ho hum...Eagleton's Incognito was writen 13 years ago but entitled "The User Illusion" by Tor Nørretranders. Where have you been Brian?

It's interesting to observe how you have jumped onto the brain bias bandwagon as the "be all" of what we are as human beings.(Maybe Hofstadters strange loop has somehow found a way to circulate in your brain?).

As an antidote (just for the sake of fair journalism) I think you might consider reading the works of Raymond Tallis and especially his latest work entitled:
"Aping Mankind: Neuromania, Darwinitis and the Misrepresentation of Mankind".

Brian, this is off topic but i figured this was the best place to write the following.

Why don't you do an experiement? I challenge you to find out your circadian rhythm, wake roughly 2 hours before you normally would wake up and then meditate. I think you will see that your experience will be entirely different from what you have been used to for the last 40 years.

Just out of curiosity, do you wake up with "morning wood" at your age? I don't know if older persons in their 50s and onward get this but i do know that REM sleep diminishes with age. I think that is typically around the age 70 and onwards though.

You know that REM atonia is paralysis of the muscles to prevent acting out dreams. Also that the body is automatically sexually aroused. Also that if you meditate instead of sleeping and waking up normally from REM that that is the best time to try and have an Out-of-Body Experience?

You also might know that sexual arousal from REM sleep combined with meditation produces the symptoms of Kundalini and the chakras?

You should try it and see, then report back. I don't see why you can't do this unless you are scared or something.

William, that's a far-fetched hypothesis of yours. What evidence do you have for it?

I Googled "The User Illusion by Tor Nørretranders Eagleton" and could find no reference that conflated the two. I checked Eagleton's bibliography and found lots of citations to books in the last decade.

Facts, please. Give me some facts to support your hypothesis. And while you're at it, give me some facts that disprove the neuroscientific conclusion that the brain and "us" are one and the same.

Had a look at it at over a Americano this afternoon.I'll be returning to it later today.Still getting hard-copies Brian ?No Kindle?

Here's a Ted on Dave


This is for Brian,
Scientists prove we are indeed
the result of a computer program.
The odds are billions to one against
us not being computer simulations.
Incredibly facinating.

Do We Exist ?



The premise of Eagleman's (not Eagleton as I mistakenly wrote) book "Incognito" is that much of what you think, choose, and do is driven by unconscious processes. This is exactly the same premise of Tor Nørretranders book "The User Illusion". The "facts" they present may be from different angles but the overall gist of these two books is the same.

"Fact" is a semantically loaded concept. You might want to consider reviewing your understanding of the term "facts" via wikipedia before lamelessly casting the notion at me as if it was some kind of argument in an of itself.

Finally, be open minded and read some of the works of Raymond Tallis. I think he presents some "facts" that will unhinge your brain bias quite convincingly.

Let me just end with a quote from J.B.S. Haldane:
"I have no doubt that in reality the future will be vastly more surprising than anything I can imagine. Now my own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose."

And thanks for a great blogg that always challenges "my" mind!

william, I guess you didn't express yourself very well when you wrote:
"Eagleton's Incognito was writen 13 years ago but entitled 'The User Illusion' by Tor Nørretranders."

It sure sounded to me like you were accusing Eagleman (like you said, not "Eagleton") of plagiarism.

If all you mean is that Eagleman is talking about the same neuroscientific facts that other people have, then of course the books will cover the same territory. Pick up any physics book. The facts will be almost exactly the same, because facts are facts (until they're proven otherwise).

I've read lots of books about modern neuroscience. There's no doubt that most of what the brain does happens beyond our awareness. No doubt. If you have proof otherwise, you need to reveal it -- and maybe win a Nobel prize.

Your comment above reminds me a bit of global warming deniers. They ignore the fact that 98% or so of expert climatologists accept the consensus facts about climate change. Then they cite some guy who has a contrary view.

There's always someone who believes the scientific consensus is wrong and only they are right. But usually they're wrong. Yes, we should be open to other views, but we shouldn't accept outlying ideas uncritically.

Me, I'll go with consensus neuroscience until it is proven wrong. That's the way of science -- give me facts, not blind faith.

Brian, are you afraid of taking up my challenge?

David, I'm not sure what your challenge is. I trust science. I trust scientific experts who know a heck of a lot more about some subject than I do. I can't evaluate Big Bang theories, nor can I assess theories of how the brain works, or how the Earth's climate is changing.

I rely on scientific consensus in these and other areas. I'm able to determine what this is by regularly reading science magazines, keeping up on science news the best I can, and reading science books aimed at a general readership.

So again, I don't know what your challenge is. As I said before, if you have evidence that a current scientific consensus is wrong, your own challenge should be to present your findings and have them reviewed by the scientific community.

I've got no desire to do this, because by and large I trust how the scientific method works. So there's no challenging desire in me.

I don't know why you are talking about science here. I explained that you could do a test to see what kind of experience you would have.

What is interesting is you say you have no desire to do it. The question is why? You must be afraid of something. I'm not asking you to do something as if to prove a point that something spiritual is real. There is nothing supernatural about REM sleep, REM atonia, orgasms, and lucid dreams.

And if there was something supernatural in all that you would finally have tangible personal experience that you have been seeking all your life. But i don't believe that will happen anyway.

dr, I (and everybody else) experiments with reality/life every day. What makes you think that I'm not having "tangible personal experiences"? You have no idea of my experience, just as I have no idea of yours. Or even my wife's.

Experience is subjective. When it comes to anyone's experience other than ours, we should say "I have no idea..."

Apparently you have a technique of some sort that has worked for you. Great. I have my own ways of experiencing reality that work for me, that feel good for me, that produce a meaningful life for me.

Yesterday I went horseback riding. Did you? If not, it'd be ridiculous for me to say "You need to ride horses in order to have a tangible personal experience." Or to take Tango lessons, which I've also been doing. Or to ride a maxi-scooter, which I do a time or two a week.

Live and let live when it comes to experiences. That's my attitude. Judgments only are valid when it comes to demonstrable "objective" reality.

You seem to be misunderstanding. I'm not saying you don't have subjective experiences. I am saying that you might want to experience what would otherwise be called some kind of supernatural phenomena. Why were you in sant mat meditating for 40 years?

dr. OK, now I understand. Your first comment was unclear. So I'll rephrase my reply to say...

Lots of people believe they know a technique for having a supernatural experience. There are thousands of religions, each with their own methods, dogmas, beliefs. It appears that you have your own (which might be the same as one of these religions).

No one has time to scurry around, attempting every supposed gateway to Supernatural Land. There's no evidence that such even exists, and I've already devoted quite a bit of time to seeking it.

Also, what makes you think that you've experienced something supernatural? Aren't you still living in the physical world, experiencing reality through a physical brain? What is your evidence that you have experienced a supernatural realm?

Is supernatural a supercharged ultra high level? I need my experiences to be on an extremely ultra pure ultra high level.

So, just show me some of that phenomena.

I never claimed to have experienced something supernatural. But in researching sleep states and consciousness as well as yoga and meditation for a number of years now it is obvious to me that meditating while in a REM state leads to lucid dreaming and initiation of kundalini effects. I am just offering you this information because i thought you might want to try it out to see for yourself.

Of course i live in the physical world and have a physical brain. But unlike some other pseudoscientists (notably skeptics) i do not claim to have answered fundamental questions such as "what is consciousness?", nor do i disbelieve in some paranormal claims just because i wasn't there at the time or have no personal experience of them. THe job of science is to study phenomena to take them out of the realm of subjectivity and i believe many paranormal things have already been dealt with in this manner. Whether you believe otherwise is your opinion and you are entitled to it but any serious researcher wouldn't take such opinions seriously given the facts as they have been tested, replicated and shown to exist. The only people in the world that believe otherwise are stubborn atheist skeptics with reputations to preserve, agendas to uphold, money to make by appearing in the media and so on. They skew the facts of parapsychology, which any google search can turn up.

But all that is besides the point here. And people do have time to "scurry around" as you put it, because of something called free time. It takes research and time to try out different methods of spiritual practice to find one that suits a person. There is nothing wrong with this. What is wrong is when people practice one technique for 50 years that does nothing for them in terms of what specifically they are seeking from it, and then overlay that onto everybody else as if that applies to them equally, while disregarding or skewing the data that supports the realities of so called "supernatural" phenomena.

dr, what I said was no one has time to try every spiritual, religious, or mystical approach. So people pick and choose, which is fine.

My point, which I've come to after many years of practicing and pondering "spiritual" practices, is that living everyday life is another eminently practical option.

Since, as you say, you've never experienced anything supernatural, and there is no firm proof that anyone else has either, it makes sense to me to live life as it is, not as how we conceptualize it might be.

Sure, perhaps it is possible to experience something supernatural. That's an idea which many people, including you, want to investigate -- just as I did for quite a while.

What needs to be considered, though, is the opportunity cost of looking around the next corner for some ineffable experience. I've observed that many spiritual seekers seem to be blind to what is right around them, because they view this world as some sort of illusion, or a place to escape from.

Well, maybe. But what if this world, this life, is the only world and life we'll ever know? Wouldn't it be crazy to not experience it fully, deeply, and passionately, instead of searching for a supernatural realm that is only a hypothesis, not a demonstrable reality?

Not sure what you mean by "hypothesis" there. I'm sure there are many people who live the spiritual life that wouldn't call it just a hypothesis. Just because you dont live that life you don't have the right to claim it is merely a non-existent hypthesis.

I am Susan,from what I can read. It has been sad news and scam to everyone about Voodoo casters or so. But to me they are so real cause one worked for me not quite two weeks. I traveled down to where his shrine his and we both did the ritual and sacrifice. and now me and my ex are living very ok now.I don't know about you but Voodoo is real;love marriage,finance, job promotion ,lottery Voodoo,poker voodoo,golf Voodoo,Law & Court case Spells,money voodoo,weigh loss voodoo,diabetic voodoo,hypertensive voodoo,high cholesterol voodoo,Trouble in marriage,Barrenness(need a child),Luck, Money Spells,it's all he does. I used my money to purchase everything he used he never collected a dime from. He told me I can repay him anytime with anything from my heart. Now I don't know how to do that. If you can help or you need his help write him on ([email protected]) Thank you.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)


  • Welcome to the Church of the Churchless. If this is your first visit, click on "About this site--start here" in the Categories section below.
  • HinesSight
    Visit my other weblog, HinesSight, for a broader view of what's happening in the world of your Church unpastor, his wife, and dog.
  • BrianHines.com
    Take a look at my web site, which contains information about a subject of great interest to me: me.
  • Twitter with me
    Join Twitter and follow my tweets about whatever.
  • I Hate Church of the Churchless
    Can't stand this blog? Believe the guy behind it is an idiot? Rant away on our anti-site.